Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tandoori Tofu Kabobs with Cucumber Raita

So Delicious — makers of the best coconut yogurt!! — sent me some samples of their vegan yogurts to use in developing some new recipes. As you probably know (if you're vegan), finding an unsweetened yogurt used to be next to impossible. Thankfully, So Delicious' unsweetened coconut yogurts are now widely available, and they come in both large tubs (for recipe-making) or single-serving containers (for personal breakfasts and snacks).

Last week, I posted a recipe for a sweet fall-inspired yogurt breakfast using So Delicious' sweetened vanilla coconut yogurt (you can find that recipe here). And tonight, I'm giving you a savory dish using the So Delicious Unsweetened Plain Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative.

This is a super-simple recipe for Tandoori Tofu Kabobs with Cucumber Raita. It's perfect for serving with naan and a side salad.

The tofu is generously coated in Indian spices, like garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Then it's staked onto kabob sticks and grilled. The yogurt comes into play in the cooling cucumber sauce, which is created with coconutmilk yogurt, diced cucumber, and cilantro.

By the way, that naan recipe also uses coconut yogurt! I made the recipe for Yogurt Naan Griddle Bread from Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero. It calls for 3/4th cup of the coconutmilk yogurt, and that makes for a very soft, pillowy flatbread that's perfect for scooping up curries, dals, or in this case, cubes of spicy tofu and cucumber sauce.

Okay, without further ado, here's the recipe for the kabobs and sauce!

Tandoori Tofu Kabobs with Cucumber Raita
Yields 4 servings

For the kabobs:
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp. olive oil

For the raita:
3/4 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Plain Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative
1/2 cup minced cucumber
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt

For the kabobs:
In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, spices, lemon juice, and olive oil until it forms a thick paste. 

Cut the tofu into 16 cubes and place onto a plate. Using a basting brush, baste the tofu in the spices, coating all sides. Cover the plate and marinate in the fridge for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Heat an indoor or outdoor grill (I prefer to cover my grill grates with foil for this). Spray the grill grates or foil with non-stick cooking spray. 

Stake the tofu onto wooden kabob sticks, using four cubes per stick. Place the sticks onto the grill and grill on each side for 4-5 minutes or until the tofu begins to brown.

For the raita:
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, cumin, and salt.

Serve kabobs with yogurt sauce and bread.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More Stuff I Ate

I'm back with some more random meals!

We had our monthly Vegan Drinks meetup at Cheffie's Cafe last week. It's a salad/sandwich shop where you can build your own ginormous salads! I scheduled Drinks there since I figured we'd all need a post-Thanksgiving reset. But then I put all kinds of fatty craziness on my giant salad (mixing bowl-sized!) like fried onions, a metric ton of kalamata olives, and oil-packed sundried tomatoes. Oh well! It was tasty, and I ate every bite. There was also about a 1/2 cup of roasted red pepper hummus, chickpeas, red and green bell peppers, and black bean-corn salsa. And lemon vinaigrette. Delicious!

I've been eating lots of quick meals lately, one of which was this yummy Soy Curl Taco Bowl. I didn't follow a recipe. Just sauteed some Soy Curls, portabellas, and spinach in a little taco seasoning and served atop brown rice. Topped with Daiya shreds, Tofutti sour cream, and cherry tomatoes.

An even quicker meal — frozen Whole Foods Bean & Rice Burrito with Daiya Cheddar, Salsa Verde, and Vegan Sour Cream.

One night a couple weeks back, the Crosstown Community Development Corporation board, which I serve on, held a monthly meeting at Phuong Long. I ordered the Garlic Tofu — fried tofu cubes, carrots, peppers, onions, and broccoli coated in a garlic sauce.

I love, love, love the Lenny & Larry's White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies. They're packed with 16 grams of protein, so they make a great excuse to eat cookies for breakfast. I had this one (and an apple) after a run last week. I'm currently on a running break until next week while I recover from the marathon.

Speaking of cookies, Mike baked me some Vegan Snickerdoodles. He bakes me cookies every year around the holidays, and his snickerdoodles are excellent. And just in time for National Cookie Day last Sunday.

A really yummy – albeit poorly photographed — breakfast this week — Gardein Eggless Breakfast Pocket (stuffed with Vegan Egg, vegan sausage, Daiya, roasted red peppers, and spinach) with steamed sweet potato and sauteed spinach. Grapes on the side.

