Going against the “GRAIN”… Young Black and Vegetarian


I was hatched into a family where meat reigned supreme. .. Chicken and pork where a staple in my home the way rice is commonplace in a Latino home. I’ve had so much carnage that I can close my eyes while YOU chew and know intimately how each corner of the pig, chicken, and cow taste all before you swallow. I’m an expert of sorts. My mother is actually very proud of this very thing. In fact on every holiday she has a habit of making mention of my former love for braised. short ribs. She’ll lean in with a warm rib dripping of warm BBQ sauce…sucking the excess before it has a chance to fall through the air. Quite a talent if you ask me…  However.. life goes on. And I grew more enlightened. I traded short ribs for tempeh, and Kool-Aid for green juice smoothies, butter for coconut oil, and all you can eat buffets for temperance. Vegetarianism has taken a firm hold on my heart, and taste buds. For all my friends and family that miss those opportunities to share every deep fried and roasted hoof, paw, wing and other things… Sorry… but I’m not sorry. I’ve evolved. But best believe it’s all for the best. I’ve joined the movement and taken hold on its momentum full force. So I invite you to jump onboard the bandwagon, it’s a great place to be.

Vegetarianism is still a novelty in some circles and so when I’m seen passing on a plate full of flesh I’m either received as a national treasure or a bad omen. Its just the way it goes. But as a minority it has been very important to begin making some major changes in the way i behaved, and that includes what foods I’ve invited into my belly. The decision to drop meat and limit sugar in my life wasn’t an easy road lined with sugar plums and gingerbread houses. It all stemmed from a conversation that I had with my mother. I complained of low energy, and frequent urination. Her advice, see a doctor. (**insert cricket sounds**) In her opinion I was destined for a life of diabetes, and possibly heart disease. Two things that I wasn’t either ready for… nor excited about. So, I took nutrition classes searching for a way out of a bleak future. And in that process, this is what I discovered . African American adults are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician than non -Hispanic white adults. African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to have high blood pressure than non – Hispanic whites. And lastly, African American men and women are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non white Hispanics. And while it is self evident that other minority groups are affected as well, knowing those facts and seeing them play out in the lives of my family scared me straight. Period.

A vegetarian diet, combined with exercise promotes quality of life. Although there is no silver bullet in regards to warding off disease, a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a sound diet is key to a higher quality of life. Incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your meal times, while phasing out animal products is a great way to not only ward off disease, but also to control weight gain, and improve the bodies response to allergens. Health is indeed wealth.  and guess what? Vegetarianism is beginning to build momentum in the African American community. In fact several African American celebrities like Erykah Badu, Andre 3000, Reverand Al Sharpton, and Common have all embraced a plant based diet. And while that should’nt be your sole motivation, it should cast a bright spotlight on the fact that healthful living is a movement. So I invite you to join this movement for a higher quality of life, and a more promising future. Leave a legacy of health, because health is indeed wealth. Try this soulful vegan recipe and join the movement.  

Here’s to Healthful Living,

Chef Will Hall





Dairy FreeVegan




Tartar Sauce 

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained


  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 (12-ounce) box firm silken tofu
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil


Tartar Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and stir together. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate until needed.


  1. Finely mince the spinach in a food processor and set aside. You should have about 1 cup of spinach.
  2. In a food processor, process the tofu until smooth, then scrape into a medium size mixing bowl. In the same food processor, pulse the parsley, bell pepper, and scallions until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the tofu and add the spinach, black-eyed peas, flour, panko, baking powder, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon four mounds of the mixture into the oil, flattening the tops of each to make a one-inch thick cake. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. If cakes become dark brown, reduce the heat to medium. Flip and cook 2 more minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with the reserved tartar sauce.









CATSOULIS, JEANNETTE. “Soul Food Vegan Style.” The new York Times 5 May 2011: n. pag. Print.

Coleman, Christina. “The 15 most annoying things about being a Black Vegetarian.” . Global Grind, 10 May 2013. Web. . <http://globalgrind.com/2013/05/10/most-annoying-things-about-being-black-vegetarian-list/&gt;.

DiJulio, Betsy. “Pea and Spinach Cakes (with Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce).” . The Blooming Platter, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. . <Pea and Spinach Cakes (with Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce)>

medina, jennifer. “Fast-Food Outlet Stirs Concerns in a Mecca of Healthy Living.” The New York Times 11 Dec. 2011, sec. Loma Linda Journal: n. pag. Print.

Tinuoye, Kunbi . “Are more African-Americans embracing veganism?.” theGrio. N.p., 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014. <http://thegrio.com/2012/02/27/are-more-african-americans-embracing-veganism/&gt;.

“We’re in!.” OMH Content. N.p., 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 5 July 2014. <http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=62&gt;.


