Poor man's meal plan

Someone about to eat steamed brown rice.
Eating healthy can fit anyone's budget, even the poor man. Sixty-two percent of shoppers think healthy foods are too expensive, but replacing your unhealthy snack foods such as chips or crackers with a healthy serving of fruits or vegetables can save you 2 cents per serving. That may not sound like much, but coupled with other cost-saving tips for healthy eating, those 2 cents can add up.

Canned, Fresh or Frozen

A healthy diet should include 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day. Eating only fresh fruits and veggies may break the bank, so mix in some canned and frozen fruits and veggies to help you save. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and immediately packaged, which helps them retain their nutritional value. Look for veggies without added sauces or sodium, and fruits without sugar. When buying fresh, buy what's in season to keep costs down. You can also check out local farmer's markets for cheap, fresh produce.

Fill Up on Whole Grains

Swap out your refined grains for whole grains, and you may eat less. Fiber in whole grains is satiating, keeping you feeling full longer after you eat. Whole grains help your budget and your waistline. For good health, MyPlate recommends at least half your servings of grains be whole grain. You can also save money on grains by buying store brands or buying in bulk. Store your brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal and whole-wheat flour in airtight containers to keep them fresh. You can even freeze cooked grains for up to six months.

Protein, More Than Meat

Meat may blow your budget, but you can meet protein needs without eating meat every day. Beans, eggs and canned fish are all less-expensive, healthy sources of protein. Make a bean burrito or add canned salmon to your salad. You can stretch your meat by mixing it with other foods, such as a veggie stir-fry or potato and carrot stew. Like grains, you can also buy meat in bulk to save money. When you get home from the store, divide your meats into individual portions and freeze what you're not going to eat in the next day or two.

Do-It-Yourself Dairy

Most adults need three servings of dairy food a day. Look for low-fat or nonfat varieties to save calories. You may be able to save money on dairy foods, including milk and cheese, buying larger sizes, but you need to check the unit price to compare costs, says MyPlate.gov. The unit price gives you the price of a food item per ounce or pound. Choose your dairy foods with the lowest unit price to get the most value for your money.

