Healthy Soul Food Dinner Ideas
Just because you’re going away, doesn’t mean you have to leave your favorite meals behind. Try our healthy soul food dinner ideas to help you Getaway Well.
Getaway Well with Comforting Meals
Tired of processed, prepackaged food? We don’t blame you.
The best food is food that’s made with love, and you just don’t get that from premade meals that get produced in massive batches in factories. If your travel food choices have been lacking lately, your meals could be missing one other major ingredient – soul.
Soul food has a lot of history. Its delicious recipes are rooted in African American culture, and its flavors are embedded heavily in what many now call the cuisine of the American South.
In fact, for many people, soul food is a way of life. Without it, they couldn’t Getaway Well.
So, we’ve got some soul food recipes you can take with you on your next road trip, or pack to take away with you on your next health and wellness retreat. No matter where you’re going, there’s nothing wrong with planning to bring a little soul along with you.
But what is soul food? Is soul food healthy? On this page, we’re going to discuss the history of soul food, and then offer a few healthy soul food dinner ideas, including soul food recipes you can incorporate into your next trip.
What is Soul Food?
Technically, soul food is considered an ethnic cuisine, which is traditionally prepared by African Americans.
What many people don’t realize is that a lot of American soul food was actually created by enslaved African Americans during the Antebellum period, also known as the plantation era, using flavors and ingredients familiar to these people.
Many of these soul food recipes were embraced by the African American community because so many of these soul food recipes can be traced back to West African and European foodways, which were then adapted to fit local ingredients.
The History of Soul Food
The term ‘soul food’ actually didn’t originate until the 1960s. The Black Power movement and Malcolm X used this term as a reminder of the families and homes they’d left behind when they moved North to unfamiliar areas of the United States.
The term ‘soul’ was often used during this era as a way to describe things that centered around African American culture.
Soul food restaurants eventually started to appear, as black-owned businesses that focused on creating the same community space for people to meet, socialize, and break bread together.
These days, soul food recipes still evoke strong feelings from many people. So much so that American soul food has made its way across the globe.
American Soul Food
It would be difficult to find someone who has never tried at least some form of American soul food.
Barbecued ribs are a popular dish that most people may not even realize is a soul food recipe. There are also many other popular dishes like fried catfish, chitterlings, and cornbread, which are immensely popular in the American South.
With the rise in popularity of southern barbecue restaurants globally over the last several years, soul food recipes are making their way to new and exciting areas around the world.
These comforting meals continue to impress and delight the uninitiated while offering healthy soul food dinner ideas for people looking to shake up their hometown’s traditional flavor profiles.
Is Soul Food Healthy?
This is a question that many people ask, but it’s a difficult question to answer. Many soul food recipes can be made healthy, but it all depends on what cooking ingredients are used in the cooking process.
Substituting oil for butter can lower the fat content of a dish, but that doesn’t necessarily make it healthier. In many cases, part of finding healthy soul food dinner ideas involves setting some sort of portion control for the dishes that you’re serving.
With food this comforting, it’s really easy to overindulge.
Many forms of cooked greens (beets, dandelion, kale, purslane, and of course, the famously used collards) can be made quite healthy as well. These deep greens are extremely nutritious, as long as they aren’t drowned too heavily in butter and salt.
Be mindful about how you make American soul food. Even if it isn’t as healthy as certain other cultures of food, you can reduce some unnecessary calories and still enjoy some deeply satisfying soul food meals.
So, at the end of the day, is soul food healthy? It can be.
How you prepare these meals has a huge impact, but you have to remember that soul food is feeding more than your stomach – it’s also feeding your spirit too.
Soul Food Recipes
The history of soul food has shown us that many of these recipes can be adapted and changed, without sacrificing the heart and soul of what soul food is.
Southern Baked Mac & Cheese
We might be focusing largely on healthy soul food dinner ideas, but you didn’t really think that we would talk about soul food without discussing Southern baked mac and cheese, did you?
This recipe is to die for, and we’ll gladly do an extra workout that week to make up for all that ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.
Campfire Skillet Cornbread
Take a bit of soul food with you camping and check out this amazingly soft campfire skillet cornbread recipe.
You can even plan ahead for camping meals, and pre-make your cornbread dry and wet ingredients, so they can be combined quickly at the campsite.
Then you can just throw it in the skillet, and get ready for a tasty treat.
No, we’re not talking about the band.
These beans are not only scrumptious, but they’re also high in fiber, iron, and plant proteins, making them a healthy addition to any soul food meal.
You can do black-eyed peas in a few different ways – simmered in a rich broth, creamy and hearty, or light and flavorful. Or, you can put your own spin on these and create your own unique soul food recipes.
As long as you’re strategic about what you’re adding to the peas, these make a great add-on to any healthy soul food dinner idea.
One of the healthiest additions to your soul food toolkit, okra is possibly one of the most polarizing soul foods.
Stewed okra is a healthy side dish that you can put alongside other soul foods, like barbecued ribs or chitlins, to make you feel a bit better about the less healthy parts of your meal.
With lots of flavors, as well as lots of fiber (and vitamin C), adding okra to your healthy soul food dinner ideas is just plain smart.
Finally, let’s chat about sweet potatoes. These root vegetables are at the heart of many soul food meals, with such incredible dishes as sweet potato casserole, sweet potato pie, and even candied yams.
There are tons of things that you can do with sweet potatoes to fit them into many different types of meals or tastes. Fries, mashed – you can even do baked sweet potatoes if you like your sweet potatoes a little more basic.
Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes lend themselves to sweeter, richer dishes that add an almost dessert-like element into soul food meals. It can help break up many of the more savory, saltier dishes often found in this culture of food.
It does make sense, after all, sweet is right there in their name. And after you’ve tried a few sweet potato recipes, you’ll be sweet on them too.
You Don’t Have to Leave Your Favorite Meals at Home to Getaway Well
It’s not always easy to cook while you’re traveling, but if you make a concerted effort to plan, it’s easier than you might think.
Anytime you’re staying somewhere that you’ll have access to a kitchen, or an area that you can use to cook, consider adding some soul food into your meal planning.
The comfort they add to your trip can make anywhere feel just like home. Let soul food be your connection to home that you never leave behind.
This way, no matter where your travel journeys take you, you’ll always Getaway Well.
To get started with Soul food, give I heart Soul Food a try.