Make It Yourself

Warning, this is not at all a healthy dish! Just a much loved one which should be eaten sparingly. 

I grew up hating beans in all its variations – akara, moin moin, porridge, rice and beans – name it, I hated it. That is, until I one day tasted Ewa Goyin. I felt like I had finally met my beans love. I proceeded to polish off the entire plate of beans and have not looked back since.

My only misgiving about Ewa Goyin is the fact that it is so reliant on Palm Oil. When you buy it from a Buka (the equivalent of street food), expect to have a lot of oil swimming at the bottom of your bowl unless you give strict instructions otherwise.

After years of relying on others to cook it for me (all of the recipes I was given in the past did not work), a Togolese lady showed me how to make this. It is so easy, it is unbelievable. The best thing about this recipe is that it is really basic. You can decide to alter it by adding other things on – Fish, shrimps, iru (locustbeans) e.t.c, depending on what sort of taste you are going for. An advantage to making your own is that you can somewhat control the amount of Palm Oil that goes into the dish.

Another best thing about this sauce is that you don’t need a fridge to preserve it. It can be left on the kitchen counter and used up over a month or so. 

To summarize, you will need the following ingredients:

1 cup pepper seeds

1 cup Palm Oil

1 red Onion

Salt to taste.

To prepare:

  1. Pour hot water over pepper seeds and leave overnight. Cover this as soon as you pour the hot water as the entire area will soon be pervaded with the sharp smell of peppers. 
  2. Now, blend pepper (water and all) with an onion. 
  3. Heat Palm Oil. Add mixture and fry until you get to the consistency (pictured below). At this point most of the water has evaporated. Add Salt to taste. Voila! Done!!

A few weeks ago, I went visiting relatives. We were offered a meal which we accepted and I proceeded to eat what I considered really tasty stew with some rice. It wasn’t until after I had finished eating that I was told that there was no oil used in the making of the stew. That was literally the point at which I looked down at my plate and realized that there was absolutely no oil at the bottom of the plate.

I was shocked!! Gobsmacked!!! My mother had always spoken about making oil free stew and I didn’t jump on the bandwagon as I thought that it would be totally tasteless. Good thing no-one told me that was what I was having until I had cleaned my plate…

Being that I am always thinking of ways of eating and living healthier, I decided to replicate the stew on my own when I got home. I did this and posted the picture below on the Natural Nigerian facebook page a few days ago. I am retaining the original caption as on facebook.

Eating lunch at my desk today. 90% oil free stew and brown rice. Nutritious and still tasty. Completely Guilt Free.

It garnered some attention and drew for calls of a recipe which was provided by someone I know has been cooking this stew for years. For those who want to try it out, here is the recipe as she put it up:

 Just like you make your normal Nigerian stew but no oil (oh well probably very little from the meat) but no frying involved, so will only make important points 🙂

1) Boil your meat with spices as you usually do.
2) Cook your tomato blend till almost all the water has dried. 
3) Leave the pot of boiled meat to cool then drain the fat / oil that comes to the surface
4) Pour your boiled meat with the stock into the reduced tomato blend add your spices as you do 🙂 (if the meat stock is not much then add little water to the mix)

Cook at low heat and stir at short intervals. Taste the mix to make sure that the raw tomato taste is gone. Cooking ends when you are satisfied with the taste and happy with the stew’s consistency.

The End!

*Some prefer not to use the stock from the boiled the meat – they replace this with just plain water.

Thank you Chinelo!

Someone mentioned that the stew didn’t look pretty (or perhaps it was my brown rice). You will get used to the look and the taste and when you do, it will do wonders for your health.

I took to this new recipe pretty quickly – I added about 10% of the normal quantity of oil I would usually use and will gradually transition to 0%. You may wish to start at 50% less oil and then transition downwards with time.

[I bought the brown rice from Sherese Ijewere of Carib Health]. Tomatoes for the stew came from my local market ;). 

If you follow us on twitter, you would have gotten the notice a few weeks ago that we have added a few new items to our Ahia. 

So many new things to tell you. Where to start from….. 

Let’s start with the oils. 

