Sunday, June 30, 2013

Of Love & Pad Thai

Short post tonight. I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to go running. It's the first day of my half-marathon training (I'm running the Shelby Farms Half-Marathon in October), and although I don't typically wake up that early to run, I have an early meeting at work to get to after my run.

So I'll share a couple pictures of Paul's and my ninth anniversary on Friday. Yep, nine long years. We celebrated with a casual dinner at Paul's favorite Thai place — Bhan Thai. I've done a whole post on Bhan Thai before (you can see that here), but it really is a great Thai place. Technically, it's my second favorite. I like Jasmine Thai & Vegetarian Restaurant in the Cooper-Young area the best. But Bhan Thai is a little fancier for a date night, and it has a great summer patio.

Anyway, here we are on the patio.

I typically order the Cashew Nut with Tofu, but Paul suggested I try the Pad Thai. He used to work at Bhan Thai, so he's had just about everything on the menu. I took his advice. I ordered Pad Thai with Tofu (hold the eggs and fish sauce).

Best pad thai I've ever had! The tofu was perfectly fried. The sauce was light and flavorful. The rice noodles were just the right texture. And the peanuts and sprouts sealed the deal.

Like most Thai places, Bhan Thai uses fish sauce in many dishes, but they will happily veganize anything they can. Just avoid the curries because the fish sauce is already in the sauces they make for the curries, so they can't leave it out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Vegan Cuts Snack Box Redux!

I first wrote about the Vegan Cuts Snack Box subscription service back in November. The kind folks at Vegan Cuts sent me a box to review then, and I was overwhelmed with awesomeness.

But the box has improved since then! They sent me the June snack box to sample, and it's bigger and better than ever. Just look at all this stuff!

There's Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Powder (grape), The Good Bean Sweet Cinnamon Chickpea Snacks, Beanfield's Bean & Rice Chips (sea salt), Snapz Zucchini Chips, Macrolife Naturals Macro Greens Powder, Michy's Cran-Rustica Vegan Cookie, Earnest Eats Baked Whole Food Bar (dark choco mint), Salba Chia Seeds, Fanciful Fox Vegan Peanut Butter Lip Balm, and Go Veggie! Vegan Parmesan.

That's 10 things! And the parm is in a full-sized shaker. I believe the earlier versions of the box had a little less stuff.  This new box seems completely worth the $19.95 per month charge to subscribe to Vegan Cuts monthly box. In case you don't know, these boxes are available through monthly subscriptions. They always contain 7-10 products that are typically gluten-free. And new subscribers get a $15 gift card to the Vegan Chic online store.

I haven't had the chance to try everything in the box yet, but here's what I've had so far. I immediately ripped open the Snapz Zucchini Chips because, um, zucchini chips! These were a like little, crunchy dehydrated zuke slices. Perfect for satisfying that crunch craving without eating something naughty.

Although I've had them before, I was very excited about the Beanfield's Bean & Rice Chips. Of course, their nacho flavor is my fave. But these sea salt chips are delicious too. Crunchy, salty, and pretty substantial, thanks to the beans. These chips even have protein!

I'm loving the Fanciful Fox Lip Balm! It makes my lips taste like peanut butter all the time, which on second thought, might be dangerous. I may have tried to chew on my lips a few times with this on.

The Good Bean Sweet Cinnamon Chickpea Snacks are delightfully crispy with a sugary-cinnamon toast crunch taste. These reminded me of a breakfast cereal. I could totally eat a bowl of these in almond milk.

And finally, I nibbled on the Earnest Eats Bar today. I was expecting a brownie-like dessert, but this is actually a healthy bar. It's better suited for a snack than a sweet treat. And the best part? It's made with mint grown by refugees who have resettled in the U.S. Ten cents from the sale of every Earnest Bar supports the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees find sanctuary.

Want a Vegan Cuts box of your own? Subscribe! And don't worry. You can cancel at any time.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook

Memphis veg folks have the Southern cookin' cookbook department on lock. First, there was native Memphian/food justice activist Bryant Terry's lovely Vegan Soul Kitchen. Then came my book, Cookin' Crunk. And just a couple months ago, my pals Justin Fox-Burks and Amy Lawrence released their beautiful, photo-heavy cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian.

