In Peru, kids don’t ask for chocolate-vanilla swirl, strawberry with sprinkles, or plain vanilla. Nope, the most in-demand ice cream flavor is lucuma. One lick and you’d get why—slightly maple-flavored and delicately sweet, lucuma fruit is a favorite across South America.
Even if the local Dairy Queen doesn’t carry this flavor (yet!), you can still get your lucuma fix: Substitute it for sugar in almost any recipe to beat high blood glucose levels and to get superfood benefits—while eating dessert!
Lucuma fruit look a little like a rounder, unripe avocado. Once opened, they reveal bright orange flesh that’s high in beta carotene, vitamin A, and B vitamins, much like sweet potatoes or yams. Lucuma can be eaten raw or cooked, but it’s even more popular in powder form.
Silky and soft, lucuma powder tastes a little like maple syrup and is far sweeter than the fruit itself. But it also contains a higher concentration of antioxidants like beta carotene, niacin, and minerals including zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Unlike other alternative sweeteners like agave or even honey, lucuma doesn’t cause blood sugar to skyrocket. This is thanks, in part, to lucuma’s relatively high fiber content. The sweet powder has about 2 grams per tablespoon, so adding a bit to your smoothie, cookie batter, or ice cream will help with digestion and feed gut bacteria.