Monday, September 30, 2019

No Meat Meet-up! Vegan Potluck - Sept 2019

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that the cafe at Crosstown Arts was no longer serving lunch and dinner (just vegan pastries and coffee now)? I also mentioned in that post that we'd soon be having some vegan potlucks and pop-ups in the cafe space. The first of those potlucks, the No Meat Meet-up, happened Sunday afternoon!

As part of my responsibilities at Crosstown Arts (I'm the communications coordinator), I'm now organizing a monthly vegan potluck in the cafe space! Everyone is invited and asked to bring a vegan dish to share. I had no idea how many folks would turn out for the first one, but I was pleasantly surprised that 30 people came! About half were my friends and long-time Memphis Vegan Drinks members, but the other half were new-to-me people, which makes me very happy!

We used the cafe's counter space as a buffet and took over the cafe tables for dinner. Here's what I brought — Tater Tot Casserole from Holy Cow Vegan. This has a base of vegan sausage and mushroom gravy with carrot, corn, peas, and spinach, and it's topped with tots. You can never go wrong with tots! I found this recipe linked on the 80/20 Plants page under the "indulgent" section.

Jen & Simon brought some amazing Vegan Sausage Rolls. Simon is British, so they picked a British-themed dish. And Jen made the cutest little sign!

Another couple brought this Mediterranean Pasta Salad that was quite excellent.

Judith brought a Mac & Nut Cheese dish with summer squash. Yummy!

Steven brought a massive skillet full of saucy Spaghetti, loaded with vegan sausage.

Shay brought her famous Vegan Pizza. She makes THE BEST PIZZA with Daiya cheese and veggies. 

Another couple, whose names I cannot remember because I'm TERRIBLE with names (really want to get better with that), brought this fantastic Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip. This was probably my favorite thing!! Those vegan cheese slices on top really made this already-delicious dish shine even harder.

That same couple also brought some Pigs in Blankets. Always a hit!

Megan brought her good-as-hell Vegan Chipotle Cheeze Dip. This was a big hit with everyone! She makes this often for get-togethers, and I'm always so stoked about it.

Shay also brought Chocolate Pumpkin Bread, another classic Memphis vegan potluck hit. Shay has mastered the art of sweet bread.

Stephanie brought Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes! She's a pro baker, so of course they were perfect. Even better with the Nada Moo Ice Cream that Susan brought. 

There was way more food than this, but I forgot to take pics of all the dishes that arrived a little late. But we also had fresh bread by Don (of Lulu's Memphis), tofu fried rice, vegan chili, banana bread, carrot dogs, and chickpea dip with crackers. 

Here's my first plate! I tried to get a little of everything. 

You might be wondering where this fits into my new 80/20 Plants outlook. Since I knew I'd be indulging in a big ole meal with lots of plant meats and cheeses, oils, and desserts, I ate super-clean all morning in preparation. I had a Larabar, fruit protein smoothie, and a salad before the potluck. It's all about that balance!

We'll be hosting another one of these very soon! Can't wait!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Typical Day on 80/20 Plants

I'm now 31 days into my 80/20 Plants program — a vegan nutrition plan that helps you eat 80% whole food, plant-based (with the other 20% saved for indulgent meals and treats). An ideal day looks like this — WFPB breakfast, WFPB snacks, WFPB lunch, and indulgent dinner. Or you could save that indulgent option for a dessert or a couple beers.

What's considered indulgent? Anything not made with whole foods. So plant meats and cheeses, oils, sugary things, and alcohol. I'd also consider white bread and white pasta to be indulgent, but I place sprouted grain and whole wheat breads and pastas into the 80% category. There's nothing wrong with these foods! But they don't provide as much nutrition, so it's best to eat them in moderation.

I wanted to show y'all what I ate today since it was a typical day. I went to a party last night and stayed up a little too late, so I pushed my run to the afternoon so I could sleep in an extra hour. Then I got up and had this Sprouted Grain English Muffin with Avocado and Tofu around 7 am. I pan-fried the tofu with a little eggy salt and Bragg's. YUMMMM!

I drank one beer too many at that party, and I was feeling a little sluggish at work. So I went down to the Juice Bar downstairs from my office for a mid-morning Fresh Greens Juice. It helped!

I'd packed this Sharp Cheddar Cashew Cheese from 80/20 Plants (recipe here) with whole wheat crackers for my morning snack. I tend to eat snacks at my desk every day around 10:30 am.

Lunch was a really tasty bowl that I packed from home. This Southwest Bowl has black beans, brown rice, corn, cherry tomato, and kale, and it's topped with chipotle Everything Sauce (a tofu-based sauce from 80/20 Plants), salsa, and avocado.

