When the pioneers crossed America they encountered local tribes, many of whom used pinole.
The Mexicans also used pinole – and the tradition has been kept alive in these cultures, resulting in delicious yet healthy food for survivalists, and anyone in fact who would like to try pinole.
- 1 cup corn meal
- 2 tablespoons brown cane sugar organic honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/3 cup chia seed
- ¼ cup flaxseed
- ¼ cup almonds optional
- Heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan over moderate heat – do not add oil, then tip in your cup of cornmeal and stir at intervals to make sure it all toasts reasonably evenly and doesn’t catch on the bottom. This will take around 10 minutes or so until is starts changing from white to a soft golden color.
- Add the sugar, powdered cinnamon and chia seed and mix through the warm cornmeal while still on the heat, then once nicely toasted through remove from heat. If using honey mix only the corn, chia seed and cinnamon and add the honey when you are ready to eat the pinole or use it in a recipe.
- Allow the pinole to cool right through before storing in an airtight container.
Variations to Add During Step 2
Add flaxseeds as they are rich in ALA (alpha linoleic acid) an omega 3 acid and are known to be high in fiber meaning improved digestive health, and are thought to be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes, lowering bad cholesterol and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Chopped almonds take the taste of the pinole up a notch and are rich in fiber, protein and fat, acting in much the same way as the flaxseed, with one extra benefit – they reduce hunger!
How to Use Your Pinole
As a Nutritious Drink
- Serves: 20
- Yield: 20 mugs of pinole drink
- Calories: 46 per drink
- Preparation time: 3 minutes, standing time 10 minutes
The Native Americans would add a tablespoon of the pinole mix to a cup of boiling water, drop in a teaspoon or two of honey and let it rest for around 10 minutes before drinking the nutritious drink.
The cornmeal doesn’t dissolve so it is rather a gritty drink, but certainly was nourishing in times when food was scarce, or people had to travel far without being encumbered by many supplies.
If you are using the pinole for a drink omit the flaxseed and almonds from the basic pinole recipe as they will make it even grittier!
As a Porridge
- Serves: 4
- Yield: 4 small bowls
- Preparation time: 3 minutes
- Calories: 232 per serving, 314 per serving with flaxseed and almond optional extras.
Mix the pinole with sufficient hot water ( around a cup or so) so it is forms a stiff porridge. It fills a person up for a long time and contains plenty of healthy carbs and proteins.
Ideal when you are on the move! It can also be served with berries and plain double cream Greek or Bulgarian-style yogurt.
- Serves: 10
- Yield: Around 20 cookies
- Preparation time: 3 minutes, baking time 10 minutes
- Calories: 46 per cookie, 52 per serving with flaxseed and almond as the optional extras.
The word grits to describe cornmeal is actually derived from an old English word grytt meaning a coarse meal.
If the grittiness of the cornmeal is a problem then you can take the porridge mixture from the recipe above and place it in tablespoonfuls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or so.
The problem is that the ‘cookies’ will be crumbly – like some homemade granola bars and you may end up with baked pinole looking a bit like muesli clumps (they are still super tasty).
So here is a recipe that uses some more ingredients over and above the very basic survival ones to make Baked Pinole, giving you Pinole Cookies which are tastier and sturdier.
Pinole Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup wheat flour (if you are gluten intolerant substitute almond flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup pinole made with the optional almonds and flaxseed
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk optional
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or if using a skillet to fry them then make sure it is moderately hot and your skillet has been greased with some coconut oil.
- Mix dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, pinole, and sugar.
- In a small bowl melt the butter and whisk in the egg.
- Add butter and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix to form a soft paste, using a little milk to moisten if it is too dry.
If you don’t have an oven on the trail then you can fry the pinole cookies in a cast iron skillet as seen below, but be warned they can be little tricky to turn without breaking them:
Serve your pinole cookies plain or rev up the flavor with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of honey. A variation is to drizzle a little melted white or dark chocolate over the pinole cookies.
Why Use Chia Seeds?
The seeds come from a plant called salvia hispanica and were known to the Mexicans, Native Americans and people of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. The tiny black and white seeds were believed to give strength and control hunger.
The flavor is not overpowering – just mild and somewhat nutty, making them ideal for pinole as they are high it protein, fiber and carbs as well as vitamins and minerals without being high in calories.
Preppers will be delighted with their long shelf life – usually stated by the manufacturer as two years after the batch is packaged, but if stored carefully the shelf life of chia seed can be extended for up to another year or so.
Everyone is fastidious about shelf life dates, and it is good to keep within the parameters suggested but it must be remembered that some food can last a long time – like honey.
If you examine a jar of honey you’ll see a sell by date, but honey that was found stored in pots in the ancient Egyptian pyramids was still edible 3000 years later!
P.S. You can find even more pioneer recipes here.
Traveler, photographer, writer. I’m eternally curious, in love with the natural world. How people can survive in harmony with nature has fueled my food safety and survival gardening practices.
At the age of 12, I found a newspaper advertisement for a 155-acre farm at a really good price and showed my parents one Sunday morning. They bought it and I happily started planting vegetables, peanuts, maize and keeping bees with the help of the local labor.
Once I married wherever we moved it was all about planting food, keeping chickens and ducks, permaculture and creating micro-climates. I learned how to build wooden cabins and outdoor furniture from pallets, and baked and cooked home-grown produce, developing recipes as I went along.