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.


  1. Hi Tanisha, hope all is well. That sure was one big Yam

    1. Hi Mike! All is well with me. I hope everything is good with you and your family as well.