Thursday, July 18, 2019

Artichoke Burgers by Foodies

I love a good plant-based meat burger, like Beyond or Impossible. But now that I'm trying to focus on whole foods most of the time, I'd rather save those for occasional treats. For everyday burger needs, I prefer a veggie- or nut-based patty, but there aren't many burgers on the market that are made entirely of whole foods.

A few months ago, the folks at Five Star Foodies sent me some free product coupons to review their artichoke burgers and vegan frittatas. I'd tried their eggless frittata (made with a base of pumpkin seeds and potato!) before, but I'd never seen their burgers for sale around here. When I looked the burgers up on their website, I was excited to see they were made with real stuff, like brown rice, cashews, artichokes, onions, nooch, potato flour, and apple cider vinegar. No ingredients you can't pronounce!

It took me FOREVER to find these locally. The Kroger store that used to sell the Five Star Foodies Frittatas when I'd last purchased them no longer carried anything from them. I also couldn't find their products at Whole Foods or Sprouts. But I kept the coupons in my wallet just in case I happened upon some, and lo and behold, that finally happened at the Poplar Plaza Kroger! They didn't have the frittatas, but they did have two flavors of the burgers.

I've tried both the Original and the French Herb this week, and both were excellent. The patties are soft, as most veggie-based burgers are. But they retain their shape after a few bites, which is impressive. The Original has a hint of artichoke and a satisfying fattiness from the cashews, and the French Herb has a garlicky rosemary flavor.

I enjoyed the Original patty topped with a slice of Daiya American cheese and enjoyed with some sweet potato fries made in the air fryer. And the French Herb made an excellent work day lunch topped with red onion, pickle, lettuce, and dijon.

These burgers also come in Indian Tandoori, Thai Coconut, and Italian Herb. All of those sound great, but if I ever spot those Indian or Thai patties, they're definitely making it into my cart!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Oh Snap!

Call me cliche, but I love a good pickle — pickled cucumbers, pickled okra, pickled beets, pickled just about anything! Pickles are a go-to snack when I'm not actually hungry but just want to be eating something, which, let's be real, is every moment between meal times.

But packing pickles for work can be messy since the brine tends to spill everywhere in my lunch bag. And forget about eating pickles on the road! I have a year-old Subaru Crosstrek, and I still freak out when any food or liquid comes anywhere near my seats.

But Oh Snap! Pickling Co. is making pickle-snacking more convenient! These crisp, sour pickles come in easy-to-carry, brine-free packages. That means you can toss them in your purse or lunch bag and even eat them in the car!

They sent me a few flavors to review, and I've been enjoying them over the past couple weeks. First, I tried the Hoppin' Jalapenos on a Black Bean, Roasted Pineapple, & Plantain Bowl with Avo-Lime Dressing (from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook). The recipe didn't call for jalapenos, but after assembling the bowl, I knew something was missing. Hot peppers! These crisp pickled jalapenos were fairly mild but they added just the right level of heat and tang. These would also be good as snack on their own.

The Pretty Peas made a nice side to a sandwich one day at work. These snap peas are brined and slightly sour, but they maintain their crispy bite.

But my very fave were the Carrot Cuties! I had these today as a morning snack, along with a slice of fresh rosemary bread and some strawberries. These slim sticks have a light pickled flavor with a satisfying snap.

I haven't opened the Dilly Bites yet, but I've actually picked these up at a gas station in the past during a road trip. I was very impressed that the pickle slices retained their dilly flavor and crispness without brine.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Food My Parents Made Me!

Last weekend was one of those weekends with only a few plans, so I decided it'd be fun to visit my parents in Arkansas. They didn't have Saturday night plans either, and they love to cook. So I asked if my dad would cook his famous (thanks to my mom's frequent Facebook posts) Oven Chicken Fajitas. 

He typically makes these with meat chicken, but since I was coming, he veganized the recipe using Gardein crispy tenders. He'd planned to use Beyond Meat strips, but their health food store was out. So instead, he chopped the breading off the Gardein strips and sliced into smaller bits. That's a lot of work, but I'm so grateful he was willing to do that so I could try his amazing fajitas.

The fajita mix is baked in the oven with bell peppers, onions, and spices. It was just as good as my mom had previously bragged on Facebook! On the side, my mom made Spanish Rice-a-Roni (yes, it's vegan!) and some Refried Beans with Daiya. Plus, she whipped up her Vegan Pancho's Dip and some guac.'

