Thursday, March 27, 2014

Seattle Send-Off

I'm going to Seattle VegFest!

My publisher, Book Publishing Company, is sending me to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to sign copies of Cookin' Crunk and demo a few recipes. So if you're in Northwest, come see me!

I'll be demo-ing at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, March 29th and again at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, March 30th. The event is being held in the Exhibition Hall at Seattle Center. I'm not sure what day I'm demo-ing what recipe yet. But I know I'll be showing to make my BBQ "Pulled" Tempeh & Carrot Sandwiches with Creamy Poppyseed Coleslaw and Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce.

I made these earlier this week to practice, and I was out of hamburger buns. Turns out Ezekiel bread makes an excellent BBQ sandwich bread. Also, those are Sriracha Kettle Chips on the side. OMG, so good.

And I'll be demo-ing my Black-eyed Pea Corn Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Cream.

These are basically corn and black-eyed pea fritters topped with a peppery tofu-based sauce.

Hope to see my Northwest friends there!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Phood Is Phat!

Can I still call something phat? Isn't it about time we brought that back? And maybe gnarly too. The Cool beans?

Anyway, all of those outdated ways to say "awesome" could be used to describe Phood and Plant Fusion plant-based protein powders. As I've mentioned here many times before, I typically make a fruit and protein powder smoothie for breakfast on days when I run. It's important to get lots of quality protein when you're really exerting yourself. It can help speed muscle recovery before your next run.

Well, months and months ago, when I was at the Chicago Veggie Fest, I met Scott from Plant Fusion. He was there giving out samples of Phood and Plant Fusion protein powders, both from the same company. Paul tried some of the Phood Caramel Chocolate Everything Shake, and he was hooked. He immediately shelled out $40-something bucks for a big ole container, and when I introduced myself to Scott, he said he'd send over some sample packets so I could review them here on my blog. Scott did just that, but right before those samples arrived, I fractured my foot. And I stopped drinking protein shakes because I wasn't running.

I had all these samples, but I didn't want to waste them when I wasn't running. So I shelved this review for awhile. That's Paul's big Phood Caramel Chocolate Everything Shake in the center and on the sides are the packs Scott sent — Phood Vanilla Everything Shake and Plant Fusion protein in Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies 'n' Cream, and Unflavored. (You can tell how long I've had this stuff from the greenery in the picture! It was still summer when I took this.)

This stuff is loaded with goodness. The Phood has 18 grams of protein, and the Plant Fusion has 22 grams. The plant protein comes from peas, artichoke, amaranth, and quinoa. Plant Fusion powder is just the pure protein stuff, but Phood has whole food-based vitamins, complex carbs, probiotics, greens, fiber, and all your omegas.

Because the Caramel Chocolate belonged to Paul, I only stole one scoop for myself. I get mad when he steals my protein powder, so I didn't think it was fair to steal his. But the one shake I had with it was AMAZING. Also delicious was this Cookies 'n' Cream Smoothie (made with a frozen banana, soy milk, and Plant Fusion Cookies 'n' Cream). I had this one months and months ago, but I still remember it being delicious.

I had two more of these packs this week after runs. On Monday, I used the Plant Fusion Chocolate to make a Raspberry Chocolate Smoothie (half a frozen banana, one cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries, chocolate protein powder).

And today, I used that packet of Phood Vanilla Everything Shake to make the tastiest Banana-Blueberry-Vanilla Smoothie I've ever had. That's one frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, one cup almond milk, and vanilla Phood powder).

While I really enjoyed the Plant Fusion packs, they didn't make for the same kind of thick 'n' creamy smoothies that the Phood powder did. Maybe having all that extra good stuff in there makes it creamier. But that banana-blueberry-vanilla smoothie today was so thick, it might as well have been ice cream. I could have eaten it was a spoon. I like my smoothies to seem like desserts.

Phood and Plant Fusion are definitely on the same playing field as Vega One in my opinion. And coming from a diehard Vega lover, that means a lot. My only complaint is that, unlike Vega One, they don't contain much calcium. Vega One has 50% of your daily RDA for calcium, but Phood has only 2%. I know there are a million other sources of vegan calcium, but I kind of like getting my RDA in with one smoothie (since I use the almond milk with 45% of my RDA).

