Thursday, September 17, 2020

Acai Coconut & Berry Protein Bowl!

I'm a long-time fan of No Meat Athlete (the podcast, the website, the cookbooks, all of it), so when NMA launched Complement —their vegan supplement company — a few years back, I signed up right away! I subscribe to Complement Plus (daily supplement pills with B12, DHA/EPA, vitamin D, zinc, iodine, vitamin K2, selenium, and magnesium) and Complement Protein (an unflavored protein powder that's free of heavy metals and fillers). I'm such a big fan that I was recently asked to become a Complement Ambassador! Each month, I'll be posting new recipes using Complement Protein, and I'll also be sharing an occasional post about Complement Plus supplements. 

Tonight, I want to focus on the protein powder and share a link one of my Complement recipes that was recently published on the Complement website. I made this Acai Coconut & Berry Protein Bowl for breakfast one day last week, and it was both gorgeous and delicious. You can find the recipe here!

The base has bananas, berries, acai powder, and Complement Protein (of course!), and it's topped with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, walnuts, coconut macaroons, and roasted pumpkin seed butter. The recipe is super-versatile, so you can really use whatever toppings you want!

I'd like to talk just a little about why I love Complement Protein. For YEARS before this new protein powder was developed, I'd been rotating through other vegan protein powder brands. I had some favorites for sure, but none really checked all the boxes for me. My biggest complaint was that so many powders were stevia-sweetened and left a weird after-taste in my mouth. But I wasn't crazy about the ones that were sweetened with real sugar either. Who wants real sugar in their health drink?

Complement Protein is unflavored and unsweetened, so you can add it to any smoothie without altering the flavor. It doesn't taste chalky or protein powder-y (you know what I'm talking about!). It's also made with a combination of REAL food protein sources, like almond, chia, pumpkin seed, watermelon seed, and yellow pea protein. No rice protein or hemp protein. 

Each scoop has 15 grams of protein, which is really just perfect for my needs. Some powders have up to 30 grams per serving, and I feel like that's just too much, considering that I'm getting plenty of protein from other whole food sources (and let's be honest — Beyond Burgers) throughout the day.

It comes in a compostable bag that you can literally bury in your backyard (so no plastic tubs!) and it's free of heavy metals. You wouldn't think heavy metals would be something you'd need to worry about in a protein powder, but you'd be wrong. Check out this list of common vegan protein powders with high levels of heavy metals.

If you're interested in Complement Plus or Complement Protein, use this link, and I'll make a couple bucks from your order! I'm so excited to be helping spread the message about whole food, plant-based nutrition and supplementation. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bala's Bistro

I recently learned that Bala's Bistro — a little African/American restaurant out by the airport — had a vegan menu! I finally got a chance to try it last week, and it was awesome. They have both African dishes and American dishes (and lots of meat), but they offer meatless options from both cuisines. There's a vegan chipotle burger and a vegan kimchi wrap, as well as vegan saka saka (braised cassava leaf) and vegan fataya (a vegetable hand pie).

But the Curry Rout Vegetable Stew was calling my name! I love anything with a coconut curry sauce.

This hearty stew has beets, sweet and white potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, and it's bursting with flavor. All the vegan items come with a side, and you can choose between three kinds of rice (African jollof rice, jasmine rice, or fried rice), plantains, or the veggie special of the day. I went with jasmine rice because it seemed like the best fit for the stew.

That was a tough choice though! It's hard for me to say no to plantains when they're on a menu. I'll definitely be back to try the saka saka with some plantains. You can even get the vegan burger with plantains instead of fries (always a win!).

The stew was delicious. The vegetables were perfectly cooked — soft but not mushy. And the coconut curry sauce was thick and creamy. They sent me home with enough for two meals, so I was excited to have the leftovers for lunch later in the weekend.

Bala's Bistro is located at 2160 East Raines Road. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Family Dinner! Challah Bread! Sweet & Sour Tofu!

Last Friday, I took the day off work to go visit my parents in Arkansas. I'd spent the previous two weeks quarantining, so I'd be safe to go hang with them. Everything takes so much more thought and planning with COVID! My parents prepped a big ole lunch for us. Or dinner, as my dad would call it. In Arkansas, lunch is called "dinner," and the meal most people know as dinner is called "supper." They created this as a sort of tribute dinner to my Granny (using many of her recipes). Granny passed last November, but she was an awesome cook!

