Drink to Your Good Health in Ecuador
In addition to some of the tastiest cuisine you are likely to enjoy anywhere, Ecuador has some interesting beverages which are both delicious and nutritious. One of these is an herbal tea called ‘horchata’ which can be enjoyed either hot or cold and is available from street vendors in many towns. Also referred to as ‘horchata lojala’, a reference to the province of Loja where the drink originates from, horchata is made from a mix of herbs and flowers appreciated for their therapeutic properties. While the ingredients of horchata can vary from area to area, and season to season, some of the most commonly used herbs include chamomile, lemon verbena, mint, lemon grass and lemon balm, with flowers including rose petals, violets, carnations, begonias and flowers from the mallow family. Some of the more unusual plants used in brewing this popular drink include borage, linaza and horse tail, as well as red amaranth and/or escancel, which gives Ecuadorian horchata its distinctive red color.
When buying horchata, customers may be given the option of adding the gel-like liquid extracted from the aloe vera plant, known for its therapeutic effects and as an energy booster. Research has shown that aloe vera contains a range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids and other beneficial components. It assists in lowering cholesterol, boosts the body’s ability to resist illness, heals and protects the digestive system, and detoxifies and alkalizes the body. It also has amazing wound healing, disinfectant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties when used externally. No wonder man has been using aloe vera as a health product for thousands of years, and combined with the herbs and plants mentioned above, horchata is a beverage worth trying when in Ecuador.
Another popular, and nutritious, beverage visitors to Ecuador may want to try is an oatmeal drink called ‘colada de avena con naranjilla’. Made with oats, water, cinnamon, brown sugar and the tangy naranjilla fruit, this drink is often served with breakfast or lunch, or an in-between meals snack. Using a base of oats and water (or milk) there are many variations of this beverage depending on personal preferences and fresh fruit available. Whichever variation you enjoy, rest assured that this tasty oatmeal drink is a nutritious meal in a glass.