If you're from Memphis or Northeast Arkansas, you know about Pancho's Cheese Dip. It's the food of the gods around these parts. Pancho's Cheese Dip — the staple dip you're served at Memphis/West Memphis Pancho's restaurants — is a creamy nacho cheese dip with a hint of cumin, always served cold. If I could go back on my veganism for any one food, it would be Pancho's Cheese Dip, so I am thrilled that my mom created a vegan version. She uses vegan cream cheese, vegan cheddar, Rotel, and spices (definitely cumin). It's SO GOOD.

After dinner, we enjoyed some homemade Fried Strawberry Pies that my mom made with fresh berries that she cooked down into a pie filling. These glazed fried pies were so tender and lightly sweet. All they were missing was a glass of iced tea (which they always keep in the fridge, but I tend to avoid to keep my sugar intake down). Me eating a fried pie!

My dad got a smoker around Christmas time, and when I stop by, my dad smokes me a couple pounds of tofu to take back home with me. This time, he made a "chicken" smoked tofu and an Asian-spiced smoked tofu. I had some of the chicken-y tofu atop some Savory Oats for breakfast yesterday! The oats were seasoned with nooch and salt. I mixed in some steamed broccoli and carrots.

Seems like I should go home more often!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bread! Tofu! More Bread!

I went to the Cooper-Young Farmers Market last Saturday with the intention of picking up a Lulu's Baked black-eyed pea & sausage biscuit cause they're awesome. But then I laid eyes on this beauty — Broiche with Beet Prosciutto, Jalapenos & Cashew Cream Cheese. So this was my breakfast! I took it home and slowly enjoyed every bite. This was probably the best thing I've ever had from Lulu's, and that's saying a lot because everything from Lulu's is amazing. The brioche was soooo soft and perfect.

Speaking of Lulu's, I picked up some Tomato Focaccia from them a couple weeks ago at the downtown farmer's market. I didn't have any immediate plans for it though, so I stuck it in the freezer. Last week, I thawed it out and used it for some Cashew Cheese & Veggie Sandwiches made with herb-garlic Treeline cashew cheese, cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, carrot, roasted red pepper, and kalamata olives.

I had some leftover Daiya American slices after 4th of July, and you know what that means! Grilled Cheese!! Served with some Plantain Chips with Salsa and Guacamole. I've recently discovered Herdez salsa, and I will NEVER GO BACK to any other salsa. This jarred salsa tastes like the fresh stuff from a Mexican restaurant. And it's cheap!

Last Friday, my co-workers and I went to Phuong Long for lunch. This neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant is home one of the best tofu dishes in Memphis — Jalapeno Salt Tofu. This dry fried tofu dish is so full of flavor. The jalapenos tend to be super hot (hotter than the kind I typically find in the store), so I usually only eat a couple of those. But I eat all my tofu!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Grilled Tofu Wrap! Brown Rice Pudding! And More!

Yesterday, the cafe at Crosstown Arts was serving a Grilled Tofu Wrap with pickled okra, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Any time they do grilled tofu, I'm all in!! Not sure what they do to it, but it's always amazing. Plus, pickled okra is MY FAVE.

Two years after the release of The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, it's still my very fave! I've made so many things from it that I've decided to set a goal to cook the whole book! I went through and checked off what I've made so far, and I'm about halfway there. This week, I've been enjoying the Slow Cooker Coconut Matcha Brown Rice for breakfast. 

This rice pudding is so simple! Just coconut milk, brown rice, and matcha tea powder cooked in the slow cooker overnight. Topped with coconut, cardamom, blueberries, maple, and pistachios.

I made another NMA Cookbook recipe last night for dinner. The Basic Dal is, well, basic. But sometimes that's what you need. This hearty bowl of yellow split peas and brown basmati rice was perfect after yoga. Topped with cilantro and lime juice.

I'm finally done with my July 4th leftovers! Earlier this week, I had the last Field Roast Burger with Daiya American Cheese on a Lulu's Baked bun with a side of Grilled Corn and Cucumber Salad. 

