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
BLACK-EYED PEA AND SPINACH CAKES (WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO 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
- 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.
- Finely mince the spinach in a food processor and set aside. You should have about 1 cup of spinach.
- 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.
- 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.
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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.
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