All posts by bkinigrl

About bkinigrl

I am a Family Medicine & Sports Medicine Physician; Nationally Qualified NPC Bikini Competitor and 100% Vegan Athlete. I believe that lifestyle -- including diet and exercise -- are crucial parts of our health and well-being. Here, I share my insights on medicine and information about achieving optimal health on a plant-based diet.

Black-Eyed Pea Chili

I’m a big believer in starting off the new year with a meal of black-eyed peas and collard greens. It’s one of the few holiday food traditions that is actually healthy (and can be vegan). The legend behind this Southern tradition is that a meal of peas and greens will bring prosperity and luck in the coming year, but I like to think of it as a great way to get off on a good foot nutritionally, with basic, whole foods.

Here is a recipe I like that uses black-eyed peas with quinoa and corn to make a healthy, delicious meatless chili! 

Black-Eyed Pea Chili (Servings: 8)


  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups (24 ounces) fresh black-eyed peas, or 2 1/2 cups (1 pound) dried peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, red pepper, or hot smoked paprika (adjust to taste)
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice (fire-roasted preferred)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large, non-stick Dutch oven or chili pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the black-eyed peas, broth, and everything up through the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. 
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the peas are tender. The time will vary depending on the age of the peas, but count on at least 75 minutes, and add more broth if it looks like it’s getting dry.
  4. When the peas are tender, check the seasoning and add more to taste (this is a good time to increase the heat by adding more chipotle powder). 
  5. Add the corn and quinoa and cook until the quinoa is tender, at least 20 minutes. (If the chili seems too “soupy,” uncover the pot; otherwise, keep it covered).
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Recipe by The Fat Free Vegan


    Is It a Cold or Flu?

    The cold versus flu debate is one that rages in households every fall. Since both illnesses have similar symptoms, it’s easy to understand why people get confused.

    The symptoms are certainly comparable. However, while you might have a cold many times throughout the year, you’ll typically only get the flu every few years or so.

    How to Tell If You Have a Cold

    The biggest indicator that you’re suffering from a cold is if your symptoms are mostly in your nose. The three key signs of a cold shouldn’t come as a surprise:

    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Nasal stuffiness

    A cold can also be accompanied by a fever of 100 or 101 degrees or slight scratchiness in the back of your throat. Length of time matters, too: a cold typically lasts about a week.

    • Low grade fever
    •  Sore throat
    • Cough

    How to Tell If You Have the Flu

    The flu is definitely not limited to just the nose. When the flu hits, you’ll typically feel it all over. The onset of symptoms is swift, and usually starts with a high-grade fever between 102 and 105 degrees (keep in mind children will usually have higher fevers than adults). Additional symptoms include:

    • Muscle aches
    • Fatigue (often extreme)
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Sneezing
    • Severe coughing

    While the symptoms of the flu are more severe, they still last roughly as long as a cold – about 7 to 10 days. Many people experience another stretch of fatigue and fever at the tail end of that timeframe.

    The flu is extremely contagious, so it’s easily passed from one person to another. Since the virus exists in the tiny droplets emitted from coughs or sneezes, you’ll also contract the flu if you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes afterwards. Avoiding the flu is possible if you take a few simple precautions.

    How Can You Avoid Cold & Flu Viruses?

    The CDC recommends taking “everyday preventative actions” to stop the spread of germs, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; staying home when sick and frequented washing your hands with soap and warm water.

    Meatless Monday: Kale & Black Bean Burritos

    If you haven’t tried a kale and black bean burrito yet, then you’ve got to give these burritos a try and see what you’ve been missing! 

    Avocado is a great substitute for cheese or sour cream, as you get all the creaminess with none of the dairy. And, the red onions offer a little crunch. 

    Kale and Black Bean Burritos (Servings: 4) 


    • 1 large bunch of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. of cumin powder
    • 1/4 tsp. of chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp. of Himalayan sea salt
    • ½ teaspoon seeded and finely chopped fresh jalapeño (optional)
    • 1-2 garlic large cloves, minced 
    • 2 (15 oz.) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained 
    • 4 large burrito-sized flour tortillas
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped 


    1. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, sea salt, jalapeño, cilantro and kale. Toss to mix well and set the bowl aside to marinate.
    2. Warm the beans and minced garlic with a couple of tablespoons of water. You can do this in a small sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat (sauté the garlic in a drizzle of olive oil before adding the beans). Add small amounts of water as necessary. Use a fork to mash up the beans a little and add salt to taste, if necessary.
    3. Warm the tortilla in a skillet or in the microwave for a few seconds. Top the tortilla with the black bean mixture, diced avocado, marinated kale (you may end up with more kale than will fit in your burrito, reserve the extra and serve it on the side). Top with red onion. 
    4. Roll up the burrito by first folding the tortilla over from the bottom to partially cover the beans and greens, then fold in the 2 sides; finish rolling and place the burrito seam side down on a plate. 
    5. Slice in half and serve with guacamole or hummus on the side, if desired.

      Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate

      Meatless Monday: Vegan Southern-Style Dressing

      Whether you call it “stuffing” or you live in the south and call it “dressing,” no Christmas or Thanksgiving meal is complete without it! 

      • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 Tbsp. nondairy, non-hydrogenated butter (Earth Balance)
      • 1 large onion, chopped
      • 4 celery stalks, diced
      • 8 oz. button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 bay leaf
      • 1 tsp. dried sage
      • 1tsp. dried thyme
      • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
      • ½ tsp. dried oregano
      • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
      • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
      • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
      • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
      • 2 cups vegan stuffing mix (see below)
      • 1.5-2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth  


      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add in the onion and celery and let cook until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and let cook until softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and the seasonings.
      2. Add the parsley and the stuffing mix to the sauté pan. Mix well. Moisten the stuffing mixture with broth until it is soft but not wet. Remove the bay leaf and let the mixture cool.
      3. Transfer the stuffing to a large casserole dish that has been brushed with some oil or cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. 
      4. Enjoy!  

      Guacamole Potato Skins with Ranch Dressing

      These guacamole potato skins are perfect to snack on for Meatless Monday Night Football.  


      • 5-6 small Russet potatoes, about 3″ long
      • 2-3 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan butter), melted
      • Kosher salt
      • Freshly cracked black pepper


      • 3 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, and flesh scooped out
      • 1 lime, juiced
      • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
      • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
      • ½ teaspoon cayenne
      • ½ medium onion, diced
      • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
      • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
      • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 2 green onions, sliced thin
      • 1 jalapeño, sliced thin, optional, for garnish
      • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, for garnish

      Ranch dressing

      • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
      • about ¼ cup unsweetened unflavored Silk almond milk
      • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
      • Kosher salt, to taste
      • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
      • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
      • 1 cup Just Mayo (vegan mayonnaise)
      • ½ cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Sour Cream
      • A couple drops of white vinegar
      • Fresh dill, to taste, optional
      • Cayenne pepper, to taste, optional
      • Paprika, to taste, optional
      • Kosher salt, to taste
      • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


        Make the Ranch Dressing

        1. Make the “buttermilk”by pouring lemon juice into a measuring cup then filling to ¼ cup level with almond milk. Set aside and allow to curdle, about 10 minutes.
        2. On a cutting board, sprinkle some kosher salt on the minced garlic cloves and then, with the back of a fork, begin to smush and mash the garlic and salt into a paste. 
        3. Combine garlic-salt paste, parsley, chives, vegan mayonnaise, and nondairy sour cream in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. 
        4. Add “buttermilk” mixture, as necessary to thin to desired consistency. When desired consistency is reached, add a couple drops of white vinegar and any other additional ingredients, as desired. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
        5. Chill in the refrigerator and allow flavors to meld while you make the potato skins.

        Make the Potato Skins: 

        1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. 
        2. Wash potatoes well and pierce all over with fork. 
        3. Place potatoes directly on middle oven rack and bake until skins are crisp and a knife or fork pierces the potatoes easily, about 50 minutes. 
        4. Let the potatoes cool for about 10-15 minutes, until they are cool enough to handle.

        Make the Guacamole:

        1. In a large bowl combine the avocado meat and lime juice and toss to coat. 
        2. Drain the lime juice off and reserve in a small bowl. 
        3. Add smoked paprika, salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash with a potato masher, leaving some chunks for texture. 
        4. Fold in the onions, jalapeño, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. 
        5. Set aside while you…finish the potatoes 

        Finish the Potatoes:

        1. Once the potatoes are ready, remove and let cool about 10 minutes on a wire rack, or until the potatoes can be handled. 
        2. Set oven to broil.
        3. Slice each potato in half, lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼” of the flesh intact. 
        4. Using a pastry brush, brush the insides of the potatoes with the melted, nondairy butter and season well with salt and pepper. 
        5. Turn the potatoes over and brush the skin sides with butter, and again season well with salt and pepper. 
        6. Place potato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet and broil them until the skin begin to brown and crisp, about 2 – 3 minutes (watch carefully so they don’t burn). 
        7. Flip skins over and broil another 2 – 3 minutes, or until beginning to brown and crisp.
        8. Remove potato skins from oven and place on serving platter. Spoon dollops of guacamole on the potato skins and garnish with sliced green onions, sliced jalapeños, and chopped cilantro. 
        9. Serve with ranch dressing immediately.

        Join the Meatless Monday Nights Sideline Meat challenge!

        Recipe adapted from 40 Aprons