Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

7 Cookbooks by Black Chefs That Serve Up More Than Just Meals

Health + Wellness
7 Cookbooks by Black Chefs That Serve Up More Than Just Meals
These seven cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired the author's family. LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

By Zahida Sherman

Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.


My grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles would all pour into our home throughout the day, eagerly awaiting their favorite dish.

During those times, my mom transformed into executive chef and drill sergeant, sending my sister and me on grocery store runs for obscure ingredients or directing us to remove cobwebs from forgotten corners of the house.

The scents wafting from my mom's magic entrées and appetizers were intoxicating. They made all the toil worth it.

Our home burst with the scent of warm syrupy-sweet yams, smoked turkey necks drowning in collard greens, a countertop completely covered by her pound cake, and sweet potato pie whipped to perfection.

I always looked forward to those family dinners, my relatives' laughing faces, and their overflowing plates.

As much as I loved our quality family time, those dinners fueled my fear of cooking. I could never accept and conquer the mental preparation it required: the brainstorming, the grocery lists, the grocery store lines, the time management.

I couldn't bear the hefty expectations of cooking as a way to maintain our Black American cultural and family traditions, a mix of Southern roots with Pacific Northwest nuance.

I added cooking to the list of things that I knew were important, but that I probably would never really care about (kind of like backing up my devices regularly). I didn't want to spend the necessary energy to learn how to achieve those glorious family dinners — or even everyday meals.

Cooking required too much pressure and preparation. Cooking required too much of myself.

Falling in Love With Food All Over Again

Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.

I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.

Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.

In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.

These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.

Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking

by Toni Tipton-Martin

Who says a cookbook can't also be a history lesson?

Tipton-Martin draws on her nutritionist and food activist background to amass over 125 recipes that demonstrate the complexity and nuance of soul food.

"Jubilee" pushes beyond the trope of soul food as survival wherein enslaved and impoverished Africans created a new cuisine out of plantation scraps. The author showcases the culinary skills of Black chefs who were enslaved, entrepreneurs, upper class, and everything in between.

Whether it's the black-eyed pea fritters, okra gumbo, or braised lamb shanks with peanut sauce, you will be joyfully full.

The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem

by Marcus Samuelsson

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of dining at Chef Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem. It was undoubtedly my bougiest Black fantasy.

The food was simple but decadent, and the ambiance was Black, beautiful, and triumphant, much like the neighborhood. Samuelsson's cookbook leans into his Swedish-Ethiopian and Afropolitan experiences with recipes for chicken and waffles, cornbread and bird funk, wild wild wings, and donuts with sweet potato cream.

Interspersed with poignant photos of Harlem, this cookbook is Samuelson's tribute to this culturally iconic neighborhood.

Eat Yourself Sexy: Eat Your Way to Shiny Hair, Glowing Skin and Weight Loss

by Lauren Von Der Pool

If she's a good enough chef for Stevie Wonder, Common, First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Sebi, and Venus and Serena Williams, she's good enough for me!

Celebrity chef Von Der Pool wrote "Eat Yourself Sexy" to empower female-identified readers on their inner journey toward sexiness through raw food and homemade beauty products.

If you're intimidated by a plant-based diet or DIY beauty, this is a must-read. Chef Von Der Pool's simple recipes, stunning photos, and comprehensive information about eating whole foods will inspire you to get started.

The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well

by Ayesha Curry

Outspoken and unapologetic Food Network host, restaurateur, mom, and wife Ayesha Curry, gifts readers with 100 recipes that are perfect for your hectic work-life balance.

My older sister (also coincidentally named Aisha) has fed our family with Curry's recipes that range from mouthwatering brown sugar bacon, game day chili, and harvest sangria, to white chocolate bread pudding and butternut squash mash.

"The Seasoned Life" shows audiences why Ayesha is Chef Curry with the pot.

Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing

by Jerrelle Guy

Inspired by #blackgirlmagic, this cookbook is Guy's empowering journey of accepting her fullest self through cooking.

Perhaps what makes her cookbook so defining is her insistence that readers abandon the idea of baking perfection and fall in love with the process of baking instead.

The recipes don't disappoint, either. Strawberry balsamic cupcakes, sweet potato rice crispies, and peanut butter jelly bread? Yes, please!

Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland

by Tanya Holland

Inspired by Chef Holland's Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurant in Oakland, California, her cookbook offers over 80 recipes that are simply delicious.

Her soul food entrées include everything from shrimp gumbo, black-eyed peas' salad, chili glazed salmon, to cornmeal waffles with apple cider syrup.

While Bryant doesn't shy away from popular favorites like fried chicken, she includes alternative options for eaters with dietary restrictions.

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed

by Bryant Terry

Food activist and chef Bryant Terry offers perfectly seasoned vegan recipes from the African Diaspora that will impress even your most carnivorous dinner guests.

Terry combines ingredients from seemingly disparate regions like North Africa, the American South, and the Caribbean into delicious dishes like sweet potato and lima bean tagine, pomegranate peach BBQ sauce, and skillet cornbread with pecan dukkah.

"Afro-Vegan" even includes genre-diverse playlists to accompany Terry's recipes. My aunt's personal favorite is the savory grits with slow-cooked collard greens. You can listen to the accompanying song, "The Funk," here.

Get Cooking

Whether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.

Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.

A group of climate activists that have been cycling from the North of the country in stages to draw attention to the climate case are arriving to the Court of Justice on the day that the climate lawsuit against Shell starts in The Hague, on December 1st, 2020. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Representing more than 17,000 claimants who support climate action, the international organization Friends of the Earth on Tuesday opened its case against fossil fuel giant Shell at The Hague by demanding that a judge order the corporation to significantly reduce its carbon emissions in the next decade.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Eat Just, Inc. announced that its cultured chicken has been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. The company has developed other cultured chicken formats as well. Eat Just

As concern mounts over the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, Singapore has issued the world's first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wildfires are seen burning out of control on November 30, 2020 on Fraser Island, Australia. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services / Getty Images

The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.

Read More Show Less
A plane sprays pesticide over the Wynwood neighborhood in the hope of controlling and reducing the number of mosquitos, some of which may be capable of spreading the Zika virus on Aug. 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A national nonprofit revealed Tuesday that testing commissioned by the group as well as separate analysis conducted by Massachusetts officials show samples of an aerially sprayed pesticide used by the commonwealth and at least 25 other states to control mosquito-borne illnesses contain toxic substances that critics call "forever chemicals."

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plants a tree as part of Trees That Count, a project to help New Zealand make a positive impact on climate change, on June 30, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

The government of New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, a symbolic step recognizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions of substantial global warming if emissions do not fall.

Read More Show Less