Skip to content

Tag: Anti-inflammatory

Karité: The West African Wonder Balm

With one single pot of Karité (or Shea Butter as it’s more commonly known) you would be well equipped to deal with most of your skin and haircare needs, and many of your medicinal ones too. This multi-purpose wonder balm, a staple in most West African homes, is truly a superfood for the skin.

Karitè nuts, photo by Andrea Moroni
Karitè nuts, photo by Andrea Moroni

Karité is an edible oil that comes from the nut of the Karité tree, a species indigenous to West and Central Africa. As it’s extracted by hand, the oil retains all of its amazing natural properties such as vitamins A and E and essential fatty acids, which are the key to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and healing powers.

When raw and unprocessed, it’s thick and golden, with a wonderfully sweet, minty smell. It’s sold at markets all over West Africa in huge slabs, of which smaller pieces are sliced off. Though solid, like a bar of soap, it melts easily when rubbed into warm hands for a few seconds.

IMG_8848
Karitè at the Malian market in Dakar
IMG_8841
The Karitè I purchased was being kept wrapped in a tree root to preserve its freshness

Women in the region have known about its beautifying and anti-aging properties for thousands of years; it provides deep moisture for dry skin and hair.

IMG_8879

Karitè is an excellent moisturiser for dry and curly hair
Karitè is an excellent moisturiser for dry and curly hair

Because it’s anti-inflammatory, it helps soothe a host of skin conditions such as acne, scars, stretch marks, psoriasis and eczema. And as its 100% natural, it’s suitable for even the most sensitive of skins, as evidenced by its widespread use for baby massage, and protecting against nappy rash.

IMG_8874
I use Karitè as a lip balm and on the delicate neck and chest area as it has low levels of naturally occurring UV to help protect against the sun

IMG_8896

Karité also has medicinal properties; it soothes muscle pains and works wonders when rubbed into an aching lower back. It can help ease cold symptoms when rubbed into the chest, and sinus congestion in the nose. Mildly antiseptic, you can even use it as an ointment for minor cuts, burns and insect bites.

Karité is, quite simply, a miracle product. I’m not sure how I ever managed without it!

You can find Karité at markets across West Africa. US based company 24KariteGold produce high quality 100% raw and wild crafted Shea butter, made for them by a women’s cooperative in Ghana. By purchasing this product you actively support a sustainable economy for the women employed at the cooperative and their families.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Palm Tree Tea by adding your email address to the form on right!

2 Comments

Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie

Inspired by my recent visit to the Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market and the wonderful array of local products I found there such as moringa and baobab powders, and lemongrass, hibiscus and kinkeliba teas, I thought about how I could combine some of these flavours to create a uniquely West African drink.

The result is a Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie, with a baobab powder boost. Adding tea to a smoothie is a great way of introducing an extra depth of flavour and added nutrients without adding calories. The sweetness of the papaya balances out the naturally tart flavours of the baobab and hibiscus, and the overall result is a zingy and refreshing antioxidant-infused treat.

Dried hibiscus flowers and baobab fruit

Here’s a closer look at some of the ingredients:

Hibiscus tea or Bissap, is a popular drink across West Africa. It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, supports a healthy immune system, and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Baobab fruit has received a lot of attention in recent years as an African superfood, and deservedly so. It contains more vitamin c than oranges, more calcium than milk and a host of minerals like iron and magnesium.

Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants such as carotenes, and contains vitamin c and fibre.

I’ve been drinking this tasty concoction as a caffeine-free boost when my energy levels start to flag, and as a nutritious alternative to a cup of coffee or sugary snack mid-afternoon.

Recipe:

One tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers (or a hibiscus tea bag)

A quarter of a medium sized papaya cut into chunks

One tablespoon of baobab fruit powder

One cup of milk (your choice of soy, almond, cow’s etc.)

A couple of teaspoons of honey

Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon (optional)

Steep the hibiscus flowers (or tea bag) in a cup of boiling water for 3-5 minutes then strain.

Place the liquid from the hibiscus and all the rest of the ingredients into a blender.

Blend until a creamy consistency is achieved.

And enjoy your Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie; packed with West African flavours and bursting with vitamins and antioxidants. Your body will thank you for it!

 

You can easily make substitutions to this recipe to add variety. For a Southern African twist why not try rooibos instead of hibiscus tea, or mango instead of papaya?

2 Comments