This Indigenous Corn Pinole ‘Smoothie’ Recipe Packs a Punch

Reader Contribution by RenÉE Benoit
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Pinole smoothie by Renee Benoit

Pinole (Pin-Nole) is my new favorite smoothie. It’s a Southwestern food staple made out of native corn that has been roasted and ground into a fine powder. From my experience I have found that it’s best when mixed with milk and sweetened with honey for a creamy drink much like a milkshake. It can also be added to other foods as a supplement or thickening agent or even eaten alone. Try it when back packing or hiking just like Native Americans did when they were on the go. It’s light weight and durable and doesn’t mold or rot if you keep it dry.

Pinole has been a staple food for a very long time in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States but corn wasn’t always the familiar corn we’re used to. Archeao-botanists believe that corn was developed over thousands of years from “teosinte” grass. Teosinte was cultivated in Mexico and Central America and selected to eventually become corn as we know it. It’s not common but farmers in Mexico still let wild teosinte plants grow around the edges of their cornfields because they believe that it makes the domestic corn plants ‘stronger’. Early types of corn then made their way through trade to the Southwest U.S. by 4,000 years ago.

Corn teosinte, Photo credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Back in the days when travel was on foot or horseback, Pinole was the preferred food. It was easy to carry because it was dry and needed only a little bit of water to be satisfying and nutritious meal.

It’s a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Just two ounces of pinole provides 7 grams of fiber, 40 grams of complex carbohydrates, and 100 milligrams of anthocyanins; a specific antioxidant that may help reduce rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and boost cognitive function.

Let’s make a Pinole Smoothie!

Making pinole is very easy. Just add 3 tablespoons (more or less to taste) pinole to 8 ounces of liquid of your choice: milk or nut beverage is best in my opinion but fruit juice is also very good. I tried mixing it with water but found too bland for my taste so experiment with what tastes best to you. I mixed mine with soy milk because I don’t tolerate cow’s milk very well. It was delicious.

You can add a bit of raw sugar, honey, cinnamon or vanilla. I found that honey mixes well. If you use raw sugar let it sit for a while until the sugar dissolves otherwise you have a crunchy texture! You can also blend it with ice in a blender for an iced drink. You can also add any jam that tastes good to you.

Pinole makes a great supplement! You can also add it to hot cocoa, hot cereal, pancakes, waffles, cakes, cookies, muffins, or pudding. You can also sprinkle it over ice cream or yogurt.

The great thing about Pinole is that it’s a food stuff that is derived from grains that are adapted to the environment and that means another way to tread lightly on Mother Earth.

You can buy pinole from Ramona Farms in Sacaton, Arizona.


Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who homesteads a small ranch in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Mexican border. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.


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