Monica Oramo Opundo
In Kakun, Kenya, the local community has eaten apuodho (a local pumpkin variety) for its medicinal qualities for generations; Monica remembers her mother cooking it frequently when she was growing up. Once she finished schooling and moved out on her own, she cooked it less and less. Recently reminded of its high nutritional value, she tried to reintroduce the food into her diet, trying her best to mimic her mother’s technique from years before. Yet her children hated the taste. Monica wondered if there was another way to cook it that her family would enjoy more. So she began experimenting. After testing a variety of recipes, Monica found one was enjoyed by most everyone who tasted it. She calls it Apuodho Cake.
To make the Apuodho Cake, Monica starts by slicing the pumpkin into small strips and removing the seeds. She boils the slices with a skin on and then, using a ladle, crushes the cooked pumpkin until it’s an even consistency and color. Next, she mixes in goat’s milk, eggs, and a bit of sugar. Once she combines all of the ingredients, she pours the mixture into a baking pan. Finally, she bakes the cake in the local oven until it’s cooked through.
Monica has seen an increased consumption of pumpkin not only by her children but by her whole community. The local hospital has even started purchasing her Apuodho Cakes for the patients’ meals. These Apuodho Cakes are just one way that the Kakun community is varying up their diets with nutrient dense foods, which improves health and nutrition. Additionally, a more varied diet means community members rely upon a greater number of crops, which ultimately improves food security.