Monday, March 25, 2019

Banh Mi! Vegan Pastries! Savory Bread!

Monday night is $3 draft pint night at Midtown Crossing Grill, my Crosstown neighborhood bar/pizza parlor, and I'm there many Mondays enjoying cheap booze. Last Monday, Paul and I grabbed dinner there, as well as beer. It'd been too long since I'd ordered my namesake sandwich, the Bianca Banh Mi (tofu, hummus, pickled veggies, cucumber on baguette) with a side salad. I always order the wasabi vinaigrette because it's amazing.

Last week, our baker at the cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work) made a Vegan Basil-Pesto Twist Bread with vegan mozzarella stuffed inside. 

I had to try it, so I ordered a bowl of the soup du jour — Sumac-Spiced Red Lentil Soup — to enjoy with it. The soup was topped with vegan tazatziki. So creamy! And perfect for this chilly (but warming!) spring weather.

Last week was really just a storm of pastries for me. I had more dessert in a week than one should have in a month, including a (not pictured in this post) carrot cake and lemon hand pie on Ostara. I also had one of these amazing Chocolate Pecan Twist Buns with Vegan Cream Cheese from Crosstown Arts. 

And I grabbed one of these Guava-Pineapple Hand Pies from Crosstown Arts on Friday to enjoy after my Saturday long run. This was a real treat after running 18 miles!

Needless to say, this week will be filled with whole foods and far less sugar!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Vegan Eggy Eats for Spring!

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and I couldn't be more thrilled! I hate winter with a passion. I hate being cold. I hate having dry skin. I hate wearing layers and shoes with socks. I hate dead plants. But Spring is here, and that means green plants and warmer weather and supple skin and — most importantly — tee-shirts, shorty-shorts, flats, and tank tops. Oh, and brunching on patios (the ultimate Spring experience).

The Spring Equinox is also known as Ostara, and traditionally, eggs are eaten to celebrate the Earth's fertility (hence the Easter tradition with dyed eggs). So every year on Ostara, I center my meals around vegan eggs. Yesterday for lunch, I tried the Just for All Egg (finally found it for sale in Memphis!) in a Breakfast Burrito.

I'll do a full post on Just Egg soon, but for now I'll just say, this stuff is amazing! It really does taste and look like real eggs. Also in my burrito: roasted potatoes, tempeh bacon, spinach, vegan cheese, and salsa.

After work, my friends Megan and Pam came over for an Ostara ritual and celebration. We enjoyed my Tofu Eggless Olive Salad from Cookin' Crunk on multigrain crackers.

And I made the Classic Kale Salad from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I love this versatile recipe that suggests different veggie, nut, and dried fruit options. For this version, I used carrots, red cabbage, celery, red onion, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries. Plus, I used springy herbs, like dill, thyme, and tarragon.

Pam brought some Treeline Garlic-Herb Cashew Cheese and wine, so we also had plenty of wine and cheese. For dessert, I grabbed a few springy treats from the cafe at Crosstown Arts for us to split. I got a slice of Carrot-Pineapple Cake.

And a Meyor Lemon Almond Handpie. I cut these into little bite-sized pieces so we could all try them.

After our feast, we did a seed blessing and planted lavender, thyme, and lemon balm infused with our hopes and intentions for the year ahead. And we did Tarot readings! Happy Ostara!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bialy! Pancakes! Tea Cake!

I rarely make pancakes, but I got a craving for some late last week. I finally got my pancake fix on Saturday morning when I made the Almond Butter Banana Pancakes from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. 

These are made with whole wheat pastry flour and almond flour, and almond butter stands in for the fat (so they're mostly oil-free except for a little spray oil on the griddle). They're also refined sugar-free since banana provides sweetness in the batter and maple on top. I added blueberries to my batter because why not?

Later that morning, I stopped by the Lulu's booth at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market and grabbed one of Don's vegan Caramelized Onion & Poppyseed Bialys. This savory bun made the perfect side for a salad at lunch.

