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A Quarterly Newsletter                                                                                    Summer 2014
Summer Is Sizzling ... in the Kitchen! 

It has been an action-packed summer for Oldways' African Heritage & Health program. From Chefs' Battles to film sets to national news releases, we've been having so much fun firing up our stoves and getting America cooking! We hope you'll join us as we ring out the summer. 

Coming Soon: A Taste of African Heritage Video! 


Lights! Camera! Heritage! Oldways' A Taste of African Heritage nutritional cooking program is about to get its very own trailer. This six-minute video is designed to walk future teachers and students through the powerful information, class components, and positive takeaways A Taste of African Heritage is bringing to communities everywhere. 


With the help of A Taste of African Heritage instructors, students, and local community organizations, we worked non-stop on a two day shoot in Austin, TX earlier this August. You can get a full behind-the-scenes look here on the Oldways blog. 


The video is currently in the editing phase and will be featured on the Oldways website this fall. This resource will be an awareness raiser for the program, as well as a visual accompaniment for our A Taste of African Heritage Online Teacher's Training Guide, due out at the end of this year.   


Huge thanks to African Heritage Diet Advisory member Tambra Raye Stevenson and four-time instructor Danessa Bolling for joining us in Austin, TX  for an unforgettable weekend of filming, teaching, cooking, and tasting!


If you would like to get involved in Oldways' A Taste of African Heritage program, email Sarah McMackin at for more information.   


Oldways thanks The Walmart Foundation for making 

A Taste of African Heritage nationally possible. 



Associated Press Covers 

  A Taste of African Heritage   


Last month, the Associated Press wrote a wonderful article about an A Taste of African Heritage class in Birmingham, AL. The story captured the mission of the program, as well as some of the positive health outcomes the Birmingham students were already seeing by Class #4. 


"In a world of cheeseburgers and fried chicken, participants are learning to use ingredients such as beans, greens, rice, grains, vegetables and spices that are common in traditional African dishes. Foods are seasoned with things like ginger, allspice and curry rather than salt or lard, and meat servings are small and lean. Ingredients are sautéed, steamed or quickly boiled in pots with small amounts of oil; no breading or flour on a chicken thighs or onions, for example.

After only a few weeks attending a class at a church in downtown Birmingham, [Rickey] Dorsey said he's already lost a few pounds and has more confidence about what and how to cook." -- AP News, July 27, 2014 

AP shared their article, as well as a video segment, with national news markets, spreading word about the program through other news sources from Atlanta to San Francisco. 


We would like to thank all of the participants and instructors at Birmingham's Baptist Church of the Covenant for welcoming the AP crew to sit in on their Beans & Rice lesson and to even enjoy a meal. 


Just a few of our upcoming A Taste of African Heritage classes include:

  • The Houston Health Department's Diabetes & Nutrition Awareness Center (DAWN Center), starting September 2nd and September 4th  
  • The Free Library of Philadelphia's Culinary Literacy Center on August 28th in Philadelphia
  • ChiroCare For Women in Columbus, OH on August 19th
  • Aliante Library in Las Vegas, NV on September 8th
  • Terrebonne Parish Main Library in Houma, LA in early October 
If you or anyone you know are interested in attending an A Taste of African Heritage class series, please contact Sarah McMackin at  


                              Oldways Sponsored Team 
                Wins Brooklyn's First Ever Chefs' Battle!


A Taste of African Heritage Instructor Jin Galvez kicked off the summer with flavor by launching Brooklyn's first ever Brooklyn Chefs' Battle in the Bedstuy neighborhood on June 28th. Jin recruited three teams of two - one adult and one youth - to go stove to stove in a battle of skillets, using unknown ingredients. The golden rule was that none of the teammates could be professional chefs--food lovers only! 

Oldways was thrilled to sponsor Nina Nixon, 34, and Tianna Wallace, 14, of the non-profit
Tomorrows Leaders NYC, an outstanding organization dedicated to helping over-age middle school students succeed in school and positively impact their communities. 

