Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Scones! Sandwiches! Tacos!

Everyone's heard of avocado toast. But what about avocado scones??? I made the Black Pepper Rosemary Scones from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook Sunday night to eat for breakfast this week. The recipe suggests slicing these oil-free (made with tahini for the fat) savory scones in half and topping with mashed avocado and nooch. Perfect breakfast!

I've been on a scone kick lately. Picked up a Sweet Potato Scone with vanilla frosting (baked by my friend Stephanie) at the Lulu's Baked booth at the CY Farmer's Market on Saturday. Also grabbed some yummy Cashew Queso that has been PERFECT with my favorite sweet potato corn chips this week.

Here's my Lulu's haul from last week — City Loaf (which I enjoyed with Miyoko's butter and tofu scramble all week!) and Smoked Asparagus & Shiitake Bun.

I've been eating lots of sandwiches for lunches this past week. Here's one with seitan slices (from Nashville's vegan butcher The BE-Hive — I bought this forever ago and froze it), avo, tomato, and lettuce on whole wheat. Served with chips and cashew queso and salsa.

Last Saturday was my friend Mike's birthday, and he wanted to eat at Frieda's, a Midtown Mexican restaurant. They have a pretty large vegetarian menu, but it's all very cheesy. I've certainly ordered those dishes without cheese before, but nothing on that menu sounded good on Saturday. What I wanted was tacos! And there are no vegetarian tacos there. But they do have a side menu where you can order plain tortillas, black beans, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, and all the fixins — each for $1-$2. I made a build-your-own taco station by ordering sides! I ended up with enough food for 3 tacos (plus lots of chips and salsa and guac) for less than $10! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Vegan Charcuterie Board!

A couple weeks ago, on the day of the New Moon, I invited a few friends over to make vision boards and set New Moon intentions. But you can't have your witches over without a few snacks.

I could have just sat out some vegan cheese, crackers, and wine, and that would have been lovely. But sometimes you just want to go all out for no good reason, and this night was one of those times. So I whipped up this awesome Vegan Charcuterie Board!

There's Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse Cheddar with olive oil crackers and multi-seed gluten-free rosemary crackers, vegan sausage slices, berry jam, strawberries, grapes, raw pecans, curry cashews, peppadews and pickles, green and kalamata olives, and dried, sweetened orange slices. The sausages were homemade seitan sausages that I'd made for a recipe and frozen the leftovers. I love keeping seitan sausages in the freezer for times like these!

Earlier in the day, when I was telling a co-worker that I was creating a charcuterie board for dinner, she asked, "How can vegans have charcuterie?" Well, this is how! Though a traditional board is made of mostly meat and cheese, you can easily make a vegan board with a few simple ingredients.

  • Vegan cheese (a good aged cashew cheese wheel is best!)
  • Crackers (2-3 kinds)
  • Vegan meats (sliced sausages, vegan pepperonis, and folded vegan deli slices are all good bets)
Great add-ons:
  • Mixed, roasted nuts
  • Pickles
  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit (the Trader Joe's dried orange slices are gorgeous and totally edible)
  • Hummus with veggies/crackers/pita
  • Jams/jellies (plus sliced baguette for serving)

That's it! Just make sure that you have some great wine (or even mediocre wine!) to wash it all down.

I have to share this too. I told the girls I was making a charcuterie board, and Pam wanted to bring something complementary, so she came armed with bread and Miyoko's Cultured Vegan Butter and a bottle of Bread & Butter wine. Clever!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lucky Cat Ramen, BBQ Tofu, Mini Tacos & More!

My friend Susan and I FINALLY checked out the new Lucky Cat Ramen shop on Broad Avenue. We'd been to their old pop-up location on Cooper several times, but now they're in a permanent place with a beer/liquor license! This was right after Lent, and I'd given up ramen for Lent, so I was VERY excited to be eating the Veggie Yuzu Ramen (made with the best-ever veggie broth). This is served with an egg on top, but they're happy to leave it off on request.

The cafe at Crosstown Arts had a Southern Bowl on the menu last week, so y'all know I had to get that. This had creamy grits topped with black-eyed peas, spinach, and BBQ tofu.

One night last week, I had a meeting after work and needed a super-quick dinner. So I air-fried some Carla Lee's Nut Tacos! I LOVE these mini frozen tacos, which boast a totally whole foods-based nut filling. I stuffed mine with avocado, vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, and salsa. On the side, I seasoned some canned black beans with salsa. Dinner in 15 minutes or less!

