Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Watermelons, Nachos, & Broiche

Juan, the bartender at Global Café in Crosstown Concourse, is making these awesome cocktails using fresh fruit in crazy ways! A couple weeks ago, they came out with a new watermelon cocktail called Sandia Jolly Rancher, and it's served in a hollowed personal-sized watermelon! I had to try it! The cocktail is made with fresh watermelon juice, watermelon vodka, regular vodka, lime, tajin, and is garnished with fresh mint. It tasted as delicious as it looked!

My friend Mary just moved to Virginia, so we had a little going-away gathering for her at RP Tracks. Most of my friends are vaccinated now, so we've started going out to restaurants again. Yay! I ordered my usual BBQ Tofu Nachos minus the cheese, and I brought my own guac in (picked up from Moe's across the street) because they don't serve guac at Tracks. I always get my chips on the side, so I can save some for leftovers.

I saved half my nachos for the next day, and I dressed them up with vegan cheese, fresh avocado and tomato, and Simple Truth jalapeno-cilantro dip. RP Tracks nachos are good on their own, but mine were better!

And here's a Sweet Potato Brioche Cinnamon Roll with cashew cream from LuLu's at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. This was a lovely pre-run Sunday breakfast!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Beltane Feast!

Saturday was Beltane, but I had a busy, fun day with friends — an outdoor birthday gathering for my friend Jen's birthday and Beltane celebration on Zoom with some other friends. So I decided to have my personal Beltane feast on Sunday! 

Beltane (aka May Day) is the halfway point between spring equinox and summer solstice, and it's the time to celebrate the Earth's fertility. Where I live, Beltane is the time when temps are finally getting bearable (I hate the cold!), and I can start wearing shorts. I live for shorts season. It's also a time when the garden has been planted, and we're just watering it and waiting for it to grow.

I've been using the Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac to plan my holiday feasts, so I picked two recipes — neither of which were vegan — and veganized them. This Roasted Beet Salad was my fave of the two!

The recipe called for goat cheese, but I subbed Violife Feta. It was my first time trying it, and it was sooooo good. It really has the same texture and taste as dairy feta! The beets are roasted and coated with a red wine-olive oil vinaigrette. Plus, there are red onions and some tasty salt-and-pepper roasted walnuts. I will make this salad again! I love a well-planned, fancy salad.

I made this Pesto Pasta with Follow Your Heart parm in place of the dairy cheese the recipe called for. I typically make low-oil pestos, but for this one, I used the full half-cup of oil. What a treat! Also, I couldn't find Italian basil this time of year, so I used some Thai basil from the Vietnamese market. They carry it year-round, but it's purple, so my pesto is darker than usual.

Happy Beltane!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Snack Plates, Salads, & Soup

Now that most of my friends and I are fully vaccinated, we're having more and more get-togethers, and it's been amazing! My friend Susan invited me over for White Claws and snacks after work last Thursday. It was the first time I'd seen her (except in passing on the Greenline) in a year! She made this lovely snack plate with Miyoko cheeses, vegan deli slices, vegan chicken salad, vegan pepperoni jerky, crackers, grapes, and dark chocolate. We sat on her back porch while her two dogs played in the yard. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been eating lots of bowls and salads since we returned from camping. Just trying to get some healthy habits back. Here are a couple recent salads. This one has an oil-free vegan Caesar dressing from Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Dressings e-book. Those little puffs are Simple Truth Chickpea Puff Salad Toppers. I love a fun, crunchy salad topper! This also has carrots, tomato, cucumber, green olives, pickled beets, chickpeas, and sunflower sprouts.

This salad has roasted chickpeas (homemade, not the chickpea puffs), broccoli, vegan cheese shreds, bell pepper, carrots, dried cranberries, and cashew ranch.

I've been working on chakra balancing since mid-last year, starting from the root and working my way up. With each chakra I focus on, I make the corresponding chakra soup from Sahara Rose's Eat Feel Fresh cookbook. I'm finally on the crown chakra so I made her Crown Chakra Soup a couple weeks back. This is made with roasted beets and cashews for a creamy borscht-like soup. It's topped with cashew cream.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bowls I Ate

Since we've returned from camping, I've been trying to get back into my healthy eating habits, so most of my meals have been giant salads and grain/green/bean bowls. Here are a few of the bowls I've been eating!

