Monday, December 30, 2019

Vegan Cheeseball! Tofu Toast!

Does anyone else feel like they're living on a steady diet of chex mix, cookies, and processed vegan junk food right now? I haven't had a green veggie in days! The end of the year is always like this for me, and I'll be starting the Health Made Simple Athlete plan come January 6. But for now, I'm just trying to eat up all the junk food in the house. It's a tough job.

Anyway, this week, I'll be catching up my random meal posts so I can get ready for Health Made Simple posts next week! Here are a few things I ate a couple weeks ago. My friend Duffy made me a heart-shaped Vegan Cheeseball and dropped it off at my house. Enjoyed this with crackers all week last week. This nut cheese-based ball was excellent!

Our chef at Crosstown Arts had some leftovers from feeding our resident artists one day before the holiday break, so he sent me home with a plate of Blackeyed Pea Fritters with Onion Jam, Smoky Greens, and Succotash. Right up my alley with all this Southern goodness!

Before the holiday break (I'm off work through Jan. 2), I was eating lots of Tofu Toast for breakfast. This one has poached tofu "eggs" and Kite Hill chive cream cheese.

And this one has avocado and sauteed tofu with spinach, nooch, and sriracha!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019 Christmas Recap!

Our family holiday celebration started on Monday, Dec. 23 with our annual gathering at me-maw's. Every year, my mom's side of the family meets at my me-maw's for food (this year, it was pizza), punch, and family photos. Here's me with me-maw and some of my cousins (my cousin Melissa couldn't make it).

And here's me and my parents.

The rest of the family had Little Caesar's, but my mom picked me up a Vegan Uncle Maddio's Pizza with Daiya and veggies. Forgot to take pics at the gathering, but here are my leftovers.

My mom made a big bowl of Banana Puddin' for dessert (it's Uncle James' fave). And she made me a little vegan version with coconut whipped cream, vegan banana pudding, and Lorna Doones. Banana Puddin' is also my fave! I finished it off with a double serving (filled this dish up twice) the next day.

I drove back to Memphis that night, and then on Tuesday (Christmas Eve) afternoon, I drove back to Arkansas for Christmas with the parents. For Christmas Eve dinner this year, mama made Spaghetti (mine had Trader Joe's vegan meatballs) with Garlic Bread and a Side Salad (with vegan cheddar and poppyseed dressing).

After dinner, they let me open one present — a very special one! My mom had a painting of my animal commissioned! She ordered it before Pandora passed, so she's on there, and it looks sooooo much like her. In fact, all of the pets — Maynard, Pandora, Polaris, Gelfling, Ozzy, and Seymour — look exactly like their portraits.

Next, I met up with Sheridan and Drew for our annual gift exchange, but all the pics are on Sheridan's phone!

I was in bed by midnight (way later than my usual 9 pm), so 7:15 am came very early on Christmas morning. But I had a 6-mile run (with hill sprints) on my 50K training plan, so it had to happen. I did three 2-mile loops around my parents' very hilly neighborhood. When I finished, it was almost time for Christmas breakfast!

My Granny used to cook Christmas breakfast every year, so my mom has carried on the tradition. She made Vegan Omelets using Just Egg (for me and her, but my dad had eggs), Homemade Biscuits and Gravy, Tofurky Amber Ale-Glazed Ham (so good!!), and Hash Browns. This was amazing.

Then it was time for presents! I got lots of cool stuff, including a 23 & Me ancestry/health DNA kit, a 2020 START planner, and an Instant Pot! Plus, lots of clothes, new Converse, crystal bar soup with opalite, and more. Yes, we were watching Judge Judy.

Here are my parents opening the new (bigger) air fryer that my dad gave my mom.

My dad racked up on whiskey. He's very happy.

After gifts, I loaded up the car and headed back to Memphis. I had a Feliz Navidad margarita while I unpacked.

