The virtual and digital worlds are playing havoc with our lives.
We spend so much time in front of “screens” we have forgotten what fresh food tastes like.
We would rather catch up on the life of Kim Kardashian than spend an hour in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal.
Junk food and tv have become mealtime companions and tv time has stolen into the time we would have used to make a fresh salad or used to put more thought on what lands onto our plates.
I did an experiment with my family,for a week.
I switched off the TV during meal times.
We talked more,the children did not fuss over their food and we enjoyed it more.
When was the last time you had a meal without the TV noise in the background?every now and then you had to look up,stop chewing your food or swallowed it in a gulp because something interesting had come up on-screen.
How many times have you grabbed coffee/tea and cookies in order to rush back to your computer screen.
When a sandwich would have been much healthier.
TV watching can be useful but not when it takes over our lives and we give up control over how and what we eat in order to catch up with some “stars” lives.
Remember this, people are getting paid to be seen on your screens and next time you are sweating it out on a treadmill because you gained a few kilos/pounds ,you will be the farthest thing from the TV star’s mind.
Get off the couch,make friends with your kitchen ,saucepans ,dust your plates and go shopping for some fresh food.
Spend less time in front of the tv or computer screen and hit the gym.
Let your children be children,let them go fly kites,play ball,do cartwheels if you have a grassy lawn .
Let them be active.
Show them that self-love also means feeding your body well,let them help you out in the kitchen and let them learn why vegetables,fruits and balanced meals are more essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Love yourself,lose some weight ,get off the couch and prepare something healthy,nutritious and delicious.
For a total of 8 years of ,4 each in upper primary and high school ,i spent every evening eating githeri.
Githeri is a central Kenyan delicacy of boiled maize and beans, fried in onions, tomatoes with some potatoes put in for good measure.
Murram as we called it in school then, was a staple and you did not have to be a rocket scientist to know what food our faithful cook Kariuki would put out to be served by whoever’s duty it was to act as “server of food” for that week to a table of 12 hungry teenagers.
The only deviation to this routine was on visiting days and any other day when parents trooped to school to see their young geniuses take a break from all the hard work.
Then they would bring us chapatis,pilau,chicken ,soda and anything else we were starved off in school.
Only for them to leave us with Eno to keep of indigestion that inevitably came with eating too much.
One of my first posts on this blog was turning githeri on its head and making a salad out of it in deconstructed githeri.
Now this is another way to have this Kenyan classic ,which nutritionally speaking, by combining maize and beans it results in a perfect protein much like rice and beans has been made famously healthy by the Mexicans.
My 5-year-old loves it and your family will love it too.
Its githeri jazzed up with some spice and lots of vegetables off different colours that make it so appealing visually.
I digress…this was meant to be a recipe.
2 cups dry/fresh beans parboiled
1.5 cup green corn/maize parboiled
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium-sized red onion,chopped finely
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 medium-sized potatoes peeled and halved
2 tomatoes cubed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small green capsicum,chopped
2 medium-sized carrots
salt and pepper to taste
1.Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat and pour the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
2.Add the red onion,saute it till it turns soft then add the garlic and fresh ginger root minced,fry for 30 seconds taking care not to brown it too much.
3.Add the garam masala and the black pepper,let cook for 15 -30 seconds taking care not to burn it, then add the potatoes and the vegetables plus the salt and tomato paste.Let it cook covered for 2-3 minutes ,stirring often till it turns into a thick sauce .
4.Add the beans and maize and enough stock to cover and let simmer for 30 minutes till the potatoes are soft and a fork passed through them goes through and the stock has reduced to just below the level of the beans and githeri.
Glossing over recipes is what I do,get the basic technique then fit them to my tastes/budget or what i have available.
Most of the time my food turns out great but at times times…not so great.
Like the time I bought Okra and overcooked it,i had o throw all of it out,i never did have the courage to feed it to my family,it tasted awful.
Or the time the electricity went out when I had two cakes baking for friends in the oven,they were just halfway through when the electricity went out and came back the next morning…i wanted to jump off the first floor of house that was on the first floor.
And how can I forget the many times I have had milk spillage when I left it unattended on the cooker,burned my sautéed kale or overcooked rice.
