Corn tortillas with spiced black beans



Nachos oozing melted cheese and sour cream, burritos bursting with meat and fried quesadillas dripping with grease: unless you're careful, restaurant-style Mexican food comes with more than its share of calories, saturated fat and salt.

Despite this, a number of key ingredients in this cuisine are naturally healthy (beans, rice, fresh salsa and avocados), so skimp on the cheese, cut out the tortilla chips and forgo the breaded jalapenos (or anything deep fried, for that matter) and you can prepare a healthy, Mexican-inspired meal very easily.

Black beans are a great health food. They are high in fibre and protein, low in fat and contain calcium, iron and potassium. They are also high in antioxidants called anthocyanins (found in red grapes, red cabbage and cranberries) and contain a greater amount of omega-3 fatty acids than other legumes.

Although avocados have a reputation for being high in calories and fat, it's worth bearing in mind that this fat is the "good", monounsaturated type (thought to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease) and the fruit is high in protein, folate and lutein. Replace sour cream with low-fat yoghurt, load your tortilla with lettuce and homemade tomato salsa and you've got a tasty, nutritionally balanced meal.

Corn tortillas with spiced black beans

serves 4

For the black beans
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tins black beans, drained
200g tin chopped tomatoes
250ml water

Tomato salsa
6 medium tomatoes, chopped
red onion, peeled and finely chopped
juice of lime
large handful coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 wholewheat corn tortillas

To serve
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
head lettuce, shredded
low-fat natural yoghurt
salt and black pepper

Method

Heat the groundnut oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4-6 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Increase the heat slightly, add the chopped pepper, followed 3 minutes later by the ground spices.

After 30 seconds the spices should start to smell aromatic. Add the black beans, tinned tomatoes and water to the pan. Season with salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally and using the back of a spoon to mash the beans. After 10-15 minutes, the mixture should be thick and fragrant.

While the beans are cooking, mix all the ingredients for the tomato salsa together in a bowl, season with salt and black pepper and set aside. Heat the tortillas in the oven according to the packet instructions. To serve, fill each tortilla with a generous spoonful of black beans, top with the tomato salsa, avocado slices, lettuce and yoghurt.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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UAE squad: Esha Oza (captain), Al Maseera Jahangir, Avanee Patel, Heena Hotchandani, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Lavanya Keny, Mehak Thakur, Rinitha Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Siya Gokhale, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh.

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Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
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Another way to earn air miles

In addition to the Emirates and Etihad programmes, there is the Air Miles Middle East card, which offers members the ability to choose any airline, has no black-out dates and no restrictions on seat availability. Air Miles is linked up to HSBC credit cards and can also be earned through retail partners such as Spinneys, Sharaf DG and The Toy Store.

An Emirates Dubai-London round-trip ticket costs 180,000 miles on the Air Miles website. But customers earn these ‘miles’ at a much faster rate than airline miles. Adidas offers two air miles per Dh1 spent. Air Miles has partnerships with websites as well, so booking.com and agoda.com offer three miles per Dh1 spent.

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