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Mighty Moringa

The moringa tree has long been used as a nutritious dietary staple in parts of Africa, South Asia, and South America. This plant, which grows like a weed in those parts of the world, is beginning to get some press here in the States. Like many green plants, the nutrition is dense and readily absorbable. Gram-per-gram, moringa contains twice the protein of yogurt, four times the calcium of milk, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, three times the potassium of bananas, fifty percent of your recommended daily intake of iron, as well as vitamins A and B.

At the Co-op, you will find moringa powder by Kuli Kuli Foods. The story began when Lisa Curtis, a volunteer in the Peace Corps working in a small village in Niger, was eating a diet of mostly rice and millet. Feeling sluggish, she mentioned her fatigue at the women at the community health center. They suggested she try moringa. She bought leaves from a neighbor’s tree and mixed them with a popular fried peanut snack called kuli-kuli. She soon felt better. When she returned to the United States, Lisa founded Kuli Kuli to help women in West Africa use more moringa locally and earn a sustainable livelihood by selling a portion of each harvest to the U.S..

Kuli Kuli’s mission is to improve nutrition and livelihoods worldwide through moringa. They say, “Our vision is to work with women-led farming cooperatives all over the world to drive economic growth, women’s empowerment and sustainable agricultural development.”

Moringa Smoothies
For my first taste of moringa, I tried a series of smoothies. Two are my own creations, and one from the blog on their website. I first added a half tablespoon to my go-to smoothie since I would be able to detect the taste of the green powder easiest. In both the drink recipes below, the “grassy” taste was so very subtle, it went virtually undetected. The third recipe I tried (“Green Moringa Smoothie”) was more noticeable. 

I’m a big fan of smoothies. I keep sliced bananas and a canister of frozen orange juice in my freezer at all times for smoothies. Nothing quite perks up the flavor like a big ol’ scoop of concentrated 100% orange juice. And to put the “smooth” in “smoothie,” bananas are (in my opinion) best. I peel and slice ripe bananas into coins and place into a bag or freezer-safe container to freeze. 

Here are my go-to smoothie recipe:

Moringa Smoothie

  • Handful of frozen banana coins
  • 1/4 c frozen blueberries
  • Big scoop of frozen OJ
  • 8 oz non-dairy milk—Organic Valley Original Soy, Silk Cashew (sweetened or unsweetened), and Willy Street Co-op Almond Milk are my favorites
  • 1/2 Tbs. Kuli Kuli Moringa Powder

Directions: Place in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Makes roughly 12 ounces.

For something different, I adapted a smoothie recipe I saw on Kuli Kuli’s website. Cascadian Farm frozen peaches were on sale at the time, so I used those. They could be substituted for fresh or frozen pineapple or mango.

  • Handful frozen peaches
  • Handful frozen banana coins
  • Handful fresh strawberries
  • Large scoop frozen OJ
  • 1/2 Tbs. Kuli Kuli moringa powder
  • 8 oz. almond milk (I used Willy Street Co-op Almond Milk)

Directions: Place in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Makes about 12 ounces.

Soups
For something more savory, I tried adding moringa to soup. The boost of green nutrition blended in perfectly. I adapted a vegan recipe I found on Kuli Kuli’s website for broccoli soup. I added butter and milk to mine. Here is my recipe.

Broccoli Moringa Soup

  • Half of a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 Tbs. thyme
  • 2 big heads of broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), tough stems removed, chopped into similar sized pieces; using the florets and tender stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbs. Kuli Kuli moringa powder; or 1 single-serve packet 
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 6 Tbs. flour
  • 12 oz. milk (I used 2%)

Directions: To make the soup: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and let sizzle in the oil for a minute. Add the onion. When the onion turns translucent (about 2 minutes), add the carrot, celery, broccoli, and thyme. Cover and cook over medium heat, just 3-5 minutes, until aromatic. If vegetables start to brown, simply add a splash of water and reduce the heat.

Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves into the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat just until the broccoli is tender, just about 8-10 minutes. The broccoli is tender when a stalk piece can easily slide off the tip of a knife. Remove the soup from heat.

Remove the bay leaves. Add the nutritional powder and moringa vegetable powder. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Puree until creamy. Taste to adjust seasoning. I added salt and Spike salt-free seasoning.

In a separate pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour all at once, whisking vigorously. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, when mixture becomes golden, to cook off the “flour” taste. Slowly add the milk, continuing to stir. When all the milk has been added, pour into soup. Stir.

Serve! I made homemade chive and asiago drop biscuits for dunking, but there are many options to round out this nutritious soup to make a hearty meal. 

Makes about 6 servings.

Hopefully these recipes inspire your own moringa creations! For more recipes, head to their website: kulikulifoods.com

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