Fried chicken, collard greens and hush puppies might not sound like positive food choices, but there are ways to make healthy soul food. Even though cooking techniques and recipes for soul food are passed down from generation to generation, you can make modifications and stay on track with your diet and weight loss goals. Soul food has been notoriously unhealthy because of its high content of fat, calories and sodium. Each of these elements can be detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. This does not mean, however, that you cannot enjoy some soul food once in awhile. Here are five simple ways that you can reduce these harmful elements and make healthy soul food.
1. Reduce Fat
Substitutions can help you reduce fat in dishes. Meats in soul food are often responsible for a great number of the calories and fat. Ham hock, fat back, bacon and sausage are dangerous ingredients packed with unhealthy contents. Try replacing these standard meats that many soul food recipes call for with smoked turkey, turkey bacon or Canadian bacon. Rather than cooking foods with lard or butter, choose high quality olive or canola oil instead. Choosing healthier meats and oils will significantly reduce the number of calories and grams of fat, thus creating healthy soul food.
2. Go Whole Grain
Flour is used in various capacities for many different dishes. It is a key element for both baked and fried goods. A great way to make healthy soul food is to reach for whole wheat flour whenever it’s called for. This makes the soul food experience more nutritious. The difference between white flour and whole grain flour is practically unnoticeable.
3. Portion Control
One of the tantalizing things about soul food is plates piled high with food. These dishes are often consumed for special occasions with friends and family. Special occasions make great excuses to overindulge in high fat and high calorie dishes. Portion control can help make soul food healthier. Choose a smaller plate and never serve yourself a portion of anything that is larger than your closed fist.
4. Watch the Salt
Salt is one of the most popular ingredients in soul food. Piling it on high before, during and after cooking is common. Replace salt with healthier herbs and spices. Pepper, basil, thyme and oregano are flavorful choices. These tasty replacements will reduce your sodium intake.
5. Use Egg Whites
For most soul food recipes, simply substituting egg whites for whole eggs is an excellent way to reduce fat and calories. It is also relatively simple to adjust the recipes from whole eggs to egg whites. For every one egg that is called for in a soul food recipe, substitute two egg whites. Using egg whites will make a significant reduction in fat and calories.
Enjoying soul food doesn’t have to be an unhealthy experience. It is possible to enjoy a special occasion or a special event with friends, family and all the traditional foods you have grown to love. You can adapt these delicious soul foods to better align with your healthy lifestyle.