But that wouldn't stop me from using Phood regularly. When my protein powder stash of Vega and Garden of Life tubs run low, I'll definitely be adding a Phood tub to the regular rotation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I Ate

It's that time again when I dump my photos of the week on ya. None of these meals warranted an entire post. But all were delicious and awesome.

On days when I run, I have protein smoothies for breakfast to help speed muscle recovery. But on days when I cross-train or do yoga, I have nice, solid, sit-down meals. They always start with a fresh juice. My latest fave is the Mexican Afternoon Juice from Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies. It has carrot, celery, roma tomato, cilantro, and lemon.

And I've been following that with Breakfast Sandwiches! This one has tofu Veggs (slices of firm tofu coated Vegg vegan egg yolk and fried in a skillet), Upton's Seitan Bacon (because my Whole Foods FINALLY carries this!), Daiya Provolone, and Ezekiel sprouted grain bread.

On Saturday, our Food Awareness vegetarian meet-up group had lunch at Grawemeyer's downtown. It's a German-American restaurant with a few vegan and vegetarian options. They're letting us have our Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale event in front of their restaurant next month, so we chose this place for our March monthly meeting. I ordered the Hummus Plate — roasted red pepper hummus, carrots, celery, red pepper, banana pepper, roasted tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and toast.

And perhaps the greatest thing I've eaten all week was this amazing BBQ Veggie Pizza from Pyro's Fire Fresh Pizza. It's a local build-your-own pizza chain, and they have Daiya vegan cheese! And they have BBQ sauce as a base! I added roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mushrooms, banana peppers, roasted garlic, and green onions. My parents came to visit on Sunday afternoon, and this is where we had lunch.

Of course, I had a local craft brew on the side — Memphis Made Lights Out, a dark Belgian wit beer.

Hey, don't forget to enter my Vegg Prize Pack giveaway!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Potato Vegg Bake: Recipe and Giveaway!

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, I try to eat the traditional foods associated with the seasons. It helps me feel more aligned with Mother Earth and all that hippie stuff. But the food most associated with Ostara (or the Spring Equinox) is eggs, which symbolize the fertility of the Earth. Since I don't eat eggs, I have to get creative this time of year.

I found a recipe for Potato Egg Bake in my seasonal Llewellyn's calendar. It's basically a breakfast casserole with veggies, cheese, and (!!!) five eggs. Eek. But you know what? Anything can be made vegan and delicious. I got creative and totally flipped the original recipe all around to create a Vegan Potato "Egg" Bake. 

It's flecked with potatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and vegan cheddar. And that's held together in a yummy baked tofu omelet. Of course, I used Vegg vegan egg yolk in the recipe because I'm pretty much obsessed with this stuff. When mixed with water in a blender, it has the same taste and texture as egg yolk, so it really adds an eggy flavor to this casserole.

I'm sharing the recipe for my bake here. And then my pal Rocky, inventor of the Vegg, wants to give away an amazing Vegg prize pack to one lucky commenter. He'll include the original Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk (good for omelets, fried Veggs, tofu scrambles, eggy sauces, pasta carbonara, etc.), Vegg Baking Mix (perfect for pancakes, cupcakes, quiches, and other baked goods), and The Vegg Cookbook (loaded with recipes so you can put your Vegg to good use). Just leave a comment at the end of this post letting me know what egg-containing dish you'd like to recreate. BE SURE TO INCLUDE AN EMAIL ADDRESS if you don't have one attached to a Blogger profile. I'll pick a winner next Tuesday.

Vegan Potato "Egg" Bake
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Vegg vegan egg yolk
1/4 cup water
1 12.3-ounce package extra-firm silken tofu
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. almond milk (or water)
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. black salt
1 cup shredded vegan cheese (Daiya or Follow Your Heart) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper and continue to saute for about 6 to 8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off heat.

Use a blender to whip the Vegg vegan egg yolk with the water (If you have a large blender, you may need to double the Vegg to water ratio, but only use 1/4 cup in the recipe. Save the extra for another use).

Pour 1/4 cup whipped Vegg into a food processor with tofu, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, almond milk, turmeric, and black salt. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.

