Nigerian ‘swallow’ is NOT unhealthy 

Let me start by saying nothing saddens me more than hearing people say the Nigerian diet is unhealthy. When people say this one of the major things you hear them talk about is how our diet is so high in Carbs. People who want to lose weight are advised to shun our Nigerian ‘swallow’ or make so-called  ‘healthy’ alternatives using foreign ingredients which are not readily available and also more expensive.

I do not blame the people who give such advice to be honest because it’s easier to find research on the health benefits of cabbage or oats than it is to find health benefits of ‘fufu’. But fear not that is why we are here, to ensure that our motherland food is not sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. 😊 So today we will be looking at what is probably the most vilified aspects of the Nigerian diet – swallows.

For those of you who might not know what ‘swallows’are  its a general term used to describe foods made with starchy carbohydrates and prepared with water until they have a dough like consistency. These are then eaten with a variety of stews. Popular ones include Eba (made from cassava) Amala  (made from yams) Tuwo (made from maize or rice). The picture from Nigerian Lazy Chef  sums it up beautifully, I mean how can anyone look at this and say its noy healthy. Nigerian diet is infact one of the healthiest in the world! 🙂

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Photo Credit – Nigerian Lazy Chef

It’s not surprising that swallows are being blamed for weight gain because after all they are made from carbs and carbs are bad for you, yeah? Well, the answer depends on what you mean by carbohydrates.  As silly as that statement might seem,  I have released that in practice not everyone knows what constitutes carbohydrates in the diet. Therefore in a previous post I talked about the different types of carbohydrates and the impact of each on health and weight.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source, we thrive on them and for most people, we become irritable without them.  The problem isn’t carbohydrate but the type and quantity of carbohydrate and the same goes for swallows.

Swallows are made from complex carbohydrates what that means is that the body doesn’t break them down as quickly as it would sugar (a simple carbohydrate) for instance. That said majority of swallows are made from what we call starchy carbohydrates which are naturally higher in calories when compared to their non-starchy counterparts.

Starchy carbohydrates come  mainly from root vegetables like cassava, potatoes,yams but also grains like rice and corn. Non-starchy carbohydrates  typically grow above the ground and include things like salads, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, celery etc.Yes vegetables are carbohydrates.

Because starchy carbohydrates are dense sources of energy a little goes a long way. The high carb content of these foods in their original state might be high but a closer look at the preparation methods of these foods reveals once again the wisdom of traditional methods.

What do I mean? Well Let’s look at each of these methods in turn

1) Fermentation – A number of our traditional swallows undergo a process of fermentation. This is a process used in a number of cultures and is scientifically proven to reduce the carbohydrate content of foods. In addition it provides us with probiotics. For more on the importance of fermentation and probiotics please see my previous post.

2) Oiling – In addition to fermentation some swallows like yellow garri eba and ‘starch’ involve the addition of palm oil. This makes sense because the lower degree of fermentation means that carb content is still a bit high. The added fat/oil helps to further slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

3) Hydration – Swallows are cooked in water. A significant amount of what you eat in a typical swallow meal is water. This increases satiety (feeling of fullness) thus limiting consumption. In addition to being cooked in water, they are eaten with soups rich in fibres. Some of these fibres absorb water and help to further increase feeling of fullness, especially the ‘draw’ soups.

4) Balance – Swallows are not eaten on their own. They are eaten with soups cooked with healthy oils and protein both of which further help to reduce their impact on blood sugar and consequent weight gain.

At this point I would like to talk about one of the so-called healthy alternative that has caugt my attention recently. It seems to be popular with those on ketogenic/low carb-high fat diets in Nigeria. Yes you guessed right it’s the likes of cabbage eba , eggplant Amala etc. Obviously my first thought was ‘which one be this one again o’ and though I applaud the creativity, I was quite curious and wondered how they manage to give cabbage a ‘sticky’ consistency. A quick search on the Internet revealed the secret ingredient :Psylum husk.powder.