Don was also selling tubs of his cultured Cashew Coffee Cream Cheese — a vegan cream cheese made with finely ground coffee. I enjoyed some on a whole wheat Dave's Bagel for breakfast on Monday morning (my workout rest day this week). The cream is very lightly sweetened with a strong coffee flavor. It tasted great and I felt like it gave me an extra boost!

Here's a Savory Oat Bowl from last week! With nooch, spinach, broccoli, avocado, everything bagel seasoning, and sriracha. I'm such a fan of savory oats, especially when topped with ALL THE AVOCADO.

And finally, here's a moist and delicious slice of Mixed Berry Tea Cake from the cafe at Crosstown Arts. I'd brought berries from home as my afternoon snack, and when I saw this tea cake on the counter, I knew it'd be the perfect accompaniment. Enjoyed with Earl Grey tea made in the office Kerig.

Happy Spring, y'all! I'll be back tomorrow with a very vegan-eggy spring foods post!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Upton's Naturals Cheesy Mac

My top five fave foods:
1. Ramen
2. Pizza
3. Doughnuts
4. Tacos/Burritos (I'm counting this as one because I can't decide)
5. Mac & Cheeze

So it goes without saying that I don't let a new vegan mac & cheeze product pass me by. Sure, I love creating a creamy, cheesy whole foods-based pasta at home using nooch, cashews, or butternut squash. But I also love trying the easy packaged versions for those nights when you just don't have time to cook.

Friday night was one of those nights, so I turned to a box of Upton's Natural Cheesy Mac that I'd been holding onto for a few weeks.

I found it for sale at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro, Arkansas (an hour from Memphis, my hometown), and as a fan of all things Upton's, I had to put it in my cart. Memphis readers, we may have this here, but I haven't looked!

This shelf-stable mac comes in a box with a vacuum-sealed bag of pre-cooked, wide-noodle elbow mac and a pouch of liquid cheese (similar to the pouch in the boxed Daiya mac). The cheese is made from nutritional yeast, rice bran oil, sea salt, cornstarch, mustard, onion, garlic, paprika, turmeric, sugar. So while this may not be the most whole food (hey there, white pasta), it's not bad! The sauce is made with minimal ingredients, and they're all real foods.

To prepare, you simply dump the pasta and cheese in a pan and heat. Takes about two minutes. The result is a creamy, noochy pasta that made a perfect side for my Gardein crispy tenders and agave-mustard dipping sauce (told ya it was a busy night) and some steamed broccoli with tahini sauce.

Will I buy this again? You bet!

Monday, March 18, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Fun!

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays! I've got a little Irish in my family lineage, as well as Scottish and German, so drinking booze is something I'm pretty good at. ;-) Plus, I love any excuse to wear green and eat green foods.

My St. Pat's celebration started on Thursday night with the annual Breakaway Running St. Pat's Pub Run, my favorite running tradition. This fun run starts at Breakaway Running (my local running store) in Overton Square and runs to bars/breweries Hammer & Ale, Memphis Made Brewing Co., Railgarten, and Slider Inn. Megan and Misti joined me! So much fun.

The highlight for me was probably the chance to try the new Sam Adams 26.2 Marathon Brew at Hammer & Ale, which they brewed in honor of the Boston Marathon.

On Saturday, I attended the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Beale with my friend Susan, and then we checked out the Saint Pawtrick's Day soft opening for the new Lucky's Social Club dog park bar (!!!!) downtown. I didn't take any pics on Saturday though.

On Sunday, I woke up early and had some Irish Coffee with Bailey's Almande almondmilk liqueur and a bagel before taking off on a 16-mile long run. It was the first time since my last foot injury that I'd put in that many miles, and it felt great! But I did get a pretty bad sunburn on my face because I forgot to wear sunscreen (because I forgot what sun is since we haven't seen it here in what feels like ages).

After my run, I had a Green Smoothie (natch) with peaches, banana, walnuts, spinach, and vanilla Vega One French Vanilla protein powder.

