Deconstructed Vegetable Soup and Uziza Crusted Fish (#worlddiabetesdayng)

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There is saying that African men can eat whatever they please.

What is diabetes? According to google. “It’s a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired; resulting in an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.”

For the amount of rice we eat as Nigerians. It’s God who has been our strength.

Every 14th day in November, is diabetes awareness day. When I received the email from Atim of Afrolems.com to talk about diabetes, I didn’t even know where and how to start. It’s like you have a passion to educate people and as much as you want to do it, knowing where and how to start is like huge deal.

Anyway, I’ll start by explaining the different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the type of diabetes that is genetically transferred. It is a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This condition cannot be cured but it can be controlled by diet and treatment. This condition typically appears during adolescent years and though it’s symptoms may vary and it includes increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. It’s treatment aims at maintaining a normal blood sugar level through regular monitoring, insulin therapy, diet, and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). It’s treatable by a medical professional and requires a medical diagnosis. It can last for years or be lifelong; depending on how well you take care of yourself. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. In some cases, there may be no symptoms. Treatment include diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy.

According to my understanding, for a control or cure of the disease of diabetes, the patient is placed on a low carb and low sugar diet; depending on the type of diabetes and how these foods affects their blood sugar. For a break down of diet for diabetic patients, you have to see a dietician or your general health care professional.

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Green Tomato and Scent Leaf Stew

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This recipe just like every other recipe I develop, is very special to me. Long post alert though 🙂

I was testing recipes this week and while I was shopping for the ingredients at the farmer’s market, I saw a lady digging underneath the table that had the display of fresh plum tomatoes. I wondered what she was doing; then I decided to look with her. Underneath this display table was a box of tomatoes. I don’t know why I was immediately thrilled because I went ahead and bought all the green ones. On getting home, I realized I really had no plans for the tomatoes. Then I thought ayamase stew but done with tomatoes instead of pepper.

You know the funny thing about all this, after posting the photo and talking about it on my social media pages, I got some reviews from people who said that this was how their grand parents or parents cooked stew…This goes to show that not all recipes are really new. Someone somewhere in this parallel universe has tried something we are probably testing for the first time.

Before I share this recipe, I want to share something that has always been in my heart to share. I shared it on my Facebook and Instagram pages respectively, but I feel I ought to share it here for those who haven’t seen it before. Before I continue, I’d like to first share what someone asked me about me sharing stories like these. Recently, I posted a photo with the following typed into it “Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things.”  And in my opinion, no truer words have ever been spoken. I am of the school of thought that, I must keep some precious things that has happened to me to myself. I am a very private person…But when it comes to things people can relate to like “Depression” I never keep it to myself. There are some beautiful things that have happened to me that I must keep to myself. Not everyone will understand your journey. I don’t know how else I can explain this. But here it goes…And below was my Facebook post…

I have been wanting to tell this story for a while, but each time I get to type it, I delete it. Not because I am ashamed, but because it may be too much for some.

I have suffered depression before. It got so bad that I attempted suicide three times.

The first time I attempted suicide, I drank an 8oz cup of cleaning supplies, but nothing happened to me. I was pregnant at the time, but I didn’t know. Poor baby, God kept her….

The second time, I took a whole bottle of pain pills. I was done, nothing meant anything to me. I had my baby, but I forgot that she was in the bed room. See the thing depression does to you. It makes you forget the good things life has to offer and you focus on the bad.

My baby was sleeping in her play mat on the floor. I was struggling with my thoughts; while she slept quietly and peacefully. I forgot! I took the pills and I began to crash. Minutes later I heard my baby cry. Then it clicked! Who will feed her? She only liked my breast milk…I grabbed the phone and hours later I found myself in the hospital and placed under suicide watch. I got free counselling and I got better with time.

The third time, I relapsed and when I found out I was pregnant with ajebutter 2, it got worse. I almost jumped off a three story building, but baby girl called out “mommy I’m hungry!” See I was in a very bad place…I was lied to, I felt used and even after having my boy my relationship with him suffered for a while…Now he’s my everything

One thing that escalated depression for me was the trivial way with which people close to me disregarded my cry for help. I felt invisible and I plunged into the mess and became suicidal.

