Monday, June 14, 2021

Vegan Product Review: The Big Fry Burger & Like Grilled Chick'n

As a vegan food blogger, I often get cool free products to test out and feature on the blog. Sometimes a company will send one box of something or maybe two, if I'm lucky. I'm always grateful for the opportunity to test out new vegan products! But every once in a while, the stars align, and a company sends enough food to feed an army! That's what happened with Fry's Family Foods and Like Meat, two companies with lots of vegan plant meats to choose from!

They sent me all of this!

And all of this!

I'll be reviewing these products in segments because there were just so many to try. Tonight, I'm focusing on The Big Fry Burger from Fry's Family Foods and Like Meat Like Grilled Chick'n. I used both of these for our official kick-off to grilling season a couple Sundays ago (Memorial Day weekend).

The Big Fry Burger burger is made with soy protein, onions, and lots of spices. The Fry's website claims the burger "looks, sizzles, and tastes like a ground beef burger." It has 22 grams of protein per patty! I put one of these on the grill and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes total (flipping it halfway through). Then I piled it on a bun with vegan cheddar, red onion, pickles, and lettuce. 

The taste was very beefy! It didn't have that Beyond flavor that's very distinctive to Beyond, and it wasn't as realistic as the Impossible. It was somewhere in between, and I appreciated that. I have a few friends who are weirded out by the super-meaty plant meats, and I think this one would be approachable for those kinds of people, as well as those of us who are like, "Bring on the meaty fake meat!" Would definitely buy these!

I used the Like Chick'n pieces to make some Veggie & Chick'n Kabobs. I brushed the kabobs with olive oil mixed with soy sauce and herbs before grilling. 

WOW! This stuff blew me away! It had a really nice flavor before adding the marinade (I was eating bits from the package as I made kabobs). It tasted just like how I remember chicken tasting. Granted, I haven't had chicken since 1994. These chick'n pieces would also be great on tacos or in a stir-fry. They were really nice on kabobs, but there were some smaller pieces in the box that were too small to skewer. 

Both of these products were fantastic! I love how far plant meats have come! Stay tuned for more Fry's and Like Meat reviews this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Not Eggs!

Here's an assortment of vegan breakfasts I've been eating lately! We'll start with this sexy Vegan Omelet made from Just Egg and stuffed with Daiya cheddar, bell pepper, tomatoes, and spinach. I was at Sprouts a couple weeks ago, and they had Just Egg on sale for $3.99, so I couldn't resist. Or so I thought it was $3.99. When I checked out, it rang up at $4.99. I guess someone forgot to change the sale sign. Oh well! This omelet was worth the extra $1. I had a slice of LuLu's garlic-rosemary sourdough on the side. 

I also used some of that Just Egg to make this tasty Breakfast Sandwich with avocado on a Dave's Killer English Muffin (my new favorite bread product!).

And I also used some Just Egg to top an Avocado Toast. I did one slice with Just Egg and the other with nooch and sriracha. 

Here's a breakfast that didn't involve Just Egg! I picked up a Tofu Breakfast Biscuit from the LuLu's booth at the Coooper-Young Farmer's Market last Saturday and enjoyed it for breakfast on Sunday. The eggy tofu was perfectly breaded, and the biscuit was hearty and filling. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Donuts, Tacos, & Wine

They say with running, you need to find your "why" — that reason that keeps you motivate to train and strive for faster paces or longer distances. I have a lot of whys, but one of those whys is DONUTS. I run for donuts. It's true.

And last Friday was National Donut Day, so of course, I celebrated with lots of donuts! Imagine Vegan Cafe was offering a Donut Burger special — Beyond burger patty stuffed between two donuts with their house-made special burger sauce, tomato, and lettuce. They've offered this before, and I got it then too. I was really excited to have this again! I love savory-sweet flavor combos.

I also pulled a Darling Donuts King Cake Donut out of the freezer. When I order Darling Donuts — Memphis' awesome vegan donut delivery service — I always freeze a few for emergencies. Darling wasn't offering donuts until Saturday, so I had to rely on my stash.

Here are some recent tacos I made using leftover Veggie & Vegan Chicken Kabobs from our Memorial Day grilling dinner. I'm planning a review post of this awesome vegan chicken soon! Served with grilled corn with miso-lime sauce from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen.

