Healthy Kwanzaa Recipes from The DailyBurn’s Kate Brown

The holidays are a time when people get to indulge in their favorite traditional dishes. Kwanzaa, a holiday celebrated largely by African Americans, is a week-long celebration that begins December 26 based on the year-end harvest festivals that take place throughout Africa. As with many other holidays, there are a number of classic dishes associated with celebrating Kwanzaa.

“If you are trying to stick to a healthy nutrition plan, holiday meals can cause some anxiety,” said Kate Brown, recipe developer, trainer, and healthy living writer for DailyBurn. “Do you throw out your diet and go to town or do you turn your nose up as your favorite dish gets passed around the table?”

As it turns out, there is a happy medium between abstaining from your favorite foods and ditching your diet plan altogether. If you’re cooking the holiday meal, all you have to do is give your favorite recipes a healthy makeover. If you’re attending a party, bring a healthy dish for everyone to share.

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Kwanzaa celebration, Brown has provided menu-planning tips and two favorite recipes that embody authentic African cuisine.

Opt for vegetable-based stews and soups. Instead of rich dishes made with butter and cream, opt for meals based with vegetables, tomato sauces and stocks. “Spicy Chicken and Peanut Stew is a healthy take on a traditional West African dish,” said Brown. “Peanuts, chili peppers, and tuber vegetables like sweet potatoes in this recipe are common flavors of West Africa.”

Fill up on vegetables. Since Kwanzaa is a based on the year-end harvest festivals, it is a perfect opportunity to indulge in the season’s freshest, delicious produce. Braised collard greens with red wine, quick and healthy black eyed peas, molasses whipped sweet potatoes and mashed parsnips and potatoes are all delicious dishes that will help add nutrition to any holiday table.

Choose high-protein options. After you fill your plate with vegetables, focus on lean meats and protein, such as chicken, lean beef or legumes. Chakalaka is a spicy relish that also doubles as a sauce or garnish. “We suggest serving Chakalaka with white meat for a healthier, protein-rich meal,” said Brown. “This recipe tastes great when poured over grilled chicken.

Spicy Chicken and Peanut Stew


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds diced chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped and seeded
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed


In a skillet, cook chicken, onions, and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat. When onions are translucent and chicken is cooked, transfer chicken, garlic, and onions to a large saucepan.

Add chicken stock, spices, ginger, pepper, potatoes, salt, chicken stock, peanut butter, and garbanzo beans. Cook over medium heat and cover, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 30 minutes.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 red chili peppers
  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar


In a large skillet, combine olive oil, onion, green peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, red chili peppers, curry powder, and beans to the skillet. Stir until combined. Add brown sugar to mixture. Simmer for 30 minutes.

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