Baobab

baobab fruit

CIFOR/ via flickr

 Baobab trees are very ancient (some date back to a 1000 years) and could be found in countries in South Africa, such as Malawi. The fruit is dry and powdery and can be eaten raw or used in making healthy fruit smoothies and ice cream. Baobab is a natural liver cleanser and detoxifier. it prevents heart diseases, fights inflammation, supports weight loss efforts and improves the elasticity of the skin due to its high levels of Vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants.

See simple recipe for a baobab drink here.

Shea Butter

shea butter

daveynin/ via Flickr

The word “shea” is derived from the tree’s name in Bambara language of Mali. It is also known as “Karité” in the Wolof language of Senegal and is a more popular name among francophone speakers. Shea butter is a yellow/ivory-colored natural fat derived from the nuts of the shea tree. It contains natural oils for the hair and skin similar to those produced from our sebaceous glands, and Vitamins A and E. It is used to treat acne, arthritis, sunburns, muscle fatigue and tension, eczema, stretch marks, etc. Not only is shea butter a superfood for the hair and the skin but its unrefined form is edible and has been used as cooking oil to prepare food in different parts of Africa for centuries.

Moringa Tree

moringa 1

Tatters/ via Flickr.

Moringa is a tree that grows well in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, hence its popularity in many parts of Africa. The leaves contain high levels of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and minerals. It is also an antioxidant that reduces the damage on cells by protecting them. Some of its benefits are that it works as an aphrodisiac, prevents pregnancy, reduces swelling, and increases milk production. It is also used for anaemia, diabetes, headache, bacterial infection, gum disease, snake bites, warts, etc.

You can learn to make six different moringa recipes here.

Bissap

sorell

Chrystina Gastellum/ via Flickr.

Bissap is also known by the name sorrel (or roselle, a member of the hibiscus family). Parts of the bissap flowers are dried and used to make a dark pinkish, purple tea. The tea is served cold and leaves a refreshing sensation after it has been drunk. It is drunk in most parts of Africa, especially in Senegal, where it is called its national drink. Because the bissap plant is rich in Vitamin C, minerals, and several antioxidants, it reduces the risk of cancer, improves our digestion and metabolism, and could aid in healthy, gradual weight loss.

See bissap tea recipe here.

Tamarind

t tree

Cayabo/ via Flickr.

The tamarind tree is primarily found in tropical parts of Africa like Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sudan. Its fruit is known for its sweet and sour taste and has been used for medicinal purposes to cure many ailments such as cold, fever, constipation, and stomach disorder.

An African tamarind juice recipe can be found here.

Kenkiliba

TRAVELER DIGITAL CAMERA

TRAVELER DIGITAL CAMERA/ Africanepicure.com/ Wikipedia.

Kenkiliba is a shrub that can be found growing in different parts of West Africa. It is so common amongst the people of Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia that it can be bought on the roadside. Its leaves are used to make an herbal tea that is believed to detoxify the body, reduce fatigue, and improve digestion.

Find Herbal kenkiliba tea recipe: here.

Amaranth

amaranth 2

David McSpadden/ via Flickr.

Amaranth is a grain known by several names in Africa: The Yoruba tribe call it Shoko and the Kikuyu tribe call it Terere. It is a super grain that contains a high amount of protein and calcium. It reduces inflammation, diabetes, and some other chronic diseases. Because of its high protein content, it is the perfect addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. It can be prepared the same way as other grains (rice and quinoa) or it can be crushed into flour.

Here is a dish called callaloo made of amaranth.

Teff

teff grain

Sarah Tzinieris/ via Flickr

Some people call teff the new quinoa. The super tiny grain is mainly cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea in East Africa. What separates teff from other super grains like quinoa and chia is that it is gluten-free and contains Vitamin K, which is required for healthy bones and blood clotting. The grain is also used in the production of injera, a commonly consumed flatbread in its cultivated region. Teff flour can be used to make cakes and pancakes, too.

Here is a teff banana muffin recipe worth trying.