African American: Something Old, Something New- Holiday Dinner Ideas

Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas, many African Americans look forward to certain foods on the table.  Like most cultures, the holiday favorites consist of very fattening foods.  However, a growing number of African American are finding ways to cut calories without sacrificing flavor.  Furthermore, there are other factors changing expectations for holiday cuisine.  Many Blacks have cross cultural homes.  Over the years, African Americans have begun to have deeper relationships  (marriage, roommates, or friends) with Caucasians, Latinos, Africans, Muslims and West Indians.  Thus the rich Southern
American traditions are slowly becoming  fused with other influences.  More and more people love the idea of Jerk Turkey.  The Caribbean jerk marinade seems logical to contribute great flavor to permeate the turkey.  A great deal of African Americans have moved away from pork, so out goes the ham hock and in goes the smoked turkey parts into the collard greens.  Honestly, either adds great flavor, especially smoked turkey butt.

Despite the recession, many African American income brackets changed since the 1960’s and the choices of food available opened up.  Instead of collards greens, roasted asparagus or swiss chard (tip-sautee in hot chili oil) are viable healthy options.   Personally, I love the idea of Swiss chard with the red & green coloring adding to the table spread.   Furthermore, a growing number of African Americans are vegetarian or vegan(see vegan nut roast recipe).  Moving on to cranberries, believe it or not cranberries do not come in the shape of a can mold. Try cooking the whole fresh cranberries or look for the whole berres in a can.  If you are partial to the can mold, no one is judging.  I am just partial to fresh ingredients.   As we strive to cut some of the calories during the holidays, it is becoming more common to see green salads(See Grilled Kale Salad Recipe) instead of iceberg lettuce salads finding their way to table.


Ham is still classic at Christmas. However it’s okay, to dress it with Caribbean flavors, like Jerk HAM or citrus flavors to change it up a bit.

Wine at the table and events is great and did you know there are a number of black owned wineries.  You may have to order them  or inquire of your local liquor store about carrying them in your area.

Whatever, we do don’t change the cornbread,  mac & cheese,  or red velvet cake.   Mainstream America loves a good pumpkin pie but bring me the sweet potato pie. We have to draw the line somewhere.

Written by Crystal Johnson-MCCN Editor

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