Food is a key ingredient in the African American culture. The foodstuffs that have sustained folks during and post enslavement, through lean times, depressions and recessions, as well as the days of “living high on the hog,” are nutrient rich, and are foods to bring back to the table.
As National Soul Food Month 2020 kicks-off, there is greater awareness of many of the health challenges faced by African Americans—diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. We need to revisit and increase consumption of many traditional soul foods. The foods are not unhealthy, it’s how we adorn the food by adding too much salt, sugar or fat that gives these foods a bad rap. At one time folks needed the fat, contributing calories that generated energy for a heavy workload. In the 21st century most of us don’t need all those daily calories.
As the founder of National Soul Food Month, “my goal is to keep soul food on the table.” National Soul food Month, celebrates the heritage and history of the foods and foodways of African Americans and peoples from the African diaspora. The culinary contributions of this group have had an indelible impact on the American menu. Several traditional soul foods now carry the label of “Superfood,” and these are the foods we need to boost in the daily diet sans some of the salt, sugar and fat. The following is an overview of foods some folks may consider old school, but they are foods we need to eat more often and in recommended portions.
Legumes (lay goomes) include dried beans, peanuts and lentils. Though the nutrient content will vary by specific type, in general, legumes contain a range of essential nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. They are an economical source of dietary protein and are higher in protein than most other plant foods. When paired with rice, legumes contain all the amino acids to be considered a complete protein. Popular dishes include red beans and rice or black-eyed peas and rice. These dishes are relatively low in calories, high in nutrients and economical.