Saturday, December 30, 2017

Power Vegan Meals

Hey y'all! I know I don't typically blog on Saturdays, but I'm trying to get a few review posts wrapped up before the new year begins because, starting January 1, my posts will be dedicated to what I'm eating on the Reclaim & Revolt program for most of the month. I'm so excited to get started with that because I've just been lazing about the house all week, stuffing my face with cookies and chex mix (that's a meal, right?).

That said, I have been getting a few nutritious meals in over the holiday break, thanks to Power Vegan Meals, a new cookbook dedicated to high-protein, plant-based recipes that are gluten-free, soy-free, fiber-rich, and probiotic-rich.

I'm always trying to get more protein into my diet to help with post-workout muscle recovery, and for me, that protein tends to come from protein bars, shakes, and other enriched foods, like cookies and waffles. But this book actually focuses on whole foods-based recipes without additional protein supplements. It's pretty surprising how much protein you can get from veggies and grains alone!

When I saw the Ramen Bowl in the book, I knew I needed to try that. On vacation days and weekends, I like to sleep in and eat ramen in my PJs while watching Netflix. It's one of my most treasured habits. So I made this for breakfast one morning this week since I was off work all week. 

It's so different from any ramen I've had before with its broth of sunflower seed milk (made in the Vitamix), tahini, nooch, and chile-garlic sauce. The veggies are broccoli, mushrooms, carrot, and snap peas, and I used brown rice noodles. I almost always add tofu or Soy Curls to my ramen, but this didn't call for any "vegan meats." And yet the bowl still has 20 grams of protein from seeds and veggies! 

For dinner last night, we made the Green Lentil Shepherd's Pie. The base is lentils and mushrooms in a tomato sauce, and that's topped with mashed potatoes and baked until brown on top. 

This was so great! Paul and I both loved it. Such a comforting meal on a cold winter night. And each serving has 19 grams of protein. 

On the side, I made a salad with Chickpea Tofu and Tahini Sauce. Only I had this because chickpea tofu is a little too "advanced vegan" for Paul. Ha! I'd never tried chickpea tofu, but I'd heard about it. It's basically like thick socca bread that's cut into tofu-like cubes. It has a more toothsome bite than tofu. It was super-easy to make using chickpea flour, nooch, and spices. Very good! And 19 grams of protein per serving, so I got at least 40 grams with this whole meal.

Flipping through this book, I want to make pretty much everything! Potato Lentil Cakes, Quinoa Cream Noodles, BBQ Bean Loaf, Polenta Pizza, Toasted Chickpea Tacos with Mango Relish, General Tso's Chickpeas, and Sweet & Sour Cauliflower. The book even has protein-heavy desserts, like Caramel Candy Bars (5 grams), Strawberry Topped Cheesecake (15 grams), and Peanut Butter Chocolate Donut Holes (12 grams)!

Happy New Year, y'all! I'll be back Monday with my first Reclaim & Revolt post. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

No Cow Protein Cookies

You know what I like better than a protein bar? A PROTEIN COOKIE. That's what! I often eat protein bars after my runs when I'm either not feeling a smoothie or just don't have time to make one. But No Cow (formerly D's Naturals) has come out with protein cookies, so now I'm eating cookies after my runs.

No Cow sent me some of their new protein cookies to review.

And they also sent me an assortment of their classic No Cow protein bars.

The cookies are fairly large, and they're only slightly sweet so they still feel pretty healthy after a workout. Each one has 12 grams of protein, which is great for re-fueling after my short runs. I typically opt for a higher-protein treat after my long runs. I loved the Peanut Butter the most of course! It had a super peanutty flavor. And then the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip was a close second. But Double Chocolate was pretty great too. These filled me up for about an hour after a run, until I had time to prepare a full meal.

I've long been a fan of the No Cow bars. They have that protein powder flavor that I crave after runs, and they're soft and chewy at the same time. Plus, they come in so many delicious flavors — Carrot Cake, Blueberry Cobbler, Mint Cacao Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Lemon Meringue Pie, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Crunchy Peanut Butter, and Raspberry Truffle.

I had the Crunchy Peanut Butter bar after I ran the St Jude Marathon earlier this month when my tummy was too upset to take in anything else. I get short-lived stomaches after really long runs, and it's hard to eat. But eating protein 30 minutes after a hard workout is crucial to recovery, and these bars are easy on the tummy.

