Thursday, June 30, 2016

More Stuff I Ate

As I mentioned in last night's post, I have a bunch of random meal photos to share this week. I dumped a bunch on y'all in last night's post (link is here if you missed it). And here are the rest!

I picked up some of the new Tofurky Black Bean Burgers at Whole Foods last week, and I had one for dinner with Field Roast Tomato-Cayenne Chao Cheese. These burgers are amazing, and I expect no less from Tofurky. They're super meaty and hold together well. I cooked mine in a cast iron skillet, but these would be ideal for the grill.


I'm running my first marathon this winter, and I'm on a team of awesome runners through Lululemon. We held our first St. Jude Marathon fund-raising/training meeting on Tuesday at I Love Juice Bar. First, we ran 3 miles, and then we talked about organizing. I grabbed a PB&J Smoothie from the juice counter (strawberry, banana, almond milk, peanut butter, flax oil, and vegan protein powder!). So good! Definitely my new fave Juice Bar menu item.


On my usual Sunday brunch outing at Imagine Vegan Cafe last week, I was craving onion rings. So I got the Portabella Sandwich with Onion Rings. The portabella sandwich has sliced mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and Imagine's housemade vegan white cheese.


One day last weekend, I made the Spicy Garlic Popcorn from Lacy Davis' e-book, The Super Tasty Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen. First, you make a garlic chili oil by simmering garlic and chili flakes in olive oil and then you scoop that stuff out and pop the popcorn in it. I added nooch because popcorn needs nooch.


Speaking of snacks, tonight I had these crunchy Pretzel Rods with Homemade Beer Mustard at Hammer & Ale, a local craft brew shop, while catching up over beers with my friend Audrey. I didn't mean to eat the whole order by myself, but I did. Oops! I'm such a sucker for pretzels and mustard.


I dropped by Pink Diva Cupcakery for lunch yesterday and picked up  a veggie plate with Black Beans, Brown Rice, and Mixed Veggies. And then I asked Cassi to throw in a side of salsa and a side of her vegan cheese sauce. When I arrived back at my desk, I made the meal into a yummy bowl!


I've found a new way to enjoy my FitQuick protein waffles after my morning runs! On Tuesday, I made a FitQuick Waffle Sandwich with java chip waffles, PB Lean maple powdered protein peanut butter, Endangered Species cocoa spread, and bananas. This whole meal was, like, 30 grams of protein!


And finally, cupcakes! My friend Andy's birthday was yesterday, so I made some quick and easy Cookies 'n' Cream Cupakes using the chocolate cake recipe and frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. There were crumbled Oreo Thins in the cake batter and the frosting. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stuff I Ate

Lots of random meal posts this week, so yet again, I'm dividing these up into two posts. Tonight, I'll share some pics of a few meals I've been eating, and then tomorrow, I'll share more. In case you're not familiar, my "stuff I ate" posts are basically just a hodge-podge of meals that don't really warrant their own posts. But they're too delicious not to share in some way!

We'll start with this gorgeous salad from Loflin Yard, a new downtown bar with a massive patio, barrel-aged cocktails, a waterfall, and a lovely little park space for lounging. The menu is quite small right now, and it's very meat-heavy. They have a smokehouse on-site, and I wish they'd smoke some mushrooms or tofu and do a vegan sandwich option. But for now, they have this Grilled Romaine Salad that's vegan if you ask them to leave off the cheese and swap out the normal dressing (which contains cheese) for oil and vinegar. It comes with olives, roasted tomatoes, and homemade croutons. Really yummy! They also have vegan peanut slaw as a side for sandwiches, but since none of their sandwiches are vegan, that's a little weird. Add a vegan sandwich, Loflin Yard!


One day a couple weekends back, I had some work to do over the weekend. So I packed my laptop and headed to Otherlands coffeehouse and ordered an Iced Toffee Soy Latte and a Bagel with Tofutti Cream Cheese. Made working on the weekend totally tolerable.


Hey, here's a quick breakfast! It's a Modern Oats Apple Walnut instant oat cup with fresh blueberries.


