Even though few people have ever heard of it, fonio is the most nutritious of all grains. The tiny white grains are a member of the millet family and have many uses in cooking: porridge, flour, rice meals.
Fonio matures earlier than the major known cereals hence the name hungry rice. Not only does this crop deserve much greater recognition, it has a big future. It is one of the best-tasting cereals and commonly cultivated in Chereponi, Saboba, Yendi and Zabzugu of the Northern Region.
Fonio is a nutritive crop recommended for all especially children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with digestive problems since it can be easily digested and high in important nutrients. Fonio is also low in fat making it pleasing for those on diets. Moreover, because of its insulin secreting properties, fonio products are recommended for diabetics and they can also reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Culinary Uses of Fonio
-It can be boiled plain like rice and eaten with stew, sauce or beans, made into fonio jollof and replace rice in fried rice recipes.
-Flour from this crop can be used for preparing Tuo Zaafi (T.Z) and also for making cakes, biscuits, pizza, brownies and bread.
-It can also be made into porridge as well as fermented and brewed for beer.
Health and Nutritional Benefits of Fonio
-Fonio provides an essential amount of energy.
-Fonio grains are immensely rich in methionine, cysteine and other amino acids which play a vital role in nourishing human health. These nutrients are missing in today’s major cereals.
-Fonio is highly rich in iron and folic acid. Its tiny grains are very nutritious for pregnant women and children.
-Fonio is richer in calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese than other grains/cereals.
-It is also significantly richer in thiamine (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), and calcium and phosphorous than white rice.
-It has a sufficient quantity of fibre that is necessary to keep the digestive system smooth, helps in bowel movement and prevents constipation.
-The husked grain of fonio contains 8-10 % proteins, 85% carbohydrates, 4% fats and 1% ash.
-Furthermore, fonio does not contain any glutenin or gliadin proteins which are the constituents of gluten, making this cereal suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
To overcome the challenges of both under nutrition and over nutrition in Ghana, there is a need to explore indigenous crops of outstanding nutritional qualities such as fonio. Although the nutritional composition of fonio, has long been established, this vital information has not been effectively communicated to the benefit of most Ghanaians. Now you know how beneficial fonio can be to improving your health. Try a fonio recipe and share your experiences.