Over the past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in two local African American health related events. I’m always excited to see these kind of events have great turnout from our people because it helps me to realize, we really do value our health. I think a lot of times it’s assumed that we don’t, but education and accessibility to that education are key.
The first event was a cooking demo at the African American Health Empowerment Expo. What a fun group! We laughed and chatted while I cooked up a dish that I created just for this event. The wonderful event organizer, Lynnette Watts, asked me to create an ethnic dish that would appeal to the audience. When I mentioned vegan greens she said greens had pretty much been done before, and again. When I mentioned plant based, she was kind of hesitant, but I convinced her that this group needed exposure to plant based options. I was right. As soon as I said I was a plant based chef and would not be cooking with meat, the cutest little senior lady on the front row said “What’s wrong with meat??” But it turns out she, along with the rest of the group, was very receptive to plant based cooking. I think the key is you’ve got to make sure it’s good. 😉
After a couple of tries at a sweet potato and kale hash (just okay) the dish I came up with was what I simply called a Moroccan Stew. And it was incredibly well received. This was truly one of my favorite dishes indeed. I couldn’t really see sweet potatoes and tomatoes together, but honestly, it really worked. See the recipe below.
The next event, the Vegan Soul Wellness Fest, was in Oakland. So we (me and my mini me photographer in training) loaded up the car and headed west. I always feel like I’m going out of town when I go to Oakland since I moved out to the country.
So 45 minutes later we’re in Oakland for the festival.
My talk was on transitioning to a plant based diet. I mainly talked about culinary techniques you can use to make your plant based dishes wow the meat eaters, and staying focused on your plant based mission despite the naysayers that may even be in your own home. It was a small but inquisitive group. I was glad to be included in this event.
We’ve come a long way in educating the black community about nutrition in particular. I remember way back in the 90’s when I was a diet clerk at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. My people really didn’t know much about nutrition and were not very receptive unless I got real with them – “Do you want to lose a toe or keep eating like this?” Now they’re not only more receptive but more knowledgeable as well. Yet we still remain high on the list for diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Looks like we’ve still got a ways to go. Today I came across an article that correlates racial discrimination to poor health outcomes. Yup. Being sick of racism is literal. Looks like we’ve got a ridiculously long way to go there too.
Were you at either of these events over the weekend? Will you be making my Moroccan Stew? Let me know in the comments below.
Moroccan Stew Ingredients
1 medium yam/sweet potato
2Tbsp vegetable oil
½ small yellow onion
3 large cloves of garlic
1Tbsp ground cumin
1tsp ground turmeric
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo)
1 can diced tomatoes
1Tbsp tomato paste
1c vegetable stock
3 cups kale
Poke holes in the yam/potato and microwave 3 -4 minutes or until just soft. While the yam is cooking heat oil in a deep skillet or pot. Chop onions and sauté in oil about 3 minutes. Finely chop the garlic and add to the oil. Cook another 2 minutes. Stir in cumin and turmeric. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Stir chickpeas, tomatoes and tomato paste into the skillet. Add vegetable stock and kale and allow to simmer while you peel and dice the potato. Add the potato to the skillet and cook until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper if desired. You may choose to add additional stock if you prefer a soup like consistency. Serve over brown rice, couscous or quinoa. Serves 4