So So Caught up with the Coffee Bean

When I woke up this morning, some of my first thoughts were centered around  the coffee bean; how beautifully brown it is, and how when toasted, freshly ground, and brewed, miracles happen.  Yes miracles…. when freshly brewed coffee touches my lips, I  somehow instantly go from being the human version of the “lil engine that could” to what singer R. Kelly described as ” being able to fly”.  Each slurp and sip brings me into closer communion with GOD.  Clarity comes in each and every swallow, and its in those moments that I feel my very best, …  thus I think my most inspiring thoughts.  A little deep I bet… but true. I am a loyal devotee to  this thing called “java”, and I  make no apologies. We found each other during my sleepless nights of culinary school, while bathed in moonlight I memorized terminology, and culinary formulas.  It was coffee that was there with me, while everyone else slept sound in their  bunks.  In those moments, we had each other only.  Our relationship  began as a one sided situation; me using the coffee to help encourage my eyelids to stay open.  That was primary…. But in the process of my using coffee, I fell in love with its flavor, its aroma, and color.  She was my night nurse ** insert Beres Hammond here** It was then that I realized the coffee needed me just as much as I needed it.  I found that it needed to be sipped, to be wooed, bl0wn on and teased.  She and I  made our love an exclusive one, and we were both better for it.  I know you must think that I’ve gone way too far, gone way too deep.  But my love is real, it’ s us against the world.

There are just as many arguments against the coffee bean as there are for it ( Trust me I wont harp on the cons) .  Lets just start with the fact that coffee is cherished the world over.  Its claim to fame begins with rich soil, in some of the warmest (tropical climates) climates and highest altitudes. It is here where the beauty of the bean is cultivated. My beloved bean is purported to be great to fight against depression (because of its mood altering effects),  it is also believed to help the liver regulate itself,  and may actually make you smarter ( temporarily improves your general cognition -which includes your reaction time, and logical reasoning).  Time Magazine cites coffee as having the power to fight  Alzheimers disease, decrease the risk of heart failure, ward off skin cancer, and believe it or not reduce the risk of  diabetes.  Thats all before you load it down with cream, sugar, syrup, Splenda, and anything else that may mask its glory. She .. the inhuman bean is rich in antioxidants, and bioactive compounds that assist coffee in being one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide. So although the cons include discoloration of the teeth, increased risk of stroke (with daily consumption of more than 4 cups), and the risk of osteoporosis (because coffee is a diuretic  and causes you to purge calcium through the urine), the pros outweigh the cons by far. But balance is key.  As is with all good things .  Whether you are in Ethiopia, Chile, Jamaica, or Ecuador, enjoy a cup of her loveliness while welcoming all good things into your day ( or late nights).  Purchase a cup or bag  of Starbucks ,Godiva, Illy, Cafe Bustelo or the like and join me in my praise of one of earths most coveted beverages.  Heres a recipe from the Vegetarian Times  for  coffee lovers, who like me, are so so caught up with the coffee bean.




Chef Will Hall





Chocolate Ganache Truffles

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

Makes 25 truffles

This recipe offers an introduction to making ganache, a combination of cream and chocolate used for candy fillings, cake frostings, and pastry glazes.
  • 5 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • 7 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 2 Tbs. whiskey or liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Kahlúa, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Combine dark chocolate and milk chocolate in large heat-proof bowl.

2. Combine cream and corn syrup in medium saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in coffee granules until dissolved. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate, and stir gently until all chocolate pieces have melted. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Add whiskey, if using, and stir 1 to 2 minutes with spatula or wooden spoon until chocolate mixture begins to thicken. Cover, and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight.

4. Fill small plate with confectioners’ sugar, fill small bowl with cocoa powder, and line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

5. Dip hands in confectioners’ sugar. 
Roll small lump of chocolate mixture into 1-inch ball, then roll in cocoa powder. Place truffle on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chocolate mixture, dusting hands with confectioners’ sugar to keep truffles from sticking. Refrigerate truffles until ready to serve.


Chocolate ganache truffles. (2011, 02). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/chocolate-ganache-truffles/

coffee from around the world. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.ncausa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=75

coffee image. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.freegreatpicture.com/coffee-chocolate-milk/coffee-and-coffee-beans-close-up-16140

Coffee: The pros and cons. (2006, 09). Retrieved from http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/coffee-pros-and-cons

Groden, C. (2013, 07 26). How coffee could save your life. Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/07/26/how-coffee-could-save-your-life/

Gayomali, C. (2013, 7 25). 9 purported health benefits of drinking coffee [updated]. Retrieved from http://theweek.com/article/index/244468/7-purported-health-benefits-of-drinking-coffee

Health reasons to drink coffee (and cons to consider). (2013). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_reasons_to_drink_coffee_and_cons_to_consider

Oster, E. (2013, 09 09). Take back your pregnancy. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323514404578652091268307904

Sifferlin, A. (2012, 05 17). Coffee: Drink more, live longer?. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/17/coffee-drink-more-live-longer/