DR CLAUDETTE MITCHELL
MANY Christians today around the world begin the celebration of Lent on Ash Wednesday. This is a period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. For some this might involve a spiritual journey, reflecting on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, as well as making a few dietary changes; perhaps, choosing to consume meatless (recipes in which the main ingredient is legumes) and/or tasty fish dishes on Fridays throughout the period.
Then having knowledge of the nutritional content of foods is essential. The meal manager or chef of household should select appropriate meat substitutes providing adequate protein, minerals and vitamins. In brief review, foods from animals contain protein of high quality or complete protein simply meaning that meat, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese contain all of the essential amino acids (note: amino acids are the building blocks of protein) along with vitamins and minerals. Whereas, plant foods e.g. peas and beans such as lentils, pigeon peas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, channa, black beans, etc. contain some of the essential amino acids and/or incomplete protein, and some vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. In addition, as peas and beans contain incomplete protein in comparison to the protein sources from foods from animals; it is essential to consider improving the quality of protein in the diet when preparing vegetarian meals. This of course can be achieved through complementary proteins, simply indicating the combination of two or more plant foods which complement each other in that the essential amino acids missing from one are supplied by the other, for example, peas and beans and cooked rice provide complete protein; other examples can include that of peanut butter sandwich, lentil patty burger, sandwich with channa spread etc.
From this you may probably conclude that you and your family can try new recipes during the Lent, and have variety of dishes available to choose. In addition, keep in mind that meals be it breakfast, lunch and supper should be balanced, meaning containing adequate carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Be sure to add fruits, veggies, and good sources of staples and fats to meal plan; using the Caribbean Food Groups as a guide can help you.
Sample menus ideas
(a) seasonal fruit, cornmeal porridge, bake with saltfish buljol
(b) banana, hot oatmeal cereal with milk, sada roti with melongene choka and veggie strips
(a) lentil loaf with gravy, seasoned rice, chunky mixed vegetables, tropical fruit cup
(b) baked fish with gravy, ground provision medley, stew kidney beans, tossed salad with dressing, citrus fruit punch
(a) fish burger with French fries, lettuce, tomato & cucumber salad with dressing, yoghurt with fresh fruit
(b) sandwiches with channa spread, tossed salad with dressing, watermelon cubes
Tofu Loaf (Peterson, 1996)
1 lb soft tofu, mashed
½ cup wheat germ
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped
Fresh seasonings to taste (chopped green pepper, pimentos, celery)
2 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tbsp mayonnaise
¼ tsp garlic powder
Grease loaf pan. Press the tofu mixture into the greased loaf pan, and bake for about 1 hour. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Garnish with tomato ketchup and parsley.
Yield: 1 loaf; serves 6 to 8
Falafels (Thomas, 1990)
3 cups cooked channa (garbanzo beans/chick peas)
¼ liquid from cooked beans
¼ cup wheat germ
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ tsp basil
¼ tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
Fresh seasonings to taste (chopped green pepper, pimentos, celery, grated garlic, etc.)
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup breadcrumbs
Place channa and liquid into a blender and puree. Put bean mixture in a large bowl and add all other ingredients the breadcrumbs. Mix well. Stir in just enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together.
Roll the mixture into balls, about 1 ½ inches thick. Arrange falafels on a greased tray and bake in a preheated oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn occasionally during baking to brown evenly.
Serve in pita bread or as an appetizer with your favourite dressing.
(Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook, 2002)
1 tbsp. margarine
2 tbsp. flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chive
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3 cups cooked flaked
¼ cup flour, sea
soned with salt and
1 egg beaten with 1
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
Melt margarine, remove from heat and slowly blend in flour. Stir in milk slowly to avoid lumps. Return to heat and cook slowly stirring constantly until thickened. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add chive, onion and fish and cook for two minutes; remove from the heat and cool. Form into croquette shape, coat with seasoned flour; dip in beaten egg and then coat in crumbs. Set on greased baking sheet and bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes until golden brown or deep-fry.
Note: Mixture should be firm enough to handle if not add ½ cup soft breadcrumbs.
Claudette Mitchell, PhD, RD – Assistant Professor, University of the Southern Caribbean, School of Science, Technology, and Allied Health