Paul drove in from Nashville and arrived just in time for Christmas Tacos! We had refried bean tacos with vegan Pancho's dip, guac, and chips.

After dinner, we did gifts and gave the pets their gifts. Paul and I forgot to take pics of ourselves, but here are some of the animals. Maynard got a Bark Box brand Peppermint Bark squeaky toy set, and miraculously, he's had the toys for 24 hours and hasn't destroyed them. I bought them just for him to destroy, but he's just carrying one around in his mouth. Cute!

My mom got my cats a new cat tree, and they immediately moved in. Here's Gelfling and Polaris making themselves comfy.

Yay! We had a great Christmas! Hope you did too!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Tacos! Mexican Pizzas! Ethiopian Food!

Happy Xmas Eve! Before I head to my parents' house to celebrate, I wanted to unload a few random food pics, so here's a little "stuff I ate" international food edition. I've been enjoying lots of Mexican food lately. Here are some Pinto Bean Tacos with vegan cheddar, avocado, Good Karma sour cream, and salsa. Side of Siete Foods cashew queso (y'all, this stuff is amazing).

My parents and I had dinner a couple weeks ago at Pancho's in West Memphis. Pancho's is an old-school local Mexican restaurant chain best-known for their cheese dip. If you live in Memphis, you love Pancho's cheese dip. It runs in our veins here. I've often said it's the one non-vegan food I miss the most. But my mom makes a vegan Pancho's dip that's pretty damn close to the original, and she snuck some in to the restaurant. Go mom! I enjoyed my dip with chips, plus a Spinach Mexican Pizza. My mom also snuck in vegan cheese shreds for my pizza. Ha!

Here's a not-so-pretty Burrito Bowl enjoyed at my desk one day last week. It had Spanish rice, black beans, slaw, salsa, avocado, and Good Karma sour cream.

Last week, I thawed the Tortilla Soup that I'd gotten in our Souper Sunday Vegan Soup Swap a couple months back. This tangy tomato-y soup had lots of jalapenos, and I added corn tortillas, vegan cheese, and Good Karma sour cream.

And finally, here's a dish that's not inspired by Mexican food! We had our December Vegan Drinks meetup at Blue Nile, where almost everyone ordered the amazing Vegetable Platter with tofu tibs, all sorts of wats, and yummy veggies. Ethiopian food is my very fave.

Merry Xmas, y'all! I'll check back in after the holiday with a full post of Christmas eats!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Review — Going Vegan: Your Daily Planner

I'm a planner. Like a diehard, write-everything-down, check-off-the-boxes, freak-out-if-things-aren't-going-exactly-as-planned planner. If I were a Saved By the Bell character, I'd be Jessie Spano (as much as I'd love to really be a Lisa Turtle). I plan all my meals each week on a whiteboard, and when anything changes, I erase the plan and start over. I'm a planning nerd. No shame.

And that's why I sooooo wish Going Vegan: Your Daily Planner by Michelle Neff was a thing when I went vegan in 2004.

This new cookbook and food planner includes a day-by-day meal plan with recipes and space for food logging and journaling. There's space for coloring in your food groups on a plate chart! There's even a nutrition guide that includes calories and macros for common vegan foods with space to write in your faves. At the end of each week, there are journaling prompts asking how you feel and what your favorite new foods were that week.

The book includes 12 weeks of meal plans to get you started on a vegan path, and the recipes are mostly whole food/plant-based! Each day includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Typically, lunches are leftovers from dinner, so you're not making fresh recipes for every meal. I picked one day (Friday, Week 5) to sample, and yesterday, I followed the plan. 

Breakfast was a Strawberry Protein Smoothie. I'd intended to run Wednesday morning, but I've been dealing with a mild cold and figured I should rest instead. The protein smoothie would have been perfect for post-run, but it was still a nice breakfast on a non-running day. This had strawberries, banana, cashew milk, agave, orange juice, and Complement Plus protein powder.

