Thursday, May 19, 2022

Meals from The Blue Zones Solution!

Because I'm a bit obsessed with No Meat Athlete, I've also become a little obsessed with The Blue Zones — Dan Buettner's series of books on the world's longest lived people and how to replicate their healthy habits so we can live past 100. The NMA folks are big Blue Zones fans, and I read Buettner's first book on the five Blue Zones (Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Okinawa, Japan) a while back. Those are the places that have the highest percentage of centenarians. 

One thing all of those places have in common is that the people eat a mostly plant-based diet, so Buettner's next book, The Blue Zones Solution, dives into the eating habits of each country and includes a few recipes. The recipes are not all vegan, but about 3/4ths of them are. I've been cooking my way through the book, and here are a few things I've made.
My very favorite so far was Panchita's Gallo Pinto, a black bean and white rice recipe from centenarian in Nicoya. I served it with Avocado Salsa from the Seventh Day Adventist recipe section (Loma Linda is a Blue Zone because of the plant-based Seventh Day Adventist community there). The avocado salsa was insanely good! It had olive oil, chopped avocado, olives, corn, garlic, onions, and peppers. 

Most of the cultures featured use olive oil pretty heavily, so the recipes are quite different from the oil-free way I've cooked in the past. But hey, if people are using that much olive oil and living past 100, I'm here for it!

The book also includes some very basic recipes, like the general one for dry beans in the slow cooker. I used it to make these White Beans (just beans, herbs, salt, pepper, and water), and they were perfect. I had them with some collards and my mom's homemade vegan chicken dressing (which I had stashed in my freezer).

From the Okinawa section, I tried this Longevity Stir-fry! It has tofu, green beans, mung bean sprouts, and cabbage, and it was very simple and tasty. 

All week this week, I've been eating these Ikarian Baked Chickpeas with Horta. The chickpeas are made from dried beans and then baked with herbs, zucchini, carrots, onion, and olive oil. The Ikarians eat a lot of chickpeas! And they also eat wild greens called horta that are just blanched and drizzled with olive oil. Since we don't have wild greens growing around here, Buettner recommends trying this with kale, which I did. Very tasty and healthy!

Two other things I've made that I don't photos for. The Sardinian White Bean Smash was like hummus without tahini and with lots of garlic. I loved that! And I also tried the basic recipe for Adventist Slow Cooker Oats made with steel cut oats. It was nice to wake up to oats prepared in the slow cooker!

Buettner has since released a whole Blue Zones Cookbook, but I don't have that yet. Definitely on my list! I'm currently reading his book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, which is about the world's happiest countries (which are not the same as the Blue Zones for longevity. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Cameo

Last night, I met up for happy hour drinks with my "spice girls" — a group of girlfriends from my old job at Crosstown Arts (we each have Spice Girl names; I'm Sporty Spice). We get together once a month or so to catch up as two of us (including me) have left the company that brought us together. This time, we decided to check out the new Cameo bar at The Citizen. I saw they had a few vegan menu items, so I was excited to try some!

For starters, I ordered a Dirty Martini (with vodka, not gin) since it was happy hour, and classic cocktails are $2 off between 4 and 6 p.m. It was an excellently shaken martini, but I did wish they'd added some olives. Oh well. Very tasty!

To eat, I went with the Buffalo Vegan, a sandwich made with buffalo-seasoned lion's mane mushrooms on crusty bread, served with Zapp's Voodoo Chips. The lion's mane mushrooms were chopped pretty finely, and they were topped with a creamy vegan slaw. Bonus point to Cameo for having vegan slaw! I get so annoyed with places that only carry vegetarian slaw (like just use vegan mayo, people! And then everyone can eat it!).

You can also build your own charcuterie board with vegan items, like olives, jams, bread, and pickles (though they don't carry vegan meats or cheeses). I'll probably try that next time.

The space is super-cute and small. Perfect for a lady time happy hour. My only complaint would be taxidermy on the walls. I wish the taxidermy trend would end forever. Pro tip: Sit on the wall side of the booths, and you won't have to look at the dead animal heads.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Chili Cheese Fries, Brats, & Other Tasty Treats

Last Saturday, while I was out on a very hot 13-mile training run, I got a craving for Chili Cheese Fries. It often happens that I crave something decadent during my long runs, and knowing I can have it afterward serves a motivator for me to keep running. So after my protein smoothie and shower, I went to Imagine Vegan Cafe to satisfy that craving. 

Those fries were so good, and the whole box weighed a few pounds, but I ate every bite (and didn't even feel overly stuffed). I guess I needed the calories.

I got an order of Garlic Kale on the side because I know what's good for me.

On Sunday, Paul and I went kayaking in the Mississippi River harbor, and we worked up an appetite. He got a post-kayaking pizza at Wiseacre Brewing Co., but I waited to eat at home (even though they have a vegan pizza) because I had Beyond Brats and corn on the cob waiting. I topped my brat with some sauteed peppers and mushrooms.

