No Rice Challenge

So yesterday I posted the no rice challenge and I’m glad I got some people on board.

Two readers recomnended bulgur wheat as a healthier alternative to rice.   ( Thanks Lola and Itohan).

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Bulgur wheat can be cooked thesame way you cook rice. So you can use it for jollof or fried rice.

Here’s a recipe recommended by 
Lola. http://www.9jafoodie.com/bulgur-jollof/  and Itohan sent in this picture.

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I put together a shopping list. It’s easier to follow a meal plan when you have a well stocked fridge and pantry. I downloaded this template from http://www.clementinecreative.co.za./ free-editable-grocery-list/ 

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Here’s  my shopping list.

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You can look up other shopping templates ( I’m fancy like that..lol)  or just do it the old-fashioned and easier way…pen and paper.

Please share comments, meal ideas, tips etc.

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Wellness Wednesdays: 30 Days “No Rice” Challenge

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Like most of us, I had way too much rice over the holidays  in all its form and glory .

I feel my body is in need of a cleanse. So at Guava HQ we are starting
a “no rice challenge” for 30 ays. We will abstain from rice completely ( God help us 😌) and opt for healthier options.

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We hope you take part  in this cleanse. We will be sharing ideas and tips.
I am not really into diets but I believe small eating/lifestyle changes like this challenge can impact one’s health and wellbeing.

Please share your tips, comments, pictures  blog as well.

Celebrations: Sallah Cooking

Happy Eid al-Adha to all my Muslims peeps. Two people in particular, my very very good friends Tola and Ayo , may the blessings of this beautiful celebration fill your homes and lives with joy and prosperity. ( I’ll be stopping by Ayo’s house later today for special Sallah lunch… can’t wait)

Ram meat known as mutton is the meat of choice to celebrate this holiday. Grilling and frying mutton are the most popular cooking methods.For grilling, the tender parts  of the ram are marinated in herbs and spices and then cooked on  a rack over open fire. For frying, mutton is first boiled  with stock cubes, herbs and spices and then fried in hot oil to get a finish on the mutton.

Apart from grilling and frying, there are other ways to cook mutton and incorporate into dishes. Two of my favorites are Curries and Biryani.Curries are popular in Asian countries such  as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. There are so many variations of curries and biryani dishes as you move from one region to another within the different countries. Biryani is a one-pot rice dish. It is very popular in India, also eaten in some parts of the Middle East.

Here are two easy recipes for you to try.

Mutton Curry with Coconut Milk                                         Serves 4-6            

This recipe is adapted from recipesaresimple.com.

curry

Ingredients

  • 1 kg mutton (ram meat) with bones, cut into small piece

For  the marinade:

  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 8 cloves garlic – ground to a paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Kerala Style Garam Masala
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt

For the curry:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of curry leaves
  • ¾ cup coconut milk

Method:

Clean mutton pieces thoroughly and allow to drain.  Pour in marinade ingredients and allow to marinate for 10 to 30 minutes.

Place in a pressure cooker with just ½ cup of water and pressure cook for 3 steam whistles. Set aside.If you do not have a pressure cooker,place meat in a pot and place on medium heat.Allow to steam till water dries up.Meat is slightly cooked but not tender.

In a non stick wok or pan, Heat the coconut oil. Add the sliced onion and saute well, stirring continuously till the onion is a deep golden brown color.
Add the shallots and saute briefly.

Also add the turmeric, chili powder, 1 teaspoon  of garlic paste. Saute without burning.

Add the tomato and curry leaves and saute till the tomato is cooked.
Now add the once cooked mutton. Add a little salt to taste( remember the mutton already contains salt).Stir well to coat with all the ingredients.

Cover and cook on a low flame, opening a few times to stir. Cook covered for about 30 minutes till the meat is tender.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow to sit a while.

Serve warm over rice.

