Monday, April 30, 2018

Nashville Vegan Eats: The BE Hive

This week, I'm focusing on all the amazing new vegan options in Nashville, Tennessee. I live in Memphis, but Paul is working in Nashville these days (and he has worked there off and on for years), so I'm lucky to have an excuse to visit Music City often. I've blogged plenty about Wild Cow, Graze, Avo, and Sunflower Cafe — all amazing vegan establishments that have been around awhile.

But this past weekend, on a visit to Music City, I made it a point to visit all the new vegan places I hadn't been to yet. I'm blogging about them all week. Tonight's post is about The BE Hive — a vegan butcher shop and deli in East Nashville.

Nashville's BE Hive has been making the world's best seitan meats for some time, and I'd picked some up at a health food store in Nashville on my last trip there in November. But they've recently launched a Saturday-only deli where you can order meals from a small menu or grab meats to go. Sadly, I failed to take a picture of the deli case, but it was a wonder to behold — sausages, bacon, filets, pepperoni, and more. I grabbed this image off their BE Hive Instagram though so you can see some of the meats that were in the deli case.

From BE Hive's Instagram

I did, however, get pics of my meal (of course!). I stopped in here Saturday afternoon and got a half order of The Italian Sandwich (seitan deli slices and pepperoni with aioli, onion, tomato, and lettuce on baguette). The sandwich was very meaty and totally hit the spot after a long volunteer shift at the Rock & Roll Marathon.

They also offer Mozzarella Sticks! And I will never let a chance to eat cheese sticks pass me by. I got an order of these as well. You get three sticks, and they're absolute perfection. Melty housemade mozz on the inside, crispy/herbed breading on the outside, served with marinara for dipping. I was sad when they were gone.

The deli also offers a turkey bacon ranch sandwich and a pastrami sandwich, plus seitan wings, a caprese salad, and a chickpea chicken salad. And there's a rotating weekly menu of specials — this past week, that was a meatball sub (but they were sold out when I arrived), a chocolate chip cookie, and a chocolate mini pop-tart (also sold out when I arrived or I would have definitely gotten one!).

The deli is located in the East Room, just next door to Hail Dark Aesthetics (a cool occult shop with crystals and other fun stuff but WAY too many animal bones/nonvegan stuff for me to feel comfortable in there, ha!). There's only one table for dining inside the East Room, but there are also some picnic tables outside Hail. Or you can always get your meal to go!

As for the butcher shop side, all of BE Hive's meats, plus their mozz and chicken salad are available packaged and ready to go. I got some of their bacon and apple-herb sausages to go!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nashville Vegan Eats: The Southern V

Hey everyone! I spent the weekend in Nashville (actually still in Music City as I type this!) volunteering at the Nashville Rock & Roll Marathon. I was supposed to run the marathon (it would have been my fourth), but I sustained a stress fracture a few weeks ago and had to stop training. I decided to sign up as a volunteer though because I figured working at the race would help me get over being bummed about not being able to run it. And it did!

One of the best things about volunteering and not running was that I got to eat ALL THE FOOD instead. So many new vegan places are popping up all over Nashville, so I made it a goal to check out as many of those as possible. And I'll be dedicating all of my blog posts this week to those awesome new (and some older) options, starting with The Southern V.

I would have had to watch what I ate the day before the race, but instead I got to eat whatever I wanted! So when I arrived in Nashville on Friday, the very first stop I made was at The Southern V. Last time I was in Nashville, The Southern V had very limited hours, and I couldn't catch them open. But now they're in a new location at 1200 Buchanan in the Buchanan Street Business District, and they're open more regular hours. And it's cute inside! They got their start as a grab and go business in a little house, and the only seating was outdoors at a picnic table. But now they have a full dining room.

This comfort food cafe is known for their fried seitan chicken, so of course that's what I wanted to try. I ordered the Nashville Hot Chick'n because when in Nashville, you eat hot chicken. Memphis has BBQ, Nashville has hot chicken. It's what the city is known for.

