Thursday, December 14, 2017

Vegan Burgers & Burritos

Burgers and burritos. Those are seriously two of my favorite foods, and I am so beyond stoked that there's a new cookbook devoted to vegan versions of BOTH. I mean, burgers and burritos! Together! In one book! How come no one has done this before???

Vegan Burgers and Burritos, a new cookbook by Sophia DeSantis of the Veggies Don't Bite blog, is filled with unique, globally inspired homemade burger patties and burrito fillings. Plus, there is a whole chapter on sauces to be used to dress up meals in a bun or wrap.

I chose to start with a burrito, and it was really hard to pick just one to try first. There are so many great options here — Veggie-Packed Pizza Burritos, Black Bean & Pumpkin Wet Burritos, and Sushi Burritos. There are even fish burritos, which didn't sound terribly appealing to me because I've never been that into sea veggie flavors. But how creative! There's  definitely a burrito in here for everyone, no matter what you're into.

But I settled on the Frito Pie Pouches because I love Frito Chili Pies, and that sounded even better in a burrito.


These have a base of homemade chili, and I was blown away by the method used to make it. You soak dry chickpeas overnight and then process into a fine crumble. Those are then used as the "meat" base of the chili, which has added beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, and of course, lots of chili powder. How cool, right?? You put that in a wrap and top with Fritos, sour cream, tomato, lettuce, and onion. There's actually a recipe in the book for a homemade cashew-based sour cream, but I used Tofutti cause I already had some in the fridge. These were a HUGE hit with Paul and I both. Will make again for sure!

For my burger, I chose the I Heart Mushrooms Burger, which is packed with chopped cremini and portabella mushrooms and held together with a base of brown rice. The patties are really meaty for a veggie patty, which makes Paul happy (he only like meaty veggie burgers). The burgers are topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and I added some Parmela Creamery aged pepper jack cashew cheese because why not? As a mushroom lover, I really dug these burgers.


And of course there are more burgers I want to try! The Margarita Pizza Burger, Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger, Thai Peanut Perfection, Down Home BBQ, and the Curry Burger For All are all on my short list.

This book even has dessert burgers and burritos! There's a S'mores Burger with a chocolate bean brownie base and a graham cracker/marshmallow bun. And there's Fully Loaded "Fried" Banana Split served in a tortilla and topped with caramel and chocolates sauces and ice cream.

If you love burgers and burritos (and if you don't, who even ARE you? And why are we friends?), you seriously need this book. I'd say it's definitely in my top five cookbook releases of 2017!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Que Pasa Tortilla Chips

Just before my birthday back in October, Que Pasa sent me a few bags of their tortilla chips and some salsa to review. I was already a Que Pasa fan (because they make the best vegan nacho tortilla chips!), but I'd never tried their plain tortilla chip varieties.

And variety they have! They sent four bags — Red Corn, Yellow Corn, Blue Corn, and Thin & Crispy with Twist of Lime.


They also included a couple jars of salsa in mild and medium! The salsas were perfect. Just the right amount of chunky tomatoes and garlic-chile flavor. Neither mild nor medium had much heat to them, but I'm a spice-aholic, so medium might be spicy for some folks. 


I've mostly been eating the salsa straight from the jar with tortilla chips. But some did make it onto a Nacho Quinoa Bowl with the Red Corn Chips. I made this with quinoa, black beans, scallions, vegan cheddar, Que Pasa salsa, and vegan sour cream, plus crumbled Que Pasa Red Corn chips on top. I wanted something a little more wholesome than straight-up nachos, so adding a few bits of chips on top with a quinoa base did the trick. And so simple to make!


The Red Corn tortilla chips were probably my second-fave of the bunch. I opened that bag first, and I had to try them Microwave Nacho style! Growing up, my dad often made microwave nachos with tortilla chips and melted, shredded cheese (and sometimes pickled jalapenos). This is still one of my favorite snacks. I used Follow Your Heart cheddar-style shreds. Enjoyed here with a chili-topped frozen Amy's burrito.


