Cooking with Unmis: Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls

Meat Pies
Sausage Rolls

I haven’t made these snacks in a long while. Can you see the imperfection? Notwithstanding, they tasted yummy.

I’ll continue to practice to make it better.

How do you Feed your Skin?

Most of us feed our body a lot of junks out of ignorance or just plain bad habits and choices. What we feed the body reflects externally on our skin. Some skin types, where age or use of beauty products are not a factor, are soft and glowing while others are dry, frail, and flaky. Unbeknownst to us, what we consume might be the reason and it violates our other personal daily hygiene routines.

Here’s a short quiz, from WebMD, to help answer a few questions about what you’re feeding your skin. The WebMD site has ample medical and lifestyle resources, including answers to questions that you might forget to ask your physician. I learned couple of things from the quiz and I hope you do too. Click here for the quiz (8 questions); don’t forget to read the comments after your selection for more insight, and click the [Next] button to jump to the next question.

  • Do you know the outcome of eating too much sugar, besides getting type 2 diabetes?
  • We’ve all heard that our bodies need 8 – 10 cups of water daily, right? But will drinking a lot of water keep your skin healthy?
  • How about eating chocolate or nuts results in skin breakouts, especially for ladies before their monthly guest. But do you know what else is capable of triggering an acne breakout? You’d be surprised to find out.
  • Does being a vegetarian or vegan make your skin better-looking? What can you eat to make your skin less oily?

The above and more are what the Quiz addresses.

As we mature in life, as a result of the number of our years on earth, our lifestyle choices change either as an intentional choice or a wake-up call. One of my intentional choices is veering away from oily foods and especially fried chicken 😊. I don’t know about you, but black folks everywhere love fried everything especially chicken and fish. I used to as well, but now choose to grill or broil more instead of frying. It is an intentional act. As much as I love to make my own salad, it often goes to waste after a couple of days, and I don’t believe in buying fresh salad from a restaurant every day – one could easily spend $75 – $100 per week just for it. But I substitute with other vegetables; carrots, broccoli, asparagus are my favorites. Some weeks I’m not sure if I fed my skin enough nutrients. But, with other lifestyle choices such as exercising, mental, and spiritual development, we can feel rejuvenated and have the soft and glowing skin.

What choices are you making to feed your skin better?

Cooking with Unmis: How do you like your Rice?

Fried Rice

Jolof Rice

Curry Rice

Steamed Rice

There’s also Coconut Rice though, in picture, you won’t be able to differentiate it from plain steamed rice.

Types of Rice

Converted. Parboiled. Jasmine. Basmati. Whole (Brown). Long Grain. Medium Grain. Short Grain. Wild Rice. Japanese Sushi Rice. Calrose Rice. Nigerian Ofada Rice.

Know any other types of Rice? Add in the comments.

Any which way you like your Rice, cook and enjoy it with some creativity. Try pairing Calrose and Ofada or Parboil and Converted. It gives a different taste. Enjoy your Rice your way with sone vegetables or by garnishing it with chopped onions and a tablespoon of oil.

Akara (Fried Bean Patties)

Akara on bread slices
frying Akara

Akara, like other foods, can be simply or richly prepared. The simple and plain is to merely add salt (or Maggi) to the ground beans. While you can add as much optional ingredients as you like to make it rich. However adding too much ingredients could impact the Akara from gelling and cause it to crumble in the hot oil.

Best eaten alone, with porridge (ogi), or with bread slices.

Recipe: Egusi Stew

Courtesy of (C) UNMIS

I’ve been cooking people but haven’t posted any recipe lately! Today I’m sharing a few 😍 Enjoy!

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Egusi Stew on Tik Tok!

There has been a rave, on Tik Tok, of folks eating and/or trying Egusi Stew for the first time; thus popularizing the West African/Nigerian, delicacy. These foodies’ actions, videotaping and sharing on the Tik Tok app, are commendable as Egusi Stew has now gained more recognition within the past month than it ever did since its invention! Here are couple of the videos:

🤣🤣🤣 Folks ain’t no need “smacking” the fufu! Chewing or swallowing is also a choice. Some swallow when eating the solids with Okra or the Ogbono that the guy got because it’s slimy, it slides down your throat easily; else, it’s always better to chew.

Is’t a Stew or Soup?

You drink soup in its liquid form, but stew is not drinkable. Stew has to be eaten with a complementary food.

Egusi, is a Stew (I wonder why some still refer to it as a soup) and one of my “specials” to make. I share it with you today.

. . .