Speaking of quick dinners, here's a Tofu Stir-fry from last week that was thrown together in about 15 minutes as well. I marinated tofu the night before and air-fried it while I sauteed some frozen mixed veggies and a little leftover chopped kale. Served over brown rice prepped the night before.

And finally, here's a quick week day lunch at work. I packed some hummus, pita, and raw veggies and made a little pita sandwich. Served with Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato corn chips (my current fave chip) and salsa.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: Kumana Avocado Sauce

Avocado is my favorite fruit — by a very long shot. I've never really been much of a fruit-eater until recently when I started drinking daily smoothies and eating fresh fruit for afternoon snacks. But I don't crave fruit; I eat it because it's good for me. Avocado is the exception there. I CRAVE that creamy, fatty goodness. Probably because it's not sweet and is best enjoyed mashed on toast with sea salt or as the base of a guacamole.

I would put avocado on EVERYTHING if I could. But because it turns brown so quickly, it's not terribly convenient or affordable to open an avocado to top every meal. Enter Kumano Foods Avocado Sauce. 

Kumano sent me three bottles to review — Be Original, Be Hot, and Be Mango. This creamy, tangy sauce, which was inspired by a traditional Venezuelan avocado sauce, is made with avocados, onion, cilantro, garlic, and a splash of white vinegar. The original is just that, but the mango has a slight hint of sweet mango. The Be Hot (my personal fave) gets a touch of heat — but just a touch — from habanero.

I've been using this sauce in place of my usual srircaha, and I've found it to be the perfect topper to any meal. Below is a quinoa stir-fry that I topped with Be Mango sauce, but it's also great on pizza, tacos, soups and stews, even tofu scramble! Seriously, any savory dish can benefit from this!

You can see a list of retail shops that carry Kumana sauce here, or you can purchase online at here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Imagine Vegan Cafe is OPEN AGAIN! With New Items!

This post may only be of interest to local readers or those traveling to Memphis soon, but BIG NEWS in the Memphis vegan world — Imagine Vegan Cafe has re-opened after being closed for repairs for over a month.

The past few Imagine-less weeks have been tough! I've missed my vegan mozzarella sticks, vegan soft serve, dairy-free cheesecake, and vegan chicken and waffles dearly. Over a month ago, Imagine had to temporarily close while they dealt with some plumbing issues in their building. Repairs took much longer than expected, but they re-opened this past Monday with a few new menu items.

They've added a Vegan Shrimp Dinner, Vegan Shrimp Po'Boy, and Onion Petals to the menu. The faux shrimp dishes were on an older menu years ago, but they cycled off (much to my partner Paul's dismay — he loved the shrimp dinner!). The picture above is from a 2012 blog post here when shrimp was added to the menu the last time. You get 12 pieces and your choice of two sides. For me, that's typically the vegan mac and steamed broccoli with ranch for dipping.

They've also removed a few items, like the Eggplant Parm, Breakfast Burrito, Portabella Sandwich, Pigs & Blankets, and Green Beans. I'll be sad to see those items go (esp that burrito!!). 

I went to Imagine last night, and I fully intended to order the shrimp because I was excited it was back. But I ran six miles before dinner, and all that running had me craving serious carbs. I couldn't stop thinking about Imagine's homey Spaghetti Dinner, so I got that instead.

Imagine's vegan meaty marinara is slightly sweet, thanks to a touch of agave. In the South, we add sweetness to EVERYTHING. That's how I grew up eating, and that's what I prefer. There is no greater pasta sauce in Memphis than the meaty sauce at Imagine. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mother's Day Pizza Party!

Mama Crunk is the BEST. I'm seriously so lucky to have such a cool mom. She's the kindest person I know, and she'll go out of her way to help anyone. I know I've mentioned this here before, but when I was in Florida in mid-April, she and my dad house-sat for me and basically made-over my whole house — painting, repairs, deep-cleaning. Just because! 

My mom has always been incredibly social, so she makes friends wherever she goes. Everyone loves her. She's very disciplined, organized, neat, and tidy, but she also likes to party. There's nothing she loves more than a country music concert with her friends. She's basically the full package of awesomeness.

We celebrated her this past Sunday on Mother's Day. Paul and I drove to Arkansas in time for lunch. My dad had prepped a build-your-own pizza station while mama and me-maw were at church. Here's the vegan side!

