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A Quarterly Newsletter                                                                                    Spring 2014
Welcome Back, Spring! 
After a long, cold winter of stews and fleece pajamas, it's time for lighter clothes and springtime plates of asparagus stalks, snap and sugar peas, radishes, artichokes, and spinach leaves. 
It's the perfect time of year to take joy in the garden-to-table eating that is so foundational to 
African American history and heritage. We hope this newsletter helps you do just that! 

New Resources from Oldways
Great Ways To Use ... 
Watermelon Radish Salad SM
Watermelon Radish Salad 


To start the spring season off right, Oldways' newest 12 Great Ways To Use ... resource digs into radishes! 


Radishes have been grown since ancient times in Africa, in the oases of the Sahara Dessert and in Mali. Chinese white radishes are becoming increasingly popular in East Africa, called "fijili" in Swahili, while the grey-black Spanish radishes are most popular in South Africa. 


Today, you can find radishes of all shapes and colors -- red, pink, black, yellow, white, and even watermelon colored -- depending on the season here in the states. They are a low-maintence staple in peoples' gardens and perfect as a potted vegetable plant. You can grow radishes right on your porch, along with potted herbs. 


Whether you want to enjoy your radishes raw or cooked with a touch of sea salt, check out our 12 Great Ways To Use ... Radishes sheet for some creative ideas. Then take a peek at the rest of the 12 Great Ways To Use ... series for new ways to serve avocados, beets, fennel, and more this spring! 


Healthy Family Recipes

Toasted Kale Bites
K for Toasted Kale Bites

A - Z 


Oldways and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) have partnered to create a new recipe book, specially designed for families with children.


This recipe collection introduces families to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, using the alphabet and the old ways as their guides. Every letter has a corresponding recipe, like "A" for Avocado Pasta Sauce and "O" for Cornmeal Okra Bites. Each recipe uses simple, healthy, whole foods, and has been kid-tested and approved. 


The cookbook will be available in the Oldways webstore this summer. 

Spring Cleaning 
For A Healthy Heritage Kitchen 
Springtime is renewal time, and the perfect time for creating a whole new healthy kitchen atmosphere. Don't stop spring cleaning at just clearing out your shelves this year; stock up with foods and staples that will turn your kitchen into an exciting, healthy, flavor-creating space for you and your family. 
A combination of longer-lasting basics, like canned beans, tomatoes and vegetables, olive oil and vinegars, whole grains, dried spices, and frozen fruits and fish, pair perfectly with fresh produce that you can pick up weekly and eat right away. Having the right staples on hand makes for lighter shopping loads and helps you create beautiful, savory meals with no fuss. 
Print out the Oldways' Setting Up Your Kitchen Guide and African Heritage Grocery Shopping List below to have in your pocket and help you outfit your healthy heritage kitchen with ease this year. 

 A Taste Of African Heritage's 
Amazing Students, Amazing Outcomes!

A Taste of African Heritage (ATOAH) graduates are eating their vegetables--with joy! That's what students and teachers are reporting from class sites around the country this year. Through student surveys, class evaluations, and physical health measurements, Oldways is working to ensure that ATOAH is helping participants make positive and effective diet and lifestyle changes that they can stick to. We are very happy to share some of the initial outcomes and feedback from this year. 
Dietary Impact/Changes
Oldways' A Taste of African Heritage program was designed to introduce participants to the healthy foods and plant-based eating pattern connected to African heritage, and to provide the skills needed to make simple and affordable meals at home, full of flavor and nutrition. 

After attending the six-week series, graduates report that they have learned how to: 
  • Incorporate more vegetables within every meal, quickly and affordably;
  • Prepare many new heritage foods, like leafy greens, peanut stews, beans, cabbage, and millet; 
  • Experiment more with foods and flavor using healthy traditions.

In our Exit surveys, we ask participants, "Has A Taste of African Heritage changed the way you eat? If so, how?" Here are just some of the healthy changes graduates have reported:

  • Brooklyn, NY class with Jin Galvez of Jin's Journey
    "I am eating more fruits and vegetables and plant-based meals."
  • "I observe more at the grocery store, and I look for more fresh veggies."
  • "Yes, I eat vegetables and greens daily since I started this class."
  • "Less meat, more beans."
  • "Yes, I am eating more vegetables and enjoying and preparing them which encourages me to try more recipes."
  • "Using more herbs and spices, and I am more conscious about my sodium intake."
  • "Yes, I incorporate more vegetables as a main meal/foundation."
  • "Absolutely, I am much more comfortable with a variety of greens, beans, and grains."
  • "I try more combinations-especially things I would not usually think would go together."
  • "More green vegetables, more exercise, more water, live by the pyramid!"

Heritage As A Motivator for Change 

From the very first classes on, we are seeing an increased awareness about African heritage food history and healthy traditional eating patterns. Out of all the graduates who responded to the Exit Survey question, "Are history and heritage positive motivators for living and eating well?", an impressive 100% have said "Yes." When asked how they would define African heritage foods, students' answers include: "delicious", "plant-based", "whole grains with greens and beans", "healthy cooking", and "lots of herbs & spices." 


Washington, DC class with Carrye Brown 

Many ATOAH graduates report that they are more mindful of purchasing healthy heritage foods when they shop after taking the series, and that they now know how to prepare these foods in delicious ways at home. 82% of graduates have cooked at least one recipe from the program on their own--these range from vegetable dishes to traditional whole grains, beans, tubers, and fruits.


Many students also report being more open to trying new foods in general--both tasting them and cooking them--and to giving healthy foods once disliked (spinach, okra, etc.) a second chance. The program seems to be a cure for "picky eating"!


