This year I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity through Peace Corps to work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as their Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator in Kedougou, Senegal. I am currently helping them monitor their nutrition program, known as PRN. CRS works in many villages in the region of Kedougou to identify malnourished children and pregnant/nursing mothers. Then we follow-up with them by recommending they visit their closest health structure, teaching them how to make nutritious foods from local materials, tracking their progress, and enrolling them in our program to hand out USAID food if this is available in their village.
Recently, I went to a seminar on how to make nutritional porridge and it gave me a whole new meaning to the idea of cooking from scratch. The porridge is fairly simple, and you could probably whip this up in under half an hour. Basically you combine bean (black-eyed pea) flour, peanut flour, rice flour, and sorghum or millet flour. Then you add sugar until it tastes okay and you have your porridge mix. Next you take a small amount and add hot water until it is the desired consistency. To me this kind of tastes like a cross between porridge and baby food, which I guess it is? Still, it is super nutritious so feel free to eat it or feed it to your loved ones.
It could be a great weaning food. Also, it makes good portable camping food! True, it doesn’t taste amazing, but it tastes good enough and don’t we all need some more hearty easy vegan camping food?
I think you can buy all of these flours at a natural foods store although you might need to make your own black eyed pea flour. I haven’t done this yet, but I think if you roasted the dry black eyed peas for about 20 minutes you could grind them up in a spice grinder or food processor and it would work just fine (check out this post on making mung bean flour). Unless you have a grain mill, and then can we be friends please?
Not having those resources, here is how we made the porridge:
First, we took the peanuts that had already been harvested from the fields and de-shelled and we picked through these to get out rocks, dirt, and missed bits of shell:
Next, we roasted the peanuts a bit over an open fire:
Then, we took off the peanut skin and pounded it into flour:
Now we could move on to preparing the sorghum flour. First the sorghum needed to be pounded down:
After pounding, we shook the husk and dirt out of the sorghum and then washed it:
Finally we picked out the rocks and then roasted the black eyed peas (we bought these at a store so it was a short cut). After roasting, these were also pounded down into flour. All that was left was to wash and pound the rice (also bought at a store). Then, after a short seminar on the different health benefits and recap of how things were made, we mixed all of these flours in equal proportions and added a good amount of sugar (enough so that it tastes sweet). This flour was bagged up and given to the women; they say it will last fifteen days without refrigeration. Malnourished children and women are recommended to eat four servings of this porridge a day. One serving was defined as one cup of tea (which is about half a cup) of dry flour mixed with hot water until desired consistency is reached. All in all it was a great seminar, and at the end of a long but enjoyable day we walked home:
Oh yeah, did I mention that this village is on top of a mountain and has absolutely spectacular views? I love my job.