Biryani with Raisins and Cashew                                                           Serves 4

This recipe is adapted from food and wine.com

LambBiryani_large

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 500g boneless mutton, choose the tender pieces cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews or toasted almonds

Method

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the garlic, cayenne, cumin, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Stir in the lamb.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, rice, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the lamb mixture to the pan. Stir in the water and raisins. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the rice and lamb are almost done, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, until the rice and lamb are just done, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cashews or almonds.

Enjoy!

The Wedding Series: Building a Reception Menu

A GUIDE TO WEDDING RECEPTION MENU

Food is a key element of your wedding reception. You have invited friends and family to come share your special day and feeding them is top priority.

Planning the wedding reception menu could be a daunting task for some couples. Some brides just leave it to their moms or aunts to handle. Others engage the service of an experienced event planner to hire the caterer and other food vendors for the big day. If you do decide to plan your wedding menu, here are 6 things for you to consider:

The Menu and Service Style: Sit-Down Dinner versus Buffet Dinner
For a large wedding reception i.e. 100 plus guest list which is very common, a sit-down or plated dinner works best. For a very large group, buffets tend to be a bit messy, people waiting in lines, eating at different times etc. You also want to consider the comfort of your guests. You do not want elderly family members waiting in line for food. More so, the idea of being served, make your guests feel comfortable and catered to.

For a plated dinner, keep it simple and tasteful go with a 4 course menu. You start with appetizers or small chops with cocktails. This is called the Cocktail Hour and a must in my book. (Traditionally for cocktails guests stand and mingle as hors d’oeuvres or finger foods are passed with drinks.) The concept still applies though your guests are seated. After the religious service, people come to the reception really famished, so it is important you welcome your guests with drinks preferably cocktails with some appetizers. This should be served once guests are seated. Drinks could be placed on trays at the entrance of the reception and offered to guests as they make their way to their tables. Ensure you have mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) for children and non-drinkers a classic example is Chapman. Like the name suggests, it should be for an hour or so.

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Wedding Menu by This Lagos Chef

This is then followed by a first course, a main entrée and a dessert. The first course could be a salad or a soup dish. The main entrée usually includes meat or fish, such as roasted or stewed chicken served with a rice dish e.g jollof or fried rice. It’s rare you find a vegetarian option on the menu, however if you have vegetarian guests, you should have a separated dish for them. You may decide to offer your guests more than one choice of entrée. E.g a traditional soup served with a starch or a signature dish by the couple. If you do offer choices, guests can make their selections from the menu cards.
Dessert may or may not be your wedding cake; you may serve a separate dessert – a fruit salad, cheesecake etc. The trend these days by dessert companies is to have a dessert station or bar filled with an array of delectable treats.

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A Dessert Station                                                  Source:weddingomania.com
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Source: womanandhome.info
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Source: ruiyichem.com

On the other hand buffets are a fantastic idea if catering to a small reception party 50-100 guests. You can incorporate various themed food stations which add variety and pizzazz to the ceremony. For buffets, visual appeal is important. Think about using different serving platters, dishes etc.. Use food props and arrange foods at different angles or heights. The way the food is presented becomes an experience for your guests. Something they will remember and talk about long after the ceremony is over. For dishes that need to be kept hot or warm use chafing dishes with gel burners. Buffet stations should be manned by experienced wait staff that will serve food and direct buffet traffic. Note, buffets typically have a shelf life of about 2 to 2½ hours for both taste and health/safety reasons. The interactive nature of buffet allows guest to mingle adding to the festivity and merriment of the day.

Decide on the food
It is easier to go the tried and tested route. Then again it is your wedding; a once in a lifetime occasion and what better time to make it really about YOU. So deciding on what kind of food to serve, you can start by thinking about what you love to eat. Think about foods that have special significance for you as a couple e.g your combined culinary heritage e.g. a Yoruba-Igbo culinary fusion . However, one important thing to remember is that you are going to be feeding people, so you want to provide food that your guests like and that make them feel cared for. Typically chicken or beef served with rice dishes; jollof and fried rice are very popular and suitable for most people. You want to include this as an option in your menu. Your caterer will also offer suggestions. He or she should help you choose dishes that go well together.