Spray a 9x9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Layer half the potatoes, half the cooked veggies, half the cheese, and half of the egg mix. Repeat the layering process with the remaining ingredients. Bake for 45 minutes.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's Sprang, Ya'll!

Every time I think of spring, I imagine James Franco as the rapper Alien from Spring Breakers saying "Sprang Break Foreva" in his twangy slur. If you haven't seen that amazing Harmony Korine film, get thee to Netflix. Or you could just listen to this two-hour loop of James Franco saying "sprang break" over and over.

Alien wants to wish you a happy sprang!

Anyway, all that is to say, it's finally spring!! OMG! I hate winter so much. But since winter is an inescapable fact, I grin and try to make it bearable with warming soups and stews and lots of pumpkin. But those days are finally behind us for another year. It's still chilly here, but I'll take a 50-degree day over a 30-degree day. Jackets > coats.

The Spring Equinox (also known as Ostara) is traditionally celebrated with eggy dishes since we're celebrating the fertility of Mother Earth. But you know I don't eat that stuff, so I welcomed spring with vegan eggs!

On March 20th — the official first day of spring — I joined Cassi and Brenna at Imagine Vegan Cafe to celebrate Cassi's one-year veganaversary. Imagine is about to come out with a new menu, and they're taking off a few items. One of those is the Egg Salad Sandwich. It's messy as hell since Kristie is generous with the egg salad, so I ate this with a fork. But it was a fond farewell to one of my favorite chickpea-based egg salads. On the the side, I had the Brown Sugared Carrots because carrots remind me of bunnies.

I also made Hot Cross Buns using Vegan Dad's recipe. These were just lightly sweet, spicy with cinnamon and clove, and flecked with currants. 

I got even "egg"-ier on Friday, but I'm saving that post for tomorrow night because I plan to include a recipe, and I don't have time to type it up before The Walking Dead comes on. #priorities

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hot to Chaat

I LOVE Indian food. Just love, love, love it. Unfortunately, it's one cuisine that I just haven't mastered on my own. I'm not as into the North Indian curries and heavy stews as I am the snacky chaat (or Indian street snacks). I usually just head to a local chaat corner (like India Bazaar on Hacks Cross!) when I need my snacky fix.

But a few weeks back, I got an email from the maker of ZOUQ snacks, asking if I'd review their tinned, crunchy, vegan Indian snacks.

Well, hells yea, I would! I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I am a snack hoarder. Like to the max. My desk at work is loaded with all varieties of nuts and trail mixes and gourmet chocolates. I actually feel completely anxious and insecure if I don't have lots of snacks around. Yea, I have issues.

But anyway, I've been trying these chaaty snacks all week, and I have a little review for y'all. First, I tried the Jubilee Mix, a blend of rice flakes, peas, and lentils seasoned with all manner of spices (sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, fennel, sesame seeds, red chili, curry, cardamom, etc.). This was hands-down my fave of the bunch. It had that special Indian snack flavor that I can't quite put my finger on, but it's a taste only found in Indian food. Asafoetida, maybe? Anyway, I loved the coated peanuts and the large almost Frito-like rice flakes.

Next I opened the Fiery Sticks. These are basically just shoestring potato sticks but with spicy Indian red chili, cumin, and green mango powder. In other words, the best potato sticks I've ever had. I grew up eating those cheap potato sticks in a can. And these are way better.

And then I tried the Golden Lentils. These were advertised as "no spice" on the press materials they sent, and that made me a little leery of these. I like hot, hot, hot. But honestly, these taste really wholesome and almost nutty. They're like crunchy fried lentils. And does it really get any better than that? My only complaint with these would be that they're so tiny, it's hard to control how much you're eating!

Finally, I cracked open the Curry Crunch. Totally not what I was expecting, but delicious. This snack mix is both sweet and savory, and it has a strong curry taste. I kind of thought it would just be savory, but the sweetness was a nice surprise. I really like the mixture of stuff. Like the Jubilee Mix, the Curry Crunch is loaded with variety — chickpeas, rice flakes, red lentils, tapioca peanuts, and green peas. The perfect marriage of sweet and savory.

