Acorn Bites: Native American tribal youth create energy ball snacks made from protein-rich acorns

Acorns have long been heralded by indigenous groups as a rich source of protein, and now Native American youth have set about creating high protein energy balls made with acorn flour as a key ingredient.

The snack bars, known as Acorn Bites, is the creation of the Tribal Youth Ambassadors of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center in Santa Rosa, California.

Made with acorn meal and other organic gluten-free ingredients “representing the bounty of California”, Acorn Bites are a good source of fibre, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and amino acids.

Traditionally wiiwish, also known as acorn mush, was one of the main food staples of Native American tribes. Acorns were used in soup, porridge and bread. Acorns were gathered in the fall before the rain came. To harvest the acorns, Californian Native Americans would crack open the shell and pull out the inner part of the acorn. This part of the acorn was then smashed with a mortar and pestle until it was a flour-like consistency.

The flour-like substance was then leached several times with water until the acorn mush was no longer bitter (this also indicated that the mush was safe for consumption). This mush was then cooked in a waterproof basket with hot rocks and then served.

The idea of using traditional acorns in a modern protein bar was conceived of by one of the Tribal Youth Ambassadors following a food sovereignty assessment in 2016. In a collaborative project that would involve knowledge shared by tribal elders and the use ancient harvesting methods, it took almost four years to develop the project.

Launched last year, the high protein snacks are sold by Pomo and Miwok youth at local farmers’ markets and online via a dedicated website.

Proceeds from the sales of Acorn Bites go to fund educational and cultural advancement of youth in Sonoma and Lake County, including the next phase of efforts to help assess food security issues in the tribal community, and improve and promote access to Indigenous foods. 

Acorn Bites

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.

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