My fave chips are the Thin & Crispy Twist of Lime chips! They're those thin restaurant-quality chips that are super crisp. They have just a teensy hint of lime that's not overpowering. Paul and I devoured this bag within days.


The Yellow Corn and Blue Corn chips were equally delicious. 



They're much thicker than the aforementioned lime chips, which makes them perfect for dipping into vegan cheese dips and hummus. I brought the Yellow Corn chips to a potluck on Monday night along with some Buffalo Chickpea Dip (made for a cookbook review that I'll be posting soon — more on this awesome dip later!). Also, no idea why I grabbed the smallest chip segment for this pic. I was in a hurry! Running late to the potluck!


These chips are awesome, and I'll definitely be buying these often. Yay for Que Pasa!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lightlife Veggie Deli Slices

I'm ALL ABOUT a wrap these days. Like seriously. I want to eat vegan deli meat wraps for every meal right now. Here's one I ate for lunch today with Lightlife Veggie Deli Slices (more on those in a few!), Parmela Creamery Pepper Jack Aged Nut Cheese slices, Trader Joe's Garlic Spread & Dip, homemade chow chow, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and grated carrot. All wrapped up in a whole-wheat burrito-size tortilla.


A few months ago, Lightlife sent me free product coupons to review their new Veggie Deli Slices, which come in White Bean & Kale and Chickpea & Red Pepper. Sadly, it takes a long time for new vegan products to come to Memphis, so I finally found these at Whole Foods last week. And I'm in love with them! 


These are seitan-based slices made with real veggies and beans. The ingredient list is filled with things I can pronounce, and they're packed with protein. They have the taste and texture of a nice slice of lunch meat. Even Paul likes them, and I've been sending him to work with sandwiches. He was super-pissed today when he realized a lunch thief had eaten his vegan sandwich at work! I hope whomever it was enjoyed their stolen vegan deli meats!


Speaking of sandwiches at work, here's one I had at my office last week (before I re-discovered wraps!). Same Parmela Creamery cheese (it's so good!), lettuce, tomato, and Dijon on Dave's Killer Bread.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Bluff City Vegan Eats: The Liquor Store

Judging by the title of this post, most of y'all are probably like, "Girl, a liquor store is not restaurant!" But The Liquor Store isn't actually a spirits shop. It's a cute diner in the Broad Avenue Arts District that opened in a former liquor store space. They called it The Liquor Store in a homage to its past life, and they were able to preserve the awesome hot-pink, vintage neon "liquor" sign out front.

Of course, they do serve cocktails! But I recently dined there for lunch so I didn't get to try any of their fancy drinks. I love the idea of cocktails on a lunch break, but real talk, I'd get sleepy and probably be way less productive at work for the rest of the day. So Susan and I stuck to food! The Liquor Store serves sandwiches, platters, soups, and salads.

The vegan entree option is the Cuban Platter with black beans and yellow rice, seasonal veggies, and plantain chips. When we were there, the veggies were butternut squash and brussels. Everything on this plate was fantastic, but the plantain chips were the star. They were very thinly sliced and crunchy. I dipped mine in ketchup because I'm a classy lady.


According to their online menu, they also have a plantain sandwich with pickled veggies, peppers, beans, and rice. But I didn't see it on the printed menu when we were there. They also have some vegan pastries according to this post from Choose 901, but we didn't even look at the dessert menu.

From The Liquor Store's Instagram

The space is super-cute! The style is 1960s diner with tropical tabletops and tall black bar stools lined along the counter. I'll definitely be back one evening to check out the libations! Check out their adorable Instagram to get an idea how freakin' cute this place is.

The Liquor Store is located at 2655 Broad Ave.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Indian Fast Food!

