About the Caribbean diet
- Dasheen bush
To fresh fruit i.e;
- Paw paw,
- Guinep (chenette, kinep, ackee)
- Golden apple (June plum, pommecythere)
- Othaheite apple
- Star apple
Fresh fruit and legumes (peas)
- Dolphin (Mehi-Mehi)
- Flying fish
- Doctor and butta fish
- Jack fruit
- Red peas (kidney beans)
- Butter beans
- Pigeon peas (gungo peas)
- Black beans
- Chickpeas (channa)
- Christophine/cho cho,
- Yam (name)
- Sweet potato
- Green yellow Plantain (albeit a fruit)
- Okra (Source)
The above list doesn't cover everything, instead what it does is gives you a really good overview of just how wholesome and nutritious Caribbean food truly is.
The unhealthy aspect of Caribbean food
- Poor diet/poor eating habits
- Lack of exercise
The downfall - where we go wrong with our eating habits
- Fried food - As a collective, fried food is at the centre of our culture, granted it may taste good but it is doing nothing for our overall health.
- Dependency - Heavily dependant on using large amounts of oil/wrong choice of oil. For example using canola/sunflower/corn oil in large quantities.
- Too many carbs in one serving - i.e a plate of ground provisions i.e yam, boiling dumpling, cassava, breadfruit, boiled plantain all in one serving.
- Too much salt sugar/processed sugars - i.e white sugar, refined sugar, table salt.
- Constant use of processed ingredients - Foods that are made with processed ingredients .i.e white wheat flour to make johnny cakes/boiled dumpling/bakes/floats, hops bread, roti, white rice, salted beef, pork, fish, pigtail.
How to make positive changes
- Change your mindset - change starts from within! I'm sure you have probably heard this before, but it's very true. In order for you to lead a healthier lifestyle it's really down to you to make that change.
Nobody can make the change for you, not even I have the power to do that nor would I want to coerce you to change.
- Be more open minded - Step outside of your comfort zone, this means doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. Again, this is all apart of that change!
- Set yourself a realistic goal - it could be a specific goal i.e a special occasion, maybe you were unfortunate to see a relative go through some health issues or you're doing to for your family/children.
Whatever the reason, just think about it or even write it down, set yourself small goals i.e to loose 1-2lbs a weeks or it could even be to eat a side serving of vegetables with one meal a day (source).
- Take babysteps - Don't be unrealistic with your change, take small steps. For example, eat one healthy thing per day then slowly increase it to 2, 3 until your whole day is centred around healthy eating.
From there you can increase this to daily and before you know it, you will embark on a long term lifestyle change.
- Avoid deep fat frying - Yup, I said it fried chicken, fish anything that uses a few cups worth of oil, needs to go.
Sauteing in a few tablespoons of oil is fine and using a small amount of oil to cook your favourite fried food is fine, but do so in moderation please.
- Cut down on fatty foods - Eat the cuts of meat with a higher fat content in moderation - oxtail, cow heel, sousse, pig feet, chicken foot (steppers) etc.. these food should be limited, again, eat them but in moderation.
- Use lean cuts of meat - Choose the leanest cut of meat where possible, granted this can sometimes be more expensive at times but look out for special offers and discounts at the supermarket.
However, if this isn't in your budget then simply trim off, any excess bits of meat, from the meat to make it more lean and less fatty. When you are cooking meat on the bone, be sure to skim off any excess fat.
- Air fryer/oven bake, steam and grill food - The excessive use of large quantities of oil has to stop, instead, explore other cooking methods. Focus on air frying, grilling, steaming and oven baking where possible.
Doing things like oven baked fish or double roasting breadfruit. This is something I do often, where I roast the breadfruit and then once roasted and sliced I simply coat the slices in oil (olive oil or coconut oil are my favourite) and bake it in the oven.
- Use a study non stick frying pan - Another great tip that I learnt while growing up. When making things like fritters, bakes, dumpling, use a good sturdy non-stick frying pan/skillet.
I also recommend doing this in small batches as this will limit the amount of oil that is used.
- Use good cooking oils - Use oils with a high smoke point, so olive, coconut and avocado oil are all good for the body and best to cook with. Coconut oil gets a bad press for being saturated, but that's simply because many people fail to understand that the saturated oils from coconut oil help to compliment the good cholesterol which is known as HDL that aids things like inflammation (source).
- Reduce the amount of carbs per serving - I totally understand that Caribbean food is all about being hearty and incredibly filling but we don't need to consume every single ground provision with our main meal.
No more dumpling, cassava, white/yellow yam, cocoyam and dasheen and not to forget to white rice in one serving per person, that's way too many carbs.
What about Saturday soup?
Eating in moderation
- Eat more vegetables/low carb/high protein foods - Adding more leafy greens and low carb vegetables so things like cho cho/christophine, callaloo/kale or spinach, grilled or oven baked fish, jackfruit (outside of callaloo season) carrots, bell peppers, okra, steamed cabbage. Those are just a few examples low carb food that you can consume more of.
Speaking of low carb Caribbean recipes, this link is an example of a roundup that I did to kick start the new year. You can tap into these recipes at any time of the year, it doesn't matter when, just do it.
- Limit alcohol consumption - this one goes without saying, limit things like rum punch, adding alcohol to your cakes/desserts, alcohol contains a lot of sugar.
If you must, leave the alcohol consumption for special occasions but ultimately as with most things the key is moderation.
- Eat more whole foods - start using brown rice in your pelau rice or rice and peas. It is in your best interest to swap refined foods/ingredients and use whole grain where possible.
- Reduce sugar/salt - This is crucial especially if you have high blood pressure/diabetes. I know coconut drops, and cassava pone taste great, I agree with you!
Fresh fruit such as paw paw, pineapple, mango, soursop are great naturally sweet occurring options, again, all in moderation. Try to incorporate at least a handful of nuts and seeds (unsalted) to snack on instead of sweet treats.
- Agave nectar
- unrefined maple syrup
- coconut sugar
- unrefined raw organic cane sugar.
Sugar and salt
- Make your own salted food - instead of buying saltfish, make your own. It's healthier and contains no white salt, also things like salted pigtails, beef etc... just buy the part of the meat that you need and sprinkle some pink salt on it.
- Make your own seasoning/stock - I make a few seasoning and stock recipes on my website. You can control what ingredients go into either of these rather than depend on MSG and maggi cubes.
- Eat starchy enriched vegetables - it's okay to eat your creature comforts such as cassava, yam, plantain, green banana etc.. after all, these are fibrous foods, just make sure to balance them out with leafy vegetables and remember don't consume too many in one serving! (source)
More articles for you to check out
- Caribbean Foodie 101
- How to Season Meat
- Meat Preparation - Why We Clean it and How
- Learning All About What Caribbean Food Is
- Caribbean National Dishes
- Ways to Stay Healthy Over The Christmas Period
- Glossary of Basic Cooking Terms
- How to Store Herbs and Spices
**Don't forget to comment below and star rate if you have tried my recipes. Let's be friends and engage on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram I also like to pin on Pinterest, where you can find more amazing recipes.**