Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Some random meals! Last Tuesday, the Crosstown Memphis CDC — of which I sit on the board — hosted a National Night Out event at Crosstown Brewing Co. These events happen all over the country and give community members a chance to meet the police officers who serve their neighborhood.

Ours was potluck, and the CDC provided some free beers. I love that we invited the cops over to the brewery. Ha! Of course they didn't drink since they were on duty, but it's so very Memphis to invite cops over for beer. Anyway, the potluck wasn't very vegan-friendly, but I made a Black Bean Quinoa Mango Salad from Veganomicon and my vegan co-worker Madelyn made a Lentil Salad, so we managed to fill up on our dishes. And the non-vegans there gobbled up our vegan offerings! Pictured here with Crosstown Brewing's Peligo Mexican Imperial Chocolate Stout.

Here's a random salad I ate — with all the veggies in my fridge, plus Miyoko's Vegan Mozz and a balsamic-olive oil vinaigrette. Low oil though!

And a Tempeh-Black Bean Veggie Bowl with tempeh, kale, mushrooms, squash, broccoli, and quinoa served over rice. The veggies and tempeh were stir-fried with fermented black bean garlic paste. So good!

My friend Susan and I were invited to the grand opening of Hopdoddy's new location in East Memphis. I went with the La Bandita Burger — black bean & corn patty with vegan smoked gouda & vegan mayo.

Plus Sweet Potato Fries! And a beer and an Old Fashioned. Fun night!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lulu's Pop-Up Vegan Brunch

My friends Don and Kenzie hosted a pop-up vegan brunch this weekend at Fuel Cafe (where Don is employed as a pizza chef). Fuel hasn't been open for regular brunch in a couple years, but they used to have a stellar vegan brunch. So it was awesome getting to spend my sacred Sunday Funday meal there this week.

Don handled the food, while Kenzie waited tables (and juiced a very large, very tasty watermelon). Don used to run a booth — called Lulu's Baked — at the Cooper Young Farmers Market, where he sold handcrafted breads, cookies, and cashew cheeses. Everything Don makes is amazing, and he's a master of all things sourdough. So we were pleased to see plenty of sourdough selections on the menu. Every single item offered was handmade and artisan AF.

I met Pam, Jen & Simon, and Melissa & Anthony there at 11 am, and our fellow Vegan Drinker Steven showed up and grabbed a seat at our table. Most of us started with Kenzie's Fresh Watermelon Juice. I brought my own vodka to spike drinks since they weren't serving booze at the pop-up, but I was the only one who actually spiked my drink. Weird, I know. Wasn't brunch invented as an excuse to drink at breakfast?

For my meal, I chose the Brekky Sandwich — two slices of Don's sourdough with tofu egg, blackeyed pea sausage, crispy potatoes, cashew cheddar, and plum jam. Delightfully brown and full of flavor! I loved the massive slabs of soft sourdough, and the herbed pea sausage. So good! Steven got one too.

Simon, who is British, ordered the Full English, of course! Pam and Anthony ordered that as well.  Blackeyed Pea Sausage, Tofu Scramble, Hash Browns, Mushroom Bacon, and Roasted Tomato & Mushrooms. Not pictured: the big slab of sourdough and jam on the side.

And Jen and Melissa both opted for the Sourdough Pancakes with Fresh Peaches.

I wish someone had ordered the French toast (also made from sourdough) so I could have shared pics! Everything was so amazing, and if Don/Kenzie (aka Lulu's) hosts another pop-up, I'm so there.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Puffed Quinoa By I Heart Keenwah!

I Heart Keenwah — my very favorite quinoa brand — has a new product that's so versatile and delicious! Meet Quinoa Crisps! They sent me some to review, and I've been experimenting with using it in different ways.

This is puffed quinoa, and it can be used all kinds of ways — as a cereal, in desserts, even as a topping on savory foods (because it's unsweetened). The texture is crispy and light, and it adds a pop of texture and a little crunch to every bite. The Quinoa Crisps also happen to be the secret ingredient in I Heart Keenwah's Quinoa Clusters (which are like little sweet granola bites with nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate).

The new puffed quinoa comes in two colors — the one pictured above and this lighter color. They taste the same to me.

So far, I've tried it as a topping for smoothie bowls, like this one from yesterday. It has a base of banana and vanilla protein powder, topped with Quinoa Crisps, pistachio-mulberry granola, fresh Arkansas peaches, and tahini. Yum!! Loved the crispy texture this added. It's very similar to rice crispies.

Speaking of rice crispies, I used some Quinoa Crisps to make Vegan Quinoa Crispy Treats!

