Sunday, May 28, 2017

Great American River Run 2017!

I set a PR in my half-marathon time today! I ran the Memphis in May Great American River Run Half and shaved about 8 minutes off my last best half-marathon time!

I went to bed way early last night for my 4:30 a.m. alarm since the race was supposed to start at 7 a.m. But I was awakened at 11 p.m. to a terrible, severe storm that knocked out my power. I could hear the wind outside whistling past my window, and when I got up to look outside, the massive, backyard tree was literally swaying in the wind. Scary! I later learned that the storm involved 90 mph winds that knocked out power to most of the city. We may not have power for a week, according to the utility company. 

All that is to say, when I woke again at 4:30 — still no power — I wasn't even sure the race was still a go. It was still lightning outside and raining very hard. But I checked the race's Facebook page on my phone, and they said it would go on as planned, just with an hour delay to clear the course of debris. I got ready in the dark, to lantern light. I toasted my pre-race bagel in a skillet on my gas range. And then I drove downtown, dodging downed trees in the streets.

Runners are a resilient bunch, so I wasn't surprised to see a large crowd downtown despite the weather. We all huddled under an awning at Beale Street Landing for an hour or so to stay dry until the race started, and thankfully, the rain let up right as the race began at 8 a.m. My feet were wet the entire race, but I managed to hold a faster pace than I'm used to running — for all 13.1 miles! 

But before all that, I spent the day before the race working on my nutrition and trying to make sure my race went off without a hitch. Yesterday, I started the day with the Buckwheat Pinole & Chia Pancakes from No Meat Athlete. These are inspired by the pinole and chia meals eaten by the Tarahumara in Born to Run, and they were amazing! You toast the masa and combine with buckwheat flour and chia seeds. So good!

My morning snack on pre-race day is always a fresh juice. Great to hydrate and get nutrients in at the same time! I grabbed The Green One Juice from the So Fresh Juice Truck at the Memphis Farmer's Market. This had green apple, lemon, spinach, kale, and cucumber. I had them add some ginger to help with any inflammation.

After the market, I headed over to the race expo to pick up my bib and swag bag. They held the expo inside Bass Pro Shops, which is gross. I really hated to see all those dead animals. Ugh. I did, however, enjoy posing in front of this faux magazine cover.

Lunch on pre-race day is always a big ole salad. I made the Co-op Tempeh Salad from No Meat Athlete. This is steamed tempeh with a mayo-based dressing, celery, carrots, onion, and kalamata olives. It's served over salad greens. I LOVE THIS SALAD. I'll definitely be making this again.

My afternoon snack on pre-race day is typically yogurt. I had some Drinkable Blueberry Cashewgurt by Forager with Engine 2 Rip's Big Bowl cereal and fresh blueberries from the farmer's market. YUM! Carbs! Probiotics!

I enjoyed that snack while watching a Netflix documentary called Finding Traction about a woman who set out to break an ultra-running record in Vermont. Nothing like a good running doc to get you in the mood for a race! After the film, I got to work on dinner — Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, & Green Beans from No Meat Athlete. This was made with whole wheat pasta, potatoes and green beans from the farmer's market, and pesto made with fresh basil from my herb garden. So local! And very tasty. I had this with a slice of sprouted grain bread spread with coconut oil and fresh garlic from the farmer's market. Carb-loading is best. 

After dinner, I met up with some friends at 901 Fest in Tom Lee Park. This is a festival celebrating all things Memphis with local bands on multiple stages. I couldn't stay long since I had an early bedtime, but I always have one lucky, pre-race beer so I grabbed a Wiseacre Boomslang IPA. Here I am with Cassi watching Hippy Soul at the Beats Stage.

Then it was off to bed! The weather was so amazing when I was down at the fest. It's hard to believe such a crazy storm passed through only a couple hours later. But it did! And I woke up to that craziness. But the race went on, and I'm quite proud of how I did. 

Immediately after the race, I downed some water with electrolytes. And then I had my post-race beer — a Bud Light — and some chips. Man, those chips were quite possibly the best thing I've ever eaten. The weather was in the 70s this morning, and I was sweating out chunks of salt. I'm a salty sweater! Nothing tastes better after sweating out so much salt than potato chips and beer. 

I had a protein bar in the car on the drive home. I expected my power would be back on when I got there, but alas, it was not. I had plans to meet up with friends post-race for pizza at Midtown Crossing. But the restaurant is across from my house and also was without power. In fact, most restaurants were without power, so I canceled my friend plans and headed to Arkansas to eat dinner with my parents. We got pizza at Uncle Maddio's. I got a vegan cheese pizza loaded with every veggie they had, plus tofu!

