When chewing the fat is not a good thing

| October 28, 2013
Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

In Caribbean food. It may be just conjecture to say that where there’s a proliferation of fast-food restaurants there will be the growth in the numbers of people on eating a high fat diet. Though the two things aren’t intrinsically linked it does appear that any country that has a surfeit of fast food restaurants also has a significant proportion of their population with obesity problems.

If however you want to rely on something more reliable than conjecture then how about the opening comments in a report published by Elsevier, a company that describes itself as the world’s leading provider of science and health information:

“More than 25 percent of American adults chow down on fast food two or more times each week. Known for menu items containing high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, fast-food restaurants have contributed to America’s poor diets and increased risk of diet-related chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.”

This comment comes from a 14-year study into the eating habits of Americans; the study set out to discover whether fast food restaurants had improved their range of healthy menu options. Clearly what is at the heart of this eating habits report is a look at the impact of a high fat diet, an issue that concerns many European countries, America and in the Caribbean.

In the UK and America there are countless projects aimed at tackling an obesity epidemic brought on by high fat, high sugar diets. So it is good to see that many Caribbean Islands, regardless of their economic standing, are alive to the future problems of obesity as indicated by the work of the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute.

Particularly noteworthy is CFNI’s recognition that there needs to be a move back t to the diet high in fruit and vegetable that used to be a part of the traditional Caribbean diet. What also comes with this type of diet is a much lower intake of the types of fat found in the food available in most take away restaurants.

In this edition of my Caribbean cookery video recommendations are recipes based on a low fat approach to cooking. As usual my judging points for the videos are: how easy it is to find the ingredients and follow the recipes and what are the videos production values.


Healthy Jamaican Curry Chicken

This is another one of those videos that doesn’t feature a presenter so there’s no one to truly engage with. The overall production values are quite simple: the whole effort geared towards showing you what you need to do as well provide more complex instruction via written text, all set to a catchy soundtrack.

Whilst I think the video is missing a trick not having a presenter it is good to see that there’s good visuals on how to really strip out the fat content of the chicken.

In terms of finding ingredients there’s nothing in this recipe that would cause anyone problems.


Healthy Cooking on a Budget: Caribbean Jerk Chicken


This video caught my eye not just because of the healthy cooking approach but because it’s a great example of the growing international appeal of Caribbean cookery. What’s more there’s an emphasis on low budget cooking, which given the financial straits that many of us are currently feeling is a major positive.

The production values on this video are quite high so the camera is always where the important information is, the sound quality is good and the whole thing is well lit throughout. What’s more the combination of the perky vocal style of the presenter and the graphics at the bottom of the screen ensures that there’s clarity in the recipe production explanation.

Given that Jerk chicken is now one of the most famous of Caribbean dishes there’s nothing in the ingredients that you can’t find in your local supermarket.


Caribbean Tilapia Recipe : International Home Cooking


Here’s another one of those recipes that confirms the popularity of Caribbean cookery outside of the diaspora communities. To be honest this recipe is more Caribbean inspired than authentic and traditional but it is nice to see a fish that doesn’t appear too universally popular being used.

Even though Talipia may not be universally known it is not difficult to find in a half decent supermarket or a fishmonger who knows his business. The rest of the ingredients are straight forward as is the preparation and cooking methods being used.

As for the production values of the video: the presentation and filming style is simple given that the action takes place in a domestic kitchen. Though the presentation is simple the least you can ask of any instructional video is that it is well lit, has good sound, doesn’t have camera work that gets in the way, which is the case with this video.


Hope Gardens Ethiopian vegetarian combo


This edition from Hope Gardens features a mother and daughter presentation team, proving that all good cooks learn from their mums.

What’s on offer here is a combination of Caribbean and African cookery so there are some ingredients used that I’m not aware of so I can’t be sure that they will be easy to find; I’d recommend that for some of the spices used you do your shopping in a well stocked African food specialist.

Now I should warn you that though the recipe is basically a vegetarian dish there quite a number of steps to go before you’re able to put something on your plate. However to offset the lengthy preparation process you are entertained along the way with an explanation for making a very healthy smoothie as well as a ton of information on food that is good for the gut as well as a part of the female anatomy.

This is another one of those made at home videos, which while it has a “anyone can do this” feel there are times when the presenters forget about the importance positioning themselves so that key shots are possible. All in all though the whole recipe preparation is clear enough to follow and that is the most important thing.


Jamaican barbecue ribs part 1.

Barbecue ribs part 2.

This last video has been included as a reminder that one of the cooking methods for a low fat approach is to barbecue it. Admittedly you do have to be disciplined in not being tempted to continue spreading oil on the meat to stop it sticking while it is barbecuing but it is not as though the meat will be sitting in the fat throughout the cooking process.

Chef Ricardo’s approach to barbecuing ribs is to pre-cook the ribs in a little bit of water, which means that there’s even less need for using fat. The cooking process, which Chef Ricardo repeats like a mantra, is very easy; which is not unexpected with barbecue ribs.

By and large there’s nothing in the ingredients that would be difficult to find in you local supermarket, though Chef Ricardo clearly has a deal going with Grace foods so uses a lot of their products.

It is a bit annoying that the recipe has been presented over two videos but at least in part two you get some additional recipes thrown in. The production values simple, as we’ve already seen with videos made in a domestic setting. That said the production is at least mindful of clearly showing you the important parts of the production process.

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Category: African Caribbean, Business, Caines Corner, CariBusiness, Culture & Society, Did U Know...?, How Caribbean R U?, Lifestyle

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