Callaloo: The Underrated Super Food

Callaloo or aramanth, is recommended for iron deficiency anemia the most common nutritional deficiency in approximately 20% of women of African descent. Of course growing up in the Caribbean we have always known that callaloo is pretty awesome, it’s part of Trinidad and Tobago’s national dish after all, and a constant staple at breakfast in every Jamaican household.

Callaloo is a green leafy vegetable nicknamed the Caribbean spinach. This super food changes nutrient value based on the method of preparation and it is proven that cooked callaloo provides the most nutrients. This is because when cooked it shrinks by approximately half, so to get half-cup of cooked callaloo, one cup of raw callaloo should be used. Half-cup cooked callaloo provides:

  • 45 kilocalories
  • 3.45 milligrams of iron
  • 537 milligrams of potassium
  • 301 milligrams of calcium
  • 6.5 milligrams of fibre
  • 242 milligrams of sodium
  • 3.6 grams of protein

Now callaloo is not just for breakfast and can be a part of every meal including snack time. Callaloo juice is now also a delicious snack, on its own or as an ingredient of the trendy green juice. There is also nutritious callaloo rice at dinner time, callaloo and cheddar quiche for brunch and yummy Pepperpot soup at lunch. Now with every Caribbean supermarket boasting prepackaged shredded callaloo, it’s easier than ever to gain all its nutrients.

Let’s start with the basics of cooking callaloo and the easiest way to do this is by steaming the vegetable. Callaloo can also be flavoured with other meats, some of the most popular in Jamaican cuisine being corned pork, bacon and of course saltfish (codfish).

callalooandsaltfish

Steamed Callaloo and Saltfish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb/bundle callaloo or 1 regular package of callaloo
  • 1/2 lb saltfish (codfish), flaked
  • 1/2 lb carrot chopped (optional)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 crushed garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon margarine or vegetable oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper seeds removed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 sprig escallion chopped
  • Black pepper and Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

De-salt saltfish by soaking it in regular cold tap water for 12 – 24 hours. Alternatively, you can boil it for 20 minutes, rinse with tap water and boil again for another 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to taste the fish at any time throughout either process, to ensure that it has been desalted. You may also find already de-salted and flaked codfish in your supermarket.

If using whole callaloo leaves, wash then cut up leaves into pieces. Sauté de-salted and flaked saltfish, onion, carrot, garlic, and thyme in margarine or oil.

Add cut up callaloo leaves or package of callaloo, water and stir. Add whole scotch bonnet pepper and sprinkle with black pepper and salt. Cover saucepan and let simmer until callalloo is tender. Serve with boiled banana, boiled yam, and boiled or fried dumplings.

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