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Cuisine Trends

How to Turn Soul Food into a Healthy Meal the Easy Way

Jacky Chou

Soul food is an essential component of Black culinary traditions, evoking strong community, family, and connection. You should try the southern cornmeal as a side dish with your veggies because there’s nothing quite like it! Many south recipes are staple foods that will make you satisfied. And others are just delicious home-cooked meals.

Moreover, traditional mealtimes of rice, grilled chicken, and green beans accompanying pork ribs give way to plates piled high with mashed potatoes, smothered lamb chops, voodoo, dark beans, mac n cheese, cornmeal, sweet potato pie, and pecan pie.

Continue reading to learn more about the history of soul food, cuisine kinds, spices, how to prepare healthy soul food without losing food culture, and those faqs about soul food.

What is Soul Food?

Whereas the phrase “soul food” has evolved to refer to all African American cuisine, it is simply one part of it. To be more specific, soul food is indeed the diet of the landlocked parts of the Deep South. It was developed around the 1910s to the 1970s when thousands of African Americans were abandoned because of “The Great Migration.”

What is Soul Food?

Soul food is an immigrant meal that combines traditional cuisine from Western Africa, Western Europe, and the Americas. Despite their African history, Creole gastronomy in Louisiana and southern part of the state cuisine around Georgia but also South Carolina coasts are very distinct.

There are several types of meat that are prominent in soul food cooking. They may appear unusual or bizarre at times, yet they are the lifeblood of soul cuisines. They are a delicacy in the soul gastronomy and among the inhabitants of the southern. There are numerous ways to employ swine in soul food making, so if you like swine, you’ll like several soul food recipes.

Where Does Soul Food Come From?

Soul foods emerged during the legal civil rights era among black communities, primarily in the Southern States. The soul foods are mostly about individuality, expressiveness, and plain old-fashioned home cuisine. Moreover, soul dishes, songs, and inspiring times contributed to outstanding, comfortable, and remarkable southern gastronomy.

Several of the most incredible soul foods are derived from typical southern cuisine, but they also have a powerful African impact; for example, the okra veggie originated in Africa and also was included in soul food for various recipes or as a piece of chopped up green-stemmed beans.

Classical soul dishes come in three varieties. Classical soul dishes come in three varieties. Its first type is regarded as down-home healthy, and it consists primarily of things in plant oils, butter, or perhaps some form of fat combination, like bacon fat.

Upscale soul food is the second type of gastronomy. This is much more opulent, with exotic meats and veggies, including more costly duck fat. There are also vegetarian meals available for this sort of food. Many recipes include plants, including spinach and kale, collard greens, and calamari, among others.

Is Soul Food Good For Health?

Unprocessed meats, processed meats, eggs, fried meals, fat intake, and sweetened drinks are part of Southern cuisine, typically linked with soul food. This eating habit has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin, renal disease, malignancy, stroke, and loss of mental.

According to the CDC, Black Americans aged 18–49 are twice as likely as white Americans to suffer from cardiovascular disease. African Americans aged 35–54 are also 50 percent more likely than white Americans to have hypertension.

Food habits could also play a significant role since cultural and economic inequality is essential in these unequal illness outcomes.

However, this is not to say that all soul food is harmful. Soul food additionally includes nutrient-dense meals and lush green veggies.

What Does A Typical Soul Food Dinner Consist Of?

What Does A Typical Soul Food Dinner Consist Of?

A traditional soul food dinner might include the following ingredients:

Side dishes include black-eyed beans, candied sweet potatoes (dark-fleshed sweet potatoes), mac and cheese, and boiled greens (coleslaw, green beans, spinach, mustard, or turnips).

Chicken (frying or drowned), grilled fish, or pork (smothered slice or “chitlins,” that are pig intestines) as an appetizer;

Cornbread (in the form of muffins, pieces, or squares);

A red drink (sometimes known as a “cocktail”) is a type of beverage.

Dessert options include fruit pudding, pecan pie, pound cake, and sweet potato pie.

See more soul food recipes for a particular fruit cake that you should not miss

Furthermore, spice is abundant in soul cuisine. It is among the primary distinctions between southern cuisine, or “southern dishes,” and real authentic soul food. But without seasonings, typical soul meals would no longer be soul food.

Some famous soul food menus are pork ribs, turkey, turnip greens, fried fish, chicken, mac n cheese, offal, etc. In addition, for deserts, you should try brown sugar pound cake, hazelnut pie, apple butter pie, sweet potato pie, and blueberry cobbler. Of course, there are many other delicious dishes, but I have suggested the most famous ones.

How to Prepare Healthy Soul Food Meals

Soul cuisine encompasses a plethora of legacies, customs, and practices passed down from generation to generation. Primarily, creating a healthy soul food dish does not imply giving up on this rich tradition.

In reality, modest changes to recipes and food preparation can significantly increase nutritional levels while preserving taste, depth, and cultural heritage.

Put More Vegetable To Soul Food

African Traditional meals were plant-based and consisted of a broad range of fruits and veggies, including leafy green vegetables, okra, melons, complete grains, and black-eyed beans.

The meat was eaten in relatively tiny quantities but was frequently used as a condiment in primitive civilizations.

Plant-based foods are connected with much more reasonable body composition and a lower risk of illness.

Put More Vegetable To Soul Food

Additionally, a conceptual of persons who ate highly nutritious brassica vegetables including spinach and kale, cabbage, collard greens, and broccoli found that they had a 15.8 percent lower risk of cardiovascular when compared with the control group.

