OKRO SOUP with EGUSI

Okro or okra is a very FATLOSS FRIENDLY vegetable. Okro is low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber. The slimy mucilage substance helps to move food along the gut and eases constipation.

1/2 cup (80g) = 25 calories, 2g CARBS

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eating more low-energy-dense foods like okra can help.

Here’s how I made mine…

What you need:

One pound okro
1 pound meat (I use beef and smoked fish)
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup ground Njanga (crayfish)
1 tablespoon minced ginger and garlic
Salt and seasoning cubes to taste
Hot pepper (optional)
3 cups of chopped Spinach
1/2 cup ground Egusi

What you do:
Season meat with garlic, ginger, salt, seasoning cubes. Add onions and enough water to cover meat in a pot and provide stock for the fish. Cook until tender (~30-40 minutes)

Wash the okra, remove the tops and tails. You can use a food processor to chop the the okra to a coarse consistency or you can finely chop the okra into coarse consistency with a knife. Alternatively, use a grater.

Add the ground crayfish and egusi into the pot of cooked meat and cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
Add okro, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir for about a minute or 2 .

Serve warm with fufu.

If eating for fatloss, skip the fufu or limit to no more than 1/2 cup.

BROILED SEA BASS

Sea bass has a rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavor and very FATLOSS FRIENDLY. After watching a video about farm raised tilapia, my love for tilapia is fading.

Sea bass is less oily than salmon and therefore lower in calories. A 4 ounce serving of sea bass is only 110 calories with about 20g of protein.

I stopped by the fish market and got 2 2-pound fishes for about $22. This will feed Le Hubs and I for 2 meals. That is less than $6 a meal.

I’m yet to master the perfect spice mix for grilled fish. For this one, I used white pepper, scallions, celery, parsley, njangsa, seasoning cubes and salt. I marinated the fish and left overnight. Then broiled it.

Pair with a healthy salad or veggies side dish if eating for FATLOSS or no more than 1/2 cup of dodo, baton etc.

Remember: You are SHAPED by what you eat.
Make today a healthy and fit one!

POULET DG (or chicken for the big boss)

This dish is a fricassee of chicken, vegetables, and savory spices. It is super yummy and a great way to stretch your chicken and make the veggies appealing even to the picky eater. The colorful veggies provide an assortment of vitamins and fiber as nature intended.

Poulet DG is a favorite Cameroonian dish that used to be affordable only by the movers and shakers!

When I have a surplus of veggies, I make this dish. You can never go wrong with Poulet DG!

Here is how I make mine:

What you need
– One whole chicken (pasture raised is always better) cut up into serving sizes
– ¼ cup olive oil
– Salt and black pepper to taste
– 2 seasoning cubes
– 1 tbsp minced Ginger
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro (or any herb of choice)
– 2 cups cut carrots
– 2 cups cut green beans
– 1 cup sliced bell peppers (the more colorful the better)
– 1 sliced onions
– 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

What you do
– Combine chicken, a table spoon of oil, spices, salt, pepper, onions, carrots, green beans and peppers in a bowl. Mix well and let marinate for 1- 3 hours.
– Heat the rest of the oil in a large skillet.
– Add chicken and fry until lightly browned
– Add remaining ingredients, except tomatoes which should be saved for last. Reduce heat and do not cover.
– Simmer, stirring regularly, until chicken is done and liquid partly evaporated leaving some sauce.
– If the pot becomes dry before chicken is done, add warm water or chicken stock by the tablespoon.
– Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more.

It is usually served with dodo (fried ripe plantains).

If eating for FATLOSS, you may choose to skip the plantains and enjoy the DG with a double servings of vegetables.

REMEMBER: You are SHAPED by what you eat.

Make today a HEALTHY and FIT one!

QUICK and EASY STEWED BLACK BEANS

I find enormous pleasure in cooking everything from scratch, but I’m also a mom who works outside of the house. When pressed for time, I take all the help store-bought convenience can offer.

