My recipes are created and tested in my institute kitchens both in the U.S. and our new teaching/health sciences/research facility high in the Andes of Ecuador, S.A. Our commitment to you continues to bring you the best natural health recipes while insuring they are packed with nutrition AND the ability to assist overall detoxification—the essence of Wholistic Rejuvenation.
This new series provides not only healthy recipes but also the health benefits of each ingredient.
Dr. Gloria's New “Potatoes”—AND—They're NOT a Nightshade!
Spending time in Ecuador I've come to appreciate SO much that we in the U.S. take for granted. One specific food I miss is white sweet potatoes because they are not grown here, YET, but rather they grow several varieties of sweet potatoes that in the U.S. we often refer to as yams.
I have a new favorite I've discovered that taste to me just like sautéed hash browns (cubed or shredded) and they're delicious, healthy, and so satisfying...especially when we're avoiding the genre of nightshade foods that we know ignite inflammation.
The following is a real treat and you can find green plantains in the U.S. as they are being discovered by Americans who have traveled to South America and other cultures where they are a diet staple.
Majado Verde (mashed green plantains)
The basics of this dish are green plantains cut in small cubes or shredded like hash brown potatoes. It includes onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme and can be topped with delicious additions listed below or your choice of herbs:
- 3–green plantains, peeled and cut in rounds or shredded (each plantain can be cut into 3–4 pieces)
- 1–2 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. finely chopped/crushed thyme
- 1/4 tsp. finely chopped/crushed rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel* and boil the plantains for 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy.
- Mash the plantains using a fork or potato masher— the consistency should have some small chunks, if it's too
- smooth it will stick together.
- Sauté the diced onion, crushed garlic, salt and pepper on medium, to medium high heat. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7–10 minutes.
- Add the mashed plantains, rosemary and thyme to the sauté mixture and cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and add additional salt/pepper to your liking.
- Serve immediately with any of the following as we do in Ecuador:
- With a fried egg
- Slices of fresh cheese (in Ecuador we use Queso Fresco a semi-soft cheese, use whatever suits you)
- Avocado slices
- Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro on top just before serving
NOTE: This recipe is a substitute for potatoes and is used as a side-dish. That said, I often make it a main course with everything I've mentioned piled on top, delicioso! I also often add a scrambled egg into the plantain mixture after I mash them as described in step four, rather than to serve with a separate fried egg. If you decide to add more greens, some finely chopped spinach can be added while sautéing the mixture in step four.
* When you get your plantain home, the first steps in preparing them are as follows:
- Wash plantains
- Use a paring knife to cut off both the stem and tip
- Slice into the skin of the plantain lengthwise at the ridges (be careful not to cut too deep)
- Remove strips of skin using the knife, like peeling a carrot
- Slice off any remaining peel attached to the pulp
- From there you can dice, chop, shred or use the plantain whole
Green Plantains—known as the brain-boosting and immune-building fruit
The first lesson in using plantains is to NOT confuse them with bananas, albeit they are close relatives. Both varieties have proven in studies to offer the above-mentioned health benefits in addition to help regulate the digestive processes and are a dense potassium-rich food. Countries like Africa, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia grow and use plantains because of their delicious flavor and for their jam-packed health benefits. Plantains are starchier, yet contain less sugar than bananas, and are much more versatile for cooking. In Ecuador, high in the Andes mountains (8,000 ft.) where my research is based, specifically, the growing season for plantains is year-around because of its eternal spring climate that averages 72 degrees. Plantain is a great nutrient-rich fruit that provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals and is an excellent substitute for rice or potatoes.
Nutritional Facts…One cup of raw plantain contains:
- 181 calories
- 47 grams carbohydrates
- 1.9 grams protein
- 0.5 grams fat
- 3.4 grams fiber
- 27.2 milligrams vitamin C (45 percent DV)
- 1,668 IU vitamin A (33 percent)
- 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (22 percent)
- 739 milligrams potassium (21 percent)
- 55 milligrams magnesium (14 percent)
- 0.9 milligrams iron (5 percent)
Health Benefits of Plantains
Plantains are a solid source of carbohydrates with a low-fat content, but they also provide several other health benefits as well. Plus, they don't contain any significant levels of toxins.
There are 913 milligrams of potassium in one cup of cooked, mashed plantains. That accounts for about 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium, making plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods on the planet. Potassium is the third-most abundant mineral in the body, but when depleted, low potassium can affect the function of numerous organs and processes.
Potassium is an electrolyte and is therefore affected greatly by the amount of sodium in the body. It plays a major role in regulating blood pressure because it combats the effects of sodium. Many Western diets include too much sodium, which means we could all use more sources of potassium. Snacking on plantains or adding them as a side dish are delicious ways to reach your daily potassium goals and help naturally remedy high blood pressure.