I had a Raspberry Truffle Bar this week after a short trail run since I knew I wouldn't get a chance to eat again for a couple hours. Loved the dried raspberry bits in this!

These are solid, awesome protein cookies and bars, and I highly recommend them for vegan athletes. They're also super-portable since they're not chocolate-dipped. I've had many a Clif Builder Bar melt in the package when I've stashed them in my gear check bag at a race. These Now Cow cookies and bars can go anywhere without the mess!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fruit & Veggie Bars!

I've said it on this blog a hundred times, and I'll say it again — I love bars! I typically have a bar every morning before my workout since they're light enough not to weigh me down. I always wake up ravenous, so I need to fuel before my runs and workout classes. I typically eat raw fruit & nut bars (like Larabars) or grain-based energy bars (like Clif bars), but sometimes it's nice to mix things up and get some veggies in first thing in the morning.

Phyter sent me a box of their fruit & veggie bars to try, and I'm loving them! Most of these contain a veggie that you'd typically use in savory applications, but they're paired with fruits so the bars are still sweet. But not too sweet.

There's Beet + Cocoa, Sweet Potato + Coconut, Butternut Squash + Peanut Butter, and Cranberry + Strawberry (the only straight-up fruit bar).

The bars have a nut butter base, so they're nutty and creamy after you bite into them. Plus, there's gluten-free oats, raisins, coconut palm sugar, sunflower seeds, flax, & pumpkin seeds, brown rice flour, and white rice flour.

Of course, I loved the Butternut Squash + Peanut Butter the most because peanut butter! The rest of the bars contained almond butter instead of peanut, which was awesome too. But peanut reigns supreme, always. Beet + Cocoa was probably my second-fave since it had a light cocoa flavor, and you could taste a slight earthiness from the beet.

These have to be refrigerated, and they can be frozen if you want to keep them around longer. But I don't think I'd be able to keep these for long because they'd be in my mouth!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook

Wouldn't it be cool if there was an academy where you could go and learn all about best practices for helping others go vegan? Like a Hogwarts for Vegan Lifestyle Coaches?

Well, there already is! Victoria Moran has been training and certifying vegan lifestyle coaches and educators at her Main Street Vegan Academy since 2012. Of course I've never been, but it's a bit of a dream for me. I'm not sure I could make a living as a vegan lifestyle coach (and I love the job that I have now!), but I'd still love to attend Victoria's program in New York City one day. Until then, I'll just dream and cook recipes from Victoria's latest book — The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook. This new book features recipes from Academy grads, as well as a few chapters debunking common vegan myths and providing practical advice for newbies.

The book is divided into chapters on breakfast, small plates and snacks for sharing, salads, one-pot meals, main dishes, and desserts, as well as a chapter on non-food topics, like vegan fashion, beauty products, etc.

I picked a recipe from the Main Street Mains chapter to celebrate Winter Solstice last week. This Tempeh-Stuffed Acorn Squash was fancy enough to feel celebratory but easy enough for a quick weeknight meal. The recipe actually called for kabocha squash, but Kroger only had acorn. The stuffing is made with tempeh, quinoa, dried cranberries, onion, carrots, and celery. Great winter flavors!

I went to a potluck a few weeks back and wanted to bring something that would be easy to share, so I consulted The Social Vegan chapter and found this Buffalo Chickpea Dip. This has a base of white beans and cashews, and then whole chickpeas, lots of hot sauce, and vegan cheddar are mixed in (and more vegan cheddar goes on top). I served this with tortilla chips for the potluck, and the omnis there all loved it (I was the only vegan at this potluck!). The recipe made a ton, so I had quite a bit leftover. I snacked on this for a few more days, using it as a dip for celery and carrots. So wholesome and delicious.

This book is filled with easy and approachable recipes that would appeal to long-time vegans, as well as the veg-curious and newbies. There's a 15-Minute Chili, Veggie Mac (mac & cheeze made with a potato/carrot/cashew base), Roasted Red Pepper Cutlets (like chicken cutlets for vegans!), Thai Green Curry, Lentil Sloppy Joes, Sweet Red Chili Potato Skins, and so much more. There are no less than FOUR recipes for lasagna! And the dessert chapter features everything from healthy chocolate avocado pudding and raw brownies to a decadent chocolate stout beer cake and mocha peanut butter bars.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Very Crunk Xmas

Hope y'all had a fabulous holiday! I sure did! And I'm off work for 11 days for the holiday break, so I'm so excited to finally have some time to de-clutter my house and make some fun plans for 2018. Here's a little Christmas recap for ya.