Justin and I actually work together in real life. He's a freelance photographer for the Memphis Flyer, the alt-weekly newspaper where I serve as associate editor. Long before either of us imagined we'd be food-bloggers-turned-cookbook-authors, we were going on assignments to crazy places, like the Tennessee elephant sanctuary, a haunted house in Bolivar, and the Farm in Summertown (where my publisher is ... but this was before I knew I'd ever need a publisher).

A couple years ago, Justin and his wife Amy started blogging at The Chubby Vegetarian. It started with a few pictures of the gourmet vegetarian meals Justin was whipping up for their dinners. And then they started publishing recipes on the blog, and before you know it, they had a book deal to produce a Southern cookbook.

Now, this is a vegetarian cookbook, not a vegan one. But that doesn't mean it's not loaded with naturally vegan dishes and easy-to-veganize lacto-ovo recipes. Some, like the Vegan Sloppy Joes (made with mushrooms and lentils), are already egg- and dairy-free. I tested these for their cookbook last year.

And others, like the ones I've made so far since the book came out, were super easy to make vegan versions of.

First, I tried the Sweet Potato Grits with Maple Mushrooms.

Best breakfast I've had in awhile. I've been in a cereal rut lately, and I'd forgotten how amazing a hot savory breakfast can be. These grits have mashed sweet potatoes mixed in. And then they're topped with roasted maple mushrooms and a sweet-and-tangy mix of tomatoes, shallots, and parsley.

The original recipe calls for a fried egg on top, but you can just leave that off and it's not lacking a thing.

Next up was my dinner tonight — Vegetarian "Chicken" with Parsley & Olive Oil Dumplings.

Y'all know I love me some chicken 'n' dumplins now. I've always been partial to my mama's recipe, but these are slightly different. And equally delicious (but don't tell my mama). The recipe calls for seitan for the "chicken," but I used some chopped up Beyond Meat strips in the Lightly Seasoned flavor. Beyond Meat is so realistic, it's almost creepy. Using that in this dish made it taste so much like the chicken 'n' dumplins I ate as a kid.

The dumplins, which are flecked with little bits of fresh parlsey, are dropped into the hot broth by the tablespoonful rather than rolled out and cut like my mama does. I have to admit that this method is much easier. Loved this dish. It might seem a little heavy for a summer evening, but I don't care. Just so good. Also I loved the fresh veggie garnish — chopped carrots and celery mixed with a touch of vinegar and sugar.

There are so many more recipes that I want to try from The Southern Vegetarian. For one, I must make the homemade Coconut Bacon when I run out of my stash of Phoney Baloney's brand. I tried some of Justin and Amy's coconut bacon on a vegan BLT bite at their booksigning, and it tasted EXACTLY like the Phoney Baloney's stuff that vegans (including me!) are obsessing over right now.

The Vegetarian Frogmore Stew is on my list. It's free of frogs, of course, but has their homemade Vegetarian Boudin Sausage in it! Also on the list are BBQ Tofu Pizza on a beer pizza crust, the Vegetarian Roasted Red Pepper and Olive Muffuletta, the Caprese Salad in a Jar (using vegan mozzarella, of course!), Zucchini Fries, and the Vegan Peanut Chili with Charred Corn and Avocado Salsa.

Oh, and let's not forget dessert and cocktails! Before summer is over, I must try the Spicy Cucumber-Lemonade Popsicles. And the as soon as I get a new juicer (mine broke), the Juicer Bloody Marys (made from fresh juiced tomatoes) are totally happening.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Superfood Smoothies

There was a time when I considered smoothies to be nothing more than snacks. When I attempted to replace meals with them, usually breakfast, I was always hungry an hour later. But then I discovered that Vega protein powder makes for a very filling, satisfying smoothie. Now I drink smoothies for breakfast a couple days each week.

So I was super-excited to review Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. I'm always looking for new smoothie recipes since I tend to fall into ruts when left to my own devices.