These have the crisps, plus a little uncooked quinoa for extra crunch and some of I Heart Keenwah's quinoa flakes (packaged as their Hot Cereal). Plus, Dandies vegan marshmallows, coconut oil, Earth Balance, and a topping of melted semi-sweet chocolate. These were like rice crispy treats but way better thanks to that crunchy quinoa. I took most of the batch to work and they were gone within an hour. The non-vegans loved them!

Here's that recipe for Vegan Quinoa Crispy Treats from the I Heart Keenwah website. Next up, I want to try these in their Avocado Chocolate Truffles!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

Mama Gaia — the vegetarian restaurant in Crosstown Concourse — has a few new menu items, so I popped in for lunch yesterday to try a couple. This is the Memphia Burger — housemade veggie patty with BBQ sauce & slaw — and Potato Tokens. They previously had potato wedges, but these are better. They're crisper. So good! Also, just FYI Memphis friends, Mama Gaia's Concourse location has new hours. They're now open for lunch only, 10:30 am-3 pm Monday-Friday and 11 am-3 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Have we talked about how much I love tahini? Well, I do. I love it on bowls, like this one with quinoa, Tofurky sausage, okra, squash, bell pepper, and mushrooms. I made a tahini sauce by mixing tahini with a little Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic paste.

I got heirloom tomatoes and basil in a recent CSA, so you know what that means? Caprese Salad! Only problem — there's nowhere in Memphis to buy Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Mozz. Thankfully, I found some at the Little Rock Whole Foods this past weekend. I've been enjoying these yummy salads all week.

I also grabbed some of Whole Foods' Vegan Buffalo Chicken Salad in Little Rock. I love this stuff, and their deli sells it. But our Memphis Whole Foods doesn't have it. I always grab some when I'm there. It's made with soy chicken, and it's fantastic. Perfect atop fresh CSA salad greens with CSA cucumber and Just For All Vegan Ranch.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Tofu scramble is seriously one of my all-time favorite breakfasts and yet I so rarely make it. WHYYY???? IT'S SO EASY. Anyway, I fixed that last week with a batch of the Cheesy Tofu Scramble from Cookin' Crunk (which isn't really cheesy, but more noochy). I added mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrots. Served with flax & chia toast with Crofter's Superfruit Jam & Earth Balance. Side of local white peach.

My co-worker Madelyn and I had lunch at Irie Vegan Kitchen last week. That's my friends Nigel and Andrea's vegan lunch club. They cook in their home and serve lunch. She got a Philly crepe, and I went with the BBQ Smoked Sausage Sandwich and Garlic Kale. Mmmmm mmmm!

Here's a random bowl that I brought to work for lunch one day when I knew I wouldn't have time to walk home for lunch. Quinoa, Soy Curls, squash, okra, and tahini sauce. I seasoned the Soy Curls and veggies with a yummy mushroom salt that my friend Susan gave me. The lighting in our breakroom is terrible for food photos because the walls are HOT PINK.

I made that big batch of veggie soup last week, and I had some one day with a fresh Heirloom Tomato & Mayo Sandwich. I got heirlooms in my CSA, and the best way to enjoy these is as simply as possible. Anyone else love tomato & mayo sandwiches?

I tried Low Fi Coffee on South Main for the first time last week. Ordered a Matcha Cappuccino and WOW! Amazing. They're a sweetener-free coffee shop, so this was unadorned and just perfect. Plus, they use a super-creamy oat milk base.

I got okra in my CSA last week (and every week for the past several weeks!) so I made some Air-Fried Okra to go with a frozen veggie burger (made with lentils and walnuts). In the past, I've breaded my air-fried okra, but this time, I just lightly oiled and salted the whole pods. I loved the texture! It made the okra soft and crisp at the same time without all the sliminess you get from boiling.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Vegan Eating & Mountain Climbing in Little Rock!

My best friend Sheridan's birthday is this Wednesday, but we celebrated this past weekend since she lives in Little Rock and I live in Memphis. I drove down there on Saturday afternoon (after squeezing in a 15-mile run!). Sheridan wasted no time ripping into her present as soon as I got there. She and Drew just got an air fryer, so I got her JL Fields' The Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook, plus a Namaste tote and a jasper bracelet.

Then we hit up the Whole Foods for late-night snacks and breakfast foods since I was staying the night. Sheridan and her partner Drew have a "beers before shopping" tradition, so we had to grab a pint from the Whole Foods growler shop first.

After shopping, we went downtown to The Root Cafe for dinner. 

This has long been one of my fave LR vegan-friendly spots, but they previously only served brunch and lunch. Now they're open late! We started with an appetizer of Veggie Cracklin (like pork cracklin but vegan!). We're not sure what this was made from, but it was spicy and crunchy and a little greasy (in a good way).

For our entrees, we all chose the same thing — Country Fried Tofu with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, & Salad. SO FREAKIN' GOOD. Loved the crispy tofu and we're all huge fans of the Root's creamy vegan salad dressing.

