Reduce calories and cholesterol with this black-bean bundle of flavor

Intro By Pam George | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the May 2020 issue


Kristina Malone has made a living as an aesthetician, but these days she views wellness from the inside out. In February, she opened Kristina’s Kitchen in Millville, a grab-and-go restaurant specializing in healthy foods, including gluten-free grain bowls, salads, soups and smoothie “bowls,” which you eat with a spoon.




The Pennsylvania native moved to the beach area in 2004 to work in a Rehoboth spa, where she learned about massage, reiki and other holistic therapies. By 2014, she’d purchased and expanded Mind, Body & Sole in Bethany Beach to offer infrared saunas, massage, facials, manicures, yoga and Pilates. After experimenting with smoothies and other wellness foods, Malone added a kitchen. Unfortunately, the landlord decided to covert the location back to office space; the wellness center closed in 2018.

But Malone wasn’t ready to give up on entrepreneurship. She began a food-delivery service that catered to vegans and those on special diets. When a storefront became available next to Lord’s Landscaping on Route 26, she opened Kristina’s Kitchen.

The restaurant offers something for most palates, “from veg heads to meat lovers.” She has a separate cooking area for gluten-free products. “I’m very careful, because I’m also gluten-free,” says Malone, who has issues digesting wheat. (Keep in mind that unless a restaurant is completely gluten-free, there’s a chance of cross-contamination.)

Locals have been welcoming. “Everyone who comes in says: ‘Oh, we needed this so much,’” she says. “Vegans appreciate all the options. I’ve never had such positive feedback.”

The menu features easy-to-eat items such as quesadillas and burritos that are good for you. This healthy black bean burger is a prime example of the offerings. It’s vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. Malone serves the patty in a multigrain wrap, but you can slip it onto your favorite bun. She adds mixed greens, avocado, tomato and a homemade tahini sauce (tahini with a touch of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup).

(Makes four large or five medium burgers)

1      15-ounce can of organic black beans, rinsed and drained
¼     cup of cooked quinoa, rice or a blend of both
½     cup of gluten-free bread crumbs
¼     cup of minced bell pepper
1      large clove of garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
2      teaspoons of tandoori masala seasoning (cumin, paprika, curry and turmeric)
½     teaspoon of salt
¼     teaspoon of pepper
Flax/chia “egg” (1 tablespoon of flax or chia with 2½ tablespoons of water, blended well with a fork)
3      tablespoons of olive oil or nonstick cooking spray

Roughly mash the black beans with a fork, leaving some whole, to create a paste-like mixture. Using your hands, mix the quinoa or rice, bread crumbs, bell pepper, garlic, tandoori spice, salt and pepper and flax “egg” into the black beans.

Form the mixture into four or five patties. In a large skillet — Malone uses a cast-iron one — heat the olive oil or spray. Cook the patties until heated through, about three minutes per side.