This lovely hardcover, full-color book is loaded with gorgeous pictures of smoothies made with "superfoods" — stuff like camu powder, chia seeds, cacao nibs, sea buckthorn, and mulberries. Now, I'm not so sure I believe in the hype about superfoods being all-powerful. But I'm sure the stuff is great for you! Maybe not any better than more accessible "superfoods" like kale and strawberries. But hey, it's fun to use "superfoods," right? Since some superfoods are a little pricey, I picked a smoothie that contained things I already had in my pantry and fridge — Raspberry Almond.

Made with frozen raspberries, dates, almond butter, acai powder, cacao nibs, vanilla, and coconut water, this refreshing smoothie tasted like heaven. And it was packed with good stuff.

Admittedly, I did add a scoop of Vega One berry protein powder after I sampled the smoothie, just to make sure it would keep me full through lunch time.

There are tons of recipes in here, and as far as I can tell, they're all vegan. The recipes are divided into chapters based on whether they're rich and creamy, green and vibrant, or fruity and light. There's even a Doggie Smoothie made with kale, banana, chia seeds, hemp protein, and peanut butter. I'll definitely try making a couple for my pooches.

If you're looking for super-healthy smoothie ideas, Superfood Smoothies is a great way to go.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vegan Divorce Party!

This is my friend Cassi.

We met about a year and a half ago when we were fighting for the mayorship of Kroger on Foursquare. We started stalking one another because we're both pretty cutthroat about our Foursquare territory. This stranger stole my Kroger crown, and I was all, "Who does this bitch think she is? She. Is. Going. Down." And then we friended one another and started talking in the comments. Before we knew it, we were great friends in real life! And just a few months ago, Cassi went vegan!

Well, as long as I've known Cassi, she's been single. But she was actually married to some dude she'd been separated from for years. And she just finalized her divorce. So we had a party last Saturday night.

Cassi, Stephanie (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch), and Kristin prepared the food — all vegan, of course. Excuse my dimly lit pictures. Cassi had the mood lighting going. There were Vegan Duck Spring Rolls.

And Guacamole Bruschetta.

And the world's best Vegan Meatballs (I may have eaten at least 10 of these).

Kristin spent a lot of time making these cutesy Hummus Cups with Fresh Veggies.

And we had Fruit Kabobs drizzled with blueberry balsamic vinegar.

But the real star of the show was the Champagne & Chocolate Raspberry Cake that Stephanie (of Swell Baked Goods) created. Cassi requested two ethnically diverse grooms to represent the possibilities for men in her future. But I called it her gay cake. In the spirit of the Supreme Court's upcoming groundbreaking marriage equality decision this week (I'm on pins and needles, y'all), it seemed appropriate to have two grooms, right?

Anyway, same-sex grooms or not, it didn't really matter by the night's end. After a few glasses of wine and a ritual bonfire burning of stuff that reminded her of her ex, this is how Cassi and the cake ended up.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Memphis Plant-Based Food Fest!

This past weekend was the second annual Memphis Plant-Based Food Fest, a three-day celebration of all things vegan with food demos, lectures, vendors, and a plant-based 5K, in Overton Park.

I wanted to do the 5K, which was new this year, but I was scheduled to do a food demo at noon on Saturday, a few hours after the 5K. And I didn't want to be all sweaty for my demo! I made my Eggless Tofu Olive Salad and my Vegan Pimiento Cheese, both from Cookin' Crunk. Here I am whipping up some stuff!

I had a pretty good crowd that overflowed outside the demo tent. After the demo, I sold and signed some books.

Once the demo was over, I was free to hang out and have fun with my newly vegan friend Cassi. We were hungry, so we walked around to check out the food options. Imagine Vegan Cafe was there selling vegan chicken bacon melts, vegan cheesesticks, and homemade cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats. But by the time we got to their booth, they were sold out of the savory stuff. And while cinnamon rolls sounded delicious, I wanted something more substantial.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon this.

Yep, there was a vendor selling vegan fried stuff!! Right up my alley. These Fried Green Tomato Fries were AMAZING!! They were crispy and not at all greasy despite the fact that the word "fried" is in the name twice. My kind of food.

To balance my junk foody meal, I followed these fries with a refreshing Fresh Watermelon Juice from Balewa's Vegan Gourmet, purveyor of delicious raw foods.

Cassi got a watermelon juice too. But she bought hers from Juzemibaby, a Memphis-based juice press that bottles fresh juices. I'd never even heard of this place, but they apparently sell their juices all over town.