Imagine Vegan Cafe has some new menu items, and I'm working my way through them. One is this amazing Vegan Grilled Cheese made with Teese, tomato, and spinach. It's so perfect. They use way more butter than I feel comfortable using at home.

I got that grilled cheese as takeout last night with a side of Imagine's Black Bean Chili — also topped with Teese. Perfect on a cold, cold late fall evening. Enjoyed while watching The Crown on Netflix.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stuff I Ate

Wow. It's been a long time since I've done one of these meal round-ups! I'll share a few pics today and some more tomorrow so we can get all caught up on all the delicious things I've been eating.

The last time I did a random meal round-up was before I went to Atlanta, and after I returned, I came back with some awesome Whole Foods and Trader Joe's finds. We don't have a TJ's here, and our Whole Foods doesn't carry some of the goodies I found in Nashville. Most importantly, I was FINALLY able to get my paws on those famous Trader Joe's Pumpkin Rolls. I bought two cans, and I'll probably hoard them all for myself.

I also picked up a Trader Joe's Super Spinach Salad (spinach, cranberries, quinoa, chickpeas, edamame, pumpkin seeds, and a carrot-miso dressing) and a fresh Pumpkin Juice to eat for lunch the day after I returned to Memphis. I knew I'd need a bit of a detox after all the doughnuts and ice cream and mushroom steaks and chocolate cake in Atlanta.

Another Atlanta score was Kite Hill Mushroom Ravioli! Our Whole Foods doesn't carry this, but theirs did. These amazing little ravioli were stuffed with a mix of wild mushrooms and almond ricotta. Enjoyed with a garlic marinara and vegan parm. Side of sauteed shaved Brussels and red potatoes.

And finally, I picked up some No Evil Foods Italian Sausages and Pure Abundance Cashew Cheese at the Atlanta Whole Foods. I made myself a little snack plate with chopped-up, sauteed sausage, cheese, crudites, and crackers.

Here's a random post-Thanksgiving meal. My mama made her homemade Vegan Cream of Celery Soup (the recipe is in Cookin' Crunk!) to use in her dressin' and hash brown casserole, but she had some left, so she sent me home with the leftovers. I had some one afternoon with a little sriracha and a dinner roll (also leftover from Thanksgiving).

Bibimbap! I met former Flyer coworkers Susan and Toby for a bibimbap lunch at Kwik Chek a couple weeks back. Rice, tofu, greens, cabbage, sprouts, carrots, and zucchini (or maybe cucumber?? couldn't tell).

And finally, one day last week, I grabbed some Spring Rolls from Midtown Crossing to eat at my desk at work. I had a little hummus pack, but it wasn't filling enough, so I picked these up since Midtown Crossing is just across the street from my office. They're stuffed with spinach, pecans, and homemade pickled veggies and served with wasabi vinaigrette.

Okay! More pics tomorrow!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fueling for a Marathon on a Vegan Diet

Yesterday, I blogged about finishing my very first marathon — the St. Jude Marathon — on Saturday. I went over what I ate that morning before the race (oats and banana) and how I celebrated afterward (pizza and beer).

But perhaps just as important is what I ate the day before the race. I'm very particular about pre-race nutrition, and I carefully craft a menu plan according a formula that's worked for me over several half-marathons (and now one full marathon). That formula was developed using this post on the Vega website as a guide.

I typically start the day before a race with an easy shakeout run. On Friday, I did an easy three miles to relax and calm my pre-race jitters. Then I had this breakfast of a Sprouted Grain Flax Muffin with Soynut Butter and Grape PB2 and a Chocolate Vega One Shake. 

This is a great mix of carbs and protein to start the day. And just a teensy bit of fat in the nut butter. The Grape PB2 (the powdered peanut butter) is almost fat-free, but the soynut butter has some fat. For the protein shake, I just mixed Chocolate Vega One with Silk Coconut-Almond Milk.

Hydration before a race is key. And while water is sufficient, sometimes just plain old water gets boring. Before race day, I'd rather mix it up and get some bonus nutrients with a fresh juice. Around 10 a.m., I had this Cucumber-Apple-Ginger Juice that I made at home in my juicer and packed in a jar to bring to work. The ginger helps keep inflammation at bay.

