African heritage cuisine features traditional recipes from Africa, the Caribbean and the South with a healthy twist.

Healthy African Heritage Cooking

February is African American History Month, so it’s the perfect time to discover healthy vegetarian cooking rooted in the traditions of the African Diaspora.

To celebrate, Chef Bryant Terry will join the Thrive Kitchen on Wednesday, February 12 to do a plant-based cooking demonstration and book signing for his latest cookbook, Vegetable Kingdom (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random).

Bryant Terry is a James Beard Award-Winning chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Since 2015 he has been the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco where he creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora.

Chef Bryant will show us how to make his recipe for citrus and garlic-herb braised fennel with sunchoke cream. After the demo and tasting, you will also be able to purchase a copy of Vegetable Kingdom (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random) and have it signed.

African Heritage Cooking integrates many the culinary traditions of continental Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the American South and is healthier than many people realize. The diverse cuisines that trace their roots back to Africa use a wide variety of fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, greens, beans and peanuts. Homemade sauces and marinades bring out the rich flavors. Traditionally, African cuisine is low in sodium, processed sugar, and unhealthy fats.

More information about the African Heritage Diet is available at Oldways, a website devoted to the original healthy cooking traditions of diverse cultures.

The cost for this special demonstration class is $15 for Kaiser members and $20 for non-members.

The Thrive Kitchen offers cooking classes once a month on Wednesday evenings at the Mission Bay Medical Offices, 1600 Owens Street, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Classes, which are part of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco’s Health Education Department, offer instruction and hands-on practice in healthy cooking techniques as well as the chance to enjoy a delicious meal made from scratch.

Pre-registration is required, and you can sign up by emailing or calling 415-833-3450. Registration is also open for my March class, “Eat Your Greens!” to be held on Wednesday, March 11th. Regular class fees are $30 for members; $40 for non-members.

More of my cooking tips and recipe ideas can be found on my Facebook page, The Doctor’s Spicebox and on my related blog, Spicebox Travels. I also contribute recipes to Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health, a repository for all sorts of great cooking and meal planning ideas.

See you in the kitchen!

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.