Food Profile - Tete (Amaranth Greens)


Tete, (amaranth greens), is one of the most commonly found green leafy vegetables in Nigeria. Usually eaten by adding to soups and serving with a carbohydrate rich side dish like pounded yam or gari....

The plant genius Amaranthus is so large, there is a number of different species that fall under it, and each specie also has a huge number of varieties within it... Amaranth comes in all sizes, shapes and shades of green and red colours. And all over Asia (India and China specifically) the leaves are used in all types of cooking and for treating ailments. Africa, and particularly, Nigeria has its own varieties some of which are known locally as tete funfun, tete pupa, tete abalaye, alagogoro, olowo njeja (in the Yoruba dialect) or simply greens in general.

Efo Tete (pic from Flickr.com)
Scientific studies reveal amaranth greens to be nutritionally more superior to other vegetables such as spinach; for instance they are believed to:
  • Contain 3 times more calcium and 3 times more vitamin B3 than spinach leaves
  • Contain 20 times more calcium and 7 times more iron than lettuce...!
  • Contain 3 times more calcium than milk
  • Contain 4 times ore iron than broccoli
  • Contain 18 times more vitamin A than lettuce
  • Contain 3 times more potassium than bananas


Nutritional Data (based on 100g of plucked leaves/shoots/tender stem - blanched)
Calories - 21kcal
Protein - 2g
Carbohydrates - 4g
Fat - 0.2g
Vitamins: A, C, B6, K
Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Magnesium

So these leaves are really very healthy to eat,,,, some key benefits include
  1. They contain high levels of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants that can help eliminate/reduce the effects of free radicals in the body
  2. Eating amaranth leaves regularly can have great impact for those on a weight management plan
  3. As with some other super foods, amaranth leaves contain some key enzymes like lysine, which are excellent for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Regular consumption is advised.
  4. Can help to prevent arthritis, gout or other inflammations in the body....but note....those already suffering from any of these conditions must avoid eating amaranth greens..
  5. Help in bone development and strengthen bones. Recommended during pregnancy, to eliminate risks of birth defects. 
  6. The leave are easy to digest and due to high levels of dietary fibre they support a healthy digestive system. 
  7. Other benefits attributed to an increased consumption of amaranth leaves...prevention of anemia, easing of skin problems and lowering of  calcium deficiency.

Blanched and Minced Amaranth Greens

Prepping Tete (Amaranth Greens)
Tete leaves can be plucked cleaned and added directly to your cooking. They are also first blanched before adding to cooking. The blanching process is perfect for prepping the leaves for further storage in the freeze. Blanching also helps to retain the leaves' vibrant green colour when added to stews, soups or stir fries.

What to do
  1. Get some amaranth leaves (known locally as tete). Pluck the leaves off the stem, and plucking the tender shoots as well. During this process, include the part of the stem which is still quite tender and not tough or woody. 
  2. Check this out by bending the stem until it snaps. If it does not snap, then it means that part is too tough and woody.Get all the plucked leaves into a large bowl and rinse several times to remove all traces of sand or other debris
  3. In a large stock pot, add some water and some chicken or vegetable stock powder. Allow this to heat up and dissolve the stock powder. Then add the leaves, stem, shoots, everything...Allow all to boil a little, but take care not to overcook the leaves. The heating should be enough just to wilt the leaves. 
  4. Once all leaves appear wilted, plunge leaves into a bowl of cold water to immediately stop further cooking or softening of the vegetables. When cool, carefully pick the leaves and hold them in a bunch. Place on the chopping board and slice thinly. 
  5. Once all leaves are sliced, squeeze water out of them, and place in an air tight back ready for storage and later use. Suitable for freezing.



How to use
  • The tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads
  • The tender leaves can also be added to smoothies
  • Plucked leaves and shoots can be liquefied/blended and frozen for later use. Added to soups or stews
  • The washed plucked leaves can be added directly to cooking such as in soups and stews, pottage etc
  • The blanched leaves can be added to stir fries, soups, stews, pottage, etc
  • The leaves can be used to garnish food


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