Canned beans is something I encourage every cook/mom to have in their pantry. Canned beans with no sodium, sugar, or other harmful ingredients added are a superbly healthy food choice.

Black beans area a good source of healthy carbohydrates. One cup cooked = 227 calories, 41 g total carbohydrates, 15g fiber and 15g protein.

Rinse and drain canned beans before using to cut back on the salt.

Here is how I make mine:

What you need:
– 2 15-ounce cans of black beans
– 1/2 cup chopped onions
– 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic/ginger
– 1 cup puréed tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons ground crayfish (optional)
– 1/4 cup oil
– 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
– Salt and seasoning cubes to taste

What you do:
– Heat oil in a pot (Dutch oven) and sautée onions and bell peppers until soft.
– Add tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt, seasonings and crayfish and cook for a couple of minutes.
– Add beans and stock.
– Let it come to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
– Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.

I personally consider beans a source of good carbs. If eating for FATLOSS or following the “smart carbs” way of eating, limit portion to half a cup and pair with a vegetable like stewed spinach and a source of protein for a complete meal.

REMEMBER: You are SHAPED by what you eat.
Make today a healthy and fit one!

CABBAGE EGUSI

I make this dish quite frequently. At least once a week.

Growing up, cabbage was not popular in our home. My guess is it had something to do with the chronically insufficient “meat” in the dish. We all wanted fufu and eru or rice and stew all the time, but now I know better.

I consider Cabbage a SUPERFOOD. It is so affordable (cheap), so nutritive and super FATLOSS –FRIENDLY!!
Cabbage contains phytonutrients known as glucosinolates. These compounds are known to support insulin, metabolism, detoxification and much more. They also help prevent certain types of cancer like bladder, prostrate and colon cancers.

CABBAGE is super low in calories. One cup shredded is about 35 calories with <10g of carbohydrates and about 3 g of fiber.

One of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage is with egusi. I use a lot of EGUSI in my cooking because it is an easy way for me to add healthy fats to my meals and make it satiating especially when following a “smart carb” way of eating.

Egusi seeds look like watermelon seeds and are full of nutrients. It is made up of about 40 % protein, and about the same proportion of cholesterol-free oil. In terms of vitamins, it contains alpha-tocopherol, a component of vitamin E that helps in maintaining smooth young skin and good fertility.

Here is how I make mine: I use the “boil-in” method. It is healthier and faster.

What you need:
– 1 pound beef (grass-fed is always the best)
– ½ cup ground egusi
– ¼ cup ground crayfish
– 1 whole head finely shredded cabbage
– 1 whole onions, chopped
– ½ cup cut fresh cilantro (optional)
– 1-2 hot chili peppers (optional)
– 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
– ½ cup chopped bell peppers
– 1 tablespoon minced ginger and garlic
– Salt and seasoning cubes to taste

What you do:
1. Season the beef with salt and pepper as desired and cook over medium heat until tender.
2. Prepare the ingredients. Dice onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Peel and crush garlic and ginger. Grind crayfish and egusi.
3. Add the onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, crayfish and egusi and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile shred and wash cabbage. I nuke mine in the microwave to cook it when I am pressed for time. Otherwise, lightly steam it in about ¼ cup of water for about 5 mintues to preserve nutrients.
5. Dump the cabbage into the egusi/meat mixture.
6. Stir and adjust seasoning.

You can serve with plantains, garri, yams or accompaniment of choice.

If following the “smart carb” way of eating for FATLOSS, limit starch (plantains, garri, yams) to ½ cup.

Remember: You are SHAPED by what you eat. Eat REAL foods. Eat Foods that HEAL.

Make today a Healthy and Fit one!

CHICKEN PEPPER SOUP

Pepper soup is an intensely flavorful and spicy soup, popular in many English speaking west African countries including Cameroon.

