Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stuff I Ate

Here we go again with a bunch of random meals.

Last week, I had part two of a root canal. My tooth was so bad that it took my dentist two appointments, totaling 5 hours(!!!!!), to finish my root canal. The procedure didn't hurt since they kept me numb, but having doctors in your mouth for that long really sucks. And then my teeth totally hurt afterward. So last Tuesday, after they finished, I came home and immediately had some Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream with CocoWhip.

I bought some blueberries on sale last week at Kroger. I can't wait until the fresh, local berries come in, but until then, these will do. These were super-sweet and plump. I had some on a Lemon Poppyseed FitQuick Protein Waffle. Also maple syrup and banana.

And I had some on So Delicious Passionate Mango Coconut Yogurt. I mixed in a half scoop of vanilla Nutiva protein powder since So Delicious yogurt has less than one gram of protein. If I eat a breakfast without any protein, I'm hungry again an hour later. Also added the bloobs, fresh mango, and locally made Guilt-free Pastries Vegan Granola.

Speaking of yogurt, I had some again this morning. Daiya Strawberry Greek Yogurt with fresh, local berries and Bear Naked Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Granola Bites. No need to add protein powder to this yogurt since it already has 8 grams. That's plenty for my non-running days. I'm in the taper for this weekend's half-marathon, so I've backed off the miles significantly this week. Gotta keep these legs fresh!

But speaking of running, I did have one last pre-race, long(ish) run on Saturday. Only 8 miles, but that was still long enough to justify my favorite pre-workout meal of an Apple Cinnamon Dave's Bagel with Sunbutter and Bee-Free Honee. Extra cinnamon sprinkled on top!

One day last week, I wanted a Bagel BLT for dinner, but I didn't realize until I was making my sandwich that I'd accidentally tossed out my good lettuce when I was cleaning out old veggies in the crisper. Oops! So instead, I just had a BT. Sweet Earth Foods Benevolent Bacon (hence the brown edges), buffalo hummus, and tomato on a Cajun Dave's Bagel.

On Wednesdays, we have office-wide staff meetings at lunch, and I typically bring my own. But last week, I popped across the street to Mama Gaia before the meeting to grab takeout — Gaia Pita (baked falafel, hummus, lettuce) with Baked Oven Fries and Organic Ketchup. Yum!

More stuff I ate tomorrow!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bluefin

Downtown sushi lounge Bluefin has been around for years, but over the past year, they've undergone an ownership change and, thus, a menu change. I've blogged about Bluefin many times, and they've always been pretty vegan-friendly, even boasting menu items labeled vegan when under the old ownership.

The word "vegan" is no longer on the menu, but the options are still plenty! Bluefin is now run by Mr. Woo, and he's added some Korean fare to this mostly Japanese menu. My friend Susan (managing editor/food editor) of the Memphis Flyer was invited to sample a few dishes for a piece she was working on, and she invited me to join! We stopped by on a Friday night a few weeks back.

We started with the Grilled Tofu Salad, a straightforward veggie salad with lightly grilled tofu triangles and a ginger vinaigrette. This was a nice, light start to the meal.

We also split an order of the Fried Sweet Potato Roll. This is a thinly sliced, generously stuffed sushi roll with tempura sweet potato. I LOVE tempura rolls because, well, fried. And this one was phenomenal. This was one of several inventive vegan rolls on the menu. So often, sushi options at restaurants are limited to just cucumber rolls or avocado rolls, so it's nice to see something fun! Also, that sweet soy sauce was killer.

Mr. Woo brought us out a few extra dishes that we didn't order. There was Tempura Veggies — a platter of deep-fried sweet potatoes, onions, broccoli, and tofu. The tempura tofu was a nice surprise! That doesn't typically come tempura platters that I've ordered elsewhere.

Of course, we had to try one of the new Korean dishes! We got the Vegetable Dolsot Bibimbap — white rice with spinach, bean sprouts, cabbage, gochujang, and tofu served in a piping hot stone bowl that continues to cook the rice as you eat. You're supposed to stir the rice so it doesn't get those crusty edges, but I love crusty edges so I don't stir.

