A family gathered around a meal ,enjoying it,catching up on each others lives,cracking jokes,talking about shared memories,what can be more beautiful than that?
I am a big campaigner of families sharing meals together.
There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your loved ones gathered around a table enjoying a meal.
Research has shown that children from families that eat together are less likely to abuse drugs,get eating disorders,get depressed,smoke …read an interesting article from the Time Magazine on family meal times.
Despite busy schedules and after work activities ,strive to have family meals together as much as possible . It is more likely that you will eat something more nutritious than a pack of fries and deep fried chicken .
You are more likely to get your children eating more healthy meals and you will get them to eat their vegetables.
Children get their habits from what we do rather than what we say,show them what healthy eating is all about by preparing healthy whole some meals for them.
They will pick up life long healthy eating from the family table.
They are a versatile root vegetable that come in all colors,shapes and sizes and have been in around for about 10,000 years.Refer to history of the potato here.
Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates and dietary fibre,they are also a good source of vitamin C ,potassium,manganese and vitamin B6.
We all know eating deep-fried food is not only bad for your health but for your waist line too,so here are simple ways to have your potatoes guilt -free.
1.After boiling them and draining water,add a tablespoon of butter ,some fresh cream and black pepper.
2.You could add some color by adding chopped parsley just before you bring out your masher.
3.For some sweetness as well as heat ,add cinnamon and black pepper .
4.Add some baby squash to your potatoes before boiling ,just a cup or so,and see the wonderful color of sunshine it adds to your potatoes,not to mention the added vitamin A you are giving yourself and your family.
Want to share how else you add more pizzazz to your mashed potoatoes?…leave a comment behind.
When you cook you can experiment with tastes,flavours,textures,color you can practically play around with all the ingredients in a recipe till you create a signature dish.
When cooking there are no rules,you create the rules.
But there are some guidelines to follow to ensure you create something memorable and here is what I use in my kitchen.
My number 1 rule is balance,you need to create balance ,nutritional balance of the meals you are preparing
Ensure your meals are nutritionally balanced,they cover all the food groups.And incase you have forgotten,there needs to be some carbohydrates,some proteins and lots of vegetables and a slice of fruit.
This will ensure you are giving your body what it needs.
To get an idea of how your portions should be like,refer to my post on portion control here.
course you need to provide interesting flavours with your meals,do not make them bland.
Mother nature has been generous enough to provide us with herbs,spices and a variety of other foods that mixed and matched will make all your meals memorable.
Find flavours that go well together and create memorable meals.Tease the taste buds of the people you are preparing the meal for,take them to heaven and back!
Texture of a food will determine how enjoyable the meal was……. or not.
Have you ever eaten ice cream and instead of being smooth and creamy it turned out grainy ,that was your mouth feeling the texture of that brand of ice cream which is created by ice crystals.
Or if you take porridge and it turns out lumpy,or meat that turns out chewy after cooking that all texture.
One of my favorite TV chefs Giada DeLaurentis says “you eat with your eyes first.”
Any meal should appeal to the eyes first,no one likes a plain-looking plate.
Let us imagine for a moment you had a plate in front of you that was all one color,not appetizing is it?
Create color by including more vegetables on your plate,especially the red,orange,yellow ,green varieties.All great for you in every imaginable way.
Dont you think its amazing that all the good foods (fruits and vegetables)all come in bright sunshiny colors,reason is so that you can eat more of them.
Make food so colorful the minute peole lay their eyes on it ,they want to grab their forks,spoons,knives and just dig in.
Though how a meal is plated may not be something you worry about too much,you do not want a meal that is thrown all together hapharzadly.Where the rice beans and vegetables all look like a jumbled mess.
You want to be able to pick out the components of a meal without feeling like you are going through a haystack.
Climbing my grandfathers’ macadamia trees when I was younger ,before self-consciousness hit me at 15 years was the highlight of any school holiday.