The main ingredients are meat, hot chili peppers and a combination of spices.

This dish is believed to help restore appetite to the invalid and convalescent. It is also believed to help with milk secretion in new born mothers.

I consider Peppersoup a FATLOSS FRIENDLY food. Chili (hot peppers) are said to stimulate metabolism and reduce body fat.

Here is how I made mine:

– One whole chicken cut up into bite sized pieces (pasture raised, organic always preferred. That is why I kept the skin on. If using other (low quality) chicken, remove skin and trim all fat)
– 1 whole onion minced
– Chili peppers to taste
– 1-2 tablespoons ground njangsa
– ½ tsp Cameroon pepper
– ½ tsp white pepper
– ½ tsp contri onion (no idea the English name for this. It is called “mruh” in Limbum)
– Salt and seasoning cubes to tate
– A sprig or 2 of fresh Basil
– 1/ cup chopped fresh Cilantro (optional)
– Green plantains, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (optional – I consider 1 plantain as 2 servings)
What I do:
In a large pot, combine chicken and all the other ingredients. Mix well and add enough water to cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until meat is done adding enough water as necessary.
Taste and adjust seasoning
Add fresh herbs and serve.

PLANTAINS:
– 1 MEDIUM plantains is about 260 calories
– 1 cup sliced = 179 calories, 48g of carbs, 3.5 g of fiber
– Green plantains gram for gram contain more vitamin C and Vitamin K than bananas
– Green Plantains are high in resistant starch which has numerous benefits including gut health benefits.

Remember: You are shaped by what you eat.

If this added value to you, please consider sharing.
Make today a healthy and fit one.

Banana Bread

Yes, occasional treats are allowed here. Eating healthy as a lifestyle does allow room for occasional cakes. Emphasis on “occasional”. When I eat cake, it is hardly ever store bought. I make mine using the best ingredients. This banana bread fits the bill.

Yummilicious Banana Bread

  1. 4-5 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  2. 1 cup oil
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 3 eggs lightly beaten
  5. 3 cups flour
  6. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  10. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Set oven temperature to 350 F
  • Mix the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl (wet ingredients)
  • Mix ingredients 5-10 in a large bowl (dry ingredients)
  • Pour wet ingredients mix into dry ingredients.
  • Gently mix until the batter just comes together. It may be lumpy. Don’t over mix.
  • Prepare baking pan by spraying with bakers joy or brushing with melted butter.
  • Pour batter into cake pan.
  • Bake at 350 F for 55 minutes to an hour. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
  • Remove cake and let it cool for about 10 minutes in pan.
  • Remove from pan and enjoy!

Let me know if you try the recipe!

Coach Yaje

The Protein You Are Missing Out On

There are three types of people in the world: those who love snails, those who don’t and those who don’t know what they are missing! This write up is for group #3.

I didn’t grow up eating snails. I did not know what I was missing! I tasted snails for the first time when I went to Baptist High School, Buea for my High School education. I suspect hunger had everything to do with it. Long story short…I have been hooked ever since.

The giant African snail (aka Congo meat, aka nyama-ngoro) is a non-conventional meat enjoyed by many in some African countries including Cameroon. Some people don’t eat snails because they are either turned off by the slimy nature of the snails before they are washed and prepped or the sometimes unsanitary places that snails can be harvested from. More and more people are now cultivating snails in an effort to solve this problem. The snails I eat and highly recommend are from the Urban Farmers Association (UFA). The UFA snails are pre-cleaned, packaged and made ready for the pot. Works for me!

Being the questioner that I am, I went looking up information on the nutritional benefits and found some very interesting and quite frankly surprising information. Since “Congo meat” is usually used as a substitute for beef in many dishes, I compared the calories, macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) and some vitamins and minerals content per 100-gram (3.5 ounces) of snail and beef.

