Desert Foods for Healthy Living


Many different types of beans can be gathered from native desert trees are also helpful at maintaining healthy blood sugar including palo verde, ironwood and mesquite. Mesquite in particular contains large amounts of slow-release starches, giving it a naturally sweet taste. This natural sweetness can help curb cravings for processed sugar.

Native Southwestern mesquite varieties including velvet, screwbean, and honey mesquites tend to have a sweet, nutty flavor. They are preferred over the introduced South American varieties. It is recommended to taste a pod from each tree before harvesting, looking for a sweet flavor and non-chalky texture. During the early summer, mesquite pods ripen and can be gathered by hand. Avoid pods that have fallen on the ground or have been soaked by monsoon rains. Mesquite pods are consumed as ground flour. Grinding can be done in a stone metate or you can take them to community milling events. Then they are ready to be used in baking or to make traditional 'oatmeal-like' porridges or dried cakes.

Mesquite flour is increasingly available at supermarkets, particularly local shops and health food stores. Wild harvesting is possible.

Recipe guide for mesquite (pdf).

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