Thursday, November 29, 2018

Stuff I Ate

It's been SO LONG since I did one of these random meal wrap-ups (you know, since I've been blogging about Health Made Simple for 8 weeks!). But here's a round-up of what I've been eating over the past week since HMS ended.

We'll start with this healthy bowl of Steel Cut Oats, my breakfast on Saturday morning. With pecan-bourbon peanut butter and berries.

I've been eating lots of Big Ass Salads as meals lately. Here's one with a leftover dinner roll from Thanksgiving. I used a homemade tahini dressing.

Sunday's breakfast was Avocado Toast. Enjoyed before a hike with friends on Shelby Farms' Wolf River Trails.

On Monday night, Paul and I had a recipe from Health Made Simple — Stir-fry with Baked Tofu. It's super-simple. Just stir-fried veggies cooked without oil, a teriyaki sauce, and marinated, baked tofu, all served over brown rice. Forgot to take a pic Monday night, but here are my leftovers on Tuesday at lunch.

Here's another meal from Health Made Simple that I ate this week — Tempeh & Rice Gumbo. I had made a big batch of this during the meal plan and then froze some. Perfect, quick weekday lunch. This was loaded with tempeh bacon, rice, and veggies.

And now for some very sad news. Fuel Cafe is closing on Dec. 22. Fuel has had many menus/concepts over the years, but they've always been very vegan-friendly. Most recently, they switched to a pizza concept, and my friend Don is the pizza chef. He makes the best sourdough crust, homemade cashew cheese, and fun toppings like beet pepperoni and carrot ham. I'm gonna miss this place SO MUCH! We had Vegan Drinks there last Tuesday, and I tried the Vegan Mac & Cheese and Brussels with Shiitake Bacon. Both amazing!

Here's a happy hour snack from last night! Our Crosstown Running Crew met for our monthly fun run. I'm still nursing this stress fracture, but it's much better. I have a 5K this weekend that I plan to walk-run, so I was scared to push myself too hard in our fun run. I just did one mile (in a walk-run). Afterward, we always meet up at a Crosstown bar for drinks. This time, we picked Next Door, home of the world's best kale chips. I snacked on these and enjoyed a couple beers. Good times!

And finally, here's what I ate for lunch today! Bella Lugosi's Dead (BBQ Portabella Sandwich with vegan slaw on spent grain bread) with Home Fries. Sooooo good! I liked this balance of healthy and indulgent. Almost got the side salad instead of home fries and then thought better of it. I was craving potatoes. 

I'll be back early next week with a recap of race day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Green Goddess Cookbook Launch + Crosstown Arts Open House

I've got a couple quick announcements tonight! One may appeal to readers everywhere, while the other is strictly Memphis.

First, I want to let y'all know about the launch of a new cookbook, It's a Lie: Being Vegan Ain't Easy by Omi Iyalaje. Omi runs the Green Goddess Popcorn and Tea Lounge on Summer Avenue in Memphis, and her amazing flavored vegan popcorns are sold around town (even at Whole Foods!). This is her first cookbook, and it's being released in a party at Green Goddess (3078 Summer Ave.) on Saturday, Dec. 8 with recipe tastings, giveaways, and live music. Of course, you don't have to be local to pre-order a copy!

You can pre-order a copy on her website for $13.99, and the first 100 orders get a free bag of her popcorn!

Here's the description from her website:
It's a Lie: Being Vegan Ain't Easy is a collection of favorite recipes by Omi Iyalaje over the last 9 years of her life. Living in the South and being surrounded by BBQ and hot wings, it’s quite common to hear people say, “Being Vegan Ain’t Easy.” Omi has successfully brought innovation, creativity, and flavor to the vegan community with her amazing dishes. This collection of recipes is wonderful for those on the path to healthy eating without compromising flavor. Omi has served as the Vegan Chef at Whole Foods/Wild Oats Market, where her line of gourmet vegan popcorn has been sold for over 10 years. Omi has also served as a private chef for well-known celebrity guests and artists.

