On the spotlight today is a delicious mango specie called Peter. A large; succulent, fibrous mango with a rich and creamy taste that feels just right to the palates.

I was in Abuja recently for work and while I was there, I had the opportunity to constantly make use of this mango for varieties of smoothies and I must confess that I have in fact fallen in love with Peter! This undoubtedly, is the most luscious mango I have ever tasted; it is fleshy, juicy, and sweet and it gives smoothies a rich and creamy thickness that makes them really enjoyable. No matter the fruit combinations you have in your smoothie, Peter will always stand out, either by hijacking the colour of the smoothie or increasing the overall thickness and taste.

Mangoes ( Mangifera Indica) Also known as ‘the king of fruits ’are tropical stone fruits (drupes) which belong to the same Anacardiaceae family as cashews, olives, dates and pistachios. Mangoes are the most widely consumed fruits in the world and they are native to southern Asia, specifically in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan where they were cultivated in varieties before they were then brought into Africa in the 16th century by Portuguese merchants. It is believed that half of the world’s mangoes are cultivated in these regions. That’s a lot of mangoes if you ask me! This must be the reason why mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

I am very sure everyone enjoys the various species of mangoes prevalent in Nigeria, without understanding the health benefits attached to them. Aside the delicious and succulent taste of mangoes, they are also packed with a lot of important vitamins and minerals that are sure to improve your overall health!

Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Mangoes
Mangoes are laden with such amazing benefits. According to organicfacts.net, mangoes are rich in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C and rich in potassium, magnesium, copper, beta-carotene, iron, riboflavin, niacin, folate and a host of many other vitamins and minerals which helps fight a host of health related diseases.

1) Aids digestion: Mangoes are an excellent source of dietary fibre making them a go to source for preventing constipation, excess acidity and promoting a healthy excretory system. the bioactive ingredients in mangoes also helps in improving appetite, this should be good news to those recovering from ailments!

2) Cures Anemia: Mangoes are rich in iron, their intake helps cures anemia as it increases the red blood cells in the body. They are very good for pregnant women too due to the fact their iron intake is very important during this period, Aside taking supplements, they would find it enjoyable to eat more mangoes. I ate a lot of mangoes when I was pregnant with my daughter

3) Helps keep blood pressure under control : The rich vitamin content in mangoes makes them excellent remedies for high blood pressure also the presence of vitamin E in mangoes helps boost your sex life, making them natural aphrodisiacs

4) Cancer prevention: According to organicfacts.net, Mangoes contain a high amount of dietary fibre called pectin which helps lower cholesterol in the body as well as aids the prevention of prostate cancer

5) Promotes brain health: Mangoes are packed with a high amount of Vitamin B6, which aids the improvement of brain functions. As explained in organicfacts.net, the presence of Glutamine acid also improves concentration and memory

6) Boosts overall Immunity: Mangoes are really an amazing fruit to add to your diet as they contain a great amount of beta carotene that helps enhance the immune system against health related diseases. Also with the presence of Vitamins A and C, which aids the production of collagen in the body, mangoes are the go to source for keeping a youthful glow to your skin.

There are various ways to incorporate mangoes into your family’s diet, they can be cut into chunks and eaten fresh, blended into a smoothie, either alone or with other fruits and vegetables, mangoes can be made into a fruit salad, jam or even the ever popular Indian mango chutney.

 Whichever way you choose to serve your family mangoes, they will always be delicious! Mangoes are after all called the king of fruits for a reason, as long as you serve them without flies, you are good to go!



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Wake up! Rise and shine to my delicious chia pudding recipe, a simple yet amazing breakfast that keeps you full for a long time. I like to see chia seeds, same with most breakfast cereals as a blank slate where I can draw upon as I please, by this, I mean chia seeds are very versatile, I can add in fruits and nuts, spices or any other ingredients that I love, to make it really enjoyable for me.

At first sight, chia seeds have semblance with West African acha seeds (Fonio or digitaria exilis), I actually have an acha pudding recipe as well. However chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are bigger in size and totally different. Chia is a specie of the mint family lamiaceae that is native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia means´ strength´ in the Mayan language and it is believed that ancient Aztecs and Mayans used this superfood as a source of energy during games or battle.