My pre-race day lunch is always a Big Ol' Salad for lots of healthy carbs. Vegetable are carbs, and carbs are good for you. They're especially important pre-race. This salad had carb-y roasted sweet potatoes, corn, chickpeas, Wildwood baked tofu (the best kind!), romaine, spinach, red bell pepper, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, brown rice, pine nuts, and a homemade balsamic-olive oil dressing. I made the salad the night before and tucked it all into this big mason jar.

And then when I ran home for lunch on Friday, I dumped the whole thing out into my biggest mixing bowl! It was soooooo huge. And I ate every bite.

I got the idea for my afternoon snack from that Vega post as well. The author suggests mixing 1/2 scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein into vegan yogurt to get a good dose of BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) since those help preserve muscle tissue. I had Vanilla Vega Sport mixed with So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt. And some grapes on the side! It tasted like cake batter!

Finally, for dinner, it was time for carb-loading! But rather than go crazy with some massive portion, it's best to keep it normal and eat the amount you'd typically eat at dinner. My co-worker Emily had gifted me a marathon present earlier in the day, and in the bag was whole wheat spiral pasta and some Mia's Kitchen Kale Marinara! When I got home from work, I sauteed a little crumbled tempeh, added the jar of marinara, and boiled some pasta. I also toasted an Ozery Bakery Spelt OneBun and slathered it with Earth Balance and garlic. Yummy plate of Kale-Tempeh Pasta and Garlic Bread!

After dinner, I made a Cherry Booch Mocktail with tart cherry juice (for inflammation) and kombucha (for probiotics), and I enjoyed that while taking an Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil.

Finally — and this one ISN'T included on that Vega post — I always enjoy one pre-race day beer before bed. Nothing like beer to calm the nerves before a race! Emily also included a six-pack of Southern Prohibition Suzy B American Blonde Ale in her lovely marathon gift, so I enjoyed one of those while I sat out all of my race gear and gels.

And then it was off to bed by 9:20 p.m.! For more on how my race day went, check out yesterday's race recap post.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My First Marathon!

I finally did it, y'all! After years of aspiring to run a marathon, I finally crossed that finish line yesterday! I finished the St. Jude Marathon (a charity race for St. Jude Children's Hospital) in Memphis on Saturday.

This has been a LONG time coming. I started training for my first half in 2013 but got a stress fracture in my right foot about halfway through training. I was out for six months after that. And then I finally ran my first half — the St. Jude Half in Memphis — in 2014. I ran the Little Rock Half a couple months later and injured my knee, and I was out for another six months. Then I ran the Great American River Run Half this past May with my sights set on finishing my first full — the St. Jude Marathon — in December. I somehow managed not to get injured while training this time, and my goal became a reality yesterday. That's an amazing feeling!

I thought I'd dedicate this LONG post (sorry!) to recapping my race and my pre- and post-race meals. Tomorrow, I'll share my carefully crafted day-before-the-race nutrition plan. So I'm basically working backwards here.

I went to bed super-early Friday night so I'd be well-rested for the race. I woke up at 5 a.m., fed the critters, and put on my race gear and a little light makeup. I always wear eyeliner and mascara in races because I need to look for those race photos!

Then I had my standard pre-long run breakfast of an oat cup with nut butter. This time, I had a Quaker Real Medleys Cranberry Vanilla Almond steel cut oat cup with Steem caffeinated peanut butter. I don't do coffee before runs because its makes me pee, so I figured caffeinated nut butter would do the trick.

I headed to the race, which met at AutoZone Park, around 6:15 a.m. Even though it didn't begin until 8:30, I knew downtown parking would be a nightmare if I waited too long. I ran into my Lululemon race team buddy Tristan (I was on Lululemon's fundraising team for this race) and her partner, and we chatted for a bit. They were doing the half-marathon. After I separated from them, I snacked on a banana (probably around 7:45ish). Then I made my way to the starting corrals. On the way there, I ran into my coworker Sadie, who was running her first half!

I shed my throwaway hoodie and sweat pants ($3 at the Goodwill!!) outside the corral gates. St. Jude donates all those clothes back to charity. I made an impulse decision to get into a faster corral than what I projected my pace would be, and I'm so glad I did. There was a three-minute wave start between corrals, and jumping ahead allowed me to start sooner rather than stand there freezing and waiting. And the corral I started with didn't reach their goal pace until way later anyway, so it didn't force me to start out too fast. 