Last week, I made the Spicy BBQ Jackfruit from Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking for sandwiches. But I ended up with lots of BBQ jackfruit, and I eventually got tired of having it on sandwiches. So I layered some in a jar with Hampton Creek Just Ranch, Chao Tomato-Cayenne vegan cheese, black beans, carrots, radish, corn, romaine, and vegan bacon bits for this BBQ Salad in a Jar.


Here's that salad after I dumped it into a bowl to eat at my desk.


Our June Vegan Drinks meetup was at Evelyn & Olive, a vegan-friendly Jamaican restaurant. I got my usual — Black Bean Tacos (with tofu and kiwi salsa!), Pigeon Peas & Rice, and Tomato-Cucumber Salad. 


Breakfasts for the past couple weeks have been super simple — Kashi Island Vanilla Shredded Wheat with Blueberries and Pistachio Milk with Field Roast Apple Maple Vegan Sausage.


After a hot 3-mile run and yoga class last Saturday, I popped by LYFE Kitchen downtown for a Morning Veggie Wrap. This vegan breakfast wrap typically comes loaded with Daiya cheddar, and I took one bite and knew something was missing. I went to the clerk to let them know they forgot the vegan cheese, and they informed me they were out. Damn. I wish they'd have let me know BEFORE I ordered. Oh well. This tofu scramble wrap was still yummy, but it's best with Daiya.


Speaking of wraps, I FINALLY tracked down my favorite food truck — Hot Mess! This vegan-friendly burrito truck is never where I need it to be when a burrito craving strikes. But last week, they parked outside a Planned Parenthood lecture (on Memphis feminist history!), and I was already attending the lecture. So I finally got my Black Bean & Sweet Potato Burrito fix! It got it with the super hot sauce this time, and my face was on fire. But it was so delicious and just got better with every bite. Hot Mess makes their own tortillas, and they're pretty much the best thing ever.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sprouted Grain Waffles! And Flax English Muffins!

Years ago, when I was going on some health kick (probably after reading Skinny Bitch), I switched to only buying Ezekiel 4:9 bread for home. I'd eat white bread when dining out, but at home, I was strictly on the sprouted grain. I remember it was an acquired taste at first. I wasn't used to the hearty, seedy, grainy bread, but I knew it was good for me, so I just kept eating it. And it grew on me. And now I LOVE EZEKIEL BREAD!

I do occasionally purchase other whole grain breads these days (Dave's Killer, Rudi's Organic), and I still eat lots of white bread when dining out (and sometimes at home). But Ezekiel 4:9 remains my staple. Not only does it have a great rustic flavor, it's also quite filling — likely because it's filled with sprouted seeds and grains. It's also loaded with protein! In addition to sliced sprouted bread, Food for Life (Ezekiel's brand name) also makes sprouted hamburger buns, hot dog buns, wraps, and English muffins.

But wait — that's not all! Food for Life is now making sprouted grain waffles!!!! I've been on a bit of a waffle kick for the past few months, so I was delighted when Food for Life sent me boxes of their new frozen waffles to review.


These are frozen Eggo-style waffles, but unlike those white flour/preservative-laden waffles, Ezekiel 4:9 waffles are made with sprouted wheat, barley, chia, flax, lentils, soybeans, sesame seeds, spelt, and other healthy things! The Original Waffles have 9 grams of protein per two waffles and a ton of vitamins and minerals. But how do they taste?

I put the Original Waffles to the test with fresh raspberries, maple-agave pancake syrup, and cacao nibs. The waffles are sturdy straight out of the toaster, and they get quite crisp. But that's softened by syrup (and vegan butter if you want to add that too). They certainly have that healthy Ezekiel flavor, but if you're already a fan of sprouted grain bread, you'll love these. They taste like the Ezekiel bread slices in waffle form. But they are just very lightly sweetened because, duh, they're waffles!


I served the Golden Flax Waffles with fresh strawberries, pumpkin seeds, and maple-agave syrup (plus some Field Roast vegan apple-maple sausages on the side). I honestly couldn't tell a big difference in flavor between the flax and the original. These do have more flax and just a tad more protein though.