We stopped by the Food Awareness tent for a photo op. Food Awareness is our Memphis vegetarian club, and we had a booth with free vegetarian literature and veggie starter kits. Here's Food Awareness founder Vaughan with Cassi (on the left) and his girlfriend Nicole (on the right).

There were also vendors selling homemade jewelry, soaps, incense, and other goodies. I loved these crocheted earrings at the Funky Knits & Naturals booth.

After much deliberation, I finally settled on these ginormous earrings.

This is Bastet. She's the lead organizer of the Plant-Based Food Fest. Bastet has been a force in the Memphis vegan community for years. She currently runs the Natural House of Wellness, a shop selling herbs, incense, and new age-y wellness stuff. And she makes and sells the most delicious packaged vegan popcorn at Whole Foods, Cosmic Coconut, and other locations.

This year's food fest was so much fun! It's grown a bit since last year, and I hope it just keeps on growing.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Only Kale Can Save Us Now

Quick announcement: This weekend (beginning today!), Memphis will celebrate its second annual Plant-Based Food Fest!! Stop by Overton Park on Friday (9 a.m.-8 p.m.), Saturday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.), or Sunday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) to see food demos, speakers, vendors, and all kinds of awesomeness! I'll be doing a food demo at noon on Saturday! 

I have a silly confession. When I was asked to participate in the blog tour for the new kale cookbook, Kale: The Complete Guide to the World's Most Powerful Superfood, I assumed Kale was a vegan cookbook. In the back of my mind somewhere, I kinda thought only vegans ate kale. Yes, writing that down makes it sound even sillier.

But I didn't know what kale was until going vegan. Growing up in the South, we had turnip greens and rape greens but never kale. Maybe some Southerners did. But not me. Now I proudly carry my Herbivore "Only Kale Can Save Us Now" hot pink tote, and I eat the green stuff at least once a week.

Imagine my surprise when the book came in the mail and there were meat recipes in it! In a way, I'm sort of pleased to know that everyone likes kale! It's not just for vegans! This new cookbook may not be all vegan or even all vegetarian, but there are a number of vegan kale recipes and plenty that can be easily veganized.

The book opens with a chapter on all the amazing nutrients in kale and what they do for the body. I had no idea kale had so much awesomeness — vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, B9, E, C, K and other cool stuff like fiber, protein, and omega-3s.

Like I said, the book has lots of veganizable options. I was able to veganize this Cannelini-Butternut-Kale Stew in one step — swapping the chicken broth for veggie broth.

This hearty, healthy stew is clean food that I feel good about eating. You know I love my junk food, but whole foods like this make me feel good about myself and my eating choices.

Most of the stews and soups can be veganized by using veggie broth. Several of the dips are naturally vegan, like the Garlicky Kale & Spinach Dip (made with pine nuts and balsamic vinegar) or the Hearty Winter Salad (kale, potatoes, tahini, lemon juice). But watch out for meaty recipes, like the Kale Meat Pies (eeek!) or the Garbanzo Kale Soup (it has chorizo in it!). But you could always sub vegan chorizo.

The vegan recipes aren't clearly marked, so you'll have to do some hunting. But there are plenty in there. And a couple do have "vegan" in the title, like the Vegan Cocoa Kale Cupcakes (yes, kale in cupcakes ... I almost made these) and the Vegan Juicer Pulp Muffins.

If you're looking for a great gift for an omni who wants to eat a little healthier, Kale is it. And if you're an adventurous vegan who loves to veganize everything, you'll probably get a kick out of this book too.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Two Vegan Sistas

Quick announcement: In just a couple of days, Memphis will celebrate its second annual Plant-Based Food Fest!! Stop by Overton Park on Friday (9 a.m.-8 p.m.), Saturday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.), or Sunday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) to see food demos, speakers, vendors, and all kinds of awesomeness! I'll be doing a food demo at noon on Saturday!

