Steamed Chaya Costa Rican Breakfast
Costa rica's diversity offers access to amazing medicinal plants and Chaya is one of them. Carolina and Gabi SOLAR are well knows for their knowledge for medecinal plants and have been sharing fresh leaves on their online shop on HELPCA marketplace for the costa ballena and puntaneras community. Chaya is an evergreen shrub, and has been the staple food of the Mayans for centuries. Chaya is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, a cousin to the hibiscus and cassava plant. Chaya grows in hot and humid weather and the plant grows up to 6 meters. Its leaves are edible cooked. It’s an outstanding green generally twice as nutritious as spinach, Chinese cabbage or amaranth. The leaves are very high in protein, calcium, iron, carotene, and vitamins A, B and C. In fact, Chaya can have 10 times as much vitamin C as the orange.
Chaya Health Benefits
Ancient Mayan’s used chaya as a dietary staple for centuries because of its amazing nutritional qualities which gave people the strength they needed for their often harsh work and physically demanding lives. Chaya is eaten as a leafy green vegetable, and is very common in Mexico. It is cooked just like spinach and is excellent in stir-fries! Traditionally Chaya has been recommended for a number of ailments including diabetes, obesity, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, acne, and eye problems. Chaya shoots and leaves have been taken as a laxative, diuretic, circulation stimulant, to improve digestion, to stimulate lactation, and to harden the fingernail. The leaves must be cooked for 5 minutes before being eaten, as the raw leaves are toxic.
How to make a delicious breakfast with Chaya?
One of my favorite way to integrate in my food is for breakfast or brunch, simply chopped chaya cooked in onions, garlic, tomatoes until tender. Serve with scrambled tofu and baked plantains.
To make steamed chaya, remove leaves from stems of the plant, rinse under cold water.
Cover chaya leaves with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring the leaves to a boil on medium-high, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Discard water and roughly chop the boiled leaves.
Heat oil in a saucepan on medium high, add onion, and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomatoes and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
Stir in chaya leaves, 1/4 cup vegetable broth or 1/4 of vegetable bouillon plus 1/4 cup water. Cover saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes or until chaya is tender. Season with salt to taste.
Contributed by Karine Allouche Salanon.