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Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

Here’s a simple proposition for you: change your diet and reduce the risk of getting diabetes while having your cholesterol levels where they should be and maintain a healthy weight.

According to confirmed vegetarians the health benefits of a diet with little or no animal products are obvious given that our bodies are naturally designed to deal with this type of diet.

If you’re like me you will not be a fan of strict diets, however you might be willing to acknowledge that there seems to be good reasons to reconsider the amount of meat we eat.

In my mind the traditional Caribbean diet is designed for a hard working, long hours, physical lifestyle but this is fast becoming a thing of the past.

With the growth of more office based work and increased leisure time contemporary life for many of us is far more sedentary than the working life experienced by our parents and grand parents.

Yet it is one of contemporary life’s ironies that meat has been made widely available at a time when our level of physical exertion doesn’t justify the amount we eat.

I’m sure that there are some who are already convinced of the benefits of a totally meat free diet but I’m quite taken with the part-time approach of food author Mark Bittman.

For Bittman you don’t need to be a committed vegan to reap the benefits of eating like a vegan for part of the day and then having a main meal of either meat or fish. Bittman’s approach is much more about balance and making slight changes, which means you are much more likely to stick to eating this way.

The recipes below are not offered as a strict diet but as encouragement to try out a Bittman inspired approach to upping your plant based food levels with continuing to eat meat.

Eggplant and Potato Recipe.

This is another one from Chris at Caribbeanpot and as you can expect it is produced to the standard that we’ve become used to.

Chris himself is not seen so much, the camera is mainly lavished on the food, but his voice being used almost as a voice over pulls the whole thing together nicely.

The recipe itself is quite simple and the ingredients shouldn’t prove too difficult to get hold of but I’ve not heard of Japanese variety of egg plant used (aubergines as they are known in the UK) so you might have to go to specialist shops to find them.

Vegetarian Ackee

The two questions that I always get asked when I mention ackee to anyone who hasn’t eaten them before is, ‘what are they?’ and ‘where do they come from?’ It is fascinating watching the presenter in this video struggle to explain ackee as a plant product.

Luckily the dish produced for this video doesn’t tax the presenter’s culinary skills, as he clearly knows enough to make a nicely presented dish as well as explain how dangerous raw ackee can be.

I’m sure if you haven’t cooked with ackee before then you are likely to be dealing with the canned variety and therefore will be totally safe.

There is nothing else in this dish that would present any difficulty in both finding the ingredients and following the recipe; what’s more the whole thing can be quickly put together.

Green Banana and Cabbage Curry

This is another one of those videos where there’s no indication of whose recipe you’re following as it doesn’t have a chef or cook presenter. What you get is a well-filmed video with written instructions and clearly labelled ingredients and some nice music to listen to while you’re cooking.

With the primary ingredients being green bananas and cabbage there aren’t any ingredients in this dish that would provide a challenge to find or prepare once you’ve found them.

However if you’ve never bought or cooked green bananas you’ll most likely need to buy them from a shop that specialises in African, Caribbean or Asian foodstuffs as it is unlikely that you’ll find them in an ordinary supermarket.

The video makers ‘howtocookgreat’ also point out that the curry powder used in this recipe isn’t the same as that used in Indian cookery so suggest that you look at their other videos for instructions on how to make it.

 Three Bean Chilli and Cornbread

Strictly speaking no one would claim chilli to be a Caribbean dish but given its South American roots and worldwide appeal it is certainly not unknown to the Caribbean. What’s more chilli is a staple for many vegetarians so it is nice to throw in one in this feature; especially as it is prepared with the meat substitute Quorn.

This video is put together by an outfit called ‘TrueVegetarianCookin’ who have an ethos of ‘healthy cooking with a twist.’ Certainly the presenter, Sederick Emery, has plenty of knowledge to impart on being healthy while enjoying a varied and flavoursome vegetarian diet.

Like the ‘Heritage Kitchen’ videos it is certainly rewarding to spend some time working through the information in the TrueVegetarianCookin videos.

In terms of preparation the instructions in the video are easy to follow, as you would expect with a dish like chilli, and there aren’t any ingredients that would be difficult to find.

Vegan Jamaican Curry Chicken

This video got my attention not just because of the implausible recipe title but because it starts with making a meat substitute. I’ve been cooking for many a long year but have never considered making my own meat substitute.

To get to this video’s good stuff you have to go through some unnecessary nonsense like photo’s of a family occasion and the presenter worrying about whether her hair looks tidy.

There are some strange camera angles used throughout, which gives the video a real home movie feel even though the producers are organized enough to operate under the label ‘Saveyonfoods’.

As for buying the ingredients there are a number of things that might be tricky to get hold of such as wheat gluten, though if you are a ceoliac this would be the last thing that you’d want to cook with.

I’d image that vegan chicken stock seasoning might not be too easy to come by but this can be left out or substituted and lastly there’s the vegan butter, which I assume is only available in a specialist food shop.

Though this recipe is the most complex to put together of all the recipes featured the complexity is only due to the range of cooking operations rather than the cooking method. From the images of the final presentations the cooking effects certainly seem worth it.



We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.


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