African heritage cooking draws from diverse traditions to create meals that are as healthy as they are delicious.

Cooking Lesson: Healthy African Heritage Cuisine

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 21st at 6:30 p.m in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente Mission Bay.

In “Cooking for Your Heart and Soul: Healthy African Heritage Cooking,” we will explore the healthy roots of the diverse cuisines that trace their roots to Africa. Like all of my Thrive Kitchen classes, this will be a hands-on cooking lesson that includes enjoying the meal we’ve cooked together.

We will also learn more about cardiovascular health and how you can protect yourself from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease with a healthy diet.

Our menu for the evening will include:

  • West African Groundnut Stew
  • Texas Caviar
  • Jamaican Rice and Peas
  • Grits with Spicy Collard Greens

The African heritage diet represents many different culinary traditions, including those of continental Africa, the Caribbean, South American, and the American South. You can learn more about the African Heritage Diet on Oldways, a website devoted to the original healthy cooking traditions of diverse cultures.

Traditional African dishes 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.

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, “Eat Your Greens!” to be held on Wednesday, March 14th.

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.

Linda Shiue, MD, is a primary care doctor and professionally trained chef who believes that the best medicine is prevention, based upon a healthy lifestyle. As Director of Culinary Medicine at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, she is developing a teaching kitchen to empower patients with a new set of skills and knowledge to improve their health and wellness--nutrition applied through cooking skills. Classes are offered through the Health Education Department at (415) 833-3450. In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Shiue offers cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops in which students learn to prepare seasonal produce lavishly flavored with spices and fresh herbs. Her food writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Remedy Quarterly, Salon, Culinate, and online editions of The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine. She also has her own website,