Some of the dishes popular in the American South — such as barbecued pork, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes — aren’t exactly healthy. In fact, studies have linked Southern-style diets, which are rich in meat and fried foods, to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
But traditional Southern cuisine also features a number of side dishes based on healthy ingredients, including vegetables, beans, and whole grains. In combination, they can make a complete, meat-free meal that’s both filling and tasty. Try serving two or more of the following together.
Greens. Collard greens are classic, or use other sturdy greens like kale, chard, or cabbage. Stir-fry in olive oil with chopped garlic. Add a splash of your favorite vinegar and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for added flavor.
Beans. Sauté a little chopped onion and a minced clove of garlic in olive oil in a sauce-pan. Add a can of black-eyed peas or pinto beans (rinsed to remove excess salt) and simmer for a few minutes.
Corn bread. Many traditional Southern cornbread recipes include only cornmeal (a whole grain) without any added white flour or sugar. Some call for bacon drippings or butter, but you can substitute vegetable oil to make it healthier.
Sweet potatoes. Roast these bright orange tubers until tender and serve them whole or mashed.
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