Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stuff I Ate

Hey, here's some stuff I ate!

We had our monthly Memphis Vegan Drinks meetup last week at LYFE Kitchen downtown. I got a glass of happy hour wine and some Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps! I love these 'cause they're stuffed with wheatberries (my fave!) and Gardein beefless tips. Also, on their wall menu, it doesn't list ingredients, and I think non-vegans order them all the time thinking they're made with real beef. Ha! Tricked ya! And you liked it.

I also got an order of LYFE's Corn Chowder. It's made with cashew cream, so it's totally vegan. Even though it's HOT outside, LYFE Kitchen's downtown location is frigid inside. I don't do well with air conditioning (I'm always cold!), so this soup helped warm me up.

I ate at LYFE again tonight! But this time, it was the East Memphis location. I had a Lululemon St. Jude Marathon Heroes Team meeting at Lululemon's Regalia store, and it's right across from LYFE. So I grabbed a Veggie Burger with Daiya and the Kale & Cranberry Salad. I'm a little bummed that they've apparently switched the burger bun out for a sandwich thin. I love sandwich thins, but when I eat out, I want more bread! Also, there was no kale in my kale salad. It was romaine and some baby greens. Weird. It was more of a green salad with cranberries and onions. Good. But not a kale salad. 

I went to Imagine Vegan Cafe for brunch on Sunday as usual. Got the Breakfast Burrito with a side of Garlic Kale. Inside the burrito is a ton of tofu scram, vegan cheese, and sausage. Side of guac and salsa. Solid.

At home, I've been eating one of my long-time fave breakfasts that I haven't made in forever — Bernard's Brown Rice Breakfast from The Garden of Vegan. Remember that book? It's by Tonya Bernard and Sarah Kramer. Blast from the vegan past! It was actually my FIRST vegan cookbook. This simple and filling breakfast is made with crumbled tofu, brown rice, and toast. You spray the tofu/rice mixture with Bragg's and drizzle with flax oil and ketchup. SO GOOD.

Have y'all had these yet? Omg, they taste like chocolate Swedish Fish. Weird. But good. Don't worry — I didn't let Maynard have one. 

I really ought to change the name of this Stuff I Ate series to "Stuff I Did with FitQuick Protein Waffles." This week, I've been enjoying post-run Java Chip FitQuick Waffle Sandwiches with Maple PB, Almond Cocoa Spread, & Banana.

Last week, I made this amazing Birthday Cake FitQuick Waffle with CocoWhip and Fresh Peaches. My mama gave me the peaches from an order she had shipped from Georgia, and these were seriously the best peaches I've ever had in my life. They don't call them Georgia peaches for nothing. Oh, I also drizzled this liberally with maple syrup.

On Saturday, I ran 12 miles downtown, and then I immediately hit up the Memphis Farmers Market. I was hungry! And thirsty! I run with water, but that wasn't cutting it. So I grabbed this Blueberry Matcha Smoothie from the So Fresh juice truck. It had banana, bloobs, red grapes, and matcha green tea. Just what I needed.

So Fresh has the option of adding vegan protein to smoothies, but I already had a good post-run protein treat planned at home. After my run and smoothie, I had this Lenny & Larry's Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie. I've been looking for these forever, and I finally found them at my neighborhood Kroger. They're so soft and delicious and protein-packed (16 grams)! By the way, not all Lenny & Larry's products are vegan, but this cookie is.

That's it for now! I'll go eat some more stuff and get ready for next time. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Vegan Irish Coffee!

I went vegan only a few short years after I hit legal drinking age. But in those three pre-vegan, legal adult years, I developed quite a love for Bailey's Irish Cream. It was sweet. It was creamy. And it made a damn fine White Russian (I believe it's called an Irish White Russian when you add Bailey's). We were huge Big Lebowski fans back then, and you simply couldn't watch that movie without the Dude's favorite cocktail on hand. But after going vegan in 2004, I wrote off White Russians and Bailey's Irish Cream. I figured I'd never have those things again. Sadness.

Then I discovered Joni Marie Newman's vegan Irish cream recipe in Vegan Food Gifts. I make it every year for St. Pat's. But once a year isn't really often enough! So Delicious sent me an assortment of their coconut creamers and culinary coconut milk to review, and with the care package, they included a recipe for Vegan Irish Coffee using homemade Irish cream. St. Pat's was months ago, but Irish coffee sounded wonderful. I made it iced since it's been in the high 90s for most of the summer. Perfect for back porch drinking!

Oh, and So Delicious also included this cute Mason jar mug in my review package. Thanks, So Delicious!

You can find that Irish Coffee recipe here, but these are the most important ingredients. You gotta have So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Creamer, Irish whiskey, and So Delicious Culinary Coconutmilk. It's also got chocolate chips, cane sugar, and coffee. YUM!