Chia seeds have a neutral taste and it is very easy to make, this amazing super food can be made into a pudding like I did today; by soaking overnight in water or milk, letting the seeds absorb the liquid to form a gel. it can also be blended into a smoothie with fruits, added to breads, blended and used to thicken sauces or made into energy bars. Just about 100g can feed a family of 4 for breakfast, as it doubles in size when left to gel or soak. Whichever way you decide to have your chia seeds, you need to understand the health benefits associated with it. It is believed to contain more fibre than oats, more calcium than milk, more protein than eggs, more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon! What’s not to love?




Nutritional benefits of Chia seeds
1) The nutritional benefits of chia seeds cannot be overemphasized, as explained in Draxe.com, Chia contains high fibre properties which is a natural blood sugar enhancer, thus aiding the body to balance insulin levels naturally. Goodbye diabetes! The fibre in chia seeds also helps people feel full quickly, as chia tends to increase in quantity even after it has been eaten. This fibre also promotes easy bowel movements making it easy to empty the bowels

2) Chia seeds is loaded with a lot of natural antioxidants that helps prevent aging.

3) Due to the presence of Omega 3 acids, chia seeds regulates cholesterol, lower blood pressure and fights against inflammation, which is a dangerous condition that puts a strain on blood vessels. this means it is a perfect superfood for heart related diseases.

4) Taking chia seeds gives us stronger bones and dental health due to the high amount of calcium it contains, as explained further by Draxe,com, chia also contains Boron which is another important nutrient for bone health, boron helps absorb calcium, manganese and phosphorus, which are all contained in chia seeds for healthy bone growth.

5) It helps boost your energy and metabolism and also helps build muscle. This was the main reason the Aztecs and Mayans consumed chia seeds, it enhances energy thus making you strong and alert for your daily activities.

6) Chia seeds also contains a high amount of proteins, which is good news, if you are trying to lose a bit of weight



These and many more nutritional benefits that I cannot totally outline here right now, are enough reasons to get chia seeds today!

Let’s make pudding!

Ingredients

1) Chia seeds 40g

2) 2 cups coconut milk

3) Honey to sweeten (As desired)

4) Toppings (I used raspberries and pecans)





Directions
1) Pour in the coconut milk into the chia seeds,

2) Allow to stand in the fridge and soak overnight until tender and forms a gel like coating around the seeds, making them look like the jelly-like glycoprotein on frogs’ eggs. Isn’t this amazing?









3) What you will find the next morning is more than double the amount of chia you soaked. Add in more milk if necessary and mix well to remove all the clumps

4) Add in any spices like cinnamon or ginger, I totally left spices out, that will be a recipe for another day, but I sweetened with honey and I topped with pecans and raspberries for more texture!

5) And the chia pudding is ready for consumption!

Cookstip: remember, chia seeds has the tendency to soak up moisture 10 times its quantity, it doubles in size really quickly, this means that little quantity of chia can serve a large family. If you find you need more milk, please add more.


If you are an early riser who has to wake up really early to get to work, no more excuses for skipping breakfast, try chia seeds today for you and your family, just soak over night in the fridge and by morning, a delicious pudding! no cooking required.

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It rained heavily today so I thought to make this yam pepper soup (Ukodo) for my family for supper. As you already know, when it rains during the day, the chills only sets in at night and when this happens, there’s nothing as amazing as a warm bowl of yam pepper soup to escort you on your journey to dream land.

This yam pepper soup recipe originally was my mother’s, she would make this mostly after the Christmas celebrations where there was bound to be goat meat left over from the festive cooking. With the typical erratic power supply, you can trust that there would never be electricity to preserve the meat for too long. As a result, you can be sure that the weeks succeeding Christmas would be laced with recipes from these left over meats and I must tell you they were always delicious. I need quickly say here that I never ascribed this yam pepper soup to any culture, I just saw it as a meal my mother made after Christmas week which I longed for. I however, discovered that this dish is a south-south delicacy.

Ukodo as it is called by the Urhobos, is a traditional breakfast or mid-day pepper soup dish served at weddings, naming ceremonies or on New year’s day and it is made essentially with goat meat, yams, plantains, lemon grass and a blend of pepper soup spices which gives this dish its amazingly rich and fragrant soup. The Urhobos usually serve this porridge dish to their guests with palm oil and this is done in case you felt like dipping the yam into the oil for another refreshing taste. I think this dish is fit for kings because, it is really delicious!

I urge you my dears to try this recipe for your family today, you don’t have to wait for any ceremony to make something nice for your family; After all, they are all kings and queens in themselves. Try and go minimal with the dried chilies, so as to make this dish friendly for the kids and I am very sure you will put a smile on everyone’s face. Did I say anything about the aroma of this dish? Oh my! It is something else altogether.