You know your city has arrived when there are numerous options for raw vegan meals. Memphis may have a reputation as a meaty, BBQ pork-infested Southern city, but we're also becoming quite the little vegan-friendly hub. In the past two years, five (count 'em, FIVE) vegan cafes and food delivery services have started offering raw meals. There's Balewa's Vegan Gourmet (a full-service raw cafe), Raw Girls Memphis (a raw food delivery service), Cosmic Coconut (a juice and smoothie bar with a few raw snacks), Loveshack (a juice and smoothie bar). And that's not even counting everyone's favorite Memphis un-raw, comfort food cafe Imagine Vegan Cafe.

And then there's Two Vegan Sistas, a raw food delivery service responsible for the world's best vegan chicken salad. Two Vegan Sistas offers salads, BBQ nutmeat, raw vegan sushi, flax crackers, and lots of amazing raw desserts (hello, raw vegan Oreos!!).

They also have a few cooked dishes, like quinoa stir-fry, spaghetti, couscous, and baked sweet potato fries.  

It's not a restaurant, so all food is either delivered or picked up from their kitchen on Madison Avenue. And you have to order one day in advance, so can't be a spur-of-the-moment thing. But since I plan my meals by the week, that's no problem for me.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a Groupon for Two Vegan Sistas, so I ordered $20 worth of food to try. Bretta of Two Vegan Sistas used to work with Balewa at his cafe, and I tried a few of her dishes before. This Mock Chicken Salad was always my favorite thing to order at Balewa's, so I knew I had to get a large order of this.

It's made with cashews, onions, and spices, and it really tastes like chicken salad. The large size order fills a whole takeout box, so it's enough for at least four meals if used as a spread. I spread mine on some slices of Ezekiel bread.

I also ordered the Raw Falafel Plate.

 This is another nut-based dish. The falafel spread is made with sunflower seeds, herbs, and spices. And rather than serving it in falafel-shaped balls, the spread is served on a wrap. And it comes with a tasty side salad.

With all those nut-based dishes, I figured I'd better order a salad for balance. I tried to order the corn salad, but they were all out. So I ordered the Complete Meal Salad instead.

This has spiralized zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, and nori. And it's served with a "honey" mustard style dressing. One thing to note: The salad comes all mixed together, so it's best to eat this right away. The tomato juice tends to soak into the lettuce, so it doesn't keep well. I'd planned to save this for the next day, but it was a bit soggy by day two.

I also REALLY wanted to try the Raw Oreo, but they were out of those too. So I "settled" for a delicious Live Fruit Pie.

Wow! Just wow. These two vegan sistas know how to make an amazing raw dessert. There's a nut-based crust topped with fresh strawberries and apples. There may have been oats on there too. But it was really yummy. I didn't even miss the Oreo.

To place an order, call 2 Vegan Sistas at 1-800-984-0379. Here's the menu. And remember, they are closed on Saturdays.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eating the Alkaline Way

Ever since I first read up on alkaline diets while on the Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse two years ago, I've been off and on obsessed with trying to eat as many alkaline foods each day as possible. Of course, I go through plenty of vegan junk food phases. But when I'm trying to get back in line, I reach for alkaline-forming veggies and fruits.

Alkaline food is easier than acidic food on the digestive system since it matches the pH of the blood. And it's believed that cancer cannot live in an alkaline environment, so the more fresh veggies and fruits you're eating, the better. Of course, it's all about balance. Acidic foods, like beans, nuts, and wine, have health benefits too. But it's all about the balance.

And balance is what Eating the Alkaline Way by Nastasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson is all about. This vegetarian cookbook (it's not totally vegan) kicks off with helpful articles and charts listing alkaline foods and acidic foods. There's a great piece on kicking bad habits, and there's even an "Honestly Healthy Cleanse" readers can follow with meal plans and lists of foods to avoid for the entirety of the cleanse (it ranges from 5 days to 3 weeks, depending on your preference).

But the best part of this book are the recipes! The book is full-color and loaded with gorgeous photos of fresh juices, raw summer spring rolls (with nori wraps), eggplant and pesto rolls, avocado mango dill salad, and butternut squash risotto (made with brown rice). After much deliberation, I finally settled on trying the Mixed Vegetable & Soybean Hotpot.

That's a miso soup with butternut squash (substituted for pumpkin in the recipe), carrots, potatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, and cubed tofu. It was light and refreshing, and I just felt so darn healthy eating it. I have to admit that I did add more tofu than the recipe called for. Tofu is closer to the middle on the alkaline scale, but it's not as acidic as say, sunflower seeds or rice.

