Thursday, August 6, 2020

Cookbook review: Eat Feel Fresh

A few weeks ago, my best friend Sheridan suggested I check out Sahara Rose and her Highest Self Podcast. Sahara Rose is a plant-based, Ayurvedic nutritionist/author/podcaster/spiritual warrior princess! I wasn't familiar with her just a few weeks ago, and now I'm all in. She operates a goddess circle program, and she created a yoga/Ayurveda-based oracle deck (which I just got in the mail the other day). She's totally woo woo, and I'm here for it because I'm totally woo woo too! When I'm not obsessing over vegan food and running, I'm obsessing over crystals, Tarot, yoga, and magick.

I had actually read her book, Idiot's Guide: Ayurveda, a couple years ago, but I didn't pay attention to who the author was. I wish it had clicked for me back then, but either way, I'm glad Sheridan recommended I check her out. I immediately ordered Sahara Rose's Eat Feel Fresh cookbook, and I've been making so many dishes. Her book has inspired me to get back into Ayurveda, and I'm trying to eat for my vata-pitta dosha most of the time now. But I'm by no means doing this 100%! I like the 80/20 approach to everything — 80% in, 20% whatever.

A quick word about Ayurveda: It's a 5,000-year old-health system that originated in ancient India. It's the sister science of yoga. Yoga focuses on spiritual health, while Ayurveda covers the mind-body connection with nutrition and self-care practices. I won't go too deep into it in this post because there's a lot to explain. But there are three doshas (mind-body types), and I am a combination of two of those: Vata-Pitta. The other dosha is Kapha, and I have very little of that! You can find out your own dosha here.

Onto the food! Eat Feel Fresh is a plant-based, alkaline, gluten-free cookbook, so the recipes are super healthy and whole foods-based. There are breakfasts, six-taste bowls, chakra soups (one for balancing each chakra), dinners, and desserts. My favorite thing so far was this Durga Goddess Bowl from the six-taste bowl chapter. 
This salad-style grain bowl has quinoa, steamed beets, cucumber, tomato, steamed spinach, hemp seeds, avocado, edamame ginger hummus, and cashew tzatziki. The six-taste bowls are considered sattvic, meaning they contain all six tastes that help with digestion: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. As a vata, I'm supposed to limit raw vegetables, favoring cooked veggies to help with digestion and other imbalances. But Sahara designed her six-taste bowls to be tridoshic, meaning they're balanced for all doshas. She includes special instructions for each dosha as they're preparing her dishes (for example: I was supposed to steam my spinach, while I pure pitta or kapha would eat it raw).

Another fave were the Sweet Potato Toasts. She has different toppings depending on your dosha, but the savory vata version has avocado, tahini, sea salt, and lemon. Vatas need more fat than other doshas, so yay!! Lots of avocado! The "toasts" are partially baked sweet potato slices that are toasted in the toaster before serving.
There's also a sweet version of the sweet potato toasts for each dosha. The vata version has almond butter, banana, cinnamon, and goji berries. These were tasty! But the savory version was my fave.
I've been really working through the breakfast chapter! I also made her Savory Warming Carrot Oatmeal (also for vata). Vatas are supposed to limit cold foods since we tend to be cold-natured (I'm always freezing), and this warming bowl of oats was comforting even in the hot summer. The oats have spinach and carrot mixed in, and they're topped with avocado. 
I also tried two of her smoothie bowls. I made the Autumn Leaf Smoothie Bowl for vatas. This was a very fall-inspired smoothie bowl, which was a little weird to have in the summer, but I had leftover pumpkin that needed to be used. It has lots of warming spices and a fun spirulina swirl! I'll definitely be making this again when the weather cools down. By the way, Ayurveda doesn't recommend smoothies because they say you should avoid cold foods to aid in digestion, but Sahara's updated version says smoothies are fine so long as you don't use frozen fruits. This bowl didn't have any frozen fruits.
I also tried the Summer Sun Smoothie Bowl for pittas. I am vata-pitta, meaning I have a vata body and a pitta mind. I'm thin with frail bones (haha, I've broken my foot four times!), but I have a fiery, go-getter, routine-driven mind. After taking Sahara's quiz, I saw that the breakdown for me was pretty even — 75% vata body and 75% pitta mind. So I feel like I should probably occasionally gravitate toward pitta recipes too. This smoothie bowl with banana, strawberries, chia, cilantro (!!!), and green tea was lighter and cooler, both qualities that help balance pitta. By the way, this was made with fresh banana and strawberries rather than frozen. I'm not completely on the room-temp smoothie bandwagon yet, but I could get used to it.
As you can see, I've mostly just delved into the breakfast chapter so far. But I'm planning to make her Sweet Potato Pesto Pizza later this week, and I've got my eye on some other dinner recipes, like the Yellow Dal Tadka, Palak Tofu, and Tempeh Tikka. The recipes lean heavily Indian because that's Sahara Rose's cultural background, but there are also non-Indian dishes, like Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers, Cauliflower Casserole, and a Fajita Bowl.