Psylum husk is a soluble fibre used in the treatment of constipation because of its ability to soak up water and therefore make stool softer and defecation easier. Though soluble fibres like psylum husk might have a number of benefits, the problem with using it as a supplement or in cooking is dosage. Dosage is key when supplementing with fibre as there is an increased chance of overdosing than when fibre is eaten as part of the whole vegetable. Psylum husk has a number of potential side effects ranging from mild to severe. Some common ones include gas,bloating, abdominal cramps and interaction with minerals and medication which limit absorption and efficacy. For more on the potential side effects of Psylum husk and dosage see here

So before you decide to switch to so-called ‘healthy’ alternatives  consider the above and following guidelines:

Summary Guidelines for Eating Swallows as part of a weight loss diet. 

  • Go for fermented options These include Eba (Ijebu garri has the lowest carbohydrate), fufu,lafu, Eko/agidi.Eko is a type of swallow made from fermented corn (it’s basically solidified pap) and though  not as popular as the others is worth considering for those looking to lose weight.  I remember we used to have it with vegetable soup back in secondary school. (All hail Federal government girls college, Sagamu…lol)
  • When eating  grain based swallows like Tuwo shinkafa  use local or brown rice which hasn’t been polished rather than the refined ones. Grains are not usually fermented but the fibre helps to reduce impact on blood sugar levels. A grain based swallows that has received a lot of attention in recent times is made from the humble ‘fonio’ also known as ‘acha’ grain. It is popular in the northern part of nigeria amongst the Plateau and Bauchi tribes (yeh. ..my people..lol). Acha is gluten-free grain which is high in protein and other nutrients.
  • Add more water – Dont make your swallow hard like olumo rock.  Also consider ‘swallows’ which naturally have a higher water content like Amala, lafu and Eko. The high water content of swallows like Amala make them a staple amongst the Yoruba people when weaning/introducing solids to infants.
  • Reduce your portion – A fist size portion is recommended. More soup and less swallow. This is where some of you might be glad you got big hands. lol
  • Eat swallows with ‘draw’ soups like okra, ogbono and ewedu. Every wondered why eat and love ‘draw’ soups? Well, it’s cos they are high in soluble fibres. When soluble dissolve in  water they form a gel like substance which coats the lining of the intestine thus ensuring that glucose (from carbohydrate) enter into the blood stream gradually. This is an important factor for weight management because when glucose enters the bloodstream gradually it is less likely to be stored as fat. A number of researches have been carried out showing the ability of Okro to help reduce blood sugar levels. This has made it an important food to consider  in the management of diabetes. Apparently roasted okra seeds have been historically used in the treatment of diabetes in turkey. Please do not substitute your medication for okro.
  • Consider swallows like unripe plantain fufu. Unripe plantain contains a type of starch known Resistant starch. Resistant starch are not broken down by digestive enzymes and as such have no direct impact on blood sugar levels. They are digested in the large intestine and like fibre help feed the friendly bacteria. These can be made by slicing and drying the unripe plantain. This is then be blended into a powder and prepared the way you would any other swallows. This is the way my grandma use to make it but  you can also make them using fresh unripe plantain. There are loads of recipes online.
  • Finally avoid   I call ‘new age’ swallows like poundo (most contain little if any yam flour) wheat. They contain a significant amount of carbs and other additives without the added benefit of fermentation.

Grandma’s Legacy – Ijebu Garri and Why You Should be Eating it for Optimum Health

Ijebu Ewe so o (greetings in Ijebu)

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Today I am excited to share the wonderful health benefits of Ijebu-Garri and my excitement is due in part because I belong to the Ijebu tribe in Nigeria best known for our resourcefulness, sophistication and beauty (honestly I am not making this up..lol). Both my parents are from Ijebu so I am a full blooded member of the clan. 🙂 Also my grandmother (God rest her soul) made and sold Ijebu Garri for many years  at the market in Ijebu-Ife. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until she passed on did we start buying garri, we always had a constant supply of high quality Ijebu garri courtesy her. It therefore gives me great joy to tell of the many benefits of Ijebu Garri in loving memory of ‘Mama Ijebu’ (that’s what we called her).

First a little bit of background.

What is Garri?

Garri is a fine to coarse granular flour of varying texture made from cassava tubers (also called cassava roots) which are cleaned after harvesting, grated, water and starch squeezed out of it, left to ferment and then dry-fried (dehydrated) either with palm oil or without palm oil. This is a major staple food in West Africa and eaten in a variety of ways.

One such way is to drink it, this is by far Nigeria’s number one fast food simply add water to the grains stir and there you have it. People often add sugar, groundnut or milk to it – making it a balanced meal/snack. 🙂
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The other way is to cook it in hot water and made into a dough (Eba) which is eaten with a wide variety of sauces.

