Plant-Based African Heritage Cooking Class with Youth

Plant-Based African Heritage Cooking Class with Youth I REALLY enjoyed week 1 teaching neighborhood high school students plant based cooking using the A Taste Of African Heritage (ATOAH) curriculum with The Boston Project Ministries summer program. The African heritage diet pyramid shown below has less than 10% meat/fish and is predominantly plant based. The curriculum, however, is 100% plant based. Today’s class incorporated two lessons—history/heritage and herbs & spices. I had a great assistant who lead the movement portion at the beginning to get in a short burst of exercise then assisted with the class activities. Students learned about and discussed the traditional plant-rich diets of the African diaspora and how some of that heritage was lost during the periods of slavery, how fast foods, chemicals, and over processed foods have negatively affected our communities, but how we can reclaim our heritage and traditions to improve health outcomes. We talked about how we still have a lot of our traditional foods and just need to reclaim how we make a lot of them (boiled, steamed or roasted instead of fried and full of salt). It’s interesting to note that some dishes like Gumbo are traditional African dishes cooked and eaten in the south of the U.S. and also in the Caribbean. In fact, Haitians make a similar stew. I was able to briefly share my health testimony as well as my husband’s who was able to heal his high blood pressure and get off medication. Part two for today was all about herbs and spices! We heated up black peppercorn, cooled it then used a spice grinder to grind it up. It made the flavor more pronounced. We then made our own individual herb-spice mixes in small sandwich bags. The aromas were awesome!The most popular ones included nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder, parsley, and curry! We then heated up a three bean mix with some nutritional yeast and everyone added his/her own spice mix to their own bowls. They said that they have to get used to the no-salt but liked the flavors, but with two short sprays of Braggs Liquid Amino Acids, they thought it was perfect. Braggs is a great transition to a lower sodium, salt-free diet so I’m glad I brought some over. I’m looking forward to next weeks lesson on greens🌿. We’re going to make a savory greens dish along with fruit smoothies mixed with raw greens. Upon hearing “smoothies,” all the students got excited! They reminded me not to forget the bananas 🍌 🍌 and berries 🍓🍓!

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