20 April 2010


Since my great sugar reduction, I haven't been able to completely break my cook of the habit of making cakes and ice cream for dessert (um, I haven't really tried too hard), but he does serve plain fruit for dessert more often. And he gets creative with it, too. This lovely pineapple was served one day last week.

Pineapple is one of the staples of my diet here. It's cheap and when someone else is cutting it up for you, it's easy. And it's so sweet it's like eating candy, but it's good for you because it's fruit. It goes into my smoothies every day. Several times a week it's my lunchtime dessert or afternoon snack. And there's nothing more refreshing on a hot afternoon than a cold pineapple juice (remember my fruito post?).

I've been looking for some magical nutritional properties of pineapple other than vitamin C, but it seems there aren't any. But what a lot of vitamin C it has! It's also a decent source of fiber and has teeny, tiny amounts of vitamin A, calcium, and iron.*

I don't know what I'm going to do back in the States this summer, where fresh pineapple is expensive and canned pineapple is tasteless in comparison, and pineapple juice comes from concentrate rather than pineapples. And where I have to drive to the air-conditioned supermarket to buy tropical fruit. How can anyone live without fresh pineapple being sold roadside in the heat (and where the good vendors will bring out their machete to slice it open for you, if needed)?

*According to nutritionaldata.com

08 April 2010

how long does it take you to eat 10 pounds of pasta?

How long does it take to eat ten pounds of Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta pagodas? It took me about a year and a half.Back in the summer of 2008 when we were preparing our consumables to ship to Africa, I was thrilled to see that Amazon.com had my favorite brand of pasta for sale in bulk. I bought a case of spaghetti, a case of elbows, and a case of pagodas, a short, squat, twirly tricolor pasta. I received 10 little boxes of spaghetti, ten little boxes of elbows, and one giant box containing 10 pounds of pagodas. While all the cardboard packaging of individual boxes may not be stellar for the environment, it's great for long-term storage and for portions. One giant box of pagodas? Not as convenient.

Our consumables met us here in September 2008. Since then I've been slowly but surely pecking away at my pagodas. I've made the spaghetti and the elbows a couple times, but I really wanted to finish those pagodas. The spaghetti and elbow boxes will keep and can be shipped to our next destination. The pagodas are an open box, so the movers won't take them. I had to consume them all.

And tonight, the last bowlful is boiling away, while a creamy cheese sauce waits to smother every last bit.

Image from quinoa.net.

easiyo yogurt maker

Quite simply, I love my Easiyo yogurt maker. A friend recommended it as one of the best kitchen gadgets you can buy for moving overseas. She'd had problems with infections and was told to eat more yogurt, but she didn't trust what she could buy in Nigeria. And making your own can be difficult, messy, and time-consuming. Then she discovered Easiyo and told all the rest of us living in Africa to give it a try.

The local yogurt and milk here is great when it's good, but really bad when it's bad. I question the amount of refrigeration it receives -- we have city power and a generator and still can't manage to keep our fridge running continuously; I can't imagine what it's like for anyone with less reliable electricity, which is most homes and businesses in the country. So when a nurse here told me to start eating more yogurt to fend off infections, I looked into the Easiyo.

It's so simple. You add cold water and the powdered yogurt mix to a plastic chamber. Then you add hot water to the outer capsule, put the chamber in the capsule, seal it up, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, remove the chamber and put it in the fridge, and in a couple hours you have cool, fresh yogurt. There are recipes for making sour cream and cream cheese, but I haven't tried those yet. I've been happy with adding yogurt to my smoothies and fruit salad every day.

There's one drawback. You have to keep buying the Easiyo powdered yogurt mix packets and they don't seem cheap to me. In all honesty, I've been away from the U.S. for so long that I don't know how the cost of a packet that supplies 5 to 6 servings of organic, probiotic yogurt compares to the same number of servings and same level of quality, ready-made in the grocery store dairy case. I'd been buying my Easiyo packets from Amazon.com, but they recently raised the price. Currently the cheapest price I can find is from the Easiyo U.S. website. Easiyo is from New Zealand and doesn't ship to every country, but they have a U.S. distributor. I'll definitely keep shopping around for the best prices, at least while I'm living overseas.

There are several different varieties of yogurt, from "plain," to probiotic, to a luscious, thick, Greek-style yogurt. The different varieties are available in low-fat versions. And there are fruit flavors as well. I haven't tried the fruit flavors because I generally find flavored yogurt too sweet for my taste. But occasionally I'll add a bit of honey to the yogurt powder and water mix to make the probiotic variety a tad less tart. So far, every item I've looked at on the site states that's it's gluten-free, but you should check the ingredients and nutrition information on individual items before you purchase them.

Image from Easiyo.com. I was not compensated for this post in any way. Items were purchased by me for personal use.

01 April 2010

parma ham at pasta comedia

You'd be right in thinking there's very little a gluten-free eater could order at a restaurant called Pasta Comedia. However, it's the newest restaurant in town and they are becoming famous for importing some Italian treats that aren't otherwise available here, such as real mozzarella for the pizzas and calzones. (Pizzas are made with local cheeses here. Fun at first, but tiresome after two years.) Since so many people are talking about the mozzarella and flocking to the restaurant, and I was told they had some plain grilled meat dishes, I decided I didn't want to be left out when some folks at my office were heading there for lunch one day.

I wasn't really in the mood for grilled meat when I sat down at the table. I feared it would be like all the other grilled meat you get here, not especially Italian. I perused the salads and was resigning myself to the avocado salad I tend to get at most restaurants, when I spied jambon du parme avec des fruits de la saison (my French may not be exact) at the bottom of the salad list. I asked a friend who knows food well to confirm what I was reading: Parma ham with seasonal fruits. And by fruits, actual fruit, not fruits de la mer, which is shellfish, which I don't like. He said I was right, parma ham and fruit.

I decided to go for it. I know a plate of ham isn't the healthiest lunch, but it's been ages since I've had something different. I admit I had low expectations, but the plate that arrived erased them right away. It was a huge plate of thin, melt-in-your-mouth parma ham served with fresh mango. Yum. People watched in amazement as I cleaned my plate. It was a lot of ham! And it was better than some of the parma I'd had back in the States. If I weren't pregnant, I would have eaten about half of it and shared the rest. But Mike was relishing a huge, cheese-stuffed calzone which he couldn't have shared with me if he wanted to, and the others had pizzas and lasagnas, so I relished my plate of ham while enjoying the novelty of it all.

I can't describe just how refreshing that lunch was. There's nothing new here and I'm glad that even though I can't get any of the dishes with the mozzarella, I could still take part in the fun that everyone else was having in experiencing a new restaurant and a novel food.



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