soul food


Soul food represents a cherished culinary tradition among African Americans, with its origins dating back to the mid-1960s when "soul" was a term synonymous with African-American culture. Evolving alongside phrases like "soul sister," "soul brother," and "soul music," it came to encompass the cherished recipes passed down through generations.

The Great Migration of the early to mid-twentieth century witnessed the dissemination of soul cuisine as African-Americans from the South introduced it to the North and the entire United States. It is often referred to as "Southern food," given its Southern roots.

It is worth noting that while not all Southern food qualifies as soul food, all soul food is regarded as Southern cuisine. This distinction underscores the cultural significance of soul food within the broader context of Southern culinary traditions.

  • Soul food holds a special place in Black culinary culture, evoking deep feelings of home, family, and unity.

  • For those who have sampled wholesome soul food dishes in Southern restaurants and aspire to recreate these flavors in their own kitchens, this article offers a delightful prospect. Explore 11 nutritious soul food recipes that promise to deliver the desired culinary experience.

  • Likewise, for those unacquainted with authentic and wholesome soul food offerings, this article offers insight into some remarkable and nutritious soul food options. One taste of this cuisine, and you'll find yourself yearning for more.

Let's embark on a journey to discover delectable yet wholesome soul food recipes, sourced from authentic and nutritious soul food traditions.


1. One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Crafting this delectable dessert requires a tad more effort than boxed mixes laden with trans fats. Yet, our homemade one-bowl chocolate cake, enriched with healthful canola oil and whole-wheat flour, offers unparalleled nutrition.

Nutritional Information:

  • Heart-healthy
  • Diabetic-friendly
  • Low-calorie
  • Low-sodium

2. Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas, belonging to the legume family, are a vital component of nutritious soul food dishes. While West Africa lacks a comparable superstition, these peas have historically graced celebratory occasions like twin births or religious observances dedicated to revered deities.

A pot of these peas brims with flavor, enriched by smoky pork and enhanced with red pepper flakes. Savoring black-eyed peas immersed in a seasoned, smoky broth reveals why this culinary delight was once hailed as "divine sustenance."

Nutritional Information:

  • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium
  • Zinc, Copper, Manganese
  • Vitamins A and K
  • Folate
  • Flavonoid-rich antioxidants enhance overall health

3. Sweet Potato Pie

In pre-colonial West Africa, the concept of dessert was unfamiliar. Nevertheless, sweet potato pie has become a staple in wholesome soul food. Sweet potatoes proved a suitable substitute for enslaved West Africans accustomed to a traditional diet featuring tropical yams.

Originally, a whole sweet potato roasted in fading embers was a favored dessert. Enslaved chefs mashed sweet potatoes, incorporating eggs, milk, and seasonings. This culinary innovation became known as sweet potato pone after cooking, eventually acquiring a baked bottom crust.

During Thanksgiving, sweet potato pie vies with pumpkin pie for dessert supremacy, yet it remains unrivaled among African Americans.

Nutritional Information:

  • Serving Size (136gm)
  • 360 calories per serving on healthy soul food menus
  • 15 gm of fat, 5 gm of protein, and 52 gm of carbs per serving
  • A valuable source of fiber, protein, and vitamin A

4. Corn Bread

In the past, cornbread played a vital role in traditional soul food, indispensable for serving alongside greens. Cornbread, a staple of soul food cuisine, can be viewed as a dessert in the South, while it's considered a savory dish in the North.

Regardless of your preference, this nutritious soul food pairs well with various dishes. This starchy side dish perfectly complements your weekday dinner's main course. Retrieve a pan of this timeless cornbread from the oven and prepare a delectable soul food meal.

Nutritional Information:

A good source of

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Folic acid
  • Folates
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin B-12

5. Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese 

If you've experienced it, you'll understand that indulging in this baked macaroni and cheese surpasses instant mac-box options. Those who haven't tried it will soon forget other mac and cheese dishes. Featuring three cheese types and delectable breadcrumbs, this recipe offers both health and flavor

  • Savor the baked macaroni and cheese for a liberating experience of soulful, healthy cuisine.
  • For a healthier twist on this soulful recipe, go vegan.
  • Sustain your nutritious eating with whole wheat breadcrumbs, low-fat dairy, whole wheat noodles, and less butter. 
  • Or you can pair it with green salads for a nutritious meatless dinner.
  • Enjoy your wholesome soul food dishes.
  • Enjoy your wholesome soul food dishes.