This came with two sides, so I chose Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens. Everything was amazing! The seitan was meaty, and the breading was crunchy and fried to perfection. I couldn't tell what the cheese sauce base was, but it was creamy and very cheesy. The collards were slow-simmered, just like granny's homemade greens.

I will DEFINITELY be back here. They also serve breakfast and offer that same chicken in a biscuit sandwich. Plus, they have vegan doughnuts at breakfast!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Vegan Ayurvedic Kitchen

A couple months ago, my Goddess Provisions box was themed around Ayurveda, and it came with a pocket-sized version of The Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda. There are three doshic constitutions (body types), and after I started reading the book (and took the dosha quiz) and quickly realized that I'm definitely vata (with just a tad of pitta).

Here's a brief description of vata traits from
"Those with a predominance of Vata dosha usually have a thin, light frame and excellent agility. Their energy comes in bursts and they are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have dry skin and hair and cold hands and feet. They sleep lightly and their digestion can be sensitive. 
Vatas love excitement and new experiences. They are quick to anger but also to forgive. When Vatas are in balance, they are energetic, creative, and flexible. They also take initiative and are lively conversationalists. When unbalanced, they are prone to worry and anxiousness and often suffer from insomnia. When they feel overwhelmed or stressed, their response is, 'What did I do wrong?'"
That's me! Except not really the "quick to anger" part. According to Ayurveda, each dosha should eat certain foods to balance their dosha. I ordered The Vegan Ayurvedia Kitchen shortly after starting my studies, so I could try eating for my dosha. On Tuesday, I planned an entire day of dosha-balancing meals. It started with Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes and Breakfast Greens.

These pancakes are gluten-free, which is best for vata's digestive issues (I don't actually have any gluten issues, but it was fun to play along). You soak raw quinoa in water overnight and use a blender the next day to make a batter. And then you fry them up in coconut oil (good for vata's dry skin and high metabolism). They actually have a similar texture to flour pancakes! And so easy to make. The recipe is literally just quinoa, water, and coconut oil. And I added in blueberries and cinnamon (recommended for vata).

The breakfast greens are kale, cooked with fennel seed (just a tad because I'm not crazy about it) and topped with nooch, flax oil, and ume plum vinegar. They were really good and a nice balance to the maple-sweetened pancakes.

My morning snack at my desk was something totally unique to me — Sauerkraut Toast! This is toast with raw almond butter and my homemade kraut. The recipe suggested sprouted grain toast, but I used my last slice to make croutons for my salad for lunch (more on that in a few), so I used half a slice of 12-grain bread.

Lunch was Cooked Zoodles with Garlic Olive Oil & Pine Nuts, plus a Vegan Caesar Salad.

The zoodles can be cooked or not, depending on your dosha, but vata aren't supposed to eat a lot of raw veggies because they're tougher to digest. And even though I don't have gluten issues, I do get gassy when I eat a ton of raw food. So I opted for the vata-friendly blanched zoodz. I tossed them with olive oil and a clove of minced garlic.

The caesar was my fave meal of the day! The dressing was cashew-based and so delicious and tangy. The croutons are made with garlic and coconut oil on baked sprouted grain bread. The salad was just romaine and red onions. It's all tossed with a homemade parm made with ground almonds, sesame seeds, and nooch. Very good! And just a little bit of raw, not too much. Also, lots of good fat for my vata constitution!

My afternoon snack — before spinning class (one of the few activities I can do with my hurt foot) — was Sweet Orange Date Rolls. These medjool dates are stuffed with raw walnut butter with a little squeeze of fresh OJ and agave, topped with coconut flakes and fresh mint. These three little dates kept me full through spin class.

Dinner was Kitchari! I'd never had kitchari, but Hillary from My Cat Loves Daiya blogs about it all the time, and I keep wanting to try it. It's a mung bean and rice stew that's supposed to be super healing and detoxifying. The book suggests eating it topped with lime juice and kraut for vata types, and I added some Trader Joe's Green Dragon sauce cause that's what Hillary does and it always looks so good.