We each created our own personal pizza using pre-made naan bread as the crust. The naan from Sprouts Farmers Market is vegan! While our pizzas were in the oven, we had salads and beer. 

And here's my pizza — garlic naan topped with vegan sausage crumbles, smoked BBQ tofu (made by my dad in his smoker), bell pepper, jalapeno, mushroom, onion, and black olive. My parents make naan pizzas often, and I'd heard of them. But since vegan naan can be hard to find, I'd never had one. So glad I found the vegan naan at Sprouts! This will definitely become a quick weeknight staple for me.

After we ate lunch, we went to visit my Me-maw and Granny — also amazing moms! So grateful for my family!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Omg! I Met Joey McIntyre! And Ate a Hummus Pita!

Y'ALL. You're never going to believe what happened to me on Friday afternoon. I met freakin' Joey McIntyre from the New Kids on the Block!!!!!! He was in town for the NKOTB Mixtape Tour show that night, which — being the super-fan I am — I had tickets for! Hours before the show, he was just wandering around Crosstown Concourse, the mixed-use building where I work.

Long story short, a co-worker spotted him in the West Retail Corridor (where much of the building's retail is located). She came back to the office and exclaimed, "I think I just saw a New Kid!" And I was all, "NO WAY!" When she described him, I knew it was Joey, my third grade (or was it fourth or fifth grade??) crush! I had worn my New Kids shirt to work, and I crimped my hair (with my vintage 80s crimping iron) before work to make concert prep go faster. So I was fully prepared to face Joey. 

I ran downstairs, and quickly walked to where he'd been spotted. I saw a guy I thought was him sitting a table, writing letters on post-its that he was attaching to books I could tell he'd just purchased at Cheryl Pesce, a gift/jewelry shop at Concourse. But I was too nervous to say anything, so I walked right past him. Right to Cheryl Pesce, where I ran into owner Cheryl. I asked her if that was definitely Joey McIntyre who'd been shopping in her store. She was like "WAS IT???" And then she and I both ran over to where he was. Cheryl is much more up-front than me, so she said something. And it was confirmed — it was Joey! The story gets a little awkward after that (are celebrity spottings ever not not awkward???), but I ended up getting a picture with him. He was super-nice, and took my phone out of my hand to shoot the selfie. I'll never wash my phone again! HA!

Amazing, right? Baby Bianca would be SO IMPRESSED. After work, my friends Sheridan, Drew, and Misti met me at my house so we could grab dinner before the show.

See, I promise there's food in this post! We went to RP Tracks, home of the famous BBQ tofu nachos (which everyone else ordered). But I'd eaten them fairly recently and was looking for something a tad healthier. I opted for the Alpha Beta Pita (hold the feta) with chipotle hummus, cucumber, sprouts, black olives, and tomato, plus fries that I dipped into vegan ranch (they serve Imagine Vegan Cafe ranch at RP Tracks!).

After dinner, we headed to the show! WE WERE SO EXCITED!! The Mixtape Tour was headlined by the New Kids, but it also featured Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Salt-n-Pepa, and Naughty By Nature. Best line-up ever.

The show was simply amazing. The New Kids — all in their late 40s and early 50s —still have the right stuff, y'all. They sang all the hits and some newer stuff that I knew all the words to (because, yes, I have their newset album). 

Debbie Gibson is still so hot!!! She and Joey sang a duet (Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga style!) for Lost in Your Eyes. Wow.

Aside from the New Kids, Tiffany has always been my fave. She sang I Think We're Alone Now, and I almost cried.

Misti and I had seen Salt-n-Pepa a couple years ago at the I Love the 90s tour, and they were great then. And even better here.

Naughty By Nature was great too, but I somehow failed to take any pics of them (video, yes!). I was probably too busy singing along with "O.P.P."

Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with a more food-focused post, I swear. But I just had to share all this awesomeness with the internet.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Doughnuts! Fried Tofu! Burritos!

The cafe at Crosstown Arts, where I work in communications, isn't 100% vegan. They do serve a few dishes with eggs or cheese, but most everything is veganizable (and honestly, about 90% of the dishes are vegan anyway). A couple weeks ago, I saw the Spicy Fried Tofu was back on the TODAY menu (the daily specials), but it was served with a smoked gouda mac & cheese. So I asked if they could veganize the plate for me. I was served Spicy Fried Tofu with Marinara Pasta and Salad. PERFECT!

