Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

A few more random meals today!

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'm really into the No Meat Athlete Cookbook right now. So I made the Easy Bean Burritos from the breakfast chapter! Yes, bean burritos for breakfast. Why not? These have refried beans, sweet potato, kale, mushrooms, nooch, and salsa. A perfect way to start the day.

I had some leftover beans and fillings but ran out of burrito-sized tortillas, so one day last week, I made Breakfast Bean Tacos instead!

I've gotten okra in my CSA share for the past two weeks, so I made Tempeh Gumbo (from my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk) with some of it. Served over brown rice!

Last Friday, we had a going-away lunch for our Crosstown Arts intern Samira at Farm Burger. I've been eating a lot of crap lately, so I opted to have my Impossible burger patty on a kale salad instead of a bun. Yay!

Today is National Avocado Day! So here's a pre-long run Avocado Bagel that I ate last Saturday before an 18-mile trail run at Stanky Creek. I'm gearing up for a 50K in August so my Saturdays and Sundays are now consumed by long runs. Thank goddess for Dave's Bagels. These power me through those long miles.

After that run, I was craving Daiya frozen pizza. I don't know why. But I was. So I bought the Cheeze Lover's Pizza, and over the course of the evening and the next morning, I ate the whole thing.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Back when I was working on my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk, which came out in 2012, I was making my BBQ Tempeh & Carrot Sandwiches ALL THE TIME. It's one of my favorite recipes from the book! But I eventually got a little burned out on BBQ tempeh, so I gave it a break. But when I had an abundance of cabbage in my CSA a few weeks back, I knew coleslaw was in order. And with coleslaw, there must be BBQ, right? I made some Air-Fried Potatoes on the side.

Have y'all had these yet?! The new Daiya ice cream bars! After reading Hilary's review on My Cat Loves Daiya, I knew I had to try them. This is the Chocolate Fudge Crunch Bar. It has coconut milk ice cream with a fudge swirl and dark chocolate coating, plus pumpkin seeds for crunch! YUMMMMM.

Speaking of Daiya, I found these new Duets yogurt cups for sale at Imagine Vegan Cafe. This is Salted Caramel Crunch! I always loved the yogurt that came with toppings in my pre-vegan days. This is sold with a little cup of toppings on top — chocolate chips, granola bites, and pumpkin seeds. Sure, it's more like dessert than breakfast but I'm okay with that!

A plate of randomness. Tofu Stir-fry from The Curb Market's hot bar, leftover Squash Casserole, and a Tomato-Cucumber Salad made with produce from my CSA.

A pre-run white bagel by Dave's Bagels with unsweetened Barney Butter powdered almond butter (made into a paste) with maple syrup and banana. My dad ordered us both some powdered Barney Butter, and he didn't like it, so I got both jars! Win! I'll admit that it's much better in a smoothie than made into a spread. But it's not bad as a spread so long as you add sweetener.

And finally, I'll leave you with this masterpiece. The special at Imagine Vegan Cafe last weekend was the Polynesian Burger — Beyond Burger topped with a Chicago Vegan Foods breaded mozzarella patty, onion petals, and Polynesian sauce. OMG. This was AMAZING! That mozz patty was like a giant cheese stick on top of a burger. YES!!!!!! I ordered broccoli for balance. HAHAHAHAHA.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Simple Happy Kitchen

The first fully illustrated guide to plant-based life is here! Simple Happy Kitchen: An Illustrated Guide to Your Plant-Based Life by Miki Mottes is the cutest darn thing I have ever seen. I'm one of those people who LOVES an infographic. And this book is like one giant, adorable infographic with pretty much every bit of information you'll never need in your vegan life.

The publisher sent me a review copy and included some cute Simple Happy Kitchen swag! The book, as well as the Simply Happy jar labels, Mr. Tofu keychain, veggie stickers, reusable shopping bag (all seen here!), among other adorable items, are available on the Simple Happy Kitchen website.