A few weeks ago, while visiting Nashville, my friend Greg and I popped into the international market inside the Nashville Farmer's Market. Though it's called "international market," I'd say about 80 percent of what they sell is Indian groceries, which made me super happy. We have Indian markets in Memphis, but they're all WAY out east in the 'burbs so I don't get to them often.

Greg and I wandered around the store, grabbing all sorts of things we didn't need. I stumbled onto a box of bhel puri mix (my fave Indian chaat!) that I just had to have, and then I found some pre-made dosa batter in the cold case. Score! I love dosa, but I've never been brave enough to try making the rice-lentil batter from scratch.



I finally got around to trying both of these convenience foods tonight! I whipped up the Bhel Puri to snack on while I made the potato filling for the dosa.


Bhel puri is an Indian snack made with puffed rice and crispy crackers. You mix the crunchy bits with chutney, cilantro, onion, tomato, and usually cooked potatoes. This mix actually had already had dehydrated tomato, cilantro, and onion, so it truly was fast food. But I chopped up some fresh veggies to add to it. I left the fresh potato out since I was putting taters in my dosa. This box had a big bag of the crackers inside and four individual serving packets of tamarind chutney. This was great, and I'm hoping I can find this mix at one of our Indian groceries here!

For the dosa, I wanted to do Masala Dosa, but then I got the bright idea to add peas and make it Samosa Dosa! The wet batter was so easy to work with. You just add a tiny bit of water to make it pourable and cook it up, crepe-style, in a hot, oiled skillet. For the filling, I used this recipe from the New York Times.


The tub of dosa batter makes 12 dosa, so I can't wait to eat this again tommorow! And the next day! And the next!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Goddess Boxes: Solstice Priestess & Tarot Box!

It's time for my monthly "unpacking the goddess box" post. But this time, I've got two Goddess Provisions boxes to feature! My December box — themed Solstice Priestess — arrived earlier this week, and I also just received a special edition Tarot Box that wasn't included in my subscription. In case you're not familiar, Goddess Provisions is a subscription box service featuring monthly boxes of crystals, teas, chocolates, candles, and other magical items. I've been a subscriber since day one, and I always devote a post to the boxes.

We'll start with the December box — Solstice Priestess — which featured items designed for use during the upcoming Winter Solstice. There's a 2018 moon phase calendar, High Priestess herbal tea, a shakti candle, herbal botanical salt spray, nail decals, a solstice wooden necklace, and a chocolate square.


I'm probably most excited about the 2018 moon phase calendar. I typically buy Llewellyn wall calendars, which have the moon phases. But it's nice to see a calendar that JUST has the phases, so you'll always know where you are.


The Love By Luna nail decals are REALLY cool. They feature images of sparkly stars, triple moon symbols, and more. I tried to take a picture of one on my thumb, but my hand just looks crazy. Sorry!


I've been burning the Fire & Bloom Shakti Candle a lot already (as you can see here). It has a lovely scent of lotus, hibiscus, and cornflower. I especially love that it has a little mantra in the lid.


I've also been wearing the Lasertrees Solstice Necklace. It's a gorgeous wood cut featuring a lotus sun co-existing with the phases of the moon — representing the union of light and dark.


The New Moon Tea Co. High Priestess Tea is a wintry blend of organic spearmint, raspberry leaf, lemon balm, hibiscus, and rosemary to awaken your sense of inner wisdom and highest (which, by the way, ties into the meaning of the High Priestess card in the Tarot). 


The Wild Rose Herbs Solstice Botanical Salt Spray also has spearmint, along with juniper and chamomile, and it smells like the holidays! The spearmint definitely overpowers the chamomile, so I've been spraying this on in the mornings for an energy boost.


I haven't tried the ZenBunni Chocolate yet, but it's Maui Sunrise flavor with Hawaiian ginger and red turmeric, which sounds like a perfect getaway from the winter cold. There's also a Clear Quatrz Point, which is nice to place over your crown chakra when laying down in meditation. By the way, I've started a morning meditation/Tarot study practice, and it's going pretty great.