Ingredients

  • Ground Egusi (watermelon seeds)
  • My Sauce
  • Your choice of meat, chicken, or seafood (optional)
  • Garnishment; your choice of leaf vegetables such as green or red spinach or bitter leaf (optional)
  • Your choice of oil (recommended are palm, olive, vegetable)
  • Ground crayfish or dried cured fish (optional)
  • Onion
  • Knorr or you Maggi cubes
  • Salt

General information

Egusi stew is nutritious and highly rich in protein and iron.

There are a variety of ways to cook Egusi. It can be cooked minimally or richly with variety of ingredients as you want. It can also be a vegan or vegetarian meal – that’s why most of the ingredients are optional. It can also be cooked in a watery or waterless (or using minimal water) form.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, pour My Sauce into a small-medium saucepan
  2. Add your choice of oil
  3. Slice (or cube) 1/6th of the onion into it
  4. Add a teaspoon of salt and a cube of the Knorr or Maggi (add another cube later if necessary or desired for taste)
  5. Add 1-1 1/2 cups of water
  6. Add the ground egusi (1-1/2 cups)
  7. If using, add the optional items except the leaf vegetable
  8. Prep the leaf vegetable; cut (optional), rinse, place in a bowl, add salt, and hot water. Place aside. [If using the green spinach, leave in the hot water for only couple of minutes. Other greens require much longer time.]
  9. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat
  11. Strain the leaf vegetable and add to the pot
  12. Let cook for another minute uncovered (this allows the leaf veggie to retain its green color 😊).
  13. Turn off heat.

Your delicious sumptuous Egusi Stew is now ready. Enjoy it over cooked rice or any of the various African “solids” such as Fufu, Eba, Amala or Lafun (the white variation), Iyan (Pounded Yam), Farina, or Semolina.

Appreciation

I appreciate the resources from Wikipedia. I couldn’t have explained the ingredients any better. Please support the website with a donation or by contributing to their wiki. Thanks.

Recipe: Sautéed Spinach with Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • • Spinach (2 bunches)
  • • Shrimp (1 lb of large or jumbo size; deveined)
  • • Oil (your choice of Olive, Corn, Vegetable)
  • • Onion (1 medium)
  • • Salt
  • • Dried ground shrimp (optional)
  • • Maggi Shrimp Cubes (2 cubes; optional)
  • • Italian Seasonings

Instructions:

  1. Cut the spinach into big chunks Place in a bowl
  2. Rinse out a couple of times or more to remove any dirt or sand
  3. Pour back into bowl, add water, and set aside.
  4. Place cooking pot on stove
  5. Add 2 spoonfuls of oil
  6. Slice or cube 1/4 of onion onto oil
  7. Add the shrimps, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and 1 shrimp cube
  8. Sauté till slightly brown
  9. Scoop spinach and add into pot
  10. Add the other shrimp cube, 1 spoon of the dried ground shrimp, and 1 teaspoon of salt
  11. Stir for 2 minutes. Do not overcook.

Ready to eat a la carte or with your favorite meal.

Nutrition Facts Label: Should We Really Care?

What are Nutrition Facts Label?

“The Nutrition Facts label is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on most packaged foods and beverages. The Nutrition Facts label provides detailed information about a food’s nutrient content, such as the amount of fat, sugar, sodium and fiber it has.” (Source: Mayo Clinic)

When do you start caring about nutritional facts – Now, Sometimes, or Never?

If you’re like me who can eat anything I want at anytime without any problem. I’m not one to act frenziedly about the daily caloric intake of my food or meal. I’m grateful to be blessed with a petite stature; except that my doctor thinks that I might be overweight because of my BMI. Read my thoughts on that here. Though I watch certain seafoods that I eat, I’m free from any sort of allergic reactions visible or latent in foods, and who humbly says that overall health and wellbeing is pretty good, you might fall into the category of “Never.”

. . .

But wait a minute. All that might change as it did for me when I had some skin issues that were diagnosed as extremely dry skin; not eczema not psoriasis. Thank goodness. The dryness were only on my scalp, which occasionally flared, and certain parts of my body. I got myself a skin haircut and I’m loving it.

Thereafter, I became extremely concerned about what I feed my body. I became particular about nutritional contents of every food and drink; wanting more of certain nutrients and less or none of some.

I began wandering about the validity of nutritional facts. How do we verify the information on those labels? Do they really contain all the items and percentages listed? Except for iron and calcium which are obvious by their outcomes; that is, the “greenness” of one’s excreta and nails growing respectively, it’s difficult to validate the remaining nutrients.