With my siblings,we would eat macadamia nuts off the trees like we were being paid to so.
Macadamia nuts grow in bunches , though their leaves can be really prickly but it never deteered us from eating them.It’s utter bliss goodness when you crack the nut…
We would eat them while they were still raw and their shell had not gone all dark brown and hard.You practically cracked them open with your teeth.
Later when they were left to dry, the outer covering that was green would turn into a hard brown kernel ,underneath was a tougher outer shell that we used specialized equipment to crack open.
The special pieces of equipment were scattered under all the macadamia trees littering the farm which were about 30 in number and they consisted of two stones.
One was a big stone we called the base and which had a groove the size of a shilling because of the nuts that had nestled there before they were robbed of their “treasures”.The other was a smaller stone that provided the neccessary pressure and force to crack the nut open.
We were nut-crackers!
I never ever thought about roasting the nuts like they now do with the pre -packed ones because raw,they could take you to heaven and well you remained there.
We would often be found by grandfather sheltering under a tree our bellies full of this little bits of creamy nuts with no need for lunch.
While the nuts have a high concentration of monounsaturated fats that are said to be great for the heart.
Here are five great ways macadamia nuts are used:
1.Eaten raw they are delicious and if you cannot have raw nuts then you can have them roasted.
2.On their own or paired with other nuts they make for great snacks to have with beer or wine
3.They make a great nut spread for breads because of their creamy nature that is as a result of the oils they contain.
4.They add richness and crunch to foods like cookies,breads.
5.Macadamia nut oil is used for cooking food a true culinary treasure.
Apparently they have a higher concentration of oil than olives!They are also rich in protein,dietary fibre,phosphorus and calcium.
Below is a chart illustrating the goodness of this humble nut that I got from www.macnut.com.au
Do you have some dessicated coconut in you kitchen pantry and wondering what to do with it?
Here are a few ideas:
Ugali is a staple food for most Kenyans ,it is a meal made out of ground maize /corn which is cooked in boiling water to make a stiff cake like mixture.
The only other food food i could equate it to for those who have no idea what ugali is, is polenta,only difference being Kenyans love their ugali hot,polenta is eaten cold.
This was inspired by an ad i saw running on tv that said Ugali nazi is a coast favourite,some tablespoons of desiccated coconut added while your water boils to make ugali add some interesting flavour to ugali like you have never had.
My kids and i have found a new love for ugali.
And if you have ever made polenta,why not try it out with some coconut added and see how it goes?
Add 2 tablespoons to your rice water once it boils then add rice,cook as normal,preferably with saucepan covered.It adds great flavour as well as interesting texture to your rice.
For rice i add 2 tablespoons for every cup of rice.
Whether you bake them or deep fry them,cover them liberally with desiccated coconut,yum yum yum
4.In Pilau/Biryani rice
After you have made your spiced rice (pilau/biryani / pilaf) and its is ready just sprinkle with desiccated coconut liberally.Looks beautiful and its great for your taste buds too.
If any of these are items you bake often,include some coconut to add some out of this tropical flavour to your food items.
Toasted desiccated coconut is also a great accent to cakes ,muffins,cupcakes that have been frosted with whipped cream.And when you add some crushed nuts like cashews.peanuts/macadamia it takesyou tastes buds to *cue music*…….. heaven.
My freezer always has some pre boiled beans waiting to be cooked and this has to be one of my two-year olds favourite meals with a simple serving of rice.
Beans are highly nutritious rich in protein ,Vitamin B6,potassium,calcium and depending on variety some like kidney beans are very rich in iron.
That is why kidney beans are highly recommended for breast-feeding mothers and those who have given birth,Kidney beans are the ones known as “njahi”
Below is my recipe and this can be applied to any kind of beans that take your fancy.
2 cups of beans
2 Tbs oil
1 large chopped onion
1 Tbs ginger-garlic paste
2 large tomatoes,chopped
3 medium-sized carrots,chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano/basil
salt and black pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons of oil,saute’ till tender.