This one has brown rice, chickpeas, red bell pepper, broccoli, kale, tahini, and coconut aminos. Super simple! I didn't even bother to make a real sauce — just drizzled that tahini and aminos right over the top. 

Here's a Mexican-inspired bowl with brown rice, sweet potatoes, pintos, kale, and guacamole salsa. This purple kale came in my CSA three weeks ago, and I'm STILL EATING IT. It was the biggest, freshest bag of kale! I can't believe it's still good and that I still have some left. I even brought some camping! 

Another bowl with that kale, plus chickpeas, quinoa, avocado, sriracha, and Simple Truth Plant-Based Cilantro-Jalapeno Cauliflower Dip. The dip was on clearance for 99 cents because it expired yesterday, but when I bought it, it still had a good three days left. And I always eat stuff a few days (or weeks!!) past the expiration date anyway. 

And finally, here's today's lunch. I made another Mexican-themed bowl with quinoa, kidney beans, corn, broccoli, kale, guacamole salsa, and that cilantro-jalapeno dip. And I still have more kale left! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Chattanooga Camping, Day 4!

Tonight I've got the last in my Chattanooga camping series! Paul and I took our tiny RV to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for his 41st birthday, and we spent four full days there. Day 4 (Monday) was Paul's birthday, so of course, he got vegan pancakes for breakfast (AGAIN!). The man loves pancakes.

I made a Breakfast Burrito with Just Egg, Gimme Lean sausage, bell pepper, kale, tomato, Daiya cheese, and avocado.

After breakfast, we drove to Jasper, Tennessee (about 40 minutes away) to Foster Falls. Paul loves waterfalls, and he wanted to see one on his birthday. After a short little hike down a very steep, rocky hill, we came to this swinging bridge.

And that bridge took us to this beautiful clearing with a waterfall! 

Of course, Paul had to get in the middle of it. He swam in the icy-cold water for this pic!

Afterward, we had a little picnic of Veggie Dogs and Chips on a picnic table near the trail. Or I should say that I had a little picnic. I packed enough for us both, but Paul wasn't feeling too well after getting in the cold water, so he didn't want to eat. More for me!

Luckily, he started feeling better shortly after, so we kept our plans to visit Chattanooga Whiskey for a tasting.

And then it was on to birthday dinner! Paul's favorite cuisine is Thai food, so we went to Rain Thai Bistro because we'd heard great things. And it didn't disappoint! We started with some Veggie Spring Rolls.

I ordered Pad See Ew with tofu for my entree. Pad see ew is my usual at Thai restaurants, and I have to say that this may be the best pad see ew I've had! 

After dinner, we went back to the campsite and played with rainbow fire powder before going to bed. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Chattanooga Camping Trip, Day 3: Rock City

Paul and I went to Chattanooga for a camping trip a couple weekends ago to celebrate his 41st birthday! We took our RV and stayed at the Lookout Mountain KOA in Trenton, Georgia, just outside Chattanooga. Last week, I blogged about days one and two, and today, I've got a recap of day three when we visited Rock City. I apologize in advance for all the non-food pics in this post, but Rock City was just so amazing, and I want to share so many pics! But there's food mixed in here too!

On that morning (Sunday), I woke up and had an Everything Bagel Breakfast Sandwich with Just Egg and avocado. I love making fun breakfasts while we camp. We have a little two-burner stove, which is perfect for making my breakfast and Paul's pancakes. He wants pancakes every day!

After my food settled, I went for a little 30-minute run. Sundays are my easy days, but there's nothing easy about running in the mountains. Our campsite was surrounded by hills, and this sign was such a tease when I was halfway up a very long hill.

We had reservations for Rock City at 2 pm, so I had a quick lunch at the campsite of Roasted Veggie Dogs with chips and beer. Lunch of champions!