Okay, now for the very Memphis-y announcement! Hey Memphis friends, Crosstown Arts — the contemporary art center where I work — is hosting our first Open House this Friday, Nov. 30 from 5-8 pm. And you're all invited! All of our spaces — art galleries, cafe, bar, shared art making facility, artist residency studios, theater, and music venue — will be programed with live music, performances, activities, and/or demos. And we'll be giving tours of the spaces.

Why am I posting this on a vegan blog? Because Today & Always (Crosstown Arts' plant-based cafe) will be handing out free food samples and vegan hot chocolate! If you haven't checked out Today & Always yet, here's your chance to do so for FREE!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bom Bom Vegan Cream Liqueurs!!

I have died and gone to cocktail heaven, y'all! Before I went dairy-free, I was a big fan of Bailey's. I loved having a shot of that creamy liqueur in my coffee or as a shooter with a good stout beer. I went vegan at age 24, so I only had a few good drinking years before I had to give up cream liqueur for good (or so I thought!).

A couple years ago, Bailey's came out with an almond milk version, and I was so thrilled that I can enjoy creamy cocktails again. It's good! But after awhile, only having one cream liqueur option got a little boring. A girl needs variety! Enter BOM BOM Brands Nilli Vanilli and Fully Baked — two rum-based vegan cream liqueurs in unique flavors like vanilla wafer and chocolate chip cookie/brownie!!!

Nilli Vanilli is creamy almond milk liqueur that tastes like a blend of vanilla cookie flavors. And Fully Baked is like the cream liqueur version of Ben & Jerry's Fully Baked ice cream (WHAT?!) with a hemp milk base.

These sweet creamy concoctions are delicious on their own, sipped slowly from a rocks glass. But they're even better mixed into cocktails. I tried these a few ways, like this Spiked Hot Chocolate. I mixed 1.5 ounces of BOM BOM Fully Baked into a small glass of dark hot chocolate, topped with coconut whip. A perfect warm treat on a cold, cold night.

This weekend, as I put up my holiday tree and decor, I sipped on this Peppermint Martini (recipe on the BOM BOM website). It has vanilla peppermint vodka (that I infused myself last holiday season!) mixed with Nilli Vanilli. For the rim, I just happened to have some peppermint rimming sugar. The reason for the season!

My favorite cocktail so far was this Baked Apple Pie Cocktail, made with BOM BOM Fully Baked, apple whiskey, and cinnamon whiskey.

Here's the recipe:

4 parts BOM BOM Fully Baked Hemp Milk Liqueur
½ part apple whiskey
½ part cinnamon whiskey
Ground cinnamon

Shake Fully Baked and whiskeys with ice and pour in your favorite fall cocktail glass. Mason jars are always a nice seasonal touch.

To find out where to buy BOM BOM in your area, check out their retail guide. Memphis readers, I can affirm that Buster's definitely carries this (I've already bought some as birthday gifts!). 

Monday, November 26, 2018

My 14-Year Veganaversary/Black Friday!

I've been vegan for 14 years and vegetarian for 24 years as of Friday! Or at least that's the day I celebrate. I went vegetarian on the day after Thanksgiving in 1994 and vegan on the day after in 2004. Of course Thanksgiving's date changes each year, so technically, it's probably another day. But celebrating on Black Friday makes it easier to remember.

Since I needed a bit of a "detox" after Thanksgiving Day (I know that's a not real thing based in science, but you know what I mean!), I started my Black Friday with — you guessed it! — a smoothie. The 8-week Health Made Simple meal plan is behind me, but that doesn't mean I'm off the smoothie train. This one had strawberries, banana, spinach, and walnuts.

Every year since, like, forever, my mom and I have gone to Black Friday brunch at Brother Juniper's, followed by holiday shopping. And this year was no different. Nothing beats this meal of Fahim's Special Tofu Scramble, Home Fries, & Toast with Jam for a veganaversary brunch!