2.Add garlic paste,let cook for 30 seconds,add tomatoes,tomato paste,carrots,oregano and salt and black pepper ,cook uncovered till vegetables are tender about 2 minutes.
3.Add your pre cooked beans and enough water/stock to cover beans.
4.Bring to a boil then let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
5.Serve with coconut rice,chapatis (flat bread) garnish with chopped parsley.
Variations:If adding more spices to your bean stew you can add some cream to tone down the spices while still retaining their flavour.Some dessicated coconut sprinkled liberally after the beans are cooked also provide an interesting flavour as well as texture to the stew.
Cheese defined simply is just milk that has been turned into curd with the help of good bacteria and some enzyme.The milk separates into liquid(whey) and solids (curd).The result is a fermented milk product that is very nutritious.
You see curdling in milk that has gone bad or what we call mala(sour milk) here in Kenya.
If you like milk,then maybe you should not pass on the cheese as it is a food high in saturated fat.
However it is a very good source of protein,calcium and phosphorus,the last two being very good for bone and teeth development.
Some advice though is that do not go overboard with the cheese platter
Image source wikimedia.
Now Kenya has a fairly vibrant dairy industry but apart from consuming milk on its own we rarely use other milk products becuase they are often too highly priced.
Butter,cream,heavy cream,sour cream,cream cheese,powdered milk,condensed milk, powdered milk to name but a few can become part and parcel of Kenyan cuisine if creatively used.
Using cheese in your kitchen will be determined my many things including its flavour,texture and what you want to serve it with.
Apart from using it in sandwiches ,as a topping in pizzas,cheese can be used in many ways and here are just a few.
1.Dessert Served as part of dessert and are a great accompaniment to wines or even beer.The sweet nutty cheeses are used for cheese trays or served with fruits too e.g Baby Swiss
2.Garnish:This is usually for the firm kind of cheeses as they are perfect for grating and are used to garnish pasta dishes ,beans,salads or chilli’s.
3.Bread spread:Soft cheeses like cream cheese are great for this as they are smooth and spreadable
4.In salads e.g Feta cheese a soft crumbly cheese of Grecian origins is added to salads.
5.In breads:It is also added to bread to add interesting flavour e.g Grogonzola
Tea is one of Kenya’s main exports and our farmers especially in the tea growing region of Kericho have been smiling all the way to the bank in the past week.
But did you know there is a difference between tea as we know it and chai?
That preparing great chai is an art and that tea leaves should never be boiled?
Kenyans love their tea and by this I mean our milk,tea leaves and sugar period,that is how most of us take our tea.The furthest we may go outside of this is adding ginger and cinnamon to our tea to spice it up.
It’s very rare that we blend other spices like pepper or cloves to make this beverage a show stopper.
But wait till you discover Chai Tea,and like me you will get converted,now I take two cups of it and yet I am a sworn coffee addict.
It’s that good!
I discovered Chai tea thanks to Aarti Party a cooking show on food network.
It was out of this world!you should just let tea leaves steep and you get the most amazing combination of flavours in the world.
2 scant teaspoon black tea leaves (recommended: Taj Mahal) or black tea of choice
2 teaspoons honey, or more to taste
Whole milk or half-and-half
In a medium pan, bring the water, all of the spices and the ginger to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and allow it to steep for 15 minutes.
Bring the mixture back to a boil, then add the tea. Turn the heat off, and allow it to steep for 3 to 5 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea. Stir in the honey and add milk to your liking. Strain it into a bowl or pitcher and serve!
I use Nature’s Own blend of Tea Masala ,I totally love the warm peppery after taste it leaves in your mouth,a totally great way to start the day or end the day after dinner.
I am almost tempted to go make another cup right now.
There is a website dedicated to tea preparation www.chai-tea.org, that is how seriously people take their tea.
Go on now,make yourself a cup and trust me you will be hooked.