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Amendment to Tradition

Written By: Jadyn Williams, ACAOF Associate,

November 1, 2022

Traditions are passed down through generations, cultures, and diasporas with one goal in mind, to keep a practice transcending through time and to keep the past alive. Traditions can be as big as celebrating a national holiday each year and as small as a recipe passed down from some of the earliest members of your lineage. In most black families, we enjoy and part-take in the tradition we know and love, soul food. This culture-wide tradition is timeless for the black community as it not only connects us to our ancestors, but it tastes immaculate. However, we cannot dismiss that it is not the healthiest. In the previous blogs, you can find a discourse about changing our eating habits and how eating better helps us breathe. But let's take it a bit further. Let’s discuss actively changing recipes. How can we alter our favorite foods to be a reflection of the healthier diets we are working towards?

My family loves candied yams. The flavor, sweetness, and warmth of the dish are out of this world, however as we decided to shift our diet, we realized the benefits of changing a comforting tradition. After we became aware of this needed change to support our efforts, we decided to look into alternative ways to make this traditional dish. We began with the basics, removing heavy cream from our recipe. This ingredient made the yams thick and fluffy, however, did add sugars and fat that were not necessary for this meal to taste delicious. Instead of leaving the yams in big cut-up pieces, we mashed them up. This allowed for the yams to become the fluff instead of adding extra ingredients to do that job. We also switched regular white sugar to brown sugar that is only partially processed. White sugar is fully processed meaning that there are added minerals to get it to the point that it is no longer brown. Brown sugar is either partially processed or fully processed and has molasses added back to it. This is where the distinction between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar matters. Light brown sugar is partially processed and dark brown is fully processed with molasses added back for coloration (Brown Sugar vs. White Sugar: Nutrition and Cooking). By replacing white sugar with light brown sugar, we decreased the glucose levels present in the dish, ultimately assisting us in our goal. We then removed the marshmallows and decided to add crushed graham crackers to the top. Arguably, they are equally not super healthy, however, graham crackers are nutritionally more beneficial than marshmallows. The sweetness of the cracker seeps into the yam without having to add extra sugar, yet it also provides 0.4 more grams of fiber and decreases the sugars present by 24.6 grams than marshmallows would have provided.

In the grand scheme of things, yes, this dish is still full of sugars and carbs, however, eating the new recipe one to two times a year alongside a heavily high-cholesterol meal is making a difference. It all begins with the little things that we adjust. Now we have a sweet potato souffle that is equally warm, sweet, flavorful, and a healthier alternative than our traditional recipe. We wouldn’t have gotten to a point where it became easy to let go of comfort and tradition to make our lives healthier if we didn’t investigate brand-new ingredients. Making amendments to our traditions is necessary for the growing inclusion of the conversation of health in our community. Taking large steps and changing our diet in one day doesn’t influence our desire to change as much as we may think. Take some time to research healthier ingredients for your favorite meal and little by little make amendments and watch the desire to eat healthier grow immensely. Take advantage of resources like AC Art of Food’s recipe shop and Supper Club to assist you on your journey to internal and external health through food.


MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Brown Sugar vs. White Sugar: Nutrition and Cooking. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from


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