For example, you know that your antibiotics are working when your urine smells like the antibiotics, right, which means its flushing out whatever shouldn’t have been internally. But what about the other minerals and nutrients supposedly in our foods? Do we merely accept the nutritional facts on the labels for what they are?

A, B, Y, or Z?

Anyways … I realized one day that I spent almost thirty minutes comparing the facts on all available milk brands because the store ran out of my usual brand. I went to the store for a quick pick up of milk, so spending that much time to compare was a lot of my time that I didn’t intend to spend. I finally chose one.

Also, at the onset of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order, most stores were out of Black Eye Peas; my favorite type to buy. Same thing, I compared the nutritional values of every type of beans available. The nutritional information were all pretty similar. Though I tried other types of beans, I reverted to my Black Eye Peas.

. . .

I once blogged about adding avocado to every meal? I thought out one day; “what did I used to eat before avocado?” My daughter responded “beans!” And all present bursted into laughter. I love my beans – you gotta get your protein.

. . .

I also realized that I would compare the nutritional information of almost every available brand of food items before settling to buy one.

Again, I lately compared the nutritional values of jasmine rice and long grain parboiled rice. Imagine how many decades that I have been eating this staple food item only to now woke up to care about the nutritional facts?! I thought it interesting and mused at myself. Well, times are changing or realization of desiring to age gracefully is settling in 😊

By the way, the bag of jasmine rice contained zero nutrients (another brand contained only 2% Iron and 3g of Protein), but the long grain parboiled rice contained the following:

  • 25% Thiamine. • 8% Iron
  • 2% Calcium. • 15% Niacin
  • 50% Folate. • 3g of Protein

That made me ponder why we even bother with the nutritional facts. Growing up, we never bothered. Why now? Well again, times are changing especially with climate and environmental changes affecting produce and what the cows and fishes feed on.

Anyways, since this new “mindfully-healthy me” emerged, I became somewhat obsessed with nutritional facts. I began to wonder about the accuracy of the information we’re given? Are we sure that we’re really getting the correct amount of nutrients? How does food manufacturers know (or measure) the nutritional facts and values? Does anyone “police” food manufacturers? So I went on a search and this is what I found:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) (the government department responsible for controlling and supervising food safety among other things) states that nutritional information “help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

Nutritional facts are not only available for food items, but are supposed to be provided for menus at restaurants, including frozen and raw foods. I do not remember ever being given or seen any at restaurants though. Let me know, in the comments, if you have seen or being given the nutritional information of the food you ordered at any restaurant.

There are variations of nutritional facts labels. FDA has fifteen posted on its site.

The nutritional facts on labels are conducted via a nutritional analysis (“the process of determining the nutritional content of foods and food products”). According to information found on Wikipedia, there are various types of nutritional analysis; namely,

1. Laboratory analysis

2. Software

3. Online nutritional analysis

4. Turnkey nutritional analysis services.

You can read the full details of the methods here. Based on your reading, do you wonder, as I did, how feasible it is for manufacturers to conduct the analysis for every food item either once or regularly? I’ll love to hear your thoughts.

Click here for additional reading.

Final Thoughts

Nutritional facts on labels are not always accurate. According to a US Health News, “The law allows a pretty lax margin of error—up to 20 percent—for the stated value versus actual value of nutrients. In reality, that means a 100-calorie pack could, theoretically, contain up to 120 calories and still not be violating the law.”

A registered dietitian nutritionist writes that “manufacturers are often dishonest in the way they use these labels. They tend to use health claims that are misleading and in some cases downright false.”

Be your own expert when it comes to your health and wellbeing

Now that you know, be your own expert when it comes to your health and wellbeing and feed yourself based on the healthy food pyramid as well as the healthy eating plate.

As per, your daily caloric intake and nutritional information, do realize that though it states “facts” that the values are merely recommendations and should not be taken as gospel truth. Allowing a +/- twenty percent variance, coupled with exercise, might be more beneficial.

The FDA has detailed information on how to understand and use the Nutritional Facts Label. Check their website for more information. A downloadable format is also available.

Thanks for reading. I hope the information was helpful.

Recipe: My Sauce

Ingredients:

1 medium Red Bell Pepper
1 medium Onion (yellow or ref)
1/2 Habanero
4-6 medium Tomatoes (your choice – Roma, Hot House, Vine, etc.)
2-4 Chili Pepper (optional)

Blend all together.

. . .

My Sauce is the base for majority of my cooking. Depending on what I’m cooking, the above can be halved for certain dishes; enough for some, or doubled for a few dishes.

