Thursday, October 17, 2019

My 39th Birthday!

Yesterday — October 16 — was my birthday! I'm officially one year away from my 40s!! Here's my obligatory birthday selfie, wearing the adorable unicorn horn my co-worker Terri gave me on Tuesday (the day before my birthday).

I always take my birthday off work, so on Tuesday, my co-workers surprised me with a Vegan Birthday Cake from Muddy's Bake Shop! I love my co-workers soooo much, and this made me very, very happy.

It was a yummy yellow cake with chocolate frosting! By the afternoon, everyone in the office had devoured most of the cake so I snuck one last slice and put it in some tupperware to take home and enjoy on my actual birthday.

On Wednesday (my birthday), I stayed home from work, slept in, and then headed out for a 5-mile run in my new Hoka Challengers — my birthday gift from Paul. I've always run in Brooks (aside from a year spent in Nikes), so Hokas are totally new to me, and I love them. So much support for my fragile little feet.

After my run, I made a big ole brunch for myself and enjoyed it while watching The Wire (I'm working my way through the show on Netflix disc, old school-style). I made a Tofu Omelet from Hooked on Plants, stuffed with roasted broccoli, Chao cheese, sauteed garlic, spinach, and carrots, topped with cashew holladaise sauce (also from Hooked on Plants). Side of air-fried taters.

No birthday brunch is complete without a mimosa. Cassi had given me a case of these single-serve champagne bottles about a year ago, and I thought they were all gone. But then I found one last bottle!

I had to run out east for an errand later in the day, so I figured that was the perfect time to stop by my favorite place in Memphis — Crystal Shrine Grotto. It's a man-made cave inside Memorial Park Cemetery that's filled with five tons (!!!) of quartz crystals. It also has lots of Jesus-y Bible sculptures, but I just ignore that part and soak up the powerful quartz energy. The cave and sculptures were built in part by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez in 1935, but the project was finished in 1955, after his death. The whole place feels like it belongs in The Dark Crystal!

This giant rose quartz outside the cave is my fave though. I always spend a few minutes with this stone when I visit the Grotto.

For dinner, I had plans to meet up with friends at Midtown Crossing Grill — the vegan-friendly pizza point in my neighborhood. I was so excited that so many of my friends were able to come!!

Started with a dirty vodka martini.

I'd been craving pizza, so I ordered the Herbivore Pizza with roasted garlic oil, tomato sauce, peppers, and pickled eggplant, subbing the vegan cheese for dairy cheese. It also usually has arugula, but I'm not really a fan so I left that off.

Overall, a lovely way to spend the first day of the last year of my 30s!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What I Ate Yesterday

Sometimes, it's fun to show what I eat in a typical day. Some days, I have more junk and treats than others. But some days, like yesterday, are pretty ideal days.

The day started off with a bowl of Strawberry Soy Yogurt with Raw-nola and Blueberries. The yogurt does have quite a bit of sugar, but I balanced that with a homemade raw granola (recipe here) made with rolled oats, dates, walnuts, and flax.

My morning snack (not pictured) was Baby Carrots & Hummus. I often eat hummus with veggies or whole wheat/brown rice crackers at my desk.

Lunch was an awesome recipe that was linked on the 80/20 Plants website for a Smoked Tofu Sandwich (recipe here) on One Green Planet. My dad made some smoked tofu over the weekend, and it was perfect on toasted whole wheat bread with hummus, pickled onions, avocado, spinach, sunflower shoots, tomato, and cucumber. No need for a side because this was a super-filling sandwich.

For dinner, I used the last of my red lentil cheese sauce (made for these Nacho Fries) to make Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese with Steamed Broccoli. The sauce was made from pureed red lentils, nooch, and spices, and it was excellent! I seasoned the broccoli with Bragg's and garlic powder.

Later in the evening, I had a Memphis Made Fireside Ale at Midtown Crossing Grill. I had a board meeting there and it was $3 pint night, so a beer was a must!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Whoppers + Saag + Sweet Treats

While I'm still following the 80/20 Plants lifestyle (that's 80% whole food, plant-based and 20% indulgent), I'm also open to having a few more indulgent days. 80/20 is my aim most of the time, but if I end up with a 60/40 day, that's fine too. Healthy eating is all about what you do MOST OF THE TIME.

