Nobody can resist a hearty plate of soul food with fan-favorite dishes that make everything feel like home. Soul food will always be essential, which means it’s about time to make healthy, soulful plates.
Soul food or ‘Southern food’ became popular after African Americans migrated to the North in the 20th century. Meals range from decadent feasts loaded with different dishes to simple family meals.
Soul food is synonymous with black American culture and often brings families and friends together. We gathered five tips to optimize the positive feelings evoked by soul food by finding healthy options for all.
Modify your traditional soul food recipes to include fewer fats, sodium, and high-calorie ingredients. Substitutes can consist of replacing full-fat milk with low fat or ditch brown sugar on yams for cinnamon.
Replace high-fat meats with lean meats like turkey to keep healthy but still flavorful. You can also use hacks like making mayonnaise lighter by adding plain Greek yogurt or baking with applesauce instead of butter.
Choose More Plant-Based Dishes
Soul food diets traditionally feature tons of fruits and vegetables like the famous collard greens. Try to limit your meat intake for soul food meals and put in more work on your plant-based side dishes instead.
Go For Whole Grains
Whole grains are great for gut health, weight management, and preventing type 2 diabetes. Soul food dishes usually favor refined grains, but switching to the whole grain counterparts rice will make the meal more nutritious.
For example, instead of using white rice, you can use brown rice for your meals. You can also add to your wholegrain intake when you bake with alternative flours such as sorghum flour, wholewheat flour, and teff.
Check Your Seasoning
Some soul food seasonings are pretty high in sodium, thus spiking one’s daily intake. Instead, season with unprocessed herbs, spices, and vegetables to boost the flavor of your meal without excessive sodium.
Swap Cooking Methods
There are only so many fried dishes one can take at a time, and this applies especially with soul food. Blanch, steam, or sautee vegetables instead of frying them and invest in an air fryer for your deep-fried foods.
If you prefer to deep fry your foods, use oils with a high smoking point like olive oil or canola oil. Finally, create your own marinates for meat with fruit juices, vegetables, herbs, and spices instead of mixing processed sauces.