Okay, that's it for the December box. But Goddess Provisions also released a special-edition Tarot Box in late November. I have a number of Tarot decks, both non-traditional (cat Tarot, fairy Tarot, etc.) and traditional (like the Visconti deck). But when I saw this Mystical Mondays deck, I had just had to have it! It's so modern and gorgeous! Plus, the box came with Rainbow Bliss Botanicals Connection to Spirit Tea, a Thunder & Lightning Supply Palmistry pin (already on my jean jacket!), a JaxKelly Moonstone Candle, and Frequency Positivity essential oil.


Here's a close-up of some of the Tarot cards. Aren't they lovely?


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 $33 a month (the special boxes are $44), and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

I'm back again with more random meal pics!

Just a few days before starting my marathon meal plan, we had our monthly Memphis Vegan Drinks meetup at Next Door in Crosstown Concourse. Their Roasted Veggie Bowl is one of my favorite restaurant meals in Memphis! Roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, peppers, and broccolini over quinoa with sunflower seeds and tahini sauce. It's just perfect.


I also ordered some of Next Door's insanely awesome Kale Chips for the table to share.


And Stephen ordered the Fried Pickles & Pepperoncinis, which we learned were vegan without the aioli sauce. YAY!


And Melissa and Anthony shared their appetizer of Guacamole & Chips with the table. 


On Sunday morning, the day after my marathon, I got an intense ice cream craving! Luckily, I had some Revolution Gelato Cardamom Kiss Vegan Gelato in the freezer. And my friend Mike gifted me a big batch of Snickerdoodles for the holidays, so I made a sundae (on a Sunday!).


Later that day, as I cleaned the house (very slowly, with my sore, sore muscles!), I snacked on Crackers with Vegan Cheddar. I'd missed my vegan cheese over those two weeks of eating (mostly) whole foods.


On Monday, my first non-smoothie breakfast in two weeks was a Dave's Bagel with Avocado & Vegemite. Admittedly a weird combo but tasty.


I found Peppermint Dandies (!!!) at Sprouts, so I put some in my coffee yesterday — a trick I learned at Vida Vegan Con in Austin a couple years ago. Can't wait to have these in some hot chocolate!


Finally — here's lunch from today! The Memphia Petittzza (smoked tofu, BBQ sauce, smoked onions, & vegan cheese on a pita) with a side of Vegetable Soup and Green Tea Ginger Lemonade from Mama Gaia — Crosstown Concourse's totally vegetarian, all-organic restaurant. I'm so lucky to work in such an awesome building!




Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Stuff I Ate

I have a bunch of random food pics of things I ate before I started my pre-marathon meal plan. So here ya go! More coming at ya tomorrow.

My friend Pam did a vegan version of the Whole 30 plan awhile back, and as her post-cleanse celebration meal, we met for tacos and margs at the new Tennessee Taco Company, where all of the tacos have Tennessee-themed names. I got the Bonnaroo Breakfast Taco with tots, guac, & salsa (hold the cheese) and the Caulilujah Taco with crispy cauliflower, roasted corn, and avocado (we subbed fresh avocado for the avocado crema that comes on this taco). Plus, a side of Black Beans and a "jumbo" margarita. The food was good, but everything was served cold (except the beans, which were piping hot and expertly seasoned). The food temp was a bummer. And the "jumbo" margarita was actually just pint-glass sized, and that was also a bummer. I'm hoping they work out the kinks because I want to like a place that has tater tot tacos.


One day at work, I brought a frozen Amy's burrito with me and grabbed a side of Red Lentil Soup from I Love Juice Bar in Crosstown Concourse. It was very good soup. Btw, we have temporary furniture at work, so all of our working areas have our names on them.