And another night, I had the last of the Veggie & Tofu Skewers (dumped into a pile on my plate) with Quinoa and Grilled Corn. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wholly Rollies Protein Balls

I'm always looking for new whole foods-based pre-workout snacks. I was on a Larabar kick for months, and I still love them, but I've had all the flavors so many times now that I'm getting bored with them. This review shipment of Wholly Rollies Protein Balls by Crazy Richard's couldn't have come at a better time.

These little frozen protein balls are made with just 5-6 ingredients! No added protein powders (not that I'm against that, but it's nice when the protein comes from whole foods). No added sweeteners (just natural dates!).

The PB & Cacao are my fave, and they're definitely more peanut buttery than chocolately. They're made from peanut butter, oats, dates, cacao nibs, and unsweetened toasted coconut. The nibs add a fun little crunch and burst of flavor.

The Cinnamon Oatmeal balls are made with peanut butter, oats, dates, golden raisins, flax, and organic cinnamon. And they taste like little peanut buttery oatmeal cookies. Isn't peanut butter the missing thing in all oatmeal cookies? PB belongs in EVERYTHING. There's also a PB & Strawberry flavor I'd love to try.

Each ball has 4 grams of protein, and I've been eating two before light workouts (runs of 3 miles or less) for 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbs.

One interesting thing about these: They recommend keeping them frozen so they hold their shape. I didn't read the instructions though and left them in my fridge for days. They still held their shape just fine! But then I moved them to the freezer when I finally noticed the package said to store them there. And I've found that I really love the texture of the frozen balls. You can eat them straight out of the freezer!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fun & Food with Greg!

Yesterday, I blogged about how my bestie Greg was in town from Kentucky for the July 4 weekend. You can read about our grill-out and downtown fireworks excursion here. This post is dedicated to everything we ate last Friday and Saturday.

I took a vacation day from work on Friday so Greg and I could hang out (yay! 4-day weekend!). We slept in and then met up with our friend Stephanie at Pho Binh for Greg's very favorite thing to eat in Memphis — TOFU BUFFET! Here's my plate with Lemongrass Tofu, Green Bean Tofu, Black Bean Tofu, Curry Tofu Soup, and Cabbage Soup.

We were stuffed after lunch, and Greg had some work to do remotely, so we headed back home. He worked; I watched The Wire. Then, we had plans to meet up with our friends Vaughan and Nicole at the cafe at Crosstown Arts, where I work in communications and where Nicole used to work as the cafe manager. 

When Greg lived in Memphis, he lived in the Crosstown neighborhood (down the road from me), so I was excited to show him Crosstown Concourse. Concourse is a massive, mixed-use redevelopment project located in a formerly abandoned Sears headquarters — now home to arts, education, and healthcare orgs, as well as awesome vegan-friendly restaurants and some retail. I do communications for Concourse as well, and I'm very proud of this project. So I couldn't wait to show Greg! 

At the cafe, I ordered the daily Big Ass Salad to counter the effects of all that tofu earlier. This had romaine, pickled okra, tomato, fried kale, and green tomato dressing. That fried kale is my favorite thing! I ordered some fried chickpeas on the side and dumped them on the salad too.

After dinner, we enjoyed a drink with Vaughan and Nicole at Art Bar (the bar inside Crosstown Arts). Later that night, we caught an amateur drag show at Dru's Place, then a quick drink at The Pumping Station before calling it a night.

The next day, it was time to eat again! We met Megan at Imagine Vegan Cafe. Greg and Imagine owners Kristie and Adam go way back, so they were excited to see him! The special of the day was DONUT BURGERS!! Y'all know I had to get on that. Beyond Burger between two glazed doughnuts with special sauce. Mmmmmmmmm.

I was stuffed (yet again) after this meal, but by dinner time, my tummy growling again. I swear my metabolism is that of a 14-year-old boy. I can put away some food! Greg wasn't really hungry, but I convinced him to go on a picnic on Big River Crossing. That's the pedestrian/bike bridge that leads from Memphis to Arkansas over the Mississippi River. Btw, Greg is not unhappy here. He just never smiles in pictures. It's a thing. 

We had a ton of leftovers from grilling and other meals during the weekend, so we packed them for a Leftovers Picnic! Tofu & veggie skewers (July 4 leftovers), a yummy lemongrass tofu stir-fry (made with some tofu Greg picked up for grilling but didn't get used), teriyaki noodles (that Greg picked up otw to Memphis and never ate), cucumber salad (more July 4 leftovers), herb-garlic cashew cheese (picked up on clearance) and crackers, and vodka watermelon (also leftover).