I only live an hour away from my hometown, but I always spend the night on Christmas Eve at my parents' house so we can wake up early and have holiday breakfast. I got to town around 4 pm on Christmas Eve, just as my mom was finishing up cooking our Christmas Eve dinner. We usually just get Chinese takeout, but this year we decided to stay in. My mom made Spaghetti with Vegan Meatballs and Cheezy Garlic Bread (using the Follow Your Heart parm and Gardein meatless balls).

She also made some Side Salad with Vidalia poppyseed vinaigrette.

My mom and I had some red wine with ours. My dad isn't into wine, so he stuck with sweet tea. Everyone ate totally vegan for dinner, and both of my parents said they couldn't even tell much difference between the vegan versions of meatballs and parm. WIN!

For dessert, we had Rice Krispie Treats and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, which my mom ordered from Jonesboro's vegan bakery, Kind Confections. Both were amazing, and I'm so glad I got sent home with some leftover treats.

After dinner, we watched some Christmas movies — parts of Earnest Saves Christmas, The Night Before, and A Christmas Story. And then, after my best friend Sheridan wrapped up with her family, I drove over to her father-in-law's house to exchange gifts with her. We always meet up late on Christmas Eve night for our gift exchange since we're both in town for the holidays (Sheridan lives in Little Rock now, but we both grew up in Jonesboro and have been BFFs since seventh grade!).

I got back to my parents' house around midnight and immediately went to bed. I couldn't wait to wake up and open presents because I'm a 12-year-old on the inside, always and forever. I woke up around 7:30 am, and my mom was already in the kitchen cooking breakfast. We used to go to my granny's for Christmas breakfast every year, but Granny was out of town this year (and hasn't been in the best of health anyway). My mom made all of the breakfast staples — Tofu Scramble, Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon, Field Roast Apple Maple Sausages, Hash Browns, and Biscuits & Gravy. She and I ate the scramble, and my dad had real eggs. But he did try the seitan bacon and said "It's not bad. I could eat that."

After breakfast, it was present time! We took turns opening gifts. I got lots of awesome stuff — a FitBit Iconic, new mugs, lots of clothes and new Converse, boots, a new cookbook, and more. My parents got some cool stuff too — lots of Harley accessories (they're bikers), an Amazon Echo, clothes, and plenty of booze. 

I forgot to mention that Maynard came with me this time! I usually ask a friend to come by and house-sit when I leave town, but I felt bad asking someone to come over on Christmas. And boarding him would have been really expensive since Christmas fell on a Monday, and my vet closes at noon on Saturday. This was his first long car ride, and he didn't handle it well at all. Cried the whole hour drive there and back. And he wasn't really happy being a new place, but he warmed up a bit and I think he really enjoyed our walks in the woods and hanging with my dad (who loves dogs!).

I drove home to Memphis in the afternoon on Christmas Day. After I unpacked and put my new stuff up, I was getting hungry again. So I kept with my Christmas tradition of getting Chinese takeout. New Hong Kong is always open on Christmas Day, and they have an awesome secret vegan menu of mock meats! I got the Mock Orange Beef and a Spring Roll, and I enjoyed this while watching The Keepers on Netflix.

Paul spent Christmas in Hendersonville, Tennessee (outside Nashville) with his family, and he arrived home around 8 pm on Christmas night. We decided to have a little holiday fun before the night was over, so we went by Crosstown Concourse so Paul could see the awesome holiday lights there and we could take some selfies. Then we stopped by a friend's birthday party at Canvas and had beer. Then it was time for bed! Paul had to work today (bummer), and I wanted to get up and test out my new Fitbit on a trail run.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reclaim & Revolt!

Quick post tonight! I just wanted to check in and let y'all know what reset-style program I'll be following this coming January. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I do some kind of reset/cleanse/detox thing every January. It started with Kris Carr's Adventure Cleanse Diet years ago, and I've done a number of other programs since then. I used to think of them as cleanses/detoxes, but now I don't really believe you can "cleanse" yourself of toxins through a rigorous diet. That's what livers are for, right?

I've also started to shy away from diet culture, thanks to now-defunct Rise & Resist podcast, which opened my eyes to a whole new outlook on body positivity, eating disorders, triggers, etc. I'm still a meal planner (and a calorie tracker), so I can't say that I'm 100% there. But I try! And this year's program is more along those radical lines than ever.

