Smoked chicken and Avocado Salad

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Vegetables and fruits are good for you because they help to move your bowels thereby preventing accumulation of toxins. You should have “five a day” that is at least three portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit a day.

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You need:

Lettuce roughly torn

Cucumber cut into crescents

Tomatoes cut into big chunks

Avocados peeled and cut

Smoked chicken

Onions (optional)

Salad cream (or dressing of choice)

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You do:

Simply combine the ingredients in layers and serve with dressing of choice. I love raw onions and so added it to just mine instead of the general bowl.

Bon appetit

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Knorr Tatse Quest 2, episode 7: Victor bows to the heat

This challenge was totally vegetarian…weird I must say for a meat loving nation. However with the ingredients at hand we had to put our imaginations to task.

Brief:

The theme today was, “healthy eating, cooking for a vegetarian”. We had fourteen ingredients to represent the fourteen contestants we started with and were to make a three-course vegetarian meal in fifty minutes. Out of the first six ingredients, we were to use a different two for each course while we were to use the remaining eight ingredients in any way we wanted. The star ingredient was the bitter gourd (a vegetable good for diabetics) and the greatest challenge was to manage its bitterness.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Mushroom
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Bitter gourd/melon (Carilla)
  • Pawpaw (papaya)
  • Cheese
  • Cocoyam
  • Cucumber
  • Green pepper
  • Carrots
  • Radish
  • Marrow zucchini
  • Zucchini

Results:

Dixon came first, I came second and Ojo came third; landing us cash prizes of twenty thousand, ten thousand and five thousand naira respectively.

Dixon made the following:

Starter: a sweet and tart salad using the carilla . The judges loved how she transformed the bitterness of the carilla.

Entrée: a lentil and cocoyam soup. The judges liked that she boiled her cocoyam and broke it into pieces and the pinkish hue made it to look like chicken.

Dessert: Papaya crumble, this was the star. They absolutely loved it because she used her oats, corn flour, margarine, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to make a crunchy crumble topping for the papaya.

I, Nwando made the following:

Starter: Cocoyam chips, crispy fried mushroom (mushroom dipped in egg, rolled in oats then fried) and cucumber crudités served with ketchup dip! The judges absolutely hated the idea of ketchup as a dip as it had not been transformed in any way.

Entrée: I served a main of lentil gumbo to which I added the carilla at the end to prevent bitter infusion/leaching. Surprisingly enough the judges liked the carilla that way. Wow! I fluked it and it turned out right, thank God.

Dessert: A very creamy papaya and cheddar fool garnished with a swirl of honey and crushed cashew nuts.

Ojo made for the judges:

Starter: mushroom soup, this the judges loved.

Entrée: a lasagne-like cocoyam dish in which he alternated layers of mashed cocoyam with stir-fried vegetables and cheese.

Dessert: papaya salad sprinkled with sugar; the judges didn’t like this because they felt it was too simple.

At the end of the day however, Victor was chopped because he had not transformed the ingredients given adequately and his dessert was more of a vegetable salad rather than a sweet.

Lessons learnt:

  • For fine dining, serving ketchup as a dip is a no-no! If you are going to use ketchup, use it instead as a condiment to cook the meal.
  • When cooking some type of vegetarian meals, mimicking meat is a good idea. For example the judges liked that Chinelo used her lentils to make a patties that resembled beef burger. Also that Dixon’s cocoyam resembled chicken.
  • Don’t over-garnish your food and make sure your garnish is edible.
  • Transform your ingredients well don’t just slap them on the plate.
  • Work with cooking techniques taught during the training.
  • Listen to and follow instructions.
  • Always make sure your food is tasty.
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Victor

Dixon

Dixon

Nwando

Nwando

Ojo

Ojo

Fruits and vegetables in Season

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I travelled to Northern Nigeria recently, Zaria to be precise, the nostalgic home of my breeding and buttering. En route I saw the fruits and vegetables that were in season. The colors were so vibrant, it was as if they were screaming out to me and so I could not help but stop and take pictures.

There were carrots, oranges, tangerines, pineapples, bananas and coconuts. These are fruits indigenous to Nigeria, all home grown. Unlike imported fruits (e.g. apples and pears and grapes) which are expensive, these are much cheaper especially when they are in season. So take advantage of this and stock your fridge. Make sure you buy fruits and vegetables when you go shopping.

I cannot overemphasize the health benefits of fruits and vegetables but one advise I would give which works for me is to have them ready to eat and accessible so that you can use them as snacks. I have found that people put on weight at times due to snacking and common snacks are foods normally high in calories like biscuits, cakes, chocolates, confectionaries etc. These snacks offer the advantage of being ready-to-eat and so come to the rescue when you’re feeling peckish. However the healthy alternatives like salads take time to prepare, a luxury you cannot afford when your cravings are screaming at you.

So to help yourself, you should have fruits and veggies ready and waiting in the fridge. For example scrape, wash and cut the carrots to have carrot sticks; peel oranges into segments; cut pineapple into cubes; the list is endless, be creative, all I ask is that you have these healthier snack options. Then once in a blue moon, you can indulge in the more calorific snacks. Bon appetite!

Yours foodfully.

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