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These seven cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired the author's family. LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

By Zahida Sherman

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.

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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, voiced support for safe reopening measures. / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA

By Kristen Fischer

By Kristen Fischer

It’s going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.

The group’s recent recommendations include social distancing protocol based on different grades. For example, it’s more feasible to keep preschoolers in small groups (known as “cohorting”) with the same teacher throughout the day. Older children should have desks 3 to 6 feet apart and wear masks.

They also say schools should limit unnecessary visitors to the buildings and utilize outdoor spaces for learning. The guidelines recommend safer bussing, hallway traffic monitoring, cafeteria use, cleaning, and screening protocols among other recommendations.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, also voiced support for safe reopening measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidelines for reopening schools.

Despite calls for them to be revised by President Donald Trump, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said they will not change, but the CDC will soon publish additional documents on symptom monitoring and mask usage.

But school administrators, parents, and teachers remain wary of going back to school full time as they fear becoming the site of super spreader events.

Keeping Schools Safe

What will safer schools look like?

In a JAMA article published last month, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP’s.

Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.

He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child’s health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.

Erika Martin, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.

Not all recommendations will be achievable for schools in certain areas, noted Lucy Sorensen, PhD, an assistant professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany.

“It may not be feasible to space desks six feet apart or have windows open in classrooms in a New York winter,” Sorensen explained.

Other strategies to safeguard school communities can include high-intensity ultraviolet light, thermal cameras, and conferencing systems.

“Social distancing will be hard for students,” said Tina M. Pascoe, a nurse and co-founder of Nurses for Day Care, who has been involved with efforts to keep day care centers open during the pandemic.

Limiting class size, and not having special activities that require students to leave the room, will be key. “This keeps students stay in one cohort or like a family unit,” she told Healthline.

Supporting Staff

Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted Rachel Widome, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.

“In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we’ll be asking a lot of teachers and staff,” Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they’ll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.

Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.

Should Kids Go Back?

While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don’t think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.

In a Pediatrics commentary, Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr., an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.

But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.

“Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children’s distance learning may be particularly challenging,” added Sorensen, who penned a June article in JAMA with reopening tips. “That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning.”

Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.

What Parents Can Do

Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.

“I’d like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities,” Widome said.

“Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person,” Widome suggested.

She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.

“If you are using cloth face coverings, it’s good to have extras on hand,” Widome added.

Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.

“Children may want to know more about face coverings,” added Lee Scott, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at The Goddard School. “Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept.” Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.

Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a checklist for administrators, report on ethical considerations, and a tracker of state and local reopening plans.

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

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If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you’ve been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ignoring calls from contact tracers could put you at risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to your loved ones.

It can even land you in legal hot water if you knowingly avoid contact tracers.

Earlier this month, officials in Rockland County, New York, sent subpoenas to eight people who refused to participate in contact tracing and threatened them with thousands of dollars in fines.

Hearing the phrase “You may have been exposed to the coronavirus” coming from the other end of the line can be scary, but it’s important to stay on the phone. Here’s what to expect if you get a call from a contact tracer.

Interviews With Contact Tracers

Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.

It’s been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.

“We ask who they’ve been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don’t have symptoms,” said Dr. Heidi Gullett, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.

If the person with the coronavirus hasn’t left their home much, it’s a relatively straightforward process.

The interview can get a lot more involved if the person has been traveling, working outside the home, socializing, and seeing lots of other people. The person might need to review their calendar, create a timeline of everywhere they’ve been, and figure out how long they spent with different individuals.

“We’re not concerned about every single contact with others, just the high-risk contacts, defined as being within 6 feet of someone else for 15 minutes or more,” said Brian Labus, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ School of Public Health and a member of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s task force to advise on the scientific aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case interviews can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the complexity.

“You’ve Been Exposed”

After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.

“We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they’re not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don’t spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick,” said Labus.

Generally, the contact tracer won’t ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.

“We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It’s an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus,” said Gullett.

Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)

A Lancet study from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.

The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.

However, contact tracing is only as effective as people’s willingness to participate, and a small number of people who’ve contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.

“Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at,” said Gullet.

The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.

“These investigations are all conducted through health departments which have strict laws about what can and can’t be shared. Protecting people’s privacy is a core part of what we do, and we don’t release the information you share to the public or tell other people about your medical history,” said Labus.

The Federal Trade Commission has guidance on how you can protect your privacy and make sure you’re speaking to a legitimate contact tracer. Remember: A contact tracer will never ask for your immigration status, Social Security number, or any sort of payment.

While legal action against people who refuse to talk to contact tracers (like the eight people who received subpoenas in Rockland County) is rare, it can happen. The bigger risk of avoiding these calls is the potential for you to miss out on important guidance about your own health, undermine your state’s ability to reopen safely, and transmit the virus to others.

“If you’re doing contact tracing and you’re getting a bad filtering rate — meaning you’re only getting in touch with a fraction of the people you try to contact — then the program isn’t effective or useful. The coronavirus is extremely contagious, so missing a few cases can lead to an outbreak,” said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, professor of health policy and management at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

“We shouldn’t sit here and think that the only options are to ride it out or get a vaccine,” he added. “There are other public health measures we can take, and contact tracing is one of them.”

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

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