The Blueberry Waffles were my favorite of the three! The waffle itself tastes very similar to the others, but there are little blueberries flecked throughout. No fruit goes better with waffles than blueberries, so of course, I had to add some fresh ones and maple syrup. Also more vegan sausage on the side.


Food for Life also has Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted English Muffins now! They included some of these in my waffle review package.


I've been using their original sprouted muffins for my breakfast sandwiches forever, so I was excited to try these. They're a great source of omega-3 and omega-6, and each muffin has 10 grams of protein. As for the taste, they're similar to the original, but you can definitely see more seeds in these. And there's a slight flax flavor that's not overpowering. I tried one for a quick Breakfast Sandwich with seitan bacon (from Baconish), Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg, Follow Your Heart Pepper Jack, and Just Mayo Chipotle. Mmmmm. I wish I was eating this again right now. Maybe I'll have one in the morning!


The moral to this story — if you already love Ezekiel 4:9 products, you'll love these. If you're not a sprouted grain bread fan, give it a few more tries. It took me awhile to get to where I preferred it over white bread. But now that I do, I can eat bread and feel really good about it because I'm getting lots of nutrients with every bite!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Vegan Stevia-Free Protein Powder!

You know, it's been a really long time since anyone's asked me "The Question." You know the one? The question that makes every vegan's blood boil — the dreaded "where do you get your protein?" Sometimes, it's genuine. But more often than not, that question comes from someone just trying to antagonize, someone who really doesn't give a crap where you get your protein (or any other nutrient for that matter).

But it's been so long since anyone has asked me, I almost long to hear it again. I feel like I have a much better (and totally sincere) answer. I used to just say, "tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, tempeh, seitan." And I do get protein from those sources every day, but I honestly get the bulk of my protein from protein powders. And while powders are certainly not necessary for sedentary folks, I think they're pretty important for vegan runners (and vegan athletes of all kinds). Protein helps rebuild muscle for faster recovery times. And over the years, as I've increased my mileage, I feel like I've become quite the protein powder connoisseur.

I've tried A LOT of powders. Some are okay. Some are just bad. And some are amazing. And Nutiva has come out with a new plant protein powder that falls into the latter category. Nutiva sent me a couple tubs of their Organic Plant Protein Superfood 30 Shake, and it's seriously delicious!


What sets this powder apart from others, taste-wise, is that it's not sweetened with stevia. Now I've actually grown to love stevia, especially in Vega powders. But stevia does have a certain aftertaste that turns a lot of people off. Those people would love this powder. And even for those of us who like stevia, this Nutiva powder provides a nice little change. It's lightly sweetened from fruit (cranberry, cherry, orange, blueberry, strawberry), and it's also loaded with veggies (kale, kelp, spinach, broccoli, carrot, beet, tomato).

Each scoop contains 20 grams of plant-based protein (from pea, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, hemp, and sacha inchi), digestive enzymes, superfoods (like baobab, moringa, and reishi mushrooms). But despite all those veggies and mushrooms, this powder tastes chocolate and vanilla. Plus, it has coconut milk powder, and when blended with plant milk and frozen fruit, this protein powder makes for a very creamy smoothie. 

You can shake it with water of course. But that's boring. I like my protein powder in my morning smoothies! So I developed a couple easy recipes using these new powders. The first one — a Chocolate Almond Banana Smoothie — is made with a simple homemade almond milk, and it's super-duper creamy. And the second — a Mango Lassi Smoothie — is perfect for cooling off from the summer heat.


Chocolate Banana Almond Smoothie
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Serves one

1/4 cup raw almonds, soaked in water overnight, drained
1 cup water
1 medjool date, pitted, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 frozen banana
1 scoop Nutiva Organic Plant Protein Superfood 30 Shake, Chocolate Flavor
Ice

Place the almonds, water, date, and vanilla in a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. This is your homemade almond milk. There's no need to strain the pulp because it will incorporate into the smoothie.

