Monday, October 30, 2017

Vegan for One

My cookbook author friend Ellen Jaffe Jones (with Beverly Lynn Bennett) has a new cookbook out, and it's designed for those who dine alone. Or, at least, those whose partners don't share their dietary preferences. Vegan for One: Hot Tips and Inspired Recipes for Cooking Solo features recipes that serve two (meaning you'll have leftovers for tomorrow!).

For years, I cooked meals for one, but I always made the full recipes so I'd have leftovers for the week. And that was fine with me because it meant I had more free time outside of the kitchen, but most people probably don't want to eat the same meal four days in a row. I'm just a weirdo. These days, Paul and I eat together most nights, but he's not a huge fan of leftovers, so I still typically wind up with three servings of most meals — just for me!

That said, Vegan for One would be great for solo diners but also people whose partners don't help them with the leftovers. Even cooler, the dessert section contains half-recipes for six cookies or six brownies. I don't mind lots of meal leftovers, but I hate having a ton of sweets in the house.

The book is divided into the usual chapters for breakfasts, sides, main dishes, snacks, salads, soups, and sandwiches. I made a number of dishes, starting with the Easy Vegetable Fried Rice. This is a super-simple recipe that uses cooked brown rice, frozen veggies, and optional tofu (of course, I added the tofu!). It only contains a tiny bit of oil, so it's not greasy like takeout fried rice.

For both this dish and the others I made, I actually doubled the recipes so I'd have leftovers. We also tried the Breaded Tofu, Mashed Potatoes, and Sesame Green Beans & Bell Pepper.

The breaded tofu was from the main dishes chapter. Plain tofu is coated in a savory flour-cornmeal mix that's filled with spices and herbs. Very yummy! It was a hit was Paul. He didn't even mind that it was baked and not fried.

The mashed potato recipe was similar to the one I typically make with vegan butter and non-dairy milk, but it also has nooch — an excellent addition. For the gravy, I sauteed some mushrooms and added a pack of Road's End Organics powdered gravy mix. After this pic, I covered my tofu in gravy too.

I especially loved the sesame green beans. These were sauteed in a small amount of sesame oil and there were sesame seeds, garlic, and ginger. You finish the dish with a little tamari and fresh parsley. Delicious!

I know this book will be a handy resource! Ellen's recipes are always super-healthy and whole foods-based, and they tend to be simple with only a few ingredients. I'm definitely planning to try the Smoky Bacon Brussels Sprouts, Indian-Style Millet, Deconstructed Veggie Lasagna, Seitan Street Tacos, Nut Butter Cookies, and Berry Muffins.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: Ink in Water

My internet friend/body positive fitness hero Lacy Davis and her partner Kett have a new book out! Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir (Or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Embraced Body Positivity) is a graphic novel about Lacy's battle with an eating disorder (written by Lacy, drawn by Kett), and it's just about the best thing ever.

I started following Lacy back when she was co-host of the now-defunct Rise & Resist podcast, and I was just so drawn to her badassery. She was this strong, tough, creative, thoughtful, and well-spoken lady who was all about feminism and veganism. She lifted weights, which sounded WAY COOL to this runner who'd never picked up anything heavier than a five-pound free weight at the gym. I immediately loved her! And then, through the podcast, I learned about her struggles with ED, and it made me love her even more.

I've never had an eating disorder, per se. But like just about every lady on the planet, I've struggled with body image. I remember some times in college when I'd skip meals (and occasionally pop diet pills) to try and shed a few pounds (that I totally couldn't afford to lose, by the way). I basically spent my entire youth dieting and tracking. And honestly, I still track food and — real talk — I probably over-exercise. But through following Lacy's journey, I've learned to be more comfortable with my shape and any extra pounds that appear on the scale. I've gained a little weight since my last marathon, and my favorite pair of jeans no longer fit. In the past, that would have STRESSED ME OUT and sent me into a juice "cleanse" or some other (probably orthorexic) whole foods diet. But I don't even care! And I really think Lacy's influence has helped me to get to that comfortable place.

