A South American legume traditionally part of Ecuadorian cuisine and known locally as chocho is suddenly in the spotlight thanks to its amazing nutritional characteristics. This discovery is particularly ironic because this bean is usually thought of as a poor man’s food!
It’s formally known as the Andean Lupine because it’s grown in the Andes Mountains. Nutritionally, it’s 50% protein and 20% fat. The fats are healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. The protein is in an incredibly digestible form. Some researchers are suggesting that the protein is higher quality than soy beans.
This is good news because soy beans, while cheap, have other problems like phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens act like the hormone estrogen in the human body, and can cause all kinds of hormonal problems.
Chochos have a thin outer skin that you must remove before eating. Once cooked, just squeeze the bean to get the skin off.
Here’s a great recipe for chochos with hot chili peppers and cheese called Ají con Chochos y Queso.
Note: Chochos from Ecuador are beans and shouldn’t be confused with Chayote, a form of squash sometimes called chocho.
Warning: Like all lupin seeds, chochos are toxic in their raw form. To transform it into a highly nutritious superfood, a tedious process of soaking, boiling and extended rinsing for up to 14 days is required to make it edible.