Each team was given a mystery basket of ingredients at the beginning of the battle, and asked to come up with three different dishes. The ingredient list was entirely vegetarian (no meat at all) and included mushrooms, asparagus, sweet potatoes, blueberries, lemons, apples, cilantro, thyme, leafy greens, penne pasta, couscous, cornmeal, oils, vinegars, and more. The audience of community members acted as the judges, tasting 9 courses total, and voting on their favorites.

The coolest part?  


Team Oldways/Tomorrow's Leaders NYC won the battle!

So, what were the winning dishes?



Cooked couscous (cooked in vegetable stock) mixed with a sauté medley of onions, green peppers, garlic, ginger, cilantro, asparagus, carrots, and zucchini. Served over a bed of spinach drizzled with homemade dressing.



Diced blanched sweet potatoes, pan fried in olive oil and butter, with onions, peppers, garlic, and sliced apples. Seasoned lightly with sugar and cinnamon.


Whipped heavy cream and sugar mixed with blueberries tossed in honey and lemon, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

We are so proud of 
Jin's Journey for making this community gathering happen. Jin has already been asked to replicate the event in other NYC locations. We are elated that this will be a continued event that can be replicated in other neighborhoods far and wide!

Seeing friends, family, and fellow community  
members prepare delicious dishes with ease and enjoyment is one of the most empowering teaching moments for public health, showing us that we can all be chefs. We hope that all readers and attendees are inspired to try their own hands at making beautiful, joyful dishes that celebrate food, health, culture, community, and the planet. 



Cooking Up The Old Ways With The Youth!  

This summer, Oldways and African Heritage Diet Advisory Member Toni Tipton-Martin were invited to host a one day African Heritage Diet cooking workshop for a Food Justice Youth Summer Camp run by Food For Black Thought and the Black Media Council.  
During this two-week camp,15 high schoolers came together to create a documentary about health, nutrition, and food justice, underlining the disparate chronic disease rates in the African American population and exploring the questions of why. The documentary will be shown at the Capital City Black Film Festival in Austin, TX on August 21-23. 

Oldways Program Manager, Sarah McMackin, and Toni Tipton-Martin led an eyeopening workshop on the health-promoting culinary 
heritage of African American ancestors, which was filmed by the all-teen film crew. The campers were invited to roll up their sleeves and prepare the day's dishes--massaging leafy greens with olive oil, rolling okra slices through spiced cornmeal, learning how to use a mandolin slicer, and more.

The menu came together to make the most colorful, delicious, heritage lunch plate: 
  • A cucumber dill salad
  • Millet topped with spicy tomato chickpeas 
  • A bed of toasted kale 
  • Cornmeal crusted okra slices
  • Fresh ginger lemonade to drink
  • And watermelon with chopped fresh mint for dessert!
Each of these recipes will be available in our upcoming A-Z recipe book for families, created by Oldways and the National Black Child Development Institute. Stay tuned for availability! 

AHH Health Study: Eat Your Lentils 

In each newsletter issue, we share one scientific study that reinforces the importance of the African Heritage Diet and eating more like the old ways.  
Remember the old schoolyard song, "Beans! Beans! Good for your heart!"?Those silly lyrics were truer than we thought. A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that diets emphasizing consumption of chickpeas, lentils, peas, and other beans significantly lowered LDL cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of heart disease. As little as 1 serving of beans or peas per day had a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. 
Beans and rice (or peas and rice in the Caribbean) have been a major part of African heritage diets and traditional diets throughout the world. According to food writer Julia Della Croce, "Beans are vegetables with the power of meat, and our ancestors couldn't have done without them." 

Beans are a super plant-food, rich in calcium, protein, and fiber, and low in fat with zero cholesterol. Since meat played a much smaller role in traditional diets, beans were a primary source of protein, energy and nutrition in Africa and the African Diaspora. 
Beans are one of the most
affordable foods we can find. A can of beans costs as little $0.69 and one bag of dried beans costs about $1.00 yielding 12 servings. 