Potassium levels also affect skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, which allows for regular digestive and muscular function. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, and studies show that people who consume diets with high potassium levels tend to be at a lower risk of stroke, osteoporosis and renal disease.
Help Regulate the Digestive System
Fiber has a profound effect on the digestive system and plays a significant role in keeping it regular. One cup of plantains provides almost a fifth of the fiber recommended daily, which is roughly 25–30 grams. As a high-fiber food, plantains add bulk to food intake–aiding digestion.
According to research from the University of Kentucky's Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program, consuming plantains is a great way to relieve constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and digestive conditions like diverticulitis.
Fiber also makes you feel full, which can help with weight control. Thus, increasing intake of dietary fiber can also help enhance weight loss in obese individuals. Soluble fiber is also known to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which prevents heart disease as well as help stabilize blood sugar.
Reduce the Number of Harmful Free Radicals
Free radicals, which are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to other harmful elements like tobacco smoke or radiation, play a part in aging, diseases and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage.
A serving of plantains can provide over 35 percent of the vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin C foods around. The body can't store vitamin C (excess is released in urine) or produce it independently; so getting the daily recommended amount is very important.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful vitamins, as it has a hand in growing and repairing tissues all over the body. It's involved in forming a protein used in making skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, as well as maintaining cartilage, bones and teeth.
Boost the Immune System
Looking to boost your immune system? Then plantains are the perfect snack. They pack 36 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. As another powerful antioxidant, vitamin A provides several benefits to the body. Along with vitamin C, it helps control your immune response, which keeps illness at bay, and several important immune system responses rely on vitamin A to perform correctly.
Vitamin A also plays a large part in skin health and cell growth, and a necessary element for wound healing. Cells that overreact to certain foods are the root of food allergies and ultimately cause inflammation. Vitamin A's antioxidant properties can neutralize free radicals and help prevent inflammation caused by overreacting cells. It also helps with eye health and vision, especially in low light.
Promote Healthy Brain Function
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to another. A serving of plantains can provide up to 24 percent of your daily amount needed of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 benefits healthy brain function and, according to research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, helps make hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine, which keep moods stable, and melatonin, which regulates the body's biological clock.
Homocysteine levels (an amino acid linked to heart disease and nervous system damage) are also controlled by vitamin B6. The vitamin keeps levels low to help prevent damage and maintain the health of blood vessels.
This vitamin in plantains is one of the eight B vitamins that aid in processing food into energy and metabolizing fats. Like vitamin A, B6 also helps slow the onset of eye diseases like macular degeneration¡Xit works with B12 to produce red blood cells and cells in the immune system. Boosted levels of vitamin B6 are also linked to prevention or decrease of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Abundant Source of Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is a very common problem thanks to Western diets and depleted soil due to over farming. Plantains offer about 16 percent of your daily need for magnesium, which is especially important because magnesium affects over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
From helping to regulate blood pressure to preventing osteoporosis, there are many ways magnesium keeps the body healthy. Magnesium directly affects calcium absorption, which can avert or reverse osteoporosis. It also lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels via carbohydrate metabolism and insulin regulation. Magnesium has also long been used to help with migraine headaches, insomnia and depression.
Avoids Aspirin-Induced Ulcers
In a study published in the International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, dried plantain powder showed a significant ulcer-healing effect on an aspirin-induced gastric ulcer. Individuals who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain are at high risk for developing ulcers in the membrane layer of the stomach. According to the study, dried plantain can stimulate the growth of the inner lining of the stomach.
The Way I See It...
I was introduced to this delicious dish by Efrys, my local neighborhood diner in Cotacachi, Ecuador in my neighborhood of La Pradera. It's a family-run business with mother Zoila as cook, sisters Carolina and Karina attending and visiting cook, Jovan, who makes the most mouth-watering salsa that I put on everything—yes, his salsa is nightshade-free and I'll share that recipe in the next issue. My first students of natural health were owners of this restaurant. With their newfound knowledge about food allergies, they accommodate dietary requests with a grateful heart for their new knowledge and always with a huge Ecuadorian welcome.
Making healthier lifestyle choices and learning how ancient civilizations managed to live long healthy lives despite their heavy physical work, demands, and often without the modern conveniences Americans take for granted, was the primary reason I moved my health sciences, research and test kitchen to the high mountains of Ecuador. In future articles, I'll continue to share my new research, experiences and recipes and welcome your feedback on my blog. Please share this information with others, it's not meant to be kept a secret, it's presented to help us all live longer healthier lives and age without feeling or looking old, Naturally!
Enjoy...not only the taste but in reaping the health benefits.