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Celebrating Black History Month With Plant-Based Recipes From Food for Life Instructors

Celebrate Black History Month With Food for Life Plant-Based Cooking Classes

During our celebration of Black History Month, we’ve been sharing our recipes created by Physicians Committee Food for Life instructors! Learn more about the instructors and find their recipes below!

Vegan Cornbread Best Dressing by Charles Smith


This recipe is inspired by Charles’ mother’s recipe. Charles says that his mom cooked many rich, delicious foods, and cornbread dressing was always at the top of that list! Once Charles had his own family, he carried on her legacy by making a vegan version that maintains all the rich flavors and special memories of eating it with his mother.

Makes 10 servings



  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened plant-based milk)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift cornmeal, flour, and baking powder together.
  3. Add plant-based milk and apple juice and stir mixture into a batter.
  4. Pour the batter into a nonstick pan or line pan with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Vegetable Mix


  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Place all ingredients in a pot and boil for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft, then set aside to cool.

Mushroom and Celery Soup


  • 8 cremini or baby bell mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped celery
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.

To assemble the dish:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Crumble cornbread in a large bowl. Add mushroom and celery soup, then add the vegetable mix to the bowl, starting with 1 cup of vegetable mix and adding more as needed. Stir all together so ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the dressing is browned.

Source: Recipe by Charles Smith, Food for Life Instructor based in Madison, Mississippi. Charles is the owner of My Health My Mississippi, LLC. Charles's love for cooking came from watching his mother cook. He is excited to help others feel energized and be healthy through a plant-based lifestyle.

Per serving: Calories: 242; Fat: 3.1 g; Saturated Fat: 1.2 g; Calories From Fat: 10.8%; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Protein: 6.7 g; Carbohydrate: 48.8 g; Sugar: 3.8 g; Fiber: 4.9 g; Sodium: 428 mg; Calcium: 267 mg; Iron: 3.1 mg; Vitamin C: 11.1 mg; Beta-Carotene: 237 mcg; Vitamin E: 5.6 mg 

Please feel free to tailor this recipe to suit your individual dietary needs.

Creole-Inspired Okra and Lentil Stew by Sharme Ridley


This recipe is reminiscent of okra gumbo, a Southwest Louisiana favorite. Sharme has always loved okra, a vegetable with roots in Africa, and enjoys developing plant-based variations of her favorite recipes. Served over rice, this stew is a healthy and comforting meal!

You can watch Sharme demonstrate this dish and other healthy recipes on her YouTube channel, Atlanta Creole!

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 6 cups frozen or fresh okra, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (optional)


  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium to low heat.
  2. Add onions, bell peppers, and celery to the pan. Stir constantly. Add broth a tablespoon at a time if needed to prevent sticking. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. When the mirepoix (onions, bell peppers, and celery) is tender, add the garlic and stir for about a minute more.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of broth, stir, and add the herbs and spices: cayenne pepper, thyme, rosemary, sage, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 cup broth, and okra. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
  6. Add the rest of the broth and the lentils. Bring to a light boil, stir, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  7. When done, the consistency should be similar to a thick, chunky gravy. Add additional broth or water for a thinner consistency, if desired.
  8. Serve over rice or a baked potato, if desired.

Source: Recipe by Sharme Ridley, Food for Life Instructor

Sharme Ridley is a Rouxbe certified plant-based cooking enthusiast who specializes in creating Creole-inspired dishes. Overcoming a host of health issues after adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet in 2016, she has inspired many others to follow this lifestyle. Sharme also serves as Education Coordinator for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: Calories: 192; Fat: 1.2 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Calories From Fat: 5.2%; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Protein: 12.4 g; Carbohydrate: 37.4 g; Sugar: 9.5 g; Fiber: 10.9 g; Sodium: 142 mg; Calcium: 197 mg; Iron: 5.0 mg; Vitamin C: 57.1 mg; Beta-Carotene: 1071 mcg; Vitamin E: 1.4 mg   

Please feel free to tailor this recipe to suit your individual dietary needs.