After dinner, my mom thawed out a Daiya Cheesecake she had in the freezer. She served it with fresh strawberries that she cooked down with sugar. So good! And I feel like I earned that pizza and cheesecake!

I'm still at my parents' house now, using their internet. But I'm heading home in a few, and I doubt I'll have power for several days. Memphis Light, Gas, & Water is estimating that it could take a week. They've called this the third worst power outage in our city's history. Soooooo ... all that is to say, you may not hear from me for a few days. But I'll be back as soon as the power returns! Until then, life will be like camping — inside my house. Ha!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

NYC Vegan Cookbook

I've never been to New York City. I'm almost ashamed to admit that. Somehow, I've made it 36 years without a trip to the Big Apple. In recent years, my travel has been limited to VegFests that my publisher sends me to, work or vegan conference trips, or quick road trips to towns and cities within a couple hour's drive from Memphis. I just haven't had a reason to go to NYC aside from pure pleasure, and my budget historically hasn't allowed much space for pleasure trips. But NYC is on the bucket list for sure.

Until then, I can pretend, thanks to a new cookbook by Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman of Vegan Mos. This awesome vegan duo lives in New York City, and they've just published a new book called NYC Vegan.

New York is a melting pot of course, so the cuisine in this book runs the gamut from traditional Jewish to Caribbean and Americanized Chinese to Puerto Rican. The book is organized into chapters on basics, breakfast (called "Breakfast at Tiffany's -- how cute it that?), lunches, spreads and dips ("Start Spreading the News" -- again, cute!), suppers, sides, and desserts.

I picked a couple dishes to get started, but I have many more bookmarked. This week, I made the Tempeh Reuben, which is the sandwich featured on the front cover of the book. I LOVE a good reuben, and I was totally impressed with Ethan and Michael's version with tempeh bacon rather than a vegan version of corned beef.

I used Lightlife's Fakin' Bacon, but any homemade tempeh bacon would do. They don't provide a recipe for tempeh bacon in the book, but I feel like most vegans can make tempeh bacon in their sleep. Or just buy it pre-made like I did. There's also vegan Swiss (I used Chao instead), kraut (I used Bubbie's), a dressing made with ketchup and vegan mayo, avocado, and tomato. I used a Jewish rye bread from the Whole Foods bakery.

From the breakfast chapter, I made their Matzoh Brei. 

This is a traditional Passover dish typically made with eggs and matzoh, but their vegan version uses silken tofu in place of eggs. I had leftover matzoh from our Easter/Passover potluck that needed using. I'd made vegan matzoh brei before using Isa's recipe in Vegan Brunch, but it was a savory version. This one had maple syrup in the recipe and more on top, but it's served with ketchup so you get that awesome savory/sweet thing. Loved it! Perfect served with vegan sausage and fruit.

I ALMOST made their Street Meat Platter, an ode to combo platters served by Middle Eastern street carts in New York. It combines beefy seitan (recipe is in the book), chicken-style soy curls (also in the book), white rice, tomato, lettuce, white sauce, and pita. Looks soooooo amazing, so I'll definitely make that next. I just didn't get around to it before this review.

There's also a recipe for Rice Paper Ham in the breakfast chapter that blew my mind. You can use RICE PAPER (like for spring rolls) to make HAM! WHAT?! Will totally try that asap.

Other fun things you'll find: New-Fashioned Jewish Chick'n Soup, New York-Style Bagels, Sundried Tomato Basil Spread, General Tso's Chick'n, Latkes, Seitan Piccata, Knishes, Classic NYC Pizza, Platform Churros, Black and White Cookies, and New York-Style Cheesecake. So much goodness!

So while I may not get to visit New York City any time soon, at least I can eat like a New Yorker now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

Here are some more things I ate over the past few weeks!

I did all kinds of things with the buffalo hummus I made last week from No Meat Athlete, but most of it found its way into Veggie & Hummus Pitas like this one with buffalo hummus, kraut, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, tomato, carrot, and baby spinach.

On the side I had some Beanfield's Pico de Gallo Tortilla Chips with a new dip that I found at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro, Arkansas. This Chipotle Chili Dip is by Good Lovin', and it's made from nuts and seeds. It's vegan and paleo-friendly, but it tastes like a creamy cheese dip. Very good!

On Sunday night, Paul and I went to visit our friend Tyler who was working at Ghost River Brewery. We had a few drinks and played some ring toss. I had the brunch special (served all day and night) Bloody Beer with Ghost River Grindhouse Ale and Nikki's Hot Ass Bloody Mary Mix (it's vegan and locally made!). After that, I had the Beerita (not pictured) — a pilsner mixed with a splash of margarita mix and a salted rim.

