Foods: nutritious and fascinating
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Pulses come in all shapes, sizes and colours – so there’s something for everyone (FAO/Pedro Costa Gomes)
Pulses come in all shapes, sizes and colours – so there’s something for everyone (FAO/Pedro Costa Gomes)

MEAL after meal, day after day. It’s easy to get into routines with food and forget about the variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods that exist, with all the different nutritional benefits that they offer.

If that sounds familiar, then FAO is here to help. Drawing on our experiences from around the world, we’ve consulted with local cooks, chefs and families to put together some fascinating and useful cookbooks. They’re designed to not only celebrate local cuisine, but to recognise the nutritious value of traditional meals eaten around the globe. Poor diets and disease are some of the top causes of undernutrition, so promoting sustainable, healthy recipes is key to helping households make informed food choices.

So, if you’re interested in trying some new, nutritious dishes, here are five FAO cookbooks that are bound to inspire you.

A TASTE OF KENYA
Kenyan Food Recipes takes you on a tour of the country’s best dishes, taking into account the diverse lifestyles, cultures and food traditions of its various communities. Households in Kenya don’t often use defined and measurable recipes, which can lead to incorrect nutrient intake and makes it much harder to estimate the nutrition of the population as a whole. This is why the FAO has produced a cookbook to document common recipes, detailing ingredients, preparation methods and portion size: to disseminate this local knowledge and enhance community nutrition. With a total of 142 mixed recipes from Uji wa Muhogo, a cassava porridge, to Inghokho, a stewed chicken dish, there’s something for everyone. Why not give it a go!

LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN FLAVOURS
Filled to the brim with recipes that pack a punch, Health, Knowledge and Flavours features a selection of recipes from different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Traditionally prepared by women, the dishes featured in this cookbook reflect their incredible knowledge of local food and its nutritional value. The cookbook also serves to recognise the women’s contribution to and impact on household nutrition.
Now you can learn from their expertise ; the book covers traditional recipes from El Salvador to Saint Lucia, Paraguay to Peru, with sweet treats such as carob and banana cake or main dishes such as trout with a cream made from the tarwi bean.

RECIPES FROM THE MOUNTAINS
Mountains are homes to a variety of food — from potatoes to quinoa to mushrooms – often produced on steep slopes in harsh climates. In Mountain recipes: Cooks in high places, we feature the top 30 recipes from the International Mountain Day 2019 contest, organised by the FAO and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat to help promote mountain products and their nutritious value. Over 70 entries were received from 27 countries. The winner was Ashmita Lama, whose recipe for Kwati, a classic Nepalese mountain dish that is eaten during the celebrations, is featured in this book. This traditional dish is made of Jumla beans, an indigenous food linked to the culture and religion of the Sinja Valley from which Ashmita hails. Jumla beans carry the Mountain Partnership Products label, which tells the story of the product and producer and works to boost the income of farmers in remote mountain regions.

FEAST ON PULSES
From lentils to chickpeas, borlotti beans to black-eyed peas, pulses are many, varied and very nutritious! The Pulses: nutritious seeds for a sustainable future recipe book has more than 30 recipes prepared by some of the most prestigious chefs in the world. The book begins by explaining why pulses are such an important food: they are packed with protein, fibre and micronutrients, have a low carbon footprint and are generally low-cost and accessible. It explains step by step how to cook them, what to keep in mind and what condiments and instruments to use. Lastly, the book takes the reader on a journey around the world, showing how pulses fit into a region’s history and culture, visiting 10 internationally acclaimed chefs as they go the market to buy pulses. Each chef prepares easy dishes and shares their best- kept secrets – why not cook along with them!

QUINOA TREATS
Quinoa fritters? Quinoa and apple pudding? Even a quinoa drink! Who knew there were so many things you can make with this simple grain.
The International Cookbook for Quinoa combines many recipes, traditional and innovative, to offer more than 60 different dishes. Quinoa is key to providing nutrition for many families across the world – it’s full of protein and amino acids, great for people who follow a largely vegan or vegetarian diet. They are also an excellent source of iron and antioxidants. When grown, pulses are also versatile – they thrive in a variety of areas and can withstand both very high and very low temperatures.

FAO is passionate about improving food security and nutrition for communities around the world. Our cookbooks celebrate the diversity of food, draw attention to their nutritional value and the cultural significance behind them.  So next time you’re looking for some cooking inspiration, you know where to come! (FAO)

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