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We now have 

  • Avocado Oil
  • Castor Oil (not the Jamaican Black Castor Oil version which we still offer)
  • Grape Seed Oil ( A lot of people asked for this so that they could try out the Oil Cleanse Method.)
  • Sweet Almond Oil

These oils are also now available in 5 oz bottles (while stocks last). The lower price of these sizes makes it easier for you to buy several different oils and try them out before deciding on even larger sizes. 

Coconut Oil is also available in a much smaller size of 2 oz. 

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We also have a few new Essential Oils

  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Lemon Grass
All our essential oil bottles now come with orifice reducers/droppers so that you can measure out the amount of essential oil properly. This is very important as essential oils are really potent and you only want a few drops at a time anyway. I have started drafting a post on essential oils which I will put up soon. 

 

Lastly, I will speak about our line of handcrafted soaps. We have our very own Natural Nigerian handcrafted shampoo bars. They are clay based and will give a clean wash without stripping the hair of moisture. We have had quite a bit of feedback about them from customers and they noted that the shampoo bars lathered easily, left their hair feeling clean and their tresses moisturized. There are 2 variants for now – the Goats Milk and Honey Bar as well as the Aloe Coconut Bar.

It doesn’t stop at the shampoo bars. We also have a purifying activated charcoal bar which is a big hit with those that feel they need a deep clean that doesn’t leave their skin stripped. Lastly, we have bath bars (some of which come with generous chunks of glycerin) which give you a nice bath experience.

Like I said, there is a lot to cover and I will not be able to do it all in one post. More in an upcoming post. 

If you wish to order, please click: http://naturalnigerian.com/ahia

My sisters (I have a younger sister and an older sister) are going natural. Big shock, seeing as I am so bad at styling my natural hair that folks around me generally run in the other direction. That is, until they see how healthy my hair is…..then they come running back! 

Anyway my younger sister, who BC’d recently, asked me to make her a potion spritz for her hair. She had used some Aloe Vera spritz I recommended and loved it so much that she wanted to experience more natural goodness! I think I should mention that she used the Aloe Spritz on her human hair weave as well (a.k.a Peruvian/Brazilian/Indian weave) and couldn’t stop raving about how manageable it made her weave…who knew, right? But makes plenty of sense. 

I decided to make her a herbal mix of Rosemary, Organic Horsetail leaves and Organic Nettle Leaves. If you want to see why I used these particular herbs, see their properties below. 

Horsetail: Very rich in Silica which gives hair a shin/sheen boost.  Horsetail also provides elasticity and strengthens weak & damaged hair with regular use.

Nettle: Rich in Vitamins C & E, formic acid, carotenoids, lecithin and minerals. Known from ages past as a natural hair growth stimulant, Nettle also improves scalp and hair health and is even purported to reverse hair loss.

Rosemary: Stimulate hair follicles and supports hair growth. 

I bought a pack of Rosemary at Oyingbo Market in Lagos. The rest of the ingredients came from the Natural Nigerian Ahia.

Now, I tried to take pictures of the entire process, but my camera decided it needed a break halfway so I am going to have to make do with what I have.  You can click on any of the pictures below to enlarge. 

Lining up my herbs. These are not measured out yet.

Placing them in my Pyrex.

Adding Hot water.

I added a little under 2.5 cups of water. The plan was to add enough Aloe Vera Juice to take it up to the 3 cup mark – but my camera quit before I could do that.

So from here, I will just tell you what I did with the help of pictures from other sites….

Using a strainer (like below)

Use a strainer to remove the herbs. I like to use a spoon to press down firmly on the herbs while they are in the strainer so that I squeeze out as much trapped liquid as I can

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When the liquid is cool, add your Aloe Vera juice and place the contents in your Spritz bottle or Trigger Spray.

From the Ahia

Voila! Your spritz is ready to use. 

It is very important that you

  • Make small batches of this which you keep refrigerated

OR

  • Add a preservative to inhibit Mold, yeast and bacterial growth. 

There are a lot of benefits to making one’s own cosmetic brews. Things like final rinses, whipped butter mixes, hair spritzes and even homemade hair conditioners can be made fresh and used on the spot. There is something really refreshing about feeling that your skin/hair/face needs a pick-me-up, opening your refrigerator and checking to see what raw materials you have for whisking up a potion that will do the job. 