I went shopping out east on Saturday afternoon, and hunger struck while I was shopping at Whole Foods. I knew I had a sandwich at home planned for dinner, so I just wanted a small snack. I made a Snack Salad from the salad bar (golden beets, baked tofu, carrot, radish, wheat berries, and pickled tomatoes).

This morning, after my 4-mile run, I tried something new with my FitQuick protein waffles! I made a Pizza Waffle Grilled Cheese! FitQuick pizza waffle with Chao cheese, spinach, tomato, and roasted red pepper.

I didn't have any leftovers for lunch today, but I have all kinds of things in my fridge/freezer to throw together a random meal, like this Tempeh Peanut Veggie Bowl. I cooked some I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa and topped that with steamed broccoli and squash and some baked, marinated tempeh cubes. I whipped up a quick peanut sauce using PB2 powder, sriracha, garlic powder, ginger powder, and water. I didn't measure anything in the sauce, just mixed for taste and texture. This was SUPER good.

Well, that's it for this week's randomness. I'll be back with a fun cookbook review tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stuff I Ate

Here we go again with a bunch of random meals.

Last week, I had part two of a root canal. My tooth was so bad that it took my dentist two appointments, totaling 5 hours(!!!!!), to finish my root canal. The procedure didn't hurt since they kept me numb, but having doctors in your mouth for that long really sucks. And then my teeth totally hurt afterward. So last Tuesday, after they finished, I came home and immediately had some Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream with CocoWhip.

I bought some blueberries on sale last week at Kroger. I can't wait until the fresh, local berries come in, but until then, these will do. These were super-sweet and plump. I had some on a Lemon Poppyseed FitQuick Protein Waffle. Also maple syrup and banana.

And I had some on So Delicious Passionate Mango Coconut Yogurt. I mixed in a half scoop of vanilla Nutiva protein powder since So Delicious yogurt has less than one gram of protein. If I eat a breakfast without any protein, I'm hungry again an hour later. Also added the bloobs, fresh mango, and locally made Guilt-free Pastries Vegan Granola.

Speaking of yogurt, I had some again this morning. Daiya Strawberry Greek Yogurt with fresh, local berries and Bear Naked Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Granola Bites. No need to add protein powder to this yogurt since it already has 8 grams. That's plenty for my non-running days. I'm in the taper for this weekend's half-marathon, so I've backed off the miles significantly this week. Gotta keep these legs fresh!

But speaking of running, I did have one last pre-race, long(ish) run on Saturday. Only 8 miles, but that was still long enough to justify my favorite pre-workout meal of an Apple Cinnamon Dave's Bagel with Sunbutter and Bee-Free Honee. Extra cinnamon sprinkled on top!

One day last week, I wanted a Bagel BLT for dinner, but I didn't realize until I was making my sandwich that I'd accidentally tossed out my good lettuce when I was cleaning out old veggies in the crisper. Oops! So instead, I just had a BT. Sweet Earth Foods Benevolent Bacon (hence the brown edges), buffalo hummus, and tomato on a Cajun Dave's Bagel.

On Wednesdays, we have office-wide staff meetings at lunch, and I typically bring my own. But last week, I popped across the street to Mama Gaia before the meeting to grab takeout — Gaia Pita (baked falafel, hummus, lettuce) with Baked Oven Fries and Organic Ketchup. Yum!

More stuff I ate tomorrow!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bluefin

Downtown sushi lounge Bluefin has been around for years, but over the past year, they've undergone an ownership change and, thus, a menu change. I've blogged about Bluefin many times, and they've always been pretty vegan-friendly, even boasting menu items labeled vegan when under the old ownership.

The word "vegan" is no longer on the menu, but the options are still plenty! Bluefin is now run by Mr. Woo, and he's added some Korean fare to this mostly Japanese menu. My friend Susan (managing editor/food editor) of the Memphis Flyer was invited to sample a few dishes for a piece she was working on, and she invited me to join! We stopped by on a Friday night a few weeks back.

We started with the Grilled Tofu Salad, a straightforward veggie salad with lightly grilled tofu triangles and a ginger vinaigrette. This was a nice, light start to the meal.

We also split an order of the Fried Sweet Potato Roll. This is a thinly sliced, generously stuffed sushi roll with tempura sweet potato. I LOVE tempura rolls because, well, fried. And this one was phenomenal. This was one of several inventive vegan rolls on the menu. So often, sushi options at restaurants are limited to just cucumber rolls or avocado rolls, so it's nice to see something fun! Also, that sweet soy sauce was killer.