Choosing your caterer/s
Most couples have an idea of the type of food they want served at their reception inspired by weddings and other social events they have attended. It is the usual suspects; small chops, chicken, rice dish, soup and swallow etc. Before you decide on a menu, you need to choose and begin to speak to your caterers to discuss meal options before finalizing the menu.
Most caterers do not offer tastings. They are tried and tested, recommended by friends, relative or the event planner. However if you decide to incorporate new dishes or want to hire a private chef for the wedding, you may request a tasting. The number of caterers required for the reception depends greatly on the menu. Oftentimes one caterer cannot prepare all the items on the menu, so you will need to get different caterers. For instance one to make the appetizers/small chops another for dessert. The more items you have on the menu, the more caterers you may need and this makes the wedding a bit rowdy, creates a messy flow of food service, too many waiters with different uniforms at the reception, the whole reception just looks crowded and unorganised.

The Venue
Event venues or centres are a popular choice for wedding receptions. . With these locations you are required to provide your own catering; no in-house caterer or catering facility. Some may provide a list of recommended caterers for you to choose from. When selecting a caterer for an event venue, a good tip is to go with one that is familiar with and knowledgeable about the venue. He/she would know how long it takes to get there; traffic and other logistics. The caterer can also advice on room set up and provides the necessary and complementary rental items such as linen and crockery.
If you decide to go with a hotel, I think there are many advantages when it comes to menu planning given that the hotel has a food and beverage department with various on-site restaurants and bars, as well as a full-service catering menu. Choosing a hotel provides more flexibility and options for you. You have the option of choosing from a set menu usually contained in the wedding packages or create a customised menu with dishes prepared by professional chefs. This can save you money and an assurance of proper food delivery and service.
I will talk more about pros and cons of hotels versus other venues in the next post.

 Food Coordination
This important aspect of the reception is overlooked by most couples and event planners. Your event planner must liaise with all the caterers to work out service of food for the reception. I’m always confused when I see small chops served to a guest after the main meal. You planner must draw up a timeline, to serve as a guide.

Stick to your budget
Your menu should fit into your budget. Do not feel the need to provide all kinds of food at the reception to wow your guests. The key thing to note is LESS IS MORE. There are elements of the menu that can really create the “wow factor” e.g. the wedding cake, a signature cocktail, the dessert.

When it comes to planning the menu, it is not how expensive the dishes are or the number of items you offer. Really it is about providing a proper meal, one that is well thought out. It is very poor hospitality when people spend long hours at your wedding and not eat a real meal in that time. Wedding etiquette dictates you need to provide a proper meal if your wedding takes place over a mealtime and ensure that the meal is served at the appropriate time.

Happy celebrations!!!

Weekend Cooking : Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne pronounced (chil-ee kon kahr-nee) is a popular Tex-Mex dish. It is a spicy stew made with beef mince, beans, chilies, peppers, spices and tomato sauce.

I really enjoy dishes like this because it’s spicy, flavourful and wholesome similar to our own stews .The stew is eaten mostly with rice which is a staple here too.

This dish is  easy to prepare and very adaptable. For a shortcut you can replace the tomato sauce with already made beef stew/chicken stew. This is a good way to re-purpose your stew.

Chili Con Carne (2)
I have two recipes here; one for a basic Chili Con Carne and the second , a traditional one using more herbs and spices.

Ingredients                                                                                                              Serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ leek , finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500g good quality beef mince
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 red chillies, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml chicken or beef stock
  • 400g tin cooked kidney beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Pour olive oil into a pan and add the finely chopped onion carrot and leek. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes without browning.