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While I still advocate the use of some store-bought products alongside these home-made brews, being able to whip something up can save you a bit of money, give you absolute control over what is being applied to your skin as well as give you a better understanding of how store bought products work. 

To get you all started, here is a fantastic link to an article for making purpoted hair growth potions. I was happy to note that a lot of the ingredients could be found in our Ahia Natural Nigerian

I am determined to make you all mixtresses ;), so expect a bit more on this topic soon. 

This is a neat method for extracting or drawing the quality of herbs into any oils of your choice. You only need two ingredients for this: Your herb (you can use more than one at a time if you like) and some oil. Several oils sold in the market are made from using a part of a plant and an oil. E,g Amla Oil. Amla a.k.a gooseberry is a fruit and on its own doesn’t yield any oil. A decoction (this method involves using heat) is made in order to get Amla oil. 

For my herbal infusion, I have chosen to use: Neem leaves and Premium Palm Kernel Oil. Why did I choose these two? Well, Neem has a lot of benefits (anti-fungal, antibacterial, disinfectant, good for maintaining scalp health and addressing scalp issues like itchiness and dandruff and even the symptoms of psoriasis, lice inhibitor, gives hair a nice sheen, can act as an insect repellent -bye bye mosquitoes e.t.c) that I would like to enjoy. Palm Kernel oil because it is cheap and on its own is great for hair and skin. To me, it is comparable to coconut oil. 

Prepare a clean glass jar. I used a canning jar.

 

Neem leaves

Palm Kernel Oil

 

Put the Neem leaves in the jar.

Fill up the jar with oil. The oil should cover the leaves completely

 

Close the jar.

 Shake like this. 

Store in cool, dark place. Keep it there for about 3 weeks, taking it out every 3 days or so to shake the jar as shown above.  At the end of 3 weeks, put your mix through a sieve.  The resulting oil would have extracted the properties of the neem leaves giving you a rich herbal oil infusion which can be used on your skin and hair. A few drops of essential oil will take it to the next level. 

I bought some Fenugreek leaves from the Indian shop. I think I should go make a herbal oil infusion with that too…

Buy Cocoa Butter Sell NigerianIf you have been on Nat Mane‘s blog or my twitter account (@naturalnigerian) recently, you may have read that I now offer cocoa butter for sale. 

The day I finally got my order in, I was as excited as a kid. You see, I had never ever ever seen or used raw cocoa butter before. My experience with it has been limited to finding it in imported creams and lotions. 

First of all, cocoa butter smells divine – like chocolate. I had done my research and knew it was a hard butter but was still surprised at just how hard it was. If you thought that Shea butter was difficult to spread, wait till you experience raw cocoa butter. Anway, I made a quick basic whipped butter with it (and Shea Butter and coconut oil) and used it on my daughter – from head to toe. She declared that she would smell delicious all day! Of course spreadability was no longer an issue…

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The cocoa butter I carry is export quality – y’all know I don’t play with standards – and I am happy to say it is quite affordable. I have not settled on a unit of measurement for final sale but 1kg comes to about N1,500. It will most probably be sold in smaller quantities though. 

I have heard people say that Cocoa butter makes them dark. My question to them is – were you using just cocoa butter or cocoa butter mixed with other things? I am fair complexioned, have been using my whipped butters for about 2 weeks and haven’t noticed a change. Anyway, if you decide not to use it for your skin, by all means use it on your hair. 

I won’t go into all the details about what Cocoa butter is all about in this post – a post dedicated to that will come soon.

Special thanks to Nat. Mane for putting the word out there!

To buy Cocoa Butter, please click here

I have been seeing some lovely orange-colored oranges in the market lately. I have bought quite a few and I will be putting it to all sorts of use. For those of you that are wondering, in Nigeria we tend to get green/yellow oranges. Now, these appear to be all over the place.

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You can eat oranges as part of your fruit servings per day. Apart from being low in calories, oranges are a great source of phytonutrients, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B potassium, folate and calcium.

It doesn’t end there. Even the part that we usually discard of – the peel can be very beneficial.