Mr. Woo brought us out a few extra dishes that we didn't order. There was Tempura Veggies — a platter of deep-fried sweet potatoes, onions, broccoli, and tofu. The tempura tofu was a nice surprise! That doesn't typically come tempura platters that I've ordered elsewhere.

Of course, we had to try one of the new Korean dishes! We got the Vegetable Dolsot Bibimbap — white rice with spinach, bean sprouts, cabbage, gochujang, and tofu served in a piping hot stone bowl that continues to cook the rice as you eat. You're supposed to stir the rice so it doesn't get those crusty edges, but I love crusty edges so I don't stir.

All of the dishes were excellent, and we'll definitely be back! Susan wrote a post on Bluefin's new menu — including the meat dishes, if you're into that — on her Hungry Memphis blog on the Memphis Flyer website.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Vegan Mexico

Chef Jason Wyrick has a new cookbook out dedicated to authentic, vegan Mexican cuisine from tostadas and tacos to tortas and tamales (so many Mexican food names have such great alliteration!). Jason's mother's side hails from Spain but the family has Mexican ties. Jason grew up in Phoenix eating the standard Americanized Tex-Mex, but he was exposed to authentic Mexican fare when visiting relatives.

His new book, Vegan Mexico, puts a cruelty-free spin on that traditional cuisine. To achieve that authentic taste, he puts a big emphasis on homemade sauces, chile powders, and infused oils. But thankfully for those of us short on time, he includes recommendations for store-bought alternatives to those handmade touches.

The book is divided into chapters on beans and rice, salsas, street food, tacos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales, salads, soups, grilled fare, small bites, larger main dishes, breads, drinks, and sweets. Everything looks and sounds very gourmet, but the two recipes I made from the book were super-simple to prepare.

I went with the Salted Lime Plantain Tacos and a side of Drunken Beans.

The tacos were stuffed with grilled plantains that are brushed with garlic-infused olive oil. I didn't have time to infuse my own oil though, so I used plain olive oil and sprinkled the plantains with a little garlic powder. After grilling, the plantains are tossed with lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Also in the tacos is salsa verde (Jason has a recipe for homemade, but I bought mine at Whole Foods), vegan sour cream, purple cabbage, and toasted pepitas. I added some sriracha because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beans are essentially refried beans cooked with beer. I made mine in the slow cooker overnight, and I left out the vegan shortening called for in the recipe to make these a little lower in fat. They were totally delicious and creamy without the shortening! For the beer, I went with Dos Equis Amber. One note: When making these in the slow cooker, you don't need as much water. I didn't realize that and ended up having to drain off most of the water before mashing. Jason's recipe is just for stovetop.

These dishes were so amazing, and I can't wait to cook more from this book. The Late-Night Snack Chilaquile with jackfruit, corn chips, and avocado is on my to-make list as is the Smoked and Grilled Seitan in Pumpkin Seed Tomato Sauce. The Bean and Avocado Sandwich Drowned in Salsa looks like nothing I've ever seen (it's literally a sandwich covered in salsa that you eat with a fork!). As for tacos, the Pirate Tacos — portabella mushroom and avocado tacos with vegan cheese — have me drooling. The sweets chapter includes a recipe for Conchas (those shell-shaped breads you see in Mexican bakeries), and of course there are recipe for paletas (i.e. Mexican popsicles).

I'm especially excited about the drinks chapter! There's a Salted Beer with Tomato Lime Juice that I will be trying as soon as I restock my tomato juice. I love tomato juice beers (we call 'em red beers down South). There's also a Muddled Sage Margarita that sounds fantastic!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Memphis Food Truck Review: Rio Mix Fit

I met some former Memphis Flyer coworkers for lunch today at the new Rio Mix Fit truck, a Brazilian food truck that's parked permanently at the corner of McLean and Madison in the lot of Midtown Nursery.

Most of our food trucks in Memphis are mobile and appear at festivals, office parks, or other areas at peak times, like lunch or dinner. But a few trucks have permanent locations, which feels more hip and Portland-y. Rio Mix Fit is parked in front of a lovely courtyard with weather-resistant furniture and umbrella tables. A green tarp covers the entire patio, shielding patrons from the sun and creating a sort of homey feel.

The menu rotates weekly, so some weeks they'll have kabobs, and other weeks, they'll have plates or sandwiches. There are also smoothies (not vegan, sigh) and juices.