*** Drumroll, please ***
I'll be doing Reclaim & Revolt this January! This is program free of dogma, rules, and regulations. It's designed to use hone our personal power, and it's about so much more than food and exercise. It's run by a bunch of awesome ladies — Lacy Davis of Liberation Barbell, Kelsey Branca of Deep Sea Astrology, Erin Aquarian (who run the IG account, @fulltimewitch), and herbalist/fermentation enthusiast Hannah Syd.

There will be awesome vegan recipes and workouts from Lacy! And throughout the month of January, we'll be looking into intuitive eating, astrology for 2018, the new and full moons and the lunar eclipse, gut health, herbs for digestion and gut health, and some deep dives into the Tarot.

It's basically an all-around look at most of my interest areas  — food, exercise, astrology, Tarot, and fermentation. I feel like this was MADE FOR ME, y'all, so I had to get involved.

There are a few spots left if anyone wants to follow along. The month-long program costs $222, which can be cost-prohibitive for some. But they'll be doing a giveaway soon, so follow Lacy on IG for details!

Happy holidays! I'll check back in after Christmas with a holiday food recap!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

Now that I'm done with marathon training for a few weeks, I'm enjoying my lazy Saturday mornings in my PJs. I love to make big bowls of Ramen Noodles with Tofu and catch up on Netflix (watching The Keepers right now). I used Sprouts Sriracha Tofu in this bowl, as well as kale, corn, peas, and carrots.

Last Saturday, I actually got up early and got to the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market right at 9 am because Don of Lulu's Baked only made three tester savory pop-tarts, and I wanted to make sure I got one! These were stuffed with salt-cured smoky beets and tofu scramble. I also got a morning bun stuffed with cashew cheddar and carrot bacon and a maple-chai cookie.

I'm still working through my pre-made dosa batter (the container has 12 servings!), so I've been having dosa for breakfast every day. This morning, I stuffed mine with Tasty Bite Bombay Potatoes. Easy and delicious. Served with homemade chow chow because I don't have any chutney.

I made a simple dish of Curried Lentils one night last week. These had lots of fresh garlic, salt, and curry powder. That's it! Oh, and lots of Trader Joe's Green Dragon Sauce.

Last Sunday, when we did Christmas at my Me-Maw's, my family ordered pizza. So my mom picked me up a special Vegan Veggie Pizza from Uncle Maddio's so I could have pizza too. It has Daiya mozz, red onion, portabellas, broccoli, olives, and bell pepper.

Here's an easy weekday lunch from earlier this week — Split Pea Soup Cup with Grilled Cheese. The soup cup has 16 grams of protein! And it has a vegan bacon flavor. Very good for a soup cup. For the grilled cheese, I used Parmela's Creamery Pepper Jack aged cashew cheese. I also had some kraut on the side.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Stuff I Ate

A couple weeks ago, I had a morning meeting in the Cooper Young neighborhood, and we finished up right in time for lunch, so I popped into Imagine Vegan Cafe. Got an old fave — Beefless Tips & Rice with Kale & Sweet Potatoes. So much garlic, so much yum!

I finally ordered some more FitQuick Pizza Protein Waffles after being out for a long time. New Ethic had an awesome Black Friday sale, and I couldn't resist. I had one after a run with some leftover Chickpea & Roasted Tomato Marinara that I froze during my No Meat Athlete meal plan. That weird black stuff is spinach. It just turned dark after freezing, still good though.

Another quick breakfast — Tofu Scramble with Toast & Vegemite! I made the tofu scram using Vegg yolk to make it eggy. Don't tell my British friends, but I think I like Vegemite better (I know Susan will be proud).

Look what I found at Kroger! Finally! The vegan Halo Top ice cream. It's so good, and I can EAT THE WHOLE THING. I like that it has a very protein powder flavor. Seems like something I could eat after a workout and call it "health food."

One morning last week, after the Memphis Flyer holiday party (my old workplace — yea, I still crash their parties), I needed a little pick-me-up. I got a Hangover Helper shot from Juice Bar in Concourse. This has coconut water, lemon, and activated charcoal, and it really helps!

That same day, I grabbed lunch from Mama Gaia in Concourse. I had the Gaia Pita with baked falafel and greens. This typically has feta, but I left that off and we swapped out the tzatziki sauce for the vegan Mama Gaia sauce. And I had some baked fries on the side!