All of the dishes were excellent, and we'll definitely be back! Susan wrote a post on Bluefin's new menu — including the meat dishes, if you're into that — on her Hungry Memphis blog on the Memphis Flyer website.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Vegan Mexico

Chef Jason Wyrick has a new cookbook out dedicated to authentic, vegan Mexican cuisine from tostadas and tacos to tortas and tamales (so many Mexican food names have such great alliteration!). Jason's mother's side hails from Spain but the family has Mexican ties. Jason grew up in Phoenix eating the standard Americanized Tex-Mex, but he was exposed to authentic Mexican fare when visiting relatives.

His new book, Vegan Mexico, puts a cruelty-free spin on that traditional cuisine. To achieve that authentic taste, he puts a big emphasis on homemade sauces, chile powders, and infused oils. But thankfully for those of us short on time, he includes recommendations for store-bought alternatives to those handmade touches.

The book is divided into chapters on beans and rice, salsas, street food, tacos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales, salads, soups, grilled fare, small bites, larger main dishes, breads, drinks, and sweets. Everything looks and sounds very gourmet, but the two recipes I made from the book were super-simple to prepare.

I went with the Salted Lime Plantain Tacos and a side of Drunken Beans.

The tacos were stuffed with grilled plantains that are brushed with garlic-infused olive oil. I didn't have time to infuse my own oil though, so I used plain olive oil and sprinkled the plantains with a little garlic powder. After grilling, the plantains are tossed with lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Also in the tacos is salsa verde (Jason has a recipe for homemade, but I bought mine at Whole Foods), vegan sour cream, purple cabbage, and toasted pepitas. I added some sriracha because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beans are essentially refried beans cooked with beer. I made mine in the slow cooker overnight, and I left out the vegan shortening called for in the recipe to make these a little lower in fat. They were totally delicious and creamy without the shortening! For the beer, I went with Dos Equis Amber. One note: When making these in the slow cooker, you don't need as much water. I didn't realize that and ended up having to drain off most of the water before mashing. Jason's recipe is just for stovetop.

These dishes were so amazing, and I can't wait to cook more from this book. The Late-Night Snack Chilaquile with jackfruit, corn chips, and avocado is on my to-make list as is the Smoked and Grilled Seitan in Pumpkin Seed Tomato Sauce. The Bean and Avocado Sandwich Drowned in Salsa looks like nothing I've ever seen (it's literally a sandwich covered in salsa that you eat with a fork!). As for tacos, the Pirate Tacos — portabella mushroom and avocado tacos with vegan cheese — have me drooling. The sweets chapter includes a recipe for Conchas (those shell-shaped breads you see in Mexican bakeries), and of course there are recipe for paletas (i.e. Mexican popsicles).

I'm especially excited about the drinks chapter! There's a Salted Beer with Tomato Lime Juice that I will be trying as soon as I restock my tomato juice. I love tomato juice beers (we call 'em red beers down South). There's also a Muddled Sage Margarita that sounds fantastic!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Memphis Food Truck Review: Rio Mix Fit

I met some former Memphis Flyer coworkers for lunch today at the new Rio Mix Fit truck, a Brazilian food truck that's parked permanently at the corner of McLean and Madison in the lot of Midtown Nursery.

Most of our food trucks in Memphis are mobile and appear at festivals, office parks, or other areas at peak times, like lunch or dinner. But a few trucks have permanent locations, which feels more hip and Portland-y. Rio Mix Fit is parked in front of a lovely courtyard with weather-resistant furniture and umbrella tables. A green tarp covers the entire patio, shielding patrons from the sun and creating a sort of homey feel.

The menu rotates weekly, so some weeks they'll have kabobs, and other weeks, they'll have plates or sandwiches. There are also smoothies (not vegan, sigh) and juices.