Choose Whole Grains Wherever Possible For Soul Food

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that consumers consume half of their cereals as whole grains.

Choose Whole Grains Wherever Possible For Soul Food

The complete cereal, including the bran, seed, and kernel, is called whole oats. They might help with weight loss, intestinal health, and avoiding type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and perhaps even intestinal, pancreas, and stomach cancer.

For instance, complete grain, brown rice, oatmeal, maize, maize, fonio, and wheat are whole grains.

Specific soul food entrées, such as mac and cheese, cornmeal, and risottos, are produced from refined carbohydrates, which have had their nutritional grain and seed eliminated during preparation and are therefore less beneficial than whole wheat equivalents.

Healthy Seasoning For Soul Food

Soul food frequently utilizes flavored salt, garlic powder, and spicy spice in high salt processed foods such as pork ribs. These foodstuffs and seasonings increase your total salt intake.

Excess salt consumption is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and early mortality.

According to research, Black Americans are more susceptible to the blood-pressure-lowering benefits of sodium restriction. Reduced salt consumption may cause a 4 to 8 mm hg drop in diastolic blood pressure – the highest figure on a measurement.

Healthy Seasoning For Soul Food

Seasoning dishes with pungent vegetables such as leeks, onions, and ginger, as well as fresh herbs, not only decreases salt levels but also increases oxidant and flavonoid levels.

Changing The Way Soul Food Is Cooked

Cooking methods influence both the nutritional makeup of a dish and the incidence of disease.

According to epidemiological studies, fried meals including fried chicken, fried fish, and fried potatoes have been associated with a greater risk of all-cause death, especially heart problems in postmenopausal women.

High-temperature cooking methods such as fried, baking, roasted and grilled cause the production of substances such as HCAs (acrylamide heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

HCAs and PAHs have been associated with a higher risk of malignancy. These may also raise the risk of hypertension.

While heating and simmering are healthful ways to prepare meats, cereals, and veggies, they may lead to nutritional loss such as micronutrients, selenium, and vitamins.

Changing The Way Soul Food Is Cooked

If you choose to simmer or boil, you may still salvage a few micronutrients by incorporating the nutrition fluid into other recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Soul Food

1. What Is The Distinction Between Soul Food And Southern Cuisine?

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding here as the two cultures share materials and preparation processes. The significant distinction between the two diets is one of performance. Soul cuisine tastes are often more strong. They will probably be higher in fat, more salty, peppery, and sweeter than their Southern counterparts. Prior to the latest “nose-to-tail” craze, soul cuisine was notable for its usage of a range of meats such as pork ribs, oxen tails, and chicken necks.

In addition, Atlanta boasts the most outstanding overall soul food culture in the Southeast, with a great combination of classic, down-home, upmarket, and vegetarian soul food restaurants. And yet, the three leading soul food hotspots from outside the Southern are Chicago, the San Francisco Bay, and New York City (in that order).

2. Is There A Variety Of Soul Food?

Three different sub-cuisines have emerged from classic soul food. The first one is “down-home,” which uses butter or veggie fats instead of fat, roasted turkey instead of a pig, and sweetener alternatives to ease the tension.

The second sub-cuisine is “upscale soul food,” which is opposed to the first. It contains a lot of expensive components, including duck fat, classic veggies, plus heritage beef.

The final, and maybe most shocking, option is vegetarian soul food. Some might believe that “vegetarian soul food” is a contradiction, yet that is not always the case. That is correct, vegans. Enslaved People ate a mainly vegan lifestyle seasoned with tiny bits of dry, salty, or smoky meat. Veganism is not a shift from the traditional soul cuisine; instead, it is a gastronomic reunion.

3. Why Do People Tend To Criticize Soul Food?

People “hate on” soul food for two primary purposes. Some argue that soul food requires a warning sticker due to the persisting notion that eating it on a routine basis would cause death. This picture is driven by images of dishes piled high with greasy frying and overpoweringly sweet meals.

Consider what dietitians advise us to consume much more: darkish, green vegetables, seafood, beans, and sweet potatoes. All of them are the foundations of soul food. It all comes down to how they begin preparing: Cuts of meat can be roasted rather than fried, and veggies can be prepared without the need for fresh meats.

According to research, Black Americans are more susceptible to the blood-pressure-lowering benefits of sodium restriction. Reduced salt consumption may cause a 4 to 8 mm hg drop in diastolic blood pressure – the highest figure on a measurement.

The second criticism, which is more common among Black Americans, is that soul food should not be praised since it is “slavery food” or “poor food.” This, again, is a half-baked idea. Most of what we now term soul cuisine was previously considered celebratory or pride cuisine. King Richard II, as well as Queen Elizabeth I’s palace chefs, prepared mac and cheese. Henry VII ate sweet potato pie, while the French and English nobility ate fried crickets (“chitlins”). The fried chicken was not typical in the antebellum period, far from the omnipresent comfort meal nowadays.


African culture cuisine, often known as soul food, incorporates a variety of cultural heritage and is recognized for its richness and taste.

Although certain soul food meals are heavy in fats, salt, and sweeteners, many other meals are rich in nutritional ingredients such as green vegetables and legumes. As a result, it’s simple to create a healthy soul food meal by emphasizing some foods over others.

Moreover, changing your cooking techniques and substituting high-quality ingredients may better prepare your beloved soul food recipes.

Jacky Chou

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