I've been snacking on these all week, and I know I'll be super sad when I run out. Right now, ZOUQ snacks are only sold in stores in L.A., but you can order them online. They're a little calorie dense for a counter like me. Each tin contains four servings, and each serving ranges from 130 to 157 calories. But I could easily eat an entire tin at once! Luckily, I have a little self-control, so I'm making sure that doesn't happen. But they really are that good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Running Free

I'm running again! I mentioned that briefly in Monday night's post, but I wanted to tell y'all all about it.

For a little background: I was training for my first half-marathon last summer, when about halfway through my 12-week training program, I fractured my right foot. It was an overuse injury that my doctor believes was brought on by either having old running shoes, bad form, or trying to go too far too fast.

First, they gave me this hard-bottomed shoe, and I was later moved to a walking boot.      

Anyway, most foot fractures heal in 6 to 12 weeks. But wouldn't it be my luck that I had a proximal (mid-foot) stress fracture with a 4 to 6 month healing time?! During that time — and I know this sounds ridiculous to people with real problems — I felt like my life was at a standstill. I was on pause for seven months. Running had become my reason for waking up every day. It was the one thing that almost had a more powerful grip on my life than food. Food was still number one, of course, and a time or two, I totally drowned my sedentary sorrows in the junkiest junk I could find. And I packed on a few pounds since I wasn't running those calories off.

Sure, there was yoga. And I did a lot of that while I was injured. But yoga isn't the same as running for me. Running is how I meditate. It's how I find peace. Yoga for me is more about stretching and learning to relax, but it's not terribly peaceful for me.

Anyway, an orthpedic shoe, a walking boot, a bone stimulator (I had to wear it 10 hours a day!), lots of frustration and inconvenience, and seven months later, I'm slowly learning to run again. I'm doing simple walk/runs for now because I'm terrified of re-injuring myself. But I can finally walk without pain. I'm not signing up for any races just yet, but I will run that half one day (and I'll run a marathon after that, by god).

Not only did I miss the act of running, I missed my healthy breakfast routine that went along with it. When I was training, I'd have a date or two before a run, Vega Electrolyte Hydrator or coconut water immediately after, and a nice creamy Vega protein smoothie about 30 minutes later. I have a mega-stash of Vega that I won last January in a blog giveaway, and when my injury happened, I moth-balled my stockpile until I could run again. Vega isn't cheap, and I couldn't afford to waste it when I wasn't running.

So now that I'm running again, guess what's back in my life? Vega!!!! This is the Sunset Razztini from the new Vega Dieter's Guide to Not Dieting e-book (download it for free here). The book is designed to help serial snackers, breakfast skippers, calorie counters (that's me!), and weekend splurgers (also me!) replace naughty stuff with healthy snacks (like this smoothie!).

It's frozen raspberries, a whole orange, almond milk, and a scoop of Vega One Berry protein powder. I had this for breakfast several days last week after runs. On non-running days, I juice and have a light solid breakfast.

Also, while I was down, Vega sent me an awesome swag package to promote their new e-book and #onechange campaign. I've been working with them since they realized what a super-fan I am.

And I was sooooo excited to finally have a chance to wear my new Vega running shirt last week. They also sent me a sweet Vega headband and a Kor One water bottle with "Vega" on the side. 

And since I knew I'd need new shoes to prevent injury, I finally used the birthday money my mom and dad gave me back in October to buy Brooks Ghost 6 running shoes and new inserts!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vegan Drinks at A-Tan

We had our monthly Vegan Drinks meetup tonight! Each month, a few of us cocktail-loving vegans  get together at various vegan-friendly restaurants for drinks and dinner. This time, we opted for a kitschy Asian theme at A-Tan Restaurant.

A-Tan is Chinese on one side and Japanese hibachi on the other. And it's one of the only Chinese places in town (at least that I know of) with a full bar (a requirement for our Vegan Drinks gatherings). Their cocktails are super retro, but more on that in a few. We had a decent-sized crowd this time, and more people showed up than I expected.

Now back to those blast-from-the-past cocktails. A-Tan is perhaps best-known for its Flaming Volcano. 

