Year of Wellness – 07/20/17

Let’s do a little thought experiment. Take a deep breath, and think about “healthy food.” What comes to mind? Any particular foods or styles of cooking?

By Gregory Lum

I’ll bet Southern soul food wasn’t the first thing you thought of. After all, most people would think of foods like fried chicken or catfish, cornbread, and banana pudding. While folks on the street wouldn’t hesitate to say that all sounds delicious, few would call any of it “healthy.” It probably isn’t the best idea to eat fried chicken and banana pudding all day, every day anyway, but you can rest assured that soul food has its place at the table!

When I first asked you to think about “healthy food,” you probably imagined a lot of fruits and vegetables.

That’s a good start, but really, choosing from all food groups provides our bodies with the variety of nutrients needed to work properly. And yes, some foods are packed with more nutrients than others, but any food can fit when we seek balance in what we eat. Besides, we also eat for pleasure, whether that’s from tantalizing flavors or from memories stirred up by our individual comfort foods. Eating gives our bodies what they need and helps us practice good old-fashioned self-care, which are both important in pursuing wellness.

Now, let’s talk grits – Creamy Southern Garlic Cheese Grits in particular. This recipe uses garlic, our seasonal ingredient of the month. Did you know many varieties of garlic grow well right here in Oregon? Chefs and home cooks use it worldwide because it adds flavor and depth to all manner of dishes. Garlic, although it tends to come in small doses, can benefit our health. It’s a source of the mineral manganese, which contributes to bone health, and different vitamins tthat help keep our bodies in tip-top shape.

So how can this recipe fit into your Year of Wellness? While it does contain saturated fat and sodium, which can be nutrients of concern for some, it also has great things going for it like protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. To incorporate these grits into a healthy meal, be aware of portion sizes. Practice moderation with this rich, delicious side dish. Take time to savor each bite!

Balance out your meal by enjoying these grits with a lean protein like grilled or oven-roasted Cajun chicken breast or catfish fillet. Toss a fresh, crisp salad or cook a batch of collard greens in low-sodium broth, and you’re set to gather family and friends around the table for dinner. Allow these grits or your favorite comfort foods to warm your soul as you share with your loved ones.