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A Quarterly Newsletter                                                                                    Spring 2013

Welcome to the African Heritage & Health Newsletter
It's been an eventful four months since our last edition, and we are thrilled to share all the exciting things going on with Oldways' African Heritage & Health program. 
We're so happy that you've joined us!   

It's Here! 
A Taste of African Heritage: Officially Launched  
Oldways' national cooking and wellness program,
A Taste of African Heritagehas launched. 
We are now recruiting teachers around the country for this six-week series, with 50 class sites planned for 2013 and 100 sites in 2014. Taking 
cues from our pilot last fall, we have enhanced 
the program with new recipes, new materials, physical health measuring, and ongoing staff support to help participants everywhere enjoy 
the health benefits of this wonderful way to eat and live. 

We would love for you to join us! 


Visit the A Taste of African Heritage webpage for more details 

about the program. If you would like to become an instructor 

or help organize classes in your community, simply fill out our Teacher Sign-Up Form and we will contact you promptly.                                          


With national support from the Walmart Foundation  



Many thanks to Savory Spice Shop for their delicious 

spice donations to the program! 


African Heritage & Health Pinterest Page: 
AHH Pinterest Page
Over 700 Followers  

For home cooking inspiration, blog authors Chrystal Baker 

and Sanura Weathers helped Oldways create a delectable African Heritage & Health Recipes Pinterest page! 


From Benne Cookies to Pot Liquor Soup, you'll find dozens of recipes with delicious roots in African heritage.  


Come join us on today! 


The African Heritage Diet Goes to Washington 
and Beyond! 

The spectacular flavors and health benefits of the African Heritage Diet have been celebrated at several influential events this spring -- from the Pyramid's debut at the USDA offices in Washington, D.C. to a wellness summit for the National Black Nurses Association to a 
local food event in the natural foods hub of Austin, TX. 

In March, African Heritage Advisory Committee member and food activist Tambra Raye Stevenson took the African Heritage Diet Pyramid all over the nation's capitol. Tambra presented Oldways' pyramid to the USDA's nutrition policy offices, the D.C. Mayor's Office on African Affairs, the African Studies Department at Howard University, the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and to the White House with fellow African Heritage Committee member, Toni Tipton-Martin, at the First Lady's Let's Move! Health Summit.

In April, Oldways was invited to speak at the National Black Nurses Association's wellness summit in Philadelphia,
"She's Looking Good and Feeling Fine! What's Her Secret?"  Sarah Dwyer from Oldways presented the African Heritage Diet and the idea of eating traditionally to eat well to nurses from all over the northeast. Other sessions included a motivational morning workout with vegetarian fitness trainer, Bridget Smith of Bridget 360; presentation on brain chemistry and the physical healing power that specific foods, particularly herbs and spices, have on mood; and, a lecture on healthcare initiatives that will make it possible for doctors to write prescriptions for exercise. It's exciting to imagine a world where doctors will prescribe walking five days per week to help combat heart disease and other chronic conditions!  
Ending this Spring tour, Oldways promoted the African Heritage Diet at "Real Food Austin", a local food event in Austin, TX that brought farmers, chefs, and families 
together to celebrate healthy, local food and community. 
The event was put on by Edible Austin Magazine, 
a publication of Edible Communities, which creates community-based magazines that cover the local food scenes of 76 different towns and cities - from Edible Atlanta to 
Edible Chicago to Edible Seattle -- each location having its own publication. Look for your location on their website, where you'll 
find beautiful stories and photographs of local chefs, farmers, restaurant owners, and others rocking the food world with very "old ways" approaches.


Kristina DeMuth is a dietitian with a mission. She has been a volunteer in Haiti for a little over 2 years
with an organization called Healing Haiti. For the past 8 months, Kristina has been living in Haiti part-time, working, teaching, and educating the local community there as a professional dietitian. 

Kristina's main work is on finding nutrition solutions to end hunger and diet-related diseases at an orphanage just outside Port-au-Prince. There, she designs meal plans, leads a staff of cooks in providing healthy food to the community, provides nutrition education, and more. During her spare time, Kristina works on her blog, "For I was Hungry..." in which she shares about her day to day experiences.

Did we mention that she's only 24?

Kristina contacted Oldways about using our African Heritage & Health materials to help the Haitian population revive their healthy plant-based traditions and native foods. We caught up with Kristina and her colleague Lynoue, Director at The Feeding Center, to hear about their work this year and how the message of health through heritage is resonating in Haiti. Click here to read this inspiring interview.

AHH Health Study:

The Protective Powers of Fruits and Vegetables on Colon Cancer 

In each newsletter, we like to share one scientific study that reinforces the importance and benefits of the African Heritage Diet. This edition's study comes from the Journal of Gastroenterology and looks at the powerful impact fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber plant-foods can have against colon cancer. 

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Scientific evidence of the disease-preventing benefits of fruits and vegetables continues to expand, especially against some of the number one killers: heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.

Colon cancer has been strongly associated with a Western diet. While research continues on the specific nutrients involved in prevention, overall dietary patterns linked to colon health can be seen in numerous studies. Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a major review of studies that have looked at diet and colon cancer to learn more about its prevention. 



The MGH team started with a review of Dr. Denis Burkitt's research in the 1950's, which demonstrated that the traditional, high-fiber diets in Africa -- rich in vegetables, fruits, tubers, and whole grains -- related to much lower incidences of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease than in Europe and the U.S. 