A few Saturdays ago, the Memphis Flyer (my old employer) had a crafts and beer fair at Crosstown Concourse (my new employer). Of course I had to go to that! They had a couple food trucks there, and one — Rice Burner — had Veggie Spring Rolls and Veggie Dumplings, so I had a little fried lunch.


Here's a breakfast of champions made by two of my favorite local baker dudes — Garlic-Onion Dave's Bagel topped with hand-crafted Cashew Mozzarella by Don of Lulu's Baked. Sprinkled with Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.


Beyond Burgers are hands-down the best burgers on the market. I love them. Paul loves them. We try to eat them often. Seen here with Daiya cheddar.


We also love the Boca Chicken Patties, and here's one with Daiya and a side salad. These are pretty much our go-to dinner when nothing else is planned.


Here's a dimly lit (but delicious) box of Red Beans & Rice with vegan sausage from Imagine Vegan Cafe. I got this as takeout one night after running a 20-miler that morning. I needed that protein and ALL THOSE CARBS. YUM! I also got a side of their collard greens for good measure.


Monday, December 4, 2017

St. Jude Marathon 2017 Race Recap!

For the past couple weeks, I've been blogging about what I've been eating to prepare for my third full marathon — the St. Jude Marathon. It's a massive charity raise for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, which treats kids with cancer and other catastrophic diseases (and doesn't charge the families a dime!). This year, they raised more than $10 million from this race! My first full marathon was last year's St. Jude, and then I did a second race, the Little Rock Marathon back in March. On Saturday, I completed the St. Jude Marathon once again!


Marathons are HARD for me. I'm a slow runner, a solid back-of-the-packer. I run pretty much the whole way, only taking walk breaks at water stations and a few short walks toward the end when I feel like quitting. But I also stop for selfies and high-fives from friends along the route. I keep doing races because I'm addicted to feeling of accomplishment that comes from running long distances, and, as a crazy Type A person, I'm also probably addicted to the structure of a 16-week training plan and the race day excitement.

My morning started with my usual pre-long run breakfast of an oat cup with nut butter. I had Trader Joe's Strawberry Raspberry Oatmeal with Vanilla Maple Frosting Almond Fluffbutter & Agave. I also had a banana just before the race.


This year, Paul signed up run the St. Jude 5K, so we got to experience the pre-race jitters together! He stood with me in my corral until the race started at 8 am (his race started at 8:50 am). Fortunately, the weather was AMAZING! Sunny and a high of 64. It was pretty chilly when we arrived to the race at 6:30 am though, so I brought some throwaway sweatpants and a pullover (they donate throwaway clothes to charity). I also wore some sleeves that could be rolled down when I warmed up.


The corrals are released in a wave start, so mine didn't take off until about 8:20 am. I was moving pretty great for the first 12 miles or so — a solid 11:15 to 11:30 per mile (which is fast for me and slow for most people). I did stop at Mile 2 to take a free sample of whiskey from Old Dominick Distillery. They were handing out samples to runners, and it sounded like either a great idea or terrible idea. I took a chance, and turns out it was a great idea! The small bit of liquor helped to calm my early race jitters and propelled me along.

Those first few miles just flew by, and before I knew it, I was at Mile 8, where my fellow board members from the Crosstown Memphis Community Development Corporation had a spirit station. I stopped for a selfie with Donna, who has been playing the drums for runners every year since the race started! Everyone calls her the Drum Lady.


Just a few miles up the road at Mile 12, my co-workers at Crosstown Arts had a spirit station called Cancer is a Drag with drag performances, bloody marys, and vegan blueberry pancakes prepared by Octavia, owner of Midtown Crossing Grill. My co-worker Stacy met me by the barricade and snuck me a few pancakes, which I stuck in a baggie and put in my pocket. Yes, I ran with pancakes in my pocket! Like you do.


Paul was also at the Crosstown Arts spirit station by then. His 5K was long over (he PR-ed by 2 minutes!!!), and he'd driven home. So he walked from our house to see me pass by. Stacy's husband grabbed a shot of us together there.


