At some point or another in our lives, we have heard or become familiar with the saying “You never know what you have until it’s gone” or at least variations of this saying. A lot of times, this applies to even the most mundane item we own, to relationships with people and much more.
In Nigeria, this largely applies to a lot of the resources we are blessed with; Agriculture, Climate and even Human resource. The sad reality is that in most cases it takes foreigners to discover or harness the value of these before we have a wakeup call.
The aim of this series is to shine a light on some very useful but hidden gems beneficial to our everyday living and ensure these are fully maximised and celebrated adequately.
Fonio, popularly known in Northern Nigeria asAcha these are the namesfor two cultivated grasses in the genus Digitaria that are notable crops in parts of West Africa. These cultivated crops are millets with small grains which have loads of nutritional benefit for various categories of people.
These small grains are grown in some parts of West African,Nigeria inclusive where it is specifically Cultivated in the Northern Part (Jos,Kaduna Bauchi etc). It is majorly consumed in these parts where it is grown but also gradually gaining recognition in other parts of the country &the International Markets and it has been said that it is slowly taking overin the world of grains due to its uniqueness, versatility & most importantly its high nutritional values.
The grain which is gradually making a rise was recently featured in an article with the Queen of England stating how much love she has for it and how beneficial it is to the diet of any healthy individual. It is becoming more popular than quinoa and couscous which are some of the most common super foods known worldwide.
Fun Fact: It’s also known as “Hungry rice” and sometimes referred to as the “King of all Grains” as its served to royals in some parts of Africa and grows with little or no effort as it survives the harshest weather conditions.
Some Benefits of Fonio are as follows:
1 .Controls Blood Sugar
Fonio is very high in fibre and contains very minimal carbohydrate, ittherefore can be said to have a low glycaemic index. This means that when consumed, unlike most grains high in carbohydrate it doesn’t cause a hike in the sugar level in the body, making it a great meal choice for diabetics.
- Great for Pregnant Women & Kids.
Fonio has also been stated as an important source of Folic acid which isan integral vitamin needed for brain development in the body, ultimately making it a great cereal option for children. This is by far a healthier cereal to the popular breakfast cereal options which might not be as healthy in the long run. Fonio as a cereal can be made more fun& exciting with the infusion of fruits slices like banana, mangoes strawberries etc. Fonio Flour could also be used to make pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, bread as well as other exciting and healthy variants.
- Helps with Skin, Nail & Hair Care:
Its composition of methionine and cysteine which are both known to aid the body in maintenance of Skin, Nail and Hair care is also a plus to consuming this versatile grain. Cysteine aids the healing of wounds and has also been said to have detoxification properties, while methionine has anti- ageing effects on the skin, helps avoid hair loss and strengthens nails. Talk about eating your way to a glow! J
- Helps with Digestion
Once again its richness in high fibre makes it a great cereal to ensure the prevention of constipation and that very annoying unease and heaviness that comes with it, consuming even a little portion of this cereal helps with ease of digestion anytime of the day.
- Weight management
Most individuals on a weight loss plan tend to automatically stop eating foods with carbs (carbohydrate) and switch to fruits and vegetables. For some this can be quite difficult as foods rich in carbs are a great source of energy and when absent can result in a light headed, faint or dizzy feeling. However, because Fonio contains high fibre and a lower level of carbohydrate it helps solve that issue, as consuming a small portionensures a person is left fully energized with the presence of very little carbohydrate in the system.
Swallow Made from Acha Flour(Tuwon Acha)
The above listed, are just a few of the wonderful benefits gotten from the intake of this grain and so many others can be found in variousresearches and articles gradually coming up. The growing interest in this crop shows that in little or no time the demand in International markets will be very high and despite the promising future of this grain over 80% of Nigerians are oblivious to the gem we have at our backyards. This emphasizes the need to intentionally look, be aware, educate and maximize the benefits of this as well as many other gems we come across in our daily lives(Much of which we will be talking about subsequently, so watch out ! J).
Recipe& Picture of Fonio Pancakes& Jollof Fonio By Nigerian Food Blogger Afrolems. Ingredients
1 cup of Fonio
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
Half a cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of honey
A handful of chocolate pieces (1 tablespoon of chocolate shavings)
1 tablespoon of Zobo Syrup
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
Break the eggs over the mix, add the vanilla essence, honey and milk and stir in till all ingredients are combined.
In a pan, add a few tablespoons of oil and heat up.
Gently pour the Fonio mix into the pan and cook on low heat as it may burn quickly if you don’t. I used a non-stick pan so this was responsible for the outcome of my pancake. Be sure to use one as well.
Flip over the pancake and serve warm with the zobo syrup and chocolate shavings.
Picture below of Jollof Fonio.
Article written by Mshelia Maria Maya
For inquiries & more details regarding fun& exciting ways of exploring this versatile grain send an email to Healthyconvenient.firstname.lastname@example.org.