Efo Riro is a typical Nigerian dish which can be prepared from a variety of dark leafy veggies like spinach, kale or bitterleaf. It is sautéed with a lot of palm fruit oil, fresh tomatoes and lots of assorted meat. If you are African, especially from Western or Sub-Sahara African then you know we love meat. Serving an African food without meat can easily be considered an insult. You know I’m telling the truth! We just love meat. There are many good reasons to eat red meat, including as a source of protein and iron, it is a tasty treat but science has found a link between eating too much of eat and having cancer. There are quite a number of studies that prove the relationship between eating red meat and developing bowel cancer because red meats like beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, and goat and contain cancer-causing protein. Does this mean you shouldn’t cut red meat from your diet entirely? Not at all! You need some of it to get enough protein (for building and maintaining muscle) and iron (for the production of blood). It is recommended to eat 65 grams of cooked red meat per day (or 90 to 100 grams of uncooked meat). On a normal plate it should look like this:
But to really reduce your risk of bowel and stomach cancer, it isn’t enough to just reduce the amount of red meat you eat. White meats, such as fish and chicken, don’t contain this protein at levels anywhere near as high. So it is recommended to eat more of white than red meats. A balanced diet that’s low in fats and sugar is also needed.
Though a healthy oil, palm fruit oil is also rich in fats and trans fats (50% saturated, 40% unsaturated, and 10% polyunsaturated). Most of us use from a quarter to half a litre of palm oil to cook just a pot of soup to serve about 6 persons. Let me paint a picture for you: 100g of palm fruit oil has 884 calories. When you use half a litre to cook, you are practically adding 4420 calories of oil into your food, not counting calories from food itself. If your food serves 6, then each person consumes 737 Cals from oil only. Adding calories from food, you surely consume more than a 1000 calories during one meal and you know that most of us eat the same food for lunch, supper and for breakfast the next morning. Therefore using a lot of it to cook is not healthy. I recommend measuring your oil in tablespoons per person per serving. That is, if you are cooking for 4 people, use 4 tablespoons of oil.
SmartCooks Tips: Use one tablespoon of any oil and multiply it by the number of persons who will consume the food.
When it comes to healthy eating and especially healthy heritage nutrition, eating the right foods in their right portions is essential for good health. I wanted to give the Nigerian Efo Riro a Cameroonian touch and a healthy twist so I used African spinach commonly called “green” in Cameroon, goat meat and cow leg, lots of fresh tomatoes and onions and 1 tablespoon of palm oil just to give the dish its authentic heritage taste though I was cooking for four (it actually turned out we eat just half of the pot and I stored some for later) but you can leave out the palm oil completely and still enjoya delicious vegetable dish.
SmartCook Tips: Multiply the serving size by two in order to save a good quantity for another day. It saves time and energy!
I trimmed off all visible fat from my goat meat because if not done, it only piles on the empty calories. Even when visible fat is removed, meat still contains hidden fat that can be visible when boiled. You would realize that the fat floats to the top and forms oily bubbles. If you are on a weight loss diet, boil your meat first without salt and the drain the water. Then add, new water and a pinch of sea salt. To enhance the taste of your vegetables, use the stock from the meat during the cooking process. Find the detailed procedure in the recipe below. Try it and send in your feedback in the comment area below.
Serve with grilled or boiled plantain and enjoy!
Happy and healthy cooking xoxo.