I had an afternoon meeting at Low-Fi Coffee, so I enjoyed a Nitro Cinnamon Tea Latte while I was there. This awesome nitro tea has oatmilk and cinnamon essential oil. I can't do coffee after noon or it affects my sleep, but tea is perfect.

Since I needed to do my run after work, I had my pre-run snack at my desk around 4:30 pm. I usually have Larabars before my runs, but I'm almost out. So I packed this Mamma Chia Squeeze Vitality Snack and some strawberries instead. The chia squeeze is made with mango and banana puree, coconut cream, and it's sweetened with fruit juice. Perfect for quick carbs!

After my run, I needed more carbs to re-fuel, so I snacked on this simple salad while I prepared dinner. It's just lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, and a oil-free maple balsamic dressing.

Dinner was this awesome bowl of Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Sauce, Seitan Sausages, Mushrooms & Zucchini. Plus, some cashew parm on top! I promise there was pasta and red sauce in there, but there were so many veggies that you can't see it.

The indulgent part of my day were those sausages! They're jalapeno-pineapple seitan sausage made by The BE-Hive in Nashville. Really, today was more like 90/10 since my only splurge was that one ingredient. And some days are like that! Other days, my splurge may be a couple beers and some French fries or a whole order of Imagine's gooey vegan mozzarella sticks.

Since I've been doing this program, my digestion has improved. I have more energy (especially in the afternoons when my energy tended to slump before). I'm recovering more quickly from workouts. I'm seeing benefits! And I'd like to keep eating this way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Noodles & Oats & Burgers!

Yesterday, I tried a new recipe linked on the 80/20 Plants website for Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats (find that recipe here). This easy overnight oats bowl has lots of PB, plus chia, mashed banana, and maple syrup. I topped mine with more banana, strawberries, and dried coconut. Perfect post-run treat.

I made the Creamy Carrot Shroomy Noods from 80/20 Plants to eat for lunches late last week and early this week. This gluten-free noodle dish has a cheesy sauce made from carrots, corn, peas, and nooch. Really good and satisfying!

And here's a recent quick week night dinner. I didn't feel like cooking on Monday night, so I heated a Dr. Praeger's Tex Mex Burger and topped with Chao cheese and vegan mayo. Served with air-fried sweet potato fries (from a bag!).

Last night, our Memphis Vegan Drinks meet-up group met at Lucky Cat Ramen for noodles and beer! I ordered my fave Yuzu Veggie Ramen Bowl (love all the veggies on top!) and a Memphis Made Cat Nap IPA. After a full day of eating whole food, plant-based, I deserved a warming bowl of ramen and an ice-cold draft beer.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Stuff I Ate + Things I Drank From

Last Saturday was my last run-free Saturday for awhile since I started a new base-building plan for the 50K this week. My official 50K training won't start until Oct. 6, but I'm getting my base miles up to get ready. And that means running every Saturday and Sunday for the foreseeable future. I'm hoping to run the Big Buffalo 50K in Memphis this March! Setting my sights on a new goal.

Anyway, I slept in last Saturday one last time! When I woke up, I made the Easy and Awesome Tofu Scramble from 80/20 Plants. This scramble has onions and spinach, plus lots of spices. I ate a whole half-package of tofu's worth with some toast spread with coconut butter (my new favorite healthier sub for vegan margarine).

I mentioned last week that the cafe at Crosstown Arts, where I work, stopped serving lunch and dinner. But they're still open for coffee and pastries, so I'm planning to treat myself at least once a week. Last Thursday, I got this yummy Oatmeal Raisin Bread Bar.

Now for some fun glassware! My friend Brandy came over Saturday night for our Mabon celebration, and she gifted me an early birthday gift. Love this! RBG FOREVER.

And finally, last night, I enjoyed a Hi-Wire IPA in my favorite Memphis AF pint glass while watching the premiere of Bluff City Law, the new courtroom drama on NBC that was filmed in Memphis!

Memphis doesn't get many film and TV crews due to Tennessee's lack of great incentives for filmmakers. So when it does happen, we get pretty excited! Very cool to see Memphis scenery peppered throughout the scenes.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Happy Fall, Y'all!

I'm a summer girl, through and through. And I live for the Memphis heat, tank tops, short shorts, and swimming pools (when I can find one to swim in!). But by the time fall comes around, I start to warm up (see what I did there) to the season of changing leaves, jean jackets, pumpkins, my birthday, Halloween, and — my favorite holiday — Thanksgiving! I'll miss summer dearly, but I'll welcome fall because, well, I have no choice. And besides, fall in Memphis isn't that chilly. Temps don't dip below the low 70s until November. It's still in the high 80s here today, on the Autumn Equinox.

This past Saturday, a few friends came over to celebrate Mabon, the Autumn Equinox Sabbat. Since I'm doing 80/20 Plants, I wanted to focus on whole foods with the snacks I made, so I could save plenty of space for chocolate chip cookies and wine!