There are so many more recipes in this book I want to make. And although they aren't all vegan, most are easily veganizable. Some call for goat cheese or feta as a topping. But that can be left off without affecting the dish (and in my opinion, leaving those nasty things out make it so much better for you and better-tasting).

Even desserts can be alkaline! There are recipes for raw mango coconut balls, raw chocolate mousse, and chocolate superfood ganache!

Monday, June 17, 2013


This was my fourth year shooting concert pics at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee for my newspaper, The Memphis Flyer.

Each year, my friend and fellow reporter Shara Clark and I camp out in the media area (which is way nicer than the overpopulated and wild general camping grounds) and attend show after show in the blazing hot sun. She writes. I shoot. That means I get to stand in the photo pit right in front of the stage for the first three songs of most shows. Then they kick us out into the crowd. Basically, I have the best job ever.

This year's fest featured another amazing lineup — Bjork, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Purity Ring, Wu-Tang Clan, Big K.R.I.T, A$AP Rocky, Billy Idol, R. Kelly, Passion Pit, Pretty Lights, Porter Robinson, Weird Al Yankovic, comedian Bob Saget, and a horde of new indie and hip-hop acts I've never even heard of. And even though I could care less, Paul McCartney (yes, I hate the Beatles, but I do love all he does for vegetarianism), Tom Petty (yes, I hate his music), and The Lumineers (not into it, but people seem to like them) were there too.

I got some GREAT shots of the bands, and I'll share a pic from my fave performance of the weekend in a few. But you're here for food, not music. And luckily, Bonnaroo is VERY vegan-friendly. Most every food vendor has a vegan option. When 80,000 hippies gather for a weekend fest, you'd better believe vegan options are a must. I ate some meals at my campsite to save money (oats, instant ramen, and peanut butter and jelly wraps). But I also enjoyed lots of delicious vegan festie food.

We arrived at the festival on Thursday afternoon. Even though I had a snack at the campsite before heading to Centeroo (where the action happens), I was hungry again after we watched Purity Ring.  These Veggie Samosas with Dal were only $2 each!

On Friday, I ventured out in search of dinner after shooting Passion Pit. I'd heard about a BBQ tempeh vendor, but while searching for that place, I ran across Feel Good Foods, which had BBQ Soy Curls & Black Beans! Um, yes, please. Soy Curls > Tempeh.

It's easy to get overheated at Bonnaroo, especially when you're trying to drink beer and balance your water intake. There's very little shade in Centeroo, and the average daytime temp this year was 90 degrees. While wandering around Centeroo on Saturday, I started to feel a little crappy. Then I spotted one of the many Bonnaroo smoothie vendors. These are peppered all over Centeroo.

I had a Coconut-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie, and I instantly felt better.

Later on Saturday, hunger struck while we were watching Bjork's magical show. I hated to leave, so I stuck to the vendors close by where I could still hear her as I ordered this Tofu Bhan Mi. This was amazing — fried tofu, cilantro, crusty bread, and homemade plum sauce.

Bonnaroo goes all nearly all night with bands and DJs playing until the wee hours of the morning. I used to stay up until sunrise when we first started going, but I'm getting old, and I don't typically make it past 2 a.m. But that's still pretty late, definitely late enough to justify a fourth meal. I had this Channa Masala (forgive the crappy poorly lit shot) around 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Even though we left on Sunday afternoon, it was my favorite day! Why? Because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis played, and I LOVE them more than anything ever. If "Thrift Shop" is the only Macklemore song you know, I challenge you to listen to his other stuff. He has plenty of funny songs, but he also raps the truth on so many important issues — LGBT equality, anti-consumerism, the problems of white privilege, homelessness, addiction. This dude is amazing.

I was shooting Macklemore at 2:30 p.m., so I fueled up first with this Funky Farmer Roti Roll from the Food Truck Oasis. That's slow-cooked curried squash, zucchini, and onions tucked inside an Indian flatbread.

My roti roll came from a truck of the same name in the oasis, an area where food trucks from across the country park and vend. Most of the vendors at Bonnaroo are set up in traditional stationary concession stands, but the Food Truck Oasis features real food trucks from all over.