Sadly, my awesome wireless Yurbuds headphones wouldn't sync with my phone in the crowds. Instead, my phone was trying to sync with other people's Jawbones and Fitbits. But I had good, old-fashioned wired headphones in my pocket for backup, so I used those throughout the race. Before I knew it, we were off.

I'm a master at crafting a running playlist. Seriously. Somehow, just the right song always comes on at just the right time. In the first mile, when people in front of me were running too slow, Kylie Minogue's "Get Outta My Way" came on just as I began weaving through people. Skrillex's "Breakn' a Sweat" came on right when I realized my hands were hot inside my throwaway gloves, which I then ditched on the side of the course (volunteers gather those things later). 

Around Mile 4, I got a high-five from a pug. A lady was cradling her dog in a backpack and holding up his paw for runners to high-five. The dog was probably miserable, but it made me happy. And then we ran through the St. Jude campus, where parents and child patients of the research hospital gave high fives and cheered us on. The race is the largest fund-raiser of the year for the hospital, which treats its young patients for free. Pretty awesome!

Those first few miles flew by. I remember looking up at the signs for miles 6 and 8 and thinking, "Wow, already!" Turns out, I was flying (at least for me)! My friend Misti was tracking my splits online, and she sent me this afterward. I'm a slow runner (12:30 per mile average), but I was running under 12 minutes per mile for the first half. That half time is 8 minutes faster than my current half-marathon PR!! You can see I slowed down SIGNIFICANTLY toward the end but more on that in a few.

Going out faster in the beginning of a race and slowing down in the second half is called a positive split, and it's not a good thing. On the contrary, you're supposed to aim for a negative split and save your energy for the end. But I had a reason for booking it in that first half. In the months and months of training, I'd been worrying myself sick about making it to the half/full split by the cut-off time. The half and full follow the same course until mile 11, and then they split off in different directions. If marathoners didn't make it there by 11:50 a.m., they were sent to finish the half instead. And I couldn't bear the thought of not getting to finish after putting in so much work. 

But I made it there in plenty of time, thanks to my positive split. That may have had a detrimental effort on my energy level later, but at least I got to finish the full. Back to that playlist, right around Mile 11, just as we were splitting off, Steve Aoki and Laidback Luke's "Turbulence" came on. There's a line where Lil' Jon says, "We hit turbulence" before the DJ breaks off into some crazy beats. That line came on just as I made the fork in the road to carry on with the full. Ha! And it was so true.

But I didn't know I'd hit turbulence just yet. You see, my coworkers at Crosstown Arts had a spirit station at Mile 12, and I knew that was right around the corner. I was too pumped about seeing them to feel any pain yet. I knew they were bringing a karaoke machine, and my boss asked if I had any special requests the day before. I said "I Ran So Far Away" by Flock of Seagulls. That's what I was expecting. Instead, I got this!

Yes, that's my boss, dressed as some sort Hedwig-inspired, fabulous drag queen. Of course, I stopped for lots of pictures. Here I am with Chris/Hedwig and Jazzy (the other side of her sign said "Every Time You Take a Step ..." inspired by an incident the other day when I caught a roach in the office and set it free, much to her disgust). 

That spirit station made me so happy!! And I knew my friends Andy and Patrick were waiting to cheer me on less than a mile away since the course ran right past their house. Before I reached them, I saw my friend Diane cheering on runners, and she ran onto the course and hugged me. And then as I approached Andy and Patrick, I noticed they were both holding signs with my name on them! Andy's said something like "Way to Go, Bianca!" I stopped for a pic with Patrick.

Again, I was recharged! It's amazing how impactful those little moments can be in a race. And I knew my friend Susan was just down the road waiting for me. I saw her around Mile 15, and she snapped this pic. She asked how I was doing, and I remember saying, "Great! I feel great!" or something like that.

But then things got hard. Haha. I remember, right around Mile 16, the very moment when my feet went from feeling light and springy to feeling like lead weights. Every step was hard, but I just kept going. I had to. Walking through the aid stations helped, and I think I stopped to pee about four times. I also looked very forward to my walking breaks to eat my energy gels every four to five miles. I got a brief second wind around Mile 17 when I ran into my friends Jennifer and Simon and their dog Riley. Jennifer had a beer waiting for me, but I didn't think I could handle it just then. So sweet though!

