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Session 8 - Make Heart Healthy Eating an Everyday Family Reunion

Objectives

By the end of this session, group members will learn:

  • How to plan and prepare traditional African American and soul food meals in a heart healthy way
  • How to choose foods for a heart healthy diet

Materials and Supplies

To conduct this session, you will need:

  • "With Every Heartbeat Is Life" manual and picture cards
  • Set of measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup)
  • Blackboard and chalk or several large pieces of paper, a marker, and tape

Handouts

Give group members these handouts during this session:

Session Outline

Introducing the Session

  1. Welcome
  2. Review of Last Week's Session
  3. About This Session

Conducting the Session

  1. Eat a Variety of Heart Healthy Foods
  2. African American and Soul Food Dishes
  3. A Heart Healthy Eating Plan for African American Families
  4. How To Choose Heart Healthy Foods
  5. Cooking With Children
  6. Soul Food Makeover—Six Traditional African American Dishes for an Everyday Family Reunion

Review of Today's Key Points

Weekly Pledge

Closing


Introducing the Session

  1. Welcome
    • Welcome group members to the session.
  2. Review of Last Week's Session
    • Say:
      At the last session, we talked about what you need to know about diabetes.
    • Review these questions:
      Q: What is diabetes?
      A: Diabetes results when the body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it well, causing glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. As a result, the body does not function well.
      Q: What are risk factors for diabetes?
      A:
      • Overweight
      • Family members with diabetes
      • Age 40 or older
      • Physical inactivity
      • History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to at least one baby weighing 9 pounds or more
      • High blood pressure
      • Cholesterol levels are not normal: HDL cholesterol is low, or triglycerides are high
    • Q: What are the ABCs of diabetes control?
      A:
      • A is for the A1C test. This simple lab test shows a person's average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. The A1C number to aim for is below seven.
      • B is for blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the harder your heart has to work. High blood pressure increases your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and damage to your kidneys and eyes. Your blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
      • C is for cholesterol. Keep cholesterol at normal levels. Bad cholesterol or LDL can build up and clog your arteries. It can lead to a heart attack or stroke. People with type 2 diabetes need to keep their LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
    • Q: How does diabetes affect your body?
      A: Diabetes can cause damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. It can cause nerve damage, which reduces feeling in your feet. Diabetes can also affect blood flow in your legs and feet, which can lead to sores that don't heal and amputation.
    • Say:
      At the end of last session, you made a pledge to prevent or control diabetes.
    • Say:
      Please share what you did. What went well? Did you have any problems? How did you solve the problems?
    • Note: Allow 2 minutes for group members to respond.
    • Say:
      Has anyone completed the family health history?
    • Note: Give a prize to group members who have completed the family health history.
    • Ask:
      Does anyone want to share what you have learned about your family health history?
    • Note: Allow about 5 minutes for group members to respond.
  3. About This Session
    • Say:
      Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prize-winning African American author of "Roots," said, "In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future."
    • Ask:
      What does this quote mean to you?
    • Note: Allow 2 to 3 minutes for group members to respond.
    • Say:
      What you choose to eat can make a difference in your heart health. During this session, you will learn how to:
      • Choose a variety of foods for heart health.
      • Learn how to make some traditional African American and soul food dishes more heart healthy.
      • Identify serving sizes and the number of recommended servings for each food group.
      • Learn about the history of some traditional African American dishes and foods.

Conducting the Session

  1. Eat a Variety of Heart Healthy Foods
    • Ask:
      Why is it important to eat a variety of heart healthy foods?
    • Note: Allow about 5 minutes for group members to respond. Write their answers on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall.
    • Add the answers below if the group members do not say them.
      • Eating a variety of foods that are lower in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and sodium, sugar, and calories can help you have a healthy heart.
      • One food cannot give all the nutrients in the amounts your body needs.