The kitchari was really light and satisfying! And honestly, after a full day of eating for my dosha, I felt pretty great. My digestion was spot-on (no gassy issues!), and I just felt energized and healthy. Next time, I'd probably add more protein sources because I did find myself getting hungry more often than usual, but my body is just used to a large amount of protein.

I love The Vegan Ayurvedic Kitchen cookbook. All of the recipes are marked to let you know if it balances vata, pitta, or kapha, and increases or decreases those traits. I'll definitely be trying this meal plan again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Lovely Organic Vegan Candy

Lovely Candy Company has released a new line of organic, vegan, gluten-free candies, and they sent me a few packages to review. I'll never say no to free candy! I'm not a huge candy eater, but I do like to keep some in my purse for those times when 1) I need to wake up (candy is great for driving long distances or afternoon pick-me-ups at work); 2) I need to freshen my garlic breath; or 3) I'm hangry and there is no food to be had.

The package Lovely sent included their Lollipops, Hard Candies, Chewy Candies, and Gluten-Free Licorice. They also sent some gelatin-free gummy bears, but they were made with honey, so I couldn't eat those.

I especially loved the Hard Candies. They come in Original (grape, apple, and cherry) and Tropical (lemon, pomegranate, and mango). Since they're individually wrapped, they're perfect for stashing in my bag, and they last a long time in your mouth. Great for driving! These are organic and made without artificial colors or flavors.

I'm also a big fan of their Cherry Licorice. I love Twizzlers, but they're loaded with artificial stuff and corn syrup. Plus, they contain wheat flour, which means gluten-free folks get left out (I'm not gluten-free, but I think it's great when companies make products that everyone can eat!). The Lovely red licorice is bite-size and chewy with a light cherry flavor. It's perfect. 

I didn't try the Original Licorice because I'm a black licorice hater. I have a hard time with anise or fennel as well (although I can handle limited amounts of fennel seed or fresh fennel cooked into a dish). Anyway, Paul is a diehard black licorice eater, and he was very impressed with the Lovely version. He liked the chewy texture. His mom tried it as well, and she's already placing an order on their site for more.

The Chewy Candies are like vegan Starburst! And they're free of artificial flavors and colors. They're made with real fruit. The texture is chewy and still soft enough not to pull out any dental fillings (of which I have many!), and they're bursting with flavor. These come in strawberry, cherry, and lime. 

And finally, there are Organic Lollipops. These are also free of gluten, gelatin, artificial ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup. They're very much like the hard candies but on a stick, which is sometimes more fun to eat!

These come in mango, strawberry, grape, and pomegranate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Happy First Anniversary, Mama Gaia!

Mama Gaia — the all-organic, totally vegetarian, mostly vegan restaurant in Crosstown Concourse — celebrated its first year in business with a fancy party last Thursday. Mama Gaia is pretty special to me because it's located in the same building where I work at Crosstown Arts. Concourse is a vertical urban village with arts, healthcare, education orgs, a ton of nonprofits, restaurants, retail, and apartments. And it's located in a massive former Sears retail and warehouse building that was built in 1927. It's by far the city's most impressive revitalization project to date (and yes, as the communications coordinator for Concourse, I'm probably a little biased there).

Anyway, Mama Gaia was the first restaurant to open in Concourse, and it's plant-based! How rad, right? I'd only recently left my beloved old job at the Memphis Flyer in 2016 when I learned that a veg restaurant would be first to open in the building (before my office even moved over!). At that moment, I had no doubt I'd made the right career choice.

Enough about me and my unabashed love for Concourse though. Let's talk about Mama Gaia. They had a big buffet spread at the party, and here's what I put on my plate, which was basically everything. There's a Veggie Burger Slider, Falafel-Spiced Chickpea Salad, a sample of the Asia Bowl (with sesame coated tofu), Hummus & Veggies & Pita, and a Artichoke Salad.