Africans suffer depression, we don’t just pay attention to it and we have our ways of dealing with it, but at some point I couldn’t deal…To those who say they want my life, I smile and ask them “can you wear my shoes?” You can’t go about wishing you were someone when you don’t know what they went through to get to where they are…or what they’re currently going through…
Who no go no know.

PS: This short story isn’t for you guys to feel sorry for me. It’s for you to know that I have been broken in pieces before.

But like a Phoenix…I rise …

Who ever this inspires…

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Back to the recipe. This is a very simple stew with the major seasoning as ogiri/ogili okpei. I’m a firm believer and a lover of all things okpei. Okpei is a local and natural Nigerian seasoning. A little of it goes a very long way.

img_4428-2If you use iru or dawa dawa,  it’s kind of like the same concept, but it’s flavor is much intense; especially when toasted before use.

I’m a believer in local recipes and this stew is one of my most recipes enjoyed at home.

It’s time to cook…

 

Green Tomato and Scent Leaf Stew
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 9

Ingredients
  • 1½lb cooked chicken or any meat
  • 8 plum green tomatoes
  • 3 Ose Nsukka(habanero)
  • 1 red bell pepper(tatase)(optional)
  • 1½ small onion
  • 3 small garlic cloves(optional)
  • ½-1 piece ogili okpei(use cray fish as a substitute)
  • 1 handful scent leaf(sliced)(use basil as a substitute)
  • 1 cooking spoon palm oil
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • 2½ cups meat stock
  • bouillon(optional)
  • salt(optional)

Instructions
  1. Blend the tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, Ose and 1 onion and pour through a fine mesh sieve to drain out the excess water.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion and set aside; then slightly toast the ogili on an open flame just until you can smell it a little(do not burn). Or you can toast it in an empty pot. Just place the pot over medium heat, place the ogili into the pot and toss a few times until you can smell it a little. You could also skip this step…
  3. Heat the palm oil until very hot; then add the other oil and the onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent; then add the ogili(or crayfish if using) and fry it for a few minutes. Add the tomato blend and stir to combine with the oil. Add the meat stock(make sure you eye ball how much water you use) and cover with a lid to cook. Once the oil begins to seep to the top of the stew, add the cooked chicken and cook until the oil has floated to the top. Add the scent leaves and cook for another 3 minutes before serving with any side.

 

“Does Nigerian Food Make You Fat?”

In 2015 the #fitfam bug bit a lot of Nigerians. A lot of Nigerians were beginning to eat more “healthy food.” But wait a minute, what’s really healthy? One has to remember that our body does need certain types of foods to survive. Take for instance, palm oil. Until today, a lot of Nigerians see Palm oil as the enemy, we fail to understand that our bodies actually need some amount of oil to stay moisturized and for some other body functions. Palm oil becomes the enemy  when you actually eat more than your body needs, cook it wrongly or the type of Palm oil used. Palm oil is known to subsequently reduce the risk of  cancer, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease and Vitamin A deficiency. It would just be advisable to stay close to and use the Palm oil in it’s fresh state(unrefined and cold pressed). In fact avoiding hydrogenated and over processed oils is more advisable to stay healthy and maintain a healthy body weight. Draxe.com.

That being said, one type of oil to use while maintaining a healthy weight is coconut oil. The limits to the use of this oil is quite endless. I use it as a replacement for butter or margarine in certain Nigerian recipes; even when it comes to making Nigerian snacks coconut oil is a wonderful ingredient.

From an experience point of view, Nigerian food is one of the best kind of food to eat while working on maintaining a healthy body weight. There was a time when all I ate was Nigerian food and my weight gain or weight loss depended solely on how I ate, what times I ate and what I ate.

To lose weight with Nigerian food, you can stay on the same daily diet; while watching your portions and just modifying your cooking and eating technics.