We enjoyed our food (of course, mine is the loaded plate!) on a picnic table on the Arkansas side and then made the mile walk back to Memphis. Such a fun, food-filled weekend!! But I'm back on my whole foods regimen this week! 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Fourth of July with Greg!

Long-time Vegan Crunk readers may remember my best friend Greg. He and I were inseparable when he lived in Memphis, and I'm sure I'm blogged about him (and things we ate together) plenty, but he moved to Indiana (and later Kentucky) a few years back.

Our favorite holiday to celebrate was always Halloween! But the second fave was definitely July 4. Not because we're particularly patriotic. But we LOVE fireworks. And we LOVE grilling. So I was super stoked when Greg decided to use his vacation days to come visit me in Memphis for July 4th weekend. The above pic is one of us last Wednesday night at the Rec Room, right after he arrived in Memphis.

I'll be sharing our food adventures all week, but tonight, let's start with the big day — July 4th! Greg and I went shopping early in the day for grilling supplies, and we invited my friend Susan to join us. Then we fired up the grill and made all this!

Field Roast burgers (on Lulu's Baked buns), Beyond Sausages (Susan brought those! Mine is bunless to make room for more food in my belly), Corn on the Cob, Tofu & Veggie Skewers, and Cucumber Salad. Greg grew the cucumbers and zucchini in his garden! Skewers are a long-time July 4th tradition for me and Greg, but I haven't made them since he's been gone. Love these!

We also had plenty of beer, chips and guac, and watermelon (that we spiked with vodka, naturally!).

After dinner, we visited with Susan for a bit, and then she had to go home. But we met up with Andy and Tyler to go downtown for fireworks! Here's Andy photobombing us on a park bench in Butler Park, where we waited on the show.

The fireworks over the Mississippi River were especially awesome this year thanks to the new light show on the M Bridge! They change the colors for different holidays and themes, but this red, white, and blue one was very cool!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Vegan Jerk Chicken! Black Bean Bowl! Avo Toast!

Last Saturday, I went on a long bike ride that took me all over town. I started with a trip to the Cooper-Young Farmers Market, where I picked up one of Lulu's Baked Carrot Cake Muffins with Cashew Cream & Wine-Macerated Blackberries. Yes, it was as magical as it sounds. Perfect bike riding fuel!

From there, I rode back home to put up the hamburger buns I'd picked up from Lulu's. Then I biked downtown to the Big River Crossing bike/ped bridge that goes over the Mississippi River and into Arkansas. I'd planned to ride around Arkansas for a bit and head back, but the Arkansas side was closed off due to river flooding. So I turned around and headed back into Tennessee! 

Then I biked back to Cooper-Young to meet Megan and Pam for lunch at Imagine Vegan Cafe. I was famished by then, and everything sounded good. But I finally settled on the Jerk Chicken Sandwich (hoagie bun with sauteed vegan chicken, pineapple, and creamy jerk sauce). I had broccoli & vegan cheese on the side.

My all-time favorite cookbook is The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. It's the one book that I rely on more than any other. I'm slowly trying to cook my way through the whole book. Earlier this week, I made the Black Bean Pineapple Bowl with Roasted Veggies. This has a base of roasted sweet potatoes, topped with roasted pineapple, bell pepper, and onion, lime-spiced black beans, avocado-lime dressing, pepitas, and plantain chips. The chips were from a bag (Sprouts brand), but this would be especially good with some homemade fried plantains.

Speaking of No Meat Athlete, I also listen to their podcast every week. And host Matt Frazier often talks about his quick, kid-friendly go-to meal of Refried Bean Tostadas. I had some leftover refried beans that needed using, so I looked to see if his recipe was online. It was! I used this simple recipe to make these crispy baked tostadas stuffed with beans, vegan cheese, salsa, and onion, topped with tomato, lettuce, salsa, and avocado-lime dressing. On the side, I had some Spanish brown rice that I made.

And finally, here's some Avocado Toast! With local heirloom tomato from the CY Farmers Market and red onion. 

Hope y'all have a perfect 4th of July! I'll be taking the day of blogging to grill out and light fireworks with my friend Greg!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hummus Bowl! Yogurt Bowl! BBQ Jackfruit!

