Eritrean Fiery Potato Stew (D'Nish Zigni) - Recipe

I made this recipe in honor of "Africa Day" designated for May 25th, 2010. I was inspired to put this post together by Casey Angelova over at "Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria" who encouraged other foodies and bloggers to help recognize the diverse and often under-appreciated cuisine from the African Continent. At first I had no idea what to make because I don't have a lot of experience with African cuisine. The more I thought about it though, I knew I wanted to try and re-create an awesome potato dish I had at my Eritrean friend's house several months ago. So, I did a search for some recipes online and found something that sounded like what I remembered eating. Although it doesn't compare to the authentic Eritrean spicy potatoes my friend's mom made that day, it is pretty darn close.  

When I originally tried to recreate this a few months ago, it didn't come out quite right--but that's because it was missing one key ingredient: Berbere. Berbere is a staple in Eritrean cuisine. It is a complex blend of chilis, peppercorns and lots of other spices that I don't normally use, such as fenugreek, cardamom, cloves and coriander ---I would liken it to a super hot Indian curry spice - but African style. It also includes the more familiar cinnamon and allspice. You can get the complete recipe for Eritrean Berbere here.

Other than mixing and roasting the spices for the Berbere, the recipe itself was pretty easy (Note: If you do decide to make your own berbere, make sure you open a window! The aroma from roasting and stirring a bunch of chilis caused lots of whooping and coughing in my house! :). Overall, I was really pleased with how this came out. The dish is so simple, yet the flavors are so complex. Served along with some pita and yogurt (I used Turkish pide), this makes a great lunch entree or dinner side dish. I hope you'll give it a try.

D'Nish Zigni (Fiery Potato Stew) 
(Recipe taken from recipeisland.com - which was adapted from Olivia Warren's "Taste of Eritrea.")

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion — Chopped
4 Teaspoons Berbere — Or Hot Sauce
6 Medium Potato — Cubed ( I peeled before cutting)
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 Cups Chicken Stock (I used vegetable broth)

Directions: Saute onion in oil for 5 minutes. Add berbere, and potatoes, saute for 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and salt, simmer for 10 more minutes (I simmered 25 minutes instead of 10). Serve with injera or pita bread.



What the Heck is Raw Food? -- Plus some resources to get you started!

Photo courtesy of my bud Aimee "The Wellness Woman." You can find the recipe to this gorgeous all Raw Bento Box here. Aimee is an amazing raw food chef and an inspiring life coach. She has also graciously agreed to do a guest post for my blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

So, What the Heck is Raw Food Anyway?

The terms "Raw Food" and to a lesser degree "Living Cuisine" have been making their way into the mainstream public's consciousness recently. This is due in part to a few celebrities who've adopted a raw foods lifestyle (... Anyone  remember the hoopla surrounding Demi Moore's amazing bikini body when she appeared in the Charlie's Angels movie? Well, she achieved her svelte figure by going raw.).

But what exactly is raw food, you may be asking. Simply put, raw food consists of fresh, minimally processed and uncooked ingredients. Raw foodists are almost all exclusively vegan or vegetarian, so in this sense, raw food does not refer to raw meat and seafood. As an additional guideline, if you pick up any raw foods book (see resources list below), you'll read that food is no longer considered "raw" once it has been heated above a certain temperature -- most agree that's somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees.

So what do raw foodists eat?

Well, it's not just salads. There's an unending supply of fabulous raw food recipes out there (one of my favorites is raw, vegan lasagna). Still, leafy green vegetables, including wild greens and sprouts are usually at the top of a raw foodist's menu. Then there's a healthy dose of fruits (both sweet and unsweet), nuts and seeds, and fats/oils (avocados, coconut, olives). Some also include seaweeds and so-called "super foods" such as maca, cacao (raw chocolate) and goji berries. (more about super foods another day).

Some people do eat a 100% raw food diet. However, this is just not realistic for most (especially me), so many who are into the raw foods lifestyle eat "high raw" where they strive to eat anywhere from a 60% to 90% fresh, plant based diet.

