Happy Indigenous People's Day

Happy Indigenous People's Day

Happy Indigenous People's Day! So many of the foods we enjoy during the autumn months are indigenous to North and South America and were first cultivated by Indigenous people. Turkey, pumpkins, squash and corn are just a few. In fact beans, squash and corn were so much a part of the pre-colonial diet that they are acknowledged as sacred among our plant relatives. One of my favorite ways to indigenize my kitchen during this time of year is to incorporate some of these foods into western favorites, like cupcakes, for example. Here is my recipe for Blue Corn Cupcakes with Pumpkin-Spice Buttercream Frosting. 

I like to swap out the sugar for stevia to make them even healthier, and of course the only flour you’ll find in my kitchen is the Blue Bird brand. I grow and grind my own corn, but you can find it at your local health food store or order it online from the Indian Pueblo Store here in Albuquerque. Navajo folks and other Indigneous people add a teaspoon or so of Juniper wood ash to their blue corn mush (a hot cereal like cream of wheat.) Juniper ash is high in absorbable calcium. It is also an alkaline substance that breaks down the outer shell of the corn so the human body can better absorb the corn’s calcium, niacin and vitamin B3. So, I add that to my cupcakes, too!

Blue Corn Cupcakes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Juniper ash (optional)
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups milk or milk substitute
  • ⅓ cup Vegetable oil


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease up your cupcake tin
  2. Combine the flour, corn meal, sugar or sugar substitute if it’s in dry form, salt and baking powder
  3. Whisk in the egg, milk, and oil until the batter is smooth. It should be fairly runny. The blue corn requires more moisture than yellow corn meal.
  4. Pour in the tins and bake for 20 min.

Pumpkin-Spice Buttercream Icing


  • 2 sticks of soft butter
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (aprox. Half a can)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar *I reduced the powdered sugar in mine and used liquid stevia, and it tasted great but the texture was a little loose
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional)
Story by Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers.
Photos by Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers.

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