A Quarterly Newsletter                                                                                  Winter 2016/ 2017
Winter Greetings from Oldways!
African Heritage & Health Update
Greetings to everyone and Happy New Year! We hope your holiday season was a joyous one filled with family, friends, and of course, good and healthy dishes. We are beginning 2017 with a lot of exciting news to share about the Oldways African Heritage & Health program.
African Heritage & Health Week

Black History Month (February) is right around the corner and we are gearing up for African Heritage & Health Week on February 1 to 7, 2017 ! We hope you'll join us and help educate others about how delicious and nutritious the African Heritage Diet is in any or all of the following ways: 
  • teach or participate in a class
  • visit an African Heritage restaurant from our Dine-Around-Town list
  • cook a family meal at home
  • share photographs, recipes, or musings on our Facebook page
  • read our upcoming blog posts

Show us how you're participating by using #AfricanHeritageWeek and tagging us on social media. We look forward to celebrating with you!


2016 ATOAH Classes Finish in a Big Way

2016 proved to be a big year in the City of Brotherly Love. With the help of our 10 Philadelphia partners, we set an ATOAH record: a total of 31 class series were taught in the city at 22 locations and 2017 classes are already in progress. Many thanks to all our partner organizations in Philadelphia!

In New Orleans, Oldways also partnered with the Tulane Prevention Research Center's Movin' for LIFE Program, which helps residents of the 9th Ward achieve healthier lifestyles through nutrition education and physical activity. Tulane staff taught A Taste of African Heritage at six class sites, including three community churches. Additionally, between January 2015 and December 2016, our  Ambassador Network has hosted an impressive 36 classes and 22 community events, reaching approximately 1200 community members and class participants. 

African Heritage & Health in Publications 

We strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to read OASIS (Oldways Africana Soup in Stories) on the Oldways website. Clark Atlanta University's Professor Stephanie Evans collaborated with the African Heritage & Health Program to assemble a collection of stories and recipes from 20 cooks, chefs, researchers, storytellers, foodies, farmers, nutritionists, historians, activists, food blogger, and wellness workers. These moving personal accounts explore identity, geography, health, and self-care, and include irresistible recipes from across the African Diaspora.
We're also excited about a new relationship with Cuisine Noir Magazine, a print and online culinary and lifestyle publication that showcases the talents of culinary professionals of African descent. We will be regularly contributing content, including recipes, to the publication. If you are new to Cuisine Noir, check it out online; you can also purchase a copy of the Winter 2016 issue featuring Oldways' Q&A with Charleston native and Gullah Geechee culinary artist Chef Benjamin "BJ" Dennis.

 Traditional African Holiday Celebrations

There are many celebrations throughout the African Diaspora that take place around the end of the year. Some of these traditions are religious while others are cultural. We've highlighted a few for you below. 
Photo by Steve Evans at Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).
Jewish Ethiopians, known as Beta Israel ("House of Israel"), celebrate the holiday of Sigd . Sigd means  "prostration" in Ge'ez an ancient Semitic language of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is a day of communal atonement and introspection. In Ethiopia, community members gather on the highest mountain tops to fast, pray, and recite hymns. They then descend to partake in a celebratory meal of traditional foods, including barbecued meats and  dabo (a bread that is historically wrapped in klabo  tree leaves and baked overnight in coals) , followed by dancing, and the sound of the  krar  (a cross between a modern-day lyre and guitar). The day signifies a yearly re-acceptance of the Torah and the commemoration of the day on which the Second Temple in Jerusalem was inaugurated. The observance of Sigd  has spread to Israel (where it is now recognized as a State holiday) and Manhattan, where a growing community of Beta Israel have immigrated . For a more detailed account of the holi day and to view some photos, click here

Photo by WikiPedant at Wikimedia Commons (CC by-SA 4.0).
An African tradit ion practiced throughout parts of the Caribbean durin g Christmas  time amongst  othertimes of year is masquerade. Masqueraders wear masks (hence the name) and costumes with specific meanings and their bands play music in the streets for community onlookers who participate by dancing with the performers, and giving money, food or liquor. In the Bahamas specifically, this carnival  day is called Junkanoo  (John Canoe, Jonkonnu, etc) and features bands in colorful costumes, singing, dancing, and decorations! In Grenada similar festivities are held the weekend before  Christmas ( call ed the Parang Festival)  where instruments such a s guitars,  maracas , and violins are played and songs are sung in Spanish.  It is similar to the Parang Festival in Trinidad and Tobago , but t here, t he songs are sung in English. An extension of the Christmas holiday popular in the Caribbean is Boxing Day, which falls the day after Christmas. This day is a public holiday throughout the English-speaking Caribbean. Boxing Day is a carryover of British colonial rule as its origins are said to begin with a British custom of employers giving boxed Christmas gifts to employees on that day. People take the extra day after the Christmas holiday to relax and enjoy. Find out more about Jonkonnu in Jamaica here!

AHH Health Study:
High Sodium and High Blood Pressure in the African Diaspora

Photo by Roel Coutinho at Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Loyola University in Chicago studied people in three regions (Nigeria, U.S. and Jamaica) to compare elevated blood pressure and sodium levels in Africa and two areas of the African Diaspora. The study pool was made up of participants aged 31-48, 55% of whom were women.

Researchers found that Nigerians experienced the lowest rates of high blood pressure due to less added sodium in their diets, while the United States had the highest rates of the three regions. This study indicates that the Standard American Diet is not ideal for people of African descent. A diet closer to what African ancestors ate, such as the African Heritage Diet, can help people throughout the African Diaspora lead a healthier life . Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and more plant-based proteins while consuming very little added salt and  sugar  helps to guarantee a higher quality life for all. 