And finally, here's a fun wine find! We found this RAW vegan wine at our neighborhood liquor store. It's not actually raw wine (is that a thing?), but the RAW stands for Really Awesome Wine. And it was! This was organic and vegan (it says vegan on the bottle!). It's semi-sparkling, so it's very light and summer-y. I'm typically a red wine drinker, but I could drink this all day. The bottle had a flip cap attached so you can re-seal and save the bubbles, and you can re-use the bottle later. I'm saving it for my homemade booch!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Vegan Bubble Tea at Sugar Ghost!!

Memphis is about to get a new vegan-friendly ice cream and bubble tea shop! Sugar Ghost is opening on Broad Avenue later this summer, but you can get a taste of what they'll be offering now at their adorable food truck!

I stopped by the truck on Sunday to try their Vegan Classic Black Bubble Tea! Fruit bubble teas are typically vegan, but vegan milk teas are much harder to find. I don't think anyone else in Memphis offers a vegan milk boba, so I was so excited to learn Sugar Ghost offers an almond milk option for their classic black tea.

This was creamy and sweet with just the right amount of chewy tapioca pearls. Nothing beats the feeling of sucking a chewy boba pearl up through a giant straw and squishing it between your teeth. They also have the popping lychee boba for those who prefer pop to chew. I'm a tapioca boba girl myself though!

The food truck currently offers this vegan black milk boba, as well as numerous fruit teas that are also vegan. And they have vegan ice cream bars by Chloe's (mint chip, raspberry chip, and salted caramel)! They'll be parked at 2613 Broad Ave every Friday-Sunday from noon-4 pm until the shop opens (right next door to where the truck is parked!). 

Once the shop opens, they'll also have handcrafted vegan ice cream. I know where I'll be all summer after Sugar Ghost opens!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Potato Tacos, Kitchari, & Brown Foods!

After a long weekend with my friend Greg, who visited Memphis and stayed at my house a couple weeks back, I needed a cleanse! We ate so much takeout, and I had my fair share of beers. I just needed something tasty and wholesome, so I did a one-day kitchari cleanse! I made the Tridoshic Kitchari from Eat Feel Fresh, using the vata dosha ingredients (grounding sweet potato and greens). I had this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the Monday after our fun four-day weekend!

I made some Potato & Bean Tacos a couple Taco Tuesdays ago. I had some leftover potatoes, and they made a lovely filling sauteed with some black beans, spinach, and taco seasoning. Topped with avocado and Tofutti sour cream.

The next day, I had a Potato & Bean Burrito Bowl with the same toppings from my tacos, plus Siete Foods Cashew Queso. I love simple meals like this!

Here's a recent Spaghetti dinner with sauteed shrooms, Follow Your Heart vegan parm, and jarred spaghetti sauce. Served with a side of sauteed garlic broccoli rabe greens from my CSA.

And finally, here's a very brown bowl of food! This is not pretty at all, but this is what many of my easy meals look like. This is a grain/green/bean bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, and a tahini-miso-nooch sauce!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Eating Like a No Meat Athlete

As anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile probably knows, I'm a little obsessed with No Meat Athlete (the blog, the podcast, the brand, all of it). No Meat Athlete founder and podcast host Matt Frazier has a new book, co-authored with vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke, coming out June 15, and I cannot wait! It's called The Plant-Based Athlete, and they've interviewed tons of amazing athletes about their performance and their diets. In the lead-up to the book coming out, Matt has been blogging a bit more about nutrition for plant-based athletes, and a recent post caught my attention.

In this post, titled A Healthy, Practical Plant-based Diet: A Typical Day, Matt talks about his ideal day of eating. He outlines breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks (and even his nightly booze). I decided to follow his plan for a day (by the way, Matt talks about this simple way of eating a lot, and I'm pretty sure I've done this before. But I did it again last Thursday!).

Matt only has coffee until 9 am, but I run in the mornings, so I had some medjool dates before a 3-mile run. At 9 am, he has a smoothie, and that's what I always have after my runs. So I made this smoothie with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, Complement protein powder (made by NMA!), walnuts, and flax seeds.

For his morning snack, Matt often has whole wheat bagels or English muffins with hummus. I didn't have either, but I had some whole wheat bread, so I had that with kalamata olive hummus around 11 am.

Lunch for Matt is a giant salad! And that's what I had. I filled this mixing bowl with every veggie in my fridge, plus chickpeas, black beans, sesame seeds, and walnuts. I made some Goddess Dressing from the No Meat Athlete book as a topper. You can't tell in this pic, but this salad was bigger than my head. When eating a salad as a meal, it should be BIG!

In the afternoon, Matt snacks on fruit or veggies with hummus. I had some strawberries that I'd gotten in my CSA.

