Faith Trotter is a single young mother, a veteran, getting her degree in Supply Chain & Logistics at the University of Houston. To help get through school, Faith substitute teaches at her local middle and high schools during the week, and she is an active military reservist, on duty one weekend a month.
With a busy schedule, always on the run, Faith said it was always challenging keeping healthy foods available for herself and her 4-year old daughter Cami. Not anymore. Wanting to learn more about healthy eating, Faith became a student in her local A Taste of African Heritage nutritional cooking class, led by one of our Houston instructors, Stacy Morrow. Since then, healthy eating has never been easier (or tastier) for her and her daughter.
We got the chance to talk with Faith about what she and Cami are eating these days and how their habits have changed since taking part in the classes.
“My schedule is jam packed,” said Faith. “I used to make excuses for not cooking, like ‘by the time I get home and then thaw this and that …’, Chick-ﬁl-A or Burger King was an easier option.”
After taking the A Taste of African Heritage cooking series, Faith discovered an even easier routine. “Now, I have a variety of easy, healthy meals that I know will take me even less time to make than going through a drive-thru. I plan for the ride home from Cami’s school – I bring a kool pak with grapes or raw carrots or broccoli, and water to have in the back of the car for her. When we get home, I make Cami a simple kale salad to hold her over while we cook. She loves it. I know that teaching her the beneﬁt of waiting to get home to have dinner, of holding out for a better reward, will serve her as adult.”
After participating in the Oldways’ A Taste of African Heritage program, Faith shares that she and Cami eat more plant-based meals now. “We are thinking about how much nutrition is in everything we are eating. My shopping has changed for the better. I am buying less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. I am buying smaller amounts of groceries and cooking foods that last us and make us fuller faster, because they are full of nutrients. We buy vegetable chips now, instead regular chips. Everything counts! Cami’s favorite new foods are couscous, peas, cauliﬂower and eggplant – inspired from the class.”
(You can download Oldways’ African Heritage Grocery Shopping List to have with you the next time you’re at the grocery store.)
We asked Faith if her little one enjoys being in the kitchen with mom, and if so, what kinds of things can other parents do to engage their children in the art of cooking? “Cami loves to help me cook, and I love having her help. She’s so happy to empty a can, whisk sauce on low heat, or smash sweet potatoes with a masher. Then she’ll say ‘Look, mommy, I’m cooking!’. It is so rewarding to pass the love of cooking, of vegetables and of healthy foods down to my daughter. I have the biggest say in her diet at this time and, now having the information from this program, I know I am creating a solid foundation for her future.”
Research shows that eating a more traditional diet can powerfully impact health for the better. We asked Faith what kinds of positive eﬀects she has experienced since eating more traditionally and plant-based? “I have more energy eating this way. I used to be lazy when it came to packing my lunch. Now, I have to pack it, I’m persistent. I depend less on people behind a counter and more on myself. Having more energy was something I wanted for this new year and, since eating better, I’ve got the energy and drive to want to work out. Even after a long day of school teaching, reserves and parenting, I have the energy to work out. It’s had such a ripple eﬀect.”
Finally, we asked Faith her perspective on connecting to better health through heritage. “Getting older, I want to know about my own heritage, not just history from America and Down South, but from our African ancestors. Making that cultural connection to healthy foods has deﬁnitely made a diﬀerence for me. It is liberating, and something more African Americans need to know.”
We want people everywhere to know about A Taste of African Heritage, and what it can do for them and their families. If you or someone you know would like to sign up for a class, please contact Sarah McMackin at firstname.lastname@example.org to ﬁnd the nearest class site this year!