Today, they had plates, so Susan and I both ordered the Vila Isabel Vegetarian Plate, which came with coconut-curry lentils with tomatoes, steamed white rice, steamed broccoli & zucchini, and grilled bananas.

The lentils were EXCELLENT, and I was surprised by how healthy and fresh this meal was. Typically, when I eat out for lunch, I leave feeling bloated and way too full to face the rest of the day. But this felt light and wholesome.

So wholesome that I figured I needed some sugar to balance that out! I ordered the Ginger-Carrot-Passionfruit-Orange Juice. This was an energizing blend with a tropical kick from the passionfruit.

Shara and Toby ordered meat sandwiches, so I'll spare you the pics (okay, I didn't even take any), but I did photograph Shara's juice, which was made with pineapple, mint leaves, lemon, and coconut milk. She said it was really yummy.

I've seen the smoothies on their Instagram, and it looks like most are served in coconut shells, and some are garnished with ice cream bars. They look very fancy, and I so wish they were vegan. But most contain condensed milk from what I could tell. They also have a vegetarian kabob on the menu that I'd like to try on kebob week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vegan M&M's!!!!

I know the secret has been out for some time in the vegan world, but I'm just now in on it. Little Secrets are like VEGAN M&M's.

Sorry for this weird picture. Yes, that is my foot.

Sadly, I haven't seen these for sale in Memphis anywhere, which is why I'm late to the party. But I finally found them at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro, Arkansas — my hometown — over the weekend. One bite and I was immediately whisked back to 2004, which was the last time I had an M&M. I don't remember the last time exactly, but that was the year I went vegan.

You don't always realize the things you're missing until you have them again, and that was the case here. I never pined for M&Ms (or any candy, really) the way I pined for mozzarella until Daiya and Miyoko's Creamery came along. But after a bite of a Sea Salted Peanut Little Secret, I was, like, dammmmnnn, I've missed that! Inside that thin candy shell is a thin layer of dark chocolate encompassing a whole, salted peanut.

I also purchased plain Dark Chocolate Candies. These are like regular M&M's. While peanut were always my fave, you can't go wrong with the classics.

Not all of the Little Secrets flavors are vegan though. The raspberry ones are, and I'll definitely be trying those soon! But toasted coconut and peanut butter are not. Makes me sad because I WANT PEANUT BUTTER M&M'S.

There's also a seasonal peppermint flavor that is vegan and a spiced pumpkin pie flavor that is NOT vegan.

Okay, see y'all later. I'm gonna go stuff my face with candy now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stuff I Ate

Hey, y'all! Here's some stuff I ate!

A couple weeks ago, I popped into the Mediterranean Market on Park, looking for matzoh for Passover. It was after Passover had started, and all of the mainstream grocery stores were cleaned out of matzoh. I had hoped the Mediterranean Market would have some but no luck. However, I did find other treasures! Canned Ful Medames! They had my favorite fava bean stew IN A CAN. I grabbed a couple of different brands to try.

This one, which was blended with tahini, was a winner. Didn't even need any additional seasonings aside from some fresh parsley and garlic-chili sauce. I served it with hot pita.

Hey, look, it's a pizza waffle! I had this post-run FitQuick Pizza Protein Waffle with marinara, some vegan mozzarella, and sauteed bell peppers, onion, and black olives.

Another quick post-run breakfast — Cherry-Rhubarb Smoothie Bowl & Chia Pudding Parfait. I combined frozen cherries, chopped rhubarb, almond milk, and vanilla Vega One protein powder for the base, and I topped that with chia pudding (chia seeds + almond milk + agave + vanilla extract thickened overnight in the fridge) and fresh blueberries.

I met Mike and Andy for dinner at Imagine Vegan Cafe last week and ordered my favorite go-to healthy meal at Imagine — the Southern Staple. Imagine is a comfort food cafe, and they specialize in fried, decadent stuff and plant meats. But sometimes, I want a healthier thing like this bowl of brown rice, black beans, collard greens, and garlic aioli with a side of buttered cornbread.

