Good Fat, Good Sweet, Goodness!Let’s Eat

Kwanza     Habari Gani?

Kuumba (creativity) to make the community more beautiful and beneficial for the future generation.  Let’s ruminate on creative uses of agricultural products and the brilliance of African Americans in science and agriculture.

Geroge Washington Carver

George Carver began life sometime during the Civil War as the property of Moses Carver, a southwestern Missouri farmer of moderate wealth. “My sister, mother and myself were ku clucked and sold in Arkansaw,” he once wrote of a kidnapping by border-raiding bushwhackers during his infancy; his owner gave a horse in payment for his recovery, according to later accounts. The orphaned child stayed on the Carver farm near Diamond Grove for a decade after emancipation, then left to seek an education in nearby Neosho. During these years he developed the love of plants that would remain with him ever after. “Day after day I spent in the woods alone in order to collect my floral beauti[e]s and put them in my little garden…,” he later recalled.”…strange to say all sorts of vegetation seemed to thrive under my touch until I was styled the plant doctor, and plants from all over the county would be brought to me for treatment.” Painting and music were additional subjects of what he called his “inordinate desire for knowledge.”  from American

For a plant food, peanuts are an exceptionally good source of protein.


Contrary to popular myth, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. He did, however, experiment with goobers and developed hundreds of uses for the foodstuff. He’s still Mr. Peanut to me although this photo of my son with the Atlantic City Boardwalk’s Mr. Peanut, an advertising symbol of Planter’s Peanuts, is a favorite.


Najeeb & Mr. Peanut

Najeeb Harb and Mr. Peanut in Atlantic City, New Jersey


Carver’s appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee in January, 1921, launched his national identity as “the peanut man.” Some of the congressmen, patronizing him as “uncle” and “brother,” greeted Carver as an amusing diversion, but he held the committee’s interest well over his allotted time. Again he based his presentation on a great diversity of products that he demonstrated or described, including candy, ice cream flavoring, livestock feed, and ink.

Geroge Washington Carver was not the only African American scientist, inventor or innovator. For more African American Scientists and Inventors

Along with the peanut Carver championed the sweet potato, a nutritional complement also well suited to Southern soils. Man could live by the peanut and sweet potato alone, he asserted, for together they constituted a balanced ration. Again he publicized the crop’s potential in quantitative terms. “The sweet potato products number 107 up to date,” he told the congressional committee during his peanut presentation. “I have not finished working with them yet.”

sweet potato

So choose sweet potatoes. Named one of the best foods you can eat by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sweet potatoes are just as satisfying as white ones, but a lot more nutritious. Don’t worry about Yam or sweet potato – both are nutritionally wonderful and wonderfully tasty when roasted to a fair thee well and topped with butter

Be sure to choose peanut butter without added sugar or salt. Bake those sweet potatoes or roast them or spiralize them and, every once in a while, have sweet potato fries.


Sugar Crush Redux

candy-chalet gingerbread house

I’m returning to the subject of Sugar, as in Sugar Diabetes, as in Diabetes.





Habari Gani?

The Fifth night of Kwanzaa is Nia, purpose, to build and develop goals to benefit the people of the community. Let’s adopt the goal of disseminating information about one of the most dangerous opponents that POC confront: Diabetes.

How does Food Access affect Diabetes Rates in Communities of Color?

consider this article by Lindsey Haynes-Maslow at Union of Concerned

Enjoy these wonderfully youthful photos of Aretha Franklin who wrote this song. Purpose: Think about what un-managed diabetes may be doing to you and your loved ones.


lyrics by Aretha Franklin  and Ted White
You better think (think)
Think about what (*you’re)
trying to do to me
Think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free
Let’s go back, let’s go back
Let’s go way on back when
I didn’t even know you
You couldn’t have been too much more than ten (just a child)
I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degrees
It don’t take too much high IQ’s
To see what (*you’re ) doing to me
You better think (think)
Think about what (*you’re) trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free
Oh, freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom)
Oh, freedom, yeah, freedom
Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom)
Freedom, oh freedom
Hey, think about it, think about it
There ain’t nothing you could ask
I could answer you but I won’t (I won’t)
I was gonna change, but I’m not
To keep doing things I don’t
You better think (think)
Think about what (*you’re) trying to do to me
Think (think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free
People walking around everyday
Playing games, taking score
Trying to make other people lose their minds
Ah, be careful you don’t lose yours, oh
Think (think)
* Diabetes
The Sweet Inspirations
Get your sweet in your ears with The Sweet Inspirations and this hit from 1968:
Down By The Riverside
Study war no more
Study War no more
Study war No more
Study war no More!
for more information on Breena Clarke’s books:

Dreams Crushed


In 1890, a group of migrants fleeing the hostile South settled an all-black town called Langston, 80 miles west of Tulsa. Oklahoma wasn’t yet a state, and its racial dynamics weren’t set in stone. The architect of the settlement, Edwin McCabe, had a vision of Oklahoma as the black promised land. He sent recruiters to the South, preaching racial pride and self-sufficiency. At least 29 black separatist towns were established in Oklahoma during the late 19th century.  for more information about the Tulsa Massacre

Following World War I, Tulsa, Oklahoma boasted one of the most affluent African American communities in the country, known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In June of 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot.    visit the website of the Tulsa Historical Society for more information: Tulsa Historical Society

Death In A Promised Land:


Habari Gani?