I can't wait to dig into this book some more. You'll certainly be seeing more photos from the book soon! I want to make everything! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Taco Tuesday (on Wednesday!)

For the past few weeks, I've been doing daily meal themes, inspired by a No Meat Athlete podcast. There's Macaroni Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wok Wednesday, Takeout Thursday, Freestyle Friday, Sizzle Saturday, and Slice Sunday.

On Taco Tuesday, I can have anything in that taco/burrito/quesadilla/enchilada realm. So it's not JUST tacos! I've saved up some taco(ish) pics from the past few weeks, so even though today is Wednesday, I'm sharing my Tuesday tacos. But don't worry — it's Wok Wednesday today, so I had stir-fry tonight!

A few weeks ago, I made some awesome One-skillet Refried Pumpkin Tacos from The Low-Carb Vegetarian Cookbook by my friends Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence. I'm not even close to a low-carb eater, but their recipes are really yummy (and I usually add carbs!). For these, they sub canned pumpkin for refried beans since low-carb eaters avoid beans. Everything is cooked in one cast-iron skillet in the oven.

In one section of the skillet, you add seasoned pumpkin and vegan cheese. In another, you add mushrooms, peppers, and onions, and in the other, you're supposed to add vegan beef and salsa, but I subbed black beans for the beef, thus making this a high-carb recipe and cancelling out the effect of the pumpkin. HA! I do what I want!! I served these on chia-quinoa-wheat tortillas with cashew sour cream and guac salsa.

On another taco night, I had Tofu Tacos on much smaller corn tortillas. They're stuffed with seasoned tofu (I used packaged taco seasoning), Daiya, guac salsa, avocado, and fresh tomato from my garden. I'm trying to practice ayurveda these days, which says you should eat your largest meal at lunch. So I'm going with lighter, smaller dinners like this.

Here's the same Tofu Tacos — but the lunch version! See, they're much bigger. I used those larger wheat tortillas for this. I find that eating this way makes much more sense for me. I go to bed very early (9 pm), so it always feels weird to eat a big meal at 6:30 or 7 and then go to bed.

And finally, here's last night's Taco Tuesday meal! I made the Smoky Black Bean & Tofu Enchiladas from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. That recipe called for a noochy sauce, but I subbed Daiya instead because I was craving melty, cheesy enchiladas.

These are corn tortillas stuffed with a smoky black bean & tofu mixture and topped with a homemade, oil-free enchilada sauce. I'm eating a little more oil these days (as part of ayurveda), but I still prefer to cook mostly oil-free, saving oil for a garnish or dressing. Here's the dinner version with just two enchiladas topped with avocado, cashew sour cream, and pepitas. Sauteed kale on the side! My lunch version the next day has three enchiladas and a larger side salad.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Review: Parma!

Never underestimate the power of a sauce or a sprinkle. These little flavor enhancers can really take a dish from meh to wow! And one of my favorite sprinkles is Parma! I've been using Parma for a few years as a vegan Parm sub, but I'd only tried the original flavor. They offered me some review samples, and I jumped at the chance to sample their other flavors. They sent me two full bottles of the Original and the Garlicky Green.

And they sent samples of the Better Than Bacon and Chipotle Cayenne!

The Original has long been my Parm of choice for spaghetti nights. It's made with nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pink salt, and hemp seeds, so it's a more whole foods-based choice than one of the plant cheese brands. That's not to say that I don't also love the Follow Your Heart shreds, because I do! But I try to eat an 80% whole food, plant-based diet, and this is one way to make sure I'm getting more whole foods in. The Original has a very noochy flavor, and I like that it's lightly salted.

Another favorite use for Parma is as a popcorn topper! Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack food, and I love it mixed with a little vegan butter-flavored coconut oil and Parma. When I don't have Parma on hand, I use nooch and popcorn salt, but Parma is salted so it does double duty. I tried the Garlicky Green on popcorn, and WOW!! Next. Level. This Parma has the same ingredients as the original, plus garlic, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, kelp, and basil. It's all finely ground, so it looks the same throughout, but the flavor is beautifully pungent. I love garlic! You'd think the kelp would make it fishy, but it doesn't at all.

I was most excited to try the Better Than Bacon because bacon!! This also has the same ingredients as Original but with added smoked salt (hence the bacony flavor), paprika, dried onion, and a touch of brown sugar. It tastes like cheesy bacon, and that's a win! This would be amazing on vegan mac & cheese, but I've yet to try that. I did sprinkle some on some sliced, grilled potatoes, and it was really yummy. For the potatoes, I sliced them and then added the bacon Parma and some Earth Balance and then wrapped in foil. I grilled them for about 30 minutes.