Read the whole study here  as well as  other African Heritage Health Studies at Oldways. 

The Chef's Corner 

We are pleased to spotlight a contemporary chef w ho is working to bring greater awareness of the rich culinary traditions of the African Diaspora.

Caribbean cuisine keeps this winter warm with Chef Kriss Kofi's plant-based tropical dishes.  Chef Kofi was born to Jamaican parents, and raised in Miami, FL where he developed a love for food and foodways at a tender age. After working in his father's restaurant in Miami, Chef Kofi chose to pursue a culinary career. Shortly thereafter, Chef Kofi joined the U.S. Army as a food service specialist.  Over the course of his six-year tenure in the Army, he prepared multi-course meals for special missions for large groups of military personnel all around the world, including in Afghanistan and Germany. Since becoming vegan in 2014, Chef Kofi is making his stamp in the food world as a sustainable, i tal (lifestyle tenant of Rastafari, short for vital, referring to a natural way of eating and living) vegan chef, putting a vegan twist on classic favorites. His influences include Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey and Lauren Vanderpool. After graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute, Chef Kofi plans to build his reputation as a world-renowned traveling vegan chef working for high-end clientele. Chef Kofi currently resides in Miami and New Yor k City.  Get a glimpse of his culinary creations here .

STAY TUNED for an exclusive Q&A with Chef Kriss Kofi coming to the Oldways blog on
Friday, February 3, 2017 in honor of African Heritage & Health Week. Visit the blog here.

What We're Reading . . . 

Tragically, the contamination of the Flint, Michigan water supply persists as an unprecedented public health crisis: residents are left with inadequate supplies of safe water for their daily needs. Research has shown that foods high in Vitamin C and iron can help mitigate lead absorption by the body. In light of these findings, the Flint farmer's market, in partnership with Hurley Wellness Center and Michigan State University, have created a series of cooking classes to teach residents recipes and tactics for reducing the effects of lead exposure. You can read more about these efforts here.
Photo Courtesy of Toby Glanville and Sophie Davidson
In the  cookbook world, with  Foods from Across Africa: Recipes to Share   Londoners Duval Timo thy, Jacob Fodio Todd, and Folayemi Brown, have created a stunning collection of recipes celebrating their combined Eastern and Western African heritage. What started as a small supper club for family and friends ultimately grew into a calling to educate the public about the foodways and flavors of their parents' homelands: "African food is some of the best on the planet ... yet it remains for some reason off the culinary radar of most people [in the United Sates and  Britain.] We want to change that."   

Any books, blogs, or articles that you'd like to share with us? We'd love for you to post on our Facebook page or email us so that we may include them in the next issue of our newsletter

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, Turkish, Italian, or Japanese, cultural restaurants tend to offer the widest variety of vegetables, beans, whole grains, meats, and spices prepared in deliciously dynamic ways. 

Every newsletter edition, we put the spotlight on three African heritage restaurants from our Dine-Around-Town list, describing the traditional features of their menus and perhaps inspiring you to t ry   making some of these cultural dishes at home.  This season we are featuring vegan soul food restaurants, and encourage you to use our Dine-Around-Town list as as way to celebrate African Heritage & Health Week

Chicago, Illinois                                                      
F or over 30 years, Original Soul Vegetarian has offered a plant-based menu to residents of the Chicago area. Customers love the cornbread and greens, as well as the laid back service. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of sandwiches, including a sloppy joe made with seitan, a "handburger" (made with ground lentils), a Garvey Burger, and a Caribbean-style jerk tofu wrap. 

Baltimore, Maryland
This Baltimore vegan soul restaurant, located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, serves up a menu of Southern soul food along with dishes inspired by Vietnamese, Indian, and West-Indian flavors. Its vegan crab cake (made with vegetable protein and seasoned with Old Bay spice) has won special recognition by the City Paper as one of the Top 10 dishes in Baltimore. 

Detroit, Michigan
Detroit Vegan Soul was born out of the owners' desire to make good, healthy food accessible to everyone, and to break the cycle of diet-related diseases in their community. What started as a meal delivery and catering service quickly grew into a soul food café in the historic West Village. You'll find a number of tempting offerings, such as a Soul Food Platter (mac-n-cheese, tenderly smoked collards, maple glazed yams, black-eyed peas and a cornbread muffin), mushroom-gravy smothered tempeh, and an okra stew with brown rice. 


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 families put the African Heritage Diet Pyramid on their plates, here are three delicious, healthy recipes that take their cues from African roots. 

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

Tumeric Red Lentils
These creamy lentils mildly spiced with chili powder and smoked paprika are just the right, comforting nourishment for a cold, rainy day. The fresh turmeric adds an earthy, almost saffron-like quality and a delicate warmth to the dish. Photo Courtesy of Toby Glanville & Sophie Davidson. 


In this recipe, greens get a sizzling new makeover. We've combined slightly bitter mustard greens with the sweet creaminess of coconut milk. If you can't find mustard greens, substitute collard greens or kale, or a blend of your favorite leafy vegetables. It's a creamed greens recipe without the guilt or dairy!

This dairy-free treat has a soft-serve consistency and is full of deep, smoky flavor from oven-roasted nuts. Thyme adds a nice savory dimension to the dessert. Photo Courtesy of Toby Glanville & Sophie Davidson. 

The work of the African Heritage and Health Program would not be possible without the generous support of the Walmart Foundation.