Anyway, enough about me! Let's talk about Lacy's book. I didn't even think I'd really be into a graphic novel, but I LOVE Kett's drawings so much! It's awesome seeing these little hand-drawn snapshots illustrating Lacy's entire ED story — from its start after a terrible break-up in her 20s to her current-day life with Kett. As Lacy will tell you, she hasn't beaten her ED. She still has struggles from time to time, but weightlifting literally saved her life. She learned, through lifting, that getting big was not a bad thing. It's okay to be big! It's okay to TAKE UP SPACE.

Whether you've experienced an all-out ED or have just struggled with body image at some point in your life, this book is such an affirming force. It's so nice to know that someone else been there and made it out okay (and even stronger than ever!).

These days, you can find Lacy on her new(ish) podcast Flex Your Heart, in which she interviews feminists, entrepreneurs, artists, witches, and other awesome folks. I'm a proud Patreon supporter of that podcast, and I'm thinking about donating very soon to her other podcast — Adult Crash — with Kett. On Adult Crash, Lacy and Kett discuss their lives as grown-up, over-the-hill punk rockers. As a punk kid who is now in her late 30s, I can totally relate!

Also, Lacy is now the co-owner of Liberation Barbell, a body positive, queer-friendly, feminist weightlifting gym in Portland. I still haven't gotten into lifting super-heavy things yet, but I hope to some day — maybe when my marathon training schedule calms down. But when I get to Portland again, I'm definitely popping in for a class!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Squirrel Update!

It's been too long since I've shared adorable baby squirrel pics with y'all. If you follow me on Instagram (or if we're Facebook friends), you've probably seen these already. Sorry for the repeats, but they're so cute, I doubt you'll mind seeing them again.

To catch everyone up, Paul and I have spent the past 12 weeks raising baby squirrels who fell from their nest in my backyard tree. This is our fourth year raising baby squirrels. We don't know how this keeps happening. But it does! So thanks Universe for tossing squirrels our way. Anyway, we raised two this year — Kevin and Kathy — in the master bathroom (mostly because it's the room that's easiest to clean). They were bottle-fed since their eyes were still closed. But now they're 12 weeks old and ready for release. So on Sunday, we opened the bathroom window, which overlooks our backyard.

Kevin isn't so sure about the outdoors. Four days after release day, this is still about as far as he's gotten.
Kathy, however, immediately ran down the board we propped against the house as a bridge.

And then she went straight up the backyard tree!

I expect Kevin will get braver with time. It typically takes baby squirrels a week or so before they feel comfortable staying outside for more than a couple hours. Kathy has been playing outside during the day, while Kevin stays in. But she's always back inside by nightfall.

This is me and Kevin, looking for Kathy in the backyard. Where are you, Kathy???

They're still sleeping in the nest they made from toilet paper — in my shower. 

Kathy is clearly the alpha squirrel!

Today, I came home to find this happening (that's Kathy by the way)! Uh oh! We've had squirrels take their time moving out, but we've never had one bring the outdoors inside! This doesn't bode well for me getting my bathroom back any time soon.

And just for fun — here's my eye/nose/throat specialist, Dr. Kathy. :-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Even More Stuff I Ate

I'm back with one last round (for now) of random meals I ate. We'll start with this awesome bowl of Better Than Takeout Curry from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. After a week-long birthday gorgefest, it was nice to eat something wholesome and light. This has a base of red lentils, plus mushrooms, cauliflower, bell pepper, carrots, and sweet and white potatoes. The recipe is a "blueprint," meaning they simply suggest certain things to add. I love all the blueprints in this cookbook!

Yesterday's lunch was a quick Boca Chick'n Patty with Daiya Cheddar and a side of Air-fried Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Ranch. For the cauliflower, I just tossed the florets with olive oil and hot sauce and then air-fried on 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Easy peasy!

Last Friday, our office brought in some food from the Curb Market deli —our grocery store in Crosstown Concourse. There were Veggie Hummus Wraps, a Pasta Salad, and Fresh Melon. Yay for vegan catered lunches!

This morning, I made some post-run FitQuick Lemon Poppyseed Protein Pancakes with Blueberries & Maple. Plus a side of quick Tofu Bacon (tofu marinated in soy sauce and liquid smoke and then pan-fried).

This past weekend was the annual Festival of Souls, a pagan Samhain festival at Meeman-Shelby Forest Park on the outskirts of north Memphis. They always provide vegan (and gluten-free) meal options. It's a three-day fest, but I only ever go one day each year because it's hard to get away for a full weekend. This year, I went on Saturday. For lunch, we had Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi with Kale. THIS IS SO GOOD. The chef, Cyn, makes it every year, and it goes super-quick. The non-vegans love this too.

