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.

ALL ABOUT CHOLESTEROL

‘Cholesterol free’ is  a term that most manufacturers of cooking fats and oils use to describe their products.It is a term used to tell you the customer,that their fat or oil is good for your heart and health.

But what really is cholesterol and what does it do?

Cholesterol contrary to popular belief is present in our bodies and our bodies actually need this much villified globule of fat or lipid.We actually have this little globules  floating around in our blood plasma and the consumption of certain types of foods high in   “bad” cholesterol  is what is bad for your health.Consumption of certain foods (e.g peanuts)  that have the “good” kind of cholesterol is beneficial to our bodies.

Cholesterol then is actually a good thing because the body needs it  in the production of certain bodily functions like  bile acids,production of sex hormones and conversion of sunshine to vitamin D.

Low density lipoprotein  LDL is the bad kind while high density lipoprotein or HDL is the good kind.

You maybe wondering why we are referring to lipoproteins when we should be talking about cholesterol…it is because cholesterol is carried in our bodies and into other parts of our bodies by lipo proteins.

Foods rich in fibre will help lower your levels of cholesterol and drinking orange juice(real orange juice not that form a packet)increases the good kind of cholesterol.Garlic also when included in your salad dressing or when cooking food also helps lower your cholesterol levels .

Vitamin A,C and E that are present in foods like papaya,carrots,pumpkin,most citrus fruits and nuts like peanuts ,almonds and sunflower seeds also may help moderate levels of cholesterol in your body.

Foods that contain LDL,the  bad kind of cholesterol and which should be consumed in moderate  amounts include chicken liver,cow liver,meat,eggs and butter

HOW AFFLUENCE AND POVERTY FUEL CANCER RISKS

Back in the days when nutrition was a relatively new area of specialization ,about 10 years ago,everyone thought a nutritionist belonged either in refugee camps,hardship areas or hospitals .

Most of the Kenyan population still thinks so but a growing number of people are now realizing that a nutritionist is key towards achieving overall good health.

A number of them are being sought by all and sundry to advise on how to live healthier lifestyles.

Sadly every Tom,Dick and Harry now claims to be a nutritionist,even a gym instructor.

Affluence and better incomes in Kenya have brought  a lot of things with them,and one of the most significant is dietary changes.

A lot of people when they get more money to spend on food items,the firs thing they think about is diet change.Processed and packaged foods are thought to go well with their elevated socio- economic status.

You will then find a lot of people having lots of processed foods like cereal-out-of-a box,sausages,hot dogs and all manner of packaged foods ,loaded with preservatives just because they can.

At the bottom of the economic pyramid are the very poor who for lack of choices will eat everything and anything of what is available.

Both of these groups have one thing in common,they  suffer malnutrition for different reasons.

While one group suffers because it lacks knowledge and not choice,the other suffers from lack of choice because of limited economic resources.

Both of these groups need nutritionist but for different reasons.

Lets us start with the higher end of the socio-economic bracket,the upper middle class and the über rich .

What do they have for breakfast?lots of processed foods because they have more money to spend they  shun porridge,arrow roots,sweet potatoes and go for high-end cereals,preserved meats just because we can afford it or don’t have time to prepare healthy meals.

Most of the cereals mask hidden sugars in all it forms from sucrose,glucose to fructose.

Kenya is seeing an increase in the number of lifestyle diseases like diabetes which previously were unheard of and the patients are getting younger by the day.

It is all because of the hidden sugars available in some of the foods we are giving our children.

Am sure we never read the labels..right?

Next on that list is preserved meats that are loaded with preservatives to lengthen their shelf lives as well as to appear attractive.

The most common preservatives used is sodium nitrite that  gives  preserved meat its fresh looking color.

Its use has been associated with increased cancer risk and especially that of leukemia and brain tumors in children and young infants.This is according to a study done by the American Association for Cancer Research which also linked  the use of this preservative as a leading cause for the increased risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancers.

But did you know you can make your own sausages from minced/ground beef ?well that is a recipe for another day.

Now on the extreme side of the socio- economic ladder are people who for various reasons and especially economic ones cannot afford to eat well-balanced meals.

