Tag Archives: Cassava

Healthy Eating…No More Diets…Obesity … The Cook Islands and Timor Leste.

No more (6) Timor and The Cook Islands

Welcome back to Carol’s Bootcamp…I can’t think why I called it that as this is not about being on a diet but Healthy Eating  I know some people like structure but at some point you will either get fed up with the restrictions of the said diet  pile the pounds back on or spend the rest of your life eating foods which you don’t really enjoy but they are supposed to be good for you… Well, to hell with all that!

Life is for living…Food is for enjoying…

I have decided to do is some comparisons …It started with a headline about obesity. Country by country and percentages and then I got to thinking about the difference in lifestyles and options or just what we have always eaten..But then those stats began to make sense to me…

Today is my final post on this and I am comparing The Cook Islands who stand at number 1( and that) my friends does not deserve any accolades as at 50.80% and rising rapidly and Timor Leste who are bottom at 192 on the chart. with only 2.2%…that is a tragedy….sad beyond belief…

The very beautiful Cook Islands are home to the Maori whose agricultural lands have been replaced by luxury resorts and tourism over the last 30 years has boomed…From a diet of fresh fish, tomatoes, pawpaw and taro this once healthy nation now prefer fast food and chips…

The effect of tourism and loss of agricultural lands means that the islands are 82% food import-dependent…fresh food has been replaced by calorie rich, nutrient poor processed foods and sugary drinks…

The most recent figures are horrifying with 80/90% of men classed as obese, school children..24% of girls are obese and for the boys, that figure is even higher at 24& it is no wonder that many are diabetic…High Cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease are the leading cause of death here.

The ministry of health is working with world health organisations and work is being done to encourage islanders to be self-sufficient and grow their own food… will it be too little too late?? I do hope we can get back some of the attributes of a once proud traditional race who are healthy and chronic disease free.


These once proud, healthy Maori have now succumbed to the unhealthy diets of the western world and at a devastating cost to their health and well-being.

The other side of the coin is Timor Leste who on the face of it should be commended for their low obesity rate, however, there is a lot of poverty here, the diet is rice based with maybe one green vegetable so nutrient-poor hence malnutrition and anaemia is a leading cause of premature deaths.

The incidence of stunting is also very high here but there is work going on to educate young mothers with children on the impact of good nutrition and how eating a more varied diet can vastly improve the health of their children so hope is on the horizon.

This island sits at the southern end of south-east Asia and boasts a dry, tropical climate. With an abundance of coconut palms and eucalyptus trees agriculture is the main occupation. Corn ( maize), rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, dried beans, coconuts and coffee…with crafts and textiles also being important to the economy. How beautiful are those traditionally built houses?

Timor traditional wooden-228267_1280

This is the last of my comparisons and this last one didn’t supply  healthy community’s who had their diets spot on and health was at its optimum instead it showed how the advance of tourism has devastated a race and how the effects of  Indonesian occupation; guerrilla warfare by the Timorese against the occupiers has stunted the growth of a young nation…

I sincerely hope that they do not succumb to western influences with regard to their diets and health but hope they build on their agricultural and craft/textile traditions and become a healthy nation of people who deserve their status on the obesity chart proving that cooking from scratch and avoiding highly processed sugary foods and drinks means many acute diseases are totally avoidable…

We are what we eat!

Next week I will be back with recipes and tips to help you with your healthy eating and to show that it doesn’t mean hours in the kitchen especially when you have a family and work… I have 6 children, have always worked and always cooked from scratch…That is without the pets…Horses, dogs, cats, snakes you name it my kids have bought it home.

As heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the western world I will leave you with some additional reading from the very knowledgeable Sally…


If you have found this a thought-provoking read on the effects of  following a western diet please share xxx

If you really want to see even more from me???? There are many strings to my bow…If you still want to find out more…

I am a crazy English lady with a quirky sense of humour…  I look forward to meeting you x

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Have a lovely week xx





Down on The farm… Thai Potatoes…

Thai potatoes which in Thai are called Man sam Palang but are also known as Cassava, Yuca or Tapioca root. It is widely grown throughout the east and north-east Thailand as cattle food and also for starch and Tapioca flour.


It is a very drought resistant vegetable and there are two main sorts sweet or bitter with a hard brown outer shell and yellow or white flesh. It is the bitter one which contains more of the chemical bound cyanide.

The smaller sweet rooted varieties which are used for desserts here in Thailand like the famous Khanom man sampalang where cooking is deemed to be enough to break down the cyanide.

There are a lot of warnings about eating raw roots and how they should be prepared carefully before eating as it can cause death.

Modern thinking is that it is not as dangerous as it was originally thought to be however it is always wise to err on the side of caution.

This root should NOT be eaten raw.

Cooking is said to cause the cells to break down and the cyanide to be broken down which renders it safe to eat.

Thailand is the world’s largest importer of dried Cassava.

Down here on the farm it is grown for animal feed and to make flour. The potato is harvested when it is around 3-4months and the roots 30-45cm, harvested by hand although now some farmers use mechanical means generally the lower part of the stem is raised and the roots pulled from the ground.

cassava-285033_1920 root

It is then cut into approx 15cm pieces and sun-dried for 2 days. As cattle feed, it is high in proteins and contains tannins and is valued as a good source of roughage for cattle food.

The cassava root which is going to be used for next season’s crop is soaked and treated for termites before planting prior to the next wet season.

The remainder of the outer shell from which the flesh is extracted is sometimes used for wood or just burnt as it has no further use. The picture below is the empty root with the flesh extracted.


Other uses for the root  are:

To make starch for clothing.

To make tapioca, the tapioca beads are balls of Cassava. When fermented it is called garri.

Crackers for frying as in a previous post can be made from Tapioca flour. Thai pancakes

It is used in the making of MSG ..Monosodium glutamate.

Boiled as a vegetable it is similar to British potatoes.

Now for a recipe:

dessert-1549271_1920 steamed

Khanom man sampalang is a cross between a cake and a dessert and is very popular here in Thailand. It is thick, hearty, smooth and sticky. A steamed tapioca cake.

You will need:

2   cups of grated Cassava

6 tbsp of tapioca flour

1 tbsp of mung bean starch

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1 cup of shredded coconut.

Food colouring

Let’s Cook!


Put all ingredients except salt and shredded coconut in a bowl. Mix well for 5 minutes get your hands in there and work it until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the colour and mix well to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded coconut and salt and mix together. Set to one side.

Put small cups into a steamer and pour some mixture into each cup. Steam for 15 minutes then either stir in the remainder of the shredded coconut or spread over the top of the cake. before serving. If you spread over the top then it is lovely toasted before spreading over the top of the cake.


It was also time to plant some more banana trees as the land has been built up and there are lots of bananas for frying and making Somtam…A Thai salad where banana is used instead of green papaya. These ones are for eating and the trees don’t grow as tall as the other banana trees the bananas are lovely eating ones and a nice sized banana. The rice has just been planted also and it is fingers crossed that this last downpour didn’t wash all the rice away…Time will tell.

I hope that you enjoyed this trip down on the farm. Some more posts on life in rural Thailand can be found on my Niume posts.

I do hope that you enjoy my tales of life on the farm. This week’s post was going to be about our new baby turkeys which we went to collect on Saturday. Unfortunately, there was very high winds and very heavy torrential rains during this last week and the chicks got too cold and died. I was so sad as we were looking forward to getting them and settling them into their new home. The plus side was we got to see the baby calves one which had only just been born which will be our next acquisition. He was so very cute and beautiful.


Until next time stay safe and laugh a lot …