Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finding Synergy

I have to admit that I have been struggling lately with my journey.  I love the ideas and teachings of the Weston A. Price Foundation and of Dr. Weston A. Price but, while both my mom and I have experienced various health benefits from following those principles, weight-loss has not been one of them.  As I mentioned in earlier posts, I've had some positive results in the past from following Atkins' but, I don't care for the overall dietary philosophy of Atkins' and believe it is too low carb.  I've also made the mistake of not taking in enough fiber and watching my nutrient intake during Atkins' and it left me feeling somewhat weak and light-headed; definitely not something that I'm going to stick too as a lifestyle change.

I've been learning a lot about Paleolithic dietary philosophies and am drawn to the lower carbs compared to WAPF and the continued focused on ancestral, omnivorous eating.  While my personal feelings are that paleo tries to reach too far back, I like the premise of what it's about and am already experimenting with some of the principles.

As I learn, both about real food and about what it's going to take to lose weight, I've decided that the central focus of my personal dietary philosophy is my ethnic dietary heritage.  I feel that many cultures had an instinct for food combining with a focus on nutrient-dense foods and optimizing the use of the foods within their particular region.  The traditional West African diet is a diet of native foods including, greens of many varieties, nutrient-dense sea foods, bone-broths, true yams, sorghum, okra, and black-eyed peas.  The more I learn, the more I am committed to making these foods, and their history, a part of my life.

In other news, I've tried true yams for the first time!  It was an interesting experience.  I had been researching true yams online, and found that they are a completely different plant than sweet potatoes, not even in the same plant family.  I learned the latin names for two varieties of African yam: Dioscorea Rotundata the "white yam" which is common in West Africa, and Dioscorea Cayenensis the "yellow yam" found in East Africa.

White Yam by Akadeby
White Yam (photo by Akadeby)

I began asking around at my local farmers and co-ops with little luck.  I ended up finding them at a grocer in Oakland whose shop came up several times in my online yam searches called Man Must Wak (formerly known as African Caribbean Food Market).  My mom and I purchased three yams which totaled about 5 lbs, much larger than a regular potato or a sweet potato.  We had been visiting my grandmother, and when I showed her a yam, she said it looked like a rat!

Taking the yams back home we shared one with one of my local farmers that grew sweet potatoes and had never seen a real yam, which would probably be the common reaction with farmers in the U.S. in general.  My mother and I tried cooking one like a sweet potato only to find that the yam was not very sweet at all and much more starchy in texture.  It tasted like a regular potato and were not very happy with the results.  We later cooked the second yam more like a potato and were much more pleased, though our cooking method left the yam a bit dry. I think we need more practice.  Overall, I'm very glad to finally say that I've tried a yam and am looking forward to trying again.

I will try to keep more up to date with what I am learning and also return to sorting all of the resources that I have been finding about African-American and West African traditional foods.  I will also be bringing more of my weight-loss journey to the blog itself so that I can have more to up date with.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dietary Exploration

I apologize for not having posted in so long.  I have been experimenting with different dietary philosophies lately because, as part of my dietary journey, a major part of my goal is weightloss; thus, my Atkins' experimentation that I posted earlier. I want to see how different dietary philosophies affect my body, how well they fit with a traditional foods philosophy, and how likely I am to retain their different principles in my lifestyle.

My overall goal with this blog is to share all of the wonderful information that I have learned about African-American and (West) African food traditions, health myths and benefits, and my journey in learning about and incorporating traditional practices.  My weight loss and dietary experimenting has kind of side-tracked me from that.

To stay on track, I will sharing my dietary explorations and other similar updates on the AAmnivore Facebook Page, so as to keep the general blog in focus, so keep an eye on the Facebook page if you would like to know what I'm most currently up to.

Otherwise, I am still working on gathering all of the research that I've come across and deciding how to share it all so bear with me and I hope to share in depth with you soon.