I read a while ago about Egusi being full of fat etc etc…I laughed so hard that day, not because the person who said it was  ignorant, but because like I always say, everything must be done in moderation. As long as you’re not eating the whole pot of Egusi at one time, you are absolutely okay.

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Edikang Ikong(The King of Efik Soups)

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Edikang Ikong…the king of Efik soups…

In my honest opinion, Edikang Ikong is a man and Afang a woman. The robustness and bold flavors of this soup makes it everything it is. Every single morsel of this soup feels like an orgasm. The way the habaneros synched with the dry pepper powder left me with notes of flavors that I just couldn’t explain…And this is a very good thing.

I have made Afang a few times, but for some reason, every time I wanted to make Edikang Ikong, I’d get mentally weak because of the precision it took to make it. I finally decided to get it done once and for all, but one thing prevented me from being great and that thing was having the right recipe. So, I reached out to Eketi of ketimae.wordpress.com and she was super duper helpful…

Before I share Eketi’s story and the recipe, I want to share a little about my pot of Edikang Ikong. While sourcing for the ingredients, I ran into some “almost” hinderances. I couldn’t find water leaves, Ugwu(pumpkin leaves) or periwinkles. I almost gave up on the idea until I decided to improvise. For the Ugwu, I substituted with Kale; as it has that same crunch. For the water leaves, I chose to substitute it with Spinach as they had the same soft nature. For the periwinkles, I couldn’t find the ones used in Nigerian cooking, so I used the breed I could find at the fish market. To use them, I had to thoroughly wash them and cook them in some salty water before using a sterilized pin to pull them out of the shell. Cooking them first makes it easier to deal with. And with these three key ingredients successfully substituted, my pot of Edikang Ikong was AMAZING! Apart from it being totally amazing, the sleep afterwards was too real :)…That’s a good thing 🙂

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Sweet and Spicy Honey and Sesame Chicken(sticky chicken)

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This delicious chicken is good enough to cause world peace. I promise you!

We first tried this chicken at a gathering that we attended and my ajebutters told me “mommy you have to create this chicken.” And I immediately began to brainstorm and from the taste, I could guess what some of the ingredients were.

The thing I love about this recipe is the ease. No matter how complicated your matter is in the kitchen, you could never mess this recipe up.

I know this recipe is not all the way Nigerian, but you could make it Nigerian if you substituted the black pepper with Uziza…You’ll love it. Trust me.

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Ewa Agoyin(Mashed Coconut Honey Beans and Agoyin Sauce)

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If there’s any food I do not like, it’s beans. As much as it gives me gas, I do understand it’s health benefits and that’s why I try to make it as much as possible.

Ewa is known as beans in the Yoruba language and apparently Ewa Agoyin is a traditional Yoruba meal; which I first had on my first visit to Lagos. I was hungry and I decided to join some family members to eat some beans. At first, looking at the beans, it was mashed and a little sweet; then over it was this dark red sauce; which when you ate it with the mashed beans was amazing! I came to find out that the sweetness of the beans was due to the nature of the beans. It was honey beans; which is the best type of beans to pair with Aqoyin sauce. It’s soft and slightly sweet. One scoop into your mouth and you’re in heaven.

I wanted to make some beans and Agoyin sauce, but I wanted something different from the traditional, so I decided to add coconut to the bean mix. I like doing little twists to Nigerian traditional recipes, but it’s never something drastic and I have to tell you that with this recipe, I have no regrets. The beans comes out creamy and silky. And when paired with the Agoyin sauce, it’s oooh Amazing!

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I can never forget my first visit to Lagos. I stayed three long months until I got home sick. I love Lagos as the center of excellence, but I cannot take the noise and the plenty people on the streets. Lagos is like New York city on steroids. I missed the hustle and bustle of my little city in Delta state. Lagos wahala was out of my comfort zone. It was too many people in one place at once. The thing tire me. Apart from that, the food was amazing and the people were very accepting. If you ever want to travel for food in Nigeria, Lagos should be your first stop!

