Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Purple power punch

Summer means hot days and thirsty kids (and adults!). But before you grab for that bottle of Kool-Aid, Hi C or soda, consider this. Do you really want to deal with spastic, hyper kids all day? Probably not! Yet research shows that the artificial colors and mega-doses of sugar your kids take in when they down one of those drinks tends to make even normal kids behave as if they had attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). (1, 2, 3, 4)
But your kids don’t like water and you’re kind of bored with it yourself, you say? No worries! Give this punch a try—it’s easy to make, easy on the wallet, extraordinarily healthy, totally refreshing and great-tasting, to boot. You can make a huge batch and have enough for a whole week or more. Or serve it at your summer BBQ—not only will you save tons of money on drinks, you’ll help the environment, too (no bottles to transport or recycle). Just be prepared to share the recipe (below) with your guests--believe me, they’ll ask you for it!

Nutrition for the body: Excellent as it tastes, you may be surprised to find out that purple power punch is extraordinarily healthy, too. Purple corn is full of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins and phenolic acids. Research has shown that proanthocyanins can prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease, protect against (and even cure if consumed in large amounts over several days) urinary tract infections and sinus infections, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, protect against colon, breast, liver and other cancers, reduced blood clots, and even fight obesity and aging (drink up, grown-ups!). (5, 6) Cinnamon and cloves also have huge disease-fighting benefits—cloves will even protect your teeth from decay.

Nutrition for the mind: The proanthocyanidins in purple corn have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. Since they are natural anti-inflammatories, they help the brain’s blood vessels stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of stroke. They’re also reported to improve mental acuity and help fight senility. In other words, they can help make you smarter and keep you that way as you get older.

Nutrition for the spirit: Purple corn is native to indigenous cultures in South and North America. There is a Hopi prophecy that says "when purple corn reaches the west there will be great change in the world." The Incas in Peru used chicha morada (aka purple power punch) to toast Pachamama (Mother Earth) in ceremonies and drank it to celebrate spiritual connection with the Divine. It is still used today for that purpose by Paqos and Pampa Mesayoqs (people who follow the Inka spiritual traditions). There are also some people who claim that purple corn can help us open our third eye (sixth) chakra, since its color is purple. The third eye chakra is responsible for increased intuition, and opening up to spiritual truths.

Purple Power Punch Recipe


15 oz bag of dried purple corn on the cob (find it in the ethnic section of your local supermarket)
1 whole pineapple (buy organic if possible)
40 or so whole cloves
2-4 sticks of cinnamon (Note: use the sticks, not ground cinnamon)
8-10 lemons
Sugar to taste (brown sugar or honey may be used, as well)
Large pot of water


1) Fill the largest pot you own with water, 3 or 4 corn cobs (keep the corn on the cob), cinnamon sticks and cloves, and put it on the stove to boil.
2) Wash the skin of the pineapple with soap and water (especially if your pineapple is not organic, to remove pesticides). Cut the peel off the pineapple and add it (the peel) to the pot. (We only use the peel for this recipe, so you can cut up the pineapple and store it in the fridge).
3) Once the water in the pot boils, turn the heat down enough to maintain a gentle boil/simmer, and continue to cook for an hour.
4) Carefully remove the corn cobs from the pot and slide lengthwise down the center of cob (caution—they will be very hot). Return the cut cobs or corn to the pot to boil/simmer for an addition hour or so.
5) When the liquid has become dark purple, turn off the heat and allow the punch to cool to room temperature.
6) Once the punch reaches room temperature, use a colander to remove the cloves, cinnamon, corn and pineapple peels. These you can discard (preferably into your compost pile).
7) Add sugar to taste and stir the punch gently until it dissolves.
8) Put the punch in the fridge to chill. When serving, transfer some of the punch into a pitcher. Squeeze the juice out of 2-3 lemons and add to the pitcher of chilled punch (you may need to add a little more sugar to compensate).
9) If you want to be fancy, finely chop a few apples and add them to the punch. That’s how they drink it in Peru (there, it is called chicha morada).
10) Tell the kids (and adults) to come get their purple power punch and watch them gulp it down and ask for more!

1. “Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial", Lancet, Sept 2007

2. 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted at the University of South Florida. Author: Richard W. Pressinger M.Ed.

3. "Food Additives May Affect Kids' Hyperactivity", WebMD Medical News, May 24, 2004.

4. "The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools," Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, Int J Biosocial Res., 1986, 8(2); 185–195

5. “Dietary cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice.” J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7):2125-30. Research Center for Biomarkers of Preventive Medicine, Doshisha University, Imadegawa-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto Japan.

6. “Purple corn anthocyanins: chemical structure, chemoprotective activity and structure/function relationships,” Pu Jing, MS, Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University, 2006.,%20Pu.pdf?acc_num=osu1155738398