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What makes Ijebu-Garri so special and beneficial to Health?

My research interest with Garri began when I started looking into the health benefits of probiotics (will explain this latter). Upon reading how many traditional diets provide probiotic benefits through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh etc; I began to think about what fermented foods we had in Nigeria. Quite naturally Garri came out top on the list, this along with Ogi/Pap/Akamu (made from fermented corn or millet grains), Iru (a natural food seasoning made from fermented locust beans) and wara (local cheese).

So what makes Ijebu-Garri so special? Ijebu-Garri is left to ferment for much longer which gives it its characteristic sour taste. The effect of prolonged fermentation is twofold; one is that the carbohydrate (starch) content is reduced to a greater extent and the probiotic benefits are optimised as bacterial population increases the longer the fermentation process.

Ijebu-Garri is also dehydrated to a greater extent which further reduces the risk of moulds giving it a longer shelf life.

What is Fermentation? 

Fermentation is a process whereby the sugars and starches are eaten up by bacteria cultures and converted to produce lactic acid, carbon-dioxide and more bacteria (friendly one’s); and the longer the fermentation process the more sugar and starch is eaten up and the lower the dietary carbohydrate present in the food. This is the reason why fermented foods are often advocated amongst diabetics or those looking to control blood sugar levels and lose weight.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotic which means ‘for life’, is a general term for microorganisms that contribute to health in the intestinal tract. They are beneficial bacteria that help us fight disease and illness.

There are billions of friendly bacteria in the body, all performing wonderful functions such as aiding digestion, improve immune function, balance hormonal levels, protect against infections from fungi and yeast (which can go into the bloodstream and cause diverse illnesses), help keep the body generally alkaline which according to some is the most beneficial state for good health, manufacture of some B vitamins, and lots more.

The use of antibiotics (which do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, and as such kill off both good and bad bacteria), poor diet and stress can lower the number of these friendly bacteria. This can lead to a state known as Dysbiosis which is a bacterial imbalance where there is an unwanted increase of bad bacteria and yeast. Dysbiosis has been reported by some to be at the root of a number of conditions such as yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis 1. Many health experts believe  that  having adequate amount of friendly bacteria which help to crowd out bad bacteria that invade our intestines is the best way to ensure good health.

How do we increase or maintain adequate levels of friendly bacteria?

  • Eat Cultured/Fermented foods – A study carried out by Osho et al (2009) and published in the African Journal of Food found Lactobacillus (a probiotic) in Garri samples taken from markets in Ogun state. They concluded by saying that small-scale fermented foods such as Garri and Iru are a good source of Probiotic bacteria.  Other fermented foods include live yoghurt, cheese,  kefir (a fermented milk drink), natural miso (made from fermented soybeans ,barley or rice)  natural sauerkraut (made from fermented cabbage), tempeh, and kimchi (made from fermented cabbage)

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  • Eat a Fibre rich Diet – Fibre from fruits, legumes and wholegrain are a good source of Prebiotics (not to be confused with Probiotics). Prebiotics are derived from carbohydrate fibres called oligosaccharides. These are not broken down in the digestion process and as such remain in the digestive tract where they help feed and encourage the growth of good bacteria. The fibre in Garri may also provides Prebiotic benefits making Garri a food that provides both pro and prebiotic benefits, how awesome is that! 🙂

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  • Take Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplements – These are available in capsule or liquid form. Do consult your health provider before taking supplements.

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Another benefit of Ijebu Garri which I touched on briefly at the beginning of this post is that it has a lower starch content/dietary carbohydrate. First, the initial process of soaking and draining reduces starch conent, which is then further reduced by the fermentation process.

It is difficult to know the exact carbohydrate count of a fermented food but the principle to always bear in mind is this: the longer the fermentation time, the more carbohydrate is eaten up by the micro-organisms and the more sour it is the lower the dietary carbohydrate. 

This information is further evidenced by the fact that we Ijebu’s always prepare Eba on the fire (my room-mate at UNI was shocked when she saw me doing this once and I was shocked that she was shocked..lol) simply putting hot water in a bowl and mixing in the Garri will not give it that ‘elastic’ consistency. Even with that, the ‘elastic’ consistency (which implies a higher starch content) we get is still lower when compared with other types of Garri such as ‘Yellow Garri’.

