How to Make a Healthy Soul Food Plate

Often referred to as simply “Southern food,” African Americans who left the South during the Westward Expansion in the early to mid-20th century brought soul food to the North and the rest of the United States.

Whereas trays are loaded high with pumpkin soup, simple family dinners of rice and beans, fried chicken, and cabbage with fish cakes are served as the main course. smothered pork chops, stew, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, cornbread, sweet potato pie and peach cobbler as dessert.

Unlike soul food, which typically evokes strong feelings of attachment to home, relatives, and community, black traditional food is incomplete.

In addition to information about soul food’s nutritional worth and whether it is healthful, this article covers the basics of soul food.

Is soul food nutritious?

Fried foods, red meats, eggs, protein sources, extra fats, and sweet drinks are all part of the soul nutrition Southern diet.

This eating pattern is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, cancer, strokes, and mental decline.

African Americans have a double the risk of dying from heart disease than white Americans between the ages of 18 and 49, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Black Americans are 50% more likely than white Americans, aged 35 to 54, to have high blood pressure.

Although dietary choices might also have a role, social and economic inequalities are mostly to blame for these differential disease rates.

This does not imply that all soul food is harmful, either. Soul food includes recipes that are nutrient-dense as well as leafy green veggies as staples.

Several ingredients frequently found in soul food have been linked to a higher risk of developing several diseases, including heart disease. Nevertheless, by highlighting the wholesome foods of the cuisine, soul food can be made considerably healthier.

A manual for preserving culinary culture and advancing health

Soul food embodies several traditions, customs, and legacies that have been passed down from one generation to the next.

Making a healthier soul food plate does not imply giving up this illustrious heritage.

It’s possible to increase the nutritional content of food while preserving its flavor, richness, and cultural traditions by making little changes to recipes and cooking techniques.

Make more plant-based dietary choices.

The original African diet, which again is entirely plant-based, included black-eyed peas, green vegetables, okra, watermelon, whole grains, and other vegetables and fruit.

In older communities, the meat was frequently consumed in very little amounts and as a flavouring.

A greater diet of plant foods is associated with healthier body proportions and a lesser incidence of disease.

Furthermore, a meta-analysis revealed that people who regularly ate cruciferous and emerald green vegetables, like cabbage, kale, turnip greens, and swiss chard, had a 15.8percent . as a result lower risk of developing heart disease than people in the control group.

Advice on how to eat more plant-based meals

Make sure non-starchy veggies, such as greens, eggplant, peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumbers, and radishes, make about half of your dish.

Replace meat as your primary source of protein with beans, nuts, or seeds. Lentils, beans, peanuts, and black-eyed peas are a few examples of this plant-based cuisine.

A healthy alternative to high-fat, high-sugar snacks like chips and cookies is raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

On each meal, try to include at least two colorful plant-based items, such as collard greens and cooked pumpkin or an apple and a few nuts.

Select whole grains

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that consumers consume whole grains for at least half of their daily dietary intake.

Whole grains are composed of the entire grain, which includes the endosperm, bran, and germ. They might help with controlling weight, gut health, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even colorectal, thyroid, and stomach cancer prevention.

Whole flour, brown rice, oats, antelope, millet, fonio, and barley are a few examples of whole grains.

Refined grains, which have had their nutrient-rich bran and germ removed during processing and are not as nutritious as their whole-grain counterparts, are used to make some soul food entrees such as macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and rice dishes.

Advice for consuming more whole grains

Whole-grain alternatives should be used in place of refined grains. Pick whole grain cornmeal rather than determined, for instance, or whole wheat flour instead of white flour.

White rice can be substituted with brown rice, sorghum, millet, or fonio.

Use whole grain flour like teff, wheat, and sorghum instead of refined flour while baking.

Pick packaged foods with whole grains listed as either the first or second ingredient.

Make wholesome changes

It is possible to respect family traditions without sacrificing flavor by modifying recipes by swapping out unhealthy items for high-fat, high-calorie, and high sodium ones.

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Easy switch suggestions

Instead of solid fats like lard, which are heavy in saturated fat, pick heart-healthy oils including olive, nut, or canola oil.

Choose nonfat or reduced-fat milk and reduced-fat cheese over full-fat dairy products.

The answer is provided sodium, high-fat meats like green beans with smoked, skinless turkey breast in salads and other dishes.

Instead of brown sugar or marshmallows, sprinkle some cinnamon, vanilla, or orange juice over your yams.

Instead of covering meats and poultry with gravy, marinate them in herbs and spices.

Combine half of the mayonnaise with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt to lighten it.
Applesauce or other fruit purées can be used in place of lard or butter in baked sweets.

Food and ceremony, family, passion, legacy, and identity are closely related.

Allow yourself to occasionally indulge in your favorite foods.

Check your portion sizes when there are numerous favorite meals available. Making non-starchy vegetable half of your plate, carbs one-fourth of your plate, and protein sources the final quarter is a decent general rule of thumb.

Soul food’s nutritional value can be raised by choosing nutrient-dense recipes, substituting healthy ingredients for harmful ones, choosing different cooking techniques than frying, reducing salt intake, and consuming more whole grains and plant-based foods.

Recipe Ideas

Check out this recipe book from the National Institutes of Health, Trusted Source, if you want to mix up your soul food menu (NIH). The recipes for vegetable stew, chicken stew, smothered spinach, cornbread, pecan pie, pasta and cheese, and other dishes are all heart-healthy.

Other Dishes

  • catfish burger with salad
  • vegan hoppin’ John patties
  • oven-fried chicken

Most soul foods are available in nutrient-rich varieties. To get started on tangy, tasty recipes that are low in calories and sugar, click on a few of the links above.

The Conclusion

Soul food, or traditional African American cuisine, is a term used to describe the rich and tasty dishes that embody many ethnic traditions.

While some soul food meals are fatty, salty, and loaded with added sugar, many other dishes are stuffed with nutrient-dense ingredients like lentils and leafy greens. Thus, by emphasizing some foods over others, it is simple to create a hearty soul food plate.

Furthermore, you can make your favorite soul food meals even healthier by changing the way you cook and the ingredients you use.

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