Whether it is the cultural Sambusa ( Ground meat and spices in tortilla filling fried), or Spinach and Collard green stew with peanut butter, the Sudanese culture uses delicious ingredients to encompass their cuisines.
This can range from frying meat and vegetables with straight canola oil or adding nut butters to meals like peanut butter in the infamous cultural dish named, Mula Belat ( Stew from the village). Other ingredients included in these meals are different salt spices to give it that amazing taste that everyone knows and loves.
But, if you are on a journey to desiring to eat healthier or choose healthier options, the many ingredients in our dishes is where we as Sudanese Americans should evaluate our intake. Not just being a refugee, but even living in your new country for 20+ years, many are still accustomed to their cultural dishes and have not strayed away from them even if they have not been living in the same country for many years.
Culture always remains even if the location is not the same.
But, the question to now ask, is among the cultural dishes, how do you then maintain or make changes to meals you eat if you are looking to change a lifestyle or habit?
One simple thing to do, is change ingredients.
I am not sure if you know this, but many people who have done diet gimmicks or tried different diets fail because they try to make a big lifestyle change but realize the difficulties of continuing it during the long run. But, as I have stated in previous posts, these blog writings are not to make you change your diet completely or tell you to go on a diet change, but to help you make little changes along the way that in the long run, you will see that you have health improvements without altering cultural taste all that much, and all that fast.
You may fall in different categories like:
1. You do not want to make a change at all and you are okay with where you are at nutritionally
2. You love your cultural dishes, but you are ready to make minor changes for health reasons
3. You really need to change your diet for health reasons
4. You are exploring different ways to eat healthier and still keep cultural foods to the side
I am here to encourage and help with whatever category you see yourself in !
When making changes, I like to view it as change by the ingredients; because within the ingredients, is where the calories and nutrition value adds up. For example, if you are making your favorite banana smoothie, but you want to eat healthier, you can add flax seeds, chia seeds, or even a nut butter that you normally would not eat on its own. This would then make it healthier to consume without adding too many calories, or even if there is some calories, you are getting added nutrients to your smoothie.
When looking at a favorite dish, let's look at sambusa. The norm to making this dish is cooking the filling with oil and then taking the filling and putting it in a triangle shaped tortilla and frying it up with canola or corn oil.
To make changes to this dish, you can cook the filling with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or water, depending on the meat- if you are using chicken, there are less oils in chicken , but if you are using ground beef or pork, you can get away with not using oil because the fat in the meat already contain enough oil for sautéing. Next, you can continue adding veggies as usual; for the tortilla, depending on what you prefer, you can continue using the same tortilla you've been using or use a lower carb , lower calorie option. Now with the frying part, you can either use an air fryer to completely use no oil or a healthier version of oil like avocado or olive. Ta-da! You now have a lower calorie option for your favorite cultural dish, sambusa !