Let’s cook!

Ingredients
1) Goat meat 1kg ( you can add offal’s as well)
2) Small size yam
3) Small bunch lemon grass
4) Scent leaves ( I used this at the end for garnishing)
5) 20g ground crayfish
6) Ground dried chillies (Use as desired)
7) Pepper soup spice mix ( Ehru seeds, gbafilo, umilo, uheri pod) 30g
8) Seasoning 10g
9) Salt 2g ( traditionally the Urhobos use native salt Ughweri)

Directions
1) Prepare the ingredients

2) In a clean pot, Add in the well washed goat meat, water, seasoning, pepper soup spice mix, lemon grass, dried chilies, crayfish and salt. Allow this to simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat is partly cooked








Cooks tip: I had to buy the whole lemon grass plant from a horticulturist so I could have it for keeps, I know I will have many more uses for this fragrant grass. I really like the aroma it adds to this dish.

3) Once the meat is tender, take out the lemon grass, and add in more water, about 2 cups

4) Add in the yams, and cook until soft, if you like it thick, allow it to simmer for longer until it begins to thicken, if not, it should be ready at this point. Just check for seasoning and salt and adjust accordingly and your delicious yam and goat meat pepper soup is ready


A proper Urhobo woman will serve you this amazing dish with palm oil, but for me, I am stopping right here. Enjoy!

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Oha soup is on a menu today, a traditional soup that is indigenous to the Eastern part of Nigeria. With oha leaves, assorted meat and cocoa yam or achi as its main ingredients, this soup is known to be close to the heart of all easterners. it however, has become very popular and now relished by most Nigerian families.

Oha soup or ofe ora as it called in some regions, has similarities in its preparations with bitter leaf soup (Ofe Onugbu), the distinction lies in the use of the special oha leaves which has its distinctive taste that sets it apart from other vegetables. Oha is a seasonal vegetable, this is not very good news because, it means that, this delicious delicacy cannot be enjoyed all year round.

I ate this soup for the first time at my brother- in- laws place, I have spoken about him before on this blog, he is from the east and he performs wonders in the kitchen. He explained that, oha leaves are very tender and quite easy to shred and shredding the oha leaves with our hands as opposed to using a knife, prevents the leaves from turning black. I have never used a knife since then. If you decide to use a knife, please let me know how the color turns out but for now, let’s cook!

Ingredients
1) 1 bunch oha leaves
2) Oziza leaves a handful
3) Cocoyam 5medium size pieces
4) Palm oil 3 table spoons
5) Assorted meat(beef, shaki(tripe) pkomo )1kg
6) Stockfish 200g
7) Dry fish 200g
8) Blended dry chillies ( as desired)
9) Blended crayfish 100g
10) Ogiri (okpehe) 10g
11) Onions 1 medium sized bulb
12) Seasoning 8g
13) Salt 2g

Directions
1) Prepare all the ingredients by washing them thoroughly

2) Pick the Oha leaves and shred roughly into small pieces with your hands, set this aside

3) Peel and wash the cocoyam, parboil until tender and pound into a smooth paste, alternatively, you can leave to cool for a bit, pop into a blender with the addition on half a cup of water, blend until smooth and set aside









Cooks tip: you also have the option of using achi as a thickener, if you have no interest for the cocoyam.

4) In a clean pot, add in the meats, stock fish, sliced onions, all of the seasoning and salt, mix well and allow to simmer for 3 minutes or until the meats start releasing juices

5) Now add in 3 cups of water, stir well and allow to simmer for another 6 minutes or until the meats are tender enough for you

6) Once this is done, add in the dried fish









Cooks tip: I always add in my dried fish after tenderizing my meat, so that it does not scatter in the cooking process, I like to have nice bite size pieces of fish in my soup.

7) Add in the pepper and blended crayfish and ogiri(locust beans) at this point and cook for another 5 minutes









 8) Now add in the cocoyam paste that you prepared earlier, add this in one spoonful at a time so as to control the consistency, I prefer my oha not overly thick.

9) Now add in the palm oil, cover the pot and allow to simmer until the cocoyam paste has dissolved, you can add more water if the soup is too thick, just be sure to get your desired consistency.

10) Add in the oha and oziza leaves, cover the pot now and allow the soup to simmer for another 3 minutes and your delicious Oha soup is ready to be served with any swallow of your choice!