Note: Fahim's Special (a scramble with portabella mushrooms and roasted red peppers) is no longer on Brother Juniper's menu, but they're happy to make it by request. The dish was served with kalamata olives back in the day, and Bro. Juniper's stopped carrying those olives. So we bring our own and add them in!

After brunch, we hit up the Carriage Crossing Mall for some holiday shopping and then on to the Harley-Davidson for more shopping (my parents are badass bikers).

By the time we finished shopping, I was pretty hungry. But it was too early for dinner, so I had a slice of leftover Apple Pie with Vegan Coconut Whip (by Reddi Whip). Gotta love the day after Thanksgiving!

My mama sent me home with LOTS of Thanksgiving leftovers this year, so when it finally was time for dinner, I made a hearty plate of Field Roast with Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Broccoli-Rice-Cheeze Casserole, and a Side Salad.

I enjoyed leftovers all weekend actually (and still have some casseroles left), but I made sure to balance those indulgent meals with salads and smoothies daily. Feeling pretty awesome!!

Thursday, November 22, 2018


I am so full! We finished eating our Thanksgiving lunch hours ago, but I'm still stuffed. I'll share pics of what we ate in a few, but first, here's what we had for dinner last night. I drove to Jonesboro right after work, and my mom and I went straight to the Truck Patch health food store to hit the salad bar. I like to eat salads the night before Thanksgiving.

But this was a BIG salad. My parents tease me about how big my salads are. Truck Patch charges by the pound, and this was definitely a pricy plate. It has baked tofu, roasted chickpeas, black beans, roasted corn, pickled beets, black and green olives, marinated mushrooms, cranberries, lettuce (not romaine), broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, red onion, green peas, bell pepper, quinoa, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, vegan bacon bits, and balsamic vinaigrette. Whew!

After dinner, my dad made me one of his famous Vegan Bloody Marys!

For breakfast this morning, I made a smoothie in my mom's Ninja. Definitely not as good as my Vitamix. This had bananas, green apple, clementines, and walnuts, but the apple skin wouldn't blend well and it had chewy bits.

I was pretty hungry by 10:30 am, so I had some Sundried Tomato Hummus, Cucumbers, and Gluten-Free Crackers that I found in my parents' fridge and pantry. Enjoyed while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

We typically eat the big Thanksgiving meal for lunch, so around noon, we sat down to eat! Mama makes everything vegan! There's Field Roast with Gravy, Cornbread Dressin', Green Beans, Hash Brown Casserole, Broccoli-Rice-Cheese Casserole, Corn Relish, and Cranberry Sauce. Oh, and awesome Dinner Rolls by Kind Confections (Jonesboro's vegan baker!).

Casserole shot!

For dessert, we had a Vegan Apple Pie from Kind Confections. This was soooooo good! And I love the lattice work.

And mama made Pecan Pie Tarts! These were soooooo good! I topped my desserts with Reddi Whip Coconut Whip.

Here's a family photo with my parents and my Me-Maw and Granny. Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Health Made Simple Wrap-Up

It's the end, my friends! My 8-week Health Made Simple plan from No Meat Athlete is over! And you know what? I'm gonna keep eating this way! Just because I want to! I've done many resets, and I often finish them with big intentions to keep up a few healthy habits. But this time feels different. I love the focus on low-oil, whole foods meals at home and the flexibility/permission to have whatever I want when I want it. Craving fries? Eat them! Need some cake? Eat it! But just make sure your day also includes lots of fruit and fresh veggies.

Don't worry — you'll still see lots of indulgent meals on my blog, but the stuff you might not see — because they might be a little boring — are daily smoothies, salads, and some everyday meals at home. I intend to add a few of the HMS recipes to my rotation.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I plan to stuff my face with all the things, including Field Roast Celebration Roast and my mom's vegan cheesy hash brown casserole. And I'll surely be eating leftovers for several days, but I'll balance those days with fruit smoothies and salads. It seems like a no-brainer way to eat, but as someone who has struggled with food guilt forever, I needed this program to get me into a healthier mental space around food. I've never denied myself fried treats and sweets, but I often feel bad about myself after I eat them. With this new (to me) way of eating, I don't!

