Making "Swallow" Healthier


I have in the past posted about fortified Nigerian swallow dishes particularly those made with poundo and gari. (see post here Veggie Poundo and Gari)

In Nigeria, carbohydrate rich side dishes usually referred to as "swallow" are common items in every home/dinner table. Swallow dishes form the core of Nigerian cuisine/menu. Because of the high carbohydrate content of these dishes, they are seen to contribute to weight gain, obesity and type two diabetes.

While this sort of carbohydrate rich diet was ideal for our forefathers and mothers, it is no longer suitable for our generation, in which there is a significant change in our lifestyle. Most of us now have sedentary lifestyles and do not expend as much energy as our fore-bearers.

There is a lot of awareness for the need to eat carbohydrate rich foods in moderation and the importance of increasing our intake of dietary fibre.

How To Make Swallow Healthier
I still maintain, the original traditional "swallow" dishes, such as pounded yam, freshly made by boiling yam and pounding in traditional mortar and pestle, or processed in a food processor....is healthy!!! This is because the dish is made from freshly cooked yam which contains complex carbs and other nutrients.

But when we look at swallow dishes made with poundo flour which essentially is a blend of different types of flours (such as flours from processed or dried yam, rice, potato, plantain, semolina etc), it is apparent that processing has caused the depletion of nutrients and dietary fibre, hence the need to find ways of supplementing the loss.


Just Add Vegetables
Adding vegetables to your swallow dishes significantly make them healthier because the vegetables increase the nutrients and also the content of dietary fibre.

You can add any of your favourite veggies, but be mindful of the ones with very strong flavour/taste which may over-power the taste of the resulting dish.

Examples of vegetables that i have used successfully include: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, amaranth greens, cabbage (white and red varieties), pumpkin leaves (ugu), aubergine/garden eggs.




Technique
I use two different techniques depending on the type of vegetable I am using.

Ricing: This is a technique of finely chopping vegetables (into small grain like pieces). This is then added to boiling water, and after softening to your preference, the poundo flour or gari granules is slowly added and stirred in. Continue to mix until well combined. Cook the poundo as usual and serve hot.

Blending: This technique involves the blending of the vegetables. The blend is then added to boiling water. This is stirred well, then the poundo flour or gari granules is added gradually, and stirred in. Again cook as usual and serve hot.


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