The Real Foodie

Category: Food Preparation

Jamaican Lunch

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Jamaican local and organic lunch

This week I traveled to Jamaica for a short visit to oversee the renovations at our family rental house. I was tired from standing all day and breathing in paint fumes and needed a nourishing meal to pick me up. While in between meetings I took a quick taxi ride to Hopewell, the nearest town, to buy some ackee, breadfruit, coconut and okra, from the roadside fruit stall at the main junction in town. It was such a treat to sit down to this delicious nutritious meal of local, organic vegetables made by our amazing cook, Ana, accompanied by a glass of refreshing coconut water. The ackee, tomatoes, okra and plantain were sautéed in extra virgin coconut oil from Belize which I bought in Ocho Rios at Progressive Foods supermarket—a chain of supermarkets selling a wide range of local and organic foods, part of a growing organic movement in Jamaica.  The lettuce was from a local organic farm and our driver Kenny picked the avocado for me from the tree in his garden.

For years, while growing up and throughout my twenties, I had to settle for low quality, imported food when I came here but now that I come so often, since managing our house, I have found the resources for local, organic food and it has made all the difference to my experience and the way I feel. Along with my morning hour of running, swimming and yoga, instead of getting fat and tired like I used to, I stay in shape and feel great.

Whole Oats?

I was excited to buy these whole oat groats with the intention to sprout them to neutralize some of the phytic acid. I assumed that if they were whole and from a good small farm brand like Shiloh Farms they must not be heat treated, after having learned that most commercial oats are heat treated to preserve shelf life and therefore will not sprout. I was wrong! I called the company to ask and they were in fact heat treated. I did more research on phytates in grains and discovered that rolled oats are the lowest in phytates because rolling removes part of the bran which has the highest amount of phytic acid.

The subject of phytates is complicated and I am still not sure how healthy it is to eat any grains at all, so I only eat them on occasion. It is also very time consuming to soak the grains overnight or longer, or to sprout them and not worth it if only part of the phytic acid gets removed. For now I will stick to the sprouted oats I’ve been using by Living Nature, which I like because I can decide in the morning if I want to have oatmeal instead of having to plan a day in advance. I also don’t like the sour taste that soaking in water with yoghurt gives the oats. I used to boil my previously soaked oats in water and then add butter but it is much tastier to boil the sprouted ones in whole, grass-fed, pasteurized, unhomogenized milk, which is one of the rare exceptions when I use pasteurized milk, as the enzymes already get destroyed through the cooking process.