We had Granny's Rotel Black-eyed Peas, which she served every year on New Year's Day. And we also had Granny's Shoepeg Corn (with vegan cream cheese and peppers), plus Mashed Potatoes, Vegan Chicken & Dumplins (my fave!!!), and Hoe Cakes (from my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk). 

For dessert, my mom made this beautiful Banana Split Pie (graham crust, banana, pineapple, coconut whipped cream, pecans, cherries, and Granny's recipe for chocolate sauce). Mmmmmm.

On Saturday morning, I picked up some Vegan Challah Bread from LuLu's at the CY Farmers Market. This is SO GOOD. I sliced it up and froze most of it to enjoy throughout the week.

Here's a bowl of Sweet & Sour Tofu that I made for Wok Wednesday last week. It's from a cookbook called Eating the Alkaline Way that I pulled off my shelf in my effort to work through all my cookbooks. The sauce has fresh tomatoes (from my garden), plus lots of bell pepper, edamame, and carrots. Topped with roasted cashews.

And finally, here's a not-so-pretty pic of my a Grain/Green/Bean Bowl for Monday's lunch. Quinoa, white beans, roasted beets, cauliflower, and broccoli, topped with my go-to bowl sauce (tahini, nooch, sriracha, garlic). 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Kruelty Free Chicken! Pasta! Pizza! & More!

Last Sunday, Imagine Vegan Cafe ran a KFC special, but KFC stands for "Kruelty Free Chicken"! I couldn't resist this awesome vegan Sunday supper, so I stopped in for takeout fried vegan chicken and all the fixings. The meal came with two vegan drumsticks, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn on the cob, coleslaw, and mac & cheese. I attempted to re-plate it all for this pic, but the mashed potatoes didn't re-plate so well. But every bite was SO, SO AMAZING. I was sad when this meal was over. And yes, I ate it all.

Here's a recent Macaroni Monday dish! I made the Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes from the original No Meat Athlete book (not the cookbook, but the nutrition book that has a few recipes). This is something I often eat before big races, but this was just a regular old Monday night.

Here's a Taco Tuesday quesadilla with mashed sweet potato, black beans, and sauteed kale. Just using up some stuff from the pantry and fridge. I found the little mashed avocado cups on clearance at Kroger, and they've been a great stand-in when I run out of avocado.

Here's a Wok Wednesday meal I threw together. I made some lemongrass tofu in the air fryer and stir-fried it with some green beans and bell pepper picked up from the farmers market. I'm trying to eat a little more seasonally when I can!

And finally, here's a meal from Slice Sunday! Pizza Night! I used one of the pre-made crusts I bought at Sprouts and topped with marinara, green olives, fresh tomatoes, kale, and lots of Parma!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Parish Grocery

Opening a restaurant during a pandemic might sound like a crazy idea, but that's exactly what Parish Grocery in Memphis did! I live just a few blocks from this new Cajun/Creole restaurant, which is situated smack in the center of the Evergreen neighborhood (in the old Atomic Tiki space). When they opened, I didn't have high hopes for vegan options, as vegan items don't tend feature prominently on Cajun/Creole menus. But a few weeks after opening this past spring, Parish announced they were adding a vegan Fried Green Tomato Po'Boy to the menu!

Woo hoo! I tried to order it right away, but on the day I called, they had already sold out of the sandwich for the day. So I finally had a chance to try again last week. This sandwich is on the menu as a Fried Green Tomato BLT (with actual bacon), but the menu indicates instructions to "make it vegan" by requesting no bacon, add vegan mayo. 

It's really great! You can't go wrong with fluffy/crusty po'boy bread and fried veggies. This reminded me of my favorite French Fry Po'Boy from Verti Marte in New Orleans. 

On the side, you can get vegan black-eyed pea salad or Zapp's chips. I'm sure the black-eyed pea salad is tasty, but it's hard for me to resist Zapp's Voodoo Chips. Zapp's are a NOLA tradition, and the Voodoo flavor is a combination of ALL the other chip flavors (BBQ, salt & vinegar, and jalapeno mixed together!!!).

I also noticed that they have a vegetarian muffuletta on the menu, which would be vegan if you left off the Swiss. Muffulettas are awesome because olive salad is the greatest thing in the world. I'll definitely be trying that one soon!

Besides food, Parish Grocery is also the closest place to my house that serves sno-cones (known as Sno Balls in New Orleans). Tiger's Blood or Tutti Frutti? I can never decide!

Parish Grocery is located at 1545 Overton Park Avenue. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Vegan Chalking Night & Avocado Toast!

Last Friday was Worldwide Vegan Chalking Night, and some vegans in town organized a chalking event downtown on the Bluff Walk. I rode my bike down there and left a few vegan messages on the ground!

