On-line via zoom
Virtual Cooking Class
Bear, DE 19701
African Americans are 1.3 times more likely to be obese than white Americans. African American women have the highest rates of obesity or being overweight compared to other groups in the United States. Approximately 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and high levels of blood fats and LDL cholesterol—all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. 
There are multiple socioeconomic factors that can play into these health disparities among African Americans. It’s commonly assumed that chronic diseases are genetic. However, lifestyle factors, like eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, have been shown to prevent and treat many chronic diseases and influence genes.
The culinary heritage of African Americans is rooted in a history of survival and triumph. During periods of migration out of the South descendants of enslaved Africans in America spread their food traditions to many regions in the United States and sparked an evolution in American cuisine. The African American culinary tradition, commonly referred to as “Soul Food” is as broad and diverse as the African American community that gave birth to its rise. Many of the dishes and meals that Americans enjoy today were developed in the pots and pans of those descendants of enslaved Africans. This program will:
- Celebrate the ancestral ties of West African foodways that were brought to the United States through the Middle Passage and the culinary traditions developed by African Americans throughout their history in the United States
- Honor the culinary traditions of descendants of enslaved Africans in America and their migration and culinary evolution to regions outside of the South
- Explore plant-based adaptions of various Soul Food dishes
- Highlight African American foodways in a way that may illuminate their broader historical and regional influences
Each class in the series will present a different meal, from breakfast to dinner, and recipes for special culturally connected gatherings.
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health Resource Center. Obesity and African Americans. Accessed January 5, 2022. https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=25.
Six-Class Series Description
Class 1: The Power of Your Plate
The first class in this series will introduce the concepts of plant-based eating for preventing and treating common chronic diseases, including heart disease, overweight and obesity, and diabetes. Discuss keys to successfully change one’s eating patterns to achieve optimal health. Become familiar with The African Heritage Power Plate and explore plant-based meal planning for the week.
Class 2: Foods for a Healthy Heart
Research shows a plant-based diet does not just prevent heart disease, but it can manage and sometimes even reverse it. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. Eating habits and other lifestyle factors play a key role in determining the risk of heart disease. Pioneering studies by Dean Ornish, MD, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., MD, and others have shown a low-fat, plant-based diet, combined with regular exercise and a healthful overall lifestyle, can prevent, delay, and even reverse heart disease and other cardiovascular events. Dr. Ornish’s landmark study tested the effects of a plant-based diet on participants with moderate-to-severe heart disease. There were no surgeries or stents—just simple diet and lifestyle changes. Within weeks, 90% of chest pain diminished. After just one month, blood flow to the heart improved. After a year, even severely blocked arteries reopened. At the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Esselstyn tested the same approach on patients with severe heart disease and published similar results. Thirty years later, all of the compliant patients are still thriving. Plant-based diets benefit heart health because they contain no dietary cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and abundant fiber. Meat, cheese, and eggs, on the other hand, are packed with cholesterol and saturated fat, which cause plaque buildup in the arteries, eventually leading to heart disease. A plant-based diet can also help improve several risk factors for heart disease:
• High Blood Pressure: A plant-based diet, rich in potassium, improves blood pressure.
• High Cholesterol: Aim for high-fiber foods, which can help lower cholesterol.
• Atherosclerosis: Diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol cause plaque buildup in the arteries, restricting blood flow.
• Inflammation: Plant-based diets help reduce inflammation, which can lead to heart disease and other conditions.
Class 3: Introduction to How Foods Fight Diabetes
The road to diabetes does not have to be a one-way street. There is reason for hope! People who eat plant-based meals are less likely to ever develop diabetes, and for those who have diabetes, plant-based meals can help to improve blood sugar levels and prevent complications. These meals are affordable and can be quite delicious and satisfying. A low-fat, plant-based approach offers a new tool that many have found to be very useful. Review the latest science behind this approach, consider some simple ideas for getting started, sample four dishes, and explore useful resources.
Class 4: Introduction to How Foods Fight Cancer
Certain diet patterns seem to have a major effect in helping people diagnosed with cancer live longer, healthier lives. The National Cancer Institute research shows that as much as 33% of cancer risk may be related to diet. In this class, you will learn about the right food choices that can help reduce the risk of developing cancer as well as prevent a recurrence.
Class 5: Designing a Diet for Maximum Weight Control
This is not a “diet” that asks you to walk around hungry or feel deprived. How can you lose weight, if needed, without skipping meals or limiting your portions? In a word, it’s all about FIBER. Plant foods have it, animal foods do not. Fiber is what makes us feel full, and, as a bonus, it also helps to control blood sugar levels, protects against certain cancers, and, of no small importance, it keeps us “regular.” Learn to comfortably fill up on whole foods and watch the pounds melt away. Enjoy some delicious high-fiber African American dishes.
Class 6: Making It Work for You
As the final class of the series, participate in a send-off celebration or graduation for completing the series. Sticking to a new way of eating can take some planning. In this class, we’ll consider occasions that have the potential to present challenges, whether it is eating at work, during the holidays, or while travelling.