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Nigerian Style Uziza Ribs

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I promised to post this recipe, so here it is. First of all, I just want to say yay for my good friend who is in town for the moment. We all have that one friend who puts a smile on our face and kind of makes all our woes go away for a moment 🙂

I developed a recipe for braised short ribs last year, but I felt like it was missing something so I went on the internet and googled different easy recipes and the only one I really fancied after a year was the recipe by divas can cook. The first time I tried out their recipe, it was really good; the next time I made it, I tweaked it with some freshly grounded Uziza seeds i.e. piper guineense and kaboom!

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When it comes to me fusing Nigerian recipes with Western recipes, I try not to make any drastic changes, but it could also be quite frustrating. I don’t know about other food bloggers, but sometimes my passion feels like a burden; and not only when you don’t have all your gadgets in place, but also when you have to think about recipes. Sometimes, it could be so over whelming, but on days like that, I take a break; a well deserved and long one to clear my head.

Now speaking of gadgets, our laptop has been over heating and doing some other magic and my camera has been acting like it has a mind of it’s own. In fact I feel like a farmer with a damaged hoe(the farm implement that is). The only people patient enough to use the laptop are my ajebutters.  Most days, I just leave it closed, sitting and looking miserable in the corner. But would you blame the poor thing? Ive had it for over four years. Blogging aint easy! And to blog, one has to have the right gadgets to work with. On days like today, I get excited about new recipes to try and photograph, but once I think of or remember my camera and computer, I almost lose interest…sigh! Well, Im praying and working hard for a Mac and a new Camera. Until then, I remain passionate 🙂

Back to the ribs! I loveeeee ribs and I was laughing internally when my friend called me and asked “please can you make me ribs?” I said to myself “she has been converted.” hehehe

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Mince Meat In Ayamase Sauce(Mince Meat Ayamase Sauce)

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This recipe is very dear to me and I was saving it for the holidays, but I love you guys too much not to share.

This recipe came about through a conversation I was having with @chefseuny on Instagram. See, we are friends on Facebook and sometimes we have food banter. One day I made a Chinese pineapple bowl filled with ground beef and she asked, is that mince meat Ayamase? And ding! The idea began to grow in my head until I decided to make some one day. I mean, it can serve as our own version of Chinese sauce sha. Imagine turning a favorite past time recipe into staple and favorite (covers face).

My favorite way to enjoy this sauce is by pairing it with soft fried plantains and rice. Not just any rice, but Ofada rice.

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One Pot Efik Style Coconut Rice (Edesi Isip)

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If there was ever any Efik dish I enjoy cooking, it’s this simple coconut rice. On days I want something quick and easy and one pot, this recipe comes in very handy. One pot dishes for me are quite exciting as it makes use of less dishes and pots! This means it’s less dishes to wash(I don’t like doing dishes).

I have shared before that my son has some food allergies and sometimes I run out of ideas for his lunch pack for school. One Tuesday morning, I made him a veggie cheese sandwich and I just felt so awful at the fact that it wasn’t “real food,” so I decided to think up something simple and easy to add to his food table and this recipe came to mind.

There’s no way you could mess this recipe up. It’s simple, easy and straight to the point with directions.

One other thing that pleases my palettes when it comes to this recipe is the smokiness and creaminess of the rice after cooking. It reminds me of Warri coconut rice; which when made comes out smoky, creamy and mmm delicious.

I love  Efik recipes because of the different variations they have. There are some recipes that’s are not so straight to the point, some that require a ton of ingredients and the ones like this.

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Ofe Okazi(Okazi Soup)

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I am excited and my stomach is filled with butterflies as I watch my ajebutters eat this soup and love every single bite. In fact, I am full, but I want to go for seconds, just so I can savor the very delicate taste.

Ofe Okazi(also known as Ukazi soup) is one of the jewels of  south east Nigeria. It’s one those soups that reminds me of my mother’s kitchen…My mother made this soup, but not always as it was just one of those soups, you don’t just cook just because……

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