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Jamaican cuisine is healthy because it is made with many unprocessed foods, uses smaller portions of meats, has a high content of fish, beans, and vegetables, and, most of all, because it is an eclectic mix of the best that African, European, Indian, and Chinese cuisines have to offer. Moreover, Jamaicans have always been aware of the relationship between food and health. Perhaps Jamaican cuisine is healthy due to luck or happenstance. How else can anyone explain why some of the most highly rated medicinal herbs, e.g., ginger, garlic, all spice and hot peppers just happen to be the basic seasonings used in Jamaican cuisine.
In this section we will provide information on some of the benefits of some common Jamaican foods.
In Jamaica, avocados are often eaten with bread, especially hard dough bread, with bullas (a round basic firm sweet cake, in which stale bread is often an ingredient), in vegetable salads, and as a side dish with meals. When eaten with bread and bulla avocados function as cheese or butter. When eaten in a salad or as a side dish avocados are treated as a vegetable. In some other places, avocados are often treated as fruits and are often used in drinks. Avocados are native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Avocados are healthful: High avocado intake has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood serum cholesterol levels. "Specifically, after a seven day diet rich in avocados, hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels." Moreover, "Approximately 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat. Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K. They have the highest fiber content of any fruit - including 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber." (This information draws heavily on Wikipedia's excellent article.)
According to Wikipedia, The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. Avocado is popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam. The Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added. In Australia it is commonly served in sandwiches, often with chicken. In Ghana, it's often eaten alone in sliced bread as a sandwich. . .The avocado flesh oxidizes and turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.
Cassava or Yucca
Simple Cassava Bread Recipe
Cassava or Yucca (also known as manioc and is used to make tapioca) can help prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, prevent cataracts, and help keep skin smooth. While cassava is not well known in the US it is the world's number two vegetable crop, after potatoes. Cassava is uniquely laden with iron plus vitamin C which you need to help your body to absorb iron. It is also a good source of magnesium which helps to protect your heart, bones, arteries and blood pressure. A half cup of cooked cassava contains 13 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women and 30 percent for men. And because it also contains 35 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, the iron in cassava is much easier to absorb. Cassava is also glutin free and can be helpful to those sufering from celiac disease and dermatitis herpetifomis.
Plantains can help lower blood pressure, prevent and treat ulcers, prevent constipation, decrease the risk of hear disease. While plantains look like large bananas they are as different as apples and oranges. Unlike bananas, plantains need to be cooked before they are eaten. Plantains also pack different nutrients. Ounce for ounce, plantains contain more potassium than bananas. That means a plateful of plantains will reduce high blood pressure. One cup of cooked plantains contain 716 milligrams of or 20 percent of the daily value of potassium. And potassium is well established as a key mineral for heart disease prevention. Studies show people whose diets are low in potassium are at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. A cup of cooked plantains provide about 49 milligrams of magnesium, or more than 12 percent of the daily value. Magnesium is another mineral that can help lower blood pressure, especially among people who are sensitive to sodium. Therefore, next time you are at your favorite Jamaican eatery, load up on those plantains. (Source: The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, 1998 Rodale Inc.)
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