I made the Creamy Vegan Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip from 80/20 Plants for us to enjoy with whole wheat bread. Bread is traditional at this second harvest holiday. Shown here with a pita chip though!

This oil-free dip is made with white beans, fresh spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, lemon, and lots of nooch (some mixed in, some sprinkled on top). It wasn't the prettiest dip, but it sure did taste great right out of the oven.

We typically always have cashew cheese at these seasonal gatherings. Sometimes, we grab Miyoko's or Treeline from the store. But this time, I made this Sharp Cheddar Cashew Cheese from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken (recipe is here!).

The 80/20 Plants website contains original recipes (like the dip above) that are only available to subscribers. But they also link to WFPB recipes from across the web, and this yummy cheese spread is included there. I've made it twice now because it's so good and so simple. You just blend cashews with coconut oil, nooch, miso, and a few more things, and thanks to the coconut oil, it sets up as a spreadable cheese.

Now for my not-so-whole-food treats! I baked some Simple Truth Organic Plant-Based Chocolate Chip Cookies that I picked up at Kroger. I forgot to take a pic, but the package looks like this. Have y'all seen these yet? I was sooooo excited to find them next to the non-vegan, pre-made cookie dough. They bake up to be perfect, chewy cookies.

Megan came a little late, but she brought — not pictured — dolmas from Trader Joe's and her mom's pickled okra. So yummy! We blessed apples for the fall and we used flying wish paper (this stuff is so cool!) to release things that no longer serve us. Much wine was consumed, and Paul even built us a fire in our fire pit!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Things I Ate on 80/20 Plants This Week

It's the fourth week of 80/20 Plants — a WFPB program I'm following to help me strike a balance of 80% whole foods and 20% treats. The first week focused on breakfasts, the second on snacks, and in weeks three and four, we're working to get lunches into the whole food, plant-based realm. So this means that most days, I'm eating WFPB until dinner.

Breakfasts for me are typically smoothies with fruit, nuts, flax, and spinach (sometimes I add protein powder if it's after a strength workout) or some kind of oats. On Monday, I made Savory Noochy Oats with turmeric, spinach, walnuts, sesame seeds, and leftover peanut butter-coated tempeh. I'd made the tempeh from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook last week and had some left. Perfect protein-packed breakfast.

This morning, I had an old fave that I'd forgotten about — Warm Steel Cut Oats with Banana Nice Cream! The combo of warm and cold is heavenly. I mixed flax and maple into the oats, and the banana nice cream also had peaches blended in. The bowl is drizzled with tahini before serving.

As for snacks, I've been enjoying some homemade Sharp Cheddar Cashew Cheese (a recipe from 80/20 Plants) and homemade oil-free hummus with whole wheat crackers or raw veggies.

Lunches this week have mostly been Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Everything Sauce. The sauce is an 80/20 Plants recipe that has a tofu base seasoned with nooch and chipotle powder. It's creamy and delicious. This potato is topped with black beans, spinach, and roasted broccoli.

I had a work meeting over lunch yesterday, and we met at Elemento (a pizza place at Crosstown Concourse). I love their cheese-less neapolitan pizza, but I wanted to keep with my WFPB lunch goals, so I ordered a Build Your Own Salad instead. All the toppings fell to the bottom, but this had white beans, roasted red peppers, almonds, olives, dried cranberries, and roasted tomato vinaigrette. They serve it with a some flatbread made from their pizza crust, so you still get a little hint of pizza.

Dinners have been fairly whole, but I'm throwing in a little plant meat and vegan cheese for my 20%! On Monday night, Paul and I made Vegan Chili Cheese Fries. I air-fried potatoes for the fries and topped with a vegan beef chili (with Beyond Beef) I'd had frozen and Daiya cheese.

Last night, I had a Dr. Praeger's Sweet Heat Beet Veggie Burger. These are Praeger's plant protein burgers with added pea protein (19 grams!), and they're really good. Very beet-y. Served with air-fried fries, topped with scallions and everything sauce.

I love this balanced approach to eating! I've tried WFPB programs before, and I always feel my best when I'm eating this way. But having the freedom to base 20% of my day on treats makes this way of eating more manageable for the long term.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Vegan Mac + Fried Tofu + WFPB Breakfast!

Here are a few meals I've been eating lately! As you may know, I'm doing 80/20 Plants (a whole food, plant-based program that encourages you to eat at least 80% WFPB, and the 20% can be whatever else you want). So most days, my breakfast, snacks, and lunch are oil-free and made with whole foods, and then my dinners may look like this Daiya Mac with Collards. Made with whole wheat pasta and Daiya cheezy sauce.

One day last week, I had plans to meet former Memphis Flyer co-workers for lunch at Phuong Long, a Crosstown Vietnamese place. I went with the healthiest option I could find, which was still loaded with