And here's a sample of the deconstructed Memphia Pita in a martini glass (because fancy party). This has smoky BBQ tofu, crispy slaw, and a little bit of pita — it's a smaller version of a sandwich they offer on the regular menu.

Every single thing Mama Gaia serves (down to the ketchup!!) is organic. They specialize in pitas, bowls, and salads. Plus, they have handmade veggie burgers and vegan cheese pita pizzas. Their fries are oven-baked, and the hummus is top-notch.

Some buffet table shots!

And a party isn't a party without dessert. All of these are vegan and offered in-store in bigger versions — Raw Fudge Brownie, Carrot Cake Balls, and Coconut Yogurt Parfaits. The balls and brownies are made with dates and nuts, so they're basically health food. And I love that yogurt parfait because they add jam and chewy oats.

Mama Gaia at Concourse doesn't serve cocktails, but their second location at Ballet Memphis (which opened a few months after the Concourse location) does, so they gave away some of their organic cocktails at the party. This one had whiskey, lemon, and mint. Very good!

Hey local people! Mama Gaia is giving away gift cards, discounts, and merch to every 10th customer through April 30 as part of their birthday celebration. And this Thursday, April 26, they're one of the many awesome Memphis restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life, which means they're donating part of their sales that day to Friends for Life (a nonprofit that I sit on the board for, which helps people living with HIV/AIDS access crucial services).

Monday, April 23, 2018

Paul's 38th Birthday

Sorry for not posting last night, but we were out celebrating Paul's 38th birthday! He requested Hopdoddy, Memphis' newest burger bar in Overton Square. And that was fine with me because they serve the Impossible Burger!

Paul eats meat, and he wanted the Breakfast Burger, but many in our party are vegans and vegetarians, so this was the perfect place for all of us. Of course, I ordered the Impossible Burger with Vegan Smoked Gouda. And Paul and I shared a giant bowl of the Kennebec Fries. This burger is, by far, the best vegan burger out there. It's so meaty and greasy. LOVE IT!

Paul always requests Chocolate Cupcakes, so that's what he got again this year. I used the chocolate cupcake and buttercream recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World — my go-to recipes for years. They never fail. I made minis since I knew we'd all be too stuffed from our burgers for a full-sized cupcake.

The recipe made 36 minis, and I took 24 to the restaurant. It took many hands to light them!

Here's Paul making his birthday wish.

And here's the whole gang! Afterward, some of us went bowling. I stayed up way too late for a work night (midnight!), but special occasions call for such things!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

It's time for round two! Here is another round-up of yummy things I ate over the last couple weeks.

We'll start with this gorgeous Vegan Egg & Sausage Omelette from Tuesday morning. I prepared Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg with an emulsion blender and then cooked it up until firm, flipped, and stuffed with Morningstar Farms vegan sausage, Daiya vegan cheddar, mushrooms, bell pepper, and baby spinach. Served with toast spread with Marmite and Earth Balance.

Today's lunch was a Vegan Curried Chicken Salad Wrap with Sriracha Lentil Chips. For the chicken salad, I chopped about six Beyond Meat chicken strips and mixed with a tablespoon of vegan mayo, scallions, half a shredded carrot, and a quarter of a minced bell pepper. I also added some baby spinach to the wrap.

One of my go-to breakfasts this week has been Vegan Yogurt Parfaits. This one has Ripple vanilla protein yogurt with strawberries and pistachio-mulberry granola.

Another breakfast this week — Baked White Sweet Potatoes with Raw Almond Butter & Dried Cranberries. This was good, but the almond butter was a little too dry for the starchy potato. I had another one this morning with tahini instead, and that worked better.

This is not pretty, but it was tasty. Green Lentil Protein Pasta with Marinara and Miyoko's Smoked Vegan Mozz (would have looked better if I'd melted it) and Steamed Kale. Post-spinning class protein! Spinning is one of the few activities I can do right now with my fractured foot, so I'm taking a lot of classes.