And Cyn also made grilled cheeses for lunch. She made me two very buttery (YAY!) Vegan Grilled Cheeses with Daiya. I LOVE Cyn's grilled cheeses because they're an excuse for me to eat white bread, which I rarely buy at home. And she doesn't hold back on the butter.

For dinner on Saturday, she made a Vegan Tofu & Eggplant Curry with Rice, Brown Sugar Carrots, Sauteed Kale, & Vegan/Gluten-Free Naan. Plus, there were (not pictured) Lentils that I got on my plate of seconds.

That's it for random meals. I'll be back tomorrow with some very adorable squirrel pics!

Monday, October 23, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

After last Wednesday's crazy Imagine Vegan Cafe all-you-can-eat dessert buffet, I was feeling pretty gross. I'm sure I ate enough dessert to meet a month's sugar quota, so I skipped my usual post-run smoothie the next day in favor of a savory breakfast of Tofu Scramble & Toast with Onion Butter. I couldn't even handle fruit! This scramble had mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrot.

Now that it's getting cooler out, I'm bringing back a Lacy Davis-inspired breakfast standard — Warm Oats with Banana Protein N'ice Cream! This was warm oats with maple syrup topped with banana-strawberry n'ice cream with added protein powder. I love how the oats make the n'ice cream all melty.

My mom made vegan chili last weekend to top our birthday totchos! And she sent me home with the leftovers. Paul and I have been eating it atop air-fried potatoes for Chili Cheese Fries.

And over frozen's Amy's Gluten-Free Bean & Rice Burritos. On the side, I made some quick microwave nachos with Que Pasa Red Corn Tortilla Chips with Follow Your Heart cheddar shreds (review of those chips coming soon!).

I've also been loving Amy's Black Bean Burritos with melted vegan cheese and a healthy side (like the salad pictured here). These burritos have become standard lunches for us both lately!

One day last week, I grabbed the Superfood Salad (a kale salad with dried cranberries, pecans, beets,  nooch, and tahini dressing) from Farm Burger in Crosstown Concourse for a quick working lunch. I brought my laptop down there (it's downstairs from my office) and worked at the bar.

And a couple weeks back, I made the Seitan Beef Stew from my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. I'm always trying to find vegan meal ideas that Paul will like since he's eating (mostly) vegan at home now. He always loved that nasty Dinty Moore beef stew in a can, so I figured he'd like this. And he did! Win! This was a great way for me to sneak some kale into his diet. I typically make my own seitan for this recipe, but this time, I used the No Evil Foods plain seitan.

Even more random meals coming at ya tomorrow!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stuff I Ate: Breakfast Edition

Here's some stuff I've been eating for breakfast lately!

I've been getting a little bored with having FitQuick protein waffles all the time, so I've gone back to some old FitQuick recipes that I first heard about on the now-defunct Rise & Resist podcast. One was for a FitQuick coffee cake, and I used that to make a Raspberry Chocolate FitQuick Coffee Cake. Yummy way to get 22 grams of post-run protein! Here's the recipe.

I also went back and found the instructions for a FitQuick mug cake that I also heard about on that podcast. It's super-simple. You just cook the FitQuick batter in a mug in the microwave. This is an Orange Dream Bar FitQuick Mug Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. Here's that recipe! Also, can we talk about how gigantic these blackberries are??

I finally bought some more Marmite so I could make one of my fave breakfasts — Marmite Cottage Cheese Toast. I made the Tofu Cottage Cheese recipe from Cookin' Crunk, but basically, it's just plain, crumbled tofu with plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt and a little vegan mayo.

I've also been eating lots of Dave's Bagels! I'll never get tired of bagels. These are his Italian Herb Bagels, one half with vegan cream cheese and the other with hummus. Both have Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.

And finally, here's a fun breakfast that I picked up at Crosstown Concourse one morning after my weightlifting class at the YMCA. It's the We Got the Beet Juice from Juice Bar and the Avocado Toast from French Truck Coffee. I got everything to go and ate it at home while I got ready for work.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Imagine Vegan Cafe's Dessert Party!

