cover image Healthy Soul Food Cooking

Healthy Soul Food Cooking

Fabiola Demps Gaines, Roniece A. Weaver. Small Steps Press, $14.95 (196pp) ISBN 978-1-58040-227-9

Aimed at those who need to clean up their diet but don't want to give up favorites like bananas foster, pulled pork or gumbo, this cookbook from dieticians Gaines and Weaver offers healthier versions of soul food standards. It's a lofty goal: soul food derives much of its appeal from fats like butter, lard, bacon and cream. Many recipes simply substitute low- and non-fat ingredients, as in Bananas Foster, in which butter and ice cream are replaced by reduced-fat margarine and fat-free, sugar-free rum ice cream, for a total fat content of just three grams. The butter used to create a traditional roux for gumbo gets replaced by canola oil and okra, and smoked turkey takes the place of bacon in collard greens. Though these approximations won't necessarily satiate those with a taste for rich foods, the retention of all the traditional soul food spices certainly helps: Tramaine's Oven Fried Chicken benefits from a flavorful coating of garlic and onion powder. Other recipes avoid the fat trap entirely; Orange Sweet Potatoes-hollowed-out orange peels filled with a brandy-infused mashed sweet potato mixture-prove inventive and addictive. Nutritional information is included for each dish; those on a restricted diet are bound to find some good ideas, though traditionalists may not be convinced.