The snacks for the day were mixed fruit and an energy bar, so I decided to split those up into morning and afternoon snacks. In the morning, I had this Fruit Bowl at my desk. It has apples, banana, strawberries, and pineapple.

Lunch was supposed to be a bean burrito, but I didn't have any large tortillas. I did, however, have some whole wheat taco-sized tortillas, so I had Bean & Rice Tacos with refried beans, brown rice, avocado, tomato, and lettuce. The recipe didn't call for vegan sour cream, but I added some anyway.

Right after work, we had our monthly Crosstown Run Crew meet-up, and I felt good enough to run by then. So I had this Clif Gingerbread Bar as my energy bar snack pre-run.

After the run, I had a not-on-the-meal-plan, high-gravity Boris beer (a whiskey barrel-aged stout) at Crosstown Brewing Co. And then I headed home. The meal plan called for a glass of orange juice with my dinner, so I enjoyed that while I heated my food (which I'd prepped the night before). OJ is great post-run carbs!

Dinner was Saucy Chinese Veggies with Tempeh, a simple stir-fry with tempeh, bell pepper, broccoli, green beans, and water chesnuts. The sauce is made with ginger, veggie broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and cornstarch. 

All in all, this was a delicious day. And every day in Going Vegan looks amazing. There's Tofu & Portabella Enchiladas, Curry Rice & Lentils, Seitan BBQ, and Eggless Egg Salad to name a few. The recipes are all super-simple, and I think they'd be really approachable for a new vegan. If you know someone (especially if they're a planner!) going vegan this January, this book would make an excellent gift!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ice Cream! Hand Pies! Tofu Quiche!

Looking back in my old Stuff I Ate files, I realized I had a few old Nashville food pics I forgot to share! Like this amazing cone from Koko's Creamery, Nashville's all-vegan ice cream shop. This two-scoop waffle cone has Peppermint and Chocolate Ice Cream (both coconut based). A trip to Nashville without a trip to Koko's is just sad. Make sure you go there.

And here's a pic of a giant Taco Salad from Wild Cow in Nashville. I added locally made BE-Hive seitan chorizo to my order. But it also has black and pinto beans, Herbivorous Butcher cheddar, blue corn chips, ranch, sour cream, and a bunch of veggies. It was bigger than my head, and yes, I ate it all. 

Here's a tasty little Strawberry-Pear-Cranberry Hand Pie from the cafe at Crosstown Arts. So cute!

My friend Susan made too much Bean Cassoulet the other day, and she left a container of it (with bread for sopping up the juice) on my doorstep! How nice! I had this with some leftover Pasta Salad as a lunch the day before the St. Jude Half. Carbs!

And finally, here are a few treats from LuLu's this past weekend. I got a Savory Shiitake Bacon Scone and a Tofu Onion & Sage Quiche. Triangles!


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Review: Vegan Mac & Cheese

Way back in 2004 when I went vegan, I remember having the depressing thought, "I guess this means I can't have mac and cheese anymore." It was one of my favorite foods, and a life without it sounded grim. But if it meant saving animals, I knew I had to make that sacrifice.

Of course I quickly learned that vegans can still have mac & cheese, and since we weren't using dairy cheese, the options were actually way more exciting! Noochy cheese, cashew cheese, potato cheese, squash cheese, Daiya cheese. There are so many ways to make vegan mac and cheese!

And now the prolific vegan cookbook author Robin Robertson has just given us over 50 more ways to make vegan mac in her new book, Vegan Mac & Cheese. This book covers all the cheesy bases with basic blends, globally inspired macs, veggie-full mac, and vegan meaty macs. She's even got a chapter dedicated to "fun with mac & cheese" that includes Mac 'n' Pizza and a Mac Uncheese Omelet!

I chose two recipes from the book to try. The night before the St. Jude Half-Marathon a couple weekends ago, I carb-loaded with this creamy bowl of Philly Cheesesteak Mac from the Meaty Macs chapter.