    More Information

    Nutrients in the foods we eat include:

    • Carbohydrates
    • Protein
    • Fats
    • Fiber
    • Vitamins
    • Minerals
  2. African American and Soul Food Dishes
    • Note: This session will help group members think about the foods they eat. Some favorite traditional African American and soul food dishes are very nutritious. Other dishes can be prepared in more heart healthy ways.
    • Say:
      Soul food combines traditional African food and food preparation methods with the African American experience in the United States, from slavery through today.
    • Say:
      Let's take some time to talk about soul food by answering these three questions:
      • What does soul food mean to you?
      • What foods would you call soul food?
      • What are some of the soul food dishes that you and your family like to eat?
    • Note: Allow 5 minutes for group members to respond. Write their answers on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall.
    • Ask:
      What are some foods that you think are native to our African ancestors?
    • Note: Allow 2 to 3 minutes for group members to respond.
    • Add the foods below if they are not mentioned:
    • Grains, legumes, yams, and sorghum
    • Watermelon, pumpkin, okra, wild lemons, and oranges
    • Dates, figs, eggplant, cucumber, onion, garlic, and leafy greens
  3. Ask:
    What kind of cooking methods do you think were used by the ancestors of African Americans in Africa?
  4. Note: Allow 2 to 3 minutes for group members to respond.
  5. Add the methods below if they are not mentioned:
    • Dishes such as stews and soups were cooked in one pot over an open fire.
    • Spices and seasonings were used to flavor meals and prevent spoilage.

    More Information

    • The ancestors of African Americans often told stories and recited oral history while traditional dishes cooked for hours. This oral tradition is still a part of African American family gatherings, such as Sunday dinners or family reunions.
    • African Americans were resourceful during slavery and created filling and tasty meals with the small provisions provided. Some of these resourceful cooking skills are part of African American food traditions today.
    • African Americans were skilled at recreating leftovers, such as salmon croquettes. Today, salmon croquettes are a special dish on their own and are not reserved for leftovers only.

    Examples of common foods and dishes prepared and eaten by African Americans include:

    • Breads and grains, such as cornbread, biscuits, and cornbread stuffing (dressing)
    • Pea, bean, and nut dishes, such as succotash (a corn and lima bean dish), black-eyed peas, butterbeans, "Hoppin' John" (a dish usually made with black-eyed peas, a meat, and rice), field peas, and peanuts
    • Rice and pasta dishes, such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and baked macaroni and cheese
    • Vegetable dishes, such as green beans, collard greens, carrot and raisin salad, coleslaw, candied yams, potato salad, cabbage, okra, squash, and sweet potato pie
    • Fruits, such as peaches and bananas
    • Meat and poultry dishes, such as chicken gumbo, meatloaf, pork chops (loin or lean varieties), and chicken creole
    • Fish and fish dishes, such as catfish stew, whiting, porgie, salmon croquette, and mackerel
    • Say:
      To make lasting life changes you need to start slowly. The "Soul Food Makeover" recipes in the "With Every Heartbeat Is Life" manual can help you prepare traditional African American family meals in heart healthy ways. I will give you more recipes later in the session. Try each recipe to see how you like it, and then put them all together for a delicious and heart healthy family feast.

    More Information

    • African American soul food dishes tend to be prepared differently by each family. In the African American tradition, families and communities used the foods and ingredients that were available to them.
    • African American traditional dishes were passed down orally, so there is no "correct" way to prepare dishes. Just keep in mind the heart healthy cooking skills we have been learning, and apply them to your family recipes.
  1. A Heart Healthy Eating Plan for African American Families
    • Say:
      We can take steps to improve the way we eat and still enjoy our traditional dishes. The first step is to learn which foods we should eat more often. The second step is to learn the amount of these foods that we should eat each day.
    • Show picture card 8.1. (Keep it in view throughout this activity.)
    • Say:
      A heart healthy eating plan is useful. It shows both the types and amounts of foods that we can choose for better health.
    • Note: Give group members the "Heart Healthy Eating Plan" handout.
    • Say:
      The food choices you make each day affect your health. We will talk about ways to choose healthy foods. We also will discuss the recommended number of servings for each food group for a 2,000-calorie diet.
  2. Grains (6 to 8 servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Eat at least three servings of whole grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every day.
      • Look at the food label, and choose grain products that have whole grains as the first ingredient. Some examples of whole grain ingredients are whole wheat, whole oats, oatmeal, and whole rye.
      • For a change, try brown rice or whole wheat pasta instead of white rice or pasta.
      • Snack on ready-to-eat, whole grain cereal, such as toasted oat cereal. Also try popcorn with little or no salt or butter as a snack.
    • Note: One ounce of grains is one serving. In general, 1 ounce of grains is one slice of bread, about 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.