Calories Protein Fat Carbohydrate Iron Magnesium
Beef 250 26 15 0 2.6 mg 21 mg
Snails 90 16 1.4 2 3.5 mg 250 mg
  • Snails are low in calories. A 100-gram serving of snails provides only 90 calories.
  • Snails are high in protein. A 100-gram serving supplies about 16 grams of protein. Calorie for calorie, this compares very well with beef. You will get more protein for your calorie bucks eating snails than beef.
  • Snails are significantly lower in fat. This makes snails a very good source of lean protein.
  • What I was very surprised to find out was that snails are good source of iron! Even more surprised that it was a better source of iron compared to beef! The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron is 18 mg. Women and teenage girls especially stand to benefit greatly from this.
  • I was also surprised about the Magnesium content. A serving of snails supplies more than 10 times the amount supplied by the same amount of beef. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of Magnesium is 420 mg. Magnesium is a mineral that helps with energy production, proper functioning of nerves, muscles and many other parts of the body

 

If you are trying to lose weight, substituting snails for red meat can be a good idea because they are good sources of proteins but low in calories and fat. In addition to the health benefits, snails are cheaper than any red meat. Lastly, they taste pretty dang good!!

If I convinced you and you will like to try, contact UFA. They will deliver to you at no extra charge.

I reached out to some of my peeps for some tips on how to prepare this special. Basically, snails can be cooked in the same way as you cook beef. Peppered snails are my favorite.

Here is a simple recipe:

One pound large snails

Salt

Maggi to taste

1 tsp White pepper

1 small thinly sliced Onions

1 cup thinly sliced Bell Peppers

Habanero peppers to taste

1 tsp minced Garlic

1 tbsp ground Ginger

Herbs of your choice (basil, parsley, leeks)

About 6Fresh tomatoes

Olive oil

Prepare all ingredients. Thinly slice onions and bell peppers. Chop tomatoes. Blend together ginger, garlic and hot peppers in a food processor or blender or grinding stone. Chop herbs.

Place cleaned snails into a pot of lightly salted water. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then rinse. Return snails to pot. Add Maggi cubes, white pepper, ginger, garlic, a tablespoon of oil Add about a cup of water. Cook for an additional 20 minutes until all water evaporates.

In a separate pot, lightly sautee onions and bell peppers in another tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes, then add tomatoes. Add enough water to create a saucy stew. Add cooked snails from above. Cook until snails are tender for an additional 10 minutes. Add chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning. Enjoy with some steamed green veggies to keep the calories low.

My Yummilicious Vinaigrette

 

So we got the memo to eat more veggies. We are incorporating more salads in to our diet. In our minds we are doing well, except it may not be as simple as that. A salad can quickly go from healthy to unhealthy if you are not careful with the ingredients especially the dressing – the type and quantity. I still have memories of this avocado dressing from Chick-fil-A that was over 300 calories in one innocent sachet.

There are generally two types of salad dressings: creamy and vinaigrettes. Vinaigrettes are usually healthier/lower in calories than the cream based types. The findings from my research of the labels of 3 popular salad dressings support this claim. Per 2 tablespoons serving size

Calories Total fat Total carb.
Kraft Thousand island 130 12 g 4 g
Hidden Valley Ranch 160 14 g 2 g
Ken’s Vinaigrette 100 10 g 3 g

Side Note: this could be a good science fair project for my son Nathan next year:)

As always, I share strategies you can implement so you are not ruining your salads with the dressing choice.

  • Read the label if buying. Ensure sugar content is below 5 g per serving (5 grams is about a teaspoon of sugar). Total fat of 10 g or less per serving is advisable. Look out for words such as “Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the label. Such indicate trans-fats. No Bueno. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Words you can’t pronounce on the label are usually not a good sign.
  • No “sese” salad. My hubby makes “sese” out of his salad. I silently cringe every time I see him drench his plate with his favorite Thousand Island. I don’t say anything because he has made a huge improvement from the fufu dinners, but whatever dressing you use, you should drizzle not drench. Measuring the quantity of the dressing can be a good idea. 2 tablespoons is okay.
  • Nothing is free in FAT-FREE. Fat-free dressing may be lower in calories, but when they take out the fat, they usually replace it with other (not-so-good) things to help with the flavor. Enter High Fructose Corn Syrup – no thanks!
  • Make your own! Homemade is always the healthiest, best tasting and most cost effective option in my opinion. You get to control the quality of the ingredients if you make your own.

