A calabar girl’s beauty secret


Calabar is a region in the coastal south-eastern part of Nigeria where the women are known for their flawless skin, long and beautiful hair, strength and cooking skills. When it comes to skin, hair and other externals my philosophy is quite simple: take care of the inside and the outside will take care of itself. This is why I believe the Calabar girls beauty is directly linked to her diet and in this post I will be exploring three basic elements of that diet

1) Dark green leafy vegetables – The people of this region are known for their love of all that is leafy, dark and green. It is a staple and non-negotiable aspect of their diet, from edikangikong, Afang to editan and the likes. So what has dark leafy vegetables got to do with the skin?

Source: http://thescienceofeating.com

Dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of vitamins  and minerals such as:

  • Vitamin A – This vitamin also known as retinol is widely acknowledged as the skin vitamin, as it helps keep the outer layer of tissues (skin, hair, gums, teeth etc) and organs healthy. When applied externally it has been known to help in the treatment of acne, superficial wrinkles, impetigo,boils, carbuncles and open ulcers.
  • Vitamin E – If I were to name this vitamin I would call it the vitamin of youth, a powerful anti-oxidant it helps keep the skin looking younger by retarding cellular ageing due to oxidation.
  • Folate (Folic Acid) – This vitamin is essential for the production of nucleic acid (RNA and DNA). Its helps in the metabolism of protein and helps to promote healthy looking skin.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant which plays an important role in the formation of collagen which is key for the growth and repair of skin cells, hair, gums, blood vessels, bone and teeth.
  • Lutein and Chlorophyll – These are both anti-oxidants, with lutein helping to boost hydration levels and improve elasticity in skin and hair and protecting against sun damage.

2) Unprocessed Palm oil – This oil is the oil of choice for cooking most dishes in this region of Nigeria.

Palm oil is a great source of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) having 15 times more beta-carotene when compared to carrots. Beta-carotene is an effective anti-oxidant for fighting free radicals that can damage skin as a result of exposure to UV rays.

Palm oil is also a rich source of Vitamin E which helps prevent signs of ageing by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on skin. The anti-oxidants properties of vitamin E make it great for stimulating hair growth as it promotes blood circulation round the body including the scalp.

3) Fresh Wild Caught Seafood – Being a coastal region, seafood is what is largely consumed. Seafood is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help improve blood circulation which is crucial for healthy hair, skin, nails etc. Some food sources of Omega- 3 fatty acids commonly consumed by the people of this region include catfish, shrimps and Tilapia.

Seafood is also a rich source of zinc which is essential for the synthesis of protein and collagen formation. Zinc is also known to help fight acne because it’s involved in metabolizing testosterone, which affects the production of an oily substance caused sebum, a primary cause of acne. Zinc also assists in new-cell production and the sloughing off of dead skin, which gives the skin a nice glow.

The beauty of a diet like that of the Calabar people is that all the ingredients work in harmony with each other. Majority of the nutrients found in green leafy vegetables are fat soluble therefore requiring the presence of a saturated fat like Palm oil in order to be absorbed by the body. In addition Zinc found in seafood works best the presence of vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus (both of which is found in the green vegetables) making this diet a recipe for show stopping skin, hair, nails, teeth, gum etc.

When we take all of these into consideration, we understand that a flawless skin is not merely a gift of nature but the product of adequate nutrition. Little wonder that the first ever Miss world Nigeria produced is from this region. 🙂

In my next post I will be sharing a traditional recipe from this region, a recipe for show stopping skin! lol

Any guesses what this recipe is?

1) Mindell. E and Mundis. H (2011) New vitamin bible, New YorkWarner Books Inc


3) Layton, Julia, and Katie Lambert.  "Top 10 Foods for Beautiful Skin" 

4) http://www.livestrong.com/article/198458-what-are-the-benefits-of-palm-oil-on-hair-skin

Scottish Oatcakes topped with Mango Chutney



My first experience of Scottish oatcakes were shop bought and I must say I do love them, but after making these not sure I would eat another shop bought one without feeling cheated.

These make a great snack or quick breakfast for those busy mornings when a proper breakfast is not feasible. Oats generally make a good breakfast as they are known to provide a steady release of  energy which can help cut down cravings and therefore the urge to snack before lunch.


225g oats

Oats are a healthy, whole grain ingredient. They provide carbohydrate, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other important nutrients.

60g Whole-wheat flour

The original recipe uses whole-wheat flour but I substituted this for buckwheat flour because I had some buckwheat flour at home and plus experts tell us its a healthy option. Will be trying rice flour next. 🙂

60g Butter

Butter is often stated as the oil/fat of choice when cooking at high heat. This is because unlike other fats and oils which can get damaged when exposed to high temperatures, butter, ghee, coconut oil and olive oil remain stable on high heat.

Some commenters have use 3 tablespoon of olive oil in place of butter. Will be trying coconut oil when making my next batch

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

60-80 ml hot water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
  2. Mix together the oats, flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Add the butter and rub together until everything is mixed and has the consistency of large bread crumbs.
  4. Add the water (from a recently boiled kettle) bit by bit and combine until you have a somewhat thick dough. The amount of water varies; depending on the oats.
  5. Sprinkle some extra flour and oats on a work surface and roll out the dough to approx. 1/2cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes (the final number of oatcake depends – of course – on the size of cutter you use. I used a drinking glass as my cutter
  6. Place the oat cakes on a baking tray and bake for approx. 20-mins or until slightly golden brown

I topped mine with some mango chutney and they tasted lovely! You can however top with cheese, jam,chutney or spread of your choice.