So far, I've tried the Chipotle Cayenne flavor on popcorn, but I didn't want to show you another picture of popcorn. It looks the same, but it has a spicy kick from chipotle powder and cayenne pepper. It's not overly spicy but just right! You get that smoky chipotle flavor and that back of the throat cayenne kick. This would also be really great sprinkled on black bean tacos!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Magical Meals & More!

This past Saturday was Lammas (or Lughnasadh if you're fancy!) in the Northern Hemisphere! This First Harvest holiday is when we celebrate all the Earth's summer bounty, especially grain. The name Lammas is a shortened version of "loaf-mass," so it comes as no surprise that bread plays an important role on this day.

I celebrated on Saturday by baking Beer Bread. But I wanted to make it a little healthier, so I used all whole wheat pastry flour (with no white flour), and of course, it came out super-dense! I knew better, but I couldn't help myself. Still tasted great but no rise. I served my flat, buttered beer bread with Stuffed Zucchini Boats and some Spinach Salad. And wine, of course! It was a holiday!

All of the recipes came from the 2020 Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac, which has vegan versions of most every recipe. The zucchini boats are stuffed with chopped Beyond Sausage, marinara, and vegan mozz. And the salad has spinach, cherry tomato and cucumber (from the farmer's market), vegan mozz, croutons (from the beer bread), and a homemade Italian dressing with a vegan mayo base.

After dinner, we built a fire in the backyard and burned bits of beer bread for protection and gratitude in the coming season. Then it was time for cakes and ale (or, in my case, muffins and wine). I made some lavender-rose syrup to add to white wine, which I enjoyed with a Zucchini Chocolate Muffin from LuLu's (procured from the farmer's market that morning).

I have a LOT of random food pics in the queue, going back several weeks to the New Moon! On the New Moon (the one at the end of July), I had a nice spaghetti dinner (it was a Macaroni Monday!) with The BE-Hive's Italian crumbles. I picked up several BE-Hive meats on my last trip to Nashville, and I've stashed them in my freezer. The BE-Hive is a Nashville seitan butcher! I had a salad too, hence the salad fork. I'm not really sure how to properly set a table, but I tried!

Here's a lovely snacky dinner! I made Romesco (roasted red pepper walnut spread) from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook and served Treeline cashew cheese, whole wheat crackers, and LuLu's Country Loaf. Maynard really wanted me to share!

Speaking of harvests, there's an abandoned fig tree in my neighborhood (in a vacant apartment lot), and around this time every year, I walk Maynard past the tree daily so I can harvest the nearly ripe ones. They ripen quickly on the counter.

Unfortunately, many other people know about this tree, and at some point every summer, someone wipes the whole thing out! But I got quite a few early on and made some amazing Overnight Oats with Figs, Peanut Butter Granola, and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Butter. I mentioned last week that I'm finally overnight oatted out, but this was before I got tired of them.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Southern Fried Family Supper!

Since I've been working from home during the pandemic, I've been able to self-isolate for two weeks prior to visits with my parents. Since they're in the high-risk age group, I wouldn't feel comfortable going around them if I were around people. But when I plan a visit, I ask Paul to stay in Nashville for two weeks (since he's still working with people every day), and I go on one big grocery trip to get me through until after I visit my parents. I did that in May and June, so I planned a July visit for last Friday.

We have an annual tradition of one big Southern fried meal every summer, when all the summer produce is poppin'! So last Friday, my mom cooked an amazing, indulgent supper of Fried Squash, Fried Zucchini, Fried Okra, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Potatoes and Beans and Cornbread (plus, some fresh summer tomato slices for good measure). 

I LOVE MEALS LIKE THIS!! They don't really love me back, and I spend the rest of the day feeling sluggish and bloated, but it's totally worth it once a year. My parents have been on a keto diet lately, and they were most excited about getting to eat beans again. I can't imagine a life without beans!

We were stuffed from dinner, so we waited a few hours before treating ourselves to dessert. Mama made Peach Melba, which is a dessert I'd never heard of. It's ice cream (we used So Delicious Vanilla Bean) with fresh peaches, strawberry preserves, and coconut whip. Such a perfect, light summer treat. Light, as in texturally light! Nothing about this meal was calorie-light, and that's a-okay!

We took a family selfie!

While I was in town, my mom and I drove over to my Me-Maw's house for a quick socially distant visit on her porch. Even though I'd isolated, I still didn't want to get too close to Me-Maw because she's in her 80s. But she's in great health! Love my Me-Maw! 

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Backyard Camping!

After Bonnaroo Music & Arts Fest was postponed and then cancelled this year, Paul and I were bummed that we'd be missing our annual camping trip. We go to 'Roo every year and camp in the guest camping grounds. It's festival camping at its finest — easy access to showers, a coffee bar, and plenty of porta-potties, and just a mile walk from the festival grounds. With that option out, we decided that we should try to go actual camping in actual nature this year instead!

