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James and I just got back from a Caribbean cruise. I know, weird, right? Usually we’ve got the RV out somewhere snowy, somewhere remote this time of year. But for once we decided to try something different for the holidays. So we packed up our flip-flops and sunscreen and floppy hats, said goodbye to Lance, and off we went.


Remind me to never do that again.


Without getting too graphic, I spent Christmas on the floor in our cabin’s bathroom. It was an “unusually choppy” sea day, or so I was told. Whatever. Let’s just say I’m happy to be on solid land. Feel free to call me a wuss, I totally am.

But the OTHER thing about switching up our normal holiday routine is that we missed out on some of our normal traditions we actually like and look forward to this time of year. Like the annual Lottery of Food Unpleasantness,


or the Christmas Giving of Weapons of Minor Destruction:


Another tradition we missed? Eating black-eyed peas to ring in the New Year.

If you’re from the south, you’re familiar with this superstition. Eating black-eyed peas is said to bring good luck in the New Year.

Now me, I’m from northern stock, so I never heard of this “lucky” food until James came around. He grew up in Atlanta, and this is just one of his many weird southern ways he’s rubbed off on me. But hey, I’m all for a little luck, so why not get on board? Reminds me of that old TV show “Lost.” Remember the part where they have to push that button every 108 minutes? They keep pushing it but really have no clue why, but they hope it’ll ward off something bad happening. So yeah, black-eyed peas on New Year’s is like that button.

But of course James has “ideas” on how black-eyed peas should be prepared. Which is pretty much how he prefers anything “southern” prepared: boiled for a ridiculously long time with salty pork products floating in it.

That doesn’t work for me for many reasons, the biggest being I haven’t eaten pork in over 20 years. So we compromise. He gets his black-eyed peas, alright. I just jazz them up with lots of healthful plant-based ingredients.


There’s a famous New Year’s dish called Hoppin’ John, which mixes black-eyed peas and rice. My recipe is a healthed-up play on Hoppin’ John. It makes a ton, only requires one pot, and is so tasty! I’m a big fan of barley, which is why it found its way in my recipe. Not only for its generous amount of protein, but also I find that meatier, denser texture quite satisfying as opposed to rice, which, come on…snore. But really, you could substitute any grain…in fact I almost made this with farro. I’m confident it would have still been a plate of mouth-watering awesomeness.


We didn’t eat this until a few days after New Year’s, so cross your fingers (or wish upon a star) the whole “lucky” thing still applies!


Stef’s Healthy Vegan One-Pot Black-Eyed Hoppin’ James Recipe



  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup hulled barley (it’s healthier than pearled)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Juice of ½ a medium-sized lemon
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon creole seasoning
  • 3 ½ cups prepared black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach



  1. Heat oil in a very large skillet/pot over medium heat.
  2. Add red pepper, onion, and celery. Cook until softened, around 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Add the broth, barley, thyme, lemon juice, red pepper, and creole seasoning, and bring to a strong rolling boil.
  5. Turn down heat, cover and simmer until barley is puffed up and done, and liquid is evaporated, around 60-90 minutes depending on your barley.
  6. Turn off heat and then stir in the black-eyed peas.
  7. Add chopped spinach and stir well.
  8. Serve hot…and enjoy!!!


As for how many servings you’ll get…well I’d guess around 6 servings as a main dish for big appetites, and double that if you serve it as a side.

Happy 2017, all! May this be your BEST (and luckiest) year ever!!!!