Inspired by the Philly sandwich, this dreamy bowl has a cashew cheese sauce. It's topped with portabellas and red bell pepper sauteed with vegan worcestershire sauce and ketchup (for a cheesesteak-y flavor). This was phenomenal, and it made enough to last for days and days. This dish was especially comforting on the day we lost Pandora, when I just didn't have the will to cook.

I made the Soy-Good Mac Uncheese from the Basics chapter for the No Meat Meet-up Vegan Potluck on Sunday.

This nut-free baked macaroni dish is made with blended silken tofu, nooch, vegan milk, mustard, and spices. Your classic vegan mac dish. The sauce, sampled straight from the Vitamix, was amazing, and I wanted to dump it on everything. Mixed into the pasta, it made a creamy dish!

The instructions say to top with breadcrumbs and paprika and bake, which I did. But I wouldn't do that next time. Baking dried this dish out quite a bit. Still tasted great! But I longed for that creamy texture the dish had before baking. Over the years, I've found that baking tends to dry out most nooch-sauce based macs, so I should have known! I'd still recommend this dish — just don't bake it.

I'll definitely be trying more from this book. There's a Better-Than-Boxed Mac Uncheese dry mix that would be great for keeping in the pantry. And the Indian-inspired Creamy Curry Mac is speaking to me on a deep level.

In the New Year, when I'm trying to eat more veggies, I'm sure I'll make the pasta-free Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Mac (made with tempeh bacon, peas, and tomatoes) or the Buffalo Cauliflower Mac. The kid in me really wants to try the Kid's Stuff Mac 'N' Cheese (with vegan hot dogs in it!), and the Fried Mac Uncheese Balls will be on the table for my next house party!

Monday, December 16, 2019

No Meat Meetup Potluck #3

We had the third No Meat Meetup Vegan Potluck at the cafe at Crosstown Arts last night. This monthly potluck is a way to activate the cafe space, which is closed on Sundays, with fun vegan events.

I organize the meetup as part of my job at Crosstown Arts, so it's work. But it's the best kind of work! We had so many new faces last night, and it's so cool to meet new-to-me vegans. Back in the day, I used to joke that all Memphis vegans knew each other because there were so few of us, but these days, we're everywhere!

I typically have my camera ready to take pics as soon as we line up to make our plates, but this time, I was busy talking and forgot to take pics until after people had made their plates, so excuse the half-eaten casserole shots! I did manage to get pics of my own dishes before the crowd arrived. Yesterday was National Cupcake Day, so I made Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. These are always a crowd fave.

I also made some Soy Good Mac Uncheese from Robin Robertson's new Vegan Mac & Cheese Cookbook. I'm doing a full review of this book tomorrow, so I'll save any commentary for that. 

Other dishes included this giant Vegan Cheese & Veggie Pizza from Rock & Dough. Of course, it was mostly gone before I got this pic.

And a yummy Rice Salad with Blackeyed Peas & Celery. This was really refreshing!

Vegan Enchiladas! These were made with ground Beyond Burger and vegan cheese, and let me tell ya, that Beyond Beef is soooo meaty. This dish would have fooled any meat eater.

A very Vegan Cheesy Lasagna! Who knew you could make lasagna in an Instant Pot?! Just one more reason I need to get one.

A beautifully garnished bowl of Vegan Bean Chili. I enjoyed scooping this up with the (not pictured) chips and guac that someone else brought. 

Some amazing Baked Samosas. These had all the flavor of deep-fried samosas without the all the oil. Really yummy!

And these fun Gooey Waffles for dessert. Not sure what all was on them, but they were delish and not too sweet. Thinking it was maybe brown rice syrup?

Here's my plate of deliciousness. There were plenty more dishes that arrived later and I failed to photograph. So much delicious food! 

We don't have the January date set up, but that's coming soon. I'll be sure to announce on the blog when we know the date!