My home away from home — Imagine Vegan Cafe — typically has some sort of Halloween/fall party. It often involves a buffet of savory apps, like dogs in blankets, quesadillas, a nacho or taco bar, and other treats. But this year, for their Fall-O-Ween party, they went all out with dessert buffet. That's right. A buffet of sweets. Not a single savory item in the spread!

I typically prefer savory over sweet, but I do love a good pie slice or a cupcake. And more than anything, I just adore gluttony. The thought of eating until I pop makes me giddy. So course, I bought a ticket! For $20, you got unlimited access to the dessert and unlimited beer. My friend/brunch bitch Megan joined me.

Here's my first plate!

And my second plate (the pudding/cobbler/brownie plate — they don't photograph well)!

Whew. This was insane, y'all! Here's what was on offer. All manner of mini cupcakes — coconut, lemon, orange dreamsicle, and chocolate. I went with orange dreamsicle but skipped the rest because there was so much more to try.

There were also tiny cheesecake slivers and cinnamon bun cookies. Plus, one of my favorite desserts — chess bars!! These are ooey, gooey, sweet butter bars.

There were mini apple pies and mini cherry pies. I chose apple.

These cake balls were one of Megan's faves. They were so good!

My fave thing was the banana puddin'!! It's on the left here with the whipped cream on top. Under that was a layer of banana puddin' and vegan wafer cookies. Beside that were the Bianca Brownies (named after me!) that they typically serve in their Bianca Brownie dessert (PB chocolate brownies topped with vegan soft serve and chocolate syrup). And on the right was a warm, comfy peach cobbler. There was also a (not pictured) awesome homemade graham cracker toffee with pecans!

The most exciting thing, though, was the chocolate fountain! I've never experienced a chocolate fountain because they're never vegan when I see them at events. They had Dandies vegan marshmallows, strawberries, and pretzel rods for dipping.

I finished both of my plates, plus a Ghost River Golden Ale.

But after that, I was pretty much in a sugar coma. I was craving something salty, but I was also too full to eat another bite. So I just went home and went to bed early. Ha! This morning, I had green juice from Juice Bar and a homemade tofu scramble in lieu of my usual post-run smoothie. I just couldn't handle anything sweet today. I may have reached my sugar quota for the month!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Goddess Provisions Box: Under the Moonlight!

My October Goddess Provisions box arrived about a week ago! It's hard to believe this awesome vegan subscription service has been around for two years now! I subscribed from the very beginning, and I remember that first October box so fondly. What a treat to get to a mystery box of witchy, vegan things in the mail — crystals, teas, candles, oils, etc.

This month's box was perfect for its 2-year anniversary. The theme was Under the Moonlight, and the box was packed with things to help you sleep soundly and dream deeply.

There's a moon phase bracelet, sleepytime bath salts, moontime chocolate, a sleep perfume, sleep drops, and a Lucid Dreamer iron-on patch. There was also supposed to be a rhodonite crystal in the box, but they accidentally left it out. That's okay though because Goddess Provisions is excellent about replacing left-out or broken merch. I put in a "missing item" order, and my rhodonite arrived in the mail a couple days later.

It's a lovely chunk of rhondonite, a heart chakra stone that can heal past traumas. I love rhondonite because it's a stone of compassion, which is by far my most important guiding principle.

The Zenned Out moon phase cuff is my favorite item. It's made from aluminum, and it matches almost everything I wear!

I haven't gotten a chance to try the Little Moon Essentials Sleep Comes Easy bath salts yet since the squirrels have taken over my bathroom. But they'll be released soon, and I'll have my tub back. These are made with essential oils of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, and lemon, and I'm sure they smell heavenly.

I have, however, been making nightly use of the Soapylane Peace Perfume and the Calm-a-Mama Sleep Drops. The perfume is made with rose, chamomile, ylang ylang, and lavender, and you apply to your pulse points before drifting off to sleep. That in combination with the Sleep Drops (an elixir of chamomile, mugwort, lavender, and lemon) have been sending me straight to sleep every night!

The Chocolita Moontime Rose Chocolate is said to balance hormones during your moontime, so I'll wait for that to try it. But I've long been a fan of Chocolita's raw chocolate, so I know I'll like this.

My Lucid Dreamer patch has already found a home — on the arm of my new jean jacket! YAY!

Love this box! By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $33 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!