And finally — last night's dinner from Imagine Vegan Cafe. I got a Veggie Plate with Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, Baked Beans, and Summer Corn Salad (a new menu item with corn, mayo, and bell peppers — really good!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Here's a round-up of some things I've been eating lately! I've blogged about how much I love the new Fuel Cafe menu several times, but I'll say it again — I LOVE THE NEW FUEL CAFE MENU! It's very vegan pizza-centric, thanks to my pizza chef friend Don's involvement and their new wood-fired oven. The last couple times I went, it was for dinner, so I ordered a personal-sized pizza. But Susan, Shara, and I went for lunch one day last week, and they have Grandma Slices!

A grandma pie is a giant rectangular pizza, and you can order it by the slice. Each day, they have one vegan, one vegetarian, and one omni grandma pie during lunch, and you can order a slice and salad combo. On the day we went, the vegan pie was Carrot Ham & Pineapple, plus a Vegan Caesar on the side.

I whipped up some Buckwheat Banana Pancakes for breakfast last Friday. I added banana slices to the batter, and then I topped with extra bananas and blueberries, plus some Hilary's Eat Well Spicy Veggie Sausage on the side. 

A grown-up PB&J before last Friday's Water Zumba class at the downtown Y (trying some new things while I can't run!). This has Raw Almond Butter and Superfruit Spread (blueberry-cranberry-cherry-grape).

After that Water Zumba class, I was hungry again. So I made a snack plate with Yellow Lentil Hummus, Chipotle Hummus, Carrot Sticks, Bell Peppers, Pretzels, and Strawberries (fresh, local ones!). 

Here's some White Bean, Spinach, & Mushroom Lasagna with Pesto from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I made it forever ago and froze the leftovers in portions for quick dinners and lunches. Came in handy on a busy weeknight last week.

My fave pre-long run breakfast is oats and nut butter, but I haven't been eating it as much since I'm not running. Sadness. I managed to get my oat fix one day last week as a regular weekday breakfast. I stirred some ground flax and maple into the oats and topped with cashew butter and blueberries. 

More random meals tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wilted Lettuce Salad

Last weekend, when I was home visiting my parents, I mentioned to my mom that I'd been to the Memphis Farmers Market earlier in the day and bought some fresh, local romaine and radishes. That made her crave wilted lettuce salad, she said. I had never heard of such a thing!

Mama said it was an old Southern recipe that she grew up eating. You'd take hot bacon grease and pour it over a simple salad of lettuce, radishes, and scallions. The lettuce gets a little soft and wilty, thanks to the hot oil. It sounded weird but good. So I thought I'd veganize it.

For my vegan version, I used olive oil and Liquid Smoke to mimic the bacon grease. I heated a tablespoon of oil in a little skillet for about 3-5 minutes, and then I added a splash of Liquid Smoke and a splash of red wine vinegar (not even enough to measure).

For the salad, I use the fresh romaine and radishes, plus a little chopped green onions and some salt and pepper. After heating the oil, I immediately tossed it with my salad. The result was a light and bacony side dish that put a nice spin on my usual side salad.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Vegan Buffalo Chick'n & Smoked Mozzarella Pizza!

A couple months ago, while visiting my best friend Sheridan in Little Rock, I stumbled upon the Miyoko’s Kitchen Smoked Vegan Mozzarella — a smoky version of their popular cashew-based Fresh Mozz. I’d had the Fresh Mozz a few times, and it’s just fantastic, so I knew I needed to try the smoky version. Sadly, Memphis’ stores still don’t carry the Miyoko mozz (though we did finally get a couple of her other aged cheeses in our Whole Foods), so I grabbed some to take back home with me.

Then the cheese sat in my fridge for awhile as I thought about what to do with it. It had an expiration date of July, so I’ve had plenty of time. But then it hit me — Buffalo Chicken & Smoked Mozzarella Pizza!

I used some homemade pizza dough that’s been in my freezer for awhile. And I made some buffalo chick’n using Beyond Meat grilled strips. I used a garlic butter sauce in place of a traditional pizza sauce, and I added some baby spinach, mushrooms, and onion slices for good measure. The result was a mouth-watering pizza that was even better dipped in vegan ranch dressing.

