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No flour? No problem, says Madame Moringa

By Klysha Best

Imagine having breadfruit pancakes or some melongene fritters for breakfast, minus the use of flour?

Following the increase of flour last month, debate rages on whether Trinbagonians should seek out alternatives flours or simply change their diet.

Michelle Barton-Romeo, who is the owner of Madame Moringa Health Foods in Rich Plain, Diego Martin, is strongly of the view that a complete overhaul of the way we eat is the best way to go.

Barton-Romeo is the go-to source for all things healthy, and moringa, from soaps, to teas, foot scrubs and breads… you name it, she has found 100 ways to incorporate moringa and other ingredients not thought of for her specialty breads and health food products.

This wife and mother of five, said the aim of her business is to provide a healthy option for a healthier, longer life.

Now, with flour on the rise, Catholic News asked Barton-Romeo if the cost on her signature items that uses the “normal” flour has risen or if she has seen an increase in interest for her signature breads, which uses her own blends of flour created from cassava, sweet potato, and green fig, to name a few.

She said: “Our signature breads are one of our best sellers. I have not increased prices on any of our products during the price wars of the pandemic. However, when it comes to wheat flour, we can no longer absorb the rising costs. Although it is not done yet, the price of our breads will increase soon.”

Barton-Romeo pointed out that, “Root crop and other dense staples like breadfruit and green flours have always been and will continue to be a healthier choice.”

However, she said: “In my opinion, the average household cannot afford to purchase these on a regular basis as an alternative to our present crisis. A sack of

wheat flour, 22 pounds, is now $100. One can purchase only about two and a half to three pounds of root crop, green fig, or breadfruit flour with that.”

She said it is now imperative that we have the conversation concerning our preferences.

Barton-Romeo said: “At Madame Moringa, we have begun to use these staples to make dishes that do not require flour. From the garden, we have made melongene fritters, green fig salads, sweet potato fries and fried moko to name a few. We acquired breadfruit and made pancakes without drying and grinding the breadfruit into flour. There are so many more satisfying meals we can make without the traditional roast bake or sada roti. So, acquiring a taste for these dishes will help households both health-wise and budget-wise as we begin to use less flour daily. Even more so if we grow some of these staples ourselves.”

“When you think of our favourite dishes and what it does to our taste buds, you can tell that it will be very difficult for Trinbagonians to make an easy switch to the alternatives. Most will do so when it is forced upon us,” noted Barton-Romeo.

She said that in March 2020, Madame Moringa Health Foods made a decision that changed their lives and the lives of many who follow them on social media.

“As soon as Trinidad and Tobago received the news of the first case of Covid-19, we jumped into action. We immediately knew what the virus was capable of and prepared for the worst. Our home garden became the focus, and we began to share with our clients and friends the importance of having some degree of self-sufficiency. Everything has increased! Not just flour. So, whatever can be done to supplement your grocery bill, should be done. In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is by planting some of the food we eat,” said Barton-Romeo.

A point to note: “Our staples can be used for many dishes before it is ground into a flour. Remember cassava bread? Doing this will combat the high price of buying the flour. Homemakers should experiment with this.”

So here are some tips:

· Cook the staples first then blend into a batter.

· Remember that yeast works well with wheat flour that has gluten but for gluten free options, try baking soda instead.

Breadfruit pancakes and melongene fritters

“If, however, you want to make flour you can grate the raw product, dry it in the sun or dehydrate then blend into flour. If you do not have a grinder, the blender can be used if the pieces are small enough,” according to Barton-Romeo.

“Madame Moringa produces food as opposed to medicine. Taking care of our health involves making the right choices daily. Popping a pill ever so often will not work. Our products help our clients ensure that their bodies get the nutrients it requires daily and of course there are a lot of ways to achieve that.

“We are unique because for our treasured artisanal made products, we cultivate the raw ingredients ourselves without using a single chemical in the garden. We have gained popularity by sharing the garden and assisting others to grow their own, and by sharing various dishes they can create using Moringa. We also sell the plants, and many clients now have a moringa tree and incorporate the fresh leaves in their daily cooking.”

Barton-Romeo believes that the Holy Spirit inspires her to come up with her signature healthy products and she wants us all to be inspired to eat and live a healthier lifestyle as well.

Madame Moringa’s products can be ordered at 360-3492