This is the reason why many non-Ijebu’s say Ijebu Garri is best only for drinking. This in itself is a blessing because some have said that the probiotic benefits of a fermented food can be reduced by heat and as such drinking Garri might be the best way to get its probiotic benefits.

Either way whether you decide to soak it or eat it as Eba, Ijebu Garri remains the King of Garris! 🙂

What fermented foods do you have in your part of the world?

Aubergine ‘No Meat’ Meat Balls 

The other day I bought some Aubergine and the plan was to sauté them and have them with Yam just the way my Dad likes them but I just didn’t seem to get round to it. I was going to get rid of them when I remembered I had seen a recipe in my Abel and Cole “Veg Box Companion” cookbook  for “Aubergine No Meat Meat Balls”.

Those who know me know I am a long way away from being vegetarian as I do love my meat but this is definitely yummy and a testament to the fact that Vegetables don’t have to be boring.

This recipe is yummy and is definitely not just for vegetarians and Vegans. 🙂

Aubergine No Meat Meatballs 

You will need

  • A few splashes of olive oil
  • 2 Aubergines cut into small cubes
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon,  juice and zest
  • A handful of pitted olives
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or a pinch of chilli powder)
  • A large handful of fresh basil or 1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 mug of breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp of pine nuts (optional)

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Method 

  • Place a large pan over medium heat. Sizzle the aubergine and onion in a bit of oil

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  • When they’ve picked up a little colour and are almost done, add garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and lemon zest.
  • Tip into a food processor with the olives, chilli, herbs, vinegar, breadcrumbs and pine nuts(if using) You can also chop everything on a large chopping board and mix. Season.

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  • Taste and add more seasoning as needed. If it’s too wet you can add more breadcrumbs. If too dry add a bit of olive oil.
  • Shape into balls and fry in some Olive oil until brown all over.

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  • Serve with tomatoes sauce and eat with rice or pasta!

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Enjoy!

Re-thinking Carbs and a Simple alternative to Pasta

Last weekend I was talking to a friend and as seems to often be the case with me these days we were talking about health and food. In the process I mentioned that cucumber was a source of carbohydrate and she looked surprised and said “really? so what should we eat then?” Now that statement highlighted two things:

1) The common confusion as to what foods fall under the carbohydrate group

2) The common misconception that carbohydrates are ‘bad’ and should be avoided or limited.

So today we will be looking at  carbohydrates, what role they play in our bodies and how to differentiate between the different types of carbohydrates.

What are Carbohydrates?   

Carbohydrates are one of the essential macro-nutrients which means they need to be obtained from food. Carbohydrates are used in our bodies to produce energy, they do this by breaking carbohydrate rich foods down into glucose which is transported into the cells where the process of energy generation begins.

Which Foods are sources of Carbohydrates?

There are two broad categories of Carbohydrates namely simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates the major difference being the rate at which they are broken down and absorbed.

Simple carbohydrates are made of one or two sugar molecules and therefore broken down quicker thereby given us ‘quick’. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are made up of multiple sugar molecules which take longer to break down.

Some food sources of simple carbohydrates:

  • Molasses
  • Jams, jellies
  • Fruit drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Candy
  • Table sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • White Rice
  • White flour products such as pasta, cakes, pastry etc

Sources of Complex Carbohydrates: 

  • All kinds of Vegetables – Leafy green vegetables, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Cucumber,Celery, Onions, Bell peppers etc
  • Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads. Also brown rice, pearl barley, corn, quinoa etc.
  • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin, yams, cassava etc
  • Beans, lentils, and peas

Some complex carbohydrates have a higher carbohydrate content and are generally known as starchy carbohydrates. These include foods such as potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips. As a general rule all ‘below the ground’ crops have a higher carbohydrate content.

Low Carbohydrates vegetables are generally above the ground crops such as Cucumber, Asparagus, green leafy vegetables, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Brussel Sprouts, onions etc

So what is the problem with Carbs?

In my opinion the only problem is one of balance, ideally we want to get most of our carbohydrates from the complex spectrum. This is because a diet consisting mainly of refined/simple carbohydrates which release glucose quickly can lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels. These foods give us us what is known as a sugar rush or a buzz of energy but soon leave us feeling tired as energy levels dip. This leads us to eat more which can lead to weight gain.

