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Moroccan food: A healthy lifestyle

Many of the ingredients found in Moroccan food promote good health, as Moroccan food tends to rely on whole food ingredients freshly prepared, sing herbs and spices for flavor rather than deep frying. Bread tends to be baked from whole grains, and many entrees include both vegetables and dried fruit to achieve that balance between sweet and savory that is characteristic of Moroccan food. Here a few of the healthiest ingredients and dishes found in Moroccan cuisine.

Chickpeas

Background of chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, a seed of the Cicer arietinum plant which is high in protein and was one of the first vegetables to be cultivated

Also known as garbanzo beans or Bengal gram, chickpeas are a legume high in nutrients and are also highly digestible, a concern for some people who are sensitive to beans. Chickpeas are rich in protein, fiber, and folate, as well as many important dietary minerals like iron, phosphorous, and zinc. Chickpeas are found in many Moroccan dishes including tagines, spreads to be served on bread, and a huge variety of soups and stews.

Turmeric

The turmeric commonly used in cooking is a dried yellow-orange powder prepared from the rhizomes (root-like parts) of the turmeric plant, a member of the ginger family. Turmeric is used in many Moroccan dishes and is also commonly used in herbal medicine. Turmeric extracts have been shown to possess anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and are under study for their potential effects on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other common diseases.

Dried ginger roots and turmeric roots as seen on a spice shop in a Moroccan market

Ginger

Ginger root is another medicinal rhizome used frequently in Moroccan cuisine. Medicinally, ginger is frequently used to treat mild nausea, though as it is an irritant it is not recommended for use by pregnant women looking to treat morning sickness. In the amounts typically used in cooking, ginger supplies a large amount of dietary manganese along with a bright warmth of flavor. Ginger is one of the most frequently used spices in Moroccan cuisine and is found in many dishes. It is often used of tagines and teas.

Whole Grains

One of the most popular Moroccan foods across the globe is couscous, traditionally it’s made out of whole wheat grains, or barley grains … In Morocco, it is often served as a dish consisting of a bed of couscous served with a rich seven-vegetable sauce, sometimes topped with stewed meat and caramelized onions. This is a deeply traditional dish. Every family has their own favorite blend of vegetables and spices. Traditional spices found in the recipe are turmeric, ginger, and pepper.

Whole Grain Bread

Every culture has a starch component to their diet, and for Moroccans, the starches are primarily couscous and rolls baked from whole grains. These leavened whole grain rolls accompany all of the vegetable dishes and meat stews. The traditional rolls are often spiced with fennel and anise seed for added flavor. Morocco also has a traditional sweet roll called “krachel”, sweet bread flavored with anise, orange flower water, and sesame. These rolls are similar to brioche: the dough is rich and includes eggs and butter.

Vegetables

Vegetables are a large component of the Moroccan diet. A vegetable medley salad precedes almost every meal. Commonly used vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, and carrots, among many others. Vegetables also round out most meat dishes, providing depth and flavor as well as nutrients and fiber. Of course, almost everywhere there are vegetables, there are also chickpeas present to add even more fiber and lots of protein.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is often responsible for sweetening desserts. However, you will find dates, raisins, apricots, and prunes not only in sweets but also in savory dishes. One of the characteristics of Moroccan cuisine is the careful balance of sweet and savory in many recipes. Tagines are an excellent example. They are traditionally meat entrees where spiced meat is slow-cooked with vegetables and spices in a shallow baking dish with a tall, conical lid (the baking vessel is called a ‘tagine’).

Let’s talk about the Tagine

Ah yes, this is the dish that many prefer, and they are right, because as Berber as it is, we see everything in the Tagine. We mainly see all kinds of vegetables, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, turnips, celery, coriander and many things you like. And everyone knows that the best nutritious foods are fruits and vegetables. Speaking of fruit, we can also make fruit tagine. The meats or fish that we mix in the Tagine also provide us with calories, strength and energy.

Let’s talk about spices

Spices, even if we do it right and wrong, we do not even weigh what they bring us. Pepper participates in digestion, turmeric is a good oxidant, apart from its role as a coloring, ginger is also an aphrodisiac, cinnamon can replace sugar and fight against diabetes, and salt gives flavor, not to mention olive oil.

Let’s talk about oriental infusions

Tea with ginger, cinnamon, lemon, orange and others, as well as coffee brings us good to relieve the body. And it’s also a good moment of relaxation and fun shared in a friendly atmosphere. 

Moroccans love baking, and they make it an art with honey as the main ingredient, and especially cookies and grandmother snacks. Moroccan food is a very healthy national cuisine. With a heavy emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and sweetening with fruit rather than refined sugar, this North African food tradition has served its followers well for centuries. The intriguing balance between sweet and savory in many dishes is not found in many other food traditions. Try a few Moroccan recipes in your own kitchen, and enjoy the taste and reap the health benefits.

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