It's made with rum, brandy, pineapple juice, orange juice, and almond syrup, and it's served in an adorable volcano-shaped bowl with a flaming shot of Bacardi 151 in the center. You can't see the flame in this picture, but trust me, it was flaming. This cocktail was really popular in the 1950s and '60s in Hawaii. Cassi and I ordered one to share. It's definitely a sharin' drink.

Valerie went with a lovely martini, but I didn't ask what it was!

And Pam ordered a Hummingbird. I'm not sure what was in it, but it sounds pretty retro.

Sheila opted for a classic Dirty Martini.

And then came the food! A-Tan doesn't appear to have a ton of vegan options on the regular Chinese menu, but that's because they're not all grouped together. There are some options on that menu, some on the sushi menu, and some tucked into the fried rice and lo mein sections of the menu. I went with my A-Tan usual — Family Style Bean Cake (a.k.a. fried tofu with veggies in a spicy brown sauce). It's one of only a couple tofu dishes they have, and I just really like tofu. I also love how many veggies they put in this. So often, when I order fried tofu dishes in Asian restaurants, they'll have, like, two pieces of broccoli and the rest is all tofu. And though that is delicious, I always feel healthier when I have my veggies too.

But next time, I'm totally ordering the Vegetable Lo Mein. Pam got this, and we learned that they use ramen noodles rather than lo mein noodles (which typically contain eggs). So chances are the ramen is vegan! I want this!

Valerie ordered the Vegetable Fried Rice. Classic and soul-soothing. Can't go wrong there. She also ordered Vegetable Moo Shu (sauteed veggies served with thin Asian pancakes), but I forgot to photograph it.

Cassi and her kid Keithon went the Japanese route, of course. Cassi is obsessed with Japan, and she's going there next month. They got two Veggie Sushi Rolls.

And a platter of Tempura Veggies. She asked the server if A-Tan uses eggs in their tempura batter, and he confirmed that they do not. She gave me one of her tempura sweet potatoes. So good!

That's it! If you're interested in joining us for April Vegan Drinks, join our Facebook page. I'll be posting the date and location very soon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eatin' Like An Irishwoman

Happy St. Paddy's Day, y'all! I've got a wee bit of Irish in me (there are some Malones way back on my dad's side), and I'm a sucker for a themed holiday. I get that from my Me-Maw, who decorates her entire house for every major holiday (Valentine's, Easter, Halloween, etc.). So naturally, I wore green today and worked Irish food and green fare into as many meals as possible.

My morning began with a very chilly walk/run (Yes, I'm running again! Slowly coming back from my injury), followed by my current favorite post-run breakfast — a Marley Coffee Protein Shake. But this time, I added spirulina for that lovely green color. Usually, this shake is made with 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup cold brewed coffee, 1 scoop Garden of Life Marley Coffee protein powder, a frozen banana, and two tablespoons chocolate PB2 powder. Today, I added one teaspoon of spirulina.

I bought these adorable Irish coffee mugs at a flea market last year, so I made the Vegan Irish Cream from Vegan Food Gifts to spike my coffee this morning. Yes, I had booze before work. But don't worry — it was only enough for flavoring! It's St. Patrick's Day!

By mid-morning, I was ready for a snack. So I picked the greenest thing in my desk snack stash — Pistachios!

Lunch was a Tofurky BBQ Chick'n hot pocket (so not Irish!), but I'm planning to review those later. On the side, I did have something green — a Romaine & Strawberry Salad with Pecans and Blood Orange-Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.

For dinner, I made the same thing I made last St. Patrick's Day because it was so damn good — Isa's Irish Stew with Potatoes & Seitan from Appetite for Reduction. This has beer in it! And the seitan and potatoes are hearty and filling.

On the side, I made the Irish Potato Biscuits (a.k.a. Spud Scones) from World Vegan Feast. These have just four ingredients (whole wheat flour, potatoes, almond milk, and baking powder), and they're fat-free (and only 61 calories each!). They're actually baked on the stovetop in a cast-iron pan.

I'm about to have a bit more of that vegan Irish cream in a vegan car bomb (vegan stout + a shot of Irish cream) before hitting the town for a couple beers. So Happy St. Paddy's Day! May the luck of the Irish be with ya.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Morning Ramen

I'm a creature of routine and habit. And if things don't go exactly as planned, I freak out a little bit. Every Sunday morning must start the same way — wake up without an alarm, let the dogs out back, feed the pets, cook ramen, and eat ramen on my couch in my PJs while watching an episode of whatever hour-long TV show I'm currently working through (right now, that's House of Cards).

