When Kristen Gradney grew up, her favorite dish was the mustard green that her grandmother cooked. Her grandmother "forges" the vegetables with whole pieces of chicken or other meat and served them with rice, she remembers.
"I absolutely loved them," she said. "But they were usually cooked until I really didn't even know what they were. I didn't know what a mustard green looked like until later."
Leaf green vegetables, such as mustard vegetables, collard greens, and green greens, are considered superfoods and they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, when greens are prepared by the soul food tradition ̵
But Gradney, a registered nutritionist based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says it doesn't have to be like this. While it is important to preserve the memories and feelings that these dishes call, there are many ways to prepare greens as such and at the same time be part of a balanced diet.
Traditionally cooked greens hold an important cultural link to the past.
Cordialis Msora-Kasago a registered nutritionist in Menifee, California says she believes it is important to preserve traditional cooking methods in honor of its history.
Greens, especially collard greens, was one of the few vegetables that slaves were allowed to grow . In order to counteract the bitter taste of the vegetables, meat and fats – such as ham hock – were used in small quantities "just to taste green," Msora-Kasago said. With time as diets changed and foods became more available, people began to incorporate more flavors and ingredients, such as bacon. The recipes were lowered for generations and became a cornerstone of the soul food movement during the 60s.
"As with all kitchens worldwide, you will realize that there are elements in every kitchen that have unhealthy effects," said Msora-Kasago. "The key is to understand how to incorporate these foods and how to measure your portions."
Msora-Kasago's belief that "food is more than nourishing" inspired her to create The African Pot Nutrition to promote a culturally relevant discussion and promote the health of people of African descent.
"There is the cultural link" said Msora-Kasago. "It's also about things that are familiar to us. We must be able to learn and understand how to cook with different ingredients so that we can still enjoy the foods that are familiar to us and not chastise them."  So about nutrition in the fleshy vegetables …
Leaf green vegetables are filled with nutrients and serve their superfood status. Green is rich in vitamin K, which Gradney says helps with blood clots. They also contain vitamins A, C and E along with calcium, fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. Research shows that eating greens can lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes and potentially ward off cancer .
These nutrients will mostly be intact regardless of how green – or any other vegetable – is cooked, according to Gradney and Msora-Kasago . But the cooking green with fatty meat adds extra calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol.
"It's not the same as eating a raw piece of mustard green," Gradney said. "It doesn't mean it's impossible to still prepare it in the same way with similar flavors and similar flavors."
Boiling greens can break down some of the nutrients, so reserving the liquid that vegetables are cooked in as "pot liquor" or " potatoes " – helps maintain nutrients, Gradney said, adding that her family likes pouring the liquid over rice as a sauce.
In addition, cooking mines help maintain both nutrients and flavor for less time. "They don't really need to be cooked so long that they still taste good and get the same structure you're looking for," Gradney said.
"I think it's important for people to remember that collard greens have a place in the diet," says Msora-Kasago. "They are an extremely important vegetable that can improve health, and we should celebrate and embrace them."
Msora-Kasago says she grows green in her vegetable growing and enjoys sucking them with onions, tomatoes and garlic, or I have them with eggs for breakfast. She also likes to use the leaves as a wrap for sandwiches. is narrower ways to cook greens.
Vegetables cooked traditionally often evoke memories of the family, but the same flavors can be created using health protection techniques, Gradney says. 19659045] She suggests that you eat the foods you love but prepare them without ingredients that are high in fat and cholesterol, which increases the incidence of chronic diseases in the communities that usually eat soul food.
Both Gradney and Msora-Kasago point to the emergence of veganism in the black community with black-owned vegan restaurants emerging all over the country, and cooks and home cooks keep their favorite green recipes alive while adopting meat-free preparations.
Outside of veganism, Gradney said that using narrower meat, such as pork and skin-free chicken or vegetable oils, can help maintain some of the traditional flavors without adding excess calories and fat. There is also "turkey tasso", which is infused with flavors of bacon and ham but is narrower, she said.
No matter how green is cooked, tradition is most important, Gradney said. Unhealthy foods that evoke happy memories should be reserved for "times when it really matters", such as family associations.
" Food is something that my body needs to work daily, says Gradney." You do it meanwhile with your healthier version of the macaroni and cheese or your healthier version of green with your turkey tasso and your olive oil. But when you are with your family and you all celebrate and think of old times, you want what it has historically been prepared for. It's time to get it with bacon. "