Alexandria Butler-McDow is the kind of chef who makes sure every delectable dish she prepares emphasizes the importance of health and wellness, as well as great taste. She is the coordinator for the Kitchen Divas, a team of eight chefs who teach healthy cooking classes, as part of Black Women for Wellness of Los Angeles (BWW). (See “Black Women for Wellness Seek a Healthier L.A.”)
BWW’s mission is to work with communities to free black women and their families from our ongoing struggle with poor health. Here are two favorite Kitchen Diva recipes for your summer table.
Nana’s Dream Peach Smoothie
1 frozen Banana (broken into 3 pieces)
1 peach (pitted and cut in half)
4 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt
4 ounces unfiltered fresh apple juice (non pasteurized)
½ teaspoon of almond extract (secret ingredient)
Instructions: Place all ingredients in blender. Blend on smoothie or frappe setting until smooth.
Calories: About 350 (full recipe, using low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt).
Budget tip: Purchase ripe bananas from produce section of store and freeze immediately. Ripe is not to be confused with bruised — ripe bananas, however, are often discounted to sell quicker.
Health tip: Bananas are packed with potassium, a mineral that helps you maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces your risk of experiencing cramps after exercise.
Options: 1 dollop of almond milk (will not replace the almond extract) for a creamier texture.
Variation: Use peach yogurt or add 3 medium, ripe strawberries.
Note: The type of yogurt used makes a difference in the health value of the smoothie. Look for low-sugar options. Soy yogurt is OK for vegans — just know it makes a difference in the taste. The fuzzy skin of the peach will give a speckled smoothie, so peel the peaches first if you object; be aware that you will be reducing the smoothie’s fiber content.
Wokky Mustard Greens
3–4 pounds of mustard greens (cleaned and rough chopped)
1 Anaheim pepper, medium-sized, rough chop — take out the seeds, unless you like heat
Garlic to taste
1 small red onion — rough chop
1 cup cherry or pearl tomatoes, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Instructions: To your wok, add the olive oil (which does not heat well and burns quickly, so make sure ingredients are ready for this fast-cooking recipe). Start with medium heat. Add garlic, red onion, Anaheim pepper. Stir-fry until the oil has absorbed the flavor or until ingredients are a bit transparent.
Add first batch of mustard greens (remember they shrink a lot), turn up the heat and keep the greens moving as you continue to add more greens until they are all in the wok. Add tomatoes and stir-fry another 3–4 minutes.
Calories: About 140 per serving (with 1 tablespoon of olive oil).
Serving Suggestions: Brown rice and tofu complete the meal.
Health Tip: Mustard greens, like most dark, leafy greens, are packed with vitamin C and are a good source of calcium. Vitamin C protects overall health and calcium supports strong bones.
Substitutions: Swiss chard, red Swiss chard, dinosaur kale, kale, beet tops, turnip greens. Do not substitute spinach (too light) or collard greens (too heavy).