What’s your favourite Nigerian soup? Comment below and let us know. Mariellasmenu is on https://web.facebook.com/MariellasMenu/, https://www.instagram.com/mariellasmenu/, twitter and google plus. follow us everywhere!


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So my kids are at home for the holidays! Halleluia no more school runs. However, I am now faced with the daunting task of keeping them preoccupied so they don’t turn my house upside down! (Joy of motherhood) so, I decided to engage them in the process of making chin-chin today. I am one who loves to control all that goes into my child’s mouth, I rarely buy snacks for my kids, I like instead, to make mine and pack them up in their lunch bags or place in air tight cookie jars so they can reach for some when they want

We made this chin-chin recipe together as a team today and even though the kitchen was messed up at the end, we had so much fun bonding, I found myself explaining every detail to the girls ( They asked all the questions in the world), at the end of the day, it was so worth it! they bragged to everyone that walked through our door, how they made the chin-chin themselves!

Chin-chin is one of Nigeria’s most popular snack, with flour, butter, sugar, eggs as its main ingredients while other ingredients and spices such as milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and food flavors can be added in to enhance its taste, this however is due to preference. All of these ingredients are mixed together to form the chin-chin dough, which is now cut into desired shapes and fried in hot oil. As simple as ABC.

My girls worked so hard on this recipe, especially in cracking the eggs, passing me ingredients and cutting, even though I gave them blunt table knives, they were more than happy to work with me.

Chin-chin time!

Ingredients
1) Flour 600g

2) Butter 250g

3) Granulated sugar 200g

4) 2 cups of powdered milk

5) 2 eggs

6) Nutmeg 20g

7) Vegetable oil for frying

Directions
1) Add the butter and sugar into a clean bowl and cream lightly as you would when making a cake, just enough to incorporate the butter and sugar, not too much

2) Now add the flour, powdered milk and nutmeg into the bowl, mix thoroughly with your clean hands until the flour looks like bread crumbs

3) Crack the eggs and whisk them in a bowl, set this aside

4) Now make a hole in the middle of the flour and pour in the whisked eggs, then work this mixture with your hands until all of the ingredients form a perfect dough'









Cooks tip: if you find the dough too hard, you can mix the powdered milk with a cup of water, before adding into the mixture, then, mix until the dough is soft yet stretchy. Set this aside




5) Flour a clean flat surface and cut a chunk of the dough, roll this out with a rolling pin and cut the flattened dough into any desired shape until all of the dough has been used up










6) Place your oil in a clean wok on the burner, allow to heat up properly

7) Fry the chin-chin in small batches making sure not to over crowd the pan, once it is beginning to brown, turn the chin-chin around to make sure all sides are well fried

8) Once it is golden brown, transfer from the oil onto paper towels to cool and to soak up excess oils and your chin-chin is ready to be munched! I serve my kids the chin-chin with warm bottles of cocoa powder flavored milk.Try this recipe now and tell me how it goes



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On the spotlight today is my homemade water melon juice that I have infused cucumber and mint leaves in. I really don’t understand the weather in Nigeria right now, I mean, it is supposed to be the rainy season, yet it gets really hot for days on end. This makes me reach out for cold drinks and you trust that it will be something delicious and refreshing. With that, watermelon comes to mind because watermelon is a fruit that my kids reach out for without been coerced. They love watermelon a lot and it worked really well in this juice recipe.

Watermelon is a power packed fruit that is native to southern Africa, I call it power packed because it is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, fibre, potassium, niacin, carotenoids, niacin and so much more. These vitamins and minerals, combined, helps prevent diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. Watermelon also contains nutrients which aids proper functioning of the internal organs, eyes and excretion system.

The amazing thing about watermelon is that it contains about 95% water and 5% fibre, according to my daughter, watermelons are already juiced up! You do not need water to make this juice because you will get enough from the watermelon. This fact makes it the go to fruit source for combating heatstroke.