Those moments spent savoring every bite of ramen is, perhaps, the highlight of each weekend. Sometimes I wake up super-early on Sundays on accident, and I can't go back to sleep because all I can think about is that bowl of ramen. This has been my routine for years, and it never gets old.

Sometimes I rely on packaged vegan ramen (either Koyo, Lotus Foods, or one of the Vietnamese brands from the neighborhood Asian market). But most of the time, I make my ramen bowl from scratch. And I generally use the same basic formula. Such was the case this morning when I made this bowl.

The recipe is so simple that I probably shouldn't call it a recipe. But I'm sharing it with you anyway. For the tofu in the recipe, I typically use this awesome super-duper firm baked tofu that I buy at the Asian store, but any firm tofu will do. Sometimes I go with plain. Other times, I opt for the Chinese five-spice seasoned tofu. When I forget to stop by the Asian market, I go with whatever tofu I have in the house.

Sunday Morning Ramen

Yields one delicious bowl

2 cups water
1 cube Edward & Sons Not Beef Bouillon (Not Chicken or the Garden Veggie flavors work great too)
1/4th pound extra-firm baked tofu (flavored if that's what you're into), cubed
1/2 cup frozen veggies (Any combo of veggies will do. My fave is the Kroger brand Mexican style veggies)
2 oz. dry brown rice noodles (I love Annie Chun's brown rice maifun noodles!)
Garlic powder
Black pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the bouillon cube and stir until it dissolves.

Add the tofu cubes and veggies. The water will stop boiling a little when you add the frozen veggies. Let it come back to a full roiling boil, and then add the noodles. Cook for about two minutes (or however long your noodles take ... that really depends on what type of noodle you choose).

Transfer to a large soup bowl. Top generously with sriracha, garlic powder, and black pepper. Enjoy while watching TV in your pajamas.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Turn Your Kitchen Into the Chicago Diner!

I've had the privilege of getting in a lot of U.S. travel over the past several years, thanks in large part to my publisher, who is super awesome and sends me to VegFests to promote my cookbook. I've never really had the money to do much travel otherwise, so it's been great to finally be able to visit some legendary vegan restaurants across the country. Forget tourist attractions and museums. When I travel, I plan my trips around vegan restaurants.

The Chicago Diner was on my vegan bucket list until last August, when I was sent to the Windy City to demo and sign books at the Chicago Veggie Fest. I knew for months prior to the trip what I'd be ordering when I finally had a chance to dine at one of the country's oldest vegan restaurants —The Radical Reuben. It's the stuff of vegan legend. There is perhaps no vegan sandwich more famous.

Here's the Radical Reuben I ordered that fateful day — homemade seitan corned beef, sauerkraut, vegan cheese, and Thousand Island sauce. Mmmmmm ......

I figured it'd be years before I could order that sandwich again! But guess what? I can make it at home now (and it's just as good!) with The New Chicago Diner Cookbook.

When I was sent this book to review, I knew exactly what I would make. Duh! Behold the Radical Reuben made in my very own kitchen.

I used the recipe for Diner Seitan in the cookbook and then marinated it using the recipe for Corned "Beef" Marinade. Beet juice gives it that lovely color, and pickle juice (!!!) and other spices give it that corned beef taste. I couldn't slice it as thin as they did at the diner, but that was okay. It was still ever-so-tasty.

The "beef" is topped with sauerkraut, sauteed peppers and onions, a slice of Daiya Provolone, and homemade Thousand Island (made with the new Just Mayo ... OMG, I think that stuff is better than Vegenaise, and I didn't even know that was possible). It's been a few months since I had the real thing at the diner, but I really think this recipe version is just as good as the one I had in Chicago.

By the way, there's also a recipe in the book to make your own raw sauerkraut. I tried. But I failed. I used a bag of shredded cabbage (because I'm lazy), and it called for a whole head. I think there's less cabbage in a bag. Anyway, I used the tablespoon or so of salt called for in the recipe, and it was too much for the amount of cabbage. My homemade version was a salty mess. So I just bought a jar of the already-made kind. Problem solved.