The spicy fried tofu used to be a fixture on the ALWAYS menu (the stuff they have every day), but it was rotated off since that menu changes by the season. I was so sad to see it go, but I'm thrilled that it comes back sometimes as a special. Chef Raymond is a master at fried tofu.

The cafe serves fresh-baked vegan pastries daily, and it's always a surprise what they'll have. Yesterday, I passed by the counter and saw these Strawberry Basil Danishes with cashew cream cheese. I had to get one! I split this with a co-worker so bonus points for me for sharing.

One day last week, I walked by the cafe and saw FREAKING Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts. Holy hell. Y'all know how I feel about doughnuts, and this one was just perfect.

Speaking of doughnuts, I grabbed a couple of Cinnamon Glazed Doughnuts at Five Daughters Bakery in Nashville when I was there for the marathon a few weekends back. No trip to Nashville is complete without a stop by Five Daughters for vegan doughnuts.

Five Daughters is located next door to Graze, my favorite vegan brunch spot in Nashville. On this visit, I got the Roasted Root Veggie Burrito with roasted sweet and white potatoes, carrots, and (maybe parsnip????), plus cashew cheese and quinoa. Guac salad on the side.

And finally, here's a treat from Lulu's Baked last weekend — Asparagus Cashew Cheddar Tart. So excited to eat it that I forgot to take a pic until after I'd bitten into it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Beltane Frittata, Stuffed Zucchini, & More!

Gosh y'all. I haven't posted a random "stuff I ate" post since before my Florida trip in mid-April! So I have a lot of pics to share, but I'll break them into multiple posts because ain't nobody got time for that.

Here's an Asparagus Tofu Frittata I made for Beltane (May 1). It's a traditional spring festival, and asparagus is in-season so this seemed like the perfect meal. I used the swiss chard frittata recipe in Vegan Brunch but subbed asparagus. Easy peasy.

On the side, I made a spring-y salad with green peas, edamame, sunflower seeds, mixed baby greens, bell pepper, and tahini dressing. Served with green olive-kalamata bread from the Sprouts bakery.

And leftover frittata for breakfast! With toasted whole wheat pita and hummus, plus a bowl of fresh strawberries and mango.

You can't tell, but this is a veggie burger in a pita. I had some No Meat Athlete lentil-walnut burgers leftover after my marathon meal plan, so I froze them for quick weeknight meals like this. Served with roasted potatoes made in the air fryer. Curry ketchup on the side.

A quick week day breakfast of Tofu Scramble & Vegemite Toast. I had some frozen tofu that I scrambled with turmeric and soy sauce, served atop sprouted grain toast spread with Vegemite (it's better than Marmite! I said it, and I meant it!).

And finally, here's a meal from the cafe at Crosstown Arts that I ate forever ago! Maybe I've even shared it in a past "stuff I ate" post, but I can't remember. So here it is! Stuffed Zucchini with Braised Cabbage, Sizzled Kale, and Vegan Ranch. This was the daily vegetable plate that day, and damn, it was great. The sizzled kale is basically deep-fried kale, which is seriously the best way to eat it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

CBD Living Loose Leaf Teas!

I've been slow to get on the CBD bandwagon, mostly because I didn't know how it could help me. I'd heard that it works wonders for anxiety, but I don't deal with much anxiety (stress sometimes, sure, but it's more situational and tends to go away quickly). I did try a CBD tincture after I fractured my foot last year because I'd read that it helps with bone growth. But the tincture was cost-prohibitive, and I didn't really know if it was helping or not.

But then I heard about CBD helping to improve sleep quality. And that's an area where I could use some real help! I used to be such a deep, hard sleeper, but the older I get, the harder it is for me to stay asleep. And now that I sleep with a Fitbit, I can see from my sleep data that I'm spending very little time in deep sleep (an average of 30 minutes in a night of 6.5 hours of sleep). CBD Living offered to send me their vegan teas to review, and I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if it really boosted my deep sleep.

They sent me Mango Herbal Tea, Passion Green Tea, and Berry Black Tea. I've been drinking the green and black teas, interchangeably most mornings, and the herbal tea in the evenings before bed. And no lie, on the days when I've had CBD tea, my deep sleep quality is far improved. For example, last night, I slept my usual 6.5 hours, but I got a whopping 1 hour and 42 minutes of deep sleep, 1 hour and 25 minutes of REM sleep, and the rest is light sleep or awake time.

