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If you’ve never tried African heritage cuisine, African Heritage & Health Week on February 1-7, 2014 is the perfect time to discover why its savory flavors and naturally healthy features make African Heritage cuisine the next big food trend. Oldways, the food and nutrition education nonprofit organizing the celebration, challenges everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one dish at home or at a restaurant inspired by the cuisine of African-American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid.
Coinciding with Black History Month, African Heritage & Health Week commemorates the foods, flavors and healthy cooking techniques that were core to the wellbeing of African ancestors from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South. Scientific studies show that many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, now prevalent in African American communities, appear in populations as traditional diets are left behind. Black History Month is the perfect time to commemorate and explore the healthy culinary side of history.
“Part of history is, of course, the foods that have sustained a culture,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways. “We are seeing a rise in the popularity of the vibrant flavors and delicious foods that offer a key to better health in the African community. African Heritage & Health Week is an opportunity to raise awareness and elevate this cuisine, which is far from the unhealthy soul food some might think of. What better time to dedicate a week to African Heritage and Health than during Black History Month.”
To help diners explore, Oldways has created a new “African Heritage Dine Around” section on its website that offers dining destinations across the nation, from pop-up shops to fine dining restaurants.
If a meal at home shared with family and friends is more appealing, Oldways suggests its own recipe for Jollof Rice as an option. This is a traditional African rice dish that is delicious and healthy, plus budget friendly. Plenty of other recipes are offered on Oldways’ website, too.
Oldways also invites local organizations from coast-to-coast, including restaurants, faith-based groups, schools, and hunger initiatives, to join in the week-long African Heritage & Health celebration.
“The best way to inspire healthy eating is with food that tastes great,” said Baer-Sinnott. “African Heritage and Health Week is a time to motivate and inspire people to bring back healthy ‘old ways’ of eating. We want to stir up excitement and expose all Americans to the delicious, easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods and flavors of African heritage.”
This fall, Oldways piloted its new community cooking class series, "A Taste of African Heritage," in 15 locations throughout the country. Made possible through a grant by the Walmart Foundation, these classes invite participants to put the foods and preparations of the African Heritage Diet into practice in order to reclaim good health. The program, based around Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid, will expand in 2013.
For more information on participating in African Heritage & Health Week, please contact Sarah Dwyer, Oldways program manager, 512-330-0111, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Oldways (www.oldwayspt.org) is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition. Simply, we advocate for the healthful pleasures of real food. Oldways is the parent organization for The Whole Grains Council and The Mediterranean Foods Alliance, and is well-known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
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