More random meals tomorrow!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Kind Confections! Vegan Baker in Jonesboro, Arkansas!

Y'all, my hometown has a vegan baked goods caterer now! The company is called Kind Confections, and it's run by baker Katie Laden. My mom's side of the family gathered at Me-Maw's for Christmas this past Sunday, so my mom placed an order for two-dozen cupcakes and two-dozen holiday cookies. Ssssh — she didn't tell anyone they were vegan (except for me and my dad), and no one knew the difference!

My fave were the Santa Hat Shortbread Cookies. I've always loved frosted cookies, but they're so hard to find vegan. And as much as I love to bake, I have zero patience for decorating. These were both adorable and delicious. They were buttery with just the right balance of softness and firmness — soft enough to melt in your mouth but firm enough to hold up being transported.

As you can see, we couldn't stay out of them long enough to photograph a full box!

Mama ordered two different cupcake flavors — Chocolate!

And Coconut!

These were both fantastic. I had a whole chocolate one at the holiday party, and it was lovely. I'm a frosting girl, and I love that big poof of frosting on top, especially since it has those little chocolate shavings. My cousin Sarah's kid is a frosting girl too (she's a toddler), and she licked the frosting off two cupcakes! I ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I took a bite of my mom's coconut cupcake, and it was so awesome. Vanilla cake with a mound of coconut frosting. Coconut cake has long been a fave, so I put one of these up in the freezer to save for Solstice Night! Reminds me of my Granny's (dad's mom) coconut icebox cake.

If you're in the Jonesboro area and need delicious, fresh vegan baked goods, call Kind Confections at 870-530-7484 or email You can also find them on Facebook!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Vegan Drinks Holiday Potluck & Wine Party!

Last night, we had our second annual Vegan Drinks Holiday Party! Members Jennifer & Simon were super gracious to open their home for the party again this year. Last year, they hosted it as a "help us drink our red wine because we have too much" (is that really a problem??) party. But the group did pretty good damage to their wine stash last year, so this time, we asked guests to bring a dish AND a bottle of wine (or whatever drink they preferred).

Sadly, I failed to take any photos of people! But I did get pics of most of the food. We'll start with Jennifer's AMAZING Big Mac Dip, which I must get her recipe for. It had a base of vegan cheese/special sauce with burger crumbles, onion, and pickles, and it was served with sesame crackers for the full Big Mac bun experience. It seriously tasted like a Big Mac!

I made Isa's Scalloped Potatoes from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. The cream of celery in these is made with a cashew cream. Very good! But it took WAY longer in my oven than Isa's recipe said it should.

The other Jennifer (Jennifer Y!) brought her awesome homemade Vegan Mac & Cheese. Can't go wrong with that!

Steven brought something he called Goulash, but it was more of a Buckwheat Kale Pilaf. Very good, very spicy!

Don (of Lulu's Baked fame) brought a gorgeous and super-delicious Veggie Pot Pie with tofu. Man, this was good. Don is an excellent baker and master of all things pastry.

Mike brought Pigs in Blankets with "Honey" Mustard. He used Field Roast apple-maple sausages for these so they were like gourmet pigs! And the honey mustard was made using Bee-Free Honee.

Lara and Markus brought the best damn Caramelized Plantains I've ever had — plus a great mashed potato dish that I failed to photograph.

Lara and Markus (or maybe it was the friends they brought with them?) brought these excellent Ginger Molasses Spice Cookies. By the time these arrived, I was stuffed and had to half one with someone else.

Stephanie brought her awesome Peanut Butter Chocolate No-Bakes, which my family calls Mississippi Mud Cookies. She uses Dutch cocoa in these, and they're extra special. She also brought her new baby, Gus, and everyone was totally stoked to meet him.

Autumn actually found Vegan Rugelach in the bakery at Kroger! I'd never had rugelach, and I really love it. I'll have to go back and by more just for me!

Nicole and Vaughan arrived late and brought a salad, but I was too stuffed to move. And Melissa and Anthony also came late, armed with kettle corn and oatmeal cookies. I did get a bite of a cookie, and we all dug into the popcorn as a late-night snack, despite being so very full! 

We had a great time, lots of wine, way too much food, and most importantly, hours of awesome conversation with friends! Yay for vegan holidays!!