Isaac Hayes

Today, the world lost a very talented (mostly) vegetarian–Isaac Hayes. I used to see Isaac at the Wild Oats in Memphis when I still lived there several years ago…buying organic foods, mostly fruits and vegetables (yes, I looked). Isaac first starting experimenting with a vegetarian diet in the 70s. For a while, he was a strict vegetarian, though at times he added some fish and other animals into his diet. He writes in his 2000 cookbook, Cooking with Heart & Soul:

I started reading books on the subject and visiting health food stores to see what was available. I became really intrigued by the possibility of living and eating in a healthy way–not dying prematurely of a heart attack or stroke, which has been a way of life in my old neighborhood.

When I started hearing that eating health food could make a real difference, when I learned that by eating better, you could avoid developing these illnesses, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Sadly and ironically, it seems he died of a heart attack while running on his treadmill. But at 65, he probably lasted much longer than he would have had he continued eat the diet he grew up eating. Regardless, he’s gone too soon. He was a gifted, talented, charismatic, and charitable man. I have an autographed copy of his cookbook which (among recipes contributed by friends–many of which he knew through the Church of Scientology) contains several great vegetarian versions of good Southern soul food. Here’s one that’s vegan!

Fried Kale with Turnip, Mustard, and Collard Greens from Isaac Hayes’s Cooking with Heart & Soul
1 bunch kale
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch turnip greens
1 bunch collard greens
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Wash all greens and trim off stems and thick veins. Cut leaves crosswise into 2-inch-wide pieces and mix together.
In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to keep the greens from sticking to the pan.
Add the water, bay leaf, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the greens and cook until desired doneness, at least one hour, adding extra water if necessary.
Note: you can substitute other bitter greens such as swiss chard in this recipe.

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4 Responses to Isaac Hayes

  1. Kat Coble says:

    Of all the prominent vegetarians in the world, he’s the one I thought did the most damage to the cause with his other beliefs.

    It’s still sad to see him go, though.

  2. fluffernutter says:

    Oh my gosh, I need this recipe, but too bad Isaac had to go.

  3. Almost Vegetarian says:

    I didn’t realize he was vegetarian – or wrote a cookbook. Still, I’m glad he did because this looks like an incredibly tempting recipe.

    Let’s see, I have the greens, I have the …

    Cheers!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I love your blog! Didn’t even know you had one till I saw it on Facebook!