Poor Man's Meal

A healthy meal plan for a poor man's diet should include three meals, each about the same size, plus one snack. For breakfast, whole-wheat toast with hard-cooked eggs, a nonfat yogurt and a banana is healthy and cheap. At lunch, you might enjoy canned tuna on fresh greens topped with chopped carrots and kidney beans and served with store brand whole-grain crackers and canned pears packed in their own juice. A midafternoon snack might include low-fat cheese with a fresh apple. A healthy dinner for your poor man's diet might include chicken stew with potatoes, cooked frozen broccoli and a cup of nonfat milk.
We look at 10 super foods in Africa that pack a serious nutritional punch, that you should be eating - and drinking - right now:
1. Teff
Grown predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff is a fine grain that packs a serious nutritional punch. It leads all the grains – by a large margin – in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teff containing 123mg of calcium, about the same as half a cup of spinach. It’s also high in protein, iron, and – unusual for a grain – in vitamin C.
Used to make the traditional flatbread injera which is a regional stable, export of teff grain or flour have been banned by the Ethiopian government since 2006.
No doubt the Ethiopian government has looked nervously at the example of another superfood, quinoa, which has become so popular on the global stage that many people in its native countries - Peru and Bolivia - can no longer afford to buy it. And hunger is a political issue in Ethiopia that the authorities have an extremely low tolerance for.
2. Fonio
Fonio grain in southern Senegal. (Photo: USAID)
Native to the West African Sahel, fonio is a drought-resistant grain related to millet, that is high in amino acids and is a favourite in salads, stews and porridges.
Like teff, fonio matures quickly, producing grain in just six to eight weeks, and so can be relied upon in semi-arid areas with poor soil and unreliable rainfall.
It’s rising in popularity among foodies in big cities like New York, but there are also concerns that although large scale fonio exports would be profitable for local farmers, they themselves could end up being priced out of the market.
3. Amaranth
Known by various names in Africa – mchicha in Swahili, terere among the Gikuyu, Meru and Embu of Kenya, doodo in Uganda and shoko in Yoruba, both the leaves and grain of amaranth are used as food.
Amaranth grain contains about 30% more protein than cereals like rice, sorghum and rye; its nutritional profile is comparable to wheat germ and oats
Compared to other grains, amaranth is unusually rich in the essential amino acid lysine. Common grains such as wheat and corn are comparatively rich in amino acids that amaranth lacks; thus, amaranth and grains can complement each other.
4. Moringa
Moringa trees in Etosha Reserve, Namibia. (Photo: Flickr/ Petr Kosina).
If you can disguise the heavy chlorophyll taste, moringa oleifera gives you one of the most nutrient-dense packages around.
Native to Africa and South Asia, all parts of the moringa tree – bark, pods, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, roots, and flowers – are edible.
The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground into powder, and are high in protein, calcium, iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin A; some estimates show that gram-for-gram, moringa contains twice the protein of yoghurt, four times the calcium of milk, seven times the Vitamin C of oranges and 25 times the iron of spinach.
Advocacy groups are now touting moringa as a remedy for malnutrition in Africa, especially among infants, children and nursing mothers.
Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce.
5. Pumpkin leaves
Commonly known in Nigeria as “ugwu/ ugu”, pumpkin leaves are eaten all over Africa and form a common part of the diet when available; leaves can be eaten fresh or dried.
They can be steamed like spinach, sauteed in some olive oil with garlic and salt, or used in stir frys and stews.
Pumpkin leaves contain a healthy amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, as well as folate, potassium, and some of the B-vitamins.
6. Baobab fruit
The iconic baobab is a common tree in eastern and southern Africa’s savannahs, and its fruit provides nutrition to both humans and many other animals, from birds to honey bees.
Baobab fruit is very dry so it keeps almost indefinitely, and it is used to make juice from its powder of by soaking the fruit and straining out the pulp and seeds.
Baobab fruit is particularly high in antioxidants, as well as fibre (10 times the fibre of apples), potassium, magnesium and iron.
Powdered baobab leaves are commonly sold in markets around West Africa, and can be mixed in to juices and smoothies.
7. Hibiscus
Hibiscus tea at a café in Aswan, Egypt. (Photo: Flickr/ Huzaifa Das)
When dried hibiscus flowers are steeped in hot water, the dark red hibiscus tea is called karkadeh/ karkady in Arabic, and is popular in North Africa, particularly Egypt and Sudan. In Egypt and Sudan, wedding celebrations are traditionally toasted with a glass of hibiscus tea.
In West Africa, it’s known as bissaptsoborodo or wonjo; bissap is called the “national drink of Senegal.” Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants minerals and vitamin C, and served hot it loses a bit of its characteristic sour. It can also be served chilled with ice.
8. Tamarind
Native to tropical Africa and prized for its sweet-and-sour flavour, tamarind (also known as ukwaju in Swahili) is used to make juice, and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Its sticky pulp is a rich source of dietary fibre; 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of the dietary fibre that you typically need in a day.
Tamarind is particularly useful for restoring electrolyte imbalance when you’re experiencing dehydration, which is why many East African coastal communities will serve a glass of ukwaju to a guest coming in from a hot day – or as a hangover remedy.
9. Coconut
The humble coconut, ubiquitous to tropical coastlines everywhere, has some serious health benefits. Its unique fatty-acid combination promotes healthy brain function; protein-containing coconut milk aids the digestive system, is a natural antiviral, and boosts skin health.
Like tamarind, coconut water is a great electrolytic drink, rehydrating the body at a cellular level.
10. Kenkiliba
The leaves from Kenkiliba shrub, native to the Sahel, are used to make an infusion tea that is touted as a digestive detoxifier and cure-all, common in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Guinea and the Gambia.
Some West African Muslims will break their all-day Ramadhan fast with bread and a sweet and milky kenkiliba tea, as kenkiliba is a digestive stimulant.


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