Anyway, without further ado, here's what I ate on my last few days of HMS. Monday started with Spinach Colada Smoothie (from a recipe in VegNews!) — coconut water, coconut flakes, spinach, pineapple, banana, and flax seed.

Morning snack was Miyoko's Roadhouse Cheers to Cheddah cashew cheese on rosemary Wasa crackers.

Lunch was an ALT Sandwich (avocado, lettuce, & tomato with Hope Spicy Avocado Hummus) on sprouted grain. 

I also brought some Roasted Rosemary Potato Wedges (oil-free!).

Afternoon snack was fruit — persimmons, orange slices, and strawberries. And dinner was Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Cheesy Sprinkle from HMS. For the sauce, you just blend a can of diced tomatoes with salt (I added oregano, basil, and garlic powder too). The sprinkle is made with nooch and ground walnuts. For the pasta, I used Explore Cuisine Edamame & Mung Bean Fettucine.

Tuesday started with a cranberry-cherry smoothie (no pic) made with cherries, cranberries, banana, spinach, and walnuts. Morning snack was Baby Carrots & Black Bean Dip.

Lunch was leftover pasta, and my afternoon snack was Pears & Strawberries.

Dinner was Red Lentils with Spinach and Whole Wheat Naan. I found vegan whole wheat naan at Sprouts!

On Wednesday, I had another Spinach Colada Smoothie, a snack of blood oranges and strawberries, and leftover lentils and naan for lunch. I snacked on rice crackers with Miyoko cheese in the car on the way to my parents' house in Arkansas for Thanksgiving! And then my parents and I grabbed salads from the salad bar at Truck Patch (Jonesboro's health food store) for dinner. We like to keep it light the night before Thanksgiving! 

Hope y'all have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Butternut Squash Hummus

On Sunday afternoon, I was invited to a co-worker's holiday party. And while guests weren't expected to bring something, I just can't show up to a party empty-handed! But I was pressed for time with only an hour to whip something up between brunch and the party.

I had half a roasted butternut squash in the fridge (leftover from the night before), so I knew I wanted to do something easy with that. The first thing that came to mind? Hummus! I mean, I am a vegan after all. We have hummus in our veins.

I've never made butternut squash hummus, but I'd tried a pumpkin hummus once, and I remembered it having the most amazing, creamy texture. So I figured this would be similar. And I was right! The butternut added a slight sweetness and made for a velvety smooth hummus.

I wanted to share my quick recipe before Thanksgiving, in case you're looking for an easy un-turkey day app.

Butternut Squash Hummus

1/2 butternut squash (about 1.5-2 pounds)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 can Great Northern beans, drained & rinsed
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make sure your squash has been seeded. No need to peel! Brush the teaspoon of oil over the inside cut part of the squash. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until fork-tender. 

When the squash is done, allow to cool (you can always do this step the night before and chill in the fridge). Then scrape the roasted squash away from the skin, and place into food processor. Discard the skin. 

Add beans, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Garnish with smoked paprika and toasted pumpkin seeds (if you got em).

Monday, November 19, 2018

Health Made Simple, Days 46-49

I'm back with my LAST WEEKEND RECAP on Health Made Simple! My 8-week, whole foods-based meal plan will end this Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving. But going forward, I'm hoping to continue eating this way most of the time.

I actually didn't take many pics of my food on Day 46 (last Thursday) because most everything I ate was leftovers from the day before — same smoothie, same snacks. I did make new dishes for lunch and dinner, but I totally forgot to photograph my lunch (quinoa tabouli). Oops! I managed to remember my dinner pic though. This was the Pasta with Tofu & Broccoli from Health Made Simple. I used edamame/mung bean pasta. The sauce is just a splash of almond milk and some nooch, plus onions, broccoli, and cubed tofu. I added sriracha! Pretty good.

