Its Amazing Health Benefits and Two Simple Recipes
Photo: Jamaican Callaloo (healthiersteps.com)
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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
What do you think of when you hear the word Callaloo? It all depends on where you’re from. There is a little confusion as to what Callaloo is because there are two different dishes with the same name. But don’t worry, by the end of this, you’ll know how to differentiate between the two delicious dishes! I’ll even share some amazing methods to prepare Callaloo the Jamaican way! But first, what is Callaloo?
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I think Jamaican Callaloo is one of the most popular vegetables and breakfast options in Jamaica. It is often mistaken for other vegetables or dishes so I am here to (hopefully) clear up all the confusion.
What Is Jamaican Callaloo?
In Jamaica, callaloo is a dark-green leafy plant that is grown year-round on the island. This plant comes from the Amaranthus family and is used to prepare a very popular dish of the same name or paired with other ingredients, typically saltfish for a breakfast meal.
What you think of when you hear callaloo depends on which Caribbean island you are associated with. For example, Jamaican and Trinidadian Callaloo are both very different. In Trinidad, Callaloo is made from Dasheen leaves and is prepared completely different from the Jamaican method. Their dish “Bhaagi” is made from the same plant as Jamaican Callaloo.
Health Benefits Of Jamaican Callaloo?
Callaloo is just as nutritious as other types of green vegetables. One nutritional benefit that is known in Jamaica is that it has high iron and fibre content. Usually, for persons who suffer from anaemia, and pregnant moms, doctors usually recommend that Callaloo be included in your diet regularly.
But that is not all, Jamaican Callaloo is high in:
- Vitamins A, B, C and K
- Amino Acids
What Diseases Does Callaloo Fight Against?
As you can imagine, all these nutritional benefits must help our bodies to fight against some illnesses. It helps with:
- Digestive Health
- Cognitive Health
- Cancer Prevention (especially when made into a green juice or smoothie)
- Heart Disease Prevention
- Hair Retention and
- Skin Diseases
Does Callaloo Increase High Blood Pressure?
This is a very common misconception but no. Callaloo on its own does not increase the risk of becoming hypertensive, the methods and ingredients you use while making the dish can contribute to high blood pressure. It is prepared with margarine/cooking oil and is often paired with salted meats so just be mindful of this fact and use less of or substitute these ingredients where necessary.
Is Callaloo The Same As Collard Greens and Spinach?
No, it isn’t, though they are often used as substitutes for each other where one cannot be found. Since Callaloo is available year-round in Jamaica, there is hardly ever a need to substitute it here. Callaloo is similar to Spinach but Callaloo has a more pronounced, deeper flavour.
How Is Callaloo Prepared In Jamaica?
The most popular way to prepare Jamaican Callaloo is by seasoning it with tomatoes, onions and scotch bonnet peppers with margarine or cooking oil and adding either other vegetables for example carrots or saltfish (salted codfish) or salted mackerel.
This usually accompanies fried breadfruit, dumplings or plantains or cooked ground provisions; yams, dasheens, boiled dumplings and sweet potatoes at breakfast. If we are in a rush we will have it on the go with bread, however, that isn’t the preferred meal.
I know just hearing about that meal has you are just itching to recreate it so I’ll share the recipe with you!
First, you will have to prepare your callaloo for cooking. Remove dead leaves, debris, and any hard stalks. You can fill a pot with cold water, add salt and leave the stalks to soak for 10 minutes to help in the process.
Take the Callaloo from the water and rinse the stalks thoroughly. Strip the outer thin layer of the callaloo stems and finely cut the leaves and stem of the callaloo.
From here you can either set it aside until you are ready to cook or place it in a bag or container with airholes and store it in the fridge for later.
- 2 cups callaloo
- 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 small onion
- ½ scotch bonnet pepper
- margarine/cooking oil
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 2 carrots
- cooked saltfish
- Place a saucepan on medium low heat and add margarine or cooking oil
- Add your seasonings (sliced onions, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper) and the optional saltfish and stir.
- Add your callaloo and toss it around to combine with the other ingredients in the pot. Add salt and cover for 1½ minutes. Your callaloo will begin to shrink as it loses water because of the heat being applied to the leaves or as we Jamaicans say “it a spring water”.
- Remove the lid and add tomatoes (I usually remove the seeds) and thinly sliced carrots stir again and cover for another two to three minutes. At this stage you must watch it carefully as Callaloo tends to overcook rather quickly.
- Remove from the stove and your dish is ready to be had with a side of fried plantains, breadfruit and dumplings.
- If you would love to make your dish a little healthier, substitute the margarine for 2-3 tablespoons of water. Be careful not to add too much though, remember “Callaloo spring water” and you don't want your vegetables to be soggy.
Other Callaloo Dishes:
- Callaloo Rice
- Cream of Callaloo Soup
- Callaloo Juice/Smoothie
- Callaloo Patty
- Callaloo Stuffed Fish or Chicken Breast
Here's another recipe! Our friend Pricilla, who is an ardent reader of our website, shared the recipe for her Jamerica Callaloo Meat Quiche Recipe and I think I just have to share it!
Callaloo Meat Quiche Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 9 or 10-inch pie crust
- 1½ cups of cooked Callaloo
- ½ cup of chopped cooked chicken, Sausage or Turkey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp of self-rising flour
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of Mozzarella cheese
- ½ of red sweet pepper
- 1 small onion
- 3 tsp or to taste of Greek seasoning
- 1tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic
The procedure is pretty simple!
- Bake the pie crust until brown.
- While the crust is baking, mix cooked callaloo, chopped onion, bell pepper, add Greek seasoning and stir.
- Add just a half of your meat of choice to your mixture and combine it as well.
- Remove your browned crust from the oven and sprinkle cheddar cheese over it.
- Put your blended mixture into the pie crust and the remaining meat to the top evenly.
- Add the rest of your cheese as well.
- Beat both eggs and flour until fully incorporated. Pour the batter over the quiche and finally bake at 350F or 170C until brown.
Now, I think you know what Jamaican Callaloo is. Not only that, but you now have two new delicious dishes to try! Enjoy!
Other Pages Related To Jamaican Callaloo
You will also find these pages quite helpful as well:
Return to Jamaican Food from Jamaican Callaloo
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Jamaican Callaloo
References & Sources For Jamaican Callaloo
- Jamerica Callaloo Meat Quiche Recipe, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamerica-callaloo-meat-quiche-recipe.html
- Callaloo: Health Benefits, Nutrients, Preparation, and More, https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-callaloo
- Callaloo - Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callaloo#:~:text=Jamaicans%2C%20Belizeans%2C%20St.,(%22callaloo%20juice%22) .
- Callaloo (Amaranth) – Truelove Seeds, https://trueloveseeds.com/products/callaloo-amaranth
- Jamaican Callaloo - Healthier Steps, https://healthiersteps.com/recipe/jamaican-callaloo/
- Callaloo: more than just iron | Health | Jamaica Gleaner, https://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131113/health/health1.html
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