Health benefits of cassava leaf soup? Cassava or Manihot esculenta as its botanical name, is a root vegetable used for both culinary purposes and in folk medicines especially among Africans.
Cassava is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root, which grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
Cassava originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo basin by the Portuguese around 1558.
Today, it is a dietary staple in much of tropical Africa with Nigeria included.
Cassava is an important tuber crop, alongside potatoes and yams, and one of the most important sources of carbohydrate in the developing world such as Nigeria.
The meaty flesh is often described as having a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty taste.
The root of the plant is rich in vitamin C, while the leaves contain beta-carotene, lysine, and other compounds beneficial to the skin and metabolism.
The leaves can also be eaten, as you can see in this very article. Cassava leaves are a rich source of protein, minerals, and vitamins.
They are highly fibrous, dense and grassy.
However, I know you have heard about the most popular soup or dishes here in Nigeria such as Egwusi soup, Ogbono, Ewedu and Amala, Okro soup, Ofe Akwu, Bitter leaf soup, Vegetable soup and all the rest of them.
But have you heard about cassava leaf soup? To start with, cassava leaf soup goes by several different names like Okwukwo akpu in Igboland, Ewe gbaguda among Yoruba people, and Ganyen rogo in Hausaland.
It is a simple, yet tasty and important soup that is widely consumed in many parts of Africa especially in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Nigeria, etc.
Cassava leaf soup is always served over steamed rice or plantains.
Cassava Leaf Soup Recipe Ingredients
To make this African dish/stew in Nigeria you need the following items:
- About 2500g of cassava leaf
- 2 Red onion (Chopped)
- 5 Tbsps (table spoons) of Palm oil
- 4-5 tablespoons peanut butter or groundnut pureé substitute for 150g pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or soy nuts pureé
- 2 cubes Maggie or any other one of your choice
- 1 scotch bonnet
- 200g shaki
- 1Kg chicken drumsticks
- 250g diced lean beef
- To make White Cassava Leaves soup, simply replace the Palm oil with coconut oil. This small substitution brings a whole other flavor profile to the mix.
Nutritional Information Of Cassava Leaves Soup
Nutritional Info per Serving of cassava leaves soup contains about; 480 calories, 23.7g carbohydrate, 51g of protein and 22.3g of fat.
Tips On How To Cook Cassava Leaf
The soup uses cassava leaves as a base which is the leaves of the cassava plant.
Therefore, to make the soup, first it’s best if you can get fresh young cassava leaves, because it’s better as they will cook much quicker.
Secondly, pounding or blending the cassava leaves will cook faster. It adds depth of flavor to the sauce while thickening the stew.
Lastly, younger and tender cassava leaves cook much quicker for about 30-45 minutes while older or not finely minced, might need to simmer for 60-75 minutes.
Health Benefits Of Cassava Leaf Soup
How To Prepare Cassava Leaves Soup
1.Firstly, season the chicken, beef and shaki with salt, Maggi, onions and fresh herbs in a large pot,
2.Secondly, cook until tender. Boil the chicken separately from the beef/shaki as they cook at a different pace and the stock is different.
3.Thirdly and most importantly, do not discard the stock once the beef/chicken is cooked.
4.Fourthly, heat the oil in another or the same large pot; add the chopped onions and sauté until browned and fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
NOTE: Sautéing or sauteing is a method of cooking that uses a relatively small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat.
5.After that, add in the chicken/beef/shaki along with half the stock, reduce the heat slightly, and allow simmering. Stir occasionally. (5 minutes)
6.Then, add in the peanut butter or groundnut pureé then add the remaining stock; cook for another 5 minutes.
7.Add also, the already cooked cassava leaves. Mix in thoroughly till fully integrated and continue cooking for about 5 – 10 more minutes. (Feel free to cover the pot at this stage)
8.Lastly, adjust seasonings to taste (Mixed herbs, salt, water, and oil) to taste and desired consistency.
Health Benefits Of Cassava Leaf Soup
- Cassava leaves contain lysine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, and lots of arginine which are not common in green leafy plants, thus making it a great protein source.
- The astonishing protein content of cassava leaves is also comparable to sweet potato leaves and peanut leaves.
- The protein found in cassava leaves is about 10 times more than those in the roots.
- Cassava Leaves contain a good range of minerals and vitamins (2g/100g of leaves) that surpass most legumes (except soya beans) and comparable to that of liver and eggs which is great.
- They are gluten-free and low in Calories – 100 grams of cooked cassava leaves only contain about 37 calories making it great for weight loss.
- Cassava leaves contain Vitamin C a powerful antioxidant for helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, strokes, and cancer.
- It also contains B Vitamins for good mood, vitality, and metabolism.
- Cassava leaves contain Beta Carotene which is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cancer and repairs DNA damage.
- It contains potassium for water regulation and cardiovascular health, phosphorus, and calcium for strong bones, iron and copper for anemia, zinc for a strong immune system, magnesium, and manganese for strong bones and enzyme production.
Cassava leaves are lower in calories. It provides the satiety effect. The cassava leaves assists in digestion and helps to overcome the constipation.
It also helps to relieve headaches, cold medicine, worms, rheumatism, ulcers, diarrhea and enhance stamina.
The various health benefits of cassava leaves are as follows:
- It’s good for pregnant women
- It helps to fight Kwashiorkor
- It helps in treating fever and headache
- It’s used in treating diarrhea
- It improves blurred eye view
- It increases appetite
- It helps in treating Arthritis
- Used in treating worms
- Used to prevent premature aging
- Used for treating stroke
- It increases endurance and stamina
- It helps treat rheumatic diseases
- It used to treat wounds for quick healing and it strengthens immunity.
Is Cassava Root Good For Fertility?
Cassava is known globally for its effects on fertility.
It helps growing the chance of twins, but also with fertility. Many women use the supplement to increase fertility even when they’re not trying for twins.
It has been reported that the Cassava plant contains a chemical that causes hyper-ovulation.
Hyper ovulation is the tendency to release multiple eggs during ovulation.
How Do I Make Cassava Safe To Eat?
To make cassava safe to eat first, peel and slice the cassava and then cook it thoroughly either by baking, frying, boiling or roasting.
This process reduces the cyanogenic glycosides in it to safe levels.
Are Cassava Leaves Poisonous?
Cassava roots, peels, and leaves should not be Eaten Raw because they contain cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin, and lotaustralin.
These are decomposed by linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in cassava, liberating hydrogen cyanide (HCN).
Exposure to hydrogen cyanide (HCN) can be rapidly fatal.
It has whole-body effects, particularly affecting those organ systems most sensitive to low oxygen levels: the central nervous system like brain, the cardiovascular system such as heart and blood vessels, and the pulmonary system such as lungs.
Where To Buy Cassava Leaf?
In Africa, you can easily get it in the local market / nearby farm for a big old bunch of cassava leaves to take home and pound or grind.
You can even order online.
However, for those living abroad or in diaspora, you would have to head to your African store/local ethnic market to buy already minced or pounded cassava leaf from either the fridge or the freezer section.
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