11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The culinary heritage of African Americans is rooted in a history of survival and triumph. During periods of migration out of the South descendants of enslaved Africans in America spread their food traditions to many regions in the U.S. and sparked an evolution in American cuisine. The African American culinary tradition, commonly referred to as “Soul Food” is as broad and diverse as the African American community that gave birth to its rise. Many of the dishes and meals that Americans enjoy today were developed in the pots and pans of those descendants of enslaved Africans. This program will:
● Celebrate the ancestral ties of West African foodways that were brought to the U.S. through the Middle Passage and the culinary traditions developed by African Americans throughout their history in the U.S.
● Honor the culinary traditions of descendants of enslaved Africans in America and their migration and culinary evolution to regions outside of the South
● Explore plant-based adaptations of various Soul Food dishes
● Highlight African American foodways in a way that may illuminate their broader historical and regional influence
Six-Class Series Description
Class 1: The Power of Your Plate
The first class will introduce the concepts of plant-based eating for preventing and treating common chronic diseases including heart disease, overweight and obesity, and diabetes. We will discuss key strategies to successfully changing one’s eating patterns to achieve optimal health. Become familiar with The African Heritage Power Plate and explore plant-based meal planning for the week.
Class 2: Foods for a Healthy Heart
Research shows that a plant-based diet does not just prevent heart disease. It can also manage and sometimes even reverse it. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. Eating habits and other lifestyle factors play a key role in determining the risk. Pioneering studies by Dean Ornish, MD, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., MD, and others have shown that a low-fat, plant-based diet combined with regular exercise and a healthful overall lifestyle can prevent, delay, and even reverse heart disease and other cardiovascular events. Dr. Ornish’s landmark study tested the effects of a plant-based diet on participants with moderate-to-severe heart disease. There were no surgeries or stents — just simple diet and lifestyle changes. Within weeks, 90% of chest pain diminished. After just one month, blood flow to the heart improved. After a year, even severely blocked arteries reopened. At the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Esselstyn tested the same approach on patients with severe heart disease and published similar results. Thirty years later, all of the compliant patients are still thriving. Plant-based diets benefit heart health because they contain no dietary cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and abundant fiber. Meat, cheese, and eggs, on the other hand, are packed with cholesterol and saturated fat which cause plaque buildup in the arteries, eventually leading to heart disease. A plant-based diet can also help improve several risk factors for heart disease:
Class 3: Introduction to How Foods Fight Diabetes
The road to diabetes does not have to be a one-way street. There is reason for hope. People who eat plant-based meals are less likely to ever develop diabetes, and for those who have diabetes, plant-based meals can help to improve blood sugar levels and prevent complications. These meals are affordable and can be quite delicious and satisfying. A low-fat, plant-based approach offers a new tool that many have found to be very useful. Review the latest science behind this approach, consider some simple ideas for getting started, sample four dishes, and explore useful resources.
Class 4: Introduction to How Foods Fight Cancer
Certain diet patterns seem to have a major effect in helping people diagnosed with cancer live longer, healthier lives. National Cancer Institute research shows that as much as 33% of cancer risk may be related to diet. In this class, you will learn about the right food choices that can help reduce the risk of developing cancer as well as prevent a recurrence.
Class 5: Designing a Diet for Maximum Weight Control
This is not a “diet” that asks you to walk around hungry or feel deprived. How can you lose weight, if needed, without skipping meals or limiting your portions? In a word, it’s all about FIBER. Plant foods have it and animal foods do not. Fiber is what makes us feel full, and, as a bonus, it also helps to control blood sugar levels, protects against certain cancers, and, of no small importance, it keeps us “regular.” Learn to comfortably fill up on whole foods and watch the pounds melt away. Enjoy some delicious high-fiber African American dishes.
Class 6: Making It Work for You
As the final class of the series, participate in a send-off celebration or graduation for completing the series. Sticking to a new way of eating can take some planning. In this class, we’ll consider occasions that have the potential to present challenges — whether it is eating at work, during the holidays, or while traveling.