Add a frozen banana, a scoop of chocolate protein powder, and a few ice cubes. Blend until creamy.

---------------------------------------------------------------


Mango Lassi Smoothie
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Serves one

1 cup almond milk (or other plant milk)
1 container plain vegan yogurt (I used Kite Hill)
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 tsp. cardamom
1 scoop Nutiva Organic Plant Protein Superfood 30 Shake, Vanilla Flavor
Ice

Place everything in the blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vegan Dinner at Vaughan & Nicole's!

It's been awhile since I've hung out with my friends Vaughan and Nicole. We go way, way back. In fact, Vaughan and I started an animal rights group in Memphis back in 2003! We used to do PETA demos and vegan leafleting around town. But over time, that group morphed into more of a vegan social club, and we started doing fewer demos and more monthly vegan outings and occasional potlucks. That group fizzled out a few years back as new groups emerged. But we've stayed pretty tight over the years! I try to hang out with Vaughan and Nicole as often as possible, but we're all so busy!

Lucky for me, this weekend worked out where I got some quality Vaughan and Nicole time! Nicole and I did a Lululemon-sponsored 3-mile fun run and yoga class at Loflin Yard on Saturday morning, and then she invited me over for dinner Sunday night. Here's Nicole and I on Saturday before getting super sweaty on that "fun run" in mid-day 90-degree temps!


And here's Vaughan and Nicole on Sunday night with their dog Tiger. Not pictured is their daughter Vera and their cat Henry (they were both inside when this pic was taken).


I arrived at their house on Sunday night around 4:30 for a little cocktail hour outside in their gorgeous backyard. I had some white wine to start, and then Vaughan mixed me this bizarre but delicious cocktail made with lemon-echinacea juice, coffee liqueur, and vodka. You wouldn't think lemon and coffee would work together, but it does. And it's delicious!


Nicole made an Edamame-Avocado Dip that was to die for. It had chunks of avocado, red pepper, edamame, and red quinoa. We snacked on it outside with some kale-chia tortilla chips.


Tiger hung out with us while we sipped cocktails and munched on chips. He's such a good dog! Shortly after they purchased their house a couple years ago, Tiger showed up in their yard. He was injured and looking for love. And they took him in and got him treated. Now he's the star of the show!


We went inside to eat dinner at their dining room table overlooking the bird feeders in the backyard. We watched birds and squirrels while we dined on Nicole's yummy dinner of BBQ Riblets, Hash Browns with Turmeric, and Sauteed Broccoli. I'd forgotten how much I love those Morningstar riblets!! They're one of a few vegan products Morningstar makes, and they're so good.


For dessert, we had So Delicious Cappuccino Cashewmilk Ice Cream with Oreos! Nothing beats ice cream and cookies on a hot summer night.


It was such a lovely evening! And the food and cocktails were delicious! After dinner, we went back outside to check out their tomato plants, which have been putting out weird tomatoes that are black on the bottoms. After a little investigation, we found the culprits. Tomato hornworms! They were all over three of the tomato plants, but because their bodies blend in with the color of the plants, they were hard to spot. There are actually two in this pic, but one is hiding pretty well. Can you spot them both?


Anyway, sucks about their tomato plants. But the little guys were so cute! And they'll be gorgeous sphinx moths one day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Minimalist Baker Has a Cookbook! And It's Awesome!

I think we can all agree that, when it comes to vegan recipe blogs, Minimalist Baker is tops. That's the blog I send new vegans (or the veg-curious) to when they email me asking for vegan recipes. That's the place I turn when I need a recipe for anything from homemade coconut whipped cream to quinoa taco meat to Oreo cookie pancakes (yea, that's an actual thing).

So I was STOKED when I learned that Minimalist Baker blogger Dana Scultz had a new vegan cookbook out! It's called Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking, and it's basically a hardcover version of the blog. It's loaded with gorgeous full-color photos, and every single recipe is something I need to add to my way-too-long-to-ever-tackle, to-make wish list. Vegan cheddar beer soup, sweet potato sage raviolis, cornbread chili pot pies, pizza burgers, spicy braised tofu tostadas, garlic "cheddar" herb biscuits, pizza stuffed mushrooms, toasted dark chocolate coconut popcorn, pumpkin apple upside down cake, peanut butter cup puffed rice bars.