Nutritional Information: 

In one serving (136 gm), you will get

  • 45 gm of carbs
  • 18 gm of fat
  • 7 gm of protein
  • 370 calories

Also Read: Healthy Immune System: Following an Immunity Foods Lifestyle

6. Collard Greens

A nutritious soul food dish derived from authentic, health-conscious soul food menus.

This soul food preparation features:

  • Original tender collard greens, sautéed with bacon grease for both health and flavor. The ingredients ensure a delightful and wholesome experience.
  • Sauté your fresh greens with onion, garlic, and their respective oils, followed by bacon. Your family will relish these delicious greens.

An effortless and wholesome soul food side dish prepared with a simple recipe. Enjoy it nightly without compromising on health.

Nutritional Information: 

Collard greens

  • Rich in Vitamin K, promoting overall health.
  • Maximize Vitamin K intake for enhanced calcium absorption and stronger bones.

7. Southern Fried Catfish

Christmas pales in comparison to the Friday night fish fry, featuring this nutritious soul food dish prepared at home.

These soulful, health-conscious dishes include catfish fillets fried to perfection, accompanied by a dollop of tangy tartar sauce. A coating of cornmeal and garlic powder imparts a delightful crunch to the catfish, revealing a tender, flaky interior. This quick, 20-minute catfish recipe is a valuable addition to weeknight meals.

Nutritional Information:

  • Low-calorie, high-protein meal
  • High in Vitamin B12 and selenium
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

8. Fried Green Tomatoes

Introducing a delectable and nutritious dish from our healthy soul food repertoire: Fried Green Tomatoes.

The vibrant green tomato offers a zesty essence that, when combined with a golden crust, yields a delightful culinary alchemy.

While fried potatoes often steal the limelight, it's worth noting that fried green tomatoes truly stand out as a hidden gem. Enjoy them akin to French Fries, with a side of ketchup, or savor them in their unadorned splendor.

Nutritional Information:

  • Ripe green tomatoes are powerhouses of Vitamin A and C, and potassium
  • Provides antioxidants and minerals that are necessary for bodily functions

9. Baked Beans

An iconic recipe for nutritious soul food, ideal for weeknight dining. Its velvety, smoky essence elevates soul food's allure.

This soulful dish gains appeal through dried mustard powder and brown sugar. It's the most delectable baked beans you'll savor!

Substitute canned beans with this baked dish for enhanced nutrition. Baking elevates the health quotient significantly.

Nutritional Information:

A rich source of

  • Fiber
  • Plant-based protein.
  • Iron, zinc, thiamine, selenium, and antioxidants that make it a healthy food option for your daily intake.

10. Southern Deviled Egg

When considering a picnic and seeking nutritious soul food options, this authentic and wholesome recipe offers an excellent choice.

A classic hard-boiled egg half brims with a zesty, creamy filling, adorned with paprika. Incorporate pickle relish and a generous scoop of mayo for a delightful sweet-tangy flavor.

Indulging in this nutritious deviled egg dish is a wise strategy to promote healthy eating habits for you and your loved ones.

Nutritional Information:

  • A powerhouse of Vitamins A, B, & K
  • Provides good fat and sodium

11. Fried Okra

A well-rounded soul food platter remains incomplete without fried okra, a quintessential and nutritious dish. Frying okra represents a convenient culinary choice, yielding delectable golden-brown morsels in minimal cooking time.

Share these wholesome soul food platters with your family, and they will promptly savor this savory delight!

Employing minimal oil or butter during the frying process transforms it into a nourishing soul food option.

Nutritional Information:

  • Few calories yet are high in nutrients
  • Contains vitamin C, which aids in immunological function
  • Also contains Vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting

Consuming it provides antioxidants that make your immune system better and help to fight cancer.


It's no surprise that there's a high demand for nutritious soul food dishes in Southern restaurants. Healthy soul food is cherished for its heart-friendly qualities and genuine flavors. These wholesome soul food recipes are deeply intertwined with emotions and fond memories.

I encourage you to explore the aforementioned nutritious soul food recipes and craft wholesome soul food dishes for your family, allowing them to savor the delightful yet health-conscious soul food cuisine.

We trust that these recipes will satisfy your culinary desires and contribute to a thriving lifestyle through the inclusion of these nutritious soul food dishes.



Authored By: Poorvi Chhajer

About the Author: Poorvi is a psychology graduate with a knack for writing and a belief in Ayurveda.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published