Thursday, July 19, 2018

Recipe: Vegan Squash Casserole

Growing up, one of my fondest memories is my granny's squash casserole. Yet I don't really remember it. Does that make sense? Like, I know she used to make squash casserole often when my parents and I would visit for dinner. And I remember loving it. But I can't remember what was in it. I know it was cheesy and perhaps topped with crumbled Ritz crackers, but I couldn't recreate the recipe from memory if I tried. And sadly, Granny most likely wouldn't remember it either. She's forgotten most of her recipes.

But when I got summer squash in my CSA for the third week in a row, I knew I wanted to try something fun with it. I'd already made squash parm, black bean & squash burritos, and grilled squash (on the 4th of July). So I googled a recipe for squash casserole and found many, many variations.


I picked one with low-oil to veganize since I'm trying to stick to a low-oil eating plan at home (all rules are off when eating out or dining at other people's homes). I feel better with less oil, so I'm really trying to eat that way 90% of the time. The recipe I chose probably isn't just like Granny's. For one thing, it called for breadcrumbs instead of crackers, and since I used whole wheat crumbs, I feel better about that. Even though Ritz crackers are vegan (fun fact!).

I will say that this casserole is damn good though. I used Daiya mozzarella for the cheese, rather than cheddar, simply because that's what I had at home. But cheddar would be prettier in this! Maybe it's just me, but both Daiya cheddar and mozz taste pretty much the same.


Without further ado, here's a veganized version of Squash Casserole. Btw, you'll see there is a little Earth Balance in the cheesy roux (but just one tablespoon for the whole recipe!).

Vegan Squash Casserole
Yields 4 servings

2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozz)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook squash and onion in a small amount of boiling water for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt Earth Balance in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; add cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Add squash mixture; stir well.

Spoon squash mixture into a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle squash mixture evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Even More Stuff I Ate

Last week, my friend Susan and I had lunch at Pho Binh — home of the best and cheapest tofu buffet in Midtown (and probably all of Memphis). The Lemongrass Tofu is the greatest thing on earth, and that's ALWAYS on the buffet (thank god). Also typically there's Green Bean Tofu and another random tofu/veggies dish. The clear veggie soup is pretty much always there. But it's a rare day when the Coconut Curry Tofu Soup is on offer. And it was last Thursday. It was a good day.


Our super-talented Crosstown Arts cafe cook and baker makes us vegan sweets at work several times a week. These Linzer Cookies with homemade jam were AMAZING. Just AMAZING.


Last Friday night, a few of my friends and I saw Boy George & Culture Club with the B-52's at Live at the Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Everyone arrives super-early for these outdoor shows so they can picnic before the concert. We had a big vegan spread with lots of wine and beer, plus herbed bread with Treeline cashew cheese and olive bruschetta, baby carrots and Thai coconut curry hummus, chips and guac, grapes, watermelon, trail mix, and lots of other little snacks.


Here's another No Meat Athlete-inspired recipe! Not from the cookbook though. I listen to the NMA podcast, and last week, host Matt mentioned that he liked to make Air-fried tofu, Hummus, & Veggie Wraps for his kids. It sounds great! So I air-fried some tofu (sprayed with Bragg's) on 400 for 15 minutes and layered into a wrap with CSA cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, plus lettuce and Thai coconut curry hummus (leftover from Friday's picnic). Served with chips and salsa verde.


And finally, here's yet another Fitquick Pizza Protein Waffle (this one is topped with marinara, nooch, and sauteed bell pepper, garlic, and onion — all from my CSA). I'm REALLY getting the most out of this CSA!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

I'm back with more random meals. I'm still obsessed with the No Meat Athlete Cookbook, so I made the Breakfast Tofu (one of my faves) to serve over toast with hummus. And sriracha, of course!


I also had some one morning with toast and jam, plus toast with Vegemite (which I think I like better than Marmite because it's more spreadable).


I made the Avocado-Lime Dressing from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook one day last week to top this big ole salad with black beans, corn, homemade kraut, pickled onions (also from the book), romaine, and carrots.


