African Heritage Food Pyramid offers twist on southern food - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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African Heritage Food Pyramid offers twist on southern food

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ATLANTA -

The South is on top when it comes to serving up stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods. We're talking mac-and-cheese and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. But, a new guide offers a fresh twist on the foods you love.

When we think about eating better, we think about all the foods we have to give up. That's not the case with the African-Heritage Food Pyramid. It was put together by a non-profit called Old Ways, and it celebrates the traditional foods eaten in Africa, and the Caribbean.

The Beautiful Restaurant in southwest Atlanta is the kind of place you go to when you want food that's got soul -- southern staples like fried chicken, mac-and-cheese, greens and gravy. It's the kind of food Ayiesha Scott of Atlanta grew up eating, and still loves.
      
With a husband, two kids, and a fulltime job as an elementary school counselor, she's trying to lighten up her cooking.

"I have to make it with less butter, less ingredients that are just not healthy," said Scott.

But Scott still wants her food to taste good. So, she's intrigued by the African Heritage Food Pyramid and its emphasis on eating fresh, flavorful, pretty easy-to-find items.
     
The pyramid's eat-every-day foods are just about anything in the produce aisle, especially greens.

"You have your kale, your collard greens, which I grew up eating.  Your turnip greens, your mustard greens," said Scott.

Scott loves kale. Instead of seasoning it with pork, she steams it with cloves of fresh garlic, and adds a few other ingredients.

"I usually just use salt and pepper, celery salt, seasoning, a little olive oil," Scott said.

The African Heritage Food Pyramid also pushes whole grains, so Scott makes a lighter version of mac-and-cheese, using quinoa instead of pasta. Poultry and seafood are "every-so-often" foods on the pyramid, so Scott bakes her chicken, concentrating on flavor.
    
Scott says she loves her soul food, but she also loves her health.

Old Ways says traditional African cooking is based on flavor and color. The next time you shopping, go for fresh fruits and veggies, beans of every kind, tree nuts and peanuts, whole grains, and healthy oils like olive oil. If you would like to check out the African Heritage Food Pyramid, click here!

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