Why would people eat only raw food?

There are many reasons why people adopt this way of eating. Many health buffs are turned on by the super high content of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients this diet offers; still, others claim this diet gives them more energy, improves digestion and makes them more conscious of where their food comes from; but the major reason people go raw is because they are facing some sort of health challenge. For instance, there are many people who have reversed their type-II diabetes and have completely come off of insulin after going raw. While training as a raw food chef, I even met one Type-I diabetic who has been able to significantly reduce the number of daily insulin shots by eating a diet high in raw foods.

Though, the biggest impetus behind people going raw seems to be Weight Loss. This is certainly true for me. Do a google search for before and after pics of people on a raw diet. There are some really amazing stories of people who have shed massive amounts of weight on this diet. One woman (Angela Stokes-Monarch),  for example, lost and kept off about 160 pounds eating this way. The reason why people lose so much weight on raw foods is because raw foods are nutritionally dense but still low in calories. Thus you can eat a lot more raw food by volume while still consuming significantly fewer calories than you would by eating cooked food. Raw food also has more dietary fiber than cooked food, which is great for weight loss since foods with fiber make you feel fuller longer.

A Diet for the Masses?

Many people think that a 100% raw food diet is too restrictive. I happen to be one of them, but I think that it is a great Healing Diet, and periods of all raw can be great after days (or weeks) of eating too much junk. (Speaking of healing diets, I will be doing 3 weeks at Optimum Health Institute in June --stay tuned for my video-blogs about my experience!)

So, even though all raw many not be for everyone, most people could stand to add a little more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diets. And if you're feeling stuck in a salad rut and want to find fun new, healthy ways to feed your family, I highly recommend you give some raw food recipes a try.

Some Raw Food Resources

The following is a partial list of some raw food resources I've found helpful over the years. Although I do not agree with every opinion in the raw food movement, I like the overall messages of the people and products below and I think they are a great resource for beginners. Still, with most things in life, I take what is good for me, learn from it, and leave the rest behind. I suggest you do the same.

The Raw Food Detox Diet, by Natalia Rose

Super accessible, with multiple transition plans to help you incorporate more raw foods into your diet...especially for those who do not wish to go 100% raw. I also really liked her "raw before dinner" recommendations.

Everyday Raw, by Matthew Kenney

This is, by far, my favorite raw food recipe book of all time! It has everything: soups, salads, snacks, desserts, main courses and more. The mango wrapper on the cover is what prompted me to buy this book, and it did not disappoint!

The Vita-Mix blender

This blender is used by professional chefs and kitchens (such as on Food Network's Iron Chef Kitchen stadium) and it's usually the go-to-gadget for raw foodists everywhere. I even know people who travel with theirs! See my glowing review of the amazingness that is the Vita-Mix here.

 Online Raw Food Shopping 


Most things I need I can get at a regular grocery store, at my local health food store or Whole Foods. However, when I need a specialty item or just feel like treating myself to a tasty treat, The Raw Food World is where I go. It's my online stop for raw goodies and natural/health items for my home.



Research links pesticides with ADHD in children

                        Crop duster in West Texas (Image Bank/Getty Images) - from ABCNews

Scientists have recently found a link between Attention Deficit Disorder and pesticides commonly used in food production-- Good news for organics, but bad news for the kids (and their parents). Maybe this will hush up some of the annoying "scientists" who call people quacks for seeking out organic alternatives. Of course one study won't change the world, but it might lead to more studies and hopefully challenge us (agricultural industry and consumers) to reassess and CHANGE how we choose to grow our food. 

An excerpt of one of many articles on this topic is below (bold emphasis added by me); you can read the full version here

From the Associated Press...

Children may be especially prone to the health risks of pesticides because they're still growing and they may consume more pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight.
In the body, pesticides break down into compounds that can be measured in urine. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children.

The kids with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school. The findings were published Monday in Pediatrics.

The children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn't determine how they were exposed. Experts said it's likely children who don't live near farms are exposed through what they eat.