On its many illustrated pages (look at the examples below!), the book covers plant-based myths, food storage hacks, budget friendly vegan meal plans, a chart of plant-based protein sources, an intro to superfoods, common egg substitutes, a lesson on animal ag and the environment, and a primer on aquafaba, among many other topics. Plus, there's a guide to storing vegetables for max freshness, a grain cooking guide, a kick-ass hummus recipe, and tips on raising vegan kids. And the whole way, you're guided by a talking almond — Mr. Pedro Almondovar. All of the veggie characters have names and appear throughout the book (Mr. Tofu is my guy!).

Seriously — EVERYTHING is in this book. And because it's so cute, it makes learning such fun! Though it's not a cookbook, there are a few recipes for healthy snacks, vegan cheeses, plant milks, and fun sandwich spreads. I made the Avocado Spread for an open-faced sandwich last week, and it was awesome (tofu, avocado, lemon, grated radish, and scallion).

I haven't put the shopping bag to use yet, but I love how it folds into a little portable square (it's the little blue thing in the first pic). My fave merch item, though, are the jar labels. Because how cute are they?????? In this pic, we have white beans, walnuts, and chia seeds. Each label tells you the calories and macros per serving.

Even my cats love this book!

Simple Happy Kitchen would make a great gift for a new vegan (or an old vegan)! It's so much fun to read, and even this old vegan has learned some new things (like the best way to store certain veggies and how to make the creamiest, killer hummus!).

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Salsa

I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually taken the time to make homemade salsa. But it's so easy that I'm not sure what my problem is! Homemade salsa tastes SO MUCH BETTER since the ingredients are more fresh and flavorful. And you don't need preservatives to make the stuff last for months on a shelf like it does at the grocery store.

I recently made this Roasted Tomato Salsa using only 7 ingredients! And then I served it atop some amazing Seitan Chorizo Tacos with avocado, cherry tomato, lettuce, onion, cilantro, and hot sauce.

The idea was inspired by my friends over on the No Meat Athlete Pulse Community Facebook page. That's a closed group for members of the No Meat Athlete Tribe/Academy, and I've recently become more active there. Love that group! Anyway, I posted this picture of last week's CSA haul in the group, asking for suggestions on what I should make. Someone suggested salsa roja! I'd never had that, but I googled it and was inspired by a number of roasted salsa recipes that I found.

Just in case you're wondering, the okra made it into a gumbo and the watermelon just made it into my belly with a little sprinkle of sea salt. ;-)

Anyway, here's my super-simple recipe for Roasted Tomato Salsa!

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Yields one 16-oz jar

10 roma tomatoes
1-2 sweet green peppers, depending on size, stemmed and seeded (one bell pepper would be fine, but the ones in my CSA were smaller sweet peppers)
1 jalaepeno, stemmed (seeding is optional depending on your heat preference)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Place the romas and peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. No need to chop them. You can roast them whole. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes begin to wilt.

Place the roasted veggies, onion, garlic, cilantro, and salt in a food processor and process until desired texture is reached. I like mine a little chunky!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Vegan Crepes at Irie Vegan Kitchen

Chefs Nigel and Andrea of Irie Vegan Kitchen are at it again! This vegan chef couple have been hosting weekly Sunday brunches in their home for several years, but recently, they've begun a daily lunch service (in addition to Sunday brunch). And they're currently specializing in savory and sweet vegan crepes!

My friends Susan and Megan joined me for lunch at Nigel and Andrea's Orange Mound home (known as Irie Vegan Kitchen) last Friday. I opted for the Vegan Philly Cheeseteak Crepe with a side of Garlic Kale.

The savory menu features crepes stuffed with either pizza filling, cheesesteak filling, vegan caesar steak, or pesto chicken, plus they have a chicken bacon ranch sandwich, a smoked sausage sandwich, vegan fish tacos and sides of garlic kale, scrambled tofu, pancakes, herbed roasted potatoes, salads, and juices.

