At Oldways, we believe that every day is an opportunity to cook and consume healthy and plant-based meals showcasing colorful, highly seasoned African heritage foods. African Heritage & Health Week (February 1-7), which we celebrate every year during the ﬁrst week of Black History Month, allows us to shine an even bigger spotlight on African Diaspora culture and history to encourage people to recommit to healthy lifestyles and habits in the New Year. While we oﬀer an array of alluring recipes on our website and in A Taste of African Heritage curriculum, to keep things fresh and exciting, we also urge you to seek out new culinary inspirations. Experiment on your own, or try one of the recipes we’ve featured below in a roundup of African Diaspora food bloggers. So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen, roll up your sleeps, and start cooking! And don’t forget to call your friends and family because, above all else, eating an African heritage diet is all about connectedness and community.
African Heritage Food Blogger Recipe Round-Up
Sanura Weathers, MyLifeRunsOnFood
Our ﬁrst blogger, Sanura Weather, is no stranger to Oldways. Her personal vignette, “Black Girl Fly,” was featured in Oldways Africana Soup in Stories, our celebratory collection of stories and soup recipes by 20 female cooks, researchers, foodies, farmers, nutritionists, and more. Sanura’s MyLifeRunsOnFood is a “sweet, savory, buttery, green and healthy food blog” born of her appreciation of the healthful and spiritual beneﬁts of a home-cooked meal. She credits her father, the master chef in her house, for teaching her to be “a picky eater” in the best sense of the phrase — one who has learned the value of choosing your ingredients lovingly, and spending the time to prepare them with your own hands, even if that means just squeezing in a half an hour a day into a chaotic week day. Her Sweet Potato and Rosemary Pasta, Harissa Roast Tomatoes, Collard Greens, and Chickpeas is a harmonious and inventive handmade pasta recipe that showcases many of our favorite foods and seasonings from the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. She walks you through every step for an end result that is art on a plate.
Chrystal Baker, Kwanzaa Culinarians/DuoDishes/Any and Everywhere
We discovered Chrystal Baker on Kwanzaa Culinarians, a collaboration of food bloggers that share recipes and stories related to the Seven Principles underlying the week-long Pan-African holiday. The private cook, food stylist, recipe developer and traveler, is also the creative force behind two blogs drawing on her Southern roots and West Coast residence, which she has blended to create elegant and eclectic fare. She’s written extensively about the Kwanzaa principle of ujamma (economic cooperation) in Diaspora communities, demonstrating the links between the Senegalese notion of teranga (hospitality or welcoming generosity) as well as the need for small business owners to collaborate for the beneﬁt of the greater community. She honors the fourth day of Kwanzaa with a spicy vegetarian side dish of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and cipollino onions. Piri piri sauce is a hot, bright, acidic sauce popular in Mozambique, Namibia, Angola and South Africa.
Erika Council, Southern Souﬄé
Atlanta resident Erika Council comes from a family of Southern cooks. One grandmother owns and operates Mama Dips Kitchen in Chapel Hill, NC, a 40-year old institution known for soul favorites like fried green tomatoes, sweet potato biscuits, and barbecued chicken. Her other grandmother sold suppers to fund the Civil Rights Movement. Her blog, Southern Souﬄé, comes from a nickname she earned in college when she doled out home cooked meals from her dorm room. Just as we emphasize in our A Taste of African Heritage class series, Erika believes in the power of a communal meal. For her, Sunday supper is a weekly celebration ﬁlled with not just food, but fellowship and debate about issues relevant to our communities. What started as a small ritual for family and close friends suddenly grew into a pop-up supper club hosted by various Decatur-area event spaces. Erika’s Red Pepper Collard Green Potstickers with Molasses Dip is an inventive combination of Southern soul and Asian ﬂavors in neat dumpling wrappers. As she showcases this stunning recipe, she also educates her readers about the merits of potlikker, the gravy produced as a result of stewing greens.
Angela Davis, The Kitchenista Diaries
In the Kitchenista Diaries, Virginia-native Angela Davis has charted her career transformation from accountant to culinary entrepreneur. Four years later, the self-taught home cook is now a successful private chef, food blogger, and photographer, with a huge following for her “elevated comfort cuisine,” a healthy twist on soul food and creole cooking. We love that Angela’s blog is not only about pretty food: she is also very thoughtful about teaching her readers the art and the technique of cooking, as well as about ingredients (check out her digital pantry). We realize that eggplant is not always the easiest of vegetables to love; however, we are conﬁdent that Angela’s Spiced Grilled Eggplant & Cauliﬂower Herb Salad will change your mind should you be a doubter. The eggplant turret, spiced with ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) and paprika, is perched on top of a cauliﬂower “couscous” salad. She makes the latter from ﬂorets pulsed in a food processor, and then tosses the vegetable “grains” with fresh herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro, and chives). Angela chooses to forego grains in keeping with a Whole 30 plan, but we suggest you try this dish with whole grains (e.g., millet, or whole-wheat couscous).
Deborah Lynch Burchell, Simply Caribbean
Trinidadian Chef Deborah Lynch Burchell’s New World Island Cuisine is a blend of traditional island cooking with contemporary twists inﬂuenced by her world travels. The inspiration for this caterer, private chef, and culinary instructor’s Simply Caribbean blog is to share both the ﬂavors of the Caribbean and to promote greater awareness of Caribbean culture. For a satisfying, hearty and warming vegetarian or vegan dish with complex ﬂavor, give Deborah’s Curry Cauliﬂower and Chana recipe a whirl. Chana is an Indian name for a variety of chickpea or garbanzo bean, which is one of our staple African Heritage Diet Pyramid foods. When Indian immigrants came to the Caribbean, they of course brought their foodways along, which then interlaced with traditional African foodways, giving rise to present-day Caribbean cuisine. This Curry Cauliﬂower and Chana recipe is an excellent example. It contains both a scotch bonnet pepper and curry powder (which you can adjust for your preferred level of heat), as well as the toasty Indian spice blend garam masala. If you are new to this preparation of cauliﬂower, no worries, because Deborah walks you through the blanching of the vegetable.
Johnisha Levi, Oldways African Heritage & Health program coordinator