Speaking of the abovementioned long run, here's what I ate Friday night to prepare — Spaghetti with Beyond Meat Sauce and Mushrooms. Yum!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Pretty Raw Food & Ugly (But Tasty) Daily Harvest

Most Mondays, I stop by the Raw Girls' downtown Memphis location to grab lunch, which ensures that my Mondays kick off with a healthy start. Last week, I got the Raw Taco Salad with walnut meat, avocado, salsa, and greens. So good and fresh! I love that walnut meat.

And a couple weeks back, I got the Raw Zucchini Pasta with a side of Raw Turmeric-Flax Crackers. The zucchini pasta is just very thinly shaved zucchini with a tasty homemade sauce, so I felt like I needed something to go with it to make it more filling. So I grabbed the raw crackers as a side. I love those crackers!

And now for the ugly stuff. My awesome neighbor Nancy dropped by one day a few weeks back to gift me a couple of Daily Harvest bowls from their subscription. I've heard about Daily Harvest, which ships ready-to-eat, frozen plant-based meals to your door, but I'd never tried them. When I looked at the ingredients of this one, I couldn't imagine how it was all combined and presented. Then I opened it, heated it, and this is what I got. It was sooo tasty and surprisingly filling despite the small size. But it's definitely not pretty. 

Next up, I tried this one. I wasn't sure how it would taste with this ingredient combo.

But it was also really good! The ginger wasn't too strong, and it was also very filling. I probably won't ever subscribe to Daily Harvest because I love cooking my own meals. But these seem like a really healthy and tasty option for someone who either doesn't enjoy cooking or just doesn't have the time. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pizza, Tacos, & Fried Rice

A few weeks ago, I was passing through my hometown — Jonesboro, Arkansas — and I stopped into their health food store, The Truck Patch, for a few groceries. I found this awesome frozen Barbecue Chick'n Pizza from Blackbird. This was seriously the best frozen pizza ever. The crust was just perfect, and the cheese was Violife (which I love).

Cinco de Mayo was last week, so I whipped up these delicious Seitan & Mushroom Tacos using some homemade seitan from my freezer with packaged taco seasoning and sauteed mushrooms. 

When I visit my parents, like I did last weekend, my mom always sends me home with the leftover vegan items that she uses for dinner and breakfast, so I had about one-third of a bottle of Just Egg leftover. I used that and some tofu, brown rice, and frozen veggies to make this Tofu Egg Fried Rice for lunches this week.

And finally, here's a tasty bowl made with brown rice, sauteed kale, white beans (cooked from scratch), homemade cashew ranch, and some pickled carrots. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Product Review: Barvecue Pulled BVQ

This post is very topical this week since it's World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest week in Memphis. Of course, that event is very un-vegan-friendly. But I recently got to sample some Barvecue Pulled BVQ, and I wanted to tell y'all about it. A fellow vegan friend who owns the local Grind City Grocer sent me home with a free package to try. Grind City Grocer is a boutique grocer that mostly sells made-in-Memphis products, but they also carry a few vegan items that aren't local (but aren't sold anywhere else in Memphis).

The Pulled BVQ is soy protein-based, and the texture reminded me a lot of Soy Curls (which I adore!). The chewy protein strips are wood-smoked and then coated in a tangy barbecue sauce that tastes a lot like a classic Memphis 'cue sauce. Barbecue sauce varies by region, but ours is vinegar-y with a touch of sweetness. 

To serve, I whipped up some coleslaw with savoy cabbage and vegan mayo (that's it!) and served on a whole wheat bun. The package said it had six servings, but I made it into three. I like big portions. I made a couple of sandwiches, and I had the last of of the BVQ on a salad with vegan ranch. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Happy Birthday & Mother's Day to My Mama!

My mom's birthday was May 4, and Mother's Day was Sunday, so I drove to my parents' house on Friday for a belated birthday and early Mother's Day celebration. When I arrived, my dad was putting the finishing touches on his famous Baked Nachos! He made me a tray with Beyond meat and vegan cheddar, and then I added every possible topping.

Of course. we had margaritas too!

So good! After dinner, my mom got to open her combined birthday and Mother's Day gifts. I got her a new stock pot and a bunch of Memphis-made snacks and beer, and Paul got her a bottle of nice tequila.

Once our dinner settled, my mom brought out a Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake that she made with Miyoko's cream cheese and vegan condensed milk. It was monkfruit-sweetened, which is awesome since I'm limiting sugar these days.

The next morning, I got up super-early for a 12-mile training run. Their neighborhood is so hilly, so runs there are always tough. But fun! After my run, my mom whipped up some awesome vegan breakfast with Biscuits and Gravy, Just Egg, Beyond Sausage, and Hash Browns. Hit the spot!

My parents moved to a lake house last fall, but it got cold shortly after they moved, so they haven't had a chance to explore the lake yet. But my dad just got a canoe, and my mom and I took it for a spin. I love being on boats more than just about anything.

I love my mama! She is the best!