Today, they had plates, so Susan and I both ordered the Vila Isabel Vegetarian Plate, which came with coconut-curry lentils with tomatoes, steamed white rice, steamed broccoli & zucchini, and grilled bananas.

The lentils were EXCELLENT, and I was surprised by how healthy and fresh this meal was. Typically, when I eat out for lunch, I leave feeling bloated and way too full to face the rest of the day. But this felt light and wholesome.

So wholesome that I figured I needed some sugar to balance that out! I ordered the Ginger-Carrot-Passionfruit-Orange Juice. This was an energizing blend with a tropical kick from the passionfruit.

Shara and Toby ordered meat sandwiches, so I'll spare you the pics (okay, I didn't even take any), but I did photograph Shara's juice, which was made with pineapple, mint leaves, lemon, and coconut milk. She said it was really yummy.

I've seen the smoothies on their Instagram, and it looks like most are served in coconut shells, and some are garnished with ice cream bars. They look very fancy, and I so wish they were vegan. But most contain condensed milk from what I could tell. They also have a vegetarian kabob on the menu that I'd like to try on kebob week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vegan M&M's!!!!

I know the secret has been out for some time in the vegan world, but I'm just now in on it. Little Secrets are like VEGAN M&M's.

Sorry for this weird picture. Yes, that is my foot.

Sadly, I haven't seen these for sale in Memphis anywhere, which is why I'm late to the party. But I finally found them at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro, Arkansas — my hometown — over the weekend. One bite and I was immediately whisked back to 2004, which was the last time I had an M&M. I don't remember the last time exactly, but that was the year I went vegan.

You don't always realize the things you're missing until you have them again, and that was the case here. I never pined for M&Ms (or any candy, really) the way I pined for mozzarella until Daiya and Miyoko's Creamery came along. But after a bite of a Sea Salted Peanut Little Secret, I was, like, dammmmnnn, I've missed that! Inside that thin candy shell is a thin layer of dark chocolate encompassing a whole, salted peanut.

I also purchased plain Dark Chocolate Candies. These are like regular M&M's. While peanut were always my fave, you can't go wrong with the classics.

Not all of the Little Secrets flavors are vegan though. The raspberry ones are, and I'll definitely be trying those soon! But toasted coconut and peanut butter are not. Makes me sad because I WANT PEANUT BUTTER M&M'S.

There's also a seasonal peppermint flavor that is vegan and a spiced pumpkin pie flavor that is NOT vegan.

Okay, see y'all later. I'm gonna go stuff my face with candy now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stuff I Ate

Hey, y'all! Here's some stuff I ate!

A couple weeks ago, I popped into the Mediterranean Market on Park, looking for matzoh for Passover. It was after Passover had started, and all of the mainstream grocery stores were cleaned out of matzoh. I had hoped the Mediterranean Market would have some but no luck. However, I did find other treasures! Canned Ful Medames! They had my favorite fava bean stew IN A CAN. I grabbed a couple of different brands to try.

This one, which was blended with tahini, was a winner. Didn't even need any additional seasonings aside from some fresh parsley and garlic-chili sauce. I served it with hot pita.

Hey, look, it's a pizza waffle! I had this post-run FitQuick Pizza Protein Waffle with marinara, some vegan mozzarella, and sauteed bell peppers, onion, and black olives.

Another quick post-run breakfast — Cherry-Rhubarb Smoothie Bowl & Chia Pudding Parfait. I combined frozen cherries, chopped rhubarb, almond milk, and vanilla Vega One protein powder for the base, and I topped that with chia pudding (chia seeds + almond milk + agave + vanilla extract thickened overnight in the fridge) and fresh blueberries.

I met Mike and Andy for dinner at Imagine Vegan Cafe last week and ordered my favorite go-to healthy meal at Imagine — the Southern Staple. Imagine is a comfort food cafe, and they specialize in fried, decadent stuff and plant meats. But sometimes, I want a healthier thing like this bowl of brown rice, black beans, collard greens, and garlic aioli with a side of buttered cornbread.

I went to a Street Fighter-themed art show at Crosstown Arts (where I work as the communications coordinator) this past weekend, and they had Adult Snow Cones! These were spiked with Bacardi. Yum. I asked for only a tiny pump of lime syrup in mine, which is why the color is so weird. I didn't want all that extra sugar with my booze. I like my alcohol to taste like alcohol, thanks. Haha.

My friends and I dressed in Street Fighter cosplay attire for the show. I was Chun-Li!

And Nicole was Crimson Viper (I wish this picture showed her entire braid; it went down past her butt!). Vaughan didn't actually pick a character, but rather just threw a random costume together. But we think he looked a little like Dhalsim.