Finally, at 2:30, the magical moment came! I was inches from Macklemore's face in the photo pit. Here's my favorite shot. He spotted someone in the crowd wearing a faux fur (and yes, it was definitely faux, although Macklemore has some issues with wearing real animals occasionally ... my only beef with him), and he had that person crowdsurf their coat to the stage so he could wear it for "Thift Shop."

Awwwwwww .....

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Coq Au Vin (and a Vacation!)

I'm off to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, so I'll be taking a blogging vacay until Monday night. I'm sure I'll have lots of vegan festival food to share since 'Roo is incredibly vegan-friendly.

Until then, I leave you with a serving of Seitan Coq Au Vin over whole wheat rotini pasta. And some English peas for good measure.

This is another recipe for my second cookbook project — veganizing trendy foods through the past century. Coq au vin (which means "rooster with wine" in French) has been around for ages, but it was popularized in America in the 1960s by Julia Child.

For my vegan version, I simmered homemade seitan with mushrooms, onions, and vegan bacon in a red wine sauce. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Coconut Water! Goji Berries! Dragonfruit! Oh My!

Before I get into tonight's review post of a few Nativas Naturals superfood products, I have an important announcement about everyone's favorite vegan snack box from Vegan Cuts! I've blogged about Vegan Cuts' monthly surprise box filled with vegan snacks before, but if you're not familiar here's some background. Anyway, if you order the June box by the 14th, you get a bonus $15 gift card to (the place to go for vegan shoes and handbags). Click here to order.

Okay, now onto tonight's review. I've been a fan of Nativas Naturals products for years. Their raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, and Trail Mixes are amazing, so I was excited to try three of their new products. Sadly, I have mixed feelings about a few of them.

But let's start with the one I loved — Cacao Goji Superfood Power Snack.

I've long been a fan of Nativas Naturals Power Snacks, namely the Blueberry Hemp snacks. But these Cacao Goji bites may have blueberry beat. Each bite is about 100 calories and chock full of good-for-you stuff, like cacao, chia, sesame seeds, goji powder, maca powder, lucuma powder, macu-macu powder. You know, all the superfoods you've heard of but wouldn't be able to pick out of a lineup if you saw one. Who really knows what macu-macu looks like anyway? But we know it's good for us! I really love that these are made with a base of date paste, since dates are always the main ingredient in my homemade energy bars.

Next up is something I wanted to love — Chocolate Freeze-dried Coconut Water Powder.

I typically drink coconut water (or Vega Electrolytre Hydrator) after my runs to restore electrolytes lost during the workout. But coconut water is expensive. When I heard Nativas Naturals had a coconut water powder that could be added to water for an instant electrolyte beverage, I was pretty excited. It only takes one tablespoon per serving, and I thought this could be a less costly option than buying canned coconut water.

The directions say you're supposed to stir the powder into a glass of water. But much like cocoa powder, this stuff clumps in water. When stirring failed to break up the clumps, I put a lid on a mason jar and shook it up, martini-style. But even still, clumps.

Taste-wise, it's pretty good. I like the chocolate flavor, which comes from all-natural cacao powder. But sipping down a powder clump is no fun. I found that I could avoid the clumps by using a thin glass straw though. But I hope Nativas Naturals continues to perfect this product.

Finally, let's talk dragonfruit. Specifically, Nativas Naturals Sundried Dragonfruit Slices.

Yes, I ripped the bag up trying to get into these. I was so eager to try dragonfruit for the first time!

But guess what? I apparently don't like dragonfruit very much. This isn't Nativas Naturals fault, of course. This tropical superfruit tasted too savory for my liking. The hundreds of tiny seeds make for a crunchy texture, which I liked, but the taste of those seeds is nutty, almost flaxy. And the fruit itself isn't sweet enough to balance it out.

That being said, it's a source of protein, omega-3, and vitamin C. The texture of the dried fruit is a little like fruit leather, which makes it perfect for traveling or hiking or camping. If you're into not-so-sweet fruit, you might like this. So give it a try and decide for yourself.

Meanwhile, I'll be over here downing this whole delicious bag of Cacao Goji Power Snacks.