So what do they do,they settle for fast foods like fries which have been cooked in oil that has fried tonnes of chips before, the oil has literally decomposed and turned color.

Which is always a bad sign,it should be thrown out.

But how many fast food joints throw out their deep frying oil after  a few uses?

If you walk into most informal settlement in Kenya you will meet enterprising men and women frying up potatoes and  little doughnuts and this are especially attractive to young children.

Most of them use wood to cook but just so that they do not use as much fuel as they should and to save on costs ,they pile plastics to get the right temperatures at which to fry their foods.

The result..obnoxious foul smells from the burning plastics and we all know the toxicity of these substances and how they increase cancer risks.

This group of people is especially liked by the manufacturers of soft drinks and other carbonated drinks that are loaded with sugar,preservatives,artificial color and all manner of chemicals that when conusmed in high amounts are increasing Kenyans risks of cancer development.

Now for both groups of people I would suggest re-education on the basics of what is healthy and what isn’t,both of them have the means and ability to be able to live well on their budgets with the food available without resorting to some lifestyles that are increasingly shortening our lifespans and increasing medical costs.

Let us arm ourselves with the knowledge that is available,seek medical advice from medical practitioners and especially consult a nutritionist if you are in doubt as to whether what is on your plate is good for your body.

Most government hospitals and private ones too now have nutrition departments .We should make use of these men and women who either for free or for a small fee can take us back to the basics of good and healthy meals.

NB:Some nformation on the risks of sodium nitirite has been sourced from www.naturalnews.com

WORRIED ABOUT YOUR BABY’S WEIGHT…?

All my babes have never been chubby and i know one other friend of mine who wa sin the same class with me and one day while we were sharing war stories on mother hood we both lamented the fact that our babes have never been the poster images of bouncing bundles of joy.

Too often mothers have this idea in their heads that babies must be for lack of a better word “fat”.So wes tuff our little angels with food just so that when we go the next visit the scales will do us proud and declare that all the porridge,cereal,milk,fruits we gave them did not go to waste.

A lot of the time we forget that being heavy is not always a sign of good health.

Many factors play a part in determining how much your baby is going  to weigh like genes for example.

My babies never weighed more than 3 kilos at birth and seeing that i gave them all the right foods their growth charts everytime  visited the pediatrician were always on a steady rise,they never showed any drastic changes unless they were sick which was rarely.

At one time  made the mistake of going to a different pediatrician as the regular one who had followed my daughter from birth  was out of the country  and he ordered for all manner of tests on my daughter who was then barely two years.

Reason,he thought she was too lean for her age.

They found nothing wrong with her(thank God) but from then on I made sure  I stuck to one paedetrician who assured me I had nothing to worry about,my daughter was growing at her own pace.

For any mothers reading this who may be worried their babies are not as round or chubby as their neighbours,I would like to tell them to take it easy.So long as your child is taking meals that cover all the important food groups from carbohydrates to proteins and taking their fruits and vegetables to cover their vitamin and essential minerals intake there should be no cause for alarm.

Broccoli Crazy…!

Photo courtesy of www.international. stockfood.com

You might be asking why would anyone name their site Broccoli Crazy?

It is  because i love these bulb of green florets like crazy,broccoli is actually called a super food as it comes packed with everything from Vitamins to minerals that when aritten are as  long as your arm and that are great for your body.

This vegetable is a nutritionists dream!

Some of the goodness it comes packed with includes Vitamins A,C and K,it contains folate,iron,magnesium,calcium,potassium,calcium and fiber.

Of course there are other superfoods but this one to me is too good to be true.

The blog will be a way for me to pass on information i know as a nutritionist who studied at one of this country’s finest institutions Kenyatta University and my experiences as a mum and a wannabe chef in my own kitchen.

Leave any questions or comments on anything and everything,i will do my best to answer them.

Hopefully together we can raise a generation of healthier children and we can see the rising numbers of cancer cases in the next generation dwindle.

The information is not medical advice and all care should be taken to consult a doctor in case of any medical conditions.This is just  a journal of my journey into  the conscious  choices  i have made towards adopting healthier eating habits for my family .

Bon appetit!

NB:All photos are sourced from the internet unless otherwise stated