The key to having a balanced blood sugar profile (especially for non-diabetics) is to eat complex carbohydrates which release glucose gradually, providing us with a steady stream of energy rather than a buzz. Also to eat at regular intervals throughout the day (every 3-4 hours) and to have small amounts of protein with every meal and snack as proteins help slow down the stomach emptying time therefore slowing down the rate at which glucose is released into the bloodstream.

So now that we’ve looked at Carbohydrates, lets look at a simple recipe which uses a vegetable with a lower carb content to make a special kind of  noodles. 🙂

Today I will be sharing a low carbohydrate alternative to pasta/noodles called Zoodles.

You will need – Serves 1-2

  1. 1 Zucchini/Courgette
  2. 1 Red Chilli
  3. 1 Cup diced cooked chicken
  4. 1/2 tbs Fresh root ginger
  5. 1 garlic clove
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Spice of choice – Optional depending on whether or not your chicken is spiced
  8. 1 tbs cooking oil

Method

1) Grate Zucchini/Courgette lengthways or use a  spiralizer and set aside

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2) Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, ginger and chilli

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2) Add chicken and spices if using, stir for a few minutes until hot.

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3) Add zucchini and stir for a minute or two and there you have it. 🙂

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Happy Cooking at Eating! 🙂

Mango Chutney Chicken

This Mango Chutney Chicken recipe is one I found on the Daring Gourmet website (if you don’t already know her, do visit her site!). I will be adding a bit of Nigerian Flavour to it. 🙂

Sweet and savory is a winner with most people and this recipe definitely ticks every single box! So no much chatter today, let’s get cooking:

You will need

  • 8 pieces of chicken drumsticks
  • 4 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 tbs of Suya Spice – (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Score the chicken and squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and set aside to rest in the fridge. Lemon juice helps to pre-digest the meat aiding the infusion of flavours.
  3. IMG_2499 In a small bowl, all remaining ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine.
  4. IMG_2507Coat the chicken with the mix and place the drumsticks in an ovenproof dish and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. IMG_2509Take the chicken out and spread the remaining sauce over the pieces and bake for another 30 minutes or until chicken is well cooked and juices run clear.
  6. To get a crispier feel, you can place under the grill till skin turns become crisp.
  7. This chicken is best served and eaten immediately. 🙂

I had mine with some salad (Spinach, Rockets, grated carrots and some pearl barley)

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Home-made Mango Chutney

A chutney in its simplest definition is a savoury Jam, which can be made from a variety of fruits, vegetables and spices.The word Chutney originates from the Indian word Chanti which means crushed because the ingredients were traditionally crushed in a mortar and pestle.

During the british colonial era, soldiers and their families developed a love for this local dish and as they moved from place to place the lack of certain ingredients led them to create variations of chutney using what was available. So much so that today there are as many variations of chutney as there are methods of preparing it.

My love for mango chutney began on a trip to Exeter, as I walked past the market stalls I spotted a stall with an array of chutney. No doubt the mango chutney caught my attention, and as I was pondering whether or not to buy it the seller proceeded to tell me they were homemade  by a small family business up in …(can’t remember now). If the mango didn’t get me, the thought of supporting a small family business did the trick so I bought it and was in no way disappointed.

When I finished the jar, I decided to try my hands at making some myself and that is how I found a recipe by The Daring Gourmet. I have made slight changes to it, using less spices as I wanted to create milder version similar to the one I bought in Exeter market. 🙂

Let’s get cooking

You will need:
  • 2 Large Mangoes or 4-5 medium-sized ones (Peeled and cut into  chunks)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used coconut oil but you can use any oil of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh root ginger, you can mince this using a grater
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar

Method

  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan and add garlic, ginger and chilli; sauté for a few minutes then add your spices and Sauté for another minute.
  • Add mangoes sugar and vinegar.
  • Stir well and bring to a quick boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • They say a simple test to know if your chutney is ready is to make a channel with a wooden spoon across its surface when it seems thick enough and if it leaves a channel imprinted for a few seconds without being filled by spare vinegar, it is ready.

This recipe filled a medium-sized jar and still had a bit left over!

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The acidity level of chutney means it will generally keep well, storing in the fridge for up to two months in a sealed jar according to the Daring gourmet a conservative time frame.

