Rangi Mitaera-Johnson: Healthy food and prayers

Thursday June 25, 2020 Written by Rangi Mitaera-Johnson Published in Art
Rangi likes to branch out and use the amazing ingredients on our island, like eggplants and green beans. 20062409 Rangi likes to branch out and use the amazing ingredients on our island, like eggplants and green beans. 20062409

RECIPE: I enjoy making salads for family gatherings and I’ve been making quite a few recently.  They are my no fuss, easy to do, bowls of flavour, colour and texture.

Some people stick to the island-style mayonnaise and coleslaw as their favourite salads, but I like to branch out and use the amazing ingredients on our island. 

I love salads because they make me happy and they when I eat them, I know I’ve done something good for my body. 

Further down the line, it will equate to more energy, great skin, less crap in my system and maybe the reason for me having only one or two greys!

You would have read in the paper recently that my step-son Matthew was hospitalised and underwent open heart surgery recently. Matty has been an active sportsperson for many years and has played professionally overseas and in New Zealand. 

He started off at a young age playing but had issues with his health.  He never let that stop him from his love for playing sports. This has been his third major operation and on all occasions, he has recovered 100 per cent with determination. 

A big part of any serious or professional sportsperson’s regime is diet.  If you take care of your body with regular exercise and good food, then there is a pretty good chance that you will recover well from any illness. 

Matty is testament to this along with all the faithful prayer warriors that have consistently included him in all their daily prayers – meitaki rahi.

arotonga’s rich volcanic soil is full of great nutrients for just about any kind of vegetables or fruit.

If you consider yourself a connoisseur of good food, you would agree that our fruit and veg taste so amazing compared to food you would pick up at the supermarket in NZ.  There are few chemicals to boost them to bionic size – our foods grow basking in beautiful soil surrounded by pollution free air and just the right amount of tropical rays of sunshine to make true gems. 

We are blessed to have so much goodness around us.  So what are your favourites this time of the year?

When making a salad, don’t be afraid to try different combinations to bring out the flavours, textures and goodness each season brings. 

I’ve done that in this recipe and you can create your own combinations.  Beans, corn, rukau viti and bok choy don’t have to be cooked when added to a salad and they add great texture along with a bit of grated coconut or slithers of ‘ï’i nut. 

Try a bit of maniota or taro crisped up under the grill for that bite – it will certainly fill you up for lunch and remove the need to have meat included in your salad. 

So the other great bonus about eating salads is, apart from their nutritional value and dietary wealth, you don’t feel so heavy afterwards that you have to lie down and go to sleep. 

After eating a nice big salad without meat, you can continue with physical work and not have a siesta. 

So going back about 50 years ago, our people were very fit, healthy and a higher proportion of us were slim. 

We had the odd overweight person, but in general people were healthier and exercised more. Well we had to, because we walked long distances as there were hardly any vehicles on the island and people had plantations to tend to and stock to care for.  

It’s so nice to see so many people starting up home gardens, or in some cases full on plantations. Covid-19 does have some positive impacts!

I know many people have changed their diets and eating more vegetables, consuming from their plantations – and doesn’t it just taste so good when it comes from your own garden? 

All ingredients for this recipe are locally grown and available in all supermarkets on Rarotonga.

Eggplant, orange and snake beans salad


½ bunch of snake beans
(substitute any other beans or can of Garbanzo, red or pinto beans)

2 or 3 eggplants
(substitute zucchini)

1 orange
(substitute Poorman oranges or mandarin)

Sprouts or microherbs

Spring onions, purple onions


2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely grated
(substitute garlic from the jar)

1 knob of fresh ginger
(substitute ginger from the jar)

1 tablespoon of honey
(substitute brown sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup)

Juice of ½ orange
(substitute any fruit juice)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
(substitute any oil)

1 tsp mustard
(substitute 1 Tbsp pawpaw flesh)


1. Slice eggplants into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and rest for about 20 minutes. Then drain water and pat dry.  

2. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry off eggplant till just limp and with colour. Let it cool for about 10 minutes then place in large bowl.

3. Chop up beans into 2cm lengths and place in large bowl with cooked eggplants.

4. Finely slice onions and place into large bowl with other ingredients.  Add sprouts or microherbs.

5. Peel skin and pith away from orange so only flesh is visible. Cut down the middle of the orange then half moon slices. Add to large bowl with other ingredients. This can be prepped early in the day for dinner in the evening.


Combine all ingredients and place in the fridge till just before meal is served.  Add prepared dressing into your large bowl with salad ingredients and toss gently.

This salad goes well with any meats, pasta dish or even fish dish. 

“E omai i te kai e tau kia matou i teianei ra ...”

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