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  • Kevin Patton

Jamaican Stew Peas

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

It's Black History Month and I thought I'd share a Jamaican dish that's good for your mind and your body.

250g (1/2 lb) Red Kidney Beans

400g (15 oz) Tinned Tomatoes

Tomato Ketchup/Paste

2 Medium Onions

2-3 Cloves of Garlic

Thyme, Black Pepper, Salt

2 Tbs Oil

A Chilli Pepper or Chilli Powder

Open a tin of red kidney beans.

Stew the chopped onions and garlic in 2 tbs of oil in a saucepan. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir in 2 tbs of Ketchup.

Add the beans and liquid, a couple tsp Thyme and Chilli Pepper to taste.

Stew the beans until they are very soft and the stew is thick – about an hour should do it. Add salt and pepper to taste. The dish needs to be slightly salty and hot.

Serve with rice, boiled millet, boiled wheat, or just with chunks of wholemeal bread. and cheese.

Red Kidney Beans

1 cup of cooked red kidney beans, or 177 g, provides 224 calories, 1 g of fat, 15 g of protein, 40 g of carbohydrates, 13 g of dietary fiber and 4 mg of sodium. The majority of the calories in red kidney beans come from carbohydrates. The rough caloric breakdown is 70 percent from carbohydrates, 26 percent from protein and 4 percent from fat. Red kidney beans are rich in thiamin or vitamin B1, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.

One cup meets 57 percent of the recommended daily value for folate, 19 percent for magnesium, 28 percent for iron, 12 percent for zinc and 21 percent for copper.


Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidant vitamin-C (provide 21% of recommended daily levels per 100 g); consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.

Fresh tomato is very rich in potassium. 100 g contain 237 mg of potassium and just 5 mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure caused by sodium.

Further, they contain vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium and manganese.


Phyto-chemical compounds allium and Allyl disulphide in the onion convert to allicin by enzymatic reaction. Studies have shown that these compounds help lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.

In addition, Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by releasing nitric oxide (NO) and thereby bring a reduction in the total blood pressure. Onions are rich source of chromium, the trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels in the blood. It thus helps facilitate insulin action and control sugar levels in diabetes.

Onions are also good in antioxidant vitamin, vitamin-C and mineral manganese. This metal is needed for proper use of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Since it also plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent hypoglycemic mood swings.

Onions are also good in B-complex group of vitamins like pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folates and thiamin. Pyridoxine or vitamin B-6 helps keep up GABA levels in the brain, which works against neurotic conditions.


Cheese is a natural, healthy food that can play an important part of a balanced diet and although every type of cheese varies in its nutrition values, cheese in general is an excellent source of nutrition, especially for children and vegetarians. It contains protein for energy and vitamins A, B12 and D. Labels on prepacked cheeses will give specific information about each cheese but, if the cheese is being cut for you in store, ask your retailer for further information.

Cheese can play an important role within a balanced diet for many people. Many cheeses are an excellent source of calcium, a nutrient which is vital for the development of healthy bones and teeth and the prevention of osteoporosis (where bones lose their strength and density and become liable to fracture).

Cheese is also a useful source of protein, required by the body for growth and repair. The higher fat cheeses are also good sources of vitamin A; essential for healthy eyes and skin, and most cheeses contain a useful source of vitamin B12; required for blood cells and nerve function.

Cheese is good for our teeth, partly due to the high calcium and phosphorus content which may help to strengthen them, and also as it neutralises the acid in the mouth (by encouraging saliva production) which would otherwise attack the enamel on the teeth.

Iron: Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency. Other symptoms include general weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.

Magnesium: aids with muscle relaxation, maintenance of the heart muscle, neuromuscular transmission and widening of the blood vessels. A deficiency of magnesium can cause agitation, anxiety, behavioural disturbances, confusion, cold hands and feet, depression, insomnia and restlessness

Calcium: works with maintenance of electrolyte balance, muscle contractions, nerve transmission, regulation of cell division, hormone secretion and bone and teeth formation. A deficiency can cause agitation, depression, heart palpitations, insomnia and irritability

Zinc: When zinc is low, copper in the body can increase to toxic levels, resulting in paranoia and fearfulness.

B Complex Vitamins – they help provide energy by acting with enzymes to convert major nutrients such as carbohydrates to energy forms. A deficiency of certain B vitamins will cause fatigue, irritability, nervousness, depression, insomnia and loss of appetite.

Vitamin C— Essential to the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals in your brain that communicate between nerve cells and affect mood and sleep).

Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with depression, tearfulness, weakness, and fatigue.


Tryptophan is one of the 10 essential amino acids that the body uses to synthesize the proteins it needs. It's well-known for its role in the production of the nervous system messengers. Especially those related to relaxation, restfulness, and sleep. Tryptophan is necessary for the production of several crucial substances in the body, including the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). Serotonin (a melatonin precursor) plays a key role in mood and sleep patterns.

Tryptophan is a normal constituent of most protein-based foods or dietary proteins. It is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, durians, mangoes, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts. Tryptophan occurs naturally in nearly all foods that contain protein, but in small amounts compared to the other essential amino acids. The following foods contain tryptophan in significant quantities: red meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, bananas, soybeans and soy products, tuna, shellfish, and turkey.

The following foods are high in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan: Dairy products such as cottage cheese, cheese and milk, soy products such as soy milk, tofu and soybean nuts, seafood, meats, poultry, whole grains, beans, rice, hummus, lentils, hazelnuts, peanuts, Eggs, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

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