The crepes come in large or small. I recommend the large (plus a side) if you want a full meal, but you could also try two smaller crepes in different flavors to mix it up. Here's a large all folded up.

Inside shot before I bit into it! This had vegan steak, vegan cheese, peppers, and mushrooms.

They also have a mouth-watering list of sweet crepes, but we were too full for dessert. I'll have to make a special trip soon to try the lemon cream, Cupid's Choice (not sure what flavor that is!), or Triple Threat (also don't know the flavor there, but I'm guessing it involves chocolate).

Irie Vegan Kitchen is located at 806 Newell, and lunch is served from 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations are highly recommended since this is a private home. If you'd like more info on how to contact Nigel and Andrea to make a reservation, I'm happy to share their contact info in a private message. Just email me at phillipsbianca[at]gmail[dot]com.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Best Southern Meal Ever

I had a rare weekend without many plans this past weekend, so I called my mom and asked her to cook me dinner! My parents live an hour away in Arkansas, which makes it super-convenient for me to make a quick trip over for a family dinner night. At least once per summer, I like to make sure I have a plate of Southern fried veggies while they're in season. I LOVE fried veggies, but I try to stay low-oil at home. But when mama is cooking, all food rules are off!

My parents were happy for an excuse to eat all that fried goodness too! So my mom made a big ole plate of everything awesome — Fried Summer Squash, Fried Okra, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Potatoes with Chow Chow, and Corn on the Cob.

Okay, actually my dad made the corn on the cob. He learned a cool trick on the internet for microwaving corn in the husk. You microwave for three-and-a-half minutes (in the husk) and then chop the stalk end off. Then you can shake the corn out of the husk without those pesky strings! It's similar to opening a banana backwards (to avoid the strings). Plus, the corn comes out perfectly steamed!

We smeared our corn with Earth Balance and dipped our fried green tomatoes in Daiya vegan ranch. By the way, my mom says my recipe for fried green tomatoes in Cookin' Crunk is her all-time fave, so she uses that one all the time now.

Mama also made some Soup Beans & Cornbread. She put fresh jalapenos in the pinto beans, which added a great lightly spicy flavor. The little cornbread sticks were perfect for our tiny bean bowls (we had to eat little bowls since we had so many other foods!).

My dad has become quite the cook over the past couple years, so of course he had to show off his skills too. Daddy made a Vegan Blackberry Cobbler with a very buttery, cakey crust. So perfect with a scoop of CocoWhip!

But that's not all! He really outdid himself by making two desserts! He also made Bourbon Peach Sorbet using fresh peaches and Jim Beam. So good and perfect for these hot temps! Here's the recipe he used.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Recipe: Vegan Squash Casserole

Growing up, one of my fondest memories is my granny's squash casserole. Yet I don't really remember it. Does that make sense? Like, I know she used to make squash casserole often when my parents and I would visit for dinner. And I remember loving it. But I can't remember what was in it. I know it was cheesy and perhaps topped with crumbled Ritz crackers, but I couldn't recreate the recipe from memory if I tried. And sadly, Granny most likely wouldn't remember it either. She's forgotten most of her recipes.

But when I got summer squash in my CSA for the third week in a row, I knew I wanted to try something fun with it. I'd already made squash parm, black bean & squash burritos, and grilled squash (on the 4th of July). So I googled a recipe for squash casserole and found many, many variations.

I picked one with low-oil to veganize since I'm trying to stick to a low-oil eating plan at home (all rules are off when eating out or dining at other people's homes). I feel better with less oil, so I'm really trying to eat that way 90% of the time. The recipe I chose probably isn't just like Granny's. For one thing, it called for breadcrumbs instead of crackers, and since I used whole wheat crumbs, I feel better about that. Even though Ritz crackers are vegan (fun fact!).

