Healthy Nigerian Food – Simple and Delicious

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African food is increasing in popularity around the world. But Nigerian food is also notoriously unhealthy. Should this always be the case?

Different Cultures, Different Flavours

Nigerian food is diverse, spice-heavy, and strong on the palate. They are reliant on local spices. There are flavourful dishes unique to each tribe within Nigeria. Some tribes use more oil than others, some use more seasoning, and some use hot peppers more than others.

The common Nigerian dishes to all tribes are

Each tribe prepares the above meals differently. Some tribes prefer their Egusi soup lumpy, while others don’t. People from the southwest are known to have a love affair with hot peppers in their food.  

 

A Healthy Nigerian Food Plan?

Despite the wide range of dishes available, healthy Nigerian food are often said to be hard to come by.

I strongly disagree.

Healthy Nigerian food can be made, depending on the portions you serve it in.

Indeed, some meals are very reliant on rice, cassava, and yam. As such they are viewed as unhealthy. Reducing oil (or completely) from a dish will make it healthier. Replacing pounded yam and garri (cassava) with oatmeal for fufu is a great change. Oatmeal is a great source of fibre. It acts as an accompaniment to our soups and also the fibre content for the day.

A healthy Nigerian food plan would look like this:

Egg stew is a huge part of the Nigerian breakfast menu. One can fill it with vegetables for a healthier option. An oil-less vegetable soup can be achieved by using tomato base instead of oil. Fish is a lean protein, so it’s great for dinner. Spices in the soup contains plenty of health benefits. Zobo or sorrel is a great anti-oxidant. To sweeten it, you can use natural honey or boil it with dates in place of sugar.

As you can see, healthy Nigerian food is definitely possible. It’s just a matter of preparation.  

 

Healthy Nigerian food - Okro food with fresh seafood

Healthy Nigerian food – Okro food with fresh seafood

Healthy Nigerian drink - Zobo (sorrel) juice, without sugar

Healthy Nigerian drink – Zobo (sorrel) juice, without sugar

 

Increasing Popularity of African Dishes

Thanks to the increasing accessibility of African food, more and more non-Africans are giving it a try. For me, my year in San Francisco really opened me up to this experience.

There was a popular Senegalese restaurant, on most times when I visited, I was the only African there. When I started a catering business, I also found an increase in requests from non-Africans. It was amazing to see people who were not Africans so interested in African food.

People who have travelled to Africa for work are more likely to come back searching for an African restaurant. Others just wanted to try it for the fun of it. Whichever it is, it makes me happy.

Non-Africans have mentioned that our food has very bold flavours and tastes amazing. They constantly inquire about how I season my food and where I get my spices. Some spices are easier to find than others. I try to recommend the basic spices that they can find in most places.

With the increase in popularity, it has become a pressing matter that we should prepare healthier African dishes. Especially for me, a Nigerian, I want to let people know that healthy Nigerian food can be prepared quite easily, and be just as delicious.