The last day I didn't have CBD tea (which was Sunday, because I forgot), I got only 31 minutes of deep sleep in the same amount of time spent asleep. Crazy huh? I've been experimenting with the CBD tea for over a month with stunning results on the days I remember to drink it. Even if I just have one cup in the morning, it still seems to help me get better deep sleep that night.

It does not, however, seem to help with staying asleep. I still wake up to pee a couple times a night, and I've not found anything that can help with that. But my bladder is probably more to blame.

As for the flavors, they're awesome. The Mango Herbal is probably my fave. I'm not typically a big herbal tea drinker because most herbal tea seems light on flavor to me. But not this one. It contains honeybush, calendula petal, dried peach, and mango extract, plus 150 mg of CBD. I think the strong flavor of mango extract makes all the difference.

Berry Black is really great too! It's a strong black tea with a berry flavor that's naturally sweet and not too tangy. I find many berry teas can be overwhelming tangy. Its assam black tea with dried black currants and blueberry extract. Again, it's that extract that makes the difference.

Passion Green is some of the best loose-leaf green tea I've had! It's a sencha green with marigold petals and passion fruit extract, so it's not your average green tea. It's the perfect gentle start to my morning. I like to have a little green tea first and then I have coffee later in the morning.

CBD Living also has chai turmeric tea, coconut herbal tea, and instant matcha, all containing 150 mg of CBD (which comes out to 7.5 mg per 1.5 teaspoon serving). You can find all of their teas here, and then check out their website for more products. Unfortunately, their chocolates and gummies are not vegan. But they do have CBD water, syrups, and even bath bombs!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cinco de Mayo Fun!

Ah, Cinco de Mayo! It's one of my favorite holidays for three reasons: 1) tacos, 2) burritos, and 3) margaritas. It also happens to fall the day after my mom's birthday (she's a "May the 4th Be With You" baby). She always requests Mexican food for her birthday, so Cinco de Mayo becomes a two-day celebration in our family. Good thing the Phillips' really, really love Mexican food.

My Cinco celebration started very early on Saturday, May 4 with the Cinco de Moe's 5K, hosted by Moe's Southwest Grill (the burrito chain). It was a fundraiser for the YMCA, and my friend Melissa (a fitness instructor/sociology professor) was leading the race warm-up. We did the warm-up workout and then we were off! There were tacos every mile, but those weren't vegan. I did indulge in the margarita-flavored sports drink during the race. And we were promised vegan burritos at the end, so that was enough for me!

Check out those cool finishers' medals! Most 5Ks don't have medals, but this one did. I love race bling. After the run, we had free beer and burritos. They had all kinds of burritos but of course we got the black bean & rice burritos, plus free chips and salsa. This was 9 am, mind you! Nothing beats a beer and burrito breakfast.

Here's Megan and I chowing down. We earned those burritos!

After the race (and a shower), I headed to Jonesboro, Arkansas to meet up with my parents for my mom's birthday dinner. She wanted to go to Kandela Grill, which was fine by me because they have the best Vegetable Fajitas in Jonesboro. The fajita mix has cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms, squash, and onion, and it's served with the softest hand-made tortillas. Not pictured: all the chips and salsa I ate and the margarita to wash it down.

Can you believe this woman just turned 65?! I really hope I have her genes!!

After dinner, we went back to my parents' house, where we had birthday cookies! My mom requested cookies instead of cupcakes, so I grabbed some Chocolate Chunk, Molasses Rye, and Snickerdoodle Cookies from Lulu's Baked at the Cooper-Young Farmer's Market.

Yesterday, for actual Cinco de Mayo, I made BBQ Tofu Tacos with Cumin-Affirmation Rice and Quick Frijoles Charros. The beans and rice recipes were from The Taco Cleanse. The rice was white with toasted cumin seed, onion, and veggie broth. The beans were pinto (from a can) with tomato and onion. Quick and easy!

Here's a taco close-up! My dad has a smoker, so he always smokes tofu for me when I'm coming home to visit. He sent me home with quite a bit, so I'll be eating this all week. He used a BBQ sauce and dry rub on this batch, and it's so flavorful! Perfect stuffed into hatch chile corn tortillas with homemade cashew cream (just raw cashews blended with ACV & pink salt), avocado, salsa (also homemade by my dad!), red cabbage, chive, and tomato. 

Later that night, I had a low-cal margarita (made with stevia-sweetened margarita mix!) while soaking in the bathtub. Because that is the life, y'all. Hope your May 5th (and May 4th) were just as delicious as mine.