My recipes are created and tested in my institute kitchens both
in the U.S. and our new teaching/health sciences/research
facility high in the Andes of Ecuador, S.A. Our commitment to
you continues to bring you the best natural health recipes while
insuring they are packed with nutrition AND the ability to assist
overall detoxification—the essence of Wholistic Rejuvenation.
This new series provides not only healthy recipes but also the health benefits of each ingredient.
Dr. Gloria's New “Potatoes”—AND—They're NOT a Nightshade!
Spending time in Ecuador I've come to appreciate SO much
that we in the U.S. take for granted. One specific food I miss is
white sweet potatoes because they are not grown here, YET, but
rather they grow several varieties of sweet potatoes that in the
U.S. we often refer to as yams.
I have a new favorite I've discovered that taste to me just
like sautéed hash browns (cubed or shredded) and they're
delicious, healthy, and so satisfying...especially when we're
avoiding the genre of nightshade foods that we know ignite
The following is a real treat and you can find green plantains
in the U.S. as they are being discovered by Americans who have
traveled to South America and other cultures where they are a
Majado Verde (mashed green plantains)
The basics of this dish are green plantains cut in small cubes or
shredded like hash brown potatoes. It includes onions, garlic,
rosemary and thyme and can be topped with delicious additions
listed below or your choice of herbs:
- 3–green plantains, peeled and cut in rounds or shredded (each plantain can be cut into 3–4 pieces)
- 1–2 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. finely chopped/crushed thyme
- 1/4 tsp. finely chopped/crushed rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel* and boil the plantains for 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy.
- Mash the plantains using a fork or potato masher— the consistency should have some small chunks, if it's too
- smooth it will stick together.
- Sauté the diced onion, crushed garlic, salt and pepper on medium, to medium high heat. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7–10 minutes.
- Add the mashed plantains, rosemary and thyme to the sauté mixture and cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and add additional salt/pepper to your liking.
- Serve immediately with any of the following as we do in Ecuador:
- With a fried egg
- Slices of fresh cheese (in Ecuador we use Queso Fresco a semi-soft cheese, use whatever suits you)
- Avocado slices
- Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro on top just before serving
NOTE: This recipe is a substitute for potatoes and is used
as a side-dish. That said, I often make it a main course with
everything I've mentioned piled on top, delicioso! I also often
add a scrambled egg into the plantain mixture after I mash them
as described in step four, rather than to serve with a separate
fried egg. If you decide to add more greens, some finely chopped
spinach can be added while sautéing the mixture in step four.
* When you get your plantain home, the first steps in preparing
them are as follows:
- Wash plantains
- Use a paring knife to cut off both the stem and tip
- Slice into the skin of the plantain lengthwise at the ridges (be careful not to cut too deep)
- Remove strips of skin using the knife, like peeling a carrot
- Slice off any remaining peel attached to the pulp
- From there you can dice, chop, shred or use the plantain whole
Green Plantains—known as the brain-boosting and immune-building fruit
The first lesson in using plantains is to NOT confuse them with
bananas, albeit they are close relatives. Both varieties have
proven in studies to offer the above-mentioned health benefits
in addition to help regulate the digestive processes and are a
dense potassium-rich food. Countries like Africa, Ecuador, Peru
and Colombia grow and use plantains because of their delicious
flavor and for their jam-packed health benefits. Plantains are
starchier, yet contain less sugar than bananas, and are much
more versatile for cooking. In Ecuador, high in the Andes
mountains (8,000 ft.) where my research is based, specifically,
the growing season for plantains is year-around because of its
eternal spring climate that averages 72 degrees. Plantain is a
great nutrient-rich fruit that provides an abundance of vitamins
and minerals and is an excellent substitute for rice or potatoes.
Nutritional Facts…One cup of raw plantain contains:
- 181 calories
- 47 grams carbohydrates
- 1.9 grams protein
- 0.5 grams fat
- 3.4 grams fiber
- 27.2 milligrams vitamin C (45 percent DV)
- 1,668 IU vitamin A (33 percent)
- 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (22 percent)
- 739 milligrams potassium (21 percent)
- 55 milligrams magnesium (14 percent)
- 0.9 milligrams iron (5 percent)
Health Benefits of Plantains
Plantains are a solid source of carbohydrates with a low-fat
content, but they also provide several other health benefits as
well. Plus, they don't contain any significant levels of toxins.
There are 913 milligrams of potassium in one cup of cooked,
mashed plantains. That accounts for about 20 percent of
your recommended daily amount of potassium, making
plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods on the planet.
Potassium is the third-most abundant mineral in the body,
but when depleted, low potassium can affect the function of
numerous organs and processes.
Potassium is an electrolyte and is therefore affected
greatly by the amount of sodium in the body. It plays a major
role in regulating blood pressure because it combats the
effects of sodium. Many Western diets include too much
sodium, which means we could all use more sources of
potassium. Snacking on plantains or adding them as a side
dish are delicious ways to reach your daily potassium goals
and help naturally remedy high blood pressure.