I did, however, take the two small beer samples offered around Mile 10 and Mile 20. Those helped! I also saw Jennifer and Simon again at Mile 19. Since their house was in between 17 and 19, they were able to pop up on the course twice! At that point, I stopped to pet their dog and asked if I could just stop running. Simon said no, so I kept going.

Around Mile 20, I remember thinking that six more miles couldn't be THAT hard. But at the same time, it also sounded like forever. There was nice lady offering salted potatoes — just diced, boiled potatoes dipped in salt — around there, and SHE SAVED MY LIFE. My morale was pretty low at that point because I was hurting and tired. But that little blast of saltiness was just what I needed. At that point, everything I'd eaten had been sweet — oats, banana, energy chews, energy gels, NUUN at aid stations — and I was craving salt like crazy. Another women, about a mile away, was handing out pretzels. Perfect. Next time, I'm definitely carrying some salty snacks.

I got a high-five at Mile 22 from Holly Whitfield of the I Love Memphis blog, and she yelled "Bianca! Nice butt!" She was wearing a penguin costume. That helped. Seriously, I learned that the tiniest bright spots make such a difference in a marathon. 

The very last mile — mile 25 — was the HARDEST MILE OF MY LIFE. Seriously, it felt like five miles. By then, my run had slowed to a shuffle. I had to pee again (even though I'd just stopped at Mile 22 to pee). I considered waiting until after the finish, but then I thought, well, I don't care about my time and I really just care about how I feel when I cross the finish line. I'd rather be concentrating on how awesome that is rather than thinking about how bad I have to pee. So I made one last porta-potty pit stop. 

When I rounded the corner into the finish line, I cued up Katy Perry's "The Moment," and I couldn't help but tear up a little. I'm sure I looked ridiculous with my happy cry, but I was just SO PROUD of myself. That amazing feeling made all the pain that day and all the time spent training worth it. Worth every damn minute.

After I crossed the line, I got my medal! I love a good race medal, and these were way cool. The center piece spins around.

I got my finisher pic taken, and then I heard, "Are you Bianca?" A guy introduced himself as a blog reader from Nashville (I wish I'd remembered his name! My brain wasn't working all the way yet. But if you're reading, hi guy from Nashville!). He asked where he and his wife should eat while they were in town, and of course, I suggested Imagine Vegan Cafe. 

Then I made my way to the free food and beer area. All of the hot food — pizza and soup — was gone by then, but that stuff isn't vegan anyway so I didn't mind. I did get a couple bags of Takis, which are vegan, and these were the greatest thing ever at that moment. I needed salt! 

I also got my two free beers, but it was so cold and rainy by that point that drinking them was pretty miserable. My heat blanket, given to me at the finish line, helped a little but not much. I was there alone, but I chatted with another guy enjoying his beer. It was his first marathon too, and he said "it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life." I agreed. Then I walked around a bit, but eventually I was so cold, I just decided to make my way to the car. I was shivering as I made that five-block walk to the car.

Once I got home, I had some Silk Chocolate Soymilk and a Chocolate Clif Builder Bar (20 grams of protein!). And then I hopped into the shower. Man, that shower felt AMAZING!! 

I'd made plans to meet up with friends for post-race pizza and beer at Mellow Mushroom, so I got dressed and headed out east to meet up with Mike, Jennifer, Simon, Megan, Joey, Andy, and Patrick. 

Jennifer had ordered the wrong beer — Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale — before I arrived, and she didn't like it. So I had a free beer waiting for me! I happily drank that pale ale, and then I ordered a Founder's Nitro Oatmeal Stout.

And I got a personal-sized Mega Veggie Pizza — vegan-style with Daiya and crumbled tofu. Man, pizza and beer is soooooo good after a marathon. I finished three slices there and ate the last slice at home afterward. My original plan was to eat pizza at Mellow Mushroom and then pick up a Ben & Jerry's vegan milkshake afterward, but I was way too full for a milkshake.

When I got home, I opened a bottle of Williams Landing Yazoo Rouge red muscadine wine that I'd been saving for a special occasion. I have this awesome marathon wine glass that I picked up at the Little Rock Marathon expo in 2015. For the first time ever, I filled it to the 26.2 line (that's about 14 ounces). I enjoyed that as kicked up my tired feet and caught up on the last season of Game of Thrones.

