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Healthy and Delicious Gumbo Greens!

Collard greens with sweet red peppers are often a go-to dish during New Year's celebrations because they're said to bring luck and prosperity.

Traditional African American cuisine, also called soul food, embodies numerous cultural legacies and is known for being rich and flavorful. Soul food items don't have to be high in fat or sodium, and added sugar, Gumbo Greens is a nutrient-dense meal starring shrimp & leafy greens!

It s both economical and healthier to cook at home, in fact it's generally cheaper by 70% to cook food at home than eat out. The reason so many people can get stuck on the question is the human psychology variable. "People don't always spend wisely, and it isn't as if prices are always the same at a supermarket or a fast food restaurant. There's always a deal to be had, a discount to be scored – and if you can cook a meal a dozen different ways, that can mean a dozen different ways to pay for it." says Chip Carter, the producer and host of the national TV show “Where the Food Comes From.

According to US News and World Report research conducted Popmenu, which specializes in restaurant technologies shows that 30% of all consumers spend an average of $190 a week on restaurant food. That would be $9,360 a year for some households. On the other hand,the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a Consumer Expenditure Survey that suggested Americans spend, on average, $2,375 a year on fast food and other restaurants.

While not all Southern food is considered soul food, all soul food is definitely Southern. Soul food is an ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by Native American and African-Americans in the Southern United States. Soul food has many influences most notably African, Native cuisine as in file' Gumbo and European. But there has always been a distinct difference in soul foods even during the middle passage the system of oppression delineated what would be eaten and termed as food for people of African descent. The typical slave-ship diet included rice, farina, yams, and horse beans. Occasionally, bran was included. Some slavers offered their slaves the so-called “African meal” once per day, followed by a “European meal” in the evening, which consisted of horse beans boiled to a pulp.

Horse bean, fava bean, field bean, bell bean, English bean, Windsor bean, pigeon bean and tick bean are all different names for the Vicia faba, a flowering plant and species belonging to the vetch and pea family. A diet of this kept the slaves on board alive and protected them from dysentery although in a weakened state. Regularly eating fava beans would boost a slaves immune system since they were packed in essentially a floating toilet. In some West African men this diet caused favism which produces acute hemolytic anemia.

After many of the male slaves ate the fava beans, symptoms would occur within 5 to24 hours. The susceptibility is an inherited condition usually occurring in males. But is more common in males of African descent. Triggers are: infections, stress, fava beans, aspirin, Pepto Bismol, sulfa and other oxidant drugs. When symptoms are triggered, they include fever, dark urine, abdominal and back pain, fatigue, and pale skin. The symptoms include headache, vomiting, nausea, yawning, stomach pains, and a raised temperature. This diet assured that a significant number of males would be sick during the trip and lower the chances of an uprising or takeover.

Collard greens date back to prehistoric time and one of the oldest member of the cabbage family. What some of you may not know is that Collard greens is also known as the tree cabbage. Some may think Collards were originally from West Africa but Collard greens originated in Eurasia and Northeast Africa originally known as the "Levant" the Black/Brown indigenous peoples of Kemet (called Egypt by the foreign invaders), Libya, Sudan, Sumer/Mesopotamia (Iraq),Persia (Iran),Nabataeans (afro-Asiatic speaking, eumelanated (meaning brown skinned) ancestors of the Arabs). For these ancient peoples Collard greens were an extremely nutritious vegetable, rich in vitamins and minerals that helped prevent and fight diseases.

In tropical West Africa, greens were available year round in gardens and markets and figured prominently in regular meals. Unlike Northern Europeans, West and Central Africans had a climate that supported a continuous variety of edible greens from both cultivated and wild plants. Amaranth, African spinach, and the leaves of cowpeas (Black eyed Peas), cassava, okra, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables helped make up the 30-60 edible leaves prepared during the age of the slave trade.

At some point in the Middle Ages, cabbages and turnips were brought south to the Empire of Malinke (current day Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast) from tiny Morocco to feed Moroccan salt traders and scholars visiting the University of Timbuktu. While the first generation arrival of these plants was not said to spread out of the Moroccan quarter, these vegetables are still grown in the Sahel today as valuable market crops. As early slave forts sprung up via the Portuguese invasions and forced slave trade, so did gardens to supply their dietary needs.

