Can you make soul food without clogging your arteries?

Baltimore, MD - Fatback and collards, neck bones, pig's feet, candied yams, triple cheese Mac and Cheese.

Soul food, southern cooking or what ever you call it can be some of the most fattening, high salt, high cholesterol stuff in the world.

It tastes good, but it can still taste good with some changes.

None of the food in the Land of Kush Restaurant on Eutaw Street has any fat back; no Fred Flintstone sized turkey legs inside just greens, onions, peppers, homemade broth and a few other ingredients.

The Land of Kush hopes to take soul food in a different direction.

"We wanted to create a family atmosphere that family food that comfort food but to make it healthy." Restaurant Owner Greg Brown says.

It's soul food without the stuff that some feel gives it soul.

But that soul comes at a cost.

Take greens and fat back for example.

Just one cup of fatback is more than 1000 calories, 174 percent of your daily fat intake, and enough saturated fat for two days, let alone the high levels of salt and cholesterol.

The fatback less, unsalted greens that Brown cooked per cup have about 60 calories and no fat, no saturated fat, no salt and no cholesterol.

Brown says you can use many other things to make something that's simple remain simple and tasty.

"We began experimenting with mushroom stocks veggie stocks creating our own flavored stocks. I picked up a term in the south that the sauce is the boss." Brown says.

The movement to cutting out the fat and the salt in the American diet comes at a time when African Americans are leading the nation in some of the wrong statistics.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services one in six Black men have hypertension and are 30 percent more likely to die of heart disease and hypertension than any one else.

While Black adults have double the rates of diabetes.

With the exception of heredity, both are conditions that can be partially controlled by the food that you eat.

"Fat tastes good, salt tastes good but both will increase your cholesterol increase your hypertension increase almost every facet of your cardiovascular system negatively."

Registered Nurse Clyde Foster at the University Of Maryland School Of Pharmacy has worked for years helping people learn how to control their hypertension and diabetes.

He says a big part of the Maryland cardiovascular outreach program is getting people to change some of their habits including what and how they eat.

Everything in moderation.

"If I help you eliminate hypertension I can probably help you eliminate obesity and cholesterol and if you are going to eliminate your hyper tension that means you're doing something right eating right exercising right. Studies have already shown that weight loss can decrease diabetes."

If getting people to change their eating habits to save their own lives is difficult using a restaurant to do it may be impossible.

But Brown and his fiancée Najah opened this restaurant to help try to do just that get people to eat better.

And the need to help people change habits, either medically or through changes in diet and lifestyle is a point that has to be made in the African American community.

"We suffer from a lot of dietary issues and diseases as a result of our diets so the second piece is that I want to educate so how can you get that transition and the only way to get that transition is to provide food that's similar to what they're used to having and make it healthy." Brown says.

For more information about healthy eating and changing soul food recipes you can go to the Department of Health and Human Services website on minority health issues at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/ or for more about meatless soul food http://www.blackvegetarians.org/index.htm or http://www.thelandofkush.com/about_us.

 

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