Vegan A La Mode by Emma: Saffron Rice

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Saffron Rice

Each year I visit at least one new country. Over the holidays I visited Tanzania and Kenya where I hiked Mountain Kilimanjaro and scuba dove in Zanzibar, and worked at an HIV clinic in Nakuru, Kenya. I enjoy incorporating volunteerism on my trips as a way to give gratitude. In addition to the long term goal of hiking Kilimanjaro, it is also to raise awareness around the needs for the Malama Global Fund- Comprehensive Care Centre in Nakuru, Kenya where the first project will be to buy land to start a farm serving the nutritional needs of the patients in the Centre. You can contribute towards this critical mission at http://themalamaglobalhealthfund.org/ or https://www.gofundme.com/v3g4zjv2

Hiking Kilimanjaro exceeded all and any expectations that I ever had. The hike begins in the deep and rich jungle where sweat pours down your back as the backpack settles into place, monkeys over head screaming with play, and waterfalls rich with glacier water pour out of the rocks. The porters on the trip are our super heroes carrying heavy duffles loaded with food for the week, tents, and mats. Each night we finished the arduous day with Swahili curry dishes, hot soup, and bread. What I did not expect was that the high elevation crunched my appetite and left me craving nothing but oatmeal and pasta- not the Vegan A La Mode diet. I was lucky, however, to be able to eat as the others in the group were in far worse shape. Each day different from jungle, to bouldering, scaling ‘breakfast wall’ (should we have ropes for this?), sleeting and snowing upon the lava gravel grade 40% incline, and surrounded by trees that look extraterrestrial. Summit night was spectacular as we slowly climbed above the clouds into thin air and encroached upon the royal glacier of Mt Kilimanjaro. It is incredible to think that the glacier was once so much larger and sadly is melting each day. The porters serenaded us on our final day where we celebrated our achievement of climbing to the roof of Africa.

My inspiration of saffron rice comes from Zanzibar, also known as ‘Spice Island’. The island offers a rich history of spices that grow naturally on the island and are exported across the continent. I purchased a large bag of saffron for far less than commercial prices. This delicious spice will be handy in Spanish to Indian dishes. This recipe is simple but full of flavor. Saffron is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its color, flavor and medicinal properties.

Health Note: This colorful spice has many non-volatile active components; the most important of them is a-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives pistils their characteristic golden-yellow color. These are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.

Ingredients

1 cup jasmine rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp Saffron petals

Directions: Bring 1 cup water to boil. Add rice and remaining ingredients. Turn to low heat and steam simmer for 20 minutes.  Fluff with fork each 5 minutes. Serve immediately with your favorite side veggie dishes.

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