DATES,RAMADHAN AND MORE

Image of dates thanks to pinterest.

 

It’s the Muslim fasting period of Ramadhan and a lot of dates will be consumed during this period.

An odd number of dates is eaten to break the fast before the evening meal.According to the Muslim site Sunni.net one to three dates and 2 glasses of water is considered a healthy way to break the fast.

Dates are the fruits of the palm tree and the fruits have been a major part of the diet of the Middle east and South Asia.

Here in Kenya I have come across them thanks to the Muslim community a large majority of whom are found on the Kenyan coast.

Nutritionally dates are a source of simple sugars i.e sucrose and dextrose and that is why they are a great way of raising your blood sugars after a fasting period.

They are rich in dietary fibre and hence a good laxative if you suffer from constipation.

Dates are also a good source of iron which is essential for the formation of haemoglobin a blood component that determines the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells.They are also rich in potassium an important mineral that helps in the regulation of blood pressure heart rate.

Boiling milk in which dates have been added is a great convalescence drink too.

Read more about dates health benefits of dates.

Dried dates are best stored in an air tight container they have no need to be refrigrated though i have kept some  in my fridge for a week.

BOILED GREEN MAIZE/CORN

One of my best memories as a child was going to my grandmothers during the April holidays.

Reason being that there was a lot of fresh milk for me to drink and the young cobs of maize on her farm were just putting out their hairs and if you were lucky you got her to roast some for you or have them boiled

Oh what wonderful bliss for my taste buds!

Now its April again,farmers are tilling their land for the next season but we have green maize being sold at the market from places that had their rains much earlier than we did.

So I am making these childhood delicacy for my kids and they love it!

I use the freshest cobs of maize I can get,you know you have the right kind when the seeds appear full and still milky when pressed slightly.

Ingredients

3 maize cobs

lots of water

a large enough saucepan

salt

Method

1.Start by removing the outer husks and leave a layer or two of the husks still on the cob.It lends more flavour to the corn,trust me

2.Remove all the silk hairs

3.In a saucepan add water,bring to a boil add salt(just like you do with pasta) then add your green corn.

4.Let it boil for 8-10 minutes.

5.Serve warm.

Left over can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container and eaten cold or dunk them in some hot water and enjoyed.Remove the remaining husks when serving.

 

 

CARROTS AND MORE……..

One of my sisters ,who shall remain unnamed decided she wanted to run away.

And the only thing she carried was a carrot and her favourite dress.

A carrot! I still wonder how she thought she would survive on a carrot for who knows how long, till she got hungry and came back home.

Luckily we found her just as she turned the corner after our house.

Like most children she loved carrots and this root vegetables is a go to snack anytime.

If you store them in a plastic bag unwashed,and keep in the coolest part of of your fridge,this way   they can keep fresh for weeks.

Remember to wash them  before use.

They are  a rich source of beta carotene which gives them their yellow color,beta carotene once it gets  into  the body is turned into Vitamin A.

Carrots are rich in Vitamins C,B,D,E and K.They also contain minerals like potassium,manganese,calcium,phosphorus and sodium.

So how can you make more use of carrots.

1.Grated or cubed,make sure carrots are a staple in all your meat and vegetable dishes,Whether they be stews or salads.

Start off with this carrot cake inspired salad

2. Make carrot juice and blend it with other fruit drinks like fresh apples/beetroot and orange juice.

3.Use grated or julienned carrots to garnish dishes in which you have used carrots.

4.Carrots also add a wonderful accent to things like soup,include them when making items like this ox tail soup

5.Blend carrot juice with some thick yoghurt and some pieces of pineapple/beetroot or any fruit of your liking and you have a drink that is a powerhouse of nutrients.

What other carrot uses can you come up with?

PINEAPPLE PANCAKES

I love pancakes.

I make them every Sunday morning for breakfast.

You can find some of the recipes for parsley/coriander pancakes,gram flour pancakes and pancakes where i used grated chocolate.

Last week I bought semolina flour because I wanted to make fresh pasta  and thought I could use it to make this pancakes.

Semolina makes the batter a little thicker than regular flour ,the pancakes also have crisper edges and they are a little thicker than crepes which makes them pancakes!

Semolina flour is yellow and  has a lot of gluten than people who sensitive to  gluten(a plant protein need  to stay away from.

The flour is made from the endosperm of durum wheat.

The Nakumatt chain of supermarkets sells locally produced of semolina in packets of 1 kilogramme at 85 shillings ,they also stock imported semolina in 500 grammes packets.

Gluten being a wheat protein that helps baked products like cakes,doughnuts,bread retain their shape better.

Here is the recipe ,the pineapple really gives them a sweet taste without the need for too much sugar.

Pineapple apart from being rich in Vitamin C also contains manganese a radical fighting dietary component and copper that helps in the utilization of iron.

Ingredients

1/cup semolina flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs 

1 cup milk

1 scant tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon ripe pineapple finely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons extra virgin oil

oil for frying

Method

1.In a blender combine  eggs,milk,flour,sugar.salt,essence and 2 tablespoon extra virgin oil in a blender and blend for 2 minutes.

