Healthy is such a subjective term.
Taken in isolation, many dished could be considered unhealthy, but as part of a traditional diet, they are much more acceptable. Most traditional dishes made from scratch are perfectly healthy, while their counterpart out of box probably is not. One very simple rule for healthy eating is eat only food that has been grown, not food” which has been manufactured.
So-called soul food has its roots in African American culture. Southern cooking describes pretty much the same stuff. “Traditional” America dished like Grits& Greens or Jumbalaya or jerk chicken all trace their roots back to Africa and were introduced to the America diet via the slaves who were brought to the American shores.
The diet of the African slaves had already been influenced – according to some food historians – by Europeans who had taken their cuisine to West Africa long before the slave trade started. Whatever the origins, the slave brought to the United States dished such as collard greens, black-eyed peas, okra and sweet potatoes. Deep-fried fish and chicken also probably came fro Africa.
There are ways that these much-loved dishes can be made “healthier” Instead of deep-fry9ng everything, many dishes can be oven-roasted, using considerably less fat. It is even possible to turn Southern comfort foods into acceptable vegetarian dishes. Even bacon can be a part of a healthy diet if that diet includes lots of vegetables.
Southern cuisine is sweet, savory and spicy. These characteristics are what make a jerk marinade absolutely addictive. It can be used on pork loin, or firm white fish or even goat. Jerked meat combines well with slightly sweet side dishes like sweet potatoes or cornbread.
The so-called Cuban-Style Pork & Rice is similar to paella. Both are a great way to feed a hungry crowd. There is a basic recipe, but the inventive cook adds to that whatever happens to be on hand, with a liberal sprinkling of spice and exotic flavors, of course.
Oven-Fried Chicken on a Stick is a Southern favorite, and not too bad on the healthy eating scale as long as the bread-crumbs come from good freshly baked bread and the oil is fresh and not hydrogenated.