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January 14, 2011 / supremewellness

Eating Within Indigenous/Original Culture

One of the many hurdles in eating “right’ or eating ‘healthy’ is the common concern and excuse that “healthy food’ is expensive.  Fast food and junk food is cheap everyone says.  So as many of us start to transition into vegetarian and vegetable based diets we try to find the same junk foods in healthy form.  And theres plenty of it out there–vegan, vegetarian cookies, cakes, burgers, pasta, chips, dip, ice cream, ice cream cones…if you have a vice you can find a vegetarian form of it.  But guess what– it is expensive.  The real problem is not that eating healthy is expensive, it’s that junk food is expensive PERIOD.  Yes, there is a such thing as vegetarian junk food. 

How do we as people of color make a smoother transition and maintain healthy, vegetable based diets?  Supreme Wellness not only promotes and advocates vegetable based diets, we also promote eating traditional, indigenous, original foods.  If you go back into many indigenous cultures whether it be Indian, Carib, Arawak, Ibo, Krobo, or Atiopian, you will find vegetable based diets, and foods that are not expensive to keep in the home.  Also, you will find foods that fill you up and don’t leave you hungry like many European based vegetarian foods.  Even where these original cultures have at times eaten meat, the use of herbs, fresh vegetables, and fruits were always abundant.  You just have to go beyond 60 years ago to find it.  Because we know that now-a-day our peoples have gone crazy with the cracklin’, pernil, ribs, goya sazon, and maggi.  Trust, these are very recent inclusions into the original man and woman’s diet.

Here are some examples of food that are not only filling, taste good, but are cheap to keep in the house. 

JOLLOF RICE/JAMBALAYA/BENNECHIN/RED RICE–Any way you say it, every original culture has a rice blend full of veggies, seasoned with traditional herbs and spices.  A pot of this stuff lasts and can easily be served with plantain, sautéed greens, green salad, or sliced avocado.  We like to add green beans and dried mushroom to our veggie jollof. Strive to upgrade your dish by using organic brown rice or quinoa. 

CASSAVA/YUCCA/GARI-This is a picture of fried yucca.  A root vegetable used in South America, the Caribbean and in West Africa.  Though it is a root vegetable not necessarily indigenous to all of these areas, the original people in  these respective areas have each found a unique way to use cassava to suit their needs.  Cassava though a root vegetable also has lubrication properties.  It can be boiled, baked, and yes fried.  In Ghana, they make fufu and gari out of cassava.  Gari is dried crushed cassava that can be eaten as is or made into a fufu like ball to eat with stews and sauces.  This is an example of food that will make the main dish stretch out–therefore cost-effective.  Gari and yucca will definitely fill your belly.

GREENS–I’m not just talking about collards and mustard greens.  Dandelion greens, greens from sweet potatoes, broccoli greens, kale, spinach and more.  Many of our people cooked their meats & fish in greens.  Going meatless, is not hard.  The most expensive greens on this list is kale–maybe dandelion– and that’s if you don’t grow it yourself.  Now a day, you can find many greens in the freezer section. There is an abundance of raw and cooked dishes using greens. 

VEGETABLE OILS–Why is it that many of the oils used amongst people of color always deemed fattening and bad for you?  Palm oil and coconut oil are just 2 veggie oils that get a bad rap, but have major health properties such as healthy fats, vitamin a, easy to digest, and much more. Trust there’s no one obese saying “it’s all that damn palm oil I cook with” LOL   I personally love cooking my plantain with palm oil—mmm, mmm good.  Baking and sautéed veggies are my favorite with coconut oil.  The money-saving trick here is that coconut oil can also double for a hair and body oil.

Instead of spending your whole check at Whole Foods, check out the ethnic Indian, African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern grocery stores in your area for spices, oils, and vegetables.  If you live in the US South you should be able to find someone growing fresh vegetables and fruit. I’ve been able to get oranges, cabbage, tomatoes, and herbs from friends and family.  Because these foods are not “exotic” to them the price will not be too high.

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3 Comments

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  1. Ashley Lamont / Jan 14 2011 5:41 pm

    I love your blog! Yummy recipes. Can’t wait to try them. I also agree completely with your ideas. I am not a complete vegetarian but I do limit my meat consumption quite a bit. As well as any other animal ingredients. I feel so much healthier and energetic doing this. I love that you are spreading this idea! Good for you!

  2. Delali Haligah / Mar 28 2011 11:35 am

    Peace to you all! So glad to finally find a place where I can find Dr. Asares’ healthful medicines and food! He has a wealth of knowledge and I consider him one, if not the best Holistic doctors in the world. Please keep up the great works you are doing towards uplifting Afrikan people worldwide through good health practices and healthy foods- we need it.

    With love and respect
    Delali Haligah

  3. maartground / Jul 4 2012 4:42 pm

    great points! i noticed that when i keep things simple (food-wise), eating well becomes much easier to do.

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