The fourth night of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa, cooperative economics. Let’s take the opportunity to recognize the struggles of Black Entrepreneurs and support their businesses, support all local businesses when possible.

To purchase this book or the books by Breena Clarke

 Find a local bookstore on

Discover books by African American authors at African American Literature Book Club

and join a book club at  Well Read Black Girl


Oppression On My Table?

My Sugar Crush diet depends in large measure on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve got to govern my fruits though, choosing to eat the fruit and eschew the juice. So, my eyes light up at the array at the local supermarket or the corner fruit stand. But because I’m pondering the fruit I eat,  I wonder at the nearly invisible chain of custody of my apple or banana or orange. I’m no agricultural xenophobe. I don’t want to ban fruit or vegetables from anywhere. But I recognize the costs some people pay to get these scrubbed and stunning fruits to my table.  Organic? Non-organic? Local? Schmocal? Global?


Habari Gani?


collective work and economic responsibility.  Let’s take this opportunity on the third night of Kwanzaa to reflect on the world’s millions of agricultural workers who labor in oppressive conditions on factory farms and endure the effects of virulent pesticides to provide the fruits and veggies for our tables . . . and unfortunately, in our trash cans.


“One toxic insecticide widely used in banana production is chlorpyrifos, a potent neurotoxicant member of the organophosphate insecticide family. Chlorpyrifos can harm workers, communities and the environment but is not generally detected on peeled bananas. Children are especially sensitive to chlorpyrifos toxicity. The chemical can disrupt brain development and impair cognitive functions, measured by intelligence tests, when the child is exposed during pregnancy and early childhood (Rauh 2011). Costa Rican researchers found that children living near banana fields where pesticides were used had much higher concentrations of chlorpyrifos in their bodies than children living where only 12 percent of farmers reported using pesticides.” —–Sonya Lunder,

for more on bananas and pesticides, Bananas are pesticide intensive

for more on worker safety:

U.N launches Banana Worker Safety handbook

Celebrate Kwanzaa by trying to find a way to eat responsibly and not waste. Check out a recipe for banana bread to rescue overripe fruit. Banana Bread      


Now check out my diabetes-friendly substitutions:

Use 1&1/2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

Use an artificial sweetener blend like Truvia baking blend instead of sugar

Use 1/2 cup of canola oil for the butter

Add some chopped walnuts


Warmth of Other Suns

The brilliantly comprehensive, Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “The Warmth Of Other Suns”: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson details the crushing experiences of southern agricultural workers in the 20th century.  After reading this book, I began to think that saying a prayer before eating was not a bad thing. A prayer/a hymn for the picker and the picker’s children. A prayer for the oyster-shucker and the oyster-shucker’s children, a prayer for the cane cutter and the cane cutter’s children. A prayer for all those who harvest and box and pack our meals.




Kwanza     IMG_3709

for more on Breena Clarke’s books, go to



Determined to Crush It

What a year! Phew! We started out mobilized, determined to resist the Trump agenda, to persist like pit bulls on a meat wagon. We marched worldwide on January 21, 2017, to assert the rights of women to equality and dignity. I marched proudly in New York City.

Habari Gani?

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Let’s celebrate Kwanzaa by being determined to recognize the needs of our communities and by being willing to stand for justice and dignity and against racism.  For more information about Kwanzaa, go toWhat is Kwanzaa


On January 21, 2018, thousands will come together in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March.  Find a march in your city:

In the spirit of Kwanzaa, the Harvest Festival we ask:

When will there be a harvest for the world?

[lyrics by Ronald Isley]
All babies together, everyone a seed
Half of us are satisfied, half of us in need
Love’s bountiful in us, tarnished by our greed
When will there be a harvest for the world

A nation planted, so concerned with gain
As the seasons come and go, greater grows the pain
And far too many feelin’ the strain
When will there be a harvest for the world

Gather every man, gather every woman
Celebrate your lives, give thanks for your children
Gather everyone, gather all together
Overlooking none, hopin’ life gets better for the world

Dress me up for battle, when all I want is peace
Those of us who pay the price, come home with the least
Nation after nation, turning into beast
When will there be a harvest for the world?
When will there be?
I wanna know now, now
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be?
When will there be?
Everybody, talking bout the children
When will there be, a harvest?
When will there be?

