Cereamine

                                                                                                             Brock Emerson (email)  
en francais       
What is it?
How do you use it?
Using Cereamine in feeding centers
How to you make it?
Nutritional value
How to structure a Cereamine training


Cereamine Text


 

What is Cereamine?

Cereamine is a high-energy flour made from corn, beans, rice, millet, and peanuts.  Farmers in the south of Mauritania grow these basic ingredients for Cereamine, although the ingredients can also be found in the north and eastern regions of Mauritania at slightly higher pricesThe flour is generally used to make a warm porridge similar to Cream of Wheat. Because a number of the ethnic groups in Mauritania traditionally eat a warm porridge of either corn or millet flour bases, the introduction of Cereamine in the country has been relatively easy.

Download General Information Fliers

General Info Flier (Arabic) PDF
General Info Flier (French) PDF
Recipe/Flow Chart (French) PDF


Background

One of the largest obstacles to overcoming malnutrition in Mauritania is the lack of reasonably priced, locally available, nutritionally diverse, and culturally appropriate food. Many Mauritanian children, in small villages especially, eat only white rice or couscous for lunch and dinner.

Using blended flours instead of single grain flours is something simple and easy a family can do to improve nutrition. What makes Cereamine unique is the 4:4:2:2:1 ratio of beans, corn, millet, rice and peanuts. Mauritanians like the taste that is arrived at from this ratio. While the ratio was developed by an NGO working to improve health and nutrition, the recipe was passed on to Peace Corps volunteers to develop the production and marketing of the flour. Cereamine is popular with many Mauritanians who have tried it, but the product is still unknown to most Mauritanians. Where Cereamine has been introduced it has often been well received.

Along with helping to improve diet, Cereamine can also be a new product for small businesses. One of the largest obstacles in small business development in Mauritania is the lack of product diversity. The boutique next to your house, the boutique facing your house, and the boutique at the corner will all be selling sugar, rice, and powdered milk. Cereamine is a new, healthy addition to the normal stock.

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Uses of Cereamine Flour

The most popular way to prepare Cereamine is to make a type of warm porridge similar to Cream of Wheat. To make this porridge mix one part Cereamine with one part water. Set aside and boil two parts water in a pot. Add the Cereamine-water mixture to the boiling water. After 5-10 minutes of cooking the mixture will thicken. When it cools, add sugar and milk to taste and serve.

Whereas Cereamine is very nutritious and provides a lot of energy and proteins, it lacks micro nutrients like vitamin A and C. Adding fruit to the Cereamine porridge can enhance the taste and increase the micro nutrients. Mangoes and bananas taste great with the porridge, but use whatever is locally available. For more information on the nutritional value, see the Nutritional value section.

Cereamine can be used in lieu of flour for almost any recipe. Cereamine flour is much denser than white flour, so it is recommended to cut the Cereamine with white flour. The peanuts will give a peanuty flavor to whatever you're baking. A Peace Corps favorite in Mauritania is Cereamine Pancakes.

Cereamine Pancakes:

3/4 c white flour                            1 tsp Salt
3/4 c
Cereamine                           1 3/4 tbs Baking Powder
1 Egg                                            3 Tbsp Oil
1 1/4 c Milk

Sift the flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk, and oil until well blended. If necessary, add milk to thin batter. Grill as you would normal pancakes.


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Cereamine in Feeding Centers

Cereamine can provide a locally available substitute for USAID Wheat Soy Blend, a feeding supplement used in many feeding center programs. At least one government-run feeding center in a southern region of Mauritania has used Cereamine in its feeding center.

There are many advantages to using a local product in feeding centers. Opening a feeding center with USAID or WFP food can create a dependency on foreign food aid. When the feeding center closes,
even families that would like to continue feeding their children the enriched flour that USAID or WFP provides cannot, as it is not available on the market. As a result, many families return to feeding their children the same unbalanced meals.

On the other hand, a mother of a malnourished child can learn how to make Cereamine and include it in her child's diet after the feeding center closes. Alternately, Cereamine can be locally produced and sold by a local business. Feeding centers that use Cereamine instead of aid food give their participants a chance to continue the improved feeding practices after the center closes.

Using Cereamine in feeding centers also injects money into the local community. Farmers can profit by planting the beans, corn, rice, millet, and peanuts needed for Cereamine production, and local Cereamine producers such as cooperatives can also profit from the sales. Because poverty is an underlying cause of malnutrition, boosting the local economy may increase overall nutrition.

An Excel worksheet details how to design and budget Cereamine feeding centers:  Feeding Center Worksheet (download) Excel.

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How to Make Cereamine Flour

Preparation of Cereamine usually takes 1-2 days, depending on the amount being made. The ratio of ingredients and preparation is as follows:

 
Ingredents table

Here is a list of the ingredients in French, Pulaar (Fula), and Hassaniya:

Ingredient

French

Pulaar

Hassaniya

Quantity

Corn / Maize

Mais

Maka

Maize

4 parts

Beans

Haricots

Niébé

Diligand

4 parts

Rice

Riz

Marro

Marro

2 parts

Millet

Mil

Garwi

Zra

2 parts

Peanuts

Arachides

Gerta

Gerta

1 part

Step 1:  Wash the corn, beans, rice, and millet with water. Dry all the grains under the sun. Remove all stones, dirt, corn stalk pieces, peanut shells, and other refuse from the grains (including the peanuts). 