Meanwhile, heat another pan until it is very hot, add mince and brown.  Add onion mix  into the meat pan along with the garlic, chilies, chili powder, paprika and red pepper and stir well. Cook together for 5 minutes over a medium heat and season with some salt and black pepper.

Add the tomatoes, mix together and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring up to a simmer. Turn the heat down and cook for another 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and leave it on a low heat for another 10 minutes for the beans to heat through.

Check and adjust the seasoning. Serve with boiled rice.

Ingredients                                                                                                               Serves 4

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 500g good quality beef mince
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml chicken or beef stock (1 chicken or beef stock cube dissolved in 200ml hot water)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of spring onions, chopped
  • 200ml soured cream or yoghurt

Heat oil in a pan and gently sauté the onions, garlic, chilli, red pepper until softened. .- Add thyme, cumin, paprika and oregano to the onion mixture and cook until they release their aroma.

At the same time, brown the mince in a separate pan over moderate heat in a little oil.

Stir in the beef into the onion mixture and mix well. Add the fresh tomatoes and leave to cook down a little for about 10 minutes.

Pour in the chicken or beef stock. Add cinnamon and bay leaf in then bring to the boil, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for another 40 minutes.

Once the sauce is beginning to thicken add the kidney beans and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up the flavours. Check for seasoning.

Mix the spring onions and soured cream/yogurt together.

To serve, spoon the stew into the centre of a mound of rice, with the soured cream and spring onions in a separate bowl on the side.

This stew tastes better when reheated the next day.

Spices

Cumin is an aromatic seed produced by a plant in the parsley family. It is a major component of curry mix/powder and a popular spice used in Middle Eastern, Indian and Mexican cuisines. It can be used in its whole i.e. seed or ground form.

cumin

Coriander is a herb that belongs to the carrot and parsley family. Both coriander leaves and seeds are used in cooking. It is also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania. The ground seed is used for spicy rubs and marinades and leaves used as garnishes and recipes for salsa and guacamole.

coriander

Wellness Wednesdays : Go Nuts for Almonds

 

Almonds are one of my favourite nuts because they are tasty and super healthy. It has been described by some as the ‘All rounder Nut” because of its nutrient profile. It contains a high level of monounsaturated fat which is “good fat” Compared to other nuts  almonds contain the most fibre and richest in Vitamin E , a powerful anti-oxidant.

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It’s good to incorporate almonds into your meals because of its many health benefits.

Packed with Antioxidants                                                                                             Almonds are a good source of antioxidants which help to protect against cell damage which can contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. To get these antioxidants it’s best to eat almonds that are not blanched because the antioxidants in almonds are largely found in the brown layer of the skin.

Good for the Heart
Studies have shown that those who consume nuts five times a week have about a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart attack. Almonds can help maintain a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels. A serving of almonds provides 5 percent of the recommended daily value of potassium, which is necessary for heart health.

Reduction of bad Cholesterol
Consuming almonds regularly can help increase the level of high density lipoproteins (HDL) which reduce the level of low density lipoproteins (LDL). This balance is vital to a healthy cholesterol level.

Energy Booster
Manganese, Copper and Riboflavin found in almonds helps in energy production and metabolic rate. Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2 , and it helps produce red blood cells and release energy from carbohydrates. Almonds are perfect for snacking as they give you energy without filing you up with calories or fat.

Aid in Weight Loss
The monounsaturated fat contained in almonds satisfies appetite and helps curb over-eating. Almonds are high in fiber. This contributes to consistent bowel movements, which helps in weight loss and the general health of the body through the elimination of toxins. Regular consumption of almonds (at least twice a week) can help with weight management.

Regulate Blood Sugar and Insulin                                                                                     The potassium present in almonds helps to regulate blood pressure. Almonds are very low in sodium, which helps to control fluctuating blood pressure.

Good for the Brain
Almonds contain Riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Almonds have been linked to a higher intellectual level and are considered an essential food item for growing children. .

