Thursday, January 17, 2019

Burger, Sandwich & Workout Meals

Now that I'm caught up on review posts, I'm back to sharing random meals. Last week, I created the most delicious Red Bean & Brown Rice Burger using the No Meat Athlete veggie burger formula as a guide. It's not a recipe at all — just a good formula to help you understand the best portion of beans, veggies, dry ingredients, spices, and flavors. You try any combo of beans and veggies and it'll come out perfectly every time!

That burger was great on a bun with pickles, lettuce, and tomato, but I also enjoyed a patty crumbled atop a Burger Salad with pickles and cashew ranch.

Here's a Fried Green Tomato & Tofu Bacon Sandwich that I made using air-fried green tomatoes. Oil-free!

And now for some weird food! Since I did Health Made Simple a few months ago, I've really shifted the way I eat most of the time. Not only am I low-oil at home and sticking with whole foods as much as possible (not all the time!), I'm also following the No Meat Athlete recommendations for pre- and post-workout nutrition. After my workouts, I immediately follow with quick-digesting carbs, like white rice, banana, or juice. White rice is my fave though, and I especially love it with Green Tea Leaf Dressing (made with spent green tea leaves, rice vinegar, a smidge of sesame oil, and soy sauce). Looks weird, tastes good. A recipe recommendation from my friend Madelyn! 

I follow that was a whole foods smoothie about an hour later. I also take in quick-digesting carbs pre-workout. Before short runs, that's a Larabar or a banana. But for longer workouts, I've been enjoying Steamed White Potato about two hours prior to the workout. 

Workout nutrition is weird, but I love to nerd out on protein-to-carb ratios! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review: MaryRuth's Vegan Omega Gummies

Over the holiday break, I received a mysterious package on my doorstep. It wasn't anything I'd ordered, so I ripped it open to find this big bottle of MaryRuth's Vegan Omega 3-6-7-9 Gummies!

I don't remember being contacted by this company to review their products. But it happens sometimes that a company will have my mailing address and just send me review products with no warning. And lucky me — I was fresh out of vegan omega supplements.

I had been taking omega supplements a few months back, but when they ran out, I didn't get more. And I keep meaning to! Isn't that always the case with vitamins??

Anyway, these are awesome. They're orange flavored and they have the same gummy texture that SurfSweets vegan gummies have. So basically, they're candy but they're vitamins. Win-win. They're also non-gmo and gluten-free.

The omegas come from sea berry omega-3 powder and flaxseed oil. Good stuff! I will definitely pay for more when I run out!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: Sneakz Protein Powder

I don't consume protein powders all that often these days, now that I'm trying to base most of my day around whole foods. But I do believe protein powders have their place and can be helpful. I used to be a diehard protein powder fan, and I had protein smoothies after every run to help with quick muscle recovery.

But then I did the Health Made Simple plan and realized that I don't need THAT much protein every day. I learned that a handful of walnuts or flax seeds is plenty for my level of activity. I'm not body building after all. However, there are days when I put in a REALLY hard effort (like a long run of 10 to 20 miles) or days that I know I'm not going to be eating well (like when traveling or just really, really busy). On those days, I still consume protein powder.

And it was on one of those days recently (pretty sure I was extra busy that day!) that I tried Sneakz Organic Chocolate Protein Powder in a smoothie with banana, spinach, and extra cocoa powder.

Sneakz sent me this powder to review months ago, right as I was starting my whole foods journey. So it took me awhile to try it. But I've had it a few times since then, like last weekend after a 7-mile treadmill run that left me feeling weak and sluggish all day. Pretty sure I overheated a bit on that run, and I was getting over a cold too. I figured I could use a protein boost that day!

Sneakz, when mixed with liquid, tastes like chocolate milk. But it's made with a simple blend of whole organic foods, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and beets (1/2 serving of veggies in every scoop). Plus, it has 14 grams of pea protein, probiotics, and 10 essential amino acids.