2.Add the pineapple pieces and leave overnight in the fridge.

Next morning…….

3.In a skillet of heavy pan over medium heat  add i tablespoon of vegetable oil,once it hot enough about 60 seconds add some of the batter and swirl it till it cover base of pan thinly.

i use a serving spoon to measure out the batter.

Wait for 2-3 minutes till the pancake starts to curl around the edges and they turn a light brown then flip them over.

4.Add just a little bit of oil to cook the second side making sure to press down to ensure the pancake gets cooked,takes about 30-45 seconds.Then turn it onto a flat platter.

5.Repeat this with the remaining b atter and you are going to end up with about 4-6 pancakes.

Enjoy!

SOUR MILK(MALA) AND YOGHURT BENEFITS

Kenyans are not huge fans of cheese but we love our sour milk and for those from the Rift Valley there is Mursik  which is fermented milk that is flavoured with an indigenous tree that has been charred in wood fire,it is then stored in a special holding gourd for its flavour to develop.

I love unsweetened Mursik .

It must be the reason behind the prowess of our long distance runners,majority f whom come from the Rift Valley and especially the Kalenjin community ,where this is an after dinner,lunch and anytime refreshment.

It is such  a delicacy in this community that it is served at weddings and when our athletes return from conquering the world athletic tracks,a gourd of refreshing mursik awaits them at the airport.

Sour milk benefits are similar to those derived from yoghurt,though their consistencies differ.

Both are products of treating milk with live cultures and result in products where the milk protein lactose is broken down into a simple sugar called lactase that people who are lactose intolerant can digest.

Benefits of including more yoghurt and sour milk in your diet include the fact that these two dairy products contain more protein and calcium than regular milk .

The live cultures in these foods also aid in digestion.

I  steer away from artificially flavoured yoghurt as it have too much sugar,you are better off buying the plain yoghurt and flavouring with your preferred fruit.

Just in-case you may be wondering what to do with these two dairy products,here are 5 ways to do it.

1.Instead of using mayonnaise for all your salad dressings,substitute half of it with a thick natural yoghurt.

2.Use sour milk/plain yoghurt to replace the water when making your pastries like doughnuts,pizza,samosas,chapatis even cakes.

When making cakes using sour milk/yoghurt,replace some of  the baking powder with bicarbonate of soda

3.Use a yoghurt base for your fruit salads,just a few spoons in the bottom of your salad bowl then top with your preferred fruit slices and an extra spoonful for garnish would not hurt either.

4.Make your own fruit shakes from non flavoured yoghurt by blending a glass of these milk products with your favourite fruits.

5.For women make yoghurt/sour milk  part of your diet,not only does it help protect against osteoporosis but the active cultures in these drinks offer some protection against yeast infections

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G GRAM FLOUR PANCAKES

Gram flour remains an underrated pantry item.

In another post I had used it to make arrow-root bhajias,but I got a moment of inspiration when a crepe craving kicked in and I decided to make crepes with the flour.

The resulting pancake is denser than a crepe and by adding the eggs it softened it up,though you can still choose to omit them and have a crisper pancake.

Bein a protein rich food as well as being a good source of iron and fibre I decided to substitute half the flour in  my pancake recipe with gram flour and it turned out A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

That is the only way to describe what I ate.

The batter can also be used to make mini pancakes when you shallow fry a tablespoon of the batter ,they make for great appetizers and finger foods especially for cocktails.

They are best served while still hot/warm.

Without further ado here is the recipe,you have to try it to believe me.

Ingredients

1/2 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup gram flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion/finely chopped coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 table-spoons extra virgin olive oil

Vegetable oil for frying

Preparation

1.Start by soaking the chopped onions in a small bowl  with salted water for 30 minutes then drain and set aside

2.In your blender or in a mixing bowl,pour the flour,salt,milk,olive oil  and eggs and either blend or whisk together.

3.Add the onions and refrigerate overnight or for an hour before frying the pancakes.

4.Heat a heavy pan/girdle and pout about a tablespoon of oil then spoon the batter using a large serving spoon and swirl it round till it forms a thin pancake on the pan.

5.Cook for 3-5 minutes till underside of pancake is brown and the edges start curling upwards then flip it over .Let it cook for 2-3 minutes till its brown then transfer to a platter lined with paper towels.

6.Repeat the above step with the remaining batter that makes about 6 pancakes.

7.Serve them while still hot/warm.

MANGO AND BEETROOT LASSI!

Lassi’s are home to India as much as tea is and they are made from blending yoghurt with fruits preferably tropical fruits like mangos or pineapples.

I first got a recipe for this from Aarti’s show which you can find here.
I decided to make it my own by tweaking my red hot mango fruit drink and instead of the water i added natural unsweetend yoghurt.

Try it!

Ingredients

1 ripe mango

1 glass of  natural yoghurt

Juice from a fresh lime/lemon,fresh

1/2  a medium sized beetroot sliced into quarters.

1/2 red chilli powder.

Some drinking water

Ice cubes

 

Method

1.Peel mangoes and slice off the flesh aound the seed then cut it into cubes .

