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Traditional vegetable recipes tempt tastebuds

The proof is in the tasting! Participants in Cook Show 2014 discover traditional vegetables add diversity to meals and nutrition to the diet.

Attracted by the tantalizing aroma of pumpkin soup and savory vegetable stew, more than 500 people happily lined up to sample dishes prepared with traditional vegetables at Monduli District Hospital in Tanzania during Cook Show 2014, a nutritional awareness program hosted on 20 September 2014 by AVRDC, CABI, HORTI-Tengeru and Radio5. The event was supported by Irish Aid through its Good Seed Initiative.

Forty-nine patients admitted at Monduli Hospital were among the participants. As the event was held on the hospital grounds, many patients could listen to and watch the activities.

Traditional vegetables such as amaranth and African eggplant are important sources of nutrition, especially for children, pregnant women, and the elderly. To encourage more people to grow traditional vegetables for their own consumption and for income generation, Cook Show 2014 followed a time-honored method: the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.

AVRDC’s Inviolate Dominick introduced several recipes for preparing traditional vegetables, including pumpkin cake, amaranth and pumpkin snacks, pumpkin soup, and a vegetable stew incorporating African eggplant and leaves of African nightshade, Ethiopian mustard, amaranth, moringa, pumpkin, pigeon pea and sweet potato. Anet Kaaya from AVRDC and Arumeru District Horticultural officer Digna Masawe showed participants how to cook a tasty pumpkin soup, step-by-step.

Appetites whetted, the participants were ready to find out more about growing these nutritious crops. Srinivasulu Rajendran, AVRDC Postdoc in Agricultural Economics, distributed seed kits to 100 people. Each kit contained seed of five vegetables: amaranth, African nightshade, African eggplant, tomato, and spider plant. Participants filled out monitoring and evaluation forms to share their views about the cultivation and consumption of traditional vegetables and their perception of the nutritional benefits these vegetables offer. Daniel Karanja from CABI emphasized the importance of following up on seed distribution, which will help researchers and trainers improve vegetable production practices and learn more about consumption patterns.

Guest of honor Jowika Kasunga, Monduli District Commissioner, encouraged the community to learn about, grow and consume traditional vegetables. “These vegetables can enhance the economic empowerment of the Monduli community, especially youth groups and women farmers, through various enterprise models,” he said.

Monduli Ward Commissioner Rehema Msabila noted the health benefits of increased vegetable consumption. District Medical Officer Dr. Zavery Benela and the matron for Monduli hospital, Ana Manga, pointed out the importance of awareness campaigns about the value of vegetables as a source of vital nutrients in human diets and the potential traditional vegetables have to generate household income. They observed that most of the people admitted to hospitals in and around Monduli district suffer from a lack of nutritious food, and stressed the importance of developing the habit of eating vegetables for a balanced diet.

Silivesta N. Samali from HORTI-Tengeru explained his organization’s role in the promotion of traditional vegetables in Tanzania. Arumeru District nutritional officer Asha Msengi explained the nutritional value of vegetables in detail, and encouraged participants to increase their consumption of vegetables to at least to 200 gm per day, the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.

Ana Mrutu, representing the Kubane Food Processing Group, demonstrated several ways amaranth grain can be processed to add nutritional and economic value, and offered these products for sale. Many people bought amaranth popcorn and amaranth flour to make porridge and other dishes. Marketing Manager from Radio 5, Sarah Keiya, thanked the visitors and the organizers for a successful and satisfying day.

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This young man is a vegetable fan!

This young man is a vegetable fan!

Signs welcoming visitors to Cook Show 2014 at Monduli District Hospital, Tanzania

Signs welcoming visitors to Cook Show 2014 at Monduli District Hospital, Tanzania

Sampling new recipes featuring traditional crops such as pumpkin and amaranth leaves.

Sampling new recipes featuring traditional vegetables such as pumpkin and amaranth leaves.