I've long been a fan of So Delicious' coffee creamers, but this was my first time using the Culinary Coconutmilk. It's basically the same as canned coconut milk, and it comes in lite and full-fat. They sent me the lite version, and I couldn't tell at all that it was lower fat. It was still very creamy and full-flavored. 

The Irish Coffee recipe only calls for a small amount, so I used the rest in these Creme Brulee Protein Smoothie from the Vega website (recipe here). This is a dreamy dessert smoothie that's actually good for you, and it's loaded with protein, which is perfect for post-workout. It's got coconut milk, vanilla almond yogurt, Vega One French Vanilla protein, a banana, and a date. The coconut milk made this such a creamy smoothie. 

So Delicious also sent me their Original and Hazelnut coffee creamers. Both are coconut-based, but they vary greatly in sweetness. I failed to take a photo of the original container, but y'all have seen it before, I'm sure. It looks just like this hazelnut one, but it's red. 

Both the french vanilla (used in the Irish cream above) and the hazelnut creamers are very sweet, so sweet that you don't need to add additional sugar to your coffee. I love that because I'm always trying to cut back on sugar in the morning. The original, however, is only lightly sweet, so if you're used to sweet coffee, you may need to add sugar when using that one. The hazelnut has a great flavor, and it's probably my favorite of them all. Drinking coffee spiked with hazelnut coconut creamer reminds of me drinking my favorite Starbucks drink — the Toffee Nut Soy Latte (no whip!). 

All this coffee talk has me wishing I could have a cup right now! But I've started becoming more sensitive to caffeine after a certain hour. It used to never affect my sleep, no matter how late I had coffee, but now, if I have coffee late in the day, I'll often wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. I guess this is old age. I have to get to bed in a couple hours, so I guess it's herbal sleepytime tea for me now, but that would great spiked with coconut creamer too! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

1970s Pasta Power!

At least once or twice a month, I like to develop a new recipe for my vintage vegan cookbook project (you know, the one I've been working on since, like, 2012? ha!). At this rate, I'll probably never finish. But developing new recipes is fun, and I love not having deadlines or time constraints. Maybe my book of veganized trendy foods from the last century will be done someday, but you know, when it happens, it happens.

I've already developed about 100 recipes, so I'm closer to the finish (aiming for about 150) than the start. And it's hard for me to believe that, 100 recipes in, I hadn't yet developed a recipe for one of the most popular dishes of the 1970s! Pasta Primavera! I finally got around to doing that tonight, and I am so pleased with how this came out.

Pasta primavera was invented in Nova Scotia in 1975 by New York chef Sirio Maccioni. He'd flown to the summer home of a rich Italian baron there, and he'd been cooking the baron various dishes with game and fish. But Maccioni and his two top chefs started experimenting and came up with this naturally vegetarian pasta dish with cooked veggies and a butter and cheese sauce. 

I'm saving the recipe for my veganized version for my cookbook. But I'll tell ya that I used a cashew cream base with melted vegan butter, white wine, and lots of garlic for the sauce. It made for such a creamy, cheesy, buttery sauce. The veggies were fresh farmer's market squash and zucchini, plus red bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, and capers from the grocery store. On top is a sprinkle of Follow Your Heart vegan parm. I love how the veggies add such volume to the dish, so you can really make a giant plate of pasta!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Skinny Coconut Oil

Remember how, back the 1990s, coconut was considered the devil? Everyone raved about how unhealthy it was because it was loaded with saturated fat. Little did we realize back then, it wasn't the coconut that was the bad guy. It was the way the oil was hydrogenated, which created what we know now as the real devil — trans fats.

Turns out, plant-based saturated fats are actually good for you. Specifically, the lauric acid (a medium chain sat-fat) found in virgin coconut oil. Nothing makes me happier than knowing fat is good for me! I love fat! I've been using virgin coconut oil for years both in food and on my body as a substitute for lotion.

Skinny & Co. produces raw, alkaline coconut oil. It's cold-pressed and never heated above 97 degrees Fahrenheit. They sent me a jar of their oil to sample and review.

It's so warm in my house and outside that when the package arrived, the oil was liquified and clear. But I placed the jar in the fridge so it would firm up and turn white for a photo shoot. Right now, the jar has found a home on my bathroom counter (and it's clear liquid again), where I've been using it for my new favorite use — oil pulling!

That's right. I've given into the oil pulling hype. If you're not familiar, oil pulling is an ancient tradition that involves swishing coconut oil in your mouth for five to 20 minutes a day. It's believed to protect tooth enamel, loosen stuff stuck in your teeth, whiten teeth, and freshen breath. It's not based in actual science, and I know it's a little hokey. But it makes my mouth feel good, and I only swish for 5 minutes, so it doesn't take much time. My teeth aren't the greatest any more, so I'll try anything. 