 As stated by organicfacts.net, the high amount of water contained in watermelon, stimulates a release of excess liquid in the form of sweat, which can help keep you refreshed during hot weather thus preventing heat stroke! Trust me there is nothing more refreshing than a chilled glass of watermelon juice, You can never get it wrong with making it for your family, aside the fact that this juice keeps you cool and refreshed, you would have topped up on a lot of vitamins and minerals, you really need to try it at home

Let’s make juice

Ingredients
1) 1 large watermelon
2) 1cucumber
3) 7mint leaves









Directions
1) Peel the water melons and take out all the seeds. Make sure to peel in a clean bowl or tray just so that you can retain the juices from the watermelon as you will need it to blend the watermelon, cut this into to chunks that will fit in your smoothie maker or blender

Cooks Tip: Make sure to pick very ripe watermelons to ensure naturally sweet tasting juice, as I have not added any sugar in this recipe. Also a ripened watermelon contains more carotenoids which aids the prevention of high blood pressure.

2) Peel the cucumber, and retain only the white part. I did this because I wanted to keep true to the natural redness of the watermelon as well as reduce any bitterness because this juice is totally sugar free.now cut into chunks as well

3) Pick out 7 mint leaves from the sprig. You don’t want to add too much into the juice but just enough for that added minty feel









4) Add in the watermelon juice that must have deposited in the tray. Then blend until smooth

5) Sieve the juice and retain the pulp (I ate the pulp). From this really big watermelon, this was all the pulp that was left, it just goes to prove that watermelon is indeed 95% water and 5% fibre

6) Serve cold.



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On the menu today is my delicious meatballs in tomato sauce. This delicious dish, featuring meatballs and basil, is a delicacy I and my family love to relish. For me, this recipe comes in two parts. I said this because, you can actually make the meatballs and eat them alone as a snack or party food or just go on ahead to make the tomato sauce served with a staple for a hearty meal. Either way, I am sure that you and your family will fall in love with meatballs.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can use any sort of meat you want, especially if you are on a weight loss journey. I used beef for this recipe but you can also use pork, fish, and lamb. I haven’t tried goat meat though, am not sure how that will taste in this recipe but it is also an option. The idea is to allow the meatballs fry slowly on medium heat so as to allow it cook through, before adding them into the tomato sauce

                                               Basil
I have richly flavored my tomato sauce with basil leaves and garlic, these two aromatic spices combined together makes such an amazing base for the meatballs in the tomato sauce;s this will make a hearty meal when served with spaghetti, rice or breads. Your family will shudder with sheer excitement at the aroma of this sauce and am just excited to show you how!

I wrote about using Rosemary herb in roasts and stews in my last post, well, Basil is in the same lamiacea family as Rosemary, they are in fact sister herbs that help add an amazing aromatic note to dishes, aside that, basil contains high levels of disease fighting antioxidants such as orientin and viceninare, magnesium, and vitamins, it also contains antibacterial, anti-cancer and anti-stress properties source: draxe.com. Interesting don't you think? I suppose I will leave the rest for the scientists to sort out.

Let’s cook!

Ingredients for tomato sauce
1) Tomatoes 400g
2) Bell peppers (Tatashe) 30g
3) Scotch bonnets (atarodo) as desired
4) Olive oil 3/4 cup
5) Basil 3 sprigs
6) 1 onion
7) Grated garlic half a bulb
8) Seasoning 8g
9) Salt 2



Ingredients for the meatballs
1) Minced beef 1.5kg
2) Bread crumbs 20g ( I make mine)
3) Parsley leaves 20g (fresh or dried)
4) Grated garlic 10g
5) 2 eggs
6) Seasoning 5g
7) Salt 2g

Directions
We will start first with the meatballs, like I already said, this recipe is in two parts, it however does not mean the process is long. This is in fact a quick recipe

1) Place the minced beef in a clean bowl then add in the grated garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, seasoning and salt, then mix very well with a wooden spatula

2) Crack the two eggs in a separate bowl and whisk, pour into the spiced minced meat, mix all ingredients together until well incorporated, set this aside

3) Add in the olive oil into the pan, allow to heat for about a minute or two

4) Now mold the meat into small dollops or balls and add then into the hot oil to fry, making sure to turn all sides




Cooks tip: you need to reduce the heat at this point, to allow the meat cook through.With that done, am making the sauce next.
5) Roughly blend the tomatoes, peppers, onions and two sprigs of basil ( will use the last sprig as garnish for the sauce)








6) still using the oil in the pan used for frying the meatballs, add in the sliced onions, grated garlic and give this a minute to simmer                                                                                                               
7) Now pour in the basil- tomato blend into the oil, allow it fry for 8 minutes or until well fried








 8) Add in the seasoning and salt before adding in the meatballs at the end!

The aroma wafting through my kitchen right now, is something else altogether. Trust me, you need to try this at home!


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