Orange Peel has several uses and this particular variety that I have been eyeballing has a sweeter odor than our normal green/yellow ones and I have been imagining all the lovely things I could do with them. Right now I am using orange peel powder to brighten up my complexion a bit and remove my “tan”. That actually is a necessity as my work now has me outdoors much more than I am used to. I am fair-skinned means that some maintenance is necessary. The recipe I use is below.

If you are inclined to some DIY, here is how you can make some Orange Peel Powder. Peel your oranges, dry the rind (might take a few days to air-dry properly) and then grind it to powder. It is that simple. A few tips are: Peel the oranges lightly so that you don’t take much of the bitter white part along. The peels can be dried in the sun or a dehydrator if you have one.

Orange peel powder can be used in several ways.

Hair

Orange Peel powder used in the hair leaves it soft and shiny. For naturals, don’t expect shiny. You’ll just get a sheen. It can be used by mixing it with a little conditioner and or water, applying to the hair for about half an hour and then washing it off. This can be done after a shampoo although there are some claims that orange peel powder can clean the hair too. 

Skin

Orange Peel powder is anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant and a good source of Vitamin C which is wonderful for the skin.

  • Using water, make a paste out of equal amounts of orange peel powder and milk. Apply to face and then wash off after about 15 -25 minutes. I have been doing this once a week for about 2 weeks now.

Health

  • Make a drink of orange peel powder and water. Drink this as an extra source of Vitamin C as well as for lowering cholesterol levels. It is also said to help in the digestion of fatty foods.
  • Orange Peel powder can also be used as a mosquito repellent: Mix a little powder with water and coat the skin thinly.

Home

  • Boil a few peels of orange and the smell will leave a nice fragrance in your home.
  • Make a spray with Orange Peel powder and water and use it for killing ants. Great for those parents that don’t want to use any toxic chemicals in pest control because of their crawling children.

You can do this with the green/yellow oranges as well. I just really like orange oranges. 🙂

References

World’s Healthiest Foods – Oranges

Green parenthood

I currently have two posts on Shea butter (ori in Yoruba, okwume in Igbo) so I guess the fact that I like my shea butter is not a big secret. However, because I do not find Shea butter easy to spread, I whip it up with some other oils and throw in some Essential oils.

I share my method for whipping up a batch below:

I melt my shea butter using a Heat safe container submerged in boiling water. (Double boiler method). That way the Shea is gently melted and there is no loss in nutritive properties due to overheating. I add my oils to the Shea butter after it is melted.

 

I use a whisk to whip it all together. A whisk is great for this because it incorporates air into the mixture, making it nice and fluffy.

 

After whisking and cooling alternately it solidifies into a light butter.

 

I put it in this tin for good presentation - I was giving this to my former lecturer.

I used olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil (if it is going on my hair), glycerin and either lavender or lemongrass essential oil. My girl screwyhair has details on ingredients and measurements.

When you first use whipped shea butter, you may find it a bit greasy on application. Have no fear! It sinks right in really quickly.

In case you haven’t read my old posts on Shea butter, you can find some information on Shea butter in this post here and if you want to know how it is processed from the nut to the butter, go here.

I will begin with the oils. These are my emollients. I particularly like Jojoba oil (can you tell from the number of bottles I have?). I haven’t been able to use the sesame seed oil in any of my formulations as I have a hard time being able to deal with the smell.

Then I have essential oils. Some I got from Europe (hence the non-English language on the bottles) and others from Whole foods in America. I also have carrot seed oil essential oil and some others I can’t remember now.

My powders and clays. The Mehendi came from an Indian shop in Lagos. It is Henna mixed with other herbs. I used that for my daughter’s hair because I did not want my red highlights in my hair. The neutral Henna (also known as Cassia Obovata) is for me.  It leaves no color behind. The French Green clay I use to prepare a mask for my face.

The Aloe Vera below needs to be refrigerated at all times. That can be a pain given our power problems in Nigeria but I love, love, love using this. We grow Aloe Vera at home so I always have access to the actual leaf but this is quicker to use. 

I bought the Lecithin to use as an emulsifier but I have never gotten round to using it as I have other emulsifiers. It is food grade so I might find some other use for it.

These bottles I use for when I make massage oils that have essential oils in them.

And that folks, is a peep into my “raw materials/ingredients” closet.

Update: You can now buy most of these essential oils and more. Click here for more more information. 

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