Or when I added corned beef to peas…never again will I trust meat that comes out of a can.
Every chef has a list of kitchen disasters they would rather forget.
What kitchen disasters would you rather forget…?
Dont be embarrassed about your kitchen disasters,they are the learning points from which we become better food artistes.
Kosewe’s in Nairobi CBD has the best goat tripe(matumbo).
After having it there a couple of years ago,I had to go and try it in my kitchen,previously I had eaten only cow tripe,but goat tripe is the real thing,packed with flavour and really tender.Sorry cows…….
Anyway tripe is eaten in many countries all over the world,in Italy it is even a street food much like we have mutura or stuffed tripe here in Kenya.And many parts of Italy have their own way of cooking tripe that is region specific.
In parts of France it is even considered a gourmet food,so you may want to give this food another try …
It is also cheaper than beef so one more reason to enjoy this delicacy .
Now the thing with cooking tripe is that you have to clean it well and to cook in on low heat till its tender.
First you have to parboil it for about an hour or two till the meat becomes tender,then you fry it and simmer the stew on low heat till the tripe becomes tender.
Seeing that the Christmas period is fast approaching and a lot of goats will be facing the butchers knife over the holiday season,try this recipe and delights your taste buds.
Like all animal products,tripe is nutritional benefits include it being a source of protein ,calcium,potassium and phosphorus well as containing small amounts of iron.
However it should not be an everyday food for anyone watching their cholesterol levels.
The pest thing for cooking this in would be an clay pot but a good saucepan would be just as good.
1 kilo of tripe par boiled
2 medium-sized onions chopped finely
2 large tomatoes chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped spring onions
salt and black pepper to taste
1.Once you have parboiled the tripe and all the water has evaporated use the same pot to cook the tripe in and just add the tomatoes,onions,tomato paste,salt and black pepper and just a tablespoon of olive/vegetable oil if necessary and lower heat to low and let the tripe cook for about 15 minutes.
2.After the vegetables have softened and released their juices uncover the saucepan and stir ,add some stock/water to cover the tripe and let simmer for a further 30-45 minutes.
3.Taste the tripe and if tender then add the chopped spring onions and turn off heat.Let the steam from the stew cook the parsley for 5 minutes then serve.
If it’s not tender enough just let simmer for a further 10 minutes then proceed as above.
Tripe can be served with anything from steamed rice to chapatis to ugali.
You cannot mention the Kenyan coast without talking about the coconut.
I remember when my dad would go on one of his many field trips as a film producer if he ended up at the coast,he had better bring home coconuts and mangoes or maembe dodo,the oval-shaped mangoes so emblematic of the coast
Nostalgia just had to creep through in this recipe where I use mango ,coconut and pineapple drink ..
But the star of the show should really be coconut water.
There is even an alcoholic drink at the Kenyan coast that goes by the name of mnazi,made from coconut water.
Apparentlycoconut water is a great anti aging drink but it also has other nutritional benefits, it has no calories but is a great source of potassium,better than bananas apparently.
Have you ever wondered what people did when they never had rice cookers,deep fryers,mixers,blenders toasters,microwaves ,non stick pans and all manner of kitchen gadgets that fill up space in our kitchen cabinets?
Did they ever have pizza,blend their foods,have perfectly cooked rice,have fried food or bake cakes?
How was it ever possible when nowadays with the advent of advertising everyone is out to convince you that you have to absolutely have that rice cooker that has at least 110 other functions?
Long before the advent of consumerism people survived and here is how.
Instead of buying a fancy toaster that has leaves all manner of pretty designs on your bread here is how to toast bread.
Melt a teaspoon of butter in a pan and once it begins to melt,place the bread on the hot pan ,press it down till the bread begins to turn brown along the sides.This tells you a crust is beginning to form,flip it over and do the same for the other side.
You can have the same results without the butter,maybe with olive oil or none at all.
You can get the same results over a grill too.
For perfeclty cooked rice every time without a rice cooker ,use 1 cup long grain rice with 1 and 3/4 cups of water and if using short grain rice follow this recipe
Want to grate your carrots and you do not own a food processor ,then some muscle work is involved,a good old-fashioned grater will do.
