For my 21st birthday, two,of my oldest friends gave me a tagine. I cannot even stress enough, how much this tagine means to me. If you don’t know what tagine is, I am glad to introduce you because ,like it has to become to me, it will surely be your favourite object. Think of a tagine, like a slow cooker. You do all the work in the beginning and then you leave it to do it’s magic and you come back to a warming pot of food.
Today I combined my love of Morocco, a tagine and chickpeas to make a pasta that is entirely warming and refreshing at the same time. Although the tagine is the money maker, the chickpea reigns Queen with both actual chickpeas and Happy Earth People’s chickpea pasta.
Chickpea being the star is also fitting for the month of February , heart month (not to be mistaken for Valentine’s Day). Chickpeas are little golden nuggets packed with all the nutrients and fibre you never knew you needed.I’m not going to speak too much about chickpeas because I did talk about them in another post but I will link it here so you can here why they’re so important in our diets. I will however say that chick peas are amazing at lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) by at least 17% which may seem small but is incredible when you look at how small these legumes are.
For heart month, I decided to look at cardiovascular disease as it is the second highest cause of death ,following HIV/AIDs in South Africa. Its prevalence is awfully high for something that can be prevented. In saying this, I do realise that we live in a country with a lot of food scarcity and lack of food security and unfortunately it is unattainable for the majority of South Africans to buy food that is beneficial to their health. However, where we can make a difference is what we do with our bodies and how we eat the foods we are able to afford.
When I was in second year, we learnt about motivational interviewing which aims to help a patient become aware of their condition and see what factors in their life are contributing to it and how they can manage it. These are called modifiable risks factors i.e. these are the things that are putting us at risk but we can change them. There are unfortunately unmodifiable risk like family history, genetics and pollution that we are unable to change. But rather some move to change then nothing. I’ve included in this picture ,from the Public Health England, to depict what we can change to better our hearts.
So as we can see, the modifiable risk factors are on the left. We can change them by:
Smoking: although we think of smoking as the major lung affector, it can affect all our body’s organs. Smoking can cause your arteries to narrow, raise fat in our blood and affect our good cholesterol (HDL)
- High cholesterol: there are many types of cholesterol, some are good but other are bad. The good cholesterol ,HDL, is amazing at helping our body moving fat molecules outside our cells and into our livers where it is used as an energy source. Bad cholesterol (LDL), however normal to have, when increased, resulting in thickening and narrowing of our blood vessels which makes our hearts have to work harder.
- High blood pressure: your heart is just working so hard to get blood around your body that it is inevitable that it will become tired.
- Poor diet: a diet high in salt, bad cholesterol and low in nutrients and minerals that we need is not helping our bodies in any way.
- Harmful drinking: drinking causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase. This is fine when it isn’t constant ,however, when there is excessive drinking, there is a sustained increase in blood pressure and heart rate which eventually leads to the heart becoming exhausted.
- Physical inactivity: just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise a day has the ability to improve the health of you heart and blood vessels to their functional best.
Before getting swept away, here is the recipe. I used a tagine for this recipe but you can easily just use a pot. Let me know what you think!
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 heaped tablespoon of Harissa paste (although you can leave it out)
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
- 3 baby marrows chopped
- 1 sweet potato cubed
- 1 box of Happy Earth People chickpea pasta
- Heat some oil in you tagine (or pot if you’re using one) and add the onions and cook them until they smell sweet and are see-through but not browned
- Add the garlic in and cook it for about a minute or two .
- Add the spices and the Harissa and cook until the spices are warmed
- Add the sweet potatoes and baby marrow and mix it until they are all covered in the base .
- Add the tinned tomatoes and one tin of water
- Bring everything to a boil and turn it down to the lowest heat, place the lid on the tagine and leave it to cook
- If you are using a pot, bring it to a boil, lower the heat and place the lid on. A pot will cook much quicker than the tagine.
- When the sweet potatoes start to soften, take the lid off the pot and leave it to become thicker.
- When the sweet potatoes are nearly completely cooked, add the chickpeas and give it a stir .
- In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta and cook according to the packaging.
- When the pasta is complete, add it to the tagine/pot and stir through some fresh coriander.