After my smoothie, we did some vegan Irish car bombs at home with Guinness (so glad it's vegan now!), Bailey's Almande, and Jameson. I realize that "car bombs" as a cocktail name isn't the most PC thing, but I don't know what else to call them! 

Paul and I had plans to bar-hop for St. Patty's Day, but first, I made us some dinner — Vegan Bangers & Mash (with homemade seitan sausages, mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas). We both loved this, and I will be making it again. I had the sausages in the freezer, leftover from a meal a few months back.

After dinner, we headed to Ghost River Brewing Co. to try their limited edition Magic Car Bomb beer, a dark brew with hints of Jameson, vanilla, and Irish cream extract (non-dairy!). 

Next stop was Carolina Watershed, a bar inside an old grain silo with a great outdoor patio space with waterfalls! There, we had the Diamond Bear Irish Red (a brew from neighboring Little Rock, Arkansas).

And finally, we headed back to Crosstown for a nightcap at Art Bar at Crosstown Arts (yes, I hang out at work on my off days). I opted for the very green Six Paths to Sage cocktail with gin, green chartreuse, sage, and lime. Very good! Enjoyed in Art Bar's cat room because it's my fave.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chickpea Spaghetti! Potato Turnover! Smoothie!

I'm still loving the No Meat Athlete Sauce System, a blog post on their site that includes recipes for five simple sauces and all kinds of ways to use them. Last night, I made the tomato sauce recipe (an easy sauce with canned tomatoes, onion, and garlic), but I added a splash of red wine and a touch of agave to cut the acidity.

Oh, and at the end, I added a can of can of chickpeas. After cooking, I put the whole thing in the Vitamix and blended until creamy, so I ended up with a creamy tomato sauce that sneaks the beans in! No Meat Athlete host Matt mentioned this tip on a recent podcast. He does that to get his kids to eat beans. And though I have no problem eating enough beans, I just liked the idea of a sauce that gets its creaminess from beans instead of plant milk.

Served atop Explore Cuisine's black bean spaghetti with steamed kale on top to make the meal an official bean/grain/green meal!

My post-run smoothie this morning was especially good! I used an orange, a frozen banana, Wyman's Mango Berry frozen fruit blend (with mango, blueberry, and strawberry), baby spinach, raw walnuts, and flax seed. Enjoyed in the giant St. Jude smoothie cup I won for raising money for St. Jude during the run-up to the last St. Jude Marathon.

And finally, here is a thing of beauty — Potato & Broccoli Turnover by our baker at Crosstown Arts! I was trying not to buy dessert at work yesterday, and I succeeded at that. But she also had these savory turnovers, which technically were not dessert so ... 

Those flaky layers! OMG. 

I'm off to enjoy the annual Breakaway Running St. Patrick's Day Pub Run! I'll check in after the weekend with St. Pat's recap. Don't forget your green on Sunday! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Bibimbap! BLT!

It seems like all my random meal round-up these days feature food from the cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work as the communications coordinator), but when there's amazing vegan food right outside your office door, what's a girl to do? Today for lunch, I had the Bibimbap with added tofu (minus the egg).

This is typically served with a fried egg on top. The cafe is not entirely vegan (but I'd say 90% of the items are), but anything can be made vegan. For this, you could simply leave the egg off. Or you can pay a couple extra bucks and add tofu on top! I saw someone post this version on Instagram last week and had to try it.

The bowl is made from fried rice paper, and it's stuffed with pink rice, brussels sprouts, kimchi, and zucchini, plus the most amazing baked tofu.

My breakfast this morning was Overnight Oats with Chia, Walnuts, Berries, & Banana, enjoyed after a core work class at the YMCA. I love having creamy overnight oats prepared to enjoy after my workouts!

And here's my dinner last night — a BLT from Imagine Vegan Cafe. Such a classic. Stuffed with veggie bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and vegan mayo. It's usually served on a white hoagie bun, but I like to sub wheat bread instead. Side of kale.