Remember that milkshake I didn't get? Well, today, I made that happen. I woke up thinking about that missed milkshake opportunity, so I drove to Ben & Jerry's for a Vegan PB & Cookies Shake (made with almond milk). The perfect ending to a amazing race weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Autumn Harvest Yogurt Bowl (and a Bonus Smoothie Recipe!)

So Delicious sent me some samples of their sweetened and unsweetened coconut yogurts to use in holiday-themed recipes. I'm slowly working my way through the yogurts, and I wanted to check in and share a couple quick and easy recipes.

If you're not familiar with So Delicious coconut yogurt, it's basically the best. The sweetened varieties come in several flavors, but the best ones — in my opinion — are the Plain and Vanilla. They're the most versatile for use in recipes, and they're amazing on their own with fruit, nuts, and granola. They're smooth and creamy, unlike some other vegan coconut yogurts that tend to be chunkier.

I used the Vanilla Yogurt Alternative (as they call it) to create this awesome Autumn Harvest Yogurt Bowl. I've been eating these bowls for breakfast all week, and they're just so good.

The recipe is simple: 1/2 cup So Delicious Vanilla Yogurt Alternative, 1 apple (diced), 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 cup granola (I use Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola because it's the BEST), 1 tbsp. toasted pepitas, and 1 tbsp. cranberry sauce.

You could sub dried cranberries for the sauce, but if you're like me, you have lots of leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving. And this is a perfect use for it! The smoothness of the yogurt, the sweetness of the apple, the nuttiness of the seeds and granola, and the tartness of the cranberry combine to create an explosion of fall flavor. Seriously, make this bowl.

Another super-easy recipe that I've created using the Plain Yogurt Alternative is this Banana & Spirulina Protein Smoothie.

Yogurt adds a creamy richness and tanginess (plus plenty of probiotics!) to a smoothie. I've been adding a scoop of yogurt to most of my post-run protein smoothies lately, but this combo has become a favorite.

The single-serving smoothie contains 1 cup almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup So Delicious Plain Yogurt Alternative, 1 tsp. spirulina, and 1 scoop of Vega One Natural or French Vanilla protein powder.

Watch for more yogurt reviews soon! I'll be creating recipes with the So Delicious unsweetened plain and vanilla varieties soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hilary's Eat Well Review

Lately, it seems like I've been living mostly off convenience foods. It's not that I've been super busy. I've just been super lazy, and I always tend to get that way as the holidays approach. It's probably because I know that the crazy gift-buying, wrapping, crafting, party time is coming up, and I'm conserving energy. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Anyway, living off convenience foods is fine when they're on the healthier side. Hilary's Eat Well sent me some coupons to try a few products, and these were packaged foods I could feel good about. I went with the Black Rice Burgers and the Broccoli Casserole Bites.

Hilary's Eat Well makes several varieties of veggie burger, and I'd tried a few in the past. But the Black Rice Burgers were new to me.

They're made with a base of millet, adzuki beans, jasmine rice, and that namesake forbidden rice (otherwise known as black rice). They also contain a ton of awesome veggies — sweet potato, arugula, beet greens, chard, collards, dandelion, kale, parsley, and turnip greens. So many greens! The texture is more on the squishy side, but I like that in a veggie burger that's actually made from veggies. That said, I prefer my more protein-packed burgers to be meatier. 

This burger is definitely not a protein patty though. It only comes in at 4 grams per patty, but sometimes, a girl needs her veggies. And this is a great way to get them! Other burgers include Hemp & Greens, Adzuki, and Root Veggie.

Hilary's also makes fun finger-food bites, like these Broccoli Casserole Bites.

These are made with millet, broccoli, white beans, carrot, and onion. They really do taste like the homestyle broccoli casserole I grew up with, but they're probably much lower in fat. I love that these are naturally vegan! I had mine with vegan ranch for dipping, and they were just perfect as a fun, easy entree (with a salad on the side). These would also be perfect for party snacks!

Hilary's also makes Spicy Mesquite Bites and Mediterranean Bites, and I look forward to trying those. They make salad dressings, but I've yet to find them in stores here. They've also released a new line of veggie sausages, so I hope to find those soon. If I do, expect another review!