Skinny actually sells a special oil-pulling blend spiked with peppermint essential oil, but I may try making that at home since peppermint oil is a staple around my home.

They actually make all kinds of coconut oil-based beauty products — body butter, facial oil, sugar scrub, and soaps. Sadly, their lip balm is not vegan since it contains beeswax. I'll never understand why everyone feels a need to add beeswax to lip balm.

Anyway, of course you can eat it too! On Wednesday morning, I spread a little on some gluten-free toast before topping the toast with tofu for breakfast. I love the slight coconut taste and rich, buttery flavor.

I've also found that Skinny & Co. oil makes the BEST Vegan Bulletproof Coffee! I've tried other coconut oil brands, and they all make for creamy coffee. But the Skinny brand gets a thick layer of foam on top, almost like a coffeeshop cappuccino. I'm skeptical on all the supposed health benefits of bulletproof coffee, but I do love that the added fat makes for a creamy drink and keeps me fuller longer after breakfast.

To make vegan bulletproof coffee, just pour one cup of hot coffee into a blender. Add 1 teaspoon coconut oil, a squeeze of liquid stevia (to taste), 1 teaspoon maca, 2 tablespoons of almond milk, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until creamy and enjoy hot.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Skinny & Co. is their commitment to sustainability. The company provides resources to build homes and schools in Vietnam, where they're based. And they also teach English there and support local farmers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vegan Margherita Pizza!

A couple weekends ago, I went to Little Rock for my best friend Sheridan's birthday. And no trip to Little Rock is complete without stocking up on Miyoko's Creamery products! For some reason, our Memphis Whole Foods STILL doesn't carry Miyoko's nut cheeses. But I can get several of her amazing aged cheeses at Little Rock's Whole Foods and their Natural Grocers chain (which we don't have here).

Sheridan, Drew, and I stopped by Natural Grocers before I headed back to Memphis, and look what I found! Miyoko's Creamery Fresh VeganMozz!

I was sent samples of Miyoko's vegan version of buffalo mozz awhile back, but it was before the cheese hit the market, and it was packaged in water in a tub. The cheese tasted great, but it did dissolve and break down a bit in the water it was packed in. But this new market-friendly version is vacuum-packed, which works much better!

I knew exactly what to do with this mild, soft cashew-based mozzarella. MARGHERITA PIZZA! 

Last night, I whipped up the basic pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance. That's my go-to recipe. I let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight, and then mid-day today, I took a late lunch and came home from work to remove the dough from the fridge and let it continue to rise in a warm place. I went back to work, and when I arrived home a few hours later, it was ready to go!

This pizza was so simple that I don't even need to type out a recipe. Just make any vegan pizza dough recipe, top with a jarred marinara (I used Prego Traditional), slices of Miyoko's FreshMozz, fresh basil and oregano, and chopped tomato. I went with a yellow farmer's market tomato for a pop of color!

The FreshMozz melts beautifully! When I first removed the pie from the oven, the cheese slices were so melty, they were a tad runny. But I let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes, and they started to firm up to the perfect texture. I'm so glad that I have leftovers for tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More Stuff I Ate!

More random meals I've been stuffing in my face lately. First, we should start with the MOST IMPORTANT THING I've eaten all year! Imagine Vegan Cafe occasionally runs specials, and they're usually crazy awesome (think vegan cheesesticks or collard-wrapped tamales). Well, last week they outdid themselves with these Macaroni & Cheese Puffs!

That's vegan mac stuffed inside puff pastry and baked until crisp. It's served with vegan ranch for dipping. Genius! Imagine's owner Kristie texted me on a Friday afternoon (two weeks ago) to say they'd be running the special all weekend, so of course, I went straight there after work for my order. I was the first customer to try it!

I like to make up for crazy meal splurges like that by having giant salads. Last Friday, I had this amazing salad bar meal and a Brew Dr. Kombucha at The Truck Patch in Jonesboro (my hometown in Arkansas). I was there for a friend's funeral (sad), but before the event, I met my mom for lunch at the local health food store, which happens to have the most awesome salad bar. This salad has baked tofu, homemade croutons, corn, cauliflower, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, Goddess dressing, and so much more.

This past Sunday, Paul and I had an 8-hour binge-athon of Stranger Things. We literally watched TV for 8 hours! It's that good! We did, however, order takeout from Crazy Noodle at one point. I got the Fried Tofu Salad with wasabi dressing.

And the Kimbap (Korean sushi) ordered vegan style with no beef.