Loblolly Creamery, a vegan-friendly ice cream shop, is located across the street, so we had to stop by for birthday ice cream! I got the Coconut Bar Sorbet — a creamy coconut sorbet with nuts, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips. It tasted much creamier than your average sorbet, which is awesome. Great in a waffle cone!

Next we hit up South on Main for post-dinner beers, and then we headed back to their house. We stayed up late reading Tarot and watching Bio-Dome (blast from the past!!), while snacking on vegan onion & chive dip with chips and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches. We ate sooooo much that night.

The next day, we had plans to hike Pinnacle Mountain. I've never hiked up a real mountain before, so this was exciting! I ate a little snack of peanut butter toast with banana and then Sheridan and I headed out (Drew stayed behind to sleep in). Pinnacle is a small mountain, but it's still a freakin' mountain! Such great views of Little Rock.

We worked up quite an appetite on our little hike. So afterward, Sheridan and Drew made us Breakfast Sandwiches& Air-Fried Potatoes. The sandwiches had FYH Vegan Egg and American Cheeze with Vegenaise and Hilary's Eat Well Spicy Veggie Sausage. Plus, we had the leftover Vegan Egg with black salt on the side.

Such a fun and food-filled weekend! Happy birthday Sheridan!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

And Some More Stuff I Ate

This month, Memphis Vegan Drinks celebrated five years of meeting up every single month for cocktails and dinner at vegan-friendly restaurants. And what better way to celebrate than with sushi? We met at Sekisui Midtown on Tuesday night, and I started with the happy hour 2-for-1 sake and a House Salad.

And that was followed by the DJ Qualls Roll (stuffed with tempura battered veggies), an Avocado Roll, and Tofu Inari (my fave!).

Here's a No Meat Athlete Lentil-Walnut Burger with a side of Airfried Okra. I had these burgers in my freezer, so I made one on Monday night for myself, while Paul enjoyed a not-as-healthy Beyond Burger. I love Beyond Burgers, but sometimes the body craves whole foods! 

Speaking of okra, I've been getting a ton of this stuff in my CSAs lately. I also used some in the Summer's Bounty Vegetable Soup from Cookin' Crunk — a recipe I hadn't made in years! This is prepared in the Crockpot and has potatoes, okra, corn, carrots, purple hull peas, squash, onions, celery, tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil. It's sooooo good and a great way to use up summer produce. I made a ton, and I've been eating some daily with Vegan Grilled Cheeses (made with Chao cheese and sliced tomato!).

Oat bowls! Here's a bowl of Savory Oats that I had on Sunday morning before a 3-mile hike. This has steel cut oats, nooch, sriracha, tofu, kale, sesame seeds, and mushrooms.

And here's a bowl of Steel Cut Oats with Cashew Butter, Peaches, and Hemp Hearts. So good!

Have a great weekend! I've got more random meal pics left, so I'll share some more next week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

This post is mostly dedicated to some deliciousness I ate at work last week, but I threw in a few more pics from a dinner out with Paul last Sunday. We'll start with those work pics. Crosstown Arts, the organization I work for, is opening a plant-based restaurant inside our arts center soon, and we're currently training the cafe staff. So the new cafe folks catered our monthly staff meeting last week and OH. MY. GAWD.

For savories, we had Beyond Burgers on homemade buns, Tofu Banh Mi Wraps, Homemade Potato Chips, Blackeyed Pea Salad, Grilled Romaine Salad, and Panzanella Salad. All vegan!

And for dessert, we had Blueberry Scones, Blueberry Danish on Brioche, White Cake with Buttercream & Strawberries, Cake Squares with Fresh Fruit Glaze, and White Chocolate Bread Pudding. All vegan! I had one of each (except I skipped the scone because I had a sample of one in our kitchen when they were being tested the day before — and I just didn't have room for more in my belly!).

That's my dessert plate above! I also had a sliver of that white cake (not pictured). And to top it all off, our events director ordered Vegan Cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop to celebrate staff birthdays! Dessert overload, much? Let's just say the entire staff was struggling to get any work done after this hearty lunch.

On Sunday, after a day of hiking at Meeman Shelby Forest, Paul and I watched Won't You Be My Neighbor? at Ridgeway Theater. Great film (though the entire thing was a little too quiet for me — I hate hearing other people in movie theaters crunching on popcorn, and I get self-conscious that I'm eating too loudly). Paul loved it, and he cried a lot because he's a sensitive soul. Me, not so much. Ha! 

After dinner, we hit up Mulan East because I had a Groupon that was about to expire. We split an order of Thai Spring Rolls with tofu.

And for our entree, we split the Drunken Noodles with Tofu. We both LOVE rice noodle dishes, and this one was great! It was super-spicy, which we both loved! Had to keep the tissues around!