4.Oven for roast potatoes…?
Want roast potatoes but have no oven,here is a solution:Slit washed potatoes,skin on in half,drizzle some olive oil some salt and butter and wrap in foil.Throw over some hot coals on a grill/jiko,check after 10 minutes,perfectly cooked.
Wondering how to blend baby food or soups and you dont have a blender or want to enjoy mashed potatoes,a good food mill will do the trick.
Wondering how to mince your garlic and ginger,try grating it,chopping it finely,sprinkling 2 pinches of salt then rolling it fine with the help of a rolling pin.And if you can , get a pestle and mortar,gives you the same results.
7.Hand held.stand mixers
Long before you had mixers that came with dough hooks,whisk attachments,the good ol’ whisk was a life saver.
I will never forget having to cream together butter and sugar with a wooden spoon when I made my first cake on the grill,got some muscle work going and burned off a couple of calories too.
I always whip up whipped cream with a hand whisk.
Also getting your hands a little bit “dirty” by mixing your doughs with the best things at the end of your arms ,your hands will become a labour of love.Nothing like taking pride in the work of your hands or is there?
Did you know you can bake on your grill using just hot coals?when it comes to baking with a grill,you just need a large saucepan filled quarter with sand over a hot jiko or grill.Heat the sand till hot then place your cake tin with batter in the middle,be sure to have a large enough saucepan that will have space left over when you place your cake pan inside.
Cover the saucepan with a lid and place hot coals on top,be sure to check after 30-45 minutes ,its ready when a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and will depend on how hot your grill is,you do not want it too hot or it will not give yu the desired results.
Baking on a grill is especially great with pound cakes.
9.Electric Coffee Makers
Long before there were electric coffee makers there were and there still are Moka pots.Read about them here.
Or that long before they were electric coffee grinders there were manual grinders that to me are just a work of art!
Invented in 1901 they allowed people to enjoy espresso without worrying about electricity bills and if you ask me coffee from a Moka pot the old fashioned way is better than that from a plugged in device,but that’s just me.
10.Special Pizza Oven
Finally….want pizza?great pizzas are those that come from wood burning pizza ovens,just ask the italians.
I am even thinking of building one myself from bricks,minipizzas can even be made on the grill so long as you have hot coals.
See how cluttered our kitchen have become with too many gadgets that we use just once then put away.
What other kitchen gadgets do you think should have been on the list but i missed out on?feel free to share.
The year is coming to an end and i would bet my last shilling that there will be millions of people whose new year resolutions will be to eat more healthy food in 2012 and lose weight.
Sadly most of these resolutions do not go past January 15th because the battle for losing weight will have been lost in their minds and their hearts.
If you want to lose weight ,you need to ask yourself not how much you want to lose,but how much do you love yourself ?
How much do you love yourself that you are willing to forego unhealty fod choices for the sake of your heart,arteries and self esteem.
Are you willing to give up loving yourself for the sake of french fries and a piece of chicken that has been deep fried?
Is your self love worth the weight of a bottle of soda?
Any successful weight loss program should stand on the premise of loving yourself so much that you are willing to do the muscle work involved by sticking to an exercise routine.
Secondly that you have willed yourself to be making healthier choices in terms of the kind of food you are putting on your plate.
That is the kind of love we are talking about.
Too many of us love the “things” in our life more than our very health.
We faithfully take our cars for regular servicing,hunger for the latest tech gadgets,spend enormous amounts of time on acquiring many degrees.
But how many of us ever go for regular medical checkups at least once a year,spend as much time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals for ourselves and our families or even bother to read the food labels on the soft drinks and other processed foods we feed ourselves and our children?
(Y)our health is the greatest investment you will ever have and the only time we get to know the consequences of our bad choices is when we are lying on our backs in a hospital bed wondering what hit us.
Invest in your health today,learn to prepare healthy meals,spend more time in the kitchen,minimize your consumption of processed foods and soft drinks.Your body will thank you in your old age.
Yes,battling with weight issues is easy if you love yourself,sadly too few of us love ourselves that much.