So if I want to eat an Impossible Whopper and Fries before heading out to see Triple Six Mafia, Bone Thugs, and the Ying Yang Twins in concert, so be it! Ha! That's exactly what happened before I went to that concert on Saturday night.

As the name of my blog implies, I'm a big fan of late-90s, Memphis-style crunk rap, and this concert (a birthday gift from my friend Misti) was a dream come true.

I also treated myself to a few sweet treats over the last few days. I had this awesome Blueberry Lemon Muffin from the cafe at Crosstown Arts as an afternoon snack last Thursday.

And I picked up two more treats at Lulu's at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market on Saturday. I had one of their classic Morning Buns (a slightly sweet and cinnamon-y bun) and a slice of Chocolate Sourdough Cake with Ginger Frosting.

But I've been balancing all this indulgence out with some healthy meals too! James, our cook at Crosstown Arts, gave me some leftover Butternut Squash Saag. Though our cafe only has pastries available for the public, they still prepare vegan meals daily for our resident artists (who get free meals as part of the residency program). And sometimes, there are leftovers! I took this amazing coconutty saag home and had it over quinoa with some sauteed spinach.

And finally, here's a wholesome and yummy breakfast from last week. I made Tofu Eggs Over Toast with pickled onion and spinach. To make my tofu eggs, I saute tofu slabs and add a little Vegg yolk and black salt.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Papa Crunk's Vegan Power Balls!

This past weekend, I went home to visit my parents, and my dad gifted me with a bowl of his homemade power balls. He recently discovered a recipe for these whole food-based energy balls, and he veganized the recipe (by exchanging honey for agave) and added his own spin to them.

They're so good, y'all! These little peanut buttery snacks pack a big energy punch. I've been enjoying 1 or 2 before my runs this week, and they keep me satisfied throughout my runs. I sometimes struggle with getting hungry mid-run since I only have a small snack before my early morning runs. But these do the trick.

I love all the textures in these! He uses steel cut oats rather than rolled, which is what you'll find in most energy balls, and that makes for a much chewier ball. Plus, all the seeds and chocolate chips add lots of crunch.

He shared his recipe, so I wanted to share it with y'all!

Papa Crunk's Power Balls

1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup agave
1 Tbsp. ground flax

Chop the dried cranberries into smaller pieces. Then mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove from fridge and roll into balls (about 2 Tbsp. per ball) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes before serve. These keep for several weeks in the fridge, and they also freeze well. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Nacho Fries + Tempeh Tacos + Turk'y Cutlets

I had THE BEST meal last night! I found this recipe for Nacho Cheeze Fries on the 80/20 Plants website (sorry, since the recipes are only available to subscribers, there's no link). And y'all, it may be the best thing I've eaten in awhile. And it's 100% whole food, plant-based. The cheeze sauce is made with blended red lentils, nooch, and almond milk, and it's served atop baked fries, along with smoked tofu (from my dad's smoker), jalapenos, and scallions.

Who would have thought you can make vegan cheeze sauce using lentils? The lentils firm up a lot in the fridge, so the sauce gets thick and almost sliceable, which is pretty cool if you want a sliced cheese. But it melts into a sauce when heated. So good! I'll be making this again. For sure.

Y'all, look what I found at Kroger! Clearly Canadian! If you were around in the late 80s/early 90s, you probably remember this sweetened sparkling water. I used to love this stuff, and it's making a comeback. It's more like soda than Le Croix but really good. Definitely a nice treat.

And look! The ingredient list says "vegan flavoring"! I'm sure that wasn't there on the original bottles!

My lunches this week have been BBQ Tempeh Tacos, another recipe from 80/20 Plants. This one is super-simple — simply saute tempeh with BBQ sauce and serve in corn tortillas with pineapple, cilantro, red cabbage, and pickled onion.

For some of my dinners this week, I've been enjoying these Grain/Green/Bean Bowls with quinoa, kale, roasted brussels, sauteed Simple Truth plant-based kielbasa, and either tahini sauce (pictured here) or the leftover cheeze sauce from my fries. Nothing beats a GGB bowl!