"Exposure is practically ubiquitous. We're all exposed," said lead author Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal.

She said people can limit their exposure by eating organic produce. Frozen blueberries, strawberries and celery had more pesticide residue than other foods in one government report.

A 2008 Emory University study found that in children who switched to organically grown fruits and vegetables, urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to undetectable or close to undetectable levels.

(Continue reading here)



Pineapple Mango Lassi - Smoothie Recipe

So, my final exams still aren't over -- I have my last one tomorrow --but my husband informed me that my self imposed "1 week break" from my blog has expired! lol : ) Thus, I've decided to take a quick break from sociolinguistics to put one of my latest creations up.

On Friday I had minor oral surgery (bit of bone and gum tissue removed - exciting stuff!) and unfortunately that means I've been taking antibiotics. Although I prefer natural remedies, I do feel like conventional medicine also has its place, in my life at least. With that in mind, I like to combat the bad effects of taking said antibiotics with some pro-active treatment. What bad effects you ask? Well, anti-biotics, while good at fending off infection, can wreak  havoc on your intestinal flora, destroying the good bacteria that helps keep our tummies healthy. Antibiotics have also been known to cause recurrent yeast infections in some women. So what can you do about it, if you plan on downing your penicillin? I, personally, ALWAYS make sure to take probiotics -- 4 hours before or four hours after -- each time I take antibiotics --for the duration of my treatment...and for a few days after. Probiotics help by restoring the good bacteria, giving us "healthy guts."  And for those skeptics of alternative medicine out there, recently, even main stream docs have been recommending probiotic therapy for when their patients take antibiotics.(Note: Antibiotics will destroy the probiotics if taken too close together.)

As for this tasty beverage, I normally don't like putting dairy in my smoothies (I'm not vegan, but I just don't prefer it). But seeing as I've been chewing-challenged, I've made an exception. Though, the real reason why I opted for yogurt (i.e., dairy) in this smoothie is because yogurt contains the probiotic acidophilus (among others)...Check out the side of a yogurt container. They should all say something like "contains live and active cultures" followed by which strains of good bacteria are present. These live and active cultures are super beneficial in maintaining digestive and intestinal health. So although I take my probiotics in pill form, for good measure I like to ingest mass quantities of yogurt during this time as well. 

Although I may be using the term "lassi" somewhat loosely, I take full advantage of creative license here. I love mango lassis ( a tasty Indian beverage), thus mangos made it into this drink. The pineapple made it for another reason. Although there's only a small amount in this, I love pineapple because it contains the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is great for indigestion (it's also the active agent in most meat tenderizing seasonings) and it also is an anti-inflammatory. Since my face and mouth have been a bit swollen, I figured a little food-grade anti-inflammatory medicine wouldn't hurt any.

Well, enough of the background info. Here's my contribution to all you yogurt-filled smoothie lovers out there! Hope you enjoy it!

Pineapple Mango Lassi - Smoothie Recipe - serves 2

1 1/3 cup yogurt
3/4 cup pineapple
1 cup mango (I used frozen)
1 Tbs honey
2-3 pieces ice
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste - optional

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and serve!



1 Week Break - Final Exams

Dear luscious readers:

I've decided to break away from my blog for one whole week to prepare for final exams. I have lots of studying and a looong paper to write. Don't worry, though, I'll be back with the Raw Food article I promised. I'll also be coming at you live from Oklahoma City, OK, where I will be tasting and reviewing the cuisine at the cutting edge "105 Degrees" Raw Food Academy and Restaurant. Super exciting stuff. See you then!

Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman.



Music Post - My Husband's in a Music Video! :)

Here's a Nature/Charity music video my husband is in. It's meant to help raise awareness about environmental issues and to encourage people to honor the earth. He has a 5 second spot - around minute 7. He's the one looking mildly disinterested (lol)..Yours truly was the camerawoman. It will be premiering on Turkish TV sometime next week...

             Doga icin Cal 2 / Uzun ince bir yoldayim - official video from Doga icin cal on Vimeo.