There are more than one ways to enjoy your mango chutney, I sometimes have it on oatcake (see recipe here) or crackers with cheese.

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You can also try this Mango Chutney Chicken, recipe coming soon. 🙂IMG_2519 Enjoy and do let us know how you get on! 🙂

White Fish cooked in Coconut Milk

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, combining ingredients based on their nutritional benefits and hoping to God they come out edible. Needless to say I’ve had some recipes that didn’t come out quite as expected though edible and nutritious, like when I added finely chopped vegetables to my oatmeal, now that is a story for another day.

Today’s recipe thankfully tuned out well and was made on one of those days where I had no clue what I was going to have for dinner. No exciting new recipe to try out, no left over from a previous meal and quite frankly I wasn’t really in the mood for anything elaborate, just needed something light.

I had some white fish in the freezer, tossed in a bit of this and a bit of that as I went along. I was going to make a basic fish sauce when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment as I remembered I had some coconut milk in the fridge, tossed that in and cooked the fish in the milk and voila!

I wasn’t actually planning on putting this up on the blog but I posted a picture on my Facebook page and a friend said she wanted the recipe for this weekend as she was tired off eating fish the same  old way. (lol) So this one is for you Oma and thanks for following. 🙂

I would say this recipe serves two but your appetite might be smaller or larger than mine. 🙂

You will need 

  • 300 g of white fish fillet
  • 240 ml of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (or curry powder)
  • 1 table spoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 table spoon of coconut oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sage
  • 1/2  teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 chopped chilli or 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)

Method

  1. Wash the fish and pat very dry with kitchen towel/paper.

Note: If using a whole fish, you will find a useful guide on how to fillet fish here .Also defrost if using frozen fish fillet

You can also use Croaker fish or any other fish with a mild/subtle flavour. A fish like Mackerel will most likely overpower the dish in my opinion.

  1. In a medium sized pan heat the oil and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Heat this on medium-low and sauté for a few minutes until on, stir around in the pan to keep them from burning.
  1. Add oregano, sage, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

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  1. Pour in the coconut milk, add turmeric and chilli if using. Stir to combine flavours. Add fish and cook on low heat until fish cooks through.

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  1. Serve with some rice and/or steamed vegetables or simply have on its own. The first time I made this I just added some sweet corn, makes a light yet feeling meal.

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Feel free to use alternative spices based on what works best for you. Hope you enjoy it and do let me know how you get on. 🙂

Health Benefits

Fish is a good source of protein and essential vitamins

Coconut milk – This is high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) which in the winter warming soup recipe I said was a type of fat which is converted quickly to energy rather than being stored as fat. This type of fat also puts less strain on the digestive system as they do not require bile acids for digestion, they move directly to the liver via the portal vein.

Turmeric – This is one spice that has been featuring very highly on my go-to spice list. I have been adding it to everything (well almost everything..lol), watch out for my curry cake. 🙂

The active ingredient which gives turmeric its many health benefits is known as curcumin which is known to have powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties have made curcumin popular for the prevention and possible treatment of many inflammatory diseases. For more on the health benefits and uses of turmeric see this article.

Curry –  is a blend of spices one of which is turmeric, so in the absence of turmeric you can use curry as some of the nutritional benefits are shared. For instance they both have the active ingredient curcumin though they differ in their iron, manganese and Vitamin E content. According to Louise Tremblay on livingstrong.com 1 tablespoon of turmeric contains 5.2 milligrams of iron while curry has 1.2 milligrams. Also 1 tablespoon of turmeric is said to contain 1.9 milligrams of manganese while curry gives 0.52 milligrams. Vitamin E is one area where curry is said offer a greater advantage with each tablespoon of curry containing 1.6 milligrams of vitamin E, while turmeric contains just 0.4 milligram.

Ginger – Ginger is known for its ability to help with digestive issues such as gas and flatulence. It also helps in the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients while its anti-inflammatory properties have been known to help with aching muscles and joints (perfect for winter months!)

Onions and garlic – These are an excellent source of sulphur-containing amino acids. The sulphur helps the liver to detox through a process known as sulphation. The amino acids also provide the body with the raw material needed to produce glutiathone, which is a crucial element needed by the liver to carry out it detoxifying function.

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Funmi’s White Fish cooked in Coconut Milk