Month’s goal is food for the soul

National Soul Food Month is celebrated in June and can be traced back many generations, according to Easter H. Tucker, interim family and consumer sciences program leader for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“Although soul food and Southern cooking are often compared, African American slaves developed soul food’s distinct character by creating tasty, flavorful meals from less-than-desirable cuts of meats and other parts of the animal and produce,” she said.

To celebrate National Soul Food Month, Tucker recommends trying a recipe for Hoppin’ John. The meal is spicy and satisfying and the recipe can be doubled for next day leftovers, according to a news release.

Hoppin’ John (Sausage, Black-Eyed Peas and Rice)

1/2 cup brown rice, instant uncooked (or white rice)

1 teaspoon canola oil (or corn oil)

3 ounces low-fat smoked turkey sausage ring, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (lowest fat and sodium available)

1/2 red bell pepper (medium, chopped)

1 jalapeno pepper, medium (seeded and finely chopped)

1 can black eyed peas (no salt added, rinsed and drained)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

Prepare the rice using the package directions, omitting the salt and butter/margarine.

Meanwhile, in a medium non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the sausage for 3 minutes or until richly browned, stirring frequently.

Stir in the bell pepper and jalapeno pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the peas, water, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened slightly but some liquid remains. Remove from the heat.

Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes so the flavors bend. Stir in the rice. Transfer to a serving bowl.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: MyPlate, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Power to End Stroke: 46 Healthy Soul Food Recipes Cookbook.