Here’s the recipe!

Buffalo Chicken & Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
Yields 8 slices

1 recipe for pizza dough (or one pre-made crust) 
12 Beyond Meat Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips, chopped
Hot sauce, to taste
2 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 package of Miyoko’s Kitchen Smoked Vegan Mozzarella, sliced 
1 cup baby spinach
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 

Pre-heat the oven to 500 (or if using a pre-made crust, follow package directions for temperature).

Place the chopped Beyond Meat chicken in a mixing bowl and season liberally with hot sauce. How much depends on how spicy you’d like your pizza to be!

Melt the vegan margarine and season with garlic and onion powders. Use a basting brush to spread the butter sauce evenly over the dough, leaving some room on the edges for crust. 

Top the dough with baby spinach, mushrooms, red onion, and buffalo chicken pieces. Place the smoked mozzarella slices evenly over the pizza. The cheese won’t cover everything. Think margherita pizza-style!

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the crust are browned (or follow package directions for a pre-made crust).

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Anatomy of a Southern Meal

I had a rare weekend with zero plans this past weekend (my favorite kind!), so I decided to drive home to Jonesboro to visit my family. My Granny had a fall last week, and she's recovering nicely, but that seemed like a good excuse to spend some time with both grandmas.

But before we stopped by their houses for brief visits, my mom and dad and I sat down for very Southern, totally vegan dinner prepared by my mama. I requested beans and cornbread and fried potatoes, and she came up with the rest of menu. This meal is a good representation of the way I ate daily growing up in Arkansas. I went vegetarian at age 14, so most of my meals looked very much like this.

I thought I would briefly dissect this very Southern meal, just for fun. So here goes:

Beans & Cornbread — In the South, we ALWAYS eat cornbread with our beans. The beans are typically "brown beans," meaning pinto beans. But other beans, like white beans, can be substituted or mixed with the pinto. They're cooked from dry beans in a slow cooker with plenty of spices. I plop my entire cornbread slice atop my bowl and use a spoon to cut off pieces as I scoop up beans and juice. Others crumble the bread into the beans and stir to combine. Some eat their beans in a bowl with lots of juice (like me and my dad), and others (like my mom) strain the beans from the juice and eat them on their plate with everything else.

Fried Potatoes — Cubed potatoes fried in oil until brown and crispy. This is achieved by cooking the potatoes in the hot oil without stirring for quite awhile. That allows the crispy edges to form. Fried potatoes are best enjoyed with chow chow (a mix of picked veggies with a hint of sweetness, as seen here on my plate).

Greens — Collards, mustard, and turnip greens are most common. But my granny always made rape greens, which come from the canola plant. These greens here are rape greens that my granny cooked and put up in the freezer, and then she gave some of the frozen greens to my mom. Greens MUST be slow-simmered for about 40 minutes or more with a generous bit of oil and hot sauce. Bonus tip: Liquid Smoke gives the greens that signature soul food bacon-y flavor.

Fried Corn — Fresh corn cut from the cob is cooked on the stovetop with plenty of vegan butter, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. 

Tomato Salad — The best way to enjoy juicy summer tomatoes! My mom used cherry tomatoes here since tomatoes are still out of season, and the cherry ones tend to have the most flavor in the winter. But big slicer tomatoes are great for this when they're in season. This is made with tomatoes, onion, vinegar, olive oil, and sugar. You can also add fresh cucumber and bell pepper if you want.

And then there's dessert! Growing up, we had meals like the one above nightly. But we didn't typically have dessert. That was for special occasions. But when we did, my favorite was always my mama's homemade fruit cobbler. Last night, she made a Strawberry Cobbler using some strawberries she put up in the deep freezer last season.

The filling is just strawberries, sugar, and a little flour, and it's topped with a flaky pastry crust, dusted with sugar. Best enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or (as we did last night) with a little So Delicious CocoWhip.

And of course, all of this must be washed down with sweet tea!