Mind and Body: Celebrate African Heritage and Health Week

Published 7:58 am Monday, January 30, 2017

By Haley Tye

Clark County Health Dept. Intern

Feb. 1-7 marks the annual African Heritage and Health Week. Oldways, a non-profit organization that focuses on healthy eating and drinking, created this week-long event to promote African heritage and cuisine. The week is a part of Black History Month.

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According to Oldways, traditional African cuisine is the “next big food trend.” Many studies have shown life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and diabetes have become more widespread among the African population in recent years.

Some believe the increase of these life-threatening conditions is due to the shift away from the traditional African diet. African Heritage and Health Week is dedicated to remembering and appreciating the healthy cuisine that shaped the beginning of African culture and heritage.

There are several ways to celebrate this special week in February. For starters, Oldways is challenging everyone to try a dish “inspired by African cuisine or the African diet pyramid.” The recipes Oldways recommends to try include Caribbean callaloo soup, Accara black-eyed pea fritters, creamy polenta, maple-glazed southern turnips, southern rice pilaf, cucumber sambal and many more.

If you do not want to cook an African-inspired dish, then there are several restaurants nearby that serve traditional African cuisine. Restaurants in Lexington include Caribbean Flavor and Sav’s Grill. Restaurants in Louisville include Addis Bar and Grill, Funmi’s Café, Queen of Sheba, and Shirley Mae’s Café. The restaurants vary by style and include Caribbean, West African, Southern and Afro-Latin American cuisines.

If you are familiar with traditional African cuisine, you can sign up to teach “A Taste of African Heritage” cooking class in your own community. Another way to celebrate this special week is to host or attend a potluck with family and friends.

A culmination of the recipes listed above can be created to form a whole course inspired by African heritage and cuisine. A potluck is a great way to expose family members and friends to the foods that impacted, inspired and shaped African culture today.

Oldways encourages those participating in African Heritage and Health week activities to share experiences, photos and thoughts via social media using the hashtag #AfricanHeritageWeek. Oldways also offers a Facebook group so participants can connect with one another and share ideas. Oldways can be found on Facebook and Twitter under the username @OldwaysPT and on Instagram under the username @oldways_pt.

For more information on African Heritage and Health Week and other traditional food-based programs, visit www.oldwayspt.org.

The Clark County Health Department and Passport are hosts of the African-American Health Series, which meets every two months at various locations in Clark County. This month the African-American Series will be Feb. 17 at the Clark County Health Department starting at 11am. (park in the lower lot, directly behind the building)

We are honored to have Dr. Vinnette Little with Baptist Health speak this month. The theme of her presentation will be “Stroke: Heart attack in your Brain. Time equals brain cells.” This free event is open to the public. Pre-registration is not required.

Please call the Clark County Health Department at 744-4482 for more information.

Visit the Clark County Health Department website at www.clarkhealthdept.org. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CCHealthDept.