Cabbages and turnips enjoyed only measured success and usually depended on microclimate conditions that allowed for cooler breezes and night temperatures. Kale and colewort ( “collard” comes from colewort and was a significant source of vitamin C ) were frequently mentioned in letters and records of slave forts and their gardens. Eventually these seeds and plants began becoming popular in the interior of what is now Ghana, Angola, Senegal and Nigeria.

Collard greens were also one of the few vegetables that African-Americans were allowed to grow for themselves and their families back in slavery time because Europeans considered collards cattle food and unfit for human consumption. Collard greens are rich in potassium, which is important for regulating your heartbeat, helping your muscles contract, and balancing out the effect of salt on your body. Collard greens also have a low glycemic index rating, which means they won't cause your blood sugar to spike after eating. Collard Greens weren't unhealthy, it was the salt pork the enslaved African kidnapped were given as seasoning!

Gumbo Greens is a Southern Louisiana tradition of cooking during Lent, the 40 days leading up to Holy Thursday. During Lent, observant Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and many gumbo lovers are Pescetarian!

Mic Theory's Gumbo Greens


3lbs fresh chopped Collard Greens no stems: May add a 1lb of Dandelion greens for extra peppery flavor.

1 cup of Coconut Oil or Red Palm Oil & 1 cup of All-Purpose Flour: For the roux, which thickens and flavors your stew.

1Diced Red Onions, 1Sweet Bell Pepper, & 4 stalks Celery: The “holy trinity” starts off the gumbo!

4 Cloves Crushed fresh Garlic: Aroma and punch.

1tsp lightly scalded Apple Cider Vinegar: For smoky acidity.

48 ounces (approx.1.5 quarts) Vegetable Broth: holds all your flavors.

1lb Smoked Vegan Sausage (Other options include Impossible sausage, savory or Tofurky Italian (or Andouille): Brings the heat and meat to your pot.

1 tsp Pink Sea Salt or Kelp Salt substitute: Your go-to for that seasoned taste.

2 tsp Creole Seasoning: A blend of spices that’ll add a Southern zing.

2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper: A spicy addition

1-2 lbs. Large Shrimp: Soak 30 minutes in brine to keep lean seafood moist as it cooks

3 tsp Gumbo File Powder: The final touch for thickening and extra flavor.

3 sprigs of fresh thyme: Aromatic powerhouse!

1.Saute' the sliced Vegan sausage in tbsp of red palm or coconut oil and 1tsp of Apple cider vinegar with 4 cloves of crushed garlic, brown on both sides for about 4-5 minutes each side. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, Once done set aside covered.

2.In a large pot, heat 1 cup of red palm or coconut oil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of all-purpose flour, stirring continuously until the roux turns a rich dark brown color, roughly about 15-20 minutes.

3.Add 1 chopped large onion, 1 chopped sweet red bell pepper, and 3 chopped celery stalks to the roux. Cook them until they soften, around 5 minutes. pour bowl of vegan sausage and garlic in and let the aroma fill the air for about a minute.

4.Then, add 2 cups of water, and 48 ounces of broth and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add 2 tsps. Creole seasoning, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper for that lovely warmth.

5.Reduce the heat to low and simmer the gumbo base for about 45 minutes to an hour. As it simmers and the flavors get to know each other, add 3 pounds of chopped fresh collard greens (Dandelion greens can be added for a little peppery texture to the broth) and let them cook until they’re as tender as you like, about 45 minutes to an hour.

6. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, toss in 1-2 lbs pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. They’ll cook up quick and soak in all the gumbo goodness.

7. Lastly, sprinkle in 2-3 teaspoons of gumbo file powder, stirring well to combine. This will thicken the gumbo and add that unmistakable flavor.

Note: Once everything is heated through and the flavors are melded perfectly, warm your bones and dig in to your Gumbo Greens Greatness! Also Gumbo Greens with a side of cornbread or over rice never fails!

Feeds 8-10


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