Sneakz does contain some organic cane sugar, which I think some protein powder fans would prefer. But I'm firmly in the stevia camp for my protein powders. Consuming sugar in my smoothie makes me feel like I'm having dessert for breakfast (and I'd rather save dessert for dessert time!). But the sugar does make it taste pretty great. This would be an awesome product to deliver protein and veggie nutrition to picky kids!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sandwiches! Bagels! Tacos! Treats!

Last Tuesday, I made the best Air-fried Avocado Tacos! I made avocado fries in the air fryer and topped with cashew cream and veggies. And I made some Chipotle Lime Street Corn in the air fryer as well. Taco Tuesday!!

I'm sticking with whole foods almost all the time at home these days, and I'm saving my plant meat and junk food splurges for eating out. But sometimes, a girl needs some Beet Puffs. These Vegan Rob's puffs are made with pretty wholesome ingredients (like whole grain sorghum flour), so as junk food goes, they're not bad. And I had a healthy BLT with Tofu Bacon on sprouted grain. So I feel pretty good about this meal.

Here's a totally whole foods-based Tofu Stir-fry I made last night for dinner with broccoli, bell pepper, and mushrooms over quinoa. I feel best when I'm eating this way.

But treats in moderation are a-okay! My friend Don of Lulu's Food has gone back to selling his vegan baked goods at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. He posted a mouth-watering menu of vegan croissants and savory buns, as well as cookies, baguettes, pita, and morning buns, on Instagram the night before this Saturday's market. It opened at 9 am, and I was there by 9:15 am. And he was almost SOLD OUT!! All that was left were cinnamon morning buns and cookies. I opted for a Chocolate Chip Cookie and a Morning Bun (both AMAZING!!). Next week, I'm getting there right at 9 am!

And finally, here's a Whole Wheat Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese from Otherlands coffee shop that I ate yesterday morning. I had to get some freelance writing done, and I work best outside my house. I enjoyed this with a soy latte. Good stuff. They use Dave's Bagels (the best!).

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What I Ate When I Was Sick

I'm back with a special soup edition of "Stuff I Ate." Late last week, I came down with a cold. I rarely get sick, which I like to attribute to my daily fire cider shots. Who knows if that actually helps boost immunity? But I tell myself it does. It seems like everyone I know is either sick now or has been sick over the past few weeks, and I guess it was just my turn.

I felt it coming on last Thursday, the same day I had lunch plans at Global Café with a few co-workers. Global Café is in Crosstown Concourse, where I work, and they provide jobs to refugees and immigrants and give them a space to showcase their countries' cuisines. I'm a huge fan of the Nepalese booth, where I typically opt for the amazing veggie chow mein. But since I was feeling a little funky, I went with the Thukpa Noodle Soup. This has a spicy, garlicky broth with noodles, veggies, jalapenos, red onion, and cilantro. So very good. I will probably always order this when I'm sick now.

By Friday, I was feeling AWFUL. Definitely the worst day of my cold. I'd planned to have leftover lentil sloppy joes for dinner that night, but that didn't even sound good. What did sound good was No Chicken Noodle Soup and a Grilled Cheeze. So I dumped a can of Amy's No Chicken on the stove and made a quick grilled cheeze with Daiya and Earth Balance. I always keep a few cans of Amy's No Chicken in the pantry for emergencies. Doesn't look appetizing but, trust me, it's what you need when you need it. 

I was feeling a little better over the weekend but still very congested. Paul and I were signed up to run the MRTC Winter Off-Road Series Overton Park 3K on Sunday, and I managed to run despite feeling icky. A 3K is less than 2 miles, so I knew I could do it no matter how bad I felt. But afterward, I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch a movie and eat soup. We did stop for beers at Crosstown Brewing Co. first, but I eventually got my wish. Takeout Mandu Guk from Crazy Noodle and Birdbox on Netflix (I loved it!). The mandu guk has veggie dumplings, Korean rice cakes, veggies, and broth. Spiced up with a little sriracha.