2Put these in ablender,then add the quartered beetroot,juice from the lemon(it prevents the beetroot from turning color).

3.Add some honey or syrup for taste,2 pinches of red chilli powder  and yoghurt   to make it easier to blend the mixture and pulse for 3-5 minutes  till you get a smooth consistency

Add more yoghurt/water   till you get the desired thickness.

4.Get 2 tall drinking glass,put some ice cubes and pour the drink.

RED “HOT” MANGO FRUIT SMOOTHIE

Nothing screams December is here, better than mangos…in Kenya atleast.

Mangoes are everywhere you turn,in fruit stalls, in wheel barrows being pushed by street vendors,you see them in all shapes and sizes and colors everywhere you look.

And they come cheap.

They remind me of the lond December holidays i had as a kid and we would go back to Nairobi with a sack ful of mangoes for our neighbours.

And no fruit vendor worth his salt would sell mangoes without some chilli powder mixed in with salt to accompany these delicous fruit.

Mangoes are a great source of Vitamin C,dietary fibre ,folate and Vitamin B6.

Mangoes are some of the most commonlly cultivated fruits in the tropics and they originated from India then spread to the rest of the world.

In addition to being eaten on their own as a fruit,they can be turned into smoothies,eaten in salads,chutneys and as garnishing on ice cream.

There are even dried mango strips sold in some specialty stores and thye are delicious and great for kids to snack on,definetely better than potato crisps.

Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes

1 glass of  drinking water

Juice from a fresh lime/lemon,fresh

1/2  a medium sized beetroot sliced into quarters.

1-2 pinches red chilli powder.

Ice cubes

Method

1.Peel mangoes and slice off the flesh aound the seed then cut it into cubes .

2Put these in ablender,then add the quartered beetroot,juice from the lemon(it prevents the beetroot from turning color).

3.Add some honey or syrup for taste,2 pinches of red chilli powder  and water  to make it easier to blend the mixture and pulse for 3-5 minutes .

Add more water till you get the desired consistency.

4.Get 2 tall drinking glass,put some ice cubes and pour the drink.

HONEY IN 6 AMAZING WAYS!

“I am wearing Ralp Lauren,no pants”-Barry Bee(Bee Movie)

A honey dip

One of my all time  favourite movies is the Bee Movie!I have watched it with my five-year old daughter countless number of times .

It tells the story of Barry the Bee who wants to save the bees from what he sees as  human exploitation.

If the law suit the bees had filed against human exploitation had gone through,it would have made it illegal for humans to say things such as “honey am home” or using honey in  beauty products and kitchens without paying royalties!.

It is a wonderful movie that captures in a very whimsical manner the really hard work and the complexity of bees..

Did you know a colony of bees will fly the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect just 1 kilo of honey!

Find interesting honey bee facts here.

Not only is honey great because it is a natural sweetener but it is also has anti oxidants that are  great in fighting off free radicals that cause disease ,Vitamin C,minimal amounts of phosphorus and selenium .

There are many things you can use honey for in the kitchen and they do not include using it as a bread spread.

1.In salad dressings

Mix a table-spoon of honey with the juice of three fresh lemons or lime an d use it as a dressing on fruit salads.

2.In marinades

Use it to marinade chicken or pork.Try out my sweet and sour chicken recipe.

3.In placeof sugar

Do you know it can replace sugar in most of your pastry recipes like chapatis,bread ,tea and other types of drinks that require sweetening.

4.In oven roasted bacon

Brush your strips of bacon with honey and then pop them under your grill.

5.In butter

Mix one tablespoon of honey with a few tablespoons of butter and you have honey butter.

6.”Hot” Honey

Add a few pinches of pepper flakes to honey,blend it together with some wine vinegar,olive oil,parsley,garlic  and you have a hot and sweet  dressing that can be drizzled over salads.

Its super yummy!

Like all things good,honey consumption should be in moderation as it is twice as sweet as  regular sugar.

CREAMY COLESLAW

Coleslaw is a quintessential American salad that i love to bits.

Made from shredded cabbage,carrots and onions it is very easy to make and will have you loving cabbage all over again.

I have added my own twist to regular coleslaw by adding a dash of color with the inclusion of red cabbage,a German twist to an all American classic

Red cabbage has more Vitamin A than regular cabbage and has more anti- inflammatory agents  and  anti oxidants than its counter part the regular green cabbage. 

Red and white cabbages

Ingredients

1 small cabbage shredded finely

2 medium-sized carrots 

1/4 red cabbage shredded

2 sprigs of spring onion

1/2 cup sour cream

 salad seasoning for taste

2 sprigs of spring onion for garnishing,chopped finely(optional)

Method

1.Pour the sour cream into the   salad bowl.

2.Starting with the shredded cabbage add all the vegetables to the bowl except the spring onions.

3.Add salad seasoning just enough for taste and toss,add more seasoning if need be.

4.Add the shredded spring onion,toss again and if not serving immediately cover salad bowl with cling film and refrigerate.

5.Serve,it goes well with almost all kinds of food.

NB:If you do not like the taste of onions then add some chopped nuts for extra crunch.