Eating for a purpose

Before I joined the Peace Corps, I imagined myself picking fruits and vegetables from a garden in my backyard, or a neighbor’s backyard.  I imagined how healthy I would become riding my bicycle around my village and eating raw foods all day.  When the plane flew over Cape Verde and I saw rolling hills of brown dust, I knew I was in for a very different reality.

My iron levels are low as a result of a lack of green, leafy vegetables.  When I find onions or green peppers in a friend’s rice dish, I get excited because it’s nutrients.  I don’t exercise anymore because after being robbed, I’m afraid to run alone.

As a result of my lack of exercise and lack of nutrients, I decided I needed to change something.  I wasn’t happy feeling tired, sluggish and unhealthy.  Therefore, for the month of March I have decided to omit processed foods from my diet.  What does this mean?  Not eating packaged foods with more than five ingredients.  Eating local cheeses and milk, instead of processed dairy products, for example.

There a few challenges up ahead — one of the most tricky aspects of this decision is when I txiga (visit) with neighbors and friends.  When you are invited into a home, you must eat.  It’s an insult not to eat the food prepared for you.  Unfortunately, that means no cachupa for a month.  Another challenge will be finding foods to cook with and finding ingredients that are not processed, including items such as a variety of fruits and vegetables, brown rice, and wheat flour.  And last but not least, will be the challenge of doing this on a Peace Corps stipend.  We are volunteers, thus the pay is merely money to survive on.  However, if I can do it on a small budget, others can too.

My purchases from the local market

All in all, I hope my March goal will be an example to others.  In Cape Verde, diabetes is a huge problem.  You might not know it as an outsider looking in because people are not obese or overweight.  Because they are physically active all day long, they can eat foods high in fat and never put on weight.  A normal Cape Verdean diet consists of lots of white rice, potatoes, and oil.  Because these foods are cheap and accessible, it is what everyone eats.  The question is not nutrition, rather the question is price and quantity.

Yesterday, I began preparing for this goal by shopping in the local market.  Another objective of my goal is to buy almost everything from the local market, benefiting local people.  Wish me luck!  I will keep you posted with successful recipes and my progress!  For now, I leave you with my lunch…Bon appetit!

Spinach quiche made with local goat cheese and a side of fruit salad

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9 Responses to Eating for a purpose

  1. Carlos Saraiva says:


    Congratulations on your decision. Why not take it a step further and go for a whole foods, plant based diet? We (Zé and I) have been on it since September, with phenomenal results in terms of health indicators. A starter book would be The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

    • KP says:

      I would love to do this; however, I think it is best to wait until I am back in the states. For now, I will read the book you suggested!

      • Carlos saraiva says:

        Do read the book, he has some interesting stuff on cancer studies, among other things.

  2. Rosemary Grant (Langley) says:

    I just watched a movie on whole foods, plant based diets and its fascinating the positive effects it has on the body! I am with you, non processed foods!

  3. Valerie says:

    We are all on the same page. I did this with my family 6 months ago with amazing results. I see more energy in my sons. I recommend a sweet potatoe or a regular potatoe every evening before retiring. It is great for sleep. Foods that are high on the glycemic index really help with sleep! I just boil a bunch and put them in the refrigerator for the boys to heat up in the evening. Honey is high too, you could add that to your tea. How are the sleep chips?

  4. KP says:

    Please send me any good recipes you enjoyed! I am loving sweet potatoes! I eat them almost every day!

  5. REBrown says:

    That fruit salad looks delish!

  6. elarenee89 says:

    This is something a lot of people are doing now and days. It is so much healthier! So i congratulate you on your food journey! I have posted a blog on the foods, I eat too. You will start feeling a change after eating this way. 😀

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