We had our monthly Memphis Vegan Drinks meetup at Midtown Crossing Grill last week. They've got a new menu with some new vegan options, including the most amazing vegan cheese nachos. Most people ordered those, but I'd just tried them a couple weeks before, so I opted to try the new Hummus Platter. I was surprised to see it was served in a bowl bigger than my head!

Clearly, this platter of housemade hummus, flatbread (made with their perfect pizza dough), pickled eggplant, cucumber, kalamatas, and lettuce leaves is meant to be shared. But I ate the whole thing. All by myself. Looking back, I wish I'd saved some for snacks the next day. But I was hungry. Bonus: Our Vegan Drinks team — Nacho Party — won at Name That Tune trivia that night (thanks to Melissa and Anthony, who spend much of their free time winning at local trivia nights).

Here's a Cashewgurt Bowl from last week. With Forager vanilla cashew yogurt, maple dream granola, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, ground flax, fresh blueberries, and fresh raspberries.

Here's a very ugly picture of the Simplified Spinach Mushroom Lasagna from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I made this white bean, mushroom, and spinach lasagna (with cashew cheese!) last week since I had some leftover cooked lasagna noodles that needed to be used. But I've always struggled to plate lasagna in a way that doesn't look like a giant mushpile. Trust me, it tasted way better than it looks. This lasagna is my go-to whole foods-based recipe.  I usually make a giant batch and freeze some, but I made a half-batch this time and ate it all.

My friend Susan gave me a box of Upton's Naturals BBQ Jackfruit, which I used to make Jackfruit BBQ Tacos! With red cabbage slaw, yellow tomato, and avocado. Served with my simple Spanish Rice (I just cook brown rice with some veggie broth, diced tomato from a can, diced onion, cumin, salt, and chili powder).

The next night, I made BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with the leftovers. I used one of my Lulu's Baked handmade potato buns, and it was the most perfect sandwich. Don has really changed the vegan bun game with his potato buns. I stocked up on some at the CY Farmer's Market last week, so I have plenty in my freezer for 4th of July grilling!

Monday, July 1, 2019

15th Anniversary with Paul!

Paul and I celebrated 15 years together this weekend! Our actual anniversary is June 28, but Paul works in Nashville and couldn't be home until Saturday, the 29th. He arrived pretty late, but we still had enough time for a quick game of pool at Newby's, the bar where we met — over a game of pool — on beer bust night back in 2004. We celebrate at Newby's every year!

Paul's a sentimental guy, and he always makes us pose with the numbered ball for the number of years we've been together. Here we are with the 15 ball.

We stayed for a couple beers and then headed home for bed. On Sunday morning, we slept in, and then I made the BEST vegan pancakes we've ever had! I used this Tasty recipe, and they were so fluffy! I've struggled with flat pancakes for years, but this recipe makes super-fluffy ones. This will be my new go-to recipe.

I mixed chocolate chips and strawberries into my batter (just plain pancakes for Paul though) and topped mine with extra berries and vegan Reddi Whip. Simple Truth vegan sausage on the side. Plus, mimosas of course.

After pancakes, we did some yard work (very romantic, huh?). And then we headed downtown to take the Old Dominick Distillery tour. Old Dominick is a new-ish Memphis whiskey distillery, and we'd been wanting to go on the tour for awhile. We met the distillery cat, Waldo. He's a lover!

And at the end, we got to taste vodkas, whiskeys, a moonshine, and some not-on-the-market-yet gin.

We had dinner reservations for Seasons 52 at 6 pm. We've been going here for the past few years on our anniversary because they have great vegan options for me, and Paul can get his meat stuff.

The menu changes seasonally, but I was glad to see the Avocado Toast appetizer was still on the menu. We split this while we waited for our food. Also, while we waited, Paul gifted me a dainty diamond necklace that he had designed by a local jeweler. :-) He also had 15 roses sent to me at work on Friday. He's a good dude. Love him!

The vegan entree for summer is Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi, and OMG. This was AMAZING. Best meal I've ever had at Seasons 52 (and I've had some good ones!). I LOVE potato gnocchi.

After dinner, we enjoyed some drinks at home on our back patio with a fire going in the fire pit. A perfect 15-year anniversary celebration!