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In a few days, you won’t be able to find my kitchen table. I’m anticipating that every corner will be hidden by bowls and dishes of leafy greens, cabbages, millet, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and, if I can master it, layers of injera – the traditional whole-grain flatbread of Ethiopia. These are just some of the menu items planned for an African heritage potluck I’m throwing to commemorate Black History Month during African Heritage & Health Week (February 1st-7th).

If you’ve never tried an authentic African heritage meal from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, or the American South before, then African Heritage & Health Week is the perfect time to discover why its savory flavors and naturally healthy features make African Heritage Cuisine the next big food trend. 

To commemorate Black History Month, Oldways is challenging everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one dish, at home or at a local restaurant that is inspired by the cuisines of African-American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid. By preparing an Oldways African Heritage recipe or venturing out to a new restaurant, you can:

  • Explore the spices, textures, and aromas of West African stews, Jollof rice, golden black-eyed pea fritters, and traditional fufu – a pleasing starchy vegetable mash that’s so thick, you use it like a roll or bread for dipping. There are many Senegalese, Ghanaian, and Nigerian restaurants around the country to try!
  • Or head further east and eat with your hands! Ethiopian restaurants are gaining much acclaim and popularity, even without silverware – these flavorful dishes are enjoyed with a special bread called Injera that you use to pick up each bite.
  • Escape to the savory, tropical comfort foods of the Caribbean and Latin America, or the bright spices, smoked fish, and banana dishes of South America.
  • Or rediscover the early farm-to-table cuisines of African American ancestors.

African Heritage Dining Out
At Oldways, we know that one of the easiest ways to dine out healthfully is to choose cultural restaurants that serve traditional world cuisines. From Ethiopian to Ghanaian, Jamaican to Cuban to Southern style, African heritage restaurants bring a wide variety of cooking techniques and flavors to our communities. These restaurants often offer the widest variety of healthy, plant-based dishes, preparing vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish, fruits, and spices in dramatically delicious new ways.

To help diners explore the culinary beauty of African heritage, Oldways has created a new African Heritage Dine-Around-Town webpage that offers African heritage dining destinations across the nation, from trendy food trailers to fine dining restaurants. Some of the restaurants on our list will be handing out African Heritage Diet 101 Brochures to visitors during African Heritage & Health Week.

African Heritage Cooking At Home
If a meal at home shared with family and friends is more your style, Oldways suggests its own recipe for Jollof Rice as an option. This traditional African rice dish is the precursor to many tomato-based dishes of African heritage, like Charleston Red Rice and Jambalaya. You can find plenty of other recipes here.

For even more recipe ideas, check out our African heritage book selection in our Bookstore and blogger Sanura Weather’s African Heritage & Health Week Pinterest page, where you can discover many more healthy and delicious heritage recipes.

My guests for my African Heritage & Health Week potluck are also my former students – an amazing group of men and women who participated in the piloting of Oldways’ new cooking class series, A Taste of African Heritage, the curriculum of which will be available nationally at the end of February. 

We’d love to hear what you’ll be doing for African Heritage & Health Week – please let us know! 


- Sarah

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