I'm always down for tent camping, as primitive as possible. But Paul is a bit of a diva and complains about the heat in the tent every year. So he invested in a small pull-behind RV, and we're planning to take it to Asheville, North Carolina in the fall. But we had to test it out first! Paul brought the RV home from Nashville last weekend, and we camped out in the backyard.

The best part about camping at home is you still have all your stuff inside the house, and you can go inside to pee. We also had access to our gas grill, so we started our evening of camping by grilling some vegan brats, zucchini, corn on the cob, and asparagus. 

Then, we headed inside the tiny camper to watch a scary movie (The Grudge) until the sun went down. The camper is tiny! Inside, there's a couch that folds into a bed, a TV/DVD player, and some cabinets for storage. That's all!

After the movie, we enjoyed some summer drinks (Crosstown Brewing Boat Drinks margarita gose & Memphis Made Fun lime hard seltzer for me!) and made a bonfire in our fire pit. We roasted Dandies, and I made some s'mores with dark chocolate and Belvita oat breakfast biscuits (I couldn't find vegan grahams at Kroger, but those Belvita biscuits make perfect s'mores).

Am I the only one who likes my marshmallows blackened? I roast hot dogs like this too!

We slept in the camper. It wasn't as comfy as my bed, but it was fun to pretend we were in the woods! And Maynard was right inside the house, so I didn't even need a dog-sitter. 

The next morning, I was super-excited to try out the camper's kitchen. The back opens up to reveal an outdoor kitchen space with two gas burners, a mini fridge, a sink, and microwave. The night before, I packed everything we'd need to make pancakes and vegan sausage in the camper. Still wearing clothes from the day before!

Then we enjoyed instant coffee (yay camping!) with our pancakes and sausage on the back porch. The sausage was quinoa-seitan sausage from The Be-Hive in Nashville. 

What a fun weekend! I can't wait until we can take this camper on the road!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

On Tuesdays, I Run 4 Tacos! Also on Saturdays!

Happy Taco Tuesday! I have a taco-themed post for you today, but full disclosure: I ate these tacos on Saturday. Also had tacos today, but they're not in this post.

On Saturday morning, Paul and I ran a couple of virtual races! A few weeks into the pandemic, after all the in-person races were cancelled, the internet exploded with virtual races. At first, I wasn't so sure I'd be terribly excited about a race without a start line/finish line, post-race beer, etc.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and so we signed up for a few virtual races. We ran the Marathon Training Academy Social Distancing Half Marathon back on June 8, and then we started getting Facebook ads from this company called I Run 4 Movement. They had so many fun race themes, so we signed up for a few. Here's how it works: You pay a small registration fee (these were $35), and they ship you a race bib, a tank or tee, and an awesome medal. And then it's just on the honor system. You can run the "race" any time, and it's up to you to make sure you run the distance you signed up for.

I Run 4 Movement had lots food and drink themes, which I love, so I picked a taco run and a doughnut run, mostly because I could give myself a fun, themed post-run celebration. I did my I Run 4 Tacos 10K race on Saturday, and Paul did the Run to the Future 5K (a Back to the Future theme). The tagline on his medal sash and shirt said "Just don't set it for 2020." Ha!

By the way, you can't tell in this picture, but my Goodr sunglasses have tiny tacos all over them! We ran our "races" through Overton Park, so we could stay in the shade because it's HOT in Memphis these days! I love running in the heat, but shade is always best. 

Y'all, I set a new 10K PR!!!!!!!!!! Since my races were cancelled, I've refocused my running goals for 2020 to work on my speed. For all of June, I did a training plan (through Can't Stop Endurance Training) to improve my mile time, and in July, I signed up for a training plan to work on my 5K time. All that speed work is paying off! And I shaved about three minutes off my previous best 10K time.

Paul didn't fare so well. He did a 5K, so I ran two 1.5-ish mile loops while he waited in the car, and then he joined me for the last 2 1.5-ish mile loops. He was struggling in the heat and having some back pain, so I smoked him and finished several minutes ahead of him. That never happens, so it made me feel good! He was still glad to be done when he was, and we had some fun taking finish line pics with our homemade finish line in the park.

After our runs, we headed home to shower, and then I rewarded myself with some Vegan Beef & Refried Pumpkin Tacos and a Cayman Jack margarita beer! I have to say, this was way better than any finish line meal I've ever had a real race.

Taco close-up!! Inside is seasoned Pure Farmland vegan beef crumbles, refried pumpkin (from The Low Carb Vegetarian Cookbook), mushrooms, peppers, onions, avocado, Daiya cheese, tomato, lettuce, and cashew sour cream. 

After our races, we had another fun adventure on Saturday! But I'll save that for tomorrow's post!