Tackling Rice : This one is for you Daddy!


It is safe to say rice is one of the mostly widely eaten grain across the world. For one I know that households in Nigeria eat rice anything between 2-3 times a week, if not more. It seems therefore quite fitting to start with this all time favourite.

When I began consciously going ‘healthy’ with my eating, one challenge was reducing the amount of starchy carbohydrates in my diet, and rice was pretty top on my list. Whilst there is nothing wrong with starchy carbohydrates I knew I was eating more than I needed to.

So the challenge for me was: How do I reduce my consumption of rice without necessarily feeling ‘deprived’ and this is how I set out to create what I call ‘Daddy’s Rice’

Daddy’s Rice (serves 1-2)


Cooked Rice (1 cup)

Rice is a starchy carbohydrates making it a good source of energy which plays an important role in our diet. Apart from being a source of energy, rice also contains protein which the body needs to grow and repair itself, B vitamins which help release the energy from the food we eat and fibre which aid bowel movement.

Cabbage (4-5 leaves from a medium size cabbage)

Cabbage along with broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale belong to a group of vegetables know as cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are good for us because they contain a substances called glucosinolates and D-glucarate which help the liver in an important detox process called glu-curonidation.

Carrot (4 medium-sized carrots)

Carrot is a source of beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A as required by the body, what is left is then used as anti-oxidant. Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin and good vision. Also Beta-carotene has been found to help strengthen the immune system, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke, and protect against the formation of cataracts.


1) Cook the rice as you would normally

2) While that is cooking, in a food processor combine the cabbage and carrot (properly washed) and blend until fine; if you don’t have a food processor to hand simply grate the carrot and slice the cabbage finely.

3) Steam the vegetables lightly, a quick tip is to pour the vegetable mix over the rice just before it is cooked and let the steam from the rice cook the vegetables. I use a stainless steel steamer basket placed over the rice. Because the vegetables have been sliced finely 2-3 minutes should be enough.

4) Once this is ready, I mix one part rice with two parts vegetable mix as I often aim to follow the guide below. Combining before serving helps to ensure you don’t ‘avoid’ the Vegetables. This could be helpful for kids (and adults) who tend to see vegetables on the side and cleverly work their way around it, picking off only what they want.


Serve with a sauce and meat/chicken/fish (or not if you are vegetarian) of your choice and there you have it!

One other advantage I’ve found with eating rice this way is that it encourages me to chew my food properly; which not only means that my digestive system is not put under undue stress but I also tend to eat less because I get a greater sense of fullness.

You can choose to use other vegetables or even use pasta instead of rice, explore and create what works best for you and would love to hear how you get on.

Oh, so why is it called Daddy’s Rice? Well because growing up Daddy always made a big deal about us having rice on its own. We always had to have some sort of vegetable (carrot, cabbage, peas etc) on the side, therefore seems fair that I dedicate this first post to him! 🙂


1) Holford.P and Joyce F.M (2007) The 9 day liver detox: The definitive detox diet that delivers results, Piatkus
2) Mindell. E and Mundis. H (2011) New vitamin bible, New YorkWarner Books Inc

Dear Dream Reader

Dear Dream Reader,

A bloger writes so that people can read, the blogsphere flourishes because of both parties so I would like to start by thanking you for reading thus far and I hope you will come back.

I don’t know you but I like to think if you clicked on a health and wellness blog its because you care about your personal health and that of your family and friends. While I am not a health expert, I hope I can share health tips and nutritious recipes which I have picked up and will probably be picking up on my personal health journey.

If you clicked on this blog because you associate the name and “gele” (head tie) with Naija and thought “omo wa ni” (she is one of us) then I hope you will come back as I will be taking our most popular dishes and putting a healthy spin on them without having to spend a fortune.

And if you clicked on the blog because you are a friend or sibling of mine and wondering what Funmi is up to this time, then you have no choice but to visit this blog regularly, otherwise remember I know where you live! 🙂

So whatever your reason for giving this blog a second click, I hope this will be a learning ground for bloger and reader alike as we walk our way to a healthier life.

Love Funmi

Who am I and Why am I Here?

Is who I am more important than why I am here? Not sure actually but in any case here is my answer to the question.

To share health tips and recipes 

Having embarked on a personal health journey and seen the many benefits I am obviously buzzing with the enthusiasm that comes with new found discoveries. And as is often the case with such situations one often feels the need to tell of the wonders of Coconut oil and sing the praises of Kale.

Food is only one part of the puzzle though, health and wellness go beyond just what we eat and this blog aims to explore the other areas which contribute to our overall health and wellness.

To share healthy tips and recipes that will be inclusive

A Nigerian by birth and Resident of the United Kingdom by choice, I understand that an every day Nigerian can sometimes feel at a loss in a  ‘healthy living’ world which seems to promote the consumption of items which cannot be found in the local markets. This blog aims to bridge that gap, providing readers with suitable and easily accessible alternatives which have the same nutritional values without breaking the bank.

Be part of a community

There is an African Proverb which says “if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together” Through this blog I hope to meet and connect with like minded folks across the globe as there is, no doubt, so much more for me to learn on this journey.

An Energy consultant by day, student of the Natural Health Care college, Daughter, Sister and friend, my schedule can be pretty tight but I would love to hear and learn from readers so please do leave me a comment or drop me an email and I will be more than happy to reply you.

Thanks for stopping by and welcome to my BLOG!