By Halima Bakenne
Nigeria my country – a land rich with milk and honey, maybe not literally but what I am saying is that Nigeria is blessed! As rich as it is though, what I love most about my country is the array of delicious foods we have but my concern is that they are not prepared healthily, so I will be sharing with you some tricks to making Nigerian foods healthy.
Rice is a nationally recognized food item in this country eaten in different variations like fried rice, jollof rice etc. Nigerians love rice so much that I sometimes wonder when they will add it to the coat of arms. I think there is an unspoken rule that every household must eat rice on a Sunday afternoon. It is fundamentally healthy because it is in the grains category, but where it goes wrong is the abuse of “white rice”. It is cooked in a way that empties its nutrition, fiber and every other essential vitamin.
Rather, replace white rice with brown rice – it contains every form of nutrition you need such as manganese, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B3, B1, B6, and the highly important fiber – keeping you full for a very long period.
Generally known as “solids” – they are a great source of essential carbohydrate. But in a typical Nigerian way, we go overboard by excessively eating the wrong types of solid.
Substitute the popular solids like garri, pounded yam, fufu etc. with wheat, fufu, millet and so on. These are rich in needed nutrients such as protein, fiber and phosphorus among others. As much as these give you better nutritional substitute, you should be careful not to consume too much because excessive carbohydrate intake eventually leads to weight gain and other health risks.
Another dish of national treasure, probably because of the many ways it can be consumed, is the stew. This is cooked in so many different ways in the Nigerian home. From fried stew, to boiled stew, to fish stew, to name a few.
Here are some tips to enjoying the full-option health benefits of your stew by:
- Reducing the amount of oil used to cook especially since the meat you add to the stew or to your meals already contains lots of natural oil;
- Including leaner protein sources like goat meat, fresh fish and chicken;
- Replacing fried meat with some juicy and healthy roasted meat.
This is another delicious and healthy dish that somehow ends up being prepared wrongly. Its main ingredients – grounded melon seed and some vegetables contain a lot of health benefits like potassium, manganese, magnesium etc. And here are some tips to make it healthy:
- Reduce the oil! (your egusi soup does not need to drip all the way to your elbows)
- Use fresh fish, goat meat and some crayfish – they are healthy sources of protein.
- Level out the amount of meat in your soup by adding ponmo. (optional)
All my Yoruba folks need to get in here for this! Efo riro with orisirisi is our dish and the basic composition of it is quite simple and essentially healthy (vegetables, meat, fish, pepper and some seasoning) but somehow some people still find a way to prepare it wrongly and kill its nutrients. The excessive use of oil and high fat proteins is what causes weight gain and health issues. It can lead to weight gain and other health risks.
Here are some tricks to make it healthy for your consumption:
- Use fresh vegetables (you can even use more than one for greater health benefits);
- Reduce the amount of oil you are using;
- Substitute fatty proteins such as cow meat with goat meat, fish and chicken (calories from protein are mostly healthy but excessive consumption of it is risky).
These healthy ways of making your Nigerian foods can now easily be a part of your diet without stress.