Yummy, Healthy, Homemade Goji Berry Candies

By Andrea Nakayama, www.replenishpdx.com
May 7, 2014 Updated: May 5, 2014

I have to admit that I’d never been a fan of goji berries. My son doesn’t fancy them either.

But they’re so good for you. They’re protein and antioxidant-rich, hormone-balancing, powerful, chewy little nuggets that promote health and longevity. So over the years, I’ve gotten pretty crafty about sneaking that goji goodness into myriad recipes.

One of my favorite goji berry recipes is my Oh-Gee Goji Berry Nakayummy. This is my all-time favorite goji-laden smoothie recipe that the kid in your kitchen or in your heart is going to gobble up with goji giddiness.

And don’t be shy about giving a handful of gojis to go. While I’m not a fan of the flavor, most people just love them. Use them like you would raisins in gorp (trail mix), cookies, or bars. Sprinkle them on your morning bowl of oats or grain-free seed porridge. You can even throw them in a pot of broth. Think matzoh-ball soup with a little nutritional boost.

Why the Goji Craze?

The goji berry, also called the wolfberry, is one of the most nutritionally rich foods on the planet.

Gojis can grow in remarkably diverse conditions—from the tropics to deserts. When I think about the energetics of a food and consider the adaptability of the goji berry, I know that it would be beneficial to be consuming more of these morsels. I want that adaptability in my life.

The Chinese, Tibetans, and Mongolians have been growing gojis for over 5,000 years and drying them to raisin-like texture for preservation. This makes gojis a traditional food, not a new-fangled fad.

Goji berries have also been grown in America, mostly in the southwest. They were an important food source for several native American tribes.

Nutritional Benefits

Goji berries are actually a complete source of protein—including 19 amino acids and all eight essential amino acids. What this means is that consuming them is a great way to add protein to your daily snacks or morning smoothies.

The berries contain a wide array of trace minerals, including zinc, iron, calcium, and selenium.

They contain two to four times the amount of antioxidants found in blueberries. In terms of their antioxidant profile, I like to say they’re like blueberries on steroids. They also contain more carotenoids than carrots.

Goji berries have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also a great digestive aid, drawing the digestive juices into the stomach and intestines.

You can easily find goji berries at your health food store or whole food market these days. Look in the bulk section or near the packaged dried fruits or superfoods.

With a career born of a personal family health crisis, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. Info@replenishpdx.com.

Recipe Box

Oh-Gee Goji Nakayummies

What’s a Nakayummy? It’s a sweet little confection, of course! You don’t need to be limited to the chocolate variety.

The goji flavor profile in Oh-Gee Goji Nakayummy is perfect for either Passover or Easter. The bright dried berries create a lovely marbled affect, just like a dyed Easter Egg.

You can pour the Nakayummy mixture into any shaped mold you like. I have finally found little egg-shaped molds to add to my collection of cubes, hearts, stars, and an array of funny forms, including mummies for Halloween (we love our Naka-mummies).

Anything works: cutting the candy like fudge in a glass dish, rolling the semi-hardened mixture into a log and then cutting off pieces, and so on.

Be creative and enjoy a little healthy nugget of goji goodness.

1/2 cup goji berries, ground to a paste in a coffee or spice grinder
1/2 cup gently melted cacao butter (Use a double boiler or a glass mug in a pan of boiled water.)
1/2 cup gently softened coconut butter
1/3 to a scant 1/2 cup raw honey
Zest of two oranges (blood oranges work great)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together until blended.

Spoon mixture into flexible ice cube trays or molds. The mixture might separate a bit due to the oil in the sweet goji paste. Don’t worry. This is what creates the lovely marbled effect. Just be sure to get some of each portion into each mold.

Once the molds or tray is filled, put the container in the freezer for a couple of hours. You can eat the candies right from the freezer or store them in the fridge after they’ve hardened.

Oh gee, goji—pretty and yummy. Enjoy!