My friend Andy's house is directly on the race course, and I passed by at the end of Mile 12, just after the Crosstown station. Here's me and his friend Tyler!


Just a few blocks down from Andy's house, I decided to go ahead and eat one of the pancakes in my pocket! It was sooooo good right then. I typically only eat energy gels and chews during my long runs, but I get sick of super-sweet stuff. The pancake was only lightly sweet from the blueberries. Sadly, I knew that I couldn't stomach more than one mini pancake while running long distance, so I had to ditch the other two pancakes. I was a little worried experimenting with a new food on my run would cause GI distress, but I was okay! 

I saw my friend Vaughan at Mile 15, when the race went through Overton Park. I leaned over to pet his dog Shelby, and Vaughan took this weird pic, which totally cut out poor Shelby. Trust me. She's an adorable pup!


Around Mile 17, my friends Jennifer and Simon met me with a sign (and a roasted, salted potato!). Salted potatoes (or any salty snack) are a godsend that far into a race when the idea of sugar just grosses me out. Jenn & Simon live between Miles 17 and 19, so I saw them again at Mile 19 and got another potato! And just a block away from them, my co-worker Ginger had me a potato and some pretzel rods. SCORE. By the way, I stopped for a pic with Simon and Jennifer. We found a random dude walking down the sidewalk to take this!


And that was it for friends along the course. The last seven miles were a long, slow slog. There were times that I felt like giving up and times when I got bursts of energy. There were more salted potatoes from strangers. There was a little walking involved. And I got through it all by sheer force of will. My pace slowed down between 12:30 to even 14 minute miles at times. My final time was 5 hours, 46 minutes. That's five minutes slower than last year! I'd hoped to PR, but my main goal was just finishing. My half-marathon times keep improving, but my marathon times keep getting slower. It may have something to do with all my pee stops, snack stops, and selfie stops. But whatever! I like to be comfortable and have fun!

And speaking of fun, I take every bit of beer offered on the course (there were two beer stops during the race), and I make sure to drink both of my well-deserved, post-run beers. I skipped over the free snacks after the race (most weren't vegan anyway), but I took a Micaloeb Ultra and Wiseacre Tiny Bomb.


Paul picked me up from the post-race party after I finished my beers. Once at home, I had a No Cow Crunchy Peanut Butter Protein Bar to help with recovery. I'll be doing a full review on these soon!


And then Paul and I posed for a pic together with our medals. 


I was pooped! But I'd made post-race pizza party plans with some friends, so I knew I had to shower and get ready for that. I kind of wanted to just sleep forever instead. But I got my act together and met my awesome, supportive buds at Midtown Crossing Grill for vegan pizza.


I had a Vegan Vegetable Pizza with potatoes (of course!), spinach, mushrooms, and red onion, plus a couple of beers (Meddlesome Oatmeal Stout and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan). SO GOOD. And by the time we were served dinner, I was famished and destroyed this pizza.


After dinner, Paul and I headed to Wiseacre Brewing Co. so I could try their special-edition marathon beer, the Tarahumara Dry-Hopped Pale Ale. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is one of my favorite books, and it's all about the native Tarahumara people of northwest Mexico, who are known for their super-fast, long-distance running skills. Love that Wiseacre named a beer after them!


Next, we headed to the Bayou Bar & Grill for a glass of wine with my friends Shara and Mary, and then we tucked in for the night. I slept like a log and didn't set an alarm. Managed to sleep until almost 9 am on Sunday! Win!! And then I spent Sunday taking it easy — watching the Sopranos on DVD, cleaning, blogging, online holiday shopping. 

I'm so proud that I've finished yet another marathon. I haven't fully decided what is next, race-wise, but I'm sure I'll have a plan in place soon. I've definitely got some 2018 races on my wish list.