by Susan Schenck
Sometimes, just once in a while, I miss some things I could easily find in California, land of health products.
One of the products I couldn't find for the longest time was coconut oil/butter—a very healthful food. As I write in my book The Live Food Factor, “Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCTs). Most vegetable oils are composed of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are usually stored as fat, while MCTs are burned for energy and increase metabolic rates, leading to weight loss. One study showing that MCTs help keep weight down, ‘Overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides in the rat’ (Metabolism, 1987), points out that the body is less inclined to store fat with MCTs and that eating them is even better than a low-fat diet at decreasing stored fat. Farmers have known for years to feed animals LCTs, such as soybean and corn oil, to fatten them up, and to feed them MCTs to trim them down.”
Another superfood that I had a hard time locating in Cuenca was chia seeds, which are very high in protein and omega-3 fats. As I say in my book Beyond Broccoli, “Americans need to create a demand for chia seeds. They were used in North America for thousands of years during the Aztec reign. The Aztecs even demanded that the nations they defeated pay them chia seeds as one of their tributes. Chia was one of the four main components of the Aztec diet, the other three being corn, beans, and amaranth.”
Well, now I've found one place to get coconut butter and two for chia seeds.
The place for coconut butter is Supervivencia, a health-food shop located downtown at Llama de Mariscal and Juan Montalvo. You can get one 16-ounce jar for $18 or three jars for $16 each. The stuff (called “Oro Blanco,” meaning “white gold”) is actually made by a young American man who lives in Vilcabamba. I use this for making popcorn; coconut is one of the few oils that doesn’t turn rancid with heat. It’s also great on the skin and lips.
One of my favorite shops in town is Camari, located on Av. Federico Malo 1-203 and Tadeo Torres, next to Parque de la Madre. (It's between the far right side of the park, as you face the stadium, and the stadium.) This store contains many things that are hard to find elsewhere, including chia seeds, organic produce, dried mushrooms, and coffee substitute. They also offer flower essences, natural soap (like aloe vera and papaya, as well as aloe vera and hierba luisa), all kinds of spices, Andean and Amazonian teas and herbs, gourmet cheese, and much more. All products are fair trade. Their website is www.camari.org.
There are, of course, many other health-food shops in Cuenca, and in the future I will be keeping you posted on some of those.
Susan Schenck, LAc, is a raw-food coach, lecturer, and author of the two-time award-winning book, The Live Food Factor, The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, which has gained a reputation as the encyclopedia of the raw food diet, as well as Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work. Go to www.livefoodfactor.com and register for the free newsletter to get a copy of the first chapter of The Live Food Factor.