By Charl Rae Cobb
It is hot outside. The summer Olympics are about to begin in Rio. This inspired me to research what people drink in Brazil. I was delighted to find a lovely recipe for a kind of lemonade that is popular there. It is called caipirinha and is traditionally made with lemons, limes, sugar, and a shot of sugar cane spirits. I made it without the spirits (known as cachaca). I figured leaving the spirits out not only makes it more kid-friendly, but more do-able for those avoiding inflammatory foods (those of us with allergies or auto-immune conditions), and makes it more friendly to those wanting to lose weight. It was delicious and refreshing!
We will be soon trying our hand at other international recipes as the Olympic fever increases in our home. I hope to find some new and enticing treats we can look forward to including in our lunch boxes, as well as setting on the table. The question has already been raised, what do Brazilians have for breakfast? Answer: coffee. My sweet husband is satisfied with this answer. I, on the other hand, need more substance to begin my day.
Pao de quiero is a naturally gluten-free bread made from tapioca starch and cheese. (I have found a boxed mix for it on the shelf at our local Drug Emporium in the gluten-free aisle. It was easy to make.) Cuscoz is a kind of steamed cornbread. Fruits are abundant in Brazil, so are among some of the popular breakfast items. Cheeses, ham, and some amazing pastries called pastels also seem prevalent for breakfast. These might also be welcome in our lunch boxes.
Churrascaria is a type of Brazilian barbeque (my family is going to love this!). Feijoada is a stew incorporating beans, potatos, kale, cassava flour, and orange slices (really?) in a pork or beef gravy. Empadas are chicken or cheese filled pastries. Moqueca is a type of fish/rice/tomato/onion stew. Cassava flour may be purchased online (a friend is making terrific tortillas with it… great for gluten free, corn-free recipes), but I have asked a local Asian store that already carries cassava to order me some so I may support a local vendor.
Fruits and fish need to become part of the balanced diet in our home, so we may enjoy looking for and trying out a different variety of fruit each time we go to the grocery store. We enjoy adding fruit to salads, smoothies, popsicles, and stir fry. Since “sharing is caring”, this is some of what I am learning about some fruits that are native to Brazil:
Acai: a purblish-black berry; anti-oxidants, resveratrol, tannins, omega-9 and omega-6, vitamin K, B vitamins; a good source of minerals potasium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and iron.
Maracuja = also known as passion fruit, used to make juice and mousse; high in Vitamins C and A; good source of fiber, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorous
Caju = caju is the fruit (often used to make juice) and cashew nuts are the seeds (not actually nuts); high in vitamin C amd B vitamins and antioxidants
Guarana = a small red berry that is sweet and juicy, but is loaded with a hefty dose of caffeine; contains alkaloids which may help slow the release of caffeine and prolong the stimulant effects; may help suppress appetite;
Brazil nuts = actually seeds; good source of selimium, copper, magnesium, manganese; vitamin E and B vitamins; mono-unsaturated fatty acids (beneficial to heart disease patients to raise HDL and lower LDL levels of cholesterol)
Pineapple = good source of beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, copper, zinc, folate, and bromelain (used to reduce inflammation)
Goiaba = also known as guava; high in vitamins A , B, and C; high in potassium, lycopene, and fiber; moderate source of magnesium, manganese, and copper as well as vitamins E and K
Carambola = also known as star fruit; a good source of fiber and vitamins B and C; also has antioxidant flavonoids quercetin, epicatechin, and gallic acid
Abacate = a large avocado; contain about 20 vitamins and minerals, can be eaten raw; taste can be enhances with sugar or salt; great for making smoothies; can be helpful in reducing the risks of obesity/diabetes/heart disease
Here is our version of Brazilian Lemonade (which we are sipping around the table after our yard work today):
1/2 lime (or juice)
1/2 lemon (or juice)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (or honey or agave)
8 ounces water and ice
As always, if you have any suggestions, helpful hints, recipes, or comments, please forward them to our dear editor.
Best of health to you all!
This article is not meant to diagnose nor recommend treatments for allergies or illnesses. As always, check with your health care provider to be sure that you are eating foods that are beneficial to you and your family, especially when there are certain dietary needs in your family.