Fit Bodies … Healthy Minds!

Although most people find southern food satisfying and delicious, most dishes in this category aren’t known for their healthy benefits. With the healthy food craze of the past few years, however, many southerners have adjusted. In light of this recent turn of events, healthy southern food is now available.

What are some examples of healthy southern foods?

Southern cuisine has always included lots of vegetables. While vegetables have, for the most part, been battered and fried or boiled with fatty meats like ham hocks or fat back, many southern cooks and chefs have lightened their vegetable recipes considerably. Take fresh greens, for example. In times past, a pot of collard or turnip greens would be cooked with a significant amount of animal fat, usually from cured pork. A healthier way to cook greens is to sauté them in a little olive oil. To replace the flavor lost by omitting the pork, fresh herbs and spices can be used, instead.

Squash, zucchini, and eggplant, which were traditionally sliced, battered, and fried, can be cooked without the high-carb breading and without all the fat. Just slice the veggies and stir-fry them in a little oil, along with onion and garlic. You might also want to add some fresh herbs, as well.

Okra is a healthy vegetable that’s high in fiber and vitamins. Of course, when you batter the sliced okra with flour or cornmeal and then fry it in bacon grease or cooking oil, most of the nutritional benefits are negated by the fat and carbs. Try placing sliced okra in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle the okra with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake the okra at around 300 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the slices are crispy and crunchy.

Instead of loading down your mashed potatoes and rice with butter and gravy, try using fat-free chicken broth. Just substitute the chicken broth for water and butter in the cooking process, and use seasonings like chives, parsley, garlic, onion powder, or curry.