Health and soul food may seem as incompatible as chicken and waffles. But truthfully—it’s not that difficult to make your soul food diet-friendly. You just need to make some small changes to how you cook your favorite dishes. Here are just five.
1. Pick healthier oils.
“Praise the Lord and pass the lard” is something you’ll definitely hear in the South. But if you want to eat great soul food that doesn’t expand your waist, replace the lard and butter with healthier oils, like olive, peanut, and canola. Trust me—it still tastes great.
2. Use low calorie alternatives.
For high-calorie-but-delicious dishes, like biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and Jambalaya (mmm, I’m already getting hungry) substitute fatty ingredients with healthier ones. You can easily cut calories without ruining the taste by substituting the following:
- Egg whites instead of eggs.
- Whole wheat instead of white flour
- Brown rice instead of white rice
- Greek yogurt instead of sour cream (yes—sounds strange, but it’s good)
- Fat-free milk for condensed milk
- Black beans instead of red beans.
3. Bake instead of pan fry.
We’ve gotta shoot a sacred cow here—pan frying. Yep, the soul loves fried foods, but dipping okra and chicken in oil comes at a cost: high calories. Baking, on the other hand, doesn’t add unnecessary calories, and when you bake things slowly, they actually taste better. Now, I’m not saying you always have to bake. Treat yourself with some fried food now and then. It’s when you’re only eating fried foods that you start to have health problems.
4. Make a lighter dessert.
Look—I understand how hard it is to resist that peach cobbler or pecan pie. And I’m not saying you have to: just change some ingredients. Honestly what makes these desserts so unhealthy isn’t the sugar but the corn syrup. If you replace corn syrup with honey, not only will you have a healthier alternative, you’ll actually have a sweeter tasting pie.
5. Fill up on veggies.
Now, if you can’t bring yourself to change your recipes, there’s another option: fill up on veggies. Okra, green beans, cabbage, collard greens, eggplant: vegetables are just as much soul food as the meats we love.
For more know-how on soul food, bookmark this blog and keep coming back. And if this blog made your stomach growl, search for some soul food near you with our online directory.