Unrelated, but I've been on an Avocado Toast kick lately. I picked up some whole wheat sourdough from LuLu's last weekend, and it made for some really great avo toast with hummus. I used the Sweet Potato Turmeric Hummus from Eat Feel Fresh. 

I also made some avo toast with pan-fried tofu and fresh tomato from my front yard garden!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How to Do an At-Home Panchakarma

I typically spend Labor Day grilling out and drinking beers, giving summer a proper send-off. But this year, I decided to flip the script and focus on a little self-care on my day off work. Since I've gotten into Ayurveda, I've really been wanting to try an at-home panchakarma (basically, an Ayurvedic spa day!). People pay lots of money to go to retreat centers for in-person panchakarmas, but you can do a scaled-down version at home for the cost of some mung beans and sesame oil!

The goal of a pachakarma is to cleanse your body inside and out. You eat easy-to-digest kitchari all day, and spend your time in meditation, doing yoga, reading, and doing oil massages. Sounds pretty great, huh? It was! Here's a rundown of how I spent my day.

I woke with the sunrise. I set my alarm for 6:34 am (actual sunrise time here), but my eyes popped open a few minutes before. I stretched, brushed my teeth, tongue-scraped with a copper scraper, splashed my face with water, and did an oil pull with sesame oil. The type of oil you use depends on your dosha, but vatas should use warming sesame oil. 

Next, I added ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander to a cup black tea and enjoyed that while I meditated and did my morning journaling and oracle cards. I actually do that ritual every morning, but I'm usually drinking coffee instead of black tea. I think you're supposed to avoid caffeine altogether during your panchakarma, but I'm not that advanced. Next, I went on a light, easy 3-mile jog (not a PK thing, just something I needed to do for my training) and did some yoga stretches. Then it was time for my first bowl of Healing Tridoshic Kitchari!

This recipe is from Sahara Rose's Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda. In fact, all the recommendations I followed for an at-home panchakarma are from that book. She has a great chapter on PKs! My breakfast bowl is a simple kitchari of yellow mung beans and basmati rice with cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and ginger.

After breakfast, I did a sesame oil massage (abhyanga) and an oil hair mask before a hot shower. I dressed in yoga clothes, and didn't even put on any makeup because I wasn't going anywhere or doing any Zoom meetings.

I made some strawberry herbal tea and sat outside to read. I tried to mix light reading with some educational reading throughout the day. Tea was a major theme. Here are a few of the teas I enjoyed throughout the day. Before each meal, I had Agni Tea (ginger, agave, pink salt) to stimulate digestion, and after each meal, I had CCF Tea (cumin, coriander, fennel) to help with digestion. I also had some Organic India Tulsi Sleep Tea before bed.

But backing up a bit: Before lunch, I did Yoga with Adriene's Yoga Wash video. It's a detox flow, and while I was trying to avoid screens all day, I made an exception for this one! It was great! Lunch was more kitchari, but this time, I added sweet potato, carrot, green peas, and kidney beans. I found this great site with recommendations for kitchari add-ins based on the season. You're supposed to do a panchakarma every season to reset, so I'll use this chart again as we enter Kapha season in the winter.

After lunch, I did a scalp massage with some scented scalp treatment, and then Maynard and I set off for an hour-long nature walk. We walked from my house down the V&E Greenline. Poor Maynard (my dog!) isn't used to walking more than 20-30 minutes at a time, and he was pooped when we got home!

Next, I did some sacral chakra work. I've been working on this chakra balancing program, and I'm focusing on my sacral chakra now. That involved some guided meditation on a CD, some artwork time (drawing a representation of my sacral chakra), and some yoga. For this yoga session, I developed my own class with sacral opening postures. It was fun to get creative on the mat!

Dinner was more kitchari! My dinner bowl looked the same as my breakfast bowl, so I'll spare you a picture. After dinner, Maynard and I went on a shorter walk, and then I made some caffeine-free Golden Milk Chai from Eat Feel Fresh. I enjoyed my chai while doing an herbal facial steam with my head over this bowl of herbs and flower petals.

It's recommended to get to bed by sunset, but that was 7:20 pm here, which seemed a little early for me. So I ran a bath and chilled in the tub with a bath bomb, face mask, my chai, and a book. After my bath, I did another sesame oil body massage, used my neti pot, did nasal irrigation with nasya oil, and took some triphala herbs for digestion. Then I headed to bed! Such a perfect day! I'll definitely be doing this again in the winter.