Potassium levels also affect skeletal and smooth muscle
contraction, which allows for regular digestive and muscular
function. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, and studies
show that people who consume diets with high potassium
levels tend to be at a lower risk of stroke, osteoporosis and
Help Regulate the Digestive System
Fiber has a profound effect on the digestive system and plays
a significant role in keeping it regular. One cup of plantains
provides almost a fifth of the fiber recommended daily, which
is roughly 25–30 grams. As a high-fiber food, plantains add
bulk to food intake–aiding digestion.
According to research from the University of Kentucky's
Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences
Program, consuming plantains is a great way to relieve
constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and
digestive conditions like diverticulitis.
Fiber also makes you feel full, which can help with weight
control. Thus, increasing intake of dietary fiber can also help
enhance weight loss in obese individuals. Soluble fiber is also
known to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which
prevents heart disease as well as help stabilize blood sugar.
Reduce the Number of Harmful Free Radicals
Free radicals, which are made when your body breaks down
food or when you are exposed to other harmful elements like
tobacco smoke or radiation, play a part in aging, diseases
and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radical
A serving of plantains can provide over 35 percent of the
vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin
C foods around. The body can't store vitamin C (excess is
released in urine) or produce it independently; so getting the
daily recommended amount is very important.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful vitamins, as it has
a hand in growing and repairing tissues all over the body. It's
involved in forming a protein used in making skin, tendons,
ligaments and blood vessels, as well as maintaining cartilage,
bones and teeth.
Boost the Immune System
Looking to boost your immune system? Then plantains
are the perfect snack. They pack 36 percent of your daily
recommended amount of vitamin A. As another powerful
antioxidant, vitamin A provides several benefits to the body.
Along with vitamin C, it helps control your immune response,
which keeps illness at bay, and several important immune system responses rely on vitamin A to perform correctly.
Vitamin A also plays a large part in skin health and cell
growth, and a necessary element for wound healing. Cells
that overreact to certain foods are the root of food allergies
and ultimately cause inflammation. Vitamin A's antioxidant
properties can neutralize free radicals and help prevent
inflammation caused by overreacting cells. It also helps with
eye health and vision, especially in low light.
Promote Healthy Brain Function
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important
neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to
another. A serving of plantains can provide up to 24 percent of
your daily amount needed of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 benefits healthy brain function and,
according to research published in the Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews, helps make hormones like serotonin and
norepinephrine, which keep moods stable, and melatonin,
which regulates the body's biological clock.
Homocysteine levels (an amino acid linked to heart disease
and nervous system damage) are also controlled by vitamin
B6. The vitamin keeps levels low to help prevent damage and
maintain the health of blood vessels.
This vitamin in plantains is one of the eight B vitamins
that aid in processing food into energy and metabolizing fats.
Like vitamin A, B6 also helps slow the onset of eye diseases like
macular degeneration¡Xit works with B12 to produce red blood
cells and cells in the immune system. Boosted levels of vitamin
B6 are also linked to prevention or decrease of rheumatoid
Abundant Source of Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is a very common problem thanks to
Western diets and depleted soil due to over farming. Plantains
offer about 16 percent of your daily need for magnesium, which
is especially important because magnesium affects over 300
biochemical reactions in the body.
From helping to regulate blood pressure to preventing
osteoporosis, there are many ways magnesium keeps the body
healthy. Magnesium directly affects calcium absorption, which
can avert or reverse osteoporosis. It also lowers the risk of
getting type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels via
carbohydrate metabolism and insulin regulation. Magnesium
has also long been used to help with migraine headaches,
insomnia and depression.
Avoids Aspirin-Induced Ulcers
In a study published in the International Journal of Research in
Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, dried plantain powder
showed a significant ulcer-healing effect on an aspirin-induced
gastric ulcer. Individuals who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drug therapy for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and
chronic pain are at high risk for developing ulcers in the membrane
layer of the stomach. According to the study, dried plantain can
stimulate the growth of the inner lining of the stomach.
The Way I See It...
I was introduced to this delicious dish by Efrys, my local
neighborhood diner in Cotacachi, Ecuador in my neighborhood
of La Pradera. It's a family-run business with mother Zoila as
cook, sisters Carolina and Karina attending and visiting cook,
Jovan, who makes the most mouth-watering salsa that I put
on everything—yes, his salsa is nightshade-free and I'll share
that recipe in the next issue. My first students of natural health
were owners of this restaurant. With their newfound knowledge
about food allergies, they accommodate dietary requests with a
grateful heart for their new knowledge and always with a huge
Making healthier lifestyle choices and learning how ancient
civilizations managed to live long healthy lives despite their
heavy physical work, demands, and often without the modern
conveniences Americans take for granted, was the primary
reason I moved my health sciences, research and test kitchen to
the high mountains of Ecuador. In future articles, I'll continue to
share my new research, experiences and recipes and welcome
your feedback on my blog. Please share this information with
others, it's not meant to be kept a secret, it's presented to
help us all live longer healthier lives and age without feeling or
looking old, Naturally!
Enjoy...not only the taste but in reaping the health benefits.