Step 1b: If you are making Cereamine for malnourished children or those less than one year old, skin the beans. To skin the beans place the beans in a bucket filled with water for 15 to 30 minutes (Don't soak the beans for more than 30 minutes. With prolonged soaking vitamins can leach out of the beans and into the water).  Rubbing the soaked beans between your hands should separate the skins from the beans.

Step 2:  Roast the grains.  In Mauritania, this is done by putting the grains in a pot without water and stirring (dry cooking).  Because the cooking process is time-consuming, it is more economical to use firewood as opposed to gas or charcoal. When the grains start to brown they have been roasted enough. Pre-cooking the grains decreases the time necessary to cook the porridge. Also, the roasting makes the Cereamine taste better. 

Step 3:  Mix the roasted corn, beans, rice, and millet together. 

Step 4:  Grind the roasted mixture into a flour.  Using a hand grinder, grind the peanuts separately into peanut butter (known locally in Mauritania as tigadegue).  Alternatively, skip step five by adding the peanuts into the mixture before taking it to the grinding machine.

Step 5:  Fold the peanut butter into the multi-grain flour with your hands. When there are no more large clumps of peanut butter, sift the flour. Small balls of peanut butter will appear on your sifting screen. Using the back of your hand, push the small balls though the screen. The sifted flour is Cereamine.

Step 6: Bag your Cereamine. Store in a dry place. The shelf life of Cereamine flour is similar to that of normal flour, about one year.

For more information on structuring the training program see How to structure a Cereamine training.

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Nutritional Value of Cereamine

Blended flours are more nutritious than single grain flours because they incorporate the different nutritional benefits of various grains. 

Most feeding centers for malnourished children use as their supplemental food a vitamin-rich flour provided by an American governmental aid organization: USAID Wheat Soy Blend.  As a locally available good, Cereamine can replace USAID WSB to lessen reliance on external aid.  Cereamine, especially in conjunction with Moringa powder, is comparable to USAID WSB from a nutritional standpoint. With 150g of Cereamine and 25g of Moringa powder a child less than six years old can meet their energy RDA and protein RDA. A Moringa-Cereamine blend could also be used by people living with HIV/ AIDS as a food supplement.



Estimated Nutritional Values for 100g of Flour

 

USAID WSB

Cereamine

Energy (kcal)

355

425

Protein (g)

22

15

Lipids (g)

6

7

Glucoses (g)

47

75

Sodium (mg)

N/A

165

Potassium (mg)

N/A

190

Calcium (mg)

840

60

Magnesium (mg)

225

22

                                                        The nutritional values of Cereamine were determined
                                                        by Yacoub Diagana, a professor in the University of
                                                        Sciences and Techniques at the University of Nouakchott.

For more information on Moringa powder, the Moringa tree, and Moringa tree production click here.

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Structuring a Cereamine Training

Cereamine trainings can be conducted with four to ten people.  In Mauritania, all of the foodstuffs were purchased by Peace Corps, while the participants provided the water for washing the grains, the wood or gas for cooking, and all of the utensils. Each participant received some Cereamine at the end of the training. This served as a per-diem, helped promote Cereamine within the community, and made the participants feel more closely linked to the process.

For the most part trainings were held at the home of one of the participants. This was beneficial because the participants owned all of the buckets, pots, and other utensils.

Some Cereamine is almost always lost in preparation. If we started with 20 kilos of bean, 20 kilos of corn, 10 kilos of millet, 10 kilos of rice, and 5 kilos of peanuts we wouldn't receive 65 kilos of Cereamine.  A more reasonable yield for 65 kilos of purchased grains is 60 kilos of  Cereamine. Conservative estimation puts the yield at 55. 

In retrospect, starting with 65 kilos of grains each time was a little excessive. If each participant receives four or five kilos of Cereamine that will be enough to last them a few weeks (10 kilos of Cereamine lasted about two weeks in a family with 11 children eating Cereamine porridge twice a day). Scaling the amount of Cereamine for each training group would be a  better training model.

In Mauritania, many of the participants didn't really understand the ratio idea. They would ask, "If we start with 10 kilos of beans, how much of the other grains do we need to buy? What if we start with eight kilos of beans?" To help ensure that the recipe is adhered to, all participants received the Cereamine Cheat Sheet--PDF download--(English) (French) (Arabic). This has helped clear up confusion about the ratio and provides a tool for cooperatives that plan to make Cereamine as a business. The most conservative attrition rates are programed in the cheat sheet.

Materials List
Big Pots and stoves: 2-4
Big Spoons: 2+
Tubs/large bowls/buckets: 6-10
Mats/large pieces of cloth: 2-3 mats
Piece of mosquito netting--this works really well for straining the grains out of the wash water
Bags: some for bagging finished product plus grain sacks
Wood/Charcoal: enough for training (about 1 1/2 bags of charcoal for 60kg finished product)
Omo/detergent
Cups and spoons (if you want to make a sample batch of Cereamine)

Sample Cereamine Training Budget: Excel spreadsheet (download).

Making Cereamine Sustainable

People like Cereamine. One of the reasons it has worked as a project in Mauritania is that people like the taste of the porridge. In Selibaby and Aioun, two regional capitals in Mauritania, Cereamine has been made and sold at local boutiques, generating a good response. However, there is a lot of work still to be done to develop Cereamine as a income-generating product for individuals and cooperatives.What is lacking now is the supply chain to the boutiques. A fellow Peace Corps volunteer is currently conducting trainings for cooperatives and unions of cooperatives with the goal of creating Cereamine banks for health work and for resale.

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