Also last weekend, I met some friends at Shanghai Restaurant — an Asian fusion place in my neighborhood. I was planning to get some saucy deep-fried tofu dish, but at the last minute, I decided to eat appetizers for dinner. Steamed Tofu Spring Rolls and Steamed Veggie Dumplings.

Why would I eat such a healthy meal when I could have had fried tofu? Here's why! After the funeral, my mama sent me home with a Tupperware full of her homemade Vegan Peach Cobbler. I had to save room for dessert!

One day last week, my editor Susan and I went to LYFE Kitchen downtown for lunch. I got the Tofu Curry Bowl — good, solid curry with eggplant, peppers, peas, and wheatberries. LOVE wheatberries!

Yesterday morning, I had my new favorite post-workout protein smoothie — the S'mores Smoothie! This has chocolate protein powder (I used Nutiva), almond milk, cacao nibs, graham crumbs, and chopped-up Dandies that were small enough to fit through a straw.

Finally, Paul and I had dinner last night at the Bayou Bar & Grill because I had a gift card. It's a very meat-heavy Cajun joint, but their Portabella Po'Boy is among my favorite sandwiches in town, and they have a great selection of Abita. My po'boy is not on the menu, but I order the portabella burger on Gambino's po'boy bread with no cheese or mayo. They season the mushroom so well! It's all spicy and Cajun-y. Also, who doesn't love spicy fries?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stuff I Ate

It's time for another meal round-up! As usual, I'm breaking this up into two posts — one today, one tomorrow — because I have so many pics! Today's post is all about waffles and vegan cheese and doughnuts. All the best foods!

Oh waffles! How I love thee! I picked up some fresh figs from Curb Market — a grocery store that only sells local and regional produce and dry goods. They were juicy and sweet and perfect atop some Ezekial Sprouted Grain Waffles with maple syrup and a side of Simple Truth Organic vegan sausage.

It wouldn't be a proper "stuff I ate" round-up without some pics of my favorite vegan protein waffles by FitQuick! The mix has 22 grams of protein, which is perfect for post-workout. I made a FitQuick Pizza Waffle last week after a run. I stuffed the batter with Daiya mozz, fresh herbs, and chopped kalamata olives before cooking. I usually top these with marinara, but this time, I opted to dip instead. I think I like dipping best because the waffle stays crispy.

More FitQuick! Last week, Holly Noll — the owner of FitQuick, vegan gym New Ethic, and a co-host of the Rise & Resist podcast — posted on Instagram about making mug cakes with FitQuick mix. The package only has instructions for making waffles and pancakes (or doughnuts, if you get the pronut mix). To make protein mug cake, just mix FitQuick mix with plant milk as per regular instructions, but do so in a mug. Then nuke it in a microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (Holly says 1.5 to 2 minutes, but if your microwave sucks like mine does, the extra time is needed). I made a FitQuick Vanilla Sprinkle Mug Cake using the protein doughnut mix. I frosted it with Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese sweetened with maple syrup.

Speaking of sprinkles, look at this doughnut! It's a Chocolate Frosted Doughnut from Larsen's Bakery. Enjoyed last week while doing some work at home after-hours. You can order a whole 11-doughnut sampler from Vegan Essentials, as my dad did for me back in January, and freeze them for a long time. I'm slowly working my way through my January stash.

Remember those figs? I used some in this Harvest Goddess Salad, which I ate to celebrate Lammas (first harvest holiday) and the New Moon last week. Made with spinach, balsamic vinaigrette, figs, vegan Kite Hill aged almond cheese, walnuts, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, beets, and carrots.

I had leftover Kite Hill aged almond cheese and leftover figs. So I whipped up some quick fig preserves by cooking them down with balsamic vinegar, sugar, and shallots. I enjoyed that as a snacky dinner with melba toast and chipotle hummus. Giant salad on the side.

My buddy Leslie moved to Seattle a few weeks back, and she had a going-away potluck/baby shower (she's preggers) at her house before she left. I made the Spiced Lentils with Peas & Spinach from Vegan Slow Cooking by Carla Kelly. It's pictured here as my next-day leftovers with some homemade harissa that another girl brought, and there was brown rice underneath the lentils. Leslie loves Indian-inspired dishes, and this was perfect since I was pressed for time, and it took exactly 10 minutes to prep. The Crock Pot did the rest!

Here's my potluck plate. One of those big pastries was stuffed potatoes and the other with spinach. Leslie's husband is from Palestine, and this is a traditional dish. But she couldn't remember the name. Also on the plate are roasted brussels, hummus and pita, and Taki's rolled tortilla chips (they're vegan, and they taste like Doritos!).

More random food pics tomorrow!