for more information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to




Sugar Crush Saga

candy-chalet gingerbread house
     Christmas is over. The Sugar Plum Fairy has pirouetted into the sunset for another year. Candy canes can come down from the mantle and fruitcakes, pies, puddings, frosted donuts, chocolate-covered everything and cookies, peanut butter cookies with a dollop of jelly in the center are officially over. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yikes.
     Like my maternal and paternal grandmothers, I’ve got sugar. I’ve got what my grandmothers called “sugar diabetes.” And, despite taking the sophisticated medications now used to treat the condition, until a year ago I mostly ate anything that appealed to me. Cookies. Peanut butter and jelly cookies. I made dozens of them last Christmas. My medication mitigated my transgressions of diet just enough to keep me on the edge of management of the condition. But last year’s dozens of pb&j cookies and the Entenmann’s donuts and the ice cream and that pretty bowl of red and green M&Ms caused a sugar shock for my husband that threatened his eyesight. We had to confront our sugar crush.
      For a diabetic, Christmas isn’t easy in the grocery stores. I’m comfortable with my diet. I’ve had great results and I feel good. But it is a principle of food retailers that candy is shelved, displayed alongside the lines to the checkout. That way, all shoppers have the opportunity to linger and consider purchasing the most addictive, unhealthy and generally more expensive offerings they sell. After Christmas I tell myself, they’ll take some of this temptation away until Valentine’s Day. We’re in this seasonal sugar celebration from Halloween, to Christmas and Valentine’s Day and Easter, then Mother’s Day. What is a diabetic to do?

Celebrate Kwanzaa, a harvest festival created to acknowledge African culture in the Americas.    IMG_1105

December 26 – January 1 
There are seven principles of Kwanzaa called Nguzo Saba and each day is dedicated to one of these principles:

Umoja (unity) to maintain unity in the family and community

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility) to build and maintain a community.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) to help build and maintain our own businesses.

Nia (purpose) to build and develop goals to benefit the people of the community.

Kuumba (creativity) to make the community more beautiful and beneficial for the future generation.

Imani (faith) to believe in our people, parents, teachers, and leaders.

more: What is Kwanzaa    

No need to stuff yourself with sugar. Consider this the time to explore lower sugar, lower carb, higher fiber, higher protein options for your diet.

Kwanzaa greeting: Habari Gani?

Today’s response: UMOJA, Unity.


The First Principle of Kwanza is Umoja, Unity. The past year of Trump trauma has tested the idea of Unity in our nation. Paradoxically I’ve made community with a wider array of people because of the traumatic events of the Trump presidency. I’ve talked a lot about health and fitness, “sugar” diabetes and communities of color. And I’ve reflected that the people of the African Diaspora are particularly, uniquely, and peculiarly connected to sugar and the trade in sugar and slaves and rum and the wealth it created.
Traingle trade
The Triangle trade in American History is a pattern of colonial commerce in which people were purchased on the African Gold Coast with New England rum, then the enslaved were traded in the West Indies for SUGAR or molasses, which was brought back to New England to be manufactured into rum.  for a fuller understanding of the Atlantic Slave Trade:
Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:
  • 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
  • African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
     Over-consumption of sugar has been implicated in the occurrence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and tooth decay. And diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and CERTAIN POPULATIONS ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED.  And because good diabetes diagnosis and management can be expensive for uninsured or under-insured people, many are unaware they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications. African-Americans are significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes-related blindness, kidney disease, and amputations. from American Diabetes Association website.Living With Diabetes
So this is about how to celebrate Kwanzaa in 2017.
Light a candle tonight and reflect on UNITY. UMOJA Let’s think about the historical impact of sugar . . . or NOT. Let’s celebrate our triumph over that moment and resolve to push back against King Sugar. Make this cranberry cake/pie that I adapted for my diabetes-friendly diet. It satisfies my sweet craving and gives me the wonderful benefits of cranberries cranberry 411  and the usefulness and flavor of walnuts and some whole grain.
Cranberry Pie/Cake
3/4 cup of whole wheat flour & 1/4 of all-purpose white flour & 1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup of Truvia baking blend – a combination of the stevia leaf and a small percentage of granulated sugar.
 A dash of salt
2 cups of fresh cranberries (frozen is a-okay just not canned/jellied)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts – a healthy fat
1/2 cup of canola oil or oil of your choice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring (optional – can use almond)
Preheat oven to 350degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with a cooking spray of your choice. Combine flour, sweetener, and salt, add cranberries and walnuts and stir to coat. Stir in the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Mix and spread into pie pan. The mixture will be thick-ish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
for information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to
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Festival of Women Writers 2017 Holiday Book Gift Guide

Celebrating five consecutive years of platforming women’s writing, The Hobart Festival of Women Writers has created a video guide to books by Festival authors.

video by Festival co-organizer, Breena Clarke

for more information about Hobart Festival of Women Writers, go to

for more about the Festival’s participating writers, go to

about Breena Clarke, go to