And finally, here's one of my more indulgent meals of the week! Last Sunday, I met my friend Mike for brunch at Imagine Vegan Cafe and ordered this Turk'y Cutlet Plate with fried vegan cutlets over mashed potatoes and gravy and sides of vegan mac & cheese and seasoned greens. Yummmmm!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Veggie Dogs + Smoked Mushrooms + Bricohe

Have y'all tried the new Simple Truth Organic plant-based sausages yet? If you live near a Kroger store, get there fast and get some! They're so good! I got the Kielbasa and tried some late last week on a Lulu's bun. Perfection. They taste like a cross between a Tofurky/Field Roast dog and a Beyond Sausage. Shown here with air-fried sweet potatoes (my current obsession).

On Saturday morning, I stopped by the CY Farmers Market for my usual Lulu's treat. This time, I opted for a Blackeyed Pea Brioche. This was so good post-run.

Later that day, I went to my parents house in Arkansas to visit. My dad smoked some portabella mushrooms in his smoker, and we had Smoked Portabella & Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches with Salt & Pepper Fries! The smoky mushrooms and the crispy green tomatoes went so well together. We added Chao cheese and buffalo vegan mayo.

My dad sent me home with more smoked mushrooms and some smoked tofu (which I'll be using a recipe later this week). I had some of the mushrooms in a big salad with cashew ranch Sunday night and for lunch on Monday.

And finally, here's my usual at Otherlands Coffee. I had to work on a freelance story on Sunday morning, and I love to write at Otherlands. I always get a Dave's Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese and an Almondmilk Cappucino. Fuels the creative juices.

Monday, October 7, 2019

BBQ Jackfruit + Vegan Jerky + Nice Cream Oats

I made some BBQ jackfruit (using this recipe from Minimalist Baker) for a potluck event last week and saved a little aside for the next night's dinner. Here's a BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich with Red Cabbage Slaw and some sweet potato fries on the side (prepared in the air fryer). I usually make my fries from fresh potatoes, but these Alexia fries were on sale.

Still doing the 80/20 Plants thing! Last week, that meant having this whole foods-based Hearty Chickpea Soup for work lunches. This has chickpeas, kale, a tomato-veggie base, and whole wheat linguini pasta broken up into bite-sized pieces. Some days, I enjoyed it with whole wheat bread and other days with whole wheat crackers.

Here's REALLY ugly picture of a really yummy dinner of Sweet Potato Fries with Vegan Chili & Chao Cheese from last week. My lightbox lights (which I use for taking pics in the fall/winter when the sun goes down early) are broken, and some days, that means really poorly lit photos like this one. And let's be real — this food styling leaves much to be desired. But it was delicious. If you look to the top right, you'll see my kitty Polaris going in for a bite. 

One of my favorite breakfasts — Steel Cut Oats with Banana N'ice Cream & Tahini. The combo of warm and cold is just fabulous. For the nice cream, I added frozen strawberries and protein powder. I'm back to eating protein powder fairly regularly. It's considered part of the 80% on 80/20 Plants, and even though I know I don't need that extra protein for health, it does keep me fuller longer.

Here's a Lumberjack Latte from City & State, a third-wave coffee shop on Broad Ave. I was there for a meeting and was excited to try this iced maple latte from their new fall menu. 

The juice bar downstairs from my office is mostly vegan (except they do have some menu items with honey), yet I was still surprised to find this new-to-me vegan jerky for sale there! It's Jerky Y'all is a soy curl-based jerky, and it's GOOD! This prickly pear teriyaki jerky was both sweet and savory. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bowls, Beers, & Chocolate

Here's another random meal round-up! This past Tuesday, the Crosstown Memphis CDC (a board on which I sit as the secretary) held a Crosstown National Night Out at Crosstown Brewing Co., our neighborhood brewery. If you're not familiar, National Night Out events are held all over the country so neighbors can meet one another and the police who serve their area.

The cops always joke that it's unfair that we hold our event at a brewery (they're usually held at homes) since they're on the clock and obviously cannot drink. That didn't stop any of our neighbors though! I enjoyed a Crosstoberfest seasonal.

