Thursday, February 16, 2012

Soul Food = Food for Life? You'll Be Amazed! (Recipe w/ images)

"Soul Food" refers to types of foods which are traditional to African-Americans in the South.  These foods consist of crops brought to the Americas on slave ships during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Okra (gumbo), black-eye peas (cow peas), and peanuts (groundnuts; goobers) were some of the most popular crops brought to the Americas from Africa. Traditional African-American foods, later became celebrated for their intense flavor, a result of creative preparation with limited food resources.  What surprises many is that many of these traditional foods for the soul, are actually some of the healthiest foods for the human body! 

Here's a list of some of my favorite super soul foods:

Black-Eye Peas- packed with potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, iron, and fiber.

Collard Greens- considered one of the world's greatest super foods!  Connected with cancer prevention as supportive of the body's detox system. Packed with vitamins C, beta-carotene, vitamin E and other anti-oxidants. Contains anti-inflammatory properties (vitamin K), and is believed to have cholesterol-lowering properties as it is a natural digestive aid.

Okra- rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, beta-carotene, and lutein.

Sweet Potato (Yam)- a rich complex carb (the good kind), fiber, and beta-carotene. Extremely high amounts of vitamins C and B-6, iron, and calcium. 

Here's one of my favorite 'simply sensational' soul food meals:

Tricked -Out Black-Eye Peas w/ Veggies (served over Jasmine rice)

2 tbsp of oil (extra virgin olive or canola)
2 cups of chicken/vegetable/vegan mock chicken broth
4 cups of pre-soaked or frozen black-eye peas
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
1 cup of chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves/ tbsp of chopped garlic
1 cup of chopped yellow (or sweet) onion
2 cups of diced tomato, or 2 14-oz cans of stewed tomatoes (drained)

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil; toss celery, onions, peppers,  and garlic on med-high heat until  slightly cooked...

Add carrots...

Add black-eye peas & broth...

Add stewed or chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer 
15-20 (frozen peas) 40-45 (fresh, pre-soaked peas)

Serve over brown/ Jasmine rice (2 parts water:1 part rice)

Done & Delicious!

To learn more about the history of traditional African-American foods...
Dr. Joseph E. Holloway, PhD, professor at California State University Northridge, provides a full history of traditional African-American foods with definitions in his essay, "African Crops and Slave Cuisine", on the Slavery in America website.

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