SOCIAL EXPERIMENT:TV WATCHING IS BAD FOR YOU HEALTH

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.

Surprise!

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.

JAZZED UP GITHERI

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.

Ingredients

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

stock/water

Method

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.

Serve with some creamy coleslaw or kale or you favourite salad.

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?

MY KITCHEN DISASTERS

Experiential.

That is the kind of foodie I am.

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.

 

NOT-SO-ORDINARY TRIPE STEW (MATUMBO)

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.

Ingredients.

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

Method

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.

Enjoy!

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.

COCONUT AND MANGO FRUIT MIX

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.

And is a great rehydration drink in the heat so common at the coast.

More about coconut water.

Glass of coconut water

Now here is what you need for this drink ,which would be great with a shot or two of something that is not water.

Ingredients

Coconut water from 1 coconut

1 ripe mango

1/2 cup diced pineapple

Juice from 2 limes

Some drinking water

 

Method

1.First peel mango and remove the flesh ,dicing it and  putting it into a clean bowl till you are left with the seed.

2.Split coconut and drain the water into a glass.

3.Squeeze the juice from two limes.

4.In a blender put in the coconut water and diced mango pieces.

5.If you want you may want to add a tablespoon of honey to sweeten  but the drink is fine as it is.

6.Blend the fruits to your desired consistency adding water if it gets too thick.

7.Get a tall drinking glass and if you have an extra lemon slice it in half and use one half and pass it round the rim of the glass flesh side down.

You want to dampen the rim so that the sugar sticks.

8.Place the glass rim side down onto the bowl of sugar,you now have sugar crystals round the rim.

9.Put some ice cubesthe diced pineapple pieces into the glass,  then pour the blended juice.

10.Garnish with a slice of thinly sliced lemon and a colored straw

You are off to the tropics,just make make sure you have a handful of cashewnuts to complete the picture!

MCHICHA(AMARANATH) SAUTEED IN GARLIC AND TOMATOES

This  is a great vegetable that grows wild and especially when it rains!

It resembles baby spinach but is more tender and normally i chop it roughly then  blanch it for 5 minutes t hen fry it .

Like spinach they should not be overcooked as they lose much of their nutritional value.

They are a great source of Vitamin A and C,Iron,calcium as well as sodium.

My kitchen garden is filled with these vegetables and am loving making them as side dishes with ugali and beef stew ,with rice and am even thinking of a recipe salad!

If you are tired of eating kale or spinach then this is something that will have your taste buds humming with pure joy.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched mchicha ,drained

2 medium-sized carrots ,grated

1 large tomato

2 cloves garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method

1.Over medum heat in a small saucepan/saute’ pan pour the vegetable oil then add the minced garlic,Saute’ for 5 seconds and once its begins to soften and the chopped tomatoes and the grated carrots.

2.Season with some salt and black pepper and cover saucepan and let cook for 2-3 minutes till tomatoes turn mushy and soft.

3.Add the blanched mchicha cover and lower heat and let cook for 5 minutes.

4.Uncover and stir the vegetables to mix them.

5.Taste for seasoning and at this point you can choose to add some cream,an egg or even peanut butter.

Goes really well  with rice,ugali,chapati or macaroni.

WHY YOU DONT NEED ALL THOSE KITCHEN GADGETS..

Whisk used to whip up whipped cream

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.

1.Toaster/Pannini press

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.

2.Rice Cooker

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
.

3.Food Processor

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.

Check out other ways to use your grill here.

5.Blender

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.

6.Garlic Press

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?

8.Cake Oven

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!

Vintage coffee grinders

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.

BATTLING WITH WEIGHT LOSS?LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.

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.