There are more than 13,000 different kinds of beans in the world, so adding beans to your diet will add
a ton of variety! Choose from large, meaty beans like kidney, fava, and butter beans. Or try the smaller, more delicate varieties, like lentils, mung and black beans. 

For heart healthy meals all year, make bean salads or bean and pea soups; or, simply simmer a pot of beans with onions, garlic and a few herbs once a week for a delectable side or main dish to replace meat. 

If you would like to add more plant-based, vegetarian and vegan options into your life, sign up for Oldways Vegetarian Network Newsletter for exciting news, recipes, health studies, and more! You can also find more scientific research about traditional ways of eating on the Oldways Health Studies page. 

African Heritage Dine-Around-Town
Oldways knows that one of the easiest ways to dine out healthfully is to choose cultural restaurants that serve traditional world cuisines. Whether African, Caribbean, Indian, or Japanese, cultural restaurants offer the widest variety of vegetables, beans, whole grains, meats, and spices prepared in dramatically new ways.

Every newsletter edition, we put the spotlight on three African heritage restaurants, describing the traditional features of their menus and what you might find at the table. 

in Richmond and Fairfax, VA: 
Sheba restaurant shares Ethiopian culture through exquisite cuisine, warm hospitality, and Ethiopian music (with live bands) and art. Their long and savory menu appeals to both Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian guests. Start your meal off with a Sambussa, a pastry shell stuffed with spiced lentils and pan fried until warm and crisp. Then enjoy the Yasa Kitfo, a finely chopped Tilapia dish, with spices and jalapeños, or any one of their 8 vegetarian meals, all cooked in savory sauces and seasonings. 
Buka in Brooklyn, NY
Buka is a Nigerian restaurant offering spicy, flavorful food, live music, art, cocktails, and even some Nigerian groceries to take home. Voted Best Nigerian Restaurant in New York, Buka's menu is pork-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and all Halal. Jollof rice, seared spinach, fried plantains and West African honey beans comprise the Side Dish list. Three types of fufu are on the menu. And, for main dishes, Buka offers six mouthwatering sauces to choose from made from greens, okra, melon seeds, crushed red beans and more. 

Kola in Detroit, MI: 
Kola Restaurant & Lounge offers authentic West African cuisine in a contemporary atmosphere. The name "Kola" comes from the kola nut, native to African and widely known for its energizing effects. The menu includes traditional vegetables soups, fufu, coconut, plantains and more. For an authentic West African experience, try the Edikang Ikong, an entree of spinach, dried fish, kale, spices and palm oil; or the Ogbono--wild mango seed made with seasoned broth. 


Oldways African Heritage Recipes
The most powerful call to action to improve the health of African American families and communities is: to get cooking! To help families put the African Heritage Diet Pyramid on their plate, here are four delicious, healthy recipes that take their cues from African roots. 

Click on the title below to go to the Oldways recipe.

Flash-Cooked Dandelion Greens 

Quick, easy, bold and peppery, this makes for a mouthwatering side dish in less than 5 minutes. We recommend serving these pungent dandelions next to a scoop of milder mashed potatoes or layered in an avocado sandwich for a spicy bite. 

This recipe takes a healthy spin on the breaded and deep fried okra snacks in the Deep South. Crisp and crunchy, if okra's gooey consistency has turned you off in the past, this recipe is for you. 

Millet has been grown across Africa as a major grain for centuries. A staple of African cuisines, millet is easy to digest, rich in nutrients, and a fluffy side dish resembling mashed potatoes. 

Looking for a no-fuss way to enjoy your beans this summer? This zesty recipe combines black beans, lentils and mango for a kind of Caribbean-North African-Italian medley! Serve as a dip or a side to grilled veggies.