I will say that this casserole is damn good though. I used Daiya mozzarella for the cheese, rather than cheddar, simply because that's what I had at home. But cheddar would be prettier in this! Maybe it's just me, but both Daiya cheddar and mozz taste pretty much the same.

Without further ado, here's a veganized version of Squash Casserole. Btw, you'll see there is a little Earth Balance in the cheesy roux (but just one tablespoon for the whole recipe!).

Vegan Squash Casserole
Yields 4 servings

2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozz)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook squash and onion in a small amount of boiling water for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt Earth Balance in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; add cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Add squash mixture; stir well.

Spoon squash mixture into a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle squash mixture evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Even More Stuff I Ate

Last week, my friend Susan and I had lunch at Pho Binh — home of the best and cheapest tofu buffet in Midtown (and probably all of Memphis). The Lemongrass Tofu is the greatest thing on earth, and that's ALWAYS on the buffet (thank god). Also typically there's Green Bean Tofu and another random tofu/veggies dish. The clear veggie soup is pretty much always there. But it's a rare day when the Coconut Curry Tofu Soup is on offer. And it was last Thursday. It was a good day.

Our super-talented Crosstown Arts cafe cook and baker makes us vegan sweets at work several times a week. These Linzer Cookies with homemade jam were AMAZING. Just AMAZING.

Last Friday night, a few of my friends and I saw Boy George & Culture Club with the B-52's at Live at the Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Everyone arrives super-early for these outdoor shows so they can picnic before the concert. We had a big vegan spread with lots of wine and beer, plus herbed bread with Treeline cashew cheese and olive bruschetta, baby carrots and Thai coconut curry hummus, chips and guac, grapes, watermelon, trail mix, and lots of other little snacks.

Here's another No Meat Athlete-inspired recipe! Not from the cookbook though. I listen to the NMA podcast, and last week, host Matt mentioned that he liked to make Air-fried tofu, Hummus, & Veggie Wraps for his kids. It sounds great! So I air-fried some tofu (sprayed with Bragg's) on 400 for 15 minutes and layered into a wrap with CSA cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, plus lettuce and Thai coconut curry hummus (leftover from Friday's picnic). Served with chips and salsa verde.

And finally, here's yet another Fitquick Pizza Protein Waffle (this one is topped with marinara, nooch, and sauteed bell pepper, garlic, and onion — all from my CSA). I'm REALLY getting the most out of this CSA!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

I'm back with more random meals. I'm still obsessed with the No Meat Athlete Cookbook, so I made the Breakfast Tofu (one of my faves) to serve over toast with hummus. And sriracha, of course!

I also had some one morning with toast and jam, plus toast with Vegemite (which I think I like better than Marmite because it's more spreadable).

I made the Avocado-Lime Dressing from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook one day last week to top this big ole salad with black beans, corn, homemade kraut, pickled onions (also from the book), romaine, and carrots.

And here's yet another NMA cookbook recipe — I made the Zucchini Parm (only with summer squash instead since that's what I had in my CSA) and served it over whole wheat pasta with marinara and Tofurky Italian Brats. YUM!!!

And a few meals NOT from the NMA Cookbook! Here's a FitQuick Pizza Waffle made into Avo Toast. So I guess that makes it Pizza Protein Avocado Waffle Toast?! With cherry tomatoes (from the CSA) and pickled onions (well, those are from the NMA Cookbook). Also Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning!

Finally, here's a quick meal from the freezer. I had some Soup Beans frozen from a few weeks ago, and I served them with some Jalapeno Cornbread from Cookin' Crunk (that I made and froze a few months ago). Topped with the world's best homemade chow chow that my mama bought from some lady in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Weekend Fun with Sheridan & Drew!

My BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew came to visit me in Memphis this past weekend. They live in Little Rock, about two hours away. And they hadn't been to Memphis since last fall so we had lots of eating to catch up on!

