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Jamaican Callaloo/ Amaranthus Viridis Callaloo



As a child growing up in Jamaica I was alway fascinated with the funny sounding name Callaloo sometimes calaloo or kallaloo. It is also known as Chinese cabbage .and has a variety that has purple in the leaves and veins of the plant. 

You can find this edible plant in some catalog and recipe listed as Amaranth.


This is a nutritious hot-weather Spinach substitute plant which is a popular dish, originated from West Africa and is served in different variations across the Caribbean. My grandmother had her own delicious ways to prepare this green vegetable to make it more appetizing. We always had a patch growing in our garden, the more it is picked the more it would ‘spring back’ and produce more young tender shoots.


Floridians are mostly only familiar with the variety of callaloo which is inedible and is quite an aggressive weed which appears in many manicured lawns. Trinidadians primarily use taro/dasheen bush for callaloo, while Jamaicans and Guyanese use the name callaloo to refer to Amaranth, and use it in many dishes and also a drink 'callaloo juice'. The 'callaloo' made in Jamaica is different from the 'callaloo' made in Trinidad and Tobago, in terms of main ingredient,the leaf used and other ingredients included.

Jamaicans use only callaloo leaf and stalk, salt,onions, and scallions, and simply steam the vegetable, while Trinidadians use okra and coconut milk to make a different dish with a different taste and consistency. Callaloo is the National Dish of Trinidad and Tobago. Callaloo will do particularly well in warm climates, so much so, that it if you are growing it using the ‘cut-and-grow-again method’ it can be harvested 30 days after sowing.


When planting directly into the ground, Callaloo seeds will germinate more successfully if they are sown into a finely prepared seed bed that receives adequate moisture. This can be done anytime from April onwards so long as the threat of late frosts are over.


Thinly sow the seed into rows 12 inches apart with each row spaced up to two feet apart. Cover with a 1/4 inch of soil, firm gently, and keep moist and free from weeds. When they are large enough, thin the seedlings out to approximately 1 plant for every 3 inches when using for baby leaf, or 8 inches apart for producing mature plants. Thinnings collected can be eaten as you would do with baby leaf salad or they can be added as part of a stir fry.


Health Benefits

Callaloo leaves have all the nutritional benefits of other leafy green vegetables. They are high in fiber, iron and calcium, and contain large amounts of vitamins A, B, and C, lutein, amino acids, and carotene. Callaloo is said to be one of the cancer fighting plants,especially when when it is made into a green smoothie with other greens.imagesCAU728IQ


While fresh leaves provide the most nutrition, they can also be purchased in cans at specialty or native grocery stores. I feel sure that the world’s fastest man, Jamaican-born Usain Bolt, ate his fair share of callaloo,which is a great source of iron and calcium; or that the vegetable has something to do with the great running speed.


The Seeds

In some parts of the world it is cultivated as grains, known as keerai. This is especially done in India. It is also greatly cultivated in Mexico and the plant and leaves are also edible. The seeds are generally used to make flour, cereals and porridge. Therefore, the main parts used are the seeds, leaves and stems. It is a part of the Chenopodiaceae family.


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Visit us at for more information and recipe for including this green vegetable in your diet.



Please consult your doctor before changing your diet if you are taking presription drugs..

This article is for information onlyand not intended to replace medical advise..'>' border='0' />





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