Growing up as children, we heard fascinating stories of the Christmas season; how Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) would come to our houses, climb through our windows to deliver all sorts of sweet foods, treats and candies to us on Christmas eve.
We always yearned for the Yuletide season because as children we would eat, drink and make merry celebrating the festive season with delicious treats.
I remember thinking to myself at the time that if I could eat whatever I wanted without restriction, I would just eat fried rice forever. Fried rice was a regular dish during the Christmas season.
What I did not realise at the time was that eating only fried rice was not entirely healthy. Rice is a starchy food, and starch means carbohydrates. Consumption of too much carbohydrates and not enough of foods from other classes could leave you with a nutrient deficiency.
Well, that we are celebrating Christmas does not mean we should throw nutrition out of the window. We should still eat nutritious, healthy foods, celebrations or not.
Outlined below are some healthy, delicious foods that you can try this season to have a protein delicious Christmas:
- Moi moi or Moin-Moin: Made from beans (an excellent source of protein, fibre and other nutrients), this is great for festivities. Moin moin goes with many staple foods in Nigeria, including rice, yam, potatoes, etc. It can also be made with eggs or fish, to make it more nutritious and delicious.
- Efirin and Elubo: Efirin is the native scent leaf found in almost all parts of Nigeria. It makes a tasty soup when prepared with meat and tomatoes. It is also rich in protein, and it goes well with Elubo, a crushed unripe plantain flour.
- Millet: Millet is a protein rich food that can be substituted for rice. Many people eat rice during the festive season. However, millet is the healthier alternative. It looks like rice but the interesting thing about it is that it tastes better! Compared to white rice, millets are high in fibre and have zero sugar content. You could cook millet and stew, or go jollof style.
- Awara: Made from ground soybeans, these delicacies are tasty and chewy, all through to the middle. Awara can be eaten with meat, chicken or beef. Make sure you add awara to your Christmas menu this December. Awara is also healthy and heart friendly.
- Ofada Rice: Unpolished Ofada rice is highly nutritious, and since many people like to eat rice during the festive season, Ofada rice should be the rice of choice. You can also garnish Ofada rice with crayfish, tofu, miso, chicken breasts, nuggets, tuna, mackerel, soya sauce, etc.
- Egusi and wheat: Melon seeds (egusi) are famous for their protein and healthy oil, and egusi is no stranger to the Nigerian palate. Many people in different parts of Nigeria celebrate the festive season with egusi as a main course. Egusi is also rich in vitamins and when combined with wheat flour (swallow), it is an absolute delicacy.
Finally, we need to enjoy the festive season with protein rich meals. We could start by trying out different recipes of our staple foods, while adding proteins to them.
Reginald Onabu, Researcher and Public Relations Officer, Writes from Lagos.