Not So Dirty Rice by Brandy Cochrane

dirty rice

This Southern classic gets a healthful makeover by substituting in both lentils and mushrooms. Brandy enjoys taking traditional meat-based dishes and swapping them out with plants and abundant spices to bring people together around the nourishment of plant-based fare.

Make sure to visit Brandy’s website Plant Candy for more plant-based inspiration!

Makes 8 servings


  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium veggie broth 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh thyme


  1. Set aside 1/2 cup of the broth and pour remaining broth in a medium saucepan. 
  2. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, lower heat, and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. In another saucepan, add lentils, fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, pepper flakes, and sage with 2 cups of water and cook for about 20 mins. At this time the lentils should be soft but not mushy.
  4. While your lentils and rice cook, chop your veggies and then add onion, celery, and green pepper in a sauté pan. Cook for about 8 mins until veggies are softened. Add mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add Cajun seasoning and thyme. 
  5. Add reserved veggie broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all browned veggies. Let simmer for 1 minute. 
  6. Remove bay leaf from rice and add rice to sauté pan. Stir into the lentil mixture. Keep the heat on while you stir. Once it is combined well, remove from heat.
  7. Serve topped with green onions and fresh parsley, if desired.

Source: Recipe by Brandy Cochrane, Food for Life Instructor

Brandy is a chef, recipe developer, teacher, author, and founder of the plant-based business owners community Entrepreneur Meal Plan. She is passionate about using the power of plants to improve both the personal and professional lives of individuals. Brandy is a graduate of the Rouxbe's Plant-Based Culinary Program, and has used her knowledge to introduce this healing lifestyle in a way that's fun, accessible, and creative. She is also the co-founder of Plant Candy and author of the cookbook Plant Candy Gathering.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: Calories: 199; Fat: 0.7 g; Saturated Fat: 0.2 g; Calories From Fat: 2.9%; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Protein: 6.7 g; Carbohydrate: 41.2 g; Sugar: 2.0 g; Fiber: 3.0 g; Sodium: 409 mg; Calcium: 34 mg; Iron: 2.8 mg; Vitamin C: 8.0 mg; Beta-Carotene: 302 mcg; Vitamin E: 0.2 mg 

Please feel free to tailor this recipe to suit your individual dietary needs.

African-Inspired Lentil Soup by Shauné Hayes

lentil soup

This hearty dish is infused with the warmth of lentils, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, creating a flavorful tapestry of African culinary influence. These ingredients blend with vibrant spices like cumin, curry, and turmeric for a delicious and healthful outcome.

Make sure to visit The Shauné Life for more inspiration!

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced 
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon Bold Gold curry powder (or other mild curry) 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, lightly drained 
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, low or no sodium 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 2 cups chopped kale, tough ribs removed
  • Juice from a fresh lemon

NOTE: For a different variation, substitute 1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced, for the curry powder. For added heat, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. 


  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and carrot. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is translucent. Add a little water if vegetables start to stick. 
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder, thyme, turmeric, and black pepper. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the lentils, broth, and water. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain an easy simmer. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, still holding their shape. 
  4. Use an immersion blender to blend a portion of the soup. If you don’t have one, put 2 cups of soup in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. 
  5. Add the chopped kale and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the greens have softened. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust to your liking. Enjoy! 
  6. Leftovers will keep about 4 days in the fridge, or you can always freeze for several months.

Source: Recipe by Shauné Hayes, Food for Life Instructor

Shauné earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and obtained her designation as a Certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. She is passionate about educating and empowering others about the direct role of plant-based nutrition in health and disease prevention while also showing how healthful meals can be simple, practical, delicious and fun.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: Calories: 117; Fat: 0.8 g; Saturated Fat: 0.1 g; Calories From Fat: 6.2%; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Protein: 7.6 g; Carbohydrate: 14.9 g; Sugar: 4.7 g; Fiber: 6.8 g; Sodium: 194 mg; Calcium: 73 mg; Iron: 3.6 mg; Vitamin C: 18.6 mg; Beta-Carotene: 2017 mcg; Vitamin E: 0.9 mg 

Please feel free to tailor this recipe to suit your individual dietary needs.

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