I went to a Street Fighter-themed art show at Crosstown Arts (where I work as the communications coordinator) this past weekend, and they had Adult Snow Cones! These were spiked with Bacardi. Yum. I asked for only a tiny pump of lime syrup in mine, which is why the color is so weird. I didn't want all that extra sugar with my booze. I like my alcohol to taste like alcohol, thanks. Haha.

My friends and I dressed in Street Fighter cosplay attire for the show. I was Chun-Li!

And Nicole was Crimson Viper (I wish this picture showed her entire braid; it went down past her butt!). Vaughan didn't actually pick a character, but rather just threw a random costume together. But we think he looked a little like Dhalsim.


Monday, May 15, 2017

No Meat Athlete!

About a year ago, I started listening to the No Meat Athlete podcast. It's been going on for years, so I was a little late to the party. But I quickly become obsessed with this weekly show on running, veganism, and goal-setting/habit change.

I'm currently attempting to make my way through all of the back episodes, and there are SO MANY. In doing so, I found the old episodes promoting podcast host/blogger Matt Frazier's first book, No Meat Athlete, which was published in 2013. After listening to an episode replaying the talk Matt gave on his book tour, I knew I had to have this book! Plus, he has a new cookbook coming out in a few weeks, so I went ahead and pre-ordered the new book and ordered a copy of the older book. I've been devouring every word of No Meat Athlete over the past few weeks.

It's a health and fitness book with a handful of recipes. The first half is all about adopting a healthy, plant-based diet, which I thought I didn't really need since I've been vegan for 13 years now. But Matt's philosophy is all about eating for health (even though he originally went vegan for ethical reasons, like myself), and — real talk — I can ALWAYS use healthy tips to nudge me away from those Oreos. Nothing against Oreos, but I fall into junk food ruts, like, all the time. Eating salads and smoothies and bean/grain bowls makes me feel better, and when I'm eating that way, I can see a noticeable difference in my running. Plus, there's a section specifically designed to address vegan nutrition for athletes, and that's been very helpful.

In the middle of the book are the recipes! They're very simple, no-fuss meals made with whole foods. I've made a couple of things from the book so far. There's a section on bean and rice bowls with different variations. I made this Asian Adzuki Beans & Rice with brown rice, adzuki beans, mandarin oranges, cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers. Really good! And so wholesome!

There are also a number of hummus recipes (because you know us vegans love our hummus!). I made the Buffalo Hummus last night to snack on and use as a sandwich spread throughout the week. It's lightly spicy, thanks to hot sauce and cayenne, and it gets that orange buffalo color from roasted red pepper. As always, I peeled my chickpeas for extra creaminess (pro hummus tips, y'all!).

I also made Matt's Fancier Sports Drink — a homemade electrolyte water made with sea salt, dates, maple, and lemon. No pictures because it's just brown water. But the salty sweetness has been so very refreshing after my Saturday long runs in the Memphis heat.

Also in the recipe section are some cool formulas for making homemade energy bars, veggie burgers, and smoothies. There are lists of bases, binders, add-ins, etc, so you can use the formula to make your own creation! I love formula cooking! I've used the smoothie formula already a few times, and I'll definitely be trying the burger formula soon.

The second half of the book is devoted to running. And much like in the podcast, there's a lot about goal-setting (Matt says to aim BIG with goals — like next to impossible — and I tend to agree) and achieving goals by making changes in small steps. I'm still working my way through that section, but it's inspired me to aim my next running goal at the 50K level!!! Yep, that's right. I WILL run a 50K (31 miles) someday. I'm not saying when because I'd like to get a few more marathons under my belt first. But No Meat Athlete has inspired me to aim high, so eventually, I will run a 50K.

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, a recipe book that acts as a sort of companion for Matt's first No Meat Athlete book, will be out later this month. My pre-ordered copy should be in soon, so I'll post a review of that in a few weeks!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Fun!

Hope everyone had a happy Mother's Day! I drove to Jonesboro around noon to have lunch with my mama. Y'all, my mama is the BESTEST!