And finally, for dinner, Matt makes sure he has a grain, a green, and a bean. This can come in many forms — a bowl, a plate of pasta with sauce/beans/broccoli, tacos with beans/greens, etc. For me last Thursday, it was a Tofu Stir-fry with broccoli, mushrooms, and brown rice. 

Matt allows himself one beer or glass of wine each night, so I made sure to have a glass of red pinot noir after dinner! I love this way of eating. It made me feel super healthy without too much restriction. I probably wouldn't want to eat salad for lunch every day, but having a giant salad mid-day means I get lots of veggies in so that dinner can be a little indulgent. For example, today, I followed a similar plan — smoothie breakfast, salad for lunch. But my dinner is spaghetti with vegan ground beef! You can really eat whatever you want for dinner because you know you've gotten your nutrition in for the day with the smoothie and salad!

I'll be doing a book review of The Plant-Based Athlete soon! But you can learn more about the book (including how to get rad pre-order bonuses!) here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Review: Vegan Salami by Renegade Foods!

I'll admit it: Before writing this post, I had to google "salami" because I wasn't quite sure what qualifies as salami. I haven't eaten meat since November 1994, and I was 14 then, so my lexicon of meats is a bit limited to whatever my mom cooked. I'm not sure I ever had meat salami, which according to google is "cured sausage consisting of fermented and air-dried meat, typically pork." Suffice to say, I've not had a salami-sized hole in my heart since going veg. You can't miss something you've never had. 

But when Renegade Foods reached out to ask if I'd like to review their new line of vegan salami, I was stoked! I may not care about new-to-me animal foods, but I love trying new vegan plant meats! Especially if those meats can become part of a charcuterie board!

Renegade Foods' line includes Spicy Chorizo, Smoky Soppressata, and and Sweet Toscana. The salamis are seitan-based and seasoned with fresh veggies and spices. As I cut into the first log, I was surprised to find that it was wrapped in paper casing. That casing is very easy to remove though. Just don't try to eat it like I did! 

Of course, we had to try these first on a big Vegan Charcuterie Platter! Renegade's website provides wine and food pairings for each flavor, but I just added our favorite cheese board snacks and poured some nice white table wine that we picked up at a winery in Chattanooga on our last visit.

Besides the salami, this platter had Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse Cheddar, marcona almonds, homemade tofu hummus, onion jam, dolmas, grapes, Back to Nature pink salt flatbreads, and LuLu's baguette. Paul and I sat outside by the fire-pit and enjoyed our snacks and wine. 

Here are our thoughts on each flavor: The Smoky Soppressata was mine and Paul's favorite. It's a Calabrian-style salami influenced by the flavors of Italy (according to their website). It's got chunks of black pepper and hints of applewood smoke. This one tasted the meatiest, perhaps because of the smoky flavor. The texture was firm and toothsome, much like the texture of other seitan-based sausages. 

The Sweet Toscana is a Tuscan-inspired salami with fennel, Italian herbs, and roasted red pepper. I would call this fennel-forward if I were the kind of foodie who calls things "forward." That lends it a sausage flavor that would work well on a pizza!

The Spicy Chorizo is Spanish-style salami with smoked paprika and garlic. It's the spiciest of the three, thanks to chipotle pepper and red pepper. We both love spice, and we felt like this salami had just the right level. It's not burn-your-mouth hot, just tingly-in-the-back-of-your-throat hot. Perfect!

After our tasting, I decided to put a few of these to use in other ways. Last week, I made Chorizo & Pinto Bean Tacos by sauteeing chopped Renegade Chorizo with pinto beans and some taco seasoning. I topped the tacos with vegan shreds, sour cream, and avocado, and they were awesome! Definitely one of my favorite Taco Tuesdays in recent memory.

This past Saturday, after I ran the Great American River Run Half-Marathon (a real race!! Races are back!), I treated myself to a mini Vegan Soppressata Pizza using the salami, vegan shreds, fresh basil from my garden, homemade pizza sauce, and a Simple Truth mini vegan pizza crust. So much better than any vegan pepperoni I've had!

These new Renegade Foods salamis are AWESOME, and I'd highly recommend them if you're planning a vegan charcuterie plate! Or if you just want some delicious snacks to have on-hand. I've been eating lots of salami and vegan cheese/crackers lately. They're even great for romantic picnics. After seeing my Instagram post about these a couple weeks ago, my friends Simon and Jen ordered some salami for themselves, and they had a lovely Memorial Day picnic with it.