Hello! I am Maryam Al-Mansur. Many thanks for visiting my blog. I am a wife, mother, medical doctor and public health specialist with special interest in nutrition. I like to promote healthy nutrition and good health. I also love to cook healthy food. My love for cooking, nutrition and health education inspired me to create Arewa Cafeteria.
I am passionate to write about healthy nutrition and to promote the benefits we get from eating healthy food. I am glad I can use Arewa Cafeteria to reach out to many readers in Nigeria and beyond. It is a privilege to educate people and share my views (and those of others), on issues about nutrition and public health.
It is a fact that poor or inadequate, under or over nutrition has a big role to play as risk factor or cause of many diseases. Many diseases can be prevented or delayed from progressing, with proper, adequate nutrition.
Nutrition problems have become a global concern. Many countries are having challenges with malnutrition, one way or the other. While the west is battling with over-nutrition and associated health problems (e.g. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc.), developing countries including Nigeria, are witnessing a dual burden of malnutrition (both under and over-nutrition).
Firstly, we have food crisis and insecurity, largely among internally displaced persons, following humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria and from poor households in Nigeria.
Secondly, we have the rising population of middle class, especially in urban areas, who indulge in unhealthy eating habits. This population tending towards over-weight and obesity and has increased burden of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes among the population.
In my years of practice as a doctor and as a public health specialist, I have seen this fact. From treating severe acute malnutrition in children, to counseling diabetic and hypertensive patients on weight loss, to treating severely malnourished HIV positive patients, I know that nutrition education is important to the public.
In the fast-paced world we live in today, we hardly pay attention to what we eat. We are too busy to know or to care. Or better still, “we can’t help it”. Our schedules are tight and we don’t have time to cook our own meals. Fast foods are available, with good bargains, everywhere. They give us irresistible offers we can’t ignore- 2 for the price of 1, super-size packs, combos etc. It is really tough to eat healthy today.
Information about healthy eating, nutrition and home-cooking is everywhere, online and off-line. Again, many people are getting more comfortable cooking their own meals. However, like every other thing in life, the decision to do the right thing is up to you. If you want to do something, you find a way. If you don’t want to do it, you find an excuse. The decision to eat the right food, the right way, is yours. You can only be empowered with knowledge, inspiration and courage to act.
I tell you, cooking your own food is the best way to have control over what goes into your body. You decide which food, how much and how best to cook it. Cooking your food is enjoyable and self-fulfilling.
Cooking skills, like many other creative skills could be learned. One gets better at it with time and with practice. Trust me, you don’t have to certify as a professional chef to cook good food; I am not one after all. However, learning some basic cooking skills and knowing a little about human nutrition really helps you be a great cook and to have memorable eating experience. I have found that the more I cook, the better I get at it and the better I understand and appreciate healthy food.
Over the years I have become fond of cooking. I like to experiment with variety of ingredients to create new recipes. I feel happy when I transform a known, popular recipe into a healthier, more nutritious form.
The kitchen is my creativity haven. I enjoy the back-and-forth and the “aroma war” that happens in the kitchen. I see the kitchen as a “theatre”, where different activities take place…in drama scenes.
I develop all the recipes (except where otherwise stated). The recipes are what I eat, normally. They are simple, easy to prepare and low-cost. I create recipes from ingredients that are in season and available in local markets in northern Nigeria (because I live in the north). That way, I get to cook with fresh ingredients in season, especially fruits and vegetables. I grew up in Jos (a city known for growing different fruits and vegetables in Nigeria), so getting fresh fruits and vegetables is no hassle for me.
I love Nigerian food. But I explore food from other cultures within and outside Nigeria. Sometimes I blend local and continental ingredients, cooking techniques or recipes. The recipes turn out so delicious. I call it “lo-continental”! From developing a recipe, to cooking and eating the meal (I love the eating part!), the experience is simply awesome.
The recipes and health tips I post on the blog will inspire you to cook meals yourself. I hope to inspire you to know more about good nutrition, cook healthy meals and have better health.
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