She's the kindest soul you'll ever meet, and she's so very generous. She'll do just about anything to help someone, and she's never met a stranger. When I was a kid, she'd always talk to people in line with us in the grocery store, and my introverted self just could not understand how she could muster up the courage to TALK TO STRANGERS (somehow, that must have rubbed off on me though because, though I'm still an introvert, I'm no longer the least bit shy).

My mama is also an amazing cook and a clean freak in the best possible way. She makes housework look effortless. And she also happens to be a LOT of fun. She loves going to concerts and having cocktails and riding motorcycles. She's just all around awesome, and I'm so lucky to have her as my mom.

I arrived in Jonesboro just after noon. My dad had a bad sunburn and didn't want to go out for lunch, so we got some Chinese/Japanese takeout from Chin Chin Express (an Asian fusion place) and brought it back. They had Chinese food, but I went with Vegetable Sushi.

And a side order of Hibachi Vegetables and a Spring Roll.

I wanted to eat light because I knew we were having dessert and cocktails later. After lunch, we watched a DVRed episode of last night's Saturday Night Live (because Melissa McCarthy!), and then my mama and I checked out Jonesboro's newest health food store, Natural Grocers, where I stocked up on some fun vegan finds (like Little Secrets!! The vegan version of M&M's!).

And then it was dessert time! I made the Rhubarb Crumb Cake from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. My mama had never had rhubarb, and she was eager to try it. For some reason, the pink color cooked out of my rhubarb, so you couldn't see it in the cake. But this coffee cake was very good. Lightly tart from the rhubarb but mostly cinnamon-y sweet. I can't wait to have a leftover slice for breakfast in the morning with a cup of some Equal Exchange coffee I scored at Natural Grocers.

Rather than coffee today, we washed our cake down with mimosas (because Sunday Funday!).

Happy Mother's Day, y'all!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Protein Pasta!!

It's been years since anyone has asked me where I get my protein, but man, I wish somebody would! I feel like most non-vegans now understand that protein is found so many foods (not just meat), but back in the day, I swear I got that question all the time (as did every vegan everywhere). Veganism wasn't so mainstream back then, and while some folks were just being obnoxious, many genuinely wanted to know how a vegan diet was sustainable.

Back then, I'd always answer, "tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, nuts, and seeds." But today, I'd also add "smoothies, waffles, cookies, shakes, bars, and pasta" to that reply. Yes, pasta! At least when that pasta is made by Explore Cuisine. They make protein-packed, gluten-free pastas from beans and legumes. Perfect for post-run meals! Explore Cuisine sent me some samples of their Edamame Spaghetti and their Chickpea Spaghetti to try for a review.

The Organic Edamame Spaghetti is greenish in color, and it packs 25 grams of protein per serving! 25 grams! How do they even do that? The only ingredient is green soybeans! That's it! It's also low-fat (2 grams per serving) and high-carb (22 grams), so this is ideal pasta for athletes.

The texture is a little softer than, say, a whole-wheat pasta, but it's pretty well on-par with other gluten-free pastas. Lightly chewy but soft. You can do all kinds of creative things with it, but I simply dumped a jar of Muir Glen Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce and some IKEA Vegetable Balls on top and called it a day. The serving size is two ounces, but it looked a little small when measured out. But with all that protein, I still filled up quickly! A serving of this pasta and a salad made a meal that kept me satisfied for hours.

They also sent me their Organic Chickpea Spaghetti. This has 11 grams of protein per serving (lower than the edamame, but still a lot for pasta!), 35 carbs, and 2.5 grams of fat. It's made with chickpea flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and pea protein.

This was closer in texture to a brown rice pasta, which I've long been a fan of. The trick is to make sure you follow instructions and cook for the recommended time. And of course, you need to do that cold water rinsing trick afterward to firm up the pasta. I imagined this would make a fine carbonara pasta, so I whipped up a quick and easy vegan version using Follow Your Heart's Vegan Egg.

