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For most Southerner’s, vegan and low-fat are swear words.  I’ve never been a fan of Southern food because it tasted too fatty (because most IS high in fat) or it was made with pork/bacon.  A client that was taking me to lunch pulled me into a restaurant known as a “meat and three”. In fact it was printed on the sign.  It means you pick a meat–fried chicken, chicken fried steak, meat loaf etc. All awash and sitting in it’s own juices and grease.  You can pick from a food bar or from the menu.

Looking at her with the ‘WTF’ look on my face, she said “Trust me, you’ll love it”! I didn’t.  I stared at the menu and saw nothing that I wanted to eat.  Everything had a very tired look from being cooked ‘down’. Even the macaroni in the macaroni and cheese looked bloated and wimpy. But not the cheese…there was a LOT of orange cheese.

I ordered the salad. One tomato wedge sitting on the top of the palest lettuce I’ve ever seen. My choice of dressing was Thousand Island, Ranch and Creamy Italian.

After lunch, I had to get lunch because I was starving.

The recipes below won’t leave you hungry, won’t fill up your arteries and the taste is amazing. Give it a try.

Skillet cornbread with chilis

Preheat a 9 inch cast iron skillet in 425 oven for 1/2 hour.


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

wet mix
1 1/4 cups soymilk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup

a variety of chilis; sweet and spicy, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

whisk together the dry mix, put aside.
Put all the wet mix ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
Add wet to dry. Mix easily, do not overmix!

In the HOT cast iron pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and the chilis and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Sauté for a few minutes till cooked. Add chilis to the corn bread mixture and then pour batter into hot cast iron pan. Cook on stove a few minutes over medium low heat till bubbles start to appear on the surface. Then bake for 30 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean

Sauteed Colllard Greens

2 bunches collards, chopped
10 cloves garlic, miniced
1 tsp rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
splash of wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan, add olive oil and garlic. Sauté 30 seconds over medium heat. Add greens and rosemary and sauté 5 minutes.  Add wine, season with salt and pepper.

Southern Fried Tempeh

bowl 1:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

bowl 2:
1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

bowl 3
1 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp old bay seasoning

Cut tempeh in small triangles.
Dip each piece in bowl 1, then bowl 2, then bowl 3.

Deep fry till golden brown

Pecan Pie
Recipe by Miyoko Schinner from her book, “the New Now and Zen Cookbook”

1 and 1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3  cup coconut oil
2 tsp tahini
3 tbsp cold water

combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
Cut in oil till it looks like little beads.
Combine the tahini with water and add to the flour mixture and mix VERY gently. Chill for an hour before rolling out.

3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cups maple syrup
2 1/3 cups raw pecans.

Preheat oven to 325
-Spread pecans on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Do not let them burn!

On the stove, add maple syrup to a saucepan and bring to simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes.

In a blender, add raw cashews,  water, vanilla and salt and puree till very smooth.
Add maple syrup and cornstarch to the blender and blend well.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Top with pecans.

Bake for 30 minutes or till top is firm and dry.

Potato Soup
1 red onion, diced
20  cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot diced
1 stalk celery diced
4 large russets diced
4 cups stock
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 green onions, chopped

In a hot soup pot, over medium heat, add olive oil and onions and some salt. Cook for 10 minutes till they start to caramelize.
Add garlic, carrot, celery and potato, rosemary and thyme and cook 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.
Add stock and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 2/3 of the cooked vegetable mixture to the blender with the raw cashews and puree till smooth. Blend at low speed and do not over blend or the soup will get glutinous.
Garnish with basil and parsley and green onion.

Black Eyed Peas

1 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked at least 8 hours
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 onion diced
10 cloves garlic minced
1-5 fresno chilis or jalapeños, seeded and diced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1.5 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp olive oil

Soak beans, drain, rinse

In a hot sauce pan, add olive oil, onion and salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Add celery, carrot, garlic, chili, oregano, cumin, paprika and cook 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add soaked black eyed peas and 3 cups water. Bring to boil. Cover, let simmer on low heat for 45 minutes or till beans are cooked. Season with cider vinegar and more salt if needed.

Recipes from a cooking class with:

Philip Gelb