New Year’s Traditions

In the South, it’s a tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good fortune. Some people believe you need to eat one bean for each day of the year, so you don’t have any bad-luck days. They used to be cooked with ham, but now that veganism is taking over the world, there are many vegan versions out there.

If you like faux meats, add vegan “ham” to your shopping list, chop it up, and throw it into the peas when they’re done cooking. If you’re eating McDougall, cook some brown rice and just eat beans, rice and collards. You can eat buckets of those three things and still lose weight and cure your heart disease.

o Black-eyed peas
o Collard Greens
o BBQ tempeh
o Cornbread

Black-eyed Peas

If you don’t like to cook, skip this recipe and use canned, cooked black-eyed peas instead.

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
water to cover them
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

salt to taste, about 2 tsp

Place all ingredients except the salt into a large pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, and cook gently for 2-3 hours. Add more water as you need it. When they’re tender, add the salt and chopped vegan ham if you’re using it.

After you start the beans, start the BBQ right away:

BBQ Sauce

Again, if you don’t like to cook—don’t. Just buy 2 jars of your favorite BBQ sauce (try Annie’s) and add the water and tempeh. Or hire me to do it for you.

3 small cans crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder

2-3 tsp. liquid smoke
2 cups water
3 blocks tempeh, sliced

Mix all ingredients except for water and tempeh, and you have your BBQ sauce. For this recipe, however, I also add water. The extra water steams the tempeh to tenderness right in the sauce as it bakes, which saves the hassle of first cooking the tempeh and then BBQ’ing it (tempeh likes to be steamed before its final use). So, add the water and tempeh, make sure the tempeh is covered, pour into casserole dishes and bake at 350 degrees for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally. The water will both evaporate and soak into the tempeh, so you’ll be left with a thick and rich BBQ sauce.

Be sure and taste this sauce before cooking. People have very different ideas about what BBQ sauce should be…don’t hesitate to add more salt, more sweet, or more spiciness!

Tender Collard Greens

Collards have a bad rap for being tough, and the poor things get cooked to death. Some recipes suggest 45 minutes! That is wrong. All the flavor and nutrients are gone by then.

2 large bunches collards, washed very well and chopped or torn into pieces
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Put the washed greens into a pot large enough to hold them, with the garlic. They’ll have enough water from washing to start. Turn the heat to high and when they start to wilt, turn the to low.

Add the balsamic and salt (the vinegar tenderizes the greens and adds a wonderful, mild sweetness) and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes—until they’re wilted down and tender. Add a tablespoon or two of water if you need it. That’s it!


Make this the day before and then heat it to toasty golden brown before serving.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup plus 1 Tb water
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tb maple syrup or agave nectar

1 tsp salt
1 can sweet corn, drained well, or 1 bag frozen, well thawed and drained

Optional: 1 jalapeño, chopped finely. 1 bunch green onions, chopped. 1 Tb dried chopped dill.

Heat the oven to 350 and grease a large round cast-iron skillet or a pie pan.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in a another (the corn goes in the wet).

Gently fold the wet into the dry. Use a rubber spatula instead of a spoon and mix only until it’s barely combined.

Pour into the pan, bake for 25 or 30 minutes, until pale gold on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Another option: Omit the corn, don’t use the other seasonings, and instead add ½ cup dried cranberries and ½ chopped walnuts. This makes it more of a breakfast item.


  1. Michele [Visitor] says:

    If you would like to try some great vegan soul food, go to the farmer’s market in Oakland, CA across from the Grand Lake Theater on Saturdays. These recipes, remind me of this wonderful food at the farmer’e market.

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