In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to focus on why it’s important to eat and prepare healthy, soul food.
When you think of soul food, you usually think of foods that are fried, high in trans fats, sugars, and calories. Rightly so; traditional soul foods are prepared with lard, butter, white sugar, fatty meats, white flour, and other lesser quality ingredients. Daily consumption of these high-calorie foods can lead to obesity, which can put you at higher risk for chronic conditions such as: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high-cholesterol.
Soul food is part of the African-American culture, which makes this population more at risk for developing obesity. But, adoption of this diet has much more to do with tradition than it does with taste. Many soul food recipes have been passed down through generations, starting with slaves in the American South, who prepared this cuisine from leftover and undesirable meats and vegetables.
Although, I was raised on traditional soul food, I have chosen to prepare my foods with healthy ingredients — same lip-smacking taste, but without the trans fats, sugars, and fatty meats.
Here are some tips I’ve used for preparing healthier, soul food:
- Oven-fry meats and seafood instead of deep-frying
- Substitute butter and lard with vegetable oils or olive oil
- Prepare collard greens and cabbage with turkey parts instead of pork
- Use 1 or 2 percent milk and soy milk in recipes instead of whole milk
- Limit the use of table salt for seasoning foods; add more herbs and low-sodium chicken stock
- Choose whole-grains: pastas, breads, and rice
I’ve used the above tips for over 32 years preparing soulful meals, for my family, without sacrificing health and taste. Try a few of the above tips, when preparing your next soul food meal, you just might like it!