While there's no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan, eating sustainably and healthfully is a great place to start, especially for getting back to flavorful traditional cooking methods.
Maya Feller, a registered dietitian and nutritionist known for her approachable, real-food-based solutions, joined "Good Morning America" to share recipes from her debut cookbook "Eating From Our Roots."
Her book dives into culinary culture from the Caribbean, South American, Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia, and more with over 80 recipes "for heritage dishes embraced by diverse groups of people living in the United States" with minimally processed ingredients, according to the book's publisher.
- 2August 5, 2021
"My grandmother has since passed so this is really meaningful for me," Feller said. "I went back to Caribbean and was raised there by my grandparents. My grandmother was always in the kitchen -- over a pot making something filled with greens, tons of spice and flavor and she just really encouraged me to do the same in my kitchen."
Check out two of Feller's recipes below.
Serves 6 to 8
"My grandmother always made callaloo with dasheen bush, also known as taro. Sometimes she would use a whole crab for a sweet-and-salty flavor. When she would visit us in Massachusetts, she would replicate the dish with frozen spinach in place of dasheen bush. The greens in the dish provide a variety of micronutrients as well as carotenoid antioxidants. I've made my own version with the greens that are available to me by combining Chinese broccoli and kale, which yields an earthy yet spicy callaloo."
2 ham hocks (optional)
1/3 cup avocado oil
1/3 cup diced fresh chives
1 onion, finely diced
2 1/3 cups coarsely chopped pumpkin
13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups okra
1/2 bunch Chinese broccoli, stems and florets separated
1/2 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 habanero pepper
Pelau (recipe below)
If using the ham hocks, place them in a large bowl covered with water, cover with a dish towel, and soak them overnight. After 8 to 12 hours, discard the water and set the ham hock aside.
In a heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot, add the oil, chives, onion, and ham hocks. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Add the pumpkin and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk and salt as well as 13 1/2 ounces water (use the empty can as your measuring cup), and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
Add the okra, Chinese broccoli stems, kale, and bell pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the Chinese broccoli florets and habanero pepper. Reduce heat to low, taking care not to burst the pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove the pepper and ham hocks from the pot. Use an immersion blender to blitz the veggies until they are a thick stew-like consistency.
To serve, spoon the callaloo onto a plate with the pelau.
Ingredient highlight: Avocado oil is an excellent substitute for butter. This heart-healthy oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, a combination that supports a healthy blood-lipid profile.
Serves 6 to 8
"This one-pot dish is a crowd-pleaser that can be made in advance and gets better as the days go on. Everyone has their own special technique when it comes to making pelau; when I walked a plate of mine over to my neighbor who happens to be from Trinidad, she said, "I'll have to make my own for you one time!" My version is low in added salt while incorporating a variety of vegetables and legumes in addition to the poultry. Don't be intimidated by the brine; it is a special technique that enhances the flavor of the chicken and keeps it extra juicy."
For the brine
1/2 cup honey
4 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon cumin seed
1/2 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/3 cup avocado oil
3 small yellow onions, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Three 1-inch pieces fresh ginger
3 sprigs thyme
8 ounces pigeon peas, prepared according to the package directions
1/3 cup garlic chives
13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups white basmati rice
Vegetarian alternative: For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken, reduce the amount of water to 5 cups, and cook for a total of 45 to 60 minutes.
In a large pot, add the honey, bay leaves, cumin seed, coriander seed, peppercorns, and salt to 8 cups of water and stir until well combined. Add the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or ideally overnight. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the liquid, pat dry, and set aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed 10-quart pot over medium-high heat and add the oil and chicken. Brown the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, remove from the pot, and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
Next, add the thyme, peas, chives, coconut milk, and salt and cook for 30 minutes. Finally, add the chicken and rice and 6 cups of water and cook for 20 minutes.
To serve, plate the pelau with a heaping spoonful of callaloo.
Recipe reprinted with permission from EATING FROM OUR ROOTS. Copyright © 2023 by Maya Feller. Published by goop Press/Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.