I'm much better now, but I'm not feeling 100% yet. Still have lots of snot, and my nose is all raw from blowing it 50 million times. Plus, it's cold AF outside, so soup is still calling me. Today for lunch, I got the Thai Green Curry Bowl from the cafe at Crosstown Arts, where I work. This isn't soup, but it's soupy so it counts. Brown rice, tempeh, squash, eggplant, kimchi, and enoki mushrooms in a coconut curry broth. Perfection. Washed down with an iced chai tea.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Some Breakfasts I Ate

Here are some things I've eaten for breakfast lately. I'm still all up in my smoothie game on week days, a habit I started when I was doing the Health Made Simple meal plan back in October/November. Most days, I drink my smoothie while I'm getting ready for work.

But for part of last week and earlier this week, I was fighting off a cold and opted to skip my workouts in favor of extra sleep. That meant I had time to sit down to breakfast, but I still wanted to have smoothies for nutrition. So what's a girl to do? Smoothie Bowls! Here's one from yesterday with a base of banana, pineapple, strawberry, and spinach, topped with banana, walnuts, coconut, and chia.

Most of my week day smoothies are pretty simple — banana, water or almond milk, other frozen fruit, walnuts or flax seeds, spinach. But Megan included this Moon Juice Beauty Dust in my holiday gift, so I added that to a Berry Banana Green Smoothie one day!

On weekends, I tend to have a heartier sit-down breakfast (typically on my couch while watching Netflix). I love bagels, but I'm trying to focus on whole foods. I found these Smart Bagel whole wheat bagel thins at Sprouts and love them. They're certainly not as awesome as REAL bagels, but they'll do. Very good with a Tofu Scramble! I spread a little Daiya cream cheese on this one because we had some leftover from the holidays.

And here's a Whole Wheat Bagel with Berry Jam & Seitan Bacon. I've not been buying much plant meats lately (trying to save those for special occasions), but this Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon was leftover from Christmas breakfast.

This past weekend, I took a more whole foods-y route and made Tofu Bacon in the air fryer, served with more bagels (spread with BE-Hive garlic soy cheese, locally-ish made in Nashville).

And finally, here's a Breakfast Sandwich! A fun weekend breakfast with tofu egg, Benevolent Bacon (again, leftover), and spinach. Not quite as satisfying as a sandwich on a fluffy Dave's Bagel but still very tasty.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Stuff I Ate

It's been a long time since I've shared a post of random meals, and I've got lots of photos in the back log. I'll share a few tonight and more throughout the week.

Here's a meal I ate just after Christmas. I had some leftover Crispy Tofu from Mulan, which I'd ordered on Christmas night. It's a cornstarch-coated, deep-fried salt and pepper tofu dish with minimal veggies, so I upped the veggie game and mixed it with sauteed broccoli, squash, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Served over brown rice instead of the white rice it came with. I always try to healthify leftover Chinese takeout on day two.

A couple days after Christmas, my friend Susan and I took a trip out to IKEA. It's not that far from Midtown, but it always feels like an adventure driving out east for a big IKEA day. It takes hours to work your way through the store, so we needed fuel. We grabbed the new IKEA Veggie Dogs at the concession booth in the front of the store. Y'all, these are 75 cents! The dog is made from veggies and tastes similar to the famous veggie balls. They're topped with pickled cabbage and fried onions!

Mid-way through the store, we stopped in the cafe for IKEA Veggie Balls! Served with quinoa and steamed veggies. So good. We also bought bags of frozen balls to take home. 

I picked up this Munsbit Oat Smoothie in the IKEA food store. It had apple, pear, and ginger and was perfect for a post-run snack last week.

Here's a bowl of Tofu Ramen I enjoyed for breakfast one morning over the holiday break.

And finally, this is the Green Salad at the cafe at Crosstown Arts. It may look like an ordinary salad, but this is thing of beauty. The homemade dressing that lightly coats the mixed greens, radish, green apple, and toasted pepitas is indescribably good. It's a big side salad, so I love to order this when I bring a small lunch to work that warrants a side dish.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Vegan S'mores Snowflake Party!

I love that magical time between Christmas and New Years Eve. I'm off work. Most of my friends are off work. I've got almost zero responsibilities. I can eat noodles all day, watch Netflix all night, go to parties on week nights, drink every day (in moderation, of course!). Of course those days are long gone now. But I most certainly got the most out of my holiday staycation.