And here's yet another NMA cookbook recipe — I made the Zucchini Parm (only with summer squash instead since that's what I had in my CSA) and served it over whole wheat pasta with marinara and Tofurky Italian Brats. YUM!!!


And a few meals NOT from the NMA Cookbook! Here's a FitQuick Pizza Waffle made into Avo Toast. So I guess that makes it Pizza Protein Avocado Waffle Toast?! With cherry tomatoes (from the CSA) and pickled onions (well, those are from the NMA Cookbook). Also Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning!


Finally, here's a quick meal from the freezer. I had some Soup Beans frozen from a few weeks ago, and I served them with some Jalapeno Cornbread from Cookin' Crunk (that I made and froze a few months ago). Topped with the world's best homemade chow chow that my mama bought from some lady in Jonesboro, Arkansas.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Weekend Fun with Sheridan & Drew!

My BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew came to visit me in Memphis this past weekend. They live in Little Rock, about two hours away. And they hadn't been to Memphis since last fall so we had lots of eating to catch up on!


When they arrived on Saturday afternoon around 1 pm, it was time for lunch. So we drove out east to City Silo since they'd never been. City Silo is AWESOME! Most things on the menu are vegan by default, but they have the option of adding dairy cheese, eggs, or chicken. It's nice when vegan food is the default. Anyway, I had just run 16 miles and I was very hungry, so I ordered my favorite bowl in wrap-form. The Sesame Tempeh & Buffalo Cauliflower Bowl can be served on a wrap, but I usually get the bowl. The wrap is my fave. Love dipping it into the cashew ranch!


After lunch, we went out for beers at Crosstown Brewing Co., which is also new since they've been here last. Sheridan and I both ordered the seasonal Margarita Gose (a sour beer that has a lime-y margarita flavor without being sweet or too sour). I also sampled CBC's limited-edition Boris oak barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.


We took a little walk around Crosstown Concourse and Crosstown Arts (where I work) so they could see the progress and then we attempted to ride Memphis' new Bird Scooters (local scooter share), but the scooters wouldn't accept mine or Sheridan's driver's licenses for some reason. Oh well! Then it was on to some shopping at Urban Outfitters and then dinner! 

We dined at Fuel Cafe so they could try the new vegan pizzas, created by the talented Don Gaines. But we started with an appetizer of Baba Ganoush with pita, olives, and roasted carrots.


The three of us split two pizzas — a Carrot Ham & Pineapple Pizza and a Cream & Greens Pizza with added mushrooms. The cream is a mushroom cream, and it's so good. Also, Don hand-makes the cashew cheese and the fabulous sourdough crust.



Paul met up with us at dinner, and then the three of us went to a blacklight DJ party downtown at The Lightclub for an hour or so. We finished the night out with beers and some snacks (fresh herbed bread with Treeline scallion cashew cheese and olive bruschetta).

On Sunday morning, we stopped into Imagine Vegan Cafe for brunch before they hit the road. They were dying to try Imagine's new mozzarella sticks, and they did not disappoint!

For my entree, I wanted to go with something fairly light and healthy since Paul and I had a planned 6-mile run later in the day. I chose a Veggie Platter with vegan mac and cheese, seasoned greens, green beans, and BBQ beans. 


We had a wonderful, delicious time! Can't wait to do it again (and I'll get to visit them in Little Rock in the next couple weeks for Sheridan's birthday!).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

I have been LOVING my CSA. It's so fun to plan my meals around fresh produce, which surprisingly, is something I wasn't doing before. Instead, I was picking recipes from cookbooks without any concern for what I already had on-hand (that's an expensive way to eat, y'all! Pretty sure this CSA is saving me $$$).

One day last week, I made a Potato Cabbage Curry using this recipe. I added chickpeas for protein though! And I added some asafoetida and black salt for a more authentic Indian cuisine flavor. Tasted like something from a restaurant! Served over basmati rice.


My parents came to town on the Tuesday night before the 4th of July so my dad could fix my bike. And we went out to eat at Farm Burger, where I got yet another Impossible Burger. I will never tire of these!


