Heart and Soul Food
While soul food may be good for the soul because of the warm memories it brings of family meals and togetherness, some dishes may not always be so good for the heart. The good news is that many of these traditional recipes contain good-for-you foods like beans, green leafy vegetables and grains. The key to making them heart healthy is to choose cooking methods and ingredients that help control the extra fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium. To create healthier soul food dishes that still don’t stray too far from tradition, try our suggested recipe modifications and you’ll be on your way to heart AND soul food.
Green leafy vegetables like collards, kale, mustard, turnip, or beet greens are staples in soul food cuisine. Packed with iron, calcium and vitamins A and C, they are a nutrient-rich addition to any meal. Typically these greens are cooked with smoked ham hocks, ham shanks, jowl back (cubed), or salt pork (cubed) which give dishes a smoky flavor, but also add saturated fat and sodium. To cut down saturated fat but still keep the flavor try a leaner meat such as turkey or Canadian bacon and sauté in a few teaspoons of oil instead of lard
or butter. To cut down on salt, try adding a pinch of nutmeg to enhance the flavor of your greens.
Fried Food Alternatives
One tablespoon of oil, butter, or lard contains about 120 calories and 11-14 grams of fat. Multiply this by the amount it would take to fill a frying pan and you can see how quickly the calories and fat can add up. Instead of frying food, try a healthy cooking method like baking, roasting, or grilling. For chicken, simply use your favorite marinade to create juicy, flavorful, and moist dishes. When it comes to red meat, choose lean cuts that have the word round or loin in the name and be sure to include fish such as catfish, salmon, tilapia; at
least two times per week.
Include Whole Grains
Try using whole-wheat and stone-ground corn flour for cornbread instead of white and refined corn meal to increase your intake of whole grains and fiber. For side dishes like red beans and rice or jambalaya try using brown rice instead of white. Add extra fiber to meatloaf by using oatmeal or whole-grain bread crumbs in place of white bread crumbs.
Cut Fat and Cholesterol
Lighten up your soul food favorites with these healthy recipe substitutions:
Whole milk – 1% milk or skim milk
Bacon – turkey or Canadian bacon
Cream – 1% milk, fat-free half and half, evaporated skim milk
Lard or butter – soft tub margarine or vegetable oil (in baking)