Oil-free Egusi Soup.

You might not be a chef but there are some easy to prepare yet healthy African food that anyone anywhere in the world can I enjoy. For this reason I will be sharing a recipe on how to prepare an oil-free egusi soup but first it is important that you know the beneficial facts of the egusi (melon) seeds.

Egusi is a plant that is common among native Africa and grows throughout the year, it has quite similar to watermelon seeds but has white seeds. It provides amino acids which are not readily available in the body used in regulating metabolism and the cardiovascular system, high in protein which helps in maintaining the body muscles, low in calories, a natural source of Vitamin B complex important for the flow of blood throughout the body system and they also help in strengthening the immune system (Source…http://www.eherb.com/article/1388/egusi-seeds–benefits-side-effects-of/

No matter how beneficial a food source (s) is/are great to the body, you should not be ignorant of the side effects which might affect some people but not everyone certainly; the most important side effect is that excess consumption can lead to omega-6 fatty acid diseases in the body. Also, check allergies related with the egusi seeds before consumption and store properly.

Back to my recipe, which I discovered only because my father easily gets bored of food made with any kind of oil so once in a while I switch his soup from oil-made to oil-free and I have enjoyed it myself. To prepare this soup, everything has to be rightly measured starting from the water to the ground or blended egusi seeds. The ingredients needed in preparing the oil-free egusi soup fondly called “ilolocha” by my father are egusi seeds, chicken, Pomo, dried fish, Knorr seasoning, salt, ground pepper, onion and crayfish.

Wash your chicken and put into a clean pot filled with a small amount of water for steaming the chicken, add your slice onions, Knorr seasoning and salt into the pot of chicken and leave to boil for some minutes while the chicken is boiling, grind or blend your neat egusi seeds into a bowl. Once the chicken is boiled, add little amount of water into the chicken pot, pepper, crayfish and dried fish, leave to boil for five minutes then add the ground or blended egusi seeds, washed Pomo, Knorr seasoning and salt, after which you leave for extra ten minutes or more (depending on the quantity) to boil during which you stir to ensure that the soup is properly mixed. Have a taste of the soup to ensure that the right amount of seasoning was put into the soup.

The ilolocha (oil-free egusi) soup is ready to be served with any choice of swallow you want, such as Garry (eba), pounded yam, amala, fufu, wheat and a chilled drink or water preferably. And that is how is to prepare and enjoy your healthy or beneficial African soup.

Photo Credit: Nigerian lazy chef.

Bibiana Ossai © 2016.

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African Food and Special Needs

In childhood and human development, food plays a very important role. Today I’ll be talking about how African food affects human development with emphasis on Nigerian food. 

My son was diagnosed with food allergies earlier this year. It was very tough for me to accept it because as a food writer and blogger, I never want to be put in a box and be told what to cook and how to cook it. His allergies have the tendency to be really bad so he was given two separate epi-pens for emergencies. 

What did it for me was the epi pens. The fact that my son’s life is being threatened with food allergies scared the calmness out of me. I instantly went into research mode. I researched and got too confused until I bumped into this http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-based-diets/ and http://nakedfoodmagazine.com/raising-children-on-a-plant-based-diet/

and it led me back to Nigerian food.

The best kind of diet to stay on while going through a special needs phase is an African/Nigerian diet. Our recipes are mostly plant based and usually cooked very fresh. It is also the easiest diet to get on for an Autistic child who is sensitive to Gluten and/or dairy.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about Autism and food. 

What is Autism? “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” speaks.org

How does food affect Autistic children? “In Autism and other neurobehavioral issues like ADHD, diet does play a significant role in creating and exacerbating symptoms. Almost all children with Autism, ADHD and learning disabilities have food sensitivities. However, the makeup of these sensitivities is different in each child. Identifying and eliminating foods that a child is sensitive to is very important; these food reactions often lead to more severe immune responses and create inflammation in the child’s body and brain. These children almost always have what is known as “leaky gut” syndrome, where foods that are not fully digested can get through the gut lining and come in contact with the immune system, triggering an immune response and creating inflammatory chemicals that can affect the child’s behavior and learning ability.” (Source…http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/2013/06/adhd-autism-diet-behavior/). Also “Many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) report that behavior improves when their children eat a diet free of the proteins gluten and case in. Gluten is found primarily in wheat, barley and rye; casein, in dairy products. Last year, clinicians within Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) investigated the issue and found insufficient evidence of clear benefit.  We called for clinical studies, and these studies are now underway.”(source…speaks.org)

Basically what I’m trying to say is, African/Nigerian food being mostly plant based and close to nature is the most purest food to feed to anyone who needs a change in diet in order to eradicate symptoms of any special need.  Continue reading “African Food and Special Needs”

Dambu Nama

With over 400 spoken languages, Nigeria is a country filled with different types of people from different walks of life. Currently, Nigeria is going through a lot. The exchange rate for the dollar is high and the whole country seems to be in a total chaos.

In the northern region, there is the group known as Boko haram slaughtering the citizens of Nigeria with reckless abandon. But through it all, we will find unity.

In the north and as well as in other regions of Nigeria, there are recipes that seem to have been extinct, but these days I see them being resurrected by different people.

I wish for a day when the country known as Nigeria will have peace and it’s people live in tranquility. A day when we would bond all regions through food.

Today we are visiting northern Nigeria.

Continue reading “Dambu Nama”