Here's a much healthier burger! I had some No Meat Athlete Burgers (a lentil-walnut burger) in the freezer from when I made them back in December. The recipe is in the No Meat Athlete marathon roadmap meal plan. I had one on a Burger Salad!


But I also had another No Meat Athlete Burger last night on a sprouted grain bun with homemade pickles (from my CSA!) and Air-Fried Fries & Chipotle Mayo (by Just for All).


Hey, here's last week's CSA haul! Summer squash, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and nectarines.

I've already polished off the nectaries and cherry tomatoes. The cucumber became pickles and found their way into salads. And I used some of the squash in this Black Bean & Squash Burrito! Also has mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, vegan cheese, and salsa. I wish there was a way to take a pretty picture of a burrito.


I'll be back on Monday night with an update from my weekend fun. My BFF Sheridan and her partner are coming to visit, and we're planning to eat our way through vegan Memphis!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Stuff I Ate

I've back on my protein waffle game! I took a little break from FitQuick protein waffles when I was injured, but now that I'm ramping up my 50K training, I'm back to alternating between protein smoothies and protein waffles for breakfast. I had this Pizza Waffle after a morning run one day recently. Topped with marinara and some leftover cashew cheese!


Stopped by Imagine Vegan Cafe for a quick takeout dinner one night. Got the BLTA with a Side Salad and vegan ranch. They go heavy on the bacon on this sandwich, so it's one of my faves.


After that BLT, I kept craving more BLTs. So I made a few at home using toasted sesame seeds in place of bacon. Have y'all tried this???? It's amazing. A now-defunct health food store in Memphis — Square Foods — made their BLTs with toasted sesame seeds (they really taste like bacon!!) and I used to love them. Just toast seeds in a dry skillet and spread them over the mayo. I added heirloom tomatoes from my CSA, lettuce, and sprouts. Side of tortilla chips (the Sprouts brand cause they're my FAVE!) with hummus and salsa.


Here's a random breakfast of Oatmeal with Nectarines (from my CSA!), plus almond butter and hemp hearts.


My friend Andy had a birthday a couple weeks ago, and every year for his birthday, he requests that we eat at the West Memphis Shoney's. Weird, I know. Shoney's doesn't offer much for vegans, so I usually bring some food from home to add to my meal. This time, I ordered the salad bar and brought a Beyond Burger patty that we had leftover from the kitchen at work. Believe it not, burger salads are really good!

And finally, a sweet treat! Our Crosstown Arts cook/pastry wizard Maria is always trying out new vegan cookie recipes on us at the office. The other day, she had some leftover corn that needed using, so she made these Lemon Cornbread Cookies! Mmmmmm. They were like cornbread but sweet and with a hint of lemon. Definitely one of my faves from her.


More random meals tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Global Café Pop-Up at Crosstown Concourse

Global Café is a new international food hall opening soon in Crosstown Concourse, the building where I work. They'll host three immigrant/refugee food entrepreneurs at a time, and they'll cook and sell food in a common space. When they open later this summer, they're starting with cuisine from Nepal, Syria, and Sudan. 

The hope is that the individual entrepreneurs will eventually become successful enough to branch out and open their own restaurants. So the country concepts may change over time. They're still wrapping up construction on their space, which will be located near The Curb Market on the ground floor (if you're local and familiar with Crosstown Concourse).

But for the month of July (through the 27th), you can get a taste of Global Café at their lunch pop-up in West Atrium. Here is General Manager Juan of Mexico and Chef Ibti of Sudan serving up lunch. They start at 11 am daily on the weekdays.


Yes, they have a vegan option! 


The pop-up menu is only a sampling of what they'll serve in the restaurant, so there are four items. But one is vegan! My co-worker Madelyn and I had lunch there last week so we could try Juan's Mexican Frijoles de la Hoya Bean Stew.


Look at that beautiful avocado! Juan says he prides himself on his ability to pick out the best avocados. He topped each of our plates with a half avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. The stew tasted so fresh and healthy. I felt great after this lunch. I washed it down with their Hibiscus Flower Tea. This was lightly sweetened and very floral. A perfect complement to the beans.