It's simple weeknight food made with wholesome ingredients, and most of the recipes are gluten-free (if that's your thing). I wanted to try so many recipes before reviewing this book, and I'll definitely be making that beer cheddar soup soon. But I figured I should go ahead and share my thoughts after making two dishes that turned out phenomenally.

I started with Thai Baked Sweet Potatoes and WOW! These are baked potatoes topped with sauteed savory-sweet chickpeas (seasoned with lots of spices, like coriander, garlic, ginger, and maple), a creamy ginger-tahini sauce, fresh herbs (from my front porch), lime juice, and sriracha (we use Yellowbird at my house). This dish was so wholesome and yet so satisfying. I felt really good about myself after eating it.


I also made the Spicy BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Grilled Pineapple. Since it's been so very hot here, I've been craving sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, chips, and salads. Simple meals that just seem to go with summer. This messy 'cue sandwich has summer written all over it. The jackfruit is slow-simmered in a homemade BBQ sauce that's both sweet and vinegary in true Southern style. The pineapple is grilled (but I "grilled" mine in a well-greased skillet). The sweetness of the fruit is the perfect complement to the tanginess of the jackfruit. So good. I've been eating these sandwiches all week! Today, I even had some of the leftover BBQ jackfruit in a salad with Just Ranch, veggies, and vegan cheese.


If you only buy a couple vegan books this year, definitely put this one on that list (also Baconish, which is equally awesome). Seriously. Nobody does simple, healthy, vegan home-cooking like Minimalist Baker. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vegan Beefless Tips & Rice

One of my favorite dishes to order at Memphis' Imagine Vegan Cafe is the "beef" tips and rice meal. It's a hearty main made of sauteed Gardein Beefless Tips and caramelized onions and served over brown rice. It comes with two sides, and I typically opt for veggies, like garlic kale or brown-sugared carrots or sauteed spinach. But, of course, Imagine has much more indulgent sides too (vegan mac & cheese, buttery garlic toast, hush puppies, fluffy biscuits).

Imagine uses Gardein for a lot of their dishes, and even though I can buy Gardein at Kroger and cook with it at home, it always tastes better when prepared with love in Imagine's kitchen. Also, they're not afraid to use lots of oil. It's a restaurant, and oil makes things taste good!

I don't mind indulging in greasy meals when I'm eating out. In fact, I typically prefer my restaurant meals to be quite decadent. But at home, I like to keep oil to a minimum, using just a teaspoon or tablespoon for an entire recipe (unless I'm deep-frying, and that's another story!). I grabbed some Gardein Beefless Tips on clearance at Kroger and decided to try and recreate Imagine's beef tips dish at home with a little less oil. The results were delicious! I served my tips with roasted beets and asparagus (yes, I turned my oven on when it was 100 degrees outside, and it was totally worth it).


I want to share this super-simple recipe! It has just six ingredients, but it tastes far more complex. And the whole recipe only has a half-tablespoon of oil. The tender tips and caramelized onions pair perfectly with plain brown rice. So satisfying!


Vegan Beefless Tips & Rice
--------------------------------------
Yields 2 servings

1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pkg. frozen Gardein Beefless Tips
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup cooked brown rice

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with oil. Leave the onions alone for about 4-5 minutes, and then stir. Leave them alone again for another couple minutes and stir again. Repeat this process for about 10-12 minutes or until onions are very soft and caramelized. A little browning is ideal.

Add the garlic and cook and stir for one minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the frozen beefless tips and stir to coat with with oil and onions. Cook and stir the tips for 5-7 minutes or until heated through and browned. This can take a little longer depending on how high your heat is. Add soy sauce and stir to coat. Cook for about 2 more minutes.

Divide the brown rice onto 2 plates. Spoon half of the tips over each plate.