When they arrived on Saturday afternoon around 1 pm, it was time for lunch. So we drove out east to City Silo since they'd never been. City Silo is AWESOME! Most things on the menu are vegan by default, but they have the option of adding dairy cheese, eggs, or chicken. It's nice when vegan food is the default. Anyway, I had just run 16 miles and I was very hungry, so I ordered my favorite bowl in wrap-form. The Sesame Tempeh & Buffalo Cauliflower Bowl can be served on a wrap, but I usually get the bowl. The wrap is my fave. Love dipping it into the cashew ranch!

After lunch, we went out for beers at Crosstown Brewing Co., which is also new since they've been here last. Sheridan and I both ordered the seasonal Margarita Gose (a sour beer that has a lime-y margarita flavor without being sweet or too sour). I also sampled CBC's limited-edition Boris oak barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.

We took a little walk around Crosstown Concourse and Crosstown Arts (where I work) so they could see the progress and then we attempted to ride Memphis' new Bird Scooters (local scooter share), but the scooters wouldn't accept mine or Sheridan's driver's licenses for some reason. Oh well! Then it was on to some shopping at Urban Outfitters and then dinner! 

We dined at Fuel Cafe so they could try the new vegan pizzas, created by the talented Don Gaines. But we started with an appetizer of Baba Ganoush with pita, olives, and roasted carrots.

The three of us split two pizzas — a Carrot Ham & Pineapple Pizza and a Cream & Greens Pizza with added mushrooms. The cream is a mushroom cream, and it's so good. Also, Don hand-makes the cashew cheese and the fabulous sourdough crust.

Paul met up with us at dinner, and then the three of us went to a blacklight DJ party downtown at The Lightclub for an hour or so. We finished the night out with beers and some snacks (fresh herbed bread with Treeline scallion cashew cheese and olive bruschetta).

On Sunday morning, we stopped into Imagine Vegan Cafe for brunch before they hit the road. They were dying to try Imagine's new mozzarella sticks, and they did not disappoint!

For my entree, I wanted to go with something fairly light and healthy since Paul and I had a planned 6-mile run later in the day. I chose a Veggie Platter with vegan mac and cheese, seasoned greens, green beans, and BBQ beans. 

We had a wonderful, delicious time! Can't wait to do it again (and I'll get to visit them in Little Rock in the next couple weeks for Sheridan's birthday!).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

More Stuff I Ate

I have been LOVING my CSA. It's so fun to plan my meals around fresh produce, which surprisingly, is something I wasn't doing before. Instead, I was picking recipes from cookbooks without any concern for what I already had on-hand (that's an expensive way to eat, y'all! Pretty sure this CSA is saving me $$$).

One day last week, I made a Potato Cabbage Curry using this recipe. I added chickpeas for protein though! And I added some asafoetida and black salt for a more authentic Indian cuisine flavor. Tasted like something from a restaurant! Served over basmati rice.

My parents came to town on the Tuesday night before the 4th of July so my dad could fix my bike. And we went out to eat at Farm Burger, where I got yet another Impossible Burger. I will never tire of these!

Here's a much healthier burger! I had some No Meat Athlete Burgers (a lentil-walnut burger) in the freezer from when I made them back in December. The recipe is in the No Meat Athlete marathon roadmap meal plan. I had one on a Burger Salad!

But I also had another No Meat Athlete Burger last night on a sprouted grain bun with homemade pickles (from my CSA!) and Air-Fried Fries & Chipotle Mayo (by Just for All).

Hey, here's last week's CSA haul! Summer squash, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and nectarines.

I've already polished off the nectaries and cherry tomatoes. The cucumber became pickles and found their way into salads. And I used some of the squash in this Black Bean & Squash Burrito! Also has mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, vegan cheese, and salsa. I wish there was a way to take a pretty picture of a burrito.

I'll be back on Monday night with an update from my weekend fun. My BFF Sheridan and her partner are coming to visit, and we're planning to eat our way through vegan Memphis!