Explaining that African American ancestors traditionally ate a more plant-based, whole-food diet, followed by preparing and serving delicious dishes that reflect this, seems to be a successful way to inspire more healthy, vegetable-centered eating. 


Physical Health Improvement

A major goal of all our African Heritage & Health programming is to help people improve their health by making lifestyle and dietary changes. One way that we can directly determine this is by helping our A Taste of African Heritage participants track their success. Teachers measure participants' weight, blood pressure, and waist circumference at the first and last classes, to see if any of these health markers were impacted over the six weeks. 


The initial health outcomes have exceeded all expectations. Official metrics are being held until we have received more data from more classes, but so far:

  • over 75% of early participants have lost weight over the six-week course; 
  • over 35% have see their blood pressure decrease from one hypertensive stage to another; 
  • and, well-over half of students have lost inches from their waist. 

We hope to see these positive health trends continue for all students and classes to come. 


Please stay tuned for more updates on A Taste of African Heritage! If you'd like to get involved, email Sarah McMackin at for more information.   


*                     *                         *


To read more about the ATOAH program this year, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a fantastic article this quarter about a local class in St. Louis, which gives a fun bird's eye view into what the ATOAH series is like. Another article in The Toledo Blade highlights the plant-based nature of this traditional way of eating.  


Oldways thanks The Walmart Foundation for making A Taste of African Heritage nationally possible. 


AHH Health Study:

African American Women Are In the Lead For Whole Grain Consumption

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. 

April is National Minority Health Month. To celebrate, we are sharing a study that found Hawaii- and Los Angeles-based African American women as leaders in whole grains eating! 

Our featured study today, the Multiethnic Cohort Study published in The Nutrition Journal, compared grain consumption in five different ethnic groups (African American, Latin American, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, and Caucasian) in Hawaii and Los Angeles County. Researchers used a food frequency questionnaire in order to identify major sources of grains and their contribution of B vitamins in these groups. 


The main sources of whole grains for all ethnic groups were whole wheat and rye bread, followed by popcorn and cooked cereals. The only exception were Native Hawaiian men and Japanese Americans for whom brown or wild rice were the second most important sources of whole grains. 


For all ethnic groups, with the exception of African American women, the consumption of refined grains was greater than that of whole grains. African American women were found to eat more whole grains than refined grains overall, enjoying the most whole wheat, rye breads and cooked cereals out of all the groups. This is very good news, as there are many health benefits from eating whole grains. 


To help this trend continue and increase whole grain consumption even more in women (and to inspire the men in our lives to eat more whole grains too!), we are pleased to introduce a new infographic developed by The Whole Grains Council (another Oldways program), and The American Institute for Cancer Research. Hang it on your fridge or share it with friends to stress the importance of whole grains for good health. 


The African Heritage Diet is chockfull of whole grains with African roots, including: 

  • Barley
  • Millet  
  • Teff
  • Kamut 
  • Wild rice 
  • Cornmeal or Maise 
  • Sorghum 
  • Whole-grain Couscous
  • Oats 
You can find more information about whole grains at The Whole Grains Council. 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. 
Caribbean Cuisine 
Caribbean food blends tropical sweetness and savory spices for an exciting dining experience, featuring distinctive ingredients and flavors like ginger, cloves, cooking rum, coconut, and perfected "jerk" sauces. 

The Breadfruit
in Phoenix, AZ: 
The Breadfruit philosophy is that good food should be good for us and the planet. Their menu is loaded with as many locally sourced, organic ingredients as possible, offering: Plantain Avocado Spring Rolls, Curried Prawns, Roti Flatbread, and the Pan Fried Red Snapper pictured left. This kind of farm-fresh, ocean-fresh eating is very true to African heritage and the old ways.   
                                                                                  Jamaica Jerk in Chicago, IL
Jamaica Jerk brings Caribbean cuisine 
and a tropical atmosphere to the heart of Chicago. Curries, rundowns, saltfish, bammy, and conch all make the menu that includes fresh sorbet and sweet potato pudding. Their drink menu alone is a lesson in Caribbean cuisine, featuring a house-made sorrel -- a traditional Christmas drink -- made from hibiscus       flowers and ginger. Jamaica Jerk prides 
itself on making every dish from scratch, with top quality ingredients. 

Tap Tap in Miami, FL: 
Tap Tap brings a little taste of Haiti to Miami with its sizzling food and decor. We love this vivid glimpse of Tap Tap from Honest Cooking. Brenda Benoit's photographs show how in traditional Caribbean cuisine, food gives art a run for its money in colors. Carrots, limes, peppers, mangos, jackfruits, pumpkins, and other ingredients fill the menu and steal the show. 


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 put the African Heritage Diet Pyramid on the plate, Oldways has created 12 African Heritage Plates of Expression, with the help of culinary historian and author, Jessica Harris. 
These plates are inspired by the four major regions of African heritage - Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the American South. Here, we share one recipe from each region. Assign them to family members or friends for a perfect African Heritage & Health potluck! 

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

Moqueca De Peixe

Hearty and comforting, this seafood stew comes from Bahia in northern Brazil. Bahian cuisine is deeply influenced by West African heritage, as are Bahia's cultural customs and music. 

Fresh black-eyed peas and brown rice go perfectly with a mess of greens and home baked cornbread for a healthy, whole grain, Southern comfort meal. 

This Caribbean recipe pairs red snapper with sweet mangoes and a tangy citrus sauce for a colorful, island-inspired meal. 

A touch of peanut butter and chili pepper turns this simple tomato soup into a creamy, traditional dish. Serve in a bowl or poured on top of a whole grain, like millet or couscous, for a perfect combo.