My proteins on this diet are usually baked. Skinless, boneless chicken breast, pork loin chips, ground turkey burgers, shrimp, salmon and fish in general. Once in a while, I’ll have rotisserie chicken or grilled if I get lucky enough to get it before somebody puts bbq sauce on it! If I’m in a hurry, I may pan fry a burger (low fat beef or turkey) using EVOO or EVCO – just a touch in the pan with lots of sweet peppers and onion. I also eat water packed tuna, oysters and clams. Poultry, game and fish have always been staple soul food meats. Rabbit, ground hog, possum, deer and squirrel were all common game eaten back in the day. Today, we’re not quite so adventurous mostly because we don’t have to be, so we tend to take the easy way out. A trip to your local grocer is easier and faster than a trip into the woods, shot gun in hand, in search of dinner! Because I’m dieting, I stay away from dark meat and skin for the most part. I love beans and I eat them all the time! My favorite beans are pinto beans which I eat on this diet with brown rice. I didn’t know how good brown rice was until I started eating it as part of my diet for it’s nutritional value. It’s delicious and to me it has a slight nutty flavor – yum! I’ve also discovered that there is such a thing as brown rice pasta, bread, bagels, bread – wow, who knew? I stick with brown rice and brown rice pasta for the most part.
My vegetable of choice are sweet potatoes, collard greens, cabbage with red, green and yellow peppers, green beans and pinto beans. I eat lots of salads so but no iceberg lettuce. All other kinds of lettuce are ok – but avoid iceberg as it has little nutritional value. I eat tons of other fresh vegetables with my salad, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, black and green olives and tomatoes. Soul food means farm to table eating. Back in the day, people ate what they grew and what they grew was greens, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and okra. In the summer we always had sliced tomatoes and onions on the dinner table. Cucumber salad was also a seasonal favorite at our house! My father grew tons of vegetables in his garden and he gave away as much as we kept. It’s amazing how much produce one backyard garden will yield! In my world of soul food, ALL vegetables were served at my families table! Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, wax beans… everything! Soul food has always been heavy on sides and light on meat because meat was hard to come by back in the day. A little smoked meat was used for seasoning and for special occasions there would be one to two types of meat served, but the table would be laden with vegetable and grain dishes.
I season my greens with exta virgin olive or coconut oil and/or smoked turkey. Once in a while I use a tsp of chicken base if needed. I also use sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, onion & garlic powder and whatever other seasonings I think appropriate. Your seasoning and herbs are up to your own taste buds. Sometimes I use curry powder, sometimes oregano, sometimes turmeric. It just depends on what I’m fixing. Something I love to do is mix collards and cabbage so I rarely eat just collards or just cabbage because the two of them together is simply awesome! Add sweet peppers, onions a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil to sauté them in and you’ve got some good eating!!! For the soul food diet I flavor my sweet potatoes with the same spices you would use if making candied sweet potatoes… cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves… whatever you like!
The soul food diet embraces whole foods which is where “soul food” came from. Farm to table (field to table), fresh, home cooked food. You ate what you put it in, not some chemicals that the manufacturer added to make it last longer on the store shelf. Soul food was and is simple food, country food that someone takes the time to cook with love for their loved ones. Every day you find more and more “experts” embracing the way we ate back in the day. There was a time when they said it was “all wrong and killing us”!!!! Today, you can find more and more people turning back to the “slow food” movement because the truth is that it’s the new way of eating, fast food and processed food that is killing us! That’s the reason I can eat soul food and lose weight. Greens, beans, tomatoes, stews, soups and roasts when prepared correctly are wholesome and nutritious! Don’t get me wrong, today’s soul food is definitely not what people were eating in the 50s for the most part. Too much of today’s soul food is heavy on meat, starchy sides and has high sugar content. Not really what my great-grandparents had access to! Well the soul food diet takes you back to the old land mark. Our emphasis will be on vegetables and the right cuts of meat, cooked the right way! You’ll get your sugar fill too, you’ll just get it through fresh fruits! You’ll discover a whole new way of eating that’s as familiar as you favorite dish!