frican heritage cooking is healthy, delicious, and kids love it!

Celebrate African American History Month with Traditional Foods

In February we celebrate both African American History Month and the American Heart Association’s National Heart Month. So what better time to learn about Healthy African Heritage Cooking?

This will be the subject of my February Thrive Kitchen class taking place Wednesday, February 13th at 6:30 p.m in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente Mission Bay.

We’ll explore the healthy roots of the diverse cuisines that trace their roots to Africa with a hands-on cooking lesson that includes enjoying the meal we’ve cooked together. We will be cooking a meal based in African traditions and based on the African Heritage Food Pyramid from Oldways.

The African heritage diet represents many different culinary traditions, including those of continental Africa, the Caribbean, the American South, and South America,.

We will also learn more about cardiovascular health and how you can protect yourself from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease with a healthy diet. Traditional African dishes are much lighter and healthier than you might think, being based on protein-rich legumes and a wide variety of green vegetables. Nuts, fruits, squash, whole grains, and root vegetables such as yams and sweet potatoes are also staples. Homemade sauces and marinades bring out the rich flavors. Traditionally, African cuisine is low in sodium, processed sugar, and unhealthy fats.

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 offer instruction and hands-on practice in healthy cooking techniques as well as the chance to enjoy a delicious meal made from scratch.

Thrive Kitchen classes are part of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco’s Health Education Department. You can sign up by emailing or calling 415-833-3450; classes are $30 for Kaiser members and $40 for non-members. Registration is also open for my March class, Learn to Cook with Greens, to be held on Wednesday, March 13th.

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 the Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health blog, a repository for all sorts of great cooking and meal planning ideas.

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.