Love Plantains Love Life

When I told my mum that I had developed a new addiction whilst travelling around South America, she prepared herself for the worst. PLANTAINS MUM! I cannot get enough of my yellow friends. Plantain crisps, fried plantain halves (for breakfast, lunch & dinner), plantain flour pancakes.. they´re everywhere! I am certainly not complaining.

Despite their association with the Caribbean and Latin America, plantains originated in Asia. They became popular in Latin America centuries ago when they were harvested and consumed by slaves. Nowadays plantains feature in almost every plato principal on the menu del día in Colombia and are often served for breakfast with rice and eggs across Latin America.

Delicious and nutritious, plantains are a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and have more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their closely related friends, bananas. Plantains are a fibrous alternative to other carbohydrates such as potato or white rice.

So I went on a mission to make myself some delicious plantain containing food for breakfast lunch and dinner. When I whipped this plantain lasagne out of the oven in the hostel, there were a lot of envious hungry travellers!

R E C I P E S

Here are three recipes for..

1. Gluten Free Plantain Pancakes

2. Plantain Coconut Rice

3. The Famous Plantain Lasagne

 

GLUTEN FREE PLANTAIN PANCAKES

I’m really missing making pancakes at home and I love plantains so these babies were born. I boil all the plantains I use to reduce frying.

Ingredients (one person)
1 big yellow plantain

1 cup maize flower

1 egg

Coconut oil / olive oil

Vanilla essence (optional)

Honey to put on top! (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Mash the plantain and add a beaten egg to the mixture. Mix them until you have a liquid consistency batter.

3. Pour in the flour and mix thoroughly.

4. Heat up the oil and pour in enough mixture to make a fist sized pancake.

5. Flip and huzzah



PLANTAIN COCONUT RICE

A filling delicious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (one person)

1 plantain

1 cup of rice

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

1 handful of green beans

Paprika

Aji / spicy pepper

Coconut oil/ olive oil

 

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Boil more water for the rice and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Chop the onion finely, cut up the pepper and green beans.

4. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the oil then add the pepper and green beans. Keep stirring the vegetables until cooked between 10-15 minutes later

5. Meanwhile they’re cooking, cut half of the plantain up into bite size pieces and the other half slice laterally.

6. Add the bite size pieces to the pan and the other larger circles brown off separately.

7. Strain the rice, put it back into the pan, mix in the coconut milk and cook gently for two minutes on a low heat.

8. Add the vegetables to the rice pan and add paprika and aji.

9. Serve the rice with the larger pieces of plantain on top. Ta- dah.

 

 

PLANTAIN LASAGNE

Just the best thing ever. Why would you ever have pasta when you can have PLANTAIN! And it´s gluten free.

Ingredients (3 people)

4 yellow plantains

500g minced meat

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tomatoes

1 egg

1 tbs tomato paste

Aji

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

3. Chop the onions, tomato, carrots

4. First fry the onions for 2 minutes in oil, then add the chopped carrot and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile slice the plantains into roughly 5mm strips. Cover the bottom of a 20 inch baking tray with the slices, making sure to leave enough plantain for 2 more layers.

6. Stir the vegetable mixture and in a separate pan cook the meat for 5 minutes

7. Pour the beef into the tomato mix and add the paste , aji and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.

8. Pour half of the mixture on top of the plantain layered baking tray, top with another layer of plantains, add the remaining mixture then finish with a final layer of plantains. For a final touch whisk an egg and pour over the top covering all of the plantain.

9. Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy the plaintain madness!!!!

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Eating in Rio

 Food in Rio, restaurant recommendations, food tips, fitness suggestions..

Wheat, meat and acai is a good three word summary of my experience of food in Rio!

 

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I’ve been staying in hostels and the free breakfast consists of cake, toast, paquet cheese and ham BUT also fresh watermelon, papaya and melon. In the main areas like Copacabana and Lapa there are cafes on every corner where you can get a traditional chicken, rice and beans for about 20 reales (£5). Acai and coconut water are in abundance in Rio! When I stayed in Copacabana I genuinely couldn’t go more than 3 minutes without walking past a cafe that sold them.

 

Recommendations

Feijoada- one of Brazil’s most famous dishes. A hearty stew made with black beans, sausages, cuts of pork, a side portion of crackling and some orange pieces to finish it off. Really tasty!

Delirio Tropical- came recommended from a friend who used to live in Rio. It’s a small Brazilian chain with a salad buffet and gluten free options! (Maize pasta, quinoa..) Also the best chocolate cake I think I have ever had in my life. (£6) for plateful of three different salads. They also do takeaway! 36 Ria da Assembleia, Centro

Carretao- a local recommended this restaurant in Copacabana for Brazilian BBQ- all you can eat meat and salad! Fill your plate with a variation of roasted vegetables, Israeli salad, beetroot and all other kinds of greenery. Waiters come round with all different kinds of tender meats. My favourite meal in Rio so far. (£25) with wine. 23 Ria Siquiera Campos, Copacabana

Acai and coconut water on every corner. Make the most of the (£2) acai and (£1 )coconut water fresh out of a coconut! ** Watch out for the sugary granola toppings and that the Acai doesn’t come with “xarope” syrup as it will be overly sweet.

O Quintal Zen- EVERYTHING wheat and dairy free. It’s a five minute walk from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the food is delicious. I had a wheat dairy free pesto pasta with complementary lavender water and a brigadeiro (typical Brazialian dessert). The dessert is normally made with dolce de leche and cocoa but this one was refined sugar free made from the banana root and raw cacao.

A refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free brigadeiro

 

Food tips

Nutrition? Pimp your meals! Mix up a container of superfoods before you come. You can add extra nutritents to all your meals. Mine is made up of chia seeds, almonds, cocoa nibs (interesting on savoury food), linseeds and sunflower seeds. I sprinkle it on everything, sweet potato omelettes to peanut butter covered bananas!

Avoid refined? White rice comes with most dishes but “arroz integral” (brown rice) is easy to come by in the supermarkets.

No sugar? Watch out for the Caipirinha’s. As delicious (and alcoholic) as they may be, about 5 tablespoons of white sugar goes into them. Vodka and soda is available in most bars but you will pay extra (£7 instead of £4)

Budget? Snack on bananas (20p) with some peanut butter to balance the sugar . I brought Pip and Nut sachets with me but there are plenty of health food shops around which sell a good quality nut butter. Failing this peanuts are (£1) for a bag in the supermarket.

A peanut butter covered banana with my own nutritious toppings

 

Fitness suggestions

1. Hike up to Christ the Redeemer. Expect a tough 2 hour hike up to the top including parts where you climb up using metal handles built into the rock. I felt like I’d done an hours spin class under hot yoga conditions. Incredibly rewarding when you get to the top.

2. Hire bikes to explore the city. We biked down Copacabana beach, to Ipanema beach, then around  Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas stopping off at Parque Lage and the Botanical Garden, back through Leblon (wealthy area of Rio) to Copabacabana. Great work out.

3. There are outdoor gyms at every 50m of Copacabana. Test your press ups, chin ups and sit ups! Most parks around the Copacabana area also have outdoor cross-trainer style machines and arm presses.

My travelling companion Lydia getting in some pull ups on Ipanema beach

***Not all supermarkets take credit card (Revolut/ STA travel card). We found this out the hard way.. Pão de Açúcar takes credit card but others do not!