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24 December 2013 Written by  Valecia Weeks

HEALTHY SOUL FOOD FOR THE HOLIDAYS

In recent years, there has been an attempt to take soul food off the map; but guess what, soul food is back on the menu for health conscious divas. I sometimes wonder how my poor Grand Ma Neesie and Olevia’s arteries made it through 80 plus years.  I can remember my grandpa taking the pig’s skin, allllll the fat included, bringing it in to grandma to fry up in sum’ white thick cream, which I pronounced as lawwd. When I think about it, I’m sure  it would make my hair really straight when attacked with a hot straightening comb.  Dinner was not dinner without the 100 lbs of ham hocks in the greens.  I always figured the quality of a good ham hock was determined by the amount of fat under the skin…the more the better.

Please don’t mistake what I’m saying, soul food is "`where it’s at,"  but there are healthy alternatives to preparing food.  Below are recipes with healthier ingredients.

Citrus Collard Greens

  • 1 tablespoon(s) sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sea salt, combined with above sea salt
  • 2 bunch(es) (about 12 cups) collard greens, ribs removed, cut into strips, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup(s) raisins
  • 1/3 cup(s) fresh-squeezed orange juice

Directions

  • In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts (12 cups) water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the collards and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  • Remove the collards from heat, drain, and plunge into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking and set the color. Drain, gently pressing the greens against the colander.
  • In a medium-size sauté pan, combine olive oil and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute on medium heat. Add the collards, raisins, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the orange juice and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Do not overcook (collards should remain bright green). Season with additional salt to taste if needed and serve immediately.

Healthy Deep Dish Apple Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled McIntosh apples, (about 2 pounds)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples, (about 2 pounds)
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing

Preparation

  1. To prepare crust: Whisk whole-wheat flour, 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and, with your fingers, quickly rub them into the dry ingredients until the pieces are smaller but still visible. Add sour cream and oil; toss with a fork to combine with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle water over the mixture. Toss with a fork until evenly moist. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl a few times ;the mixture will still be a little crumbly. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead a few more times, until the dough just holds together. Divide the dough in half and shape into 5-inch-wide disks. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling: Combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and pinch of salt in a large bowl. Reserving 4 cups, transfer the rest of the apple mixture to a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the apples are tender and beginning to break down, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the reserved apples and 2 tablespoons flour; let cool for about 30 minutes.
  3. To assemble; bake pie: Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; let stand for 5 minutes to warm slightly. Roll one portion between sheets of parchment or wax paper into a 13-inch circle. Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough into a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Peel off the remaining paper. Scrape the filling into the crust. Roll the remaining portion of dough between sheets of parchment or wax paper into another 13-inch circle. Peel off the top sheet of paper and invert the dough onto the fruit. Peel off the remaining paper. Trim the crust so it overhangs evenly. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust, sealing the two together and making a plump edge. Flute the edge with your fingers. Combine 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the crust with egg white and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Cut 6 steam vents in the top crust.
  5. Bake the pie on the bottom rack for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for about 1 1/2 hours before serving.

With Christmas being right in our laps, please enjoy eating as much healthy food as you like; and for those recipes which are not so healthy, eat them in moderation. Have a Holly Jolly Very Merry Christmas!