Growing up in the South food has always been the center of every get together; whether it’s church, school project (thanks, Dr. Manigault) or family gatherings, you can always count on a dish of baked macaroni and cheese and fried chicken. Having been surrounded by so much food, it’s almost always impossible to turn down a plate. As soon as you walk into the room “Hey fix you a plate”. And if you don’t eat, well, you’ll just be asked a dozen times if you’re sick and why aren’t you eating. Since changing my lifestyle, I have cut back a lot on the ‘soul food’. It hurt more than anything else to give up my favorite foods, for eighteen months I ate all the right foods, counted calories and really began watching what I was putting into my body. During that time I began researching healthy soul food recipes. Thanksgiving was coming up and I refused to continue giving up macaroni.
I know I often speak about my cheat meals, but in this particular instance, I no longer wanted to continue avoiding foods that brought me joy. I started gathering my favorite recipes and modifying them either due to ingredients or calories. They taste is still the same, but much healthier.
(Photo Cred: Sonia Langford)
One of my favorite foods sweet potatoes has been a regular part of my diet from the beginning. It wasn’t until I learned how to prepare them in a healthy way that I could truly gain the benefits of eating such a heart healthy food.
Try buying them fresh to roast in a small amount of olive oil and herbs, add them to slow simmering greens or boiling them to whip with fat-free Greek yogurt (just like potatoes). If your family still craves sweet potatoes with brown sugar, try reducing the amount of sugar you use over time until there everyone is used to only a tiny bit for flavor. Try a few unfamiliar Southern root vegetables, such as salsify, celeriac, and kohlrabi, too.
FAVORITE HEALTHY SOUL FOOD RECIPES
(Photo: The Healthy Foodie)
Photo Source: Vanilla & Bean
Most family Thanksgivings wouldn’t be complete without this classic casserole. Trouble is, the cream of mushroom soup base and crunchy fried onion topper make it not such a healthy choice. Instead of using classic canned soup and those pre-packaged fried onions, opt for a low-sodium soup (or make your own), throw in some extra fresh mushrooms, and make your own crunchy onion topping.
Personally, I substitute the green beans for asparagus! It’s delicious!
Photo Source: Minimalist Baker
Complete your meal
Baked Beans –Try this healthier version using “liquid smoke” flavor instead of bacon, and a drizzle of agave for sweetness instead of brown sugar.