On December 28th — just after Christmas and right before NYE — my friends Melissa and Anthony had a Vegan S'mores Snowflake Party at their house. The plan was to make s'mores, enjoy some spiked hot cocoa, and sit around a fire in their backyard. But when you get a group of vegans together, you know there's going to be a huge emphasis on food. Everyone brought a snack to share, and Melissa and Anthony went all out!

Here's a spread of chips and crudites with jalapeno-lime almond dip, kale pesto hummus, and salsa.

I made White Bean & Sundried Tomato Pate from Nava Atlas' Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Served with Sprouts whole grain flatbreads.

Melissa even made a Vegan Hot Dog Bar! She roasted hot dogs in the air fryer. We discussed roasting them in the fire, but a few people thought veggie dogs didn't do well in direct heat (I've always had pretty good luck with that though). She sat out pickled cabbage and fried onions (for IKEA-inspired dogs), plus relish and all the condiments. And she made tots!

Here's my hot dog and tot plate.

Jennifer brought Meyer Lemon Bars (yum!).

Anthony made Hot Cocoa, which we spiked with peppermint vodka and topped with Dandies. It was a VERY cold night, so this was much-needed.

I found the PERFECT beer — Shiner S'more!! This chocolate stout had a hint of graham and marshmallow flavors.

After we filled up inside, we went out back to sit by the fire and make s'mores. It was dark out, so my s'more pic was terrible. But here's a pic of host Melissa (and one of her friends whose name I cannot recall) roasting her marshmallows.

Here's Emily and Brandy!

Simon and Jennifer!

And me and Megan and Pam all snuggled up for warmth!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Vegan Junk Food Cookbook, Expanded Edition

I think you all probably know by now that I'm a self-professed junk food vegan, but I'm always on a mission to become a whole foods vegan. It's a constant struggle. The thing is, I love Chinese takeout, potato chips, ice cream, and pizza more than just about anything else in the world. But then I feel kinda gassy and low-energy after I eat too much of those things. So this year, I'm on a mission to find some real balance. I want to eat whole foods, plant-based 90% of the time with about 10% devoted to treats.

Books like Vegan Junk Food: Expanded Edition by Lane Gold can help me with that. I also own the original version of this. But this new edition has more recipes (200+!) for veganized versions of your favorite junk foods. Not everything is healthicized though, so you'll still find ingredients like vegan cheese, plant meats, and plenty of oil. And that's okay with me for sometimes foods. But this book also has some healthier versions of traditional non-vegan dishes too.

I tried the Sloppy Joes, made with lentils, carrot, and a tangy homemade sauce. This is the kind of whole foods-based dish that makes me feel good and fulfills a craving for indulgent foods.

I also tried the Baked Curried Sweet Potato Fries. These thinly sliced sweet potatoes are coated with a little oil (I cut the amount called for — 1 Tbsp — in half), curry powder, and coriander. They're baked until crisp. Simple and delicious. And not fried, for which my body thanks me. I love fried foods, but my digestion does not.

You'll find other healthy dishes like Tofu Eggplant Tikka Masala or the Sesame Tempeh Sandwich. But there are also plenty of more decadent treats like Baked Onion Dip (with vegan mayo, vegan cream cheese, and vegan mozz), Beer Brat-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms (vegan brats! stuffed into mushrooms! amazing!), and fried Jalapeno Bacon Poppers (with vegan cream cheese).

The dessert chapters are equally impressive with Oreo Truffles, Peach Schnapps Cobbler, Potato Chip Cookies, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.

Whether you're aiming to eat healthier or just looking to get meat out of your life, you'll find something in this book!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Most vegan cookbooks these days are very tailored to one specific food genre or cooking method, which is awesome when you're looking for a specific kind of recipe. But what if you don't know what you want? That's where The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook comes in handy.

This book — collectively written by Emily von Euw, Kathy Hester, Linda and Alex Meyer, Marie Reginato, Celine Steen, and Amber St. Peter — contains 600 vegan recipes ranging from pasta to bowls to soups to sandwiches. Recipes are organized into Main Dishes, Slow Cooker/Instant Pot/Air Fryer, 30 Minutes or Less, Appetizers/Snacks/Sides, Soups/Salads, and Desserts.