By the way, I've never actually eaten carbonara pasta, so I can't say if this is a great replication of the traditional egg yolk sauce with bacon. But regardless, this was delicious! The Vegan Egg made a thick and creamy sauce. I used nutritional yeast in place of the parm, and I added mushrooms because it needed some veggies. For the bacon, I went with Benevolent Bacon by Sweet Earth Foods, but any vegan bacon (even homemade tempeh bacon) would work.

Here's the recipe!

Vegan Carbonara Chickpea Protein Pasta
Yields 4 servings

4 Tbsp. Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg + 1 cup ice water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. black salt
1 8-ounce box Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Spaghetti
4 slices vegan bacon
1 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Ground pepper, salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Before you do anything else, remove the ice from the water. Add the Vegan Egg and blend with an immersion blender. Or transfer to a blender, and blend until very fluffy. Add the nutritional yeast and black salt. Set aside.

Boil the pasta according to package instructions.

While the pasta boils, spray a large skillet with non-stick spray and brown the bacon on both sides. Remove from heat and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

In a separate skillet, while the bacon is cooking and the pasta is boiling, heat the margarine over medium heat. Add the onion, and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute one more minute. Add the mushrooms, and saute another 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms and onions are very soft.

Drain the pasta water, and rinse under cool (but not freezing water) for just a second. You want the pasta to still be a little warm to cook the egg sauce. Transfer the pasta back into the still-warm pasta pot (with heat turned off), and pour in Vegan Egg mix. Toss to slightly cook the egg sauce. Add the bacon and mushrooms. Taste for seasonings, and add as much black pepper and salt as needed. Toss with fresh parsley. Serve!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lunar Love Goddess Box!

My May Goddess Provisions box arrived just in time for tonight's full moon — the Flower Moon! The theme this month is Lunar Love, and the box was filled with awesome moon-themed objects. By the way, if you're not familiar, Goddess Provisions is a vegan company (run by the Vegan Cuts people) that ships monthly subscription boxes to help you embrace your inner goddess. The items range from teas to chocolates to candles to body products to jewelry.

Here's the May box contents!

There's rooibos tea, a palo santo stick, a new moon body spray, moon goddess anointing oil, a crescent moon necklace, body powder, and a moonstone with black tourmaline.

Of course, the crystals are always my fave. This gorgeous moonstone glimmers in the sunlight, and it's flecked with little bits of protective black tourmaline. Moonstone harnesses the energy of the moon and balances masculine and the feminine energies. Great for connecting with life's natural rhythms. And black tourmaline is a root chakra stone that has grounding qualities.

I have several sticks of palo santo wood at home, but this one from Sacred Wood Essence is extra special since it's etched with the phases of the moon. I'll use this for cleansing my space.

I absolutely LOVE this Chakra Love crescent moon necklace. I actually wore it today with a teal green sleeveless dress shirt and some flowing gold leaf earrings.

The Element Botanicals new moon spray, with hints of citrus and vanilla, smells JUST LIKE an orange creamsicle. Seriously, when I sniffed this, it took me back to those orange Flintstone push-up pops I used to eat when I was a kid. The Kate's Magik moon goddess anointing oil is made with jasmine oil and is said to both uplift and help alleviate worry.

I don't chafe much, but occasionally when I'm running on a hot, hot day in a sleeveless running tank, I have gotten some light chafing under my armpits. I'll save the Fat and the Moon Bod Powder for those long Saturday morning runs in hot weather. It has a great sage and grapefruit scent.

Finally, the consumable in this box was a loose-leaf rooibos tea by Golden Moon Tea. It's naturally caffeine-free, so it's great for my afternoon tea time at my desk. I can't drink too much caffeine after noon, or I'll have problems sleeping. Didn't used to be that way, but I think it's a sign that I'm getting old. I had some this afternoon. Sadly, my tea infuser has big holes, so lots of loose-leaf tea slips through. I don't mind drinking herbs though.

By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $39 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!