Monday, October 19, 2009

Tarahumara Endurance Diet On Two Bucks a Day

Since I finished reading the book Born To Run which I reviewed in my last post, I have had a hankering for Mexican food!

I am fascinated by what makes the Tarahumara such amazing Super Athletes. Witness the following:

Many Americans will be killed by heart disease, stroke, and gastrointestinal cancers. Almost none of the Tarahumara will.


When it comes to the top 10 health risks facing Americans, the Tarahumara are practically immortal. Their incidence rate is at or near zero in just about every category, including diabetes, vascular disease, and colorectal cancer. Age seems to have no effect on them either. The Tarahumara runner who won the 1993 Leadville ultramarathon was 55 years old. Plus, their supernatural invulnerability isn't just limited to their bodies; the Tarahumara have mastered the secret of happiness as well, in a world free of theft, murder, suicide, and cruelty.

In reading the book, I was enthralled and salivating over their typical daily diet and decided to give it a try. And today, I'm going to share it with you. The best part about it? It's cheap!

The mainstay of the Tarahumara is corn but they also eat squash, beans and chili. Pinole, a fine powder of toasted corn is the most common food. Meat is rarely eaten but on special occasions they eat goat, mice and fish.

I went down to my local Ralph's grocery store, shopping list in hand:

Pinto Beans 1 lb: 1.29

1 onion: .74

corn tortillas: 1.59

monterey jack cheese 8 oz: 2.49

green chili sauce 8 oz. 2.99

avocado (2) 1.49 ea

hav'a corn chips: 2.19

Total = $14.27

The meal is really easy and fun to make. The pinto beans cook in a large pot with the onion and water for about 2 hours. I love the feel of having a big pot simmering on the stove. It always makes me feel cozy and warm.

The corn tortillas can either be served with the beans as is or you can fry them in some safflower oil to use for tostadas. I did both.

The avocados were mashed up with a little spike for guacamole to be served with the corn chips.

I didn't notice monterey jack cheese as a Tarahumara staple but decided to add it to the top of the tostadas anyway topped with delicious green chili sauce. You can use red chili sauce if you prefer.

I decided to forgo the goat and mice, especially since those are typically eaten only on special occasions. Plus, our black cat, Ruby, hasn't brought me any mice lately.

When I checked the nutritional content of the food, I was struck how most of the foods are off the charts high in potassium. I'm no nutritionist, but I do know that potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the human body, responsible for keeping heart, brain, kidney, muscle tissues and other important organs of the body in good condition. It's also acts as an electrolyte, very important for endurance events. I think the Tarahumara are on to something!

So, the meal comes out to about 2.37 per person if you divide it by six. There were only two of us; Surfer Boy husband and me, enjoying dinner Tarahuma style under a stunning Southern California sunset.

And for the piece' de resistance? A bottle of heart healthy, resveratrol rich, Grgich Hills Estate Grown 2005 Cabernet Sauvignaun: 54.99 with my Ralph's Club Card.

Hey, I never promised you I'd be a cheap date. Cheers!


  1. If they don't die of natural causes, and they don't die violently, do they live forever?

    Tell us the rest of the story.

  2. Jim: I suppose nobody lives forever although it would be nice to drink the corn beer they brew,run hundreds of miles for fun and die when you're good and ready! One of the best accounts of their tribe is written up in the excellent book by Christopher McDougall "Born to Run" Cheers!

  3. GRINGOS: You guys never learn, if they are like that is because they live according with nature. They don't need stupid gadgets,books,sickos,etc. They only need HUEVOS that a lot of people in the 'INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY" don't have!!