Did you know traditional, everyday soul food dishes could be heart healthy?
Before processed ingredients defined modern soul food, traditional soul food used fresh, seasonal vegetables, such as beans, tomatoes, summer and winter squashes, collard greens, turnips, beets and sweet potatoes. And meat was served mainly for special occasions, or a small amount was used for flavoring.
If your family meals typically include mostly processed ingredients, your family is missing out on the true taste of soul food cooking. Changing your family’s diet to fresher options is a process involving patience, strategic planning and some education. Here are a few tips to get started with healthy soul food cooking and the heart-healthy ingredients to consider.
Start an herb and vegetable garden.
This works if you have access to a backyard or a small space with soil along the side of your home that gets some sunlight.
If an outdoor garden work doesn’t fit into your schedule or if you’re an urban dweller with a fire escape (check your building’s regulations), try growing herbs in pots as smaller, starter gardens on your porch or windowsill.
If you lack a “green thumb,” join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group or a food co-op.
Buy lean and extra lean meat.
It’s cheaper and healthier to use smaller quantities of meat for everyday cooking, because it’s only needed for flavor. Learn to think of grains and vegetables as the main course, and meat as a side dish.
Eat more greens.
Try to incorporate as many green vegetables into your diet by starting mornings with steame collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, swiss chard, beets or chard greens served with morning egg whites and whole grain toast.
Image courtesy of goredforwomen.org