I enjoyed that meal, but I was kinda sad that I ate it. After dinner, I had to oversee press night at Today & Always, our plant-based cafe at Crosstown Arts. We had lots of samples out for the press to try, and I wanted to eat dinner first in case there wasn't enough left for me. Turns out, we had more than enough food so I was having serious FOMO watching everyone else eat. I ended up snacking a little too much on that stuff, even though I wasn't at all hungry. Oh well.

On Friday, I had my usual morning bootcamp (fueled by dates and walnut butter) followed by white rice and a fruit smoothie (cherries, banana, vanilla, spinach, walnuts).

I have a fruit bowl every week day on Health Made Simple, but I was low of groceries Friday. My fruit supply had dwindled down to a few sad grapes. Luckily, Today & Always sells fruit bowls at breakfast, so I grabbed one (pineapple, strawberry, grape) to snack on at my desk.

Lunch was leftovers of that pasta, and afternoon snack was black bean dip and carrots. Dinner was a quick Orange Tofu Tahini Wrap before heading to my friend Andy's house for game night (we played Cards Against Humanity and drank some holiday beers). This wrap was a repeat from earlier in the plan, and I really liked it! It has baked tofu, tahini dressing, pickled onion, mandarin oranges, lettuce, and red cabbage.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and made the Easy & Awesome Tofu Scramble from the HMS plan. I added mushrooms (not in the recipe) and served with toast/Earth Balance.

For lunch, I wanted to go really light because I was going to our annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck at 4 pm. A fruit smoothie sounded perfect. But I was still out of fruit, so I stopped by Juice Bar in Crosstown Concourse for a Blue Chocolatta Smoothie (banana, blueberries, almond butter, raw cacao, and pink salt). 

That fueled me through a grocery trip (yay, I bought fruit!). And then when I returned from the store, I snacked on one of my grocery treats — Miyoko's Vegan Roadhouse Cheddar Spread on Wasa Rosemary Crackers. I'm sticking to mostly whole foods at home, but this cheese is made with whole ingredients, like cashews and nooch. And the crackers are whole wheat. Score.

Then it was time for the potluck! Our friends Nicole and Vaughan have hosted the annual vegan Thanksgiving for YEARS. I would never miss it! I made the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese from Health Made Simple, and it was a big hit. Here's a glance at some of the savory offerings — tofu quiche, Daiya mac (yes, there were two kinds of mac!), vegan tamales, tater tot casserole, falafel and tabouli, and Jennifer's famous Big Mac dip on crackers.

Here's my plate number one!

And plate number 2!

And don't forget dessert. There were Stephanie brownies, apple pie, pumpkin spice mini muffins, and — not pictured — Shay's famous pumpkin chocolate bread. Also, Nicole made the BEST vegan oatmilk hot cocoa with vegan Reddi Whip. 

Dessert plate!

This was definitely way more food than I'm used to eating on the meal plan, but hey, it's Thanksgiving. And the meal plan is focused on your "most of the time," which is definitely not this. Ha! I felt very stuffed after this, but it was worth it. Here's one table of guests after we all filled our bellies.

And here's me and Shay (who didn't make it into the group shot).

I had another party on Sunday! Tis the season. But first, I had a healthy breakfast of Avocado Toast!

Our friend Don of Lulu's Food held his last vegan pop-up brunch of the year at Fuel, so of course, we couldn't miss that. I joined nine of my friends there at 11 am for Don's Brekky Mac (breakfast mac & cheese with tofu scramble and shiitake bacon mixed in).

And then at 3 pm, I went to my co-worker Caitlin's house for a holiday party! This was an oyster and citrus party, and since I don't eat oysters, I was able to keep things light by snacking on a mound of fruit! Check out this spread of fruit! I tried several new to me things, like persimmon, longan fruit, rambutin.

I made butternut squash hummus for that party, but I'm saving the recipe for a separate post tomorrow!

And finally, I'll end this massive post with Spiked Apple Cider. Caitlin's husband Stephen made the tastiest hot apple cider, which we spiked with spiced rum (of course!).

A fun and food-filled weekend! And I don't even feel guilty for indulging because this plan is teaching me to have a healthier attitude around food!