Health-Friendly Soul Food

The old way of cooking soul food resulted in health problems for many African Americans, like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Dishes are being prepared very differently these days because of all the negative health consequences of the old methods. Advanced cooking methods and healthier ingredients are being used now to make dishes that are lighter and leaner.

This is not the same as your grandmothers soul food, which was full of unhealthy animal fat. This newer approach attempts to maintain the hearty flavors and satisfying textures produced by the older methods. What you want is to make the great classic dishes without harming your health.

For one thing, modern soul food meals don’t include the classic, artery-clogging fatback. Fatback is the name for the fatty layer along a pig’s back. The old style of cooking called for fatback to be added when making black-eyed peas, greens, and other vegetables.

You can use the healthier smoked turkey necks for flavoring Southern meals, rather than the traditional fatback. Smoked turkey necks frequently have only 10% of the fat that the more commonly used fatback has.

Another difference in soul food recipes nowadays is the notable decrease in sodium. Instead of using salt as a main flavoring agent, which contributes to blood pressure problems, other spices are used. You can add plenty of flavor by using hot or savory spices like gumbo file, cayenne, onion powder and garlic.

A big revision in the way soul food is prepared today is the total absence of lard, the animal fat that was formerly used. Oils that are less heavy are more in demand among cooks these days. Like oil made from olives, peanuts, rapeseed or other vegetables.

An increasingly common difference in soul food dishes has come about due to their altered preparation techniques. Healthier techniques and methods of cooking are replacing the old tradition of deep frying food in lots of fat. People who are concerned about their health are now opting to braise, oven roast, bake, and broil rather than deep fry. Deep-frying is known to be more harmful to your health than these approaches.

Pork products are gradually decreasing in popularity as soul food staples as time goes by. Pork products have long been considered a significant causative factor for the higher rate of high blood pressure among African-Americans. Increasingly, dishes are based on chicken, fish and vegetables which are better for everyone’s health.

Given all the changes in soul food for the better, even Grandma would approve. Grandma’s tradition of just plain good food being served at family celebrations is kept going. But people who shift to this modern brand of Southern cooking will be healthier, and will be around to enjoy it longer.

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