The event was potluck, and the CDC provided BBQ. Some of the guys on our board are on a BBQ team, so they provided pulled pork, and I brought vegan BBQ jackfruit. Everyone was so excited to try jackfruit! I used this recipe from Minimalist Baker. Here's my potluck plate — BBQ jackfruit sandwich, salad, fruit, pickled okra and olives, chips, and pretzels. Someone brought kale chips as well, but I ate those later.

I've been having lots of bean and rice bowls for work lunches. Here's a Southwest Black Bean Bowl with sauteed bell pepper, mushrooms, spinach, brown rice, and avocado.

Here's a recent snack plate with homemade hummus, cashew cheese, whole wheat crackers, and carrots. I love my whole foods snacks!

And finally, here's a yummy dessert I picked up at Sprouts this Monday night. It's a Living Raw Powermint Patty.

I have this self-care tarot deck from Goddess Provisions, and I pull a card each morning. Then I have to do whatever the card says that day. On Monday, it was Sweet Treat! I love an excuse to eat dessert, but I was craving something on the healthier side. When I went grocery shopping that night, I looked for a raw food dessert and found this raw peppermint patty made with cacao, coconut butter, and peppermint essential oil. Very good and totally whole food, plant-based!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Rawnola Recipe!

In a recent 80/20 Plants video (I know, I know it's all I talk about these days! But it's truly informing all of my food choices, and this is a food blog so ...), Olympic athlete and health coach Julia Murray mentioned that she likes to make "rawnola" (like raw granola) to eat as a breakfast cereal. My friend Susan recently gave me a few cartons of Silk vegan yogurt because they were too sweet for her, so I figured I'd make some rawnola to eat with my yogurt.

Since the Silk Oatmilk and Soy Yogurts are loaded with sugar, I'm considering this in the 20% of my diet (the indulgent part), so I knew if I wanted to eat these for breakfast, I'd need to top them with plenty of whole foods. And rawnola (paired with fresh nectarine and blackberries) sounded like the perfect way.

I created a simple rawnola recipe with a few things I had in my pantry – chopped dates, rolled oats, dried coconut, walnuts, chia seeds, ground flax, and pumpkin seeds. This tasty combo gets sweetness from medjool dates and plenty of crunch from the nuts and seeds. It was perfect atop this Silk Oat Yeah Mixed Berry yogurt, but I think this would also be delicious served like cereal, with a bit of almond milk (or whatever plant milk you prefer).

Excuse my weirdly lit photos. My lightbox lights are broken, so I'm just relying on lamp light when I need to photograph meals before sunrise (I ate breakfast at 6 am today).

Here's my super-simple recipe!

Bianca's Rawnola
Yields about 1.5 cups

6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup rolled oats
4 Tbsp. dried unsweetened coconut
4 Tbsp. raw, chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed

Stir everything to combine! Since the dates tend to stick together, I find it's necessary to get your hands into the mix and separate date bits, making sure they get good and coated with oat dust. That helps them stay separated. Serve over vegan yogurt or with plant milk. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Coffee & Omelettes & Biscuits!

Happy International Coffee Day! I always drink at least one cup in the mornings, but today I had two because COFFEE DAY! My second (extra) cup was this Oatmilk Cortado from the cafe at Crosstown Arts.

But my day started at home with a locally roasted French Truck Coffee Big River with Nutpods Pumpkin Spice Creamer. I love Nutpods because it's unsweetened, so I was super excited when I saw they have pumpkin spice creamer! So many of the pumpkin spice creamers are too sweet, but this one is free of added sugars.

In keeping with the coffee theme, here are a couple of awesome recent breakfasts. On Saturday, I enjoyed my usual pre-run bagel before my 8-mile training run. But as soon as that run was over, I refueled in the car with one of my fave Lulu's Baked Vegan Sausage Biscuits from the CY Farmers Market. I followed that with a smoothie at home for more proper post-run nutrition.

Mondays are workout rest days for me, so I get to sleep in until 6 am (yay!) and have a bigger breakfast. Yesterday, that was a Tofu Omelet from Hooked on Plants. This is totally whole food, plant-based, except for the Chao cheese.

With 80/20 Plants, I'm learning to look at each meal and ask myself, "Is 80% of this meal made from whole foods?" The other 20% of the meal can be plant meats or cheeses, white breads, or oils.