There are so many more recipes that I want to try from this book! The Chicago Diner Vegan Ranch Dressing will happen! And the Bacun Wrapped Dates will most definitely be served at my next house party. Also on my list are White Bean Bacun Soup, the Delta Po'Boy with Blackened Tofu and Creole Remoulade, the Bibimbap, and the Buddha's Karma Burgers with Realignment Sauce (because the name is too cool!).

Perhaps the coolest thing about this book, though, are the cocktails. There's a recipe for their famed Bloody Mary, which I had at the restaurant. And there's a cocktail called the Black Rainbow Unicorn with homemade grenadine and house cherries!

The only bummer? They didn't include the recipe for their Country Fried Steak. That's what Paul ordered at the diner last August, and damn was it good!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stuff I Ate

I'm loving these "stuff I ate" posts. They're perfect filler when I don't have any new dishes or reviews to share. Plus, I just can't eat a thing these days if I don't photograph it first. It just feels wrong. So I take pictures of EVERTHING I eat. If you're Foursquare friends with me, I should probably apologize for the photo check-ins at every meal. But you know, Foursquare is made for over-sharers, so if you're on it, you probably don't mind.

Anyway, I had an excellent meal at Deja Vu Creole and Vegetarian Restaurant last Saturday after the Southern Women's Show. Cassi, Aisha, and I went to the new downtown location for this much-loved vegan-friendly Cajun joint for dinner Saturday night. It's been ages since I'd had the Veggie Rolls, so I got an order of these as my entree — two spring-roll-style rolls stuffed with curried cabbage, raisins, and other veggies and served with a sweet 'n' sour sauce.

So good. Sometimes fried food is just what you need, right? (UPDATE: A commenter informed me that these may not be vegan because Chef Gary has some pics on his blog of him making these once with Nasoya wrappers, which are not vegan. I know they were vegan at one time because the recipe was first developed by Bastet, a long-time Memphis vegan who helped Gary open Deja Vu. She's not there anymore, so it's possible this isn't vegan now. But don't let that deter you from eating at Deja Vu! They have so many items that are definitely vegan. Since the vegan and vegetarian items are listed in the same section of the menu, you might wanna ask about some items to be sure. I'm more of a "don't ask, don't tell" vegan, and when I find out things aren't, I just don't order them again. No worries).

This comes with two sides, so I opted for Collard Greens and Candied Yams. (By the way, all meals come with a cornbread roll, but it's not vegan. Don't eat that.)

In case you've never been, you should know that Deja Vu serves lots of meat too. But don't let that turn you off. There's a vegetarian/vegan section on the menu, and there are vegan desserts everyday. He offers meat-free options right alongside his alligator stew and such. It's nice to have your food choices honored in such a way. No secret vegan menus. No ordering off the menu. It's all right there, and it's taken just as seriously as the meat dishes are. Plus, ALL the side dishes are vegan (except the cornbread), so even meat-eaters have vegan collard greens at Deja Vu.

At home, I've been eating a lot of cereal for breakfast. I get on cereal kicks, and that's all I want for breakfast. And then I burn myself out and can't touch it for weeks. I've been alternating between Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Berries granola ...

And Kashi Raisin Vineyard cereal (like Raisin Bran but healthier).

That juice in the above picture is my fave spring juice of the moment — Ravishing Rhubarb Juice from Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies. It has three simple ingredients — rhubarb, strawberries, and kale. I juice on days when I have a solid breakfast, and other days, I have smoothies instead.

Speaking of breakfast, I had these amazing fluffy, giant pancakes with slices of vegan sausage from Imagine Vegan Cafe one night last week for brinner. Imagine is re-doing their menu soon, and some items are being taken off. Pancakes didn't make the cut, but I have the inside scoop that waffles may be taking their place. Anyway, I wanted to get these one last time. Kristie from Imagine makes the world's best pancakes.

And then there's dessert, of course. Tonight, I had this healthy dessert of Banana Maca Chip Soft Serve before my hoop dance class.

I just whirred up a frozen banana with a splash of almond milk and some Vega Maca Chocolate in my food processor. Instant bliss.