Healthy Kwanzaa Recipes

Kwanzaa is one of the most community-centered holidays and because of that, the table you set should consider a crowd. Think of the dishes you serve as a bountiful, culturally-rich offering that welcomes your guests in and takes them on a trip around the African diaspora. Here you'll find healthy, delicious Kwanzaa recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Editors' Picks

Herbed Chicken Thighs

Whether it's fried, boiled, roasted, baked or sautéed, chicken is eaten throughout Africa and the diaspora. In this recipe, chicken thighs are marinated in lemon juice and olive oil before being coated in herbs and broiled. The herbs will take on a slightly blackened color, so don't fret about the appearance. This recipe is perfect for a Kwanzaa celebration; read more in "Why the Karamu Feast Is My Favorite Part of Kwanzaa—and a Simple Menu to Celebrate".
By Jessica B. Harris

Garlic-Pecan Green Beans

The addition of toasted pecans gives this French way with string beans a bit of crunch and sweetness as well as a touch of the American South. Try using slender haricots verts for a different twist. This recipe is perfect for a Kwanzaa celebration; read more in "Why the Karamu Feast Is My Favorite Part of Kwanzaa—and a Simple Menu to Celebrate".
By Jessica B. Harris

Romaine Salad with Orange & Radish

Inspired by a traditional Moroccan salad, which consists of oranges and radishes, this version adds romaine lettuce and a classic vinaigrette. Fresh orange juice adds acidity and brightness to the vinaigrette. Pomegranate seeds bring color and crunch. This recipe is perfect for a Kwanzaa celebration; read more in "Why the Karamu Feast Is My Favorite Part of Kwanzaa—and a Simple Menu to Celebrate".
By Jessica B. Harris

Caramelized Ripe Plantains with Dark Rum

Plantains are a common ingredient in West African cooking. From street snacks to stews, plantains can be enjoyed at every stage of their maturing process. Green plantains can be used for chips, while yellow ones serve as a starchy side. Here, we use super-ripe black ones where the starch has turned to sugar making them perfect for dessert. Serve these plantains warm for a dessert that all will love. This recipe is perfect for a Kwanzaa celebration; read more in "Why the Karamu Feast Is My Favorite Part of Kwanzaa—and a Simple Menu to Celebrate".
By Jessica B. Harris

Creole Skillet Cornbread

Baking cornbread in a cast-iron skillet results in the ideal crispy crust enclosing a tender crumb. In this recipe, tender corn kernels provide additional texture. As with many recipes, how much sugar you like in your cornbread may depend on how your grandmother made it, so add more or less sugar to taste. Read the author's story behind this recipe: Skillet Diaries: A Cast-Iron Legacy
By Donna Battle Pierce

Rose's Sweet Potato Pie

Rating: 5 stars 1
Food is the great unifier—beyond culture, color or creed. Rose McGee used this pie recipe to comfort those grieving from racially motivated crimes, and has expanded her efforts on a national scale. Sweet potato pie is a universal symbol of togetherness and celebration in Black culture, and you can practically taste the joy when you take a bite. This recipe makes 2 pies so you can feed a gathering or give a gift.
By Rose McGee

Black-Eyed Peas with Slab Bacon

In this recipe, black-eyed peas get a wonderful smoky flavor from slab bacon. If you skip it for a vegetarian version, boost the flavor by doubling the garlic, adding a bay leaf, substituting vegetable stock for the water and adding a dash of smoked paprika for a slightly smoky taste.
By Jessica B. Harris

Roberta Solomon's Barbecue Sauce

I found this recipe while going through my late mother Johnetta Miller's metal recipe file box. It's attributed to her mother, Roberta Solomon. Grandmother Solomon—I called her Granny— grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The combination of brown sugar, mustard and vinegar gives this sauce a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. This was my family's go-to sauce to add to barbecued chicken and pork spareribs which were served "dry." For us, barbecue season was essentially the summer holidays: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. This sauce pairs well with any baked or grilled chicken and pork dishes. To enhance the sauce's tanginess, a halved lemon would be added as the sauce cooked. I have fond memories of seeing that floating lemon and finding a stray lemon seed as I slathered the sauce on my barbecue. Read more: BBQ on the Move: How African American migrants popularized Southern barbecue.
By Adrian Miller

Sweet Potato Dutch Baby

A Dutch baby is a puffy pancake. Over the years, they have gained popularity as an alternative to standard breakfast fare and as a stand-in for dinner rolls. In this recipe, boiled and mashed sweet potatoes lightly scent the Dutch baby—you can also substitute mashed roasted sweet potatoes. This would be excellent served alongside hearty beans, vegetable soup or cooked leafy greens. Read the author's story behind this recipe: Pecans and Buttermilk in a Brooklyn Kitchen: My Food Journey from South to North
By Nicole A. Taylor

Southern Kale

Kale becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender in this recipe. Assertive garlic and salty country ham stand up to kale's bold flavor.
By Sarah Fritschner

Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Legs with Cabbage Slaw

A complex marinade including ginger, lime, cinnamon and habaneros makes these oven-baked drumsticks delightfully savory with a spicy kick. A simple cabbage slaw, which comes together in minutes, is the perfect accompaniment.
By Mila Clarke Buckley

Rice & Okra

In this dish, the okra is steamed, not boiled, and has none of the gummy properties for which it is known. You can use fresh or frozen okra. If you're using frozen okra, partially thaw it before slicing and add it directly to the boiled rice in the colander before steaming. There is no need to brown it.
By Jessica B. Harris
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Celebrating Foods of the African Diaspora

Why the Karamu Feast Is My Favorite Part of Kwanzaa—and a Simple Menu to Celebrate
In this installment of our series on foods of the African diaspora, Jessica B. Harris, Ph.D., shares four delicious recipes for the 6th night of Kwanzaa.
The Origins and Traditions of Kwanzaa—Plus the Delicious Ways People Celebrate Today
Kwanzaa is a holiday that evolves with the times and has a particular resonance in this era of social change.
Air-Fryer Crispy Chickpeas
Rating: 3 stars 3

Air-fried chickpea snacks are intensely flavored and incredibly crunchy. Drying the chickpeas is essential to a good crunch, so don't skip this step. If you have time, leave them out on the counter to dry for an hour or two before frying.