Going forward, I will refer to the requirements accordingly.

Recipe: Simple Breakfast: Egg, with Avocado, Sandwich

(Inspired by The Gastronomy Gal)

“Mom, you should start eating avocado because of its anti-inflammatory benefits,” my older daughter recently said to me. She made the recommendation because my scalp and skin suddenly started flaring due to extreme dryness. She also recommended other anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and berries. She’s not a health professional, but a professional in her own health and wellness, and would readily share her knowledge with family and friends.

I took her advice and have noticed some changes. My scalp had gotten better and the flaring have reduced significantly. I now eat and add avocado to everything!

Thank goodness for daughters! 🙏🏾

. . .

Going back to my simple Egg Avocado Sandwich recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 or 1/3 Avocado (depending on size)
  • 6-ft Bread Roll

Instructions:

  1. Boil the eggs for 10-15 minutes. Time depends on whether you want your eggs over-easy, over-medium, or hard-boiled. (To boil, place eggs in a small pot, add water to slightly cover the eggs, and place on slow to medium heat.)
  2. Once boiled, empty the hot water from pot, and run cold water over eggs. This helps the eggs peel easily.
  3. Peel the shells off the eggs
  4. Slice the bread roll in two
  5. Slice the avocado and place on one half of the bread
  6. Slice and place the eggs on the other half of the bread
  7. Close both halves together as a sandwich.

Enjoy with a hot or cold Turmeric tea. Can also be eaten for lunch or light dinner.

Recipe: Breakfast: Avocado Omelette

This is a quick and simple egg breakfast which is Protein and Vitamin D nourishing for your soul. Click here https://bit.ly/3enqsh2, https://bit.ly/3iUWaGa for more nutritional information for avocado and eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/6 Onions (Optional)
  • 1/4 Tomato (Optional)
  • Butter
  • Oil – your choice (Optional)
  • Salt

The above ingredient serves 1 person.

Other items, such as baby spinach, mushrooms, red and green bell peppers, can also be added to your omelette ingredients.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Break the eggs in a bowl and whip
  2. Add a dash of salt
  3. Optional: Chop the onions and tomato
  4. Slice the butter (if block & hard) or scoop (a tablespoon if soft) and toss in the frying pan. Let melt over medium heat
  5. Pour the eggs in the frying pan
  6. Lift the eggs all around till almost cooked
  7. Slice the avocado into the egg
  8. Turn heat to low
  9. Either fold (twice as in flipping) or roll the eggs from one edge to the other.

Avocado Omelette is ready to eat. Pair with toasted wheat bread, homemade potatoes, on enjoy by itself with a refreshing homemade Turmeric Ginger Tea.

Bon appeti

Moinmoin

Moinmoin is a favorite dish in Nigeria and some African countries. It is extraordinarily rich in protein as well as iron as it is made from beans.

Nigerians use the red (some call it orange) beans, but black-eyed beans are equally good.

The optional ingredients below is used in making the seafood Moinmoin. You can add other seafood items to it as desired.

Likewise, for all meat Moinmoin, suggested optional items would be corned beef, gizzards, cow liver, and/or kidney. You can use all or only one of the meat substitutes; or your can add your choice of meat; the choice is yours. The items must be boiled (add water and seasonings to items in a saucepan, cover, and place over medium heat to boil) and cubed.

Combo Moinmoin could also be made using combination of all the items; seafood, meats, and chicken.

. . .

Moinmoin can be eaten a la carte for breakfast or paired with rice, beans, or fried plantain for lunch or dinner.

Recipe: Green Fish

Ingredients

  • Whole Tilipia fish (any fish can also be used), Best if fish is sliced in two.
  • Red onions (medium size)
  • Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Thyme)
  • Ginger (optional)
  • Green Bell Pepper (medium size)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Cooking instructions

  1. Blend the herbs, green bell pepper and half the onion, with or without the ginger. Note: do not add water to blend; add olive oil instead.
  2. Season the fish with the spices (salt and thyme only).
  3. Place fish in large pan.
  4. Pour (or rub) the blended herbs over the fish.

If fish is sliced in two, pour (or rub) each half-part of fish as well.

  1. Slice half of the onion over the fish.
  2. Place fish pan over medium heat stove. Cover. (Fish can also be baked.)
  3. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes on both sides. Cooking time depends on how green you prefer the sauce, including how done you like your fish. The longer the time, the darker the sauce becomes.

Enjoy by itself, or with rice, potatoes, or greens.