    Vegetables (4 to 5 servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Eat more green vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, okra, and dark leafy greens.
      • Eat more orange vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes.
      • Eat more nuts and legumes, such as lima beans and black-eyed peas.
      • Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
      • Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
      • Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as vegetable stir-fry or soup.
      • Choose no-salt-added canned vegetables.

    Fruits (4 to 5 servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit.
      • Go easy on fruit juices because they contain a lot of calories and sugar. Try to eat whole fruit (oranges, apples, mangos) more often than fruit juice.
      • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table or counter or in the refrigerator.

    Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products (2 to 3 servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Get your calcium-rich foods.
      • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and other milk products.
      • If you usually use whole milk, switch gradually to fat-free milk. Try reduced-fat (2%) milk, then low-fat (1%) milk, and then fat-free milk.
      • Have fat-free or low-fat yogurt for a snack.
      • If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free products, such as yogurt, cheese, or lactose-free milk.

    Lean meats, poultry, and fish (6 or fewer servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Select meat cuts that are low in fat and ground beef that is extra lean.
      • Eat a variety of foods with protein. Choose more fish.
      • Choose lean turkey, roast beef, or ham instead of fatty lunch meats, such as regular bologna or salami.
      • Bake, broil, or grill meat.

    Nuts, seeds, and legumes (4 to 5 servings a week)

    • Say:
      • Choose cooked and dry beans, nuts, seeds, and peas for rich sources of protein and fiber.

    Fats and oils (2 to 3 servings a day)

    • Say:
      • Get most of your fat from food sources such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
      • Limit solid fats such as butter, stick margarine, shortening, and lard, as well as foods that contain these fats.

    Sweets and added sugars (5 or fewer servings a week)

    • Say:
      • Choose foods and beverages that are low in calories and added sugar. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calorie and sugar content of foods and beverages.
      • Choose water, fat-free milk, or other unsweetened beverages most often.
      • Select unsweetened cereal and add fruit.
    • Ask these questions, and hold up the correct measuring cup for each answer.

    Q: What is one serving of a cooked vegetable?
    A: 1/2 cup

    Q: How much milk or yogurt is considered one serving?
    A: 1 cup

    Q: Can you give an example of a 1-ounce serving from the grains group?
    A: 1-ounce servings from the grains group include:

    • One slice of bread
    • About 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, such as oatmeal
    • 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta

    Q: What counts as one serving of fruit?
    A: One medium apple, banana, or orange

    • 1/2 cup of raw or canned fruit or 100% fruit juice
    • 1/4 cup of dried fruit

    Q: What is a serving of cooked beans?
    A: 1/2 cup

  3. How To Choose Heart Healthy Foods
    • Say:
      We are going to do a group activity. During this activity, we will learn how to make better food choices.
    • Note: Write Tina's breakfast on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall. Fill in the "Tina's Breakfast" and "Portion Size" columns. Leave the "Food Group" and "Better Choices" columns blank. (Optional) Repeat the game with the lunch and dinner meals.
    • Ask:
      Which group does each food belong to? What changes would make Tina's breakfast more heart healthy?
    • Note: Write the suggestions beside the foods they are replacing on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall. Fill in the correct answers for any items not mentioned by group members.

    Breakfast

    Tina's Breakfast Food Group
    (leave blank for activity)
    Portion Size Better Choices
    (leave blank for activity)
    Scrambled egg made with bacon fat Meats 1 egg Boiled or poached egg, 1/4 cup egg substitute, or 2 egg whites. Scramble eggs with vegetable oil spray.
    Bacon Meats 3 ounces (or 3 strips) Lean turkey bacon
    Biscuit Grains 1 biscuit Whole grain toast or english muffin
    Butter Fats 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon of low-fat tub margarine or jam with no added sugar
    Grapefruit with sugar Fruit 1/2 grapefruit Grapefruit
    Coffee with whole milk Milk 1 cup of coffee with 1 tablespoon of milk Coffee with fat-free milk (or 1 tablespoon of evaporated fat-free milk)

    (Optional) Lunch

    Tina's Breakfast Food Group
    (leave blank for activity)
    Portion Size Better Choices
    (leave blank for activity)
    Large cheeseburger with mayonnaise Meats, grains, milk, vegetables, fats 1 large cheeseburger Small hamburger without mayonnaise or grilled chicken sandwich with mustard or ketchup
    Super-size french fries Vegetables, oils 1 large serving of fries Small order of fries or a side salad with reduced-calorie salad dressing
    Large soft drink Sweets 1 large soft drink Water, diet soft drink, or fat-free milk

