Need Holiday Recipes? Here’s What’s Cooking at ColorLines

Juell Stewart rounds up some of her favorite healthy spins on traditional dishes. You got one?

By Juell Stewart Dec 21, 2010

My favorite part of the holidays has always been the food. Whether it was standing at my Granny’s feet while she made her famous macaroni and cheese, or preparing my own Thanksgiving feast in my tiny Brooklyn apartment with the help of my friends, nothing can quite compare to the way that a good meal spreads love and builds community. 

Over the summer, we brought you stories of how some communities of color are taking control of their food systems. Now, just in time for the holidays, ColorLines reached out to some of our food-loving friends to get their favorite healthy spins on traditional dishes. Feel free to add to these recipes to create your own new favorites, and to share them with the people around you.


UpSouth Grits

For this year’s Kwanzaa brunch, Brooklyn-based food activist Nicole Taylor will be keeping true to her Georgia roots by giving her grits a Northeastern makeover with cheese from Vermont  and butter from New York State.

"UpSouth" recipe




Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

1 cup White Stone-Ground Grits*
4-5 cups Water
2 Tablespoons Coarse Salt
1 cup Vermont White Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup Domestic Gorgonzola Cheese
4 Tablespoons Sweet Cream Butter
  Fresh Cracked Black Pepper and Fine Sea Salt
Soup Bowl
Fork or Spoon

* Note: Stone Ground Grits require overnight soaking or quick strain prior to cooking. Both steps
require skimming of hulls and chaff. Also, overnight soaking reduces the cooking time. This
recipes uses overnight soaking method. Carefully follow recommended instructions from grits


1. Place 4 cups of water, salt in saucepan, bring to a boil. Very slowly sprinkle grits into boiling
water. Reduce to low heat and stir frequently.
2. Cover grits. Reduce to low heat, stay close to grits. Stir frequently.
3. If grits become to thick, slowly add remaining cup of water to saucepan. Adjust adding water
based on desired consistency.
3. Add butter, around 20 minutes into cooking.
4. The grits should be creamy, around 40 minutes into cooking. Mix cheese into grits. Remove
from heat.
5. Serve immediately. Add fresh cracked black pepper and more salt, to taste. Eat with fork or spoon in soup bowl.





Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries

egg is a Southern restaurant in Brooklyn that uses local, organic ingredients to reinforce the relationship between the land our food comes from, the people who work to produce it and the bonds that we create when we share meals with each other. (Full disclosure: egg is my home away from home.) Chef Evan Hanczor shares the simple and delicious recipe for one of my new favorites.

Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries recipe


1 1/2 cups cleaned brussels sprouts
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 tbsp butter (can be adjusted according to preference)
  Salt to taste


  1. Trim the stem end of the brussels, split in half vertically, and remove any loose outer leaves. 
  2. Heat some neutral oil coating a saute pan large enough to fit the sprouts in one layer.  When the oil is hot (shimmering) add the brussels sprouts.  Using tongs, turn all the sprouts so that they rest cut-side down in the oil. 
  3. Cook over medium-high heat until nicely browned on the cut side. 
  4. Toss the pan a couple times and either transfer to a hot oven for a few minutes, or turn the heat down to medium-low and finish cooking the sprouts on the stove. 
  5. Add some butter and a small handful of cranberries.  Toss the pan until the butter has melted and the cranberries are heated through.  Season with salt to taste.




Confetti Collards

Just Food fights for food equity in New York City through connecting communities with local farms, establishing food education programs and promoting Community Supported Agriculture initiatives. Community Chef Margaret Schehl offers her take on collard greens.

Confetti Collards recipe


Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced.
½ cup yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 pound collard greens, cleaned, stems removed, sliced into thin strips (see instructions below)
1 cup



The juice of one lemon, fresh squeezed


Sea salt, to taste. Black pepper (preferably fresh ground), to taste


1. Add olive oil to a hot frying pan.  

2. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, over medium heat for a minute.  

3. Add collard greens and saute until coated with oil and softening.  

4. Add  water and stir until the water has evaporated. 

5. Add peppers and lemon juice and cook until liquid has evaporated. 





Creole Hoppin Jean

Eco-chef Bryant Terry has been working to build a more equitable food system for over 10 years. His latest book Vegan Soul Kitchen reinterprets traditional African-American foods and emphasizes cooking with no animal products–making healthy, affordable dishes that still burst with flavor. Hoppin’ John is eaten on New Year’s Day throughout the South, and it’s believed to bring good luck. Here’s Terry’s remixed version:

Creole Hoppin Jean recipe




cup black-eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed


cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed and soaked overnight


Tbsp. and 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil


cup finely diced shallots


tsp. onion powder


tsp. garlic powder


tsp. paprika


tsp. chile powder


tsp. red chile flakes


tsp. cayenne pepper


tsp. dried thyme


tsp. dried oregano


cups vegetable stock


(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained


Coarse sea salt


Freshly ground white pepper


  1. Combine the black-eyed peas with enough water to cover them by 2 inches in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, just until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Drain the rice and add to a medium saucepan. Raise the heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the water has evaporated and the rice starts smelling nutty. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue cooking until the rice starts browning, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the shallots, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chile powder, red chile flakes, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Over medium heat in the saucepan that the rice was cooked in, combine the vegetable stock, the tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add the rice mixture and the black-eyed peas to the broth, and stir well. Bring back to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 50 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated.
  5. Remove from heat and steam with cover on for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite hot sauce. 

From the book Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine by Bryant Terry.   Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group.  Copyright © 2009



We at love good food–and some of us can throw down in the kitchen. Here’s a collection of tasty, healthy recipes from the site’s staff, as well as our colleagues at our publisher, Applied Research Center.

Check out our list below. Got one you wanna share? Put it in the comments.

Fish Sinigang (from Gina Acebo)

Milkfish or bangus is a favorite in Filipino cooking, but any firm white fish would work. The recipe is also great with shrimp. 


  • 1.5+ lbs of fish 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 2 tomatoes, diced 
  • 1 head garlic, minced 
  • 1 bunch of water spinach (kangkong– leaves and upper stalks only) OR spinach that’s been thoroughly cleaned 
  • 2 eggplants, sliced 
  • 1/4 lb string beans
  • 1 very small daikon (carrot sized), sliced 
  • 1 pack of "sinigang" mix (good for 1 liter of soup
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil Patis (salted fish sauce) to taste


1. Cut fish into serving pieces. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a big saucepan or casserole. 
3. Saute garlic. Add onions, chili pepper and tomatoes. 
4. Stir until onions are transparent and tomatoes start to crumble. 
5. Add 1 liter of water and salt or patis. 
6. Add taro. Bring to a boil. 
7. Simmer until taro is almost tender. 
8. Add the eggplant and simmer for 5 minutes.  9. Pour in the sinigang mix.  10. Next, add the fish and simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on how big your fish pieces are. 11. Add kangkong and kamote tops.  12. Simmer for another minute then remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Raajma Curry (from Nayana Sen)


• 2 tablespoons masala (or cumin, coriander, tumeric, salt and garam masala)
• 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons each, ginger and garlic paste
• 1 fresh tomato
• ½ yellow onion
• ½ can black or red kidney beans
• ½ can cannellini beans


1. Mix 2 tablespoons of masala (or proportionate amount of cumin, coriander, tumeric, salt and garam masala) with large dollop of plain, unsweetened yogurt. Mix until masala is fully blended.
2. In a large wok, heat up vegetable oil.
3. Fry onion until golden brown. Add ginger and garlic paste.
4. Add yogurt mixture to onions. Stir slowly and cook until masala bubbles slightly and separates.
5. Add ½ can black or red kidney beans and ½ can cannellini beans to masala. Mix in well until yogurt is evenly distributed.
6. Add bean water from can, plus ½-1 cup warm water to create gravy.
7. Chop 1 tomato into chunks. Add to curry in wok.
8. Close lid on wok and simmer on low heat for 6-10 minutes until gravy thickens.
10. Garnish with lots of fresh chopped cilantro and some lemon juice.

Pupusas Revueltas (from Monica Novoa, inspired by Jorge Rivas)

Ingredients: Makes about 15 pupusas.

  • 1 pound masa (don’t need to add salt!)
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 3/4 cups skim shredded mozzarella cheese or vegan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 green onions
  • ½ a teaspoon of saffron
  • teaspoon of seasoned salt and pepper
  • 2 minced garlic teaspoons
  • 2 cups of canned mashed black beans
  • 1 cup of MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters™ Sausage Style Recipe Crumbles™ or whatever meat substitute you like

1. Heat olive oil. Add onions, garlic, saffron, salt and pepper and crumbles. Once these ingredients brown, add black beans and mix well.
2. You can buy a pound of fresh masa from your local bodega or make it yourself – in a large bowl, mix together instant masa mix (Maseca) and water. Follow directions to yield 1 lb.
3. Set aside a bowl with water because you’ll need to dampen your hands often.
4. Using damp hands, form dough into 2 1/2-inch balls. Flatten each ball into a 4-inch patty and place 1/4 cup filling and cheese in the center of each. Fold sides of patties over filling to enclose and reshape into a ball. Flatten each ball into another 4-inch patty. Make sure filling is not exposed as much as possible.