Challenge: Southern Food Makeover!
Jennie and I both live in the South (although I am not native) and we can attest firsthand that there are many many delicious traditional Southern dishes. I am personally a big fan of a “meat and three” homestyle type restaurant and the amazing selection of vegetables you can find there (the “three”). The sides are not always vegetables, of course, but incorporating lots and lots of vegetables is definitely characteristic of Southern food.
However, as you can see from the photo, the meat part of the meat and three is nearly always heavily laden with fat and salt and many of the vegetable and other side dishes are too. That particular plate is a good example of the dichotomy: it has collard greens, catfish, corn, chicken and rice–all good–but the greens have generous portions of ham hocks, the fish and chicken are fried and the corn is cooked to death and probably swimming in butter. You’ve watched Paula Deen wield her butter, right? There’s a lot more where that came from. Trust me.
So what’s a healthy eating lover of traditional Southern foods to do? Issue a challenge, I say! This week’s challenge is to makeover a traditional Southern dish–one with a nutritional profile that limits it to very special occasions–into something that can be frequently enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, it can’t be something totally different; it must still retain the essential deliciousness of the traditional dish.