They alkalize the body.
Almonds are great sources for alkali materials. When the body is not alkaline enough, it poses a risk of osteoporosis, poor immune function, low energy and weight gain. The alkalinity of the body system adds to the strength of the immune system. Also helps to increase the body’s ability to prevent diseases and various health conditions.

Incorporating Almonds into your Meals

  • Add whole or sliced almonds to your morning cereal like oats.
  • Top your yogurt with crushed almonds.
  • Add toasted almonds to your salads.
  • Add slivered almonds to your rice dish like fried rice.
  • Snack on roasted almonds (avoid the salted ones).
  • Add to your smoothie (Make sure you use a powerful blender or smoothie maker for this)

How to Blanch, Split, Silver and Toast Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 cups boiling water

To Blanch                                                                                                                                   Boil water and pour over almonds in a small bowl.
Leave for 2-3 minutes then drain.
When cool enough to handle squeeze the nut and the kernel will pop out of its skin.

To Split
Separate the two halves with a knife.

To Sliver
Soak them a little longer when blanching to soften the kernel.
Cut them into 3-4 slivers.
Dry out slivers in a 300F/150C oven.

To Toast

In the oven:                                                                                                                             Preheat oven to 350F/177C.                                                                                               Spread blanched and split almonds on oven tray covered with foil.                     Toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Check on nuts every 3-4 minutes

Using a Pan:                                                                                                                           Spread blanched and split nuts evenly on a non-stick frying pan                           Place over low heat and toast for about 7-10 minutes.                                           Toss the nuts every 2-3 minutes

Buying Tips

Almonds can be purchased either in or out of their shells. When buying almonds, make sure that they do not rattle too much; this means they are old. Also check for expiration date on the package.

Storage

Once opened, store almonds in the refrigerator and consume within 3 months. They can also be  stored in the freezer in airtight freezer bags.

 

Rise and Shine Lagos: Find it Within

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It seemed a young John Lennon aside taking to his mum’s advice , foresaw the treasure in ‘being happy ‘ a necessity for the complexity of our world.

Oftentimes, in our pursuit of happiness, we seek it outside ourselves turning to and depending entirely  on  our relationships, careers, fame, fortune etc. The older I have become ,with life’s ups and downs  , I’m beginning to understand how important it is for me to create happiness from within. It has dawned on me, happiness should not be chased or sought after. It should exist inside of me. My relationships, career  successes should contribute to what already exists inside.

It’s like when you tell someone’you complete me’ no it shouldn’t be; rather ‘you complement me’. No one should complete you except YOU.  ‘Be with someone who makes you happy’ rather ‘Be someone who makes you happy’. When we depend entirely on our relationships or jobs to make us happy, what happens when a spouse leaves? or you are laid off work or worse at a job you absolutely hate? wpid-b907f0653e014d49b2c37bb698a08116.jpg

I feel when  people nag a lot (dare i say some married women ) it is because they are disconnected from themselves. If outside your family , you are connected to YOU,you tend to overlook some things, pick your battles, somethings just bounce off you WHY, because you draw strength from that pool of happiness that exists inside of you.

So how do we create happiness from within ?. I saw this somewhere and I think it’s a really good formula. Hobbies 1 and 3 are checked on my list. Still on number 2 that would be dancing. (should really make out time to take some classes). wpid-05d4f71415aa448e751862185b0c2bed.jpg

Recently I created a playlist on my phone and i titled it HAPPY. It has all my favorite songs. No matter how crazy my day gets, or how I low I feel, I just put this on and I begin to feel an inner peace and I say to myself yes happiness still lives here. Music is one of the channels I’m using to creating my inner happiness, it relaxes me, connects body, mind and spirit. How about you ? what is that thing you do that gives you inner peace?

You are in charge of how you feel, so whatever you do make sure it makes you happy from within. Be true to thyself and know who you are, because self-worth in itself is key to happiness.

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