North African Spiced Vegetable Kebabs with Coconut Tahini Sauce. Fragrant olive oil, fresh ginger, cumin, cinnamon and allspice – oh my!
The other night I wanted something a little different.
Something with some SPICE to it. And a creamy sauce to balance it out.
North African, or Chermoula, spiced kebabs with a coconut tahini sauce. Perfect.
Ethnic food is so exciting to create – new flavors and textures to be discovered. These kebabs in particular made me realize how much I miss the creative side of food. Life has gotten so busy since leaving my corporate job (ironically enough). I have resorted to discovering delicious semi-homemade dishes due to lack of time, but I love the times I can slow down and savor.
I had be researching different ethnic foods when I came across the definition of Chermoula. It sounded so appealing, but of course I threw in a few variations.
I added fresh ginger for a bit of a kick and fresh lemon - though preserved lemon would be delicious too.
As I was chopping my vegetables and mixing my sauce I got to thinking.
How old is this dish? Who originally created Chermoula? Is it more healthful to eat the way our ancestors did?
National Geographic has had a really interesting series on how we will feed the population of the future and the state of health, food and nutrition. The article in this month’s issue, written by Ann Gibbons is fascinating. She dissects the origins of the Paleo diet. This diet asserts that there are a few experts saying that we should eat what the cave man ate.
But who was the cave man? Did every population across the globe eat the same exact foods?
The author asserts, “As we look at 2050, when we’ll need to feed two billion more people, the question of which diet is best has taken on a new urgency. The foods we choose to eat in the coming decades will have dramatic ramifications for the planet. Simply put, a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating that’s on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the world’s resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.”
“Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing.”
There are very few indigenous tribes left and scientists are rushing to study their habits before they disappear. Why are there such low instances of diseases from every population from the meat eating Inuit Indians to the plant eating populations of rural China. What are they doing that we aren’t doing?
The Paleo way of life suggests that if we eat what we think our ancestors ate, we will be eating healthfully. Free range meats, fish, no dairy or grains and select fruits and vegetables. But what about HOW they obtained their food?
There are a few things that we forget when we think Paleo. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to hunt their food, on foot, with a spear. The kind of energy this requires is astronomical, therefore they craved more caloric, energy dense foods.
That being said, no one actually ATE meat all that often. “Everybody thinks you wander out into the savanna and there are antelopes everywhere, just waiting for you to bonk them on the head,” the article states. When meat was scarce, which was OFTEN, they relied on plants. Even the Paleolithic man’s diet was mostly plant based – 70% or more, and many times, completely plant based, depending on the season and location.
When it comes down to it, humans have survived on just about anything. Our hallmark is our adaptability, the article stresses. It is when we adopt the diet of today that the diseases begin to run rampant- the GMO foods in everything from plants to the feed of livestock and dairy cows, the salt and sugar, the amount of processed foods, and our lack of exercise.
Experts actually say that we have the Paleo diet wrong. It does well to focus on unprocessed foods and no dairy; however, the focus on meat, albeit free range, is not in line with how the Paleolithic man actually ate, nor is the activity level near what would be required to offset the meat consumption.
I think Michael Pollan sums it up well – Paleo diet or not.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
And I’ll add in – and get up and move.
North African Spiced Vegetable Kebabs with Coconut Tahini Sauce
Vegetarian, Gluten Free
*Vegetable Marinade and Dressing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp minced fresh ginger
Juice ½ lemon
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Japanese eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
½ red onion
Coconut Tahini Sauce
¼ cup unsweet coconut milk
½ tsp raw honey
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp water
½ Tbsp white miso
½ Tbsp tahini
1. Preheat oven to 375F; soak wooden skewers in water.
2. Mix marinade ingredient in a small bowl and set aside. Blend coconut tahini sauce ingredients in a small blender and set aside.
3. Slice kebab vegetables; thread onto wooden skewers; brush marinade over vegetables evenly; set remaining marinade aside for dipping later; roast vegetables for 30 minutes, or until golden. Serve 1 skewer over garlic Naan or Garbanzo Bean Garlic Naan; top with coconut tahini sauce.
*In a time crunch, try subbing 1 tbsp Za’atar, Curry or Vindaloo seasoning blend and adding the lemon and olive oil.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 15.4 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 12.8 mg
Potassium 630.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.2 g
Dietary Fiber 6.1 g
Sugars 3.6 g
Protein 4.3 g
Vitamin A 14.2 %
Vitamin B-12 3.1 %
Vitamin B-6 16.2 %
Vitamin C 25.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 25.1 %
Calcium 7.0 %
Copper 15.9 %
Folate 17.3 %
Iron 7.0 %
Magnesium 12.4 %
Manganese 27.3 %
Niacin 9.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 10.1 %
Phosphorus 16.9 %
Riboflavin 8.4 %
Selenium 9.3 %
Thiamin 10.2 %
Zinc 6.1 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.