A cooking class featuring “A Taste of African Heritage” will be offered from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays from Sept. 13 to Oct. 18 at the Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2000 W. Gentry Parkway.
African-Americans experience higher rates of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. They are more likely to develop them at younger ages and suffer from complications, all which may be attributed to diet.
As a natural hair care specialist, C. Kalae Whitman, owner of Sankofa and instructor for the course, became interested in sharing her knowledge of healthy eating and its relationship to healthy hair. Many people would ask her about growing their hair or how to deal with problems such as thinning.
“Hair loss is a big issue for us,” she said. “It's affecting most of my clients, whether it's from a bad perm, braids, weaves, medications, illnesses, whatever. We're losing our hair. At the same time, we're suffering with life-style illnesses, poisoning ourselves at the table and dying younger every day. Participating with Oldways is an opportunity to gain access to dietary guidelines developed with respect to our heritage, our specific needs based on what our forefathers have eaten since the beginning of time up until today.”
The six-week cooking class will introduce participants to a healthy way of eating by utilizing ancestral foods as included in the African Heritage Food Pyramid. This includes plant-based foods that are low in saturated fat, sugars and excess sodium. Leafy greens, couscous, plantains, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, nuts, coconut oil and shea butter are among the traditional foods of Africa, the Caribbean, South America and the American South.
Participants also will learn about African heritage and culinary history, kid-friendly healthy foods and ways to add flavor. Each class includes a focus on two to three recipes with a demonstration with class participation, eating, fellowship and feedback. The target audience is women.
“It's the women who cook in most homes, and we don't have as much time to cook as we used to,” Mrs. Whitman said. “Class participants in this pilot program will receive creative recipes, and foundation tools for working with whole foods, which is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle when the very foods that make us ill are available on every corner, including most aisles in the grocery store.”