“Healthy Food For the Southern Soul”
March 15, 2010
As a southern food lover who considers at least one serving of okra, greens or eggplant mandatory daily fare, I maintain a very strict healthy-eating regimen.
I do this by following my mother’s style of shopping for fresh or quick-frozen produce and best quality meat and seafood before preparing ingredients in sensible ways.
This may not resemble the approach of Aunt Jemima or Paula Deen or anyone who grins at the camera with urgings to “throw in another stick of butter, honey.”
But it’s the true way we cook.
I’m proud of my southern and soul food culinary heritage, which explains why I gave a standing ovation to Warwick Sabin’s recent essay, “The Rich Get Thinner, The Poor Get Fatter,” from the Mississippi-based Oxford American, where he is the publisher.
I read it from his Huffington Post blog, and in the interest of full-disclosure, I must say I was already standing in my kitchen nibbling off a delicious Egg White, Okra and Turnip Green Fritatta while drinking coffee and squinting into my cell phone to catch every word of the essay… so it was more precisely an already standing ovation where I mumbled “bravo” between bites flecked with less than 1/2 ounce of Spanish chorizo sausage pieces, about 70 calories.
According to Sabin, poverty, not southern food rates as the top culprit in the high southern obesity and diabetic rates cited by the most recent report issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And I have to agree.
“Take a walk through the aisles of your grocery store and compare the prices of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to those of the mass-produced processed foods. It will quickly become clear that the poor people of the South are opting for the affordable calories,” Sabin writes, adding that it’s not biscuits and gravy to blame for the weight and health crisis as much as preservative laden fast food plus candy bars and soft drinks profitably sweetened with high fructose corn syrup
Turning through family recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting turns up a collection of delicious, sensible options, certainly nothing worth grinning about butter over. My grandmother cared what she fed her family, as did my parents and many people I know who grew up eating wholesome southern-inspired meals such as red beans and rice, black-eyed peas, okra and tomatoes and baked sweet potatoes to name a few.
Charlotte Russe, peach cobbler and oyster loaves layered with butter have never been everyday fare at my house. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way of marking special occasions…every now and then.
Between those birthdays and reunions and (continued)…seasonal holiday celebrations, join me in celebrating the healthy flavors of home, including this delicious roasted okra and tomato that’s about as traditional and southern as my tastebuds can savor. And honey, as far as the extra stick of butter?
Archive for March 17th, 2010
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