Then it was Rock City time! Rock City is a beautiful mountain garden with all sorts of fun things to see. There are several squeeze-through situations like this!

And lots of overlooks! And a swinging bridge!

But the very best part is Fairyland Caverns, which leads you through caves filled with these old nursery rhyme scenes that were sculpted between the 1940s and 1960s. They're lit with blacklights and look super-trippy. I went to Rock City with my parents back in the early 2000s, and this was my favorite part. I loved seeing all this cool stuff again! And thankfully, cameras have improved, and I was able to capture the black-lit coolness with my phone. The pics I have from that original trip were all flash photos and not nearly as cool-looking!

Our Rock City tickets came with a BOGO coupon for entrees at Chattanooga Brewing Co., and we are always trying to fit in as many breweries as we can on our vacations. So we went there for dinner. I started with a Hill City IPA.

The only vegan items were a hummus wrap or a hummus plate, so I went with the plate. This had some tasty handmade hummus with pita and pickled veggies.

Afterward, we went back to our campsite and sat around the campfire before retreating to our RV to watch Stepbrothers (with Will Ferrell!) and go to bed. I'll have the last camping post up tomorrow!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Chattanooga Camping Trip, Days 1 & 2

Paul turned 41 on Monday, so we took a camping trip to Chattanooga, TN, to celebrate! Last year, Paul bought a tiny RV, and we enjoyed taking it out last summer and fall. But then it got too cold to camp! Glad it's spring, and we're back at it! We arrived at the Lookout Mountain KOA (actually in Trenton, GA, about 30 minutes south of Chattanooga) on Friday afternoon. This was our home for four days.

After we got set up, we took a mini hike on the half-mile nature trail surrounding our campsite. This was the first KOA we'd stayed at that an on-site trail! I was very excited. 

After our hike, I made up some Campsite Nachos! Mine had tortilla chips, vegan sausage, black beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, sauteed kale, Daiya, and avocado. We have a tiny kitchen on the back of our camper with two burners and a microwave, so cooking is a breeze!

The next morning, I got to use my new Biltmore camping mug that I picked up on our last camping trip to Asheville last October. I packed Starbucks instant coffee and powdered coconut creamer. It's not my usual fresh-ground French press coffee, but it's much easier!

I went on a short 3ish-mile run around the KOA trail and up and down some very steep hills around the campsite. This flatlander really struggles with hills!

For breakfast that morning, I made us both Pancakes and Vegan Sausage. I pre-mix the flour in one jar and wet ingredients in another before we leave, so making pancakes is pretty easy. I always THIS recipe for the fluffiest-ever vegan pancakes!

After breakfast, we drove to Prentice Cooper State Park in Chattanooga in search of a trail that led to a waterfall. But once we got there (about a 40 minute drive), we learned the trail we wanted was another 40 minutes into the park. So we decided to hike the Cumberland Trail instead since it was just inside the park entrance. It didn't take us to a waterfall, but we did cross this beautiful creek. 

Paul wanted to get in the middle of the creek, and he fell twice trying to get out there. I so wish I'd gotten video of that. It was hilarious, and now he's covered in bruises.

Our hike in total was about two miles, and by the time we got back to the car, we were ready for lunch. I wanted to be sure and try the vegan restaurant Sluggo's while I was in Chattanooga. So we headed that way. The whole menu looked amazing, but I settled on the Philly Cheesesteak with seitan and a noochy cheese sauce.

Plus, a side of Smoky Collard Greens. This meal was amazing, and I wish I could eat it again! Sluggo's is still doing takeout only, but they have a nice shaded patio. Paul got a pizza from Pizza Bros. next door, and we had a nice lunch oustide.

From there, we went to Heaven & Ale Brewing Co. and had a beer on the patio and then on to Lookout Winery. Lookout Winery overlooks Nickajack Lake, so we had a lovely view while we sampled some wines.

We made it back to the campsite just before sunset. Just in time to take some silly pics!

And to light a campfire. I roasted some veggie dogs for a late dinner. The veggie dog photo was terrible, but here I am roasting dogs in my PJs.

I'll be back with pics and tales from Days 3 and 4 next week!