The review found numerous studies showing that diets high in vegetables and fiber have the potential to decrease colon cancer risk by as much as 40-50% today. Their review further concluded that high intakes of red and processed meats, highly refined grains, and sugars correlated to increased colon cancer risk. The researchers recommend replacing these foods with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, unsaturated fats, legumes and other antioxidant-rich foods to lower the risk of colon cancer. In terms of lifestyle changes, the evidence suggests that avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, each have a positive influence against cancer risk. 


Summer is the perfect time to expand your fruit and vegetable horizons. Include more African heritage varieties, like: 
Click here for complete Food List
Leafy Greens
beet greens, callaloo, chard, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, poke weed, spinach, sorrel, turnip greens, watercress


asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cassava, eggplant, garlic, green beans, lettuce, long bean, mushrooms, okra, onions, all types of peppers, pumpkin, radish, scallions, squashes, sweet potatoes, white cushaw, yambean (or jicama), yams, yuca, zucchini
avocados, baobab, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, breadfruit, cherries, dates, dewberry, figs, grapefruit, guava, horned melon, lemons, limes, mangos, muscadine grapes, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, oranges, tamarind, tomatoes, watermelon

You can find more African heritage foods in our Food Glossary and Common Foods List.

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 Senegalese, Caribbean, Indian, or Japanese, cultural restaurants often offer the widest variety of interesting plant-based dishes, preparing various veggies, beans, whole grains, and spices in dramatically new ways.

Every edition, we put the spotlight on one African heritage restaurant that serves healthy cuisine from one of the many regions of Africa and the African Diaspora. We describe the features of that region's food and let you know what you'll find at the table.
West African Cuisine 
West Africa is home to a spicy, flavorful array of pure comfort foods. Fritters, plantains, perfectly cooked greens, tangy marinades and relishes, fresh fish and seafood, and aromatic grains star on West African plates. Here are three of our favorite West African restaurants - in Boston, New York, and New Orleans. 

Photo from
Teranga in Boston, MA: 
Teranga means "hospitality" in Senegal's Wolof language, and owner Chef Marie-Claude stays true to the restaurant's name. Most nights you'll find her greeting diners and visiting tables, answering questions and talking about this amazing cuisine from Senegal. Teranga's menu not only has some of the most delicious food we've ever tasted, it's also naturally 95% gluten-free and vegetarian friendly--without even trying. Our favorite menu item? The Accara with spicy tomato dipping sauce. 

Bennachin in New Orleans, LA: 
The next time you're visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans, don't miss enjoying a meal at Bennachin Restaurant on Royal Street. Offering a variety of dishes bursting with flavor and that old French Quarter charm, Bennechin is hands-down one of the coziest, tastiest spots in the city. With its culinary roots in Gambia and Cameroon, Bennachin's most well known for its Jama Jama --spinach sautéed with ginger, onion, and garlic -- coconut rice, and plantains. You'll find ginger juice and African teas, but it's BYOB, with no alcohol on the menu. Grab a bottle of wine on your way, and sit amid the warm glow of the brick walls, wonderful art, and amazing aromas for an unforgettable night.

Le Grand Dakar in Brooklyn, NY: 
Created by Senegalese Chef, Pierre Thiam, Le Grand Dakar is an African inspired restaurant that draws from a wide range of African heritage cuisine. Jerk wings from Jamaica. Fish with cassava couscous and tomato relish from the Ivory Coast. Peanut and vegetable stew from Mali. Salads featuring poached shrimp, papaya, and coconut. Here you'll find bites from every African heritage region, with each dish's country of origin                                                                           written below it on the menu.

For a listing of African heritage restaurants across the U.S. that serve healthy cuisines from the many regions of Africa and the African Diaspora, visit Oldways' African Heritage Dine-Around-Town.  

(If you know of an African restaurant where you live and don't see it on our list, please let us know and we will gladly add it to our Dine-Around-Town.)  


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 you celebrate the pleasures, culture, and healthfulness of African heritage foods in your kitchen, h
ere are four simple, delicious recipes you can enjoy this summer with your family.

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

West Africa: Accara Black-eyed Pea Fritters

Accara are crispy black-eyed pea fritters that are a popular street food in West Africa. This recipe comes courtesy of Marie-Claude Mendy, former Top Chef winner and owner of Teranga Restaurant. Best served with Kanni, a zesty tomato dipping sauce, which is linked in this recipe.   

Hearts of Palm are a Central and South American vegetable, with a delicate flavor and consistency similar to artichokes. This fresh salad is simple to put together and has a sweet and tangy dressing that makes it unforgettable. 

 The Caribbean: Easy Herb-Crusted Tilapia 
Tilapia, a fresh water fish native to Africa, has become one of the hottest seafood items on restaurant menus. Broiled, grilled, baked, or pan-seared, this white flaky fish is fast and easy to prepare. This recipe, courtesy of the Pescetarian Journal, uses fresh, minced greens as part of the lush crust. For Caribbean flare, spritz with
lime and serve with grilled mango.

American South: Cabbage & Dill Summer Salad  
A stunning side or mid-day snack of bright purple cabbage brings a colorful crunch to your plate. You can substitute cucumber for the cabbage to make an equally tasty pickled slaw.