Fonio has been hailed as the new quinoa and the latest superfood. Have you heard of it or eaten it? If you haven’t it’s a delicious, nutritious, gluten-free grain that can be cooked in just a few minutes making it an ideal food for a detox plan. Compared to quinoa fonio has a sweeter taste and the consistency is more like millet. In fact it is of the millet family and is used by chefs, bakers and pasta manufacturers.
What is Fonio?
Known as a heritage crop in Africa, fonio grain is the most ancient gluten free cereal that is grown and cultivated in the continent. Also called hungry rice, iburura, or acha, fonio is a staple grain in Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.
Beyond its agricultural relevance, fonio grain also has cultural significance in Africa. It is usually served for royalty and chiefs and fonio dishes are commonly prepared during baptisms and weddings.
Since fonio is a resilient and sturdy crop, it does not need good weather conditions, supplements, or fertilizers in order to thrive well. After planting, fonio can be harvested in just six to eight weeks.
Two Types Of Fonio
There are two types of fonio grain: 1) Digitaria iburua and 2) Digitaria exilis. The first one is mainly grown in Benin, Togo, and Nigeria. Its white grains have brown or black spikelets.
The second one is generally cultivated in Chad, Senegal, and Central Nigeria. These white grains are more common than the other type as they are usually found outside of the continent.
Detox And Other Health Benefits
One of the most important health benefits of fonio is its capability to help your body in detoxification. These tiny grains are rich in essential amino acids, especially cysteine and methionine, amino acids that contain sulfur. These amino acids are often deficient in today’s major cereals like rice, maize, barley, rye and wheat.
Even though cysteine is considered a non-essential amino acid, it has a very important role in detox and the manufacture of protein. This means that eating fonio on a regular basis on your detox plan or regular healthy diet can help you detoxify and eliminate toxins and harmful elements from your body.
Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that can be used to build proteins and produce many molecules in the body including the master antioxidant glutathione. As well as its antioxidant function it is used in the detox system. Methionine can also help detoxify heavy metals from our bodies.
Fonio also contains essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and zinc which are nutrients needed for the efficiency of the detox system. Its high fiber content helps with elimination of the toxins from the bowel which have been neutralized by the liver and incorporated into bile.
Being gluten free it makes an ideal replacement for gluten grains which are best avoided during a detox. Gluten is hard to digest and modern wheat contains higher amounts of gluten than the original wheat which according to some experts like Dr Fasano, researcher into celiac disease, we don’t have the enzymes to fully digest. These undigested particles will cause reactions in everyone whether they know it or not.
Here are the other health benefits of fonio grain which are very important in keeping a healthy and strong body:
- It is rich in essential nutrients and free of gluten.
Forty-five grams of dried fonio grains contain 2 grams of protein, 39 grams of carbohydrates, and 4% of the daily value of iron and of fiber. It does not contain gluten like other grains.
Importantly it is very low in cholesterol, fat, and sodium. Its plant-based amino acids cysteine and methionine are not present in other common grains. Therefore, fonio is a healthier substitute for other grains and cereals.
- It is a healthy whole grain.
Whole grains like fonio are very good for gut health and weight regulation. They improve digestion and metabolism when eaten regularly.
Like other whole grains, fonio can significantly help in preventing cancer of the stomach, pancreas, and colon, heart diseases, and diabetes.
- It can help in blood sugar regulation.
Fonio contains zero sugar. Moreover, it has resistant starch which positively affects digestion, absorption, and insulin sensitivity.
Therefore, eating fonio can be very beneficial in preventing and alleviating the symptoms and complications of diabetes by helping in managing blood sugar levels.
How To Prepare And Use Fonio
Fonio can be easily prepared and it can be used in various ways and dishes. Since this grain is versatile, one can do anything with it.
Some delicious recipes using fonio grain are fonio balls with peanut butter sauce, jollof fonio, mango salad with fonio, sweet potato and fonio tacos, fonio porridge, and steamed fonio with vegetable and turmeric sauce.
You can also add fonio to stews and soups, sprinkle it on different salads, or use fonio flour when baking. Some local beverages in Africa even contain fonio.
Here’s how to cook fonio:
1. Bring a cup of water to the boil in a pot.
2. Add a pinch of Redmond Real salt.
3. Add 45 grams of dried fonio. Stir it lightly and then cover the pot.
4. Lower the heat and cook until the water has been absorbed by the grains.
5. Fluff it using a fork and check if it is still soggy. If yes, let it cook a little longer.
6. When cooked turn off the heat and serve.
Fonio Porridge Recipe
50g organic Fonio
150 ml almond or coconut milk
50 ml filetered water
1.Place the fonio in a saucepan over medium heat and add 100ml of chosen milk and 50ml filtered water.
2. Cook uncovered for about 6 minutes stirring frequently.
3. After 6 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for another 4 minutes.
The fonio should have absorbed all the milk and should appear quite solid.
4. Add the remaining 50ml of milk to bring it to your desired consistency and remove from heat.
5. Add a sweetener like a good quality agave, good quality maple syrup or raw honey.
6. Spoon into your serving bowl and top with some berries and chopped nuts or seeds. Enjoy!
What Is Fonio? A Versatile And Healthy Grain
Since fonio has a complex, rich, and nutty flavor, eating it is truly a delight for everyone – even those who will eat it for the first time. Not only is it delicious, but it is also very versatile as it can be incorporated into a lot of dishes and food.
But what makes fonio grain even more important is its wonderful array of health benefits. Using it on your detox plan is definitely on top of the list but its other significant health benefits include gut health, weight management, blood sugar regulation, and overall strength