Ever since I discovered this vinaigrette recipe, the frequency of my consumption of salads has increased significantly. It is super easy to make. With an empty jar and a few ingredients, you probably may already have in the pantry, you can whip up this “Yummilicious” dressing in a jiffy anytime. I share the recipe below, but if you remember nothing else, remember this: one-part vinegar, two-parts oil. I like mine tangy. For a less tangy vinaigrette, use 3 parts oil and one-part vinegar. Anything else is optional. Another quick way to dress your salad is to toss it lightly with a good olive oil, then squeeze a little lemon or drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it. Toss with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and you are good to go.

YUMMILICIOUS VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

Per 1 tablespoon:72 cal. 8g total fat. 1 g total carb

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (less tangy to tangy)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Fresh-ground black pepper

1 table spoon Dijon mustard

Optional:    2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoon minced fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs, spoonful of honey or brown sugar

Pour oil and vinegar in a glass jar with a screw top. Add salt, black pepper. and any optional ingredients. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Note that the oil in the vinaigrette can cause it to solidify if stored in the fridge. Just let the dressing sit outside at room temperature and always shake well before using.

If you make it, be sure to let me know!

Coach Yaje

 

EATING WELL ON A BUDGET


One of the members in my private coaching group noted that even though healthy eating was more expensive, preparing and cooking healthy meals was way faster than conventional meals. This is a sentiment I hear very often and that I take exception to. My reaction often is “compared to what?” People will spend plenty of money on clothing items, skin care etc. But when it comes to buying quality foods to nourish their bodies, cost is usually used as an obstacle.

Is healthy eating really expensive? We can go down the the-health-costs-associated-with-unhealthy-eating route, but most people just want to know how to eat for good health or for fat loss on a budget. I’ll try to stick with that.

In my opinion, eating for fat loss or health does not have to be more expensive than any other diet. Can it be? Absolutely. You can spend a huge amount of money on a “regular” diet or you can spend a little. You can spend big money on a healthy eating diet or you can spend small. Bottom line: you can eat well on any budget.

Here are my top 7 strategies  to help with eating well while saving money:

  1. Plan your meals: If you have your week set out ahead of time you’ll know exactly what you need to buy to make those dishes as opposed to buying  ingredients, you might not end up using. Write a weekly menu and make a corresponding grocery list. It also helps to check what you have at home so you don’t end up buying what you already have.
  2. Cook at home and keep your meals simple: Focus on protein, vegetables and fat. It is not necessary to use fancy recipes that call for exotic and expensive ingredients. Complex recipes will likely cost more than simple meals.
  3. Only buy what you know you’ll eat. No need buying the kale when you KNOW you can’t stand it just because they say it is healthy. Stick to veggies that you like.
  4. Cook enough for leftovers. Left-overs from dinner is usually lunch for me the next day. I pack my lunch right after dinner. Saves me so much money.
  5. Grow your own vegetables and herbs. If you cannot grow your own veggies, at least grow herbs. They are so easy to grow and ridiculously expensive in the store.
  6. Veggie prep: Cut up and wash your own vegetables! Nowadays, it’s amazing what we’ll do for convenience. Truth is, you are paying for being able to skip those steps. I shared a blog post on how I veggie prep here.
  7. Buy your meat whole: It’s not actually that hard to divide up a chicken and they end up being WAY cheaper than buying the individual pieces.

Let me know what strategies you can implement or share tips of your own.

Coach Yaje