    (Optional) Dinner

    Tina's Breakfast Food Group
    (leave blank for activity)
    Portion Size Better Choices
    (leave blank for activity)
    Fried pork chop with onions Meats, vegetables, fats, oils 1 pork chop with
    ¼ cup of onions
    Baked pork chop with sauteed onions
    White rice and gravy Grains, fats, oils ½ cup of cooked rice with 1 teaspoon of gravy Brown rice with peas and carrots
    Collard greens with ham hocks Vegetables, meats, fats, oils 1 cup of collard greens with
    1 piece of ham hock
    Collard greens cooked with skinless smoked turkey breast
    Sweetened iced tea Sweets 1 cup Unsweetened iced tea or tea with sugar substitute
    Sweet potato pie Fats, oils, and sweets;
    vegetables
    1 slice Fresh fruit cup or heart healthy sweet potato pie
    (See Soul Food Makeover recipe on page 276.)
    • Ask:
      What are some ways to eat less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories?
    • Add the following answers if they are not mentioned:
      • When shopping:
        • Choose a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
        • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk products, salad dressings, and mayonnaise.
        • Choose lean cuts of meat. Trim away extra fat.
        • Use food labels to choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, and calories.
      • When cooking:
        • Use vegetable oil or soft tub margarine instead of butter or lard.
        • Cook with low-fat methods, such as baking, broiling, or boiling (without added fat), rather than frying.
      • When eating:
        • Cut back on fats, oils, and sweets.
        • Remove skin from poultry. Throw away the skin, and do not eat it.
        • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk products, salad dressings, and mayonnaise.
        • Eat no more than four egg yolks each week.
        • Eat fewer high-calorie foods without much added nutrition value, such as high-fat lunch meats, pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, and chips. Drink fewer sodas.
        • Eat smaller portion sizes.
    • Say:


      Thank you for participating in this activity! You did great! Now you can make healthier choices for you and your family.

       

  4. Cooking With Children
    • Give group members the "Cooking With Children" handout.
    • Ask volunteers to read the handout out loud.
    • Say:
      As parents, you can teach your children how to develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
    • Say:
      For good health and proper growth, children need to eat a variety of different foods every day. When children are offered a balanced daily diet, they will develop good eating habits.
    • Ask:
      Can you think of other ways to get children involved in helping to prepare healthy meals?
    • Write group members' suggestions on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall.

    More Information

    We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) is an education program to help children ages 8 to 13 maintain a healthy weight. The program includes tips and activities for parents on how to keep the family healthy by improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time. Visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov.

  5. Soul Food Makeover—Six Traditional African American Dishes for an Everyday Family Reunion
    • Note: This activity will give group members a chance to try heart healthy recipes at home.
    • Give group members the "Soul Food Makeover—Six Traditional African American Dishes for an Everyday Family Reunion" handouts.
    • Say:
      These six traditional recipes have been "made over" for your heart. These recipes contain several heart healthy changes and substitutions.
      • Vegetable oil and fat-free milk replace butter and whole milk in the sweet potato pie recipe.
      • Evaporated fat-free milk and vegetable oil spray replace whole milk and butter in the baked macaroni and cheese dish.
      • Soft tub margarine is used instead of butter in the candied yams recipe.
      • The chicken is baked, not fried, in the crispy oven-fried chicken recipe. The skin is taken off the chicken, and this reduces the fat.
      • There is no salt added to the green beans, and vegetable oil spray is used to saute onions and garlic instead of cooking oil or grease. High-fat meats or oils, such as fatback, salt-pork, ham hocks, or bacon grease, were not used to season the green beans.
      • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) buttermilk replaces whole buttermilk in the cornbread recipe. Soft margarine is used instead of butter.
    • Say:
      These six recipes show how small changes can make traditional dishes more heart healthy. Try these traditional recipes, or experiment with your own recipes using these ingredient substitutions.

