An island tour of the world on a plant-based diet |13 May 2022
So you've embraced the idea of adding lots of plants to your meals, or maybe even trying only plants.
If you're an avid home cook you're flying by now, but if you're scratching your head about what and how to cook, we have your back.
Many people don't realise how there are many more creative and healthy cooking options for vegetables and fruits.
A little starter guide
For starters, many dishes require very little processed oils to cook, giving you healthier options such as grilling, broiling, steaming, baking, and even raw.
Furthermore our exposure to many different cultures open up the choices, and our smartphones are not just for Facebook and offer us recipe options instantly.
Let's start with the obvious:
Our own Creole cuisine
Who doesn't like a satini or chutney, be it with pumpkin or green papaya, or golden apple (frisiter) or snake gourd (patol)?
Although we all enjoy a hearty ‘ladob’ with breadfruit, bananas or tubers, go easy on the sugar and enjoy it once in a while. Try cooking these local starches with minimally added ingredients as often as possible.
This style of Chinese cooking was brought to us by the Cantonese who settled in the islands from Southern China known for the famed cuisine.
We owe to them such healthy dishes as our Chinese cabbage broth with fish in (‘bouyon bred soudsin’), or our vegetable stir-fry and chow mein which you can load with plenty of vegetables.
South Indians brought us our hot curries, often finished with coconut milk, and some of our most commonly used exotic spices like turmeric (which we call ‘safran’), cumin (‘lanni’), as well as the locally grown curry Leaves (‘kari pile’). Little do we pay attention though to the health enhancing properties of such spices.
Many of us are yet to explore some of the healthier Indian flour alternatives on the market to the over-processed plain white flour such as whole wheat (atta), millet or chestnut.
Consider also the many ways we can use the red lentils, the green lentils (zanberik), or the simple chick peas (granm) stir-fried in spices and loaded with vegetables.
The Italians were later arrivals to our shores, but it didn't take long for us to integrate their pasta and pizza into our daily eating habits and these are great carriers of vegetables. Slowly move over to whole wheat versions of both, and you've got yourselves easy healthy meals made using extra virgin olive oil rather than processed vegetable oil.
How about also adding an Italian soup to our repertoire and create our own local version of the minestrone soup using our local vegetables, which makes for a perfect light dinner.
Middle Eastern cuisine made its quiet way to Seychelles long before our islands became a rest and recreation ground for rich Arabs.
Seychellois maids brought back healthy dishes from the Lebanese families they worked for in Beirut, and social media filled in the gaps later.
Hummus, that wonderful creamy dip made from chick peas, tahini, garlic and olive oil is loved and made in many Seychellois homes.
Online tutorials can help you master Middle Eastern breads such as pitta or wrap, which can be filled up with sliced or shredded vegetables and topped with a healthy spicy yoghurt sauce.
One of the easiest, most interesting and healthiest ways to add vegetables to your daily routine is the Vietnamese rice paper roll, or Chinese spring roll, eaten raw and not deep-fried, with a peanut butter based dip.
French comes towards the end of our vegetable repertoire mainly because the main French star in our local cuisine is the stew (ladob), which is usually based on fish, beef, chicken and pork, but it does make for a hearty once-in-a-while Sunday lunch.
But so as not to leave the French out altogether from our ‘homage' to our great vegetables, we'll make a special note of their ratatouille – a rather elegant name for a coarse yet health-laden vegetable stew originating from the Provençal city of Nice.
And so that we don't forget our other colonial origin, let's add a healthy variation of the English breakfast – with scrambled eggs, a vegetable omelet, some baked beans with the sauce drained off, some roasted or grilled vegetables and a local cassava rusk (galet).
You're all set
Hope that this sets you off on your way to explore more of the world's amazing cuisine through a plant-based diet.
Join us here on our Eat for Our Health page every week, and look for our pages on social media – Eat for our health Seychelles on Facebook, and @eat4ourhealth on Instagram.
Yours in health
The E4OH Team