There are only a few pictures, arranged in a spread in the middle of the book, so you'll have to use your imagination on most. But the names are pretty descriptive — think Oreo-ish Tarts: Vanilla Whipped Coco Cream with Chocolate Cookie Crust or BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich with Slaw and Caramelized Onions.

I've only had a chance to try one recipe so far, but it was perfection. These Air-Fried Tofu Rancheros kept me satisfied for several meals throughout the holiday break.

The only thing that's air-fried is the tofu, which is coated in taco spices before frying. And they have baking instructions too in case you don't have an air fryer. The tortilla is toasted in the oven with vegan cheese and black beans. Once it comes out of the oven, it's topped with raw, shredded zucchini, squash, and carrot, the air-fried tofu, and chopped tomato. I added hot sauce and extra salsa too.

Other recipes I have my eye on: Kimchi Tofu Scramble, Marinated Portobello Cashew Cheeseburgers with Herbs & Tomatoes, Mushroom Fajitas, Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta, Vegan Pretzel Bites, Vegan BLT Salad with Smoky Spicy Mayo, and a recipe titled A Smoothie for Emotional Strength (because who doesn't need that????).

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year Foods!

I hope y'all had a fabulous New Years Eve! I fully intended to blog yesterday since I was off-work, but my power went out around 1 pm and remained out through the night. It was magically on when I returned home from a NYE party at 2:30 am though. Symbolic much? The lights on 2018 literally went off for me, but 2019 is gonna be lit y'all!

Seriously though, I'm anticipating a pretty good year. After spending six months of 2018 unable to run thanks to two stress fractures, I'm excited to be back and training for a spring half-marathon. I said last year that 2018 would be the Year of the 50K. But of course that didn't happen. But 2019 will be my year.

I celebrated the end of a kinda crappy year last night with friends at The Big Gay Dance Party, a fundraiser for Friends for Life (a nonprofit that helps people access HIV/AIDS services and programs). I sat on the board of Friends for Life for six years, so it's a cause near and dear to my heart. The party was rad with lots of dancing, aerial performers, drag queens, and more. Here's me and my BGF (best gay friend) Andy. Unfortunately, Paul had to work in Nashville on New Years Eve and couldn't make it to Memphis.

This morning, I met friends for the Lulu's Memphis New Years Day pop-up brunch at Fuel Cafe. Fuel closed its doors as a restaurant in December, but they're still using the space for pop-ups. And my friends Don and Kenzie host Lulu's vegan brunch pop-ups often. I haven't missed one!

This one featured New Years Day "good luck" foods from the South and the Midwest. His Southern dish was a beer-braised black-eyed pea sandwich, which sounded delicious. But I had plans to make black-eyed peas at home later. So I opted for the Midwestern dish of Salt-Cured Tofu & Kraut, Roasted Potatoes, and a Sourdough Bun.

I'm sure my Midwestern readers know much more about this, but from what I've read online, pork and kraut are traditional New Years foods up there. I figure I've got double-luck now since I had a Southern luck dish later in the day. By the way, that bun was AMAZING. So soft. Don is a bread master.

I also ordered a side of Turnip Greens since I typically make cabbage for my New Years meal. That counts as luck insurance, right?

I brought a bottle of champagne to spike our OJ because New Years!

In the afternoon, I went my co-worker Caitlin's New Years Day party and snacked on some of their blackeyed peas, as well as some red wine and the most delicious roasted almonds. But I didn't take any pics.

For dinner, I made Hoppin' John Spring Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce! I made my usual Hoppin' John good luck New Years dish with blackeyed peas, brown rice, cabbage, and tomatoes. It's stuffed into rice paper and air-fried. So much more fun to eat this way!

Happy New Year! And hey, just in case you're wondering, I'm NOT doing a January reset this year! Crazy, I know. I've done a reset plan every year for the past nine years (or maybe more). But since I just wrapped up Health Made Simple in November, I don't feel like I need a reset now. I'm still following those whole foods guidelines most of the time!