Review of Today's Key Points

  • Say:
    Let's review what we learned today.
  • Ask:
  • What is heart healthy about the traditional African American diet?
    • The traditional African American diet provides a variety of foods that are lower in fat and sodium, such as bread, peas, greens, rice, vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, and milk products.
  • What are some foods that we should eat less often?
    • We should limit foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar, and calories, including:
      • High-fat foods, such as fried fish, fried chicken, fatty meats, and high-fat cheeses
      • Salty foods, such as potato chips and cured meats
      • High-fat and high-sugar foods, such as pastries, pies, honey buns, cookies, and chocolate
      • Sugary foods, such as candy and soft drinks
  • How can the heart healthy eating plan be used to choose foods that are heart healthy?
    • Use the heart healthy eating plan to choose foods that are lower in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar from each of the five food groups. The eating plan also shows the number of servings that you need from each group every day.
  • Why is it helpful to know how much you need to eat from each food group each day?
    • When you know the amount of food you need to eat every day, it can help you get the right amount of calories you need.

Weekly Pledge

  • Say:
    You have learned a lot today about how to make your favorite dishes in a heart healthy way. Now let's think about how you can apply what you have learned. Please think of one change you can make in your everyday life to eat in a heart healthy way with your family. This will be your pledge for the week.
  • Say:
    Be specific about what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and when you will start. Here are some examples:
    • I will make baked chicken instead of fried chicken for the next family meal.
    • I will eat one more vegetable and one more fruit each day, starting tomorrow.
  • Note: Allow 5 minutes for group members to think of a pledge.
  • Say:
    Would anyone like to share his or her pledge with the group?
  • Note: Write down pledge ideas on the blackboard or on a large piece of paper taped to the wall.
  • (Optional) Say:
    Keeping a personal value in mind can help you make heart healthy eating a part of your family life. Remember that a personal value is a quality that you consider important.
    Today's value is fun. Fun can help you stay positive in your efforts to improve your health and the health of your family. As stated in today's quote, "In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future."
  • Ask:
    How could you use fun or another value to help you keep your pledge?
  • Note: Allow 3 minutes for group members to share their thoughts.
  • Say:
    We will discuss the results of your pledges next week. Don't forget to work on your pledges to be more physically active; to cut back on salt, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol; to reach and keep a healthy weight; and to prevent or control diabetes.

Closing

  • Say:
    Thank you for coming today. What did you think of today's session?
  • Note: Allow a moment for group members to respond.
  • Say:
    I am looking forward to seeing you again at the next session. We will talk about eating in a heart healthy way—even when time or money is tight.
  • Note: Think about today's session. What worked and what didn't work? Have you made any changes in your own life that were covered in today's session?

Handouts

Heart Healthy Eating Plan

Whole Grains
Bread, cereal, starchy vegetables, rice, and pasta (6 to 8 servings a day)*

  • Sliced whole grain bread (such as wheat, rye, or white), sandwich buns, dinner rolls, pita bread, english muffins, and bagels
  • Unsalted, low-fat crackers (such as graham crackers); unsalted pretzels, and plain popcorn
  • Cooked hot cereals (not instant) and whole grain cold cereals
  • Rice and pasta (such as whole-grain noodles, spaghetti, and macaroni)

Vegetables
(without added fat)
(4 to 5 servings a day)*

  • Fresh, frozen, or no-salt-added canned vegetables (such as green beans, string beans, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, and okra)

Fruits
(4 to 5 servings a day)*

  • Fresh, frozen, canned (packed in fruit juice), or dried fruits (such as oranges, grapefruit, bananas, apples, pineapples, watermelons, peaches, fruit cocktail, and raisins)

Fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products
Milk, yogurt, and cheese (choose fat-free or low-fat more often) (2 to 3 servings a day)*

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Cheeses lower in fat and sodium

Lean meats, poultry, and fish
Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs (6 or fewer servings a day)*

  • Chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Fish
  • Lean cuts of meat
    Beef: round, sirloin, chuck, loin, extra lean ground beef
    Pork: leg, shoulder, tenderloin, and lean ham
  • Eggs (no more than four yolks a week)

Nuts, seeds, and legumes
(4 to 5 servings a week)*

  • Cooked dry beans and peas (such as field peas, crowder peas, black-eyed peas)
  • Frozen butter beans and lima beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Fats and oils
(2 to 3 servings a day)*

  • Margarine (liquid, soft-tub, or reduced-calorie)
  • Oils (canola, corn, safflower, olive, peanut, or sesame)

Sweets and added sugars
(5 or fewer servings a week)*

  • Frozen treats (such as frozen juice pops, or low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream)
  • Low-fat cake and cookies (such as angelfood cake, fig bar cookies, gingersnaps, animal crackers, vanilla wafers, and graham crackers)

* The amount of food from each food group that is right for you depends on how many calories you need. This is based on your age and gender and how physically active you are.

Cooking With Children

Get Them Interested

Cooking with your children is a good way to help them develop healthy eating habits. Most children enjoy helping in the kitchen. While they help you prepare a meal, you can talk to them about healthy foods. Children like to eat the food they make. This is also a good way to get them to try new healthy foods.

Let Them Help

You can show your children how to help you make meals. Here are ways that children of different ages can help in the kitchen:

2-year-olds can:

  • Wipe tabletops.
  • Scrub and rinse fruits and vegetables.
  • Tear lettuce or greens.
  • Break cauliflower.
  • Bring ingredients from one place to another.

3-year-olds can:

  • Wrap potatoes in foil for baking.
  • Knead and shape dough.
  • Mix ingredients.
  • Pour liquids.
  • Shake liquids in a covered container.
  • Apply soft spreads.
  • Put things in the trash.

4-year-olds can:

  • Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork.
  • Cut parsley or green onions with kid-safe scissors.
  • Set the table.

5- to 6-year-olds can:

  • Measure ingredients.
  • Use an egg beater.

Be sure to have children wash their hands before and after helping in the kitchen.

Be patient with spills and mistakes. Remember that the goal is to help your children learn about healthy eating.

Let Them Be Creative

Set out three or four healthy foods, and let your children make a new snack or sandwich from them. Use foods your children can eat without choking.

Start with:

  • A new kind of bread (whole-grain or rye)
  • Whole-grain or graham crackers
  • Mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes
  • Small bagels
  • Small pieces of pita bread

Spreads could include:

  • Low-fat cream cheese or cheese spread
  • Low-fat peanut butter
  • Bean dip
  • Jelly or jam with no sugar added

Toppings could include:

  • Slices of apple or banana
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Slices of cucumber or squash
  • Cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces
  • Slices of cheese or hard-boiled egg

As you help your children make the new snack or sandwich, talk about why it is healthy.

Point out the different food groups that are included in the snack or sandwich. Explain that eating a variety of foods is healthy.

Ask why the snack or sandwich tastes good. Is it sweet, juicy, chewy, or crunchy?

Adapted from U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Tips for Using the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children 4 to 6 Years Old," 1999.

Soul Food Makeover—Six Traditional African American Dishes for an Everyday Family Reunion


Good for You Cornbread Recipe

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup fat-free or low-fat (1%) buttermilk
1 egg, whole
¼ cup margarine, regular, tub
vegetable oil spray (to coat baking pan)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, combine buttermilk and egg. Beat lightly.
  4. Slowly add buttermilk and egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
  5. Add margarine and mix by hand or with a mixer for 1 minute.
  6. Spray vegetable oil spray to coat an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cool. Cut into 10 servings.

Makes 10 servings
Serving size: 1 piece

Each serving provides:
Calories: 178
Total fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 22 mg
Sodium: 94 mg
Total fiber: 1 g
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Potassium: 132 mg


Heart Healthy Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Crust Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add milk and vegetable oil to flour mixture.
  4. Stir with fork until mixed. Then form pastry into a smooth ball with your hands.
  5. Roll the ball between two 12-inch squares of waxed paper using short, brisk strokes until pastry reaches edge of paper.
  6. Peel off top of paper and invert crust into 9-inch pie plate.

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk, canned
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed)

Filling Preparation:

  1. Combine sugars, salt, spices, and eggs.
  2. Add milk and vanilla. Stir.
  3. Add sweet potatoes and mix well.
  4. Pour mixture into pie crust.
  5. Bake for 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  6. Cool and cut into 16 slices.

Makes 16 servings
Serving size: 1 slice

Each serving provides:
Calories: 147
Total fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 98 mg
Total fiber: 2 g
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Potassium: 293 mg

The Makeover:

These two classic soul food recipes, cornbread and sweet potato pie, have been made over for your heart. They substitute lower fat ingredients, such as fat-free or low-fat (1%) buttermilk, fat-free milk, and soft tub margarine. Cooking and eating these tried and true classic dishes occasionally—the heart healthy way—will put you and your family on the road to heart healthy living while honoring your African American culinary heritage. It's good for you and tastes good, too. You can't beat that!


Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Recipe

1/2 cup fat-free milk or buttermilk
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 cup cornflakes, crumbled (or breadcrumbs)
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried hot pepper, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
8 pieces chicken, skinless (4 breasts, 4 drumsticks)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
vegetable oil spray (use to coat baking pan)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon of poultry seasoning to milk.
  3. Combine all other spices except paprika with corn flake crumbs (or breadcrumbs), and place in a plastic bag.
  4. Wash chicken, and pat dry. Dip chicken into milk, shake to remove excess liquid, then quickly shake chicken in a bag with seasoning and crumbs.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. Remove from refrigerator and sprinkle lightly with paprika for color.
  7. Coat baking pan with vegetable oil spray and evenly space chicken in pan.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat can be easily pulled away from the bone with a fork. The drumsticks may require less baking time than the breasts. Crumbs will form a crispy "skin." (Do not turn chicken during baking.)

Makes 6 servings
Serving size: 1/2 breast or 2 small drumsticks

Each serving provides:
Calories: 256
Total fat: 5 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 34 mg
Sodium: 286 mg
Total fiber: 1 g
Protein: 30 g
Carbohydrates: 22 g
Potassium: 339 mg


Flavorful Green Beans Recipe

2 pounds fresh green beans
1/3 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup water
vegetable oil spray

  1. Rinse green beans, and snap tips off.
  2. Place green beans in a large pot, and add ½ cup of cold water.
  3. Cook green beans on stovetop with medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Saute chopped onions and garlic, using vegetable oil spray, for 5 minutes or until they are tender and very lightly browned.
  5. Add sauteed chopped onions and garlic and ground black pepper to green beans. Spray vegetable oil spray over mixture, and cook on medium heat for another 30 minutes or until green beans are tender but not soft. Mix occasionally.
  6. Sprinkle dried basil flakes over green beans, and serve.

Makes 7 servings
Serving size: 1 cup

Each serving provides:
Calories: 40
Total fat: 0 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 12 mg
Total fiber: 4 g
Protein: 2 g
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Potassium: 179 mg

The Makeovers:

These classic and traditional African American dishes are made over with your heart health in mind. The chicken is baked, not fried, and only a small amount of oil is used to coat the pan. With the special batter on the chicken, your taste buds will not be deprived of a great tasting soul-food-inspired chicken dish. This easy recipe for green beans has no added salt—a definite plus when cooking for your heart. By slow cooking the green beans in a small amount of water with the addition of flavorful herbs and vegetables, the green beans are firm, tender, and have plenty of taste. Adding the dried basil flakes over the green beans when they are served is a great herb complement for this dish. Your taste buds will jump for joy!


Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

2 cups macaroni
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup evaporated, fat-free milk
1 medium egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups (4 oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
vegetable oil spray

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. (Do not add salt to the cooking water.) Drain and set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a casserole dish with vegetable oil spray.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  4. Lightly coat a saucepan with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Add onions to saucepan and saute for about 3 minutes.
  6. In another bowl, combine macaroni, onions, and the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  7. Transfer mixture into casserole dish.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings
Serving size: 1/2 cup

Each serving provides:
Calories: 200
Total fat: 4 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 34 mg
Sodium: 120 mg
Total fiber: 1 g
Protein: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Potassium: 119 mg


Candied Yams Recipe

3 medium yams (1½ cups)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon orange peel
1 teaspoon soft tub margarine
1/2 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Cut yams in half, and boil until tender but firm (about 20 minutes). When cooled enough to handle, peel and slice into 1/4-inch thickness.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange peel.
  4. Coat a medium-sized casserole dish with vegetable oil spray. Place half of the sliced yams in the dish. Sprinkle with spiced sugar mixture.
  5. Dot with half the amount of margarine.
  6. Add a second layer of yams, using the rest of the ingredients in the same order as above. Add orange juice.
  7. Bake uncovered in oven for 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings
Serving size: 1/4 cup

Each serving provides:
Calories: 110
Total fat: less than 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 115 mg
Total fiber: 2 g
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Potassium: 344 mg

The Makeovers

These classic and traditional African American dishes are made over with your heart health in mind. The macaroni and cheese is lower in fat because fat-free milk and low-fat vegetable oil spray are used. The yams are also heart healthy because they are cooked with soft tub margarine instead of butter. The spices and a touch of orange juice add flavor you and your family will surely savor!


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Last Updated December 2010

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