TRADITIONAL AFRICAN FOODS REAPPRECIATED -PART III
The role tropical starches play in our modern diet is based upon their superiority and uniqueness. They contain high levels of resistant starches with the most popular in the Western Health Food world being cassava. Indeed, Dr. Stephen Gundry, a renowned heart
surgeon and natural wellbeing guru, regards cassava most highly among other starchy foods. Africans and Ghanaians especially who have turned away from their traditional foods due to misinformation may be delighted to know that the scientific recognition of certain food crops such as cassava, yams, plantains, millet and sorghum are featured highly in Dr. Gundry’s recent book—The Plant Paradox. Such root crops as cassava and tropical non grains as plantains also play an important role in his ‘Leaky Gut theory’.
According to Dr. Gundry, gut health should be the focus for securing a strong immune system. He, thus, recommends a ‘No Grain Diet’ plus cassava waffle and other relevant recipes on how to practice a ‘No Grain Diet’ successfully in the Western world. In Africa/ Ghana however, this is not a diet for us but a traditional way of life. This means if you are a Ghanaian on a ‘No Grain Diet’, you are simply eating normal lovely traditional foods. Together with sunshine and water, the Ghanaian foods listed below, if eaten religiously on a daily basis can make you fit and healthy.
NO GRAIN DIET – AFRICAN STYLE:
1. GARI SOAKINGS with peanut or lemon for breakfast or any heavy hearty meal like
Fufu or Konkonte (face the wall) is perfect to break your fast at any time in the
morning. Usually, with a heavy breakfast you may only need to eat twice a day.
2. FUFU made of cassava, plantain or yam with any type of traditional soups without
artificial seasoning/ flavouring agents.
3. YAKAYAKA /ACHEKE made of steamed cassava flakes to be eaten with stew,
fresh pepper and fish.
4. STEAMED YAM, CASSAVA OR PLANTAIN with Kontomire (elephant eyes
spinach) stew or Eguzi (melon seed) stew or Aborbi (dried anchovies) stew or any
5. KONKONTE made from dried fermented cassava powder with any type of soup.
Question: When can I eat other meals?
Answer: I recommend, after a month or so, on the ‘No Grain Diet’, you will feel a positive difference in your health and gradually – once a while, Banku, Kenkey, Beans and other traditional foods can be introduced. And all through, exercises or activity lifestyle must be
PALEO DIET (The New Western Diet Trend):
This is also almost like a traditional African diet, which is the new Health and Diet craze in the West. In my view, this diet concept is based on the traditional way we eat in Africa or at least, the idea seems to lean on the way the ancient hunter gatherers used to eat, which is still
the way Africans eat if you eat traditional foods. Examples of food for this diet include; spinaches and herbs, bush meat (game), millet, sorghum, beans, cassava, yams, plantain, fresh fish, kenkey, banku, gari, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, shear butter, cocoa butter,
sesame seed oil, groundnut oil, olive oil, pure sea salt and simple spices such as ginger, garlic, onion, and chilli among others.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL FOODS AND NON TRADITIONAL FOODS
a. Traditional Foods are homogeneously designed over centuries of human settlement and survival, based upon the climatic conditions and agricultural cultivation which becomes immersed in cultural attitudes over time. It is now understood that our ancient ancestors
moulded these diets for purposes of survival, sustenance, taste satisfaction and community bonding.
b. Non Traditional Foods are known to be usually foreign to the climatic environment for cultivation. The wheat crop for example, is not designed to grow or be cultivated in the tropical environment and so does not typically grow in West Africa due to the unfavourable climatic conditions, which are not conducive to its flourishing. Therefore, West Africans are particularly known to be gluten intolerant.
Examples of Foreign Foods in Ghana:
White or brown tea breads, buff loaf (Bofrot/ Pofpof), doughnuts, margarine, milk, tinned/ canned foods, pasta, pizza, olive oil, dates, etc.
TRADITIONAL AFRICAN/ GHANAIAN FOODS:
Immune System Booster Foods:
Ghanaian Kenkey or Banku With Fresh/ Raw Pepper
Kenkey contains high fibre, good carbohydrate and bacteria which strengthen the microbiota
(microbiome), make the gut ‘happy’ and boost the immune system.
The raw pepper sauce contains tomato, chilli, onion, ginger, turmeric and garlic. These
ingredients are scientifically proven to have numerous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and
antibacterial properties. The sauce also includes natural sea salt (dirty salt) which contains
Coconut oil is classified as a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT). It has been shown that
coconut oil is rich in antimicrobial properties that help to prevent and stop the spread of
Forest or Shiitake Mushrooms
These mushrooms have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. They are also rich in
vitamins D, B5 and B6, and are highly recommended for vegetarians.
The world of food seems to be coming full circle. The foods that used to be considered as
primitive/ poor man’s foods are now being acknowledged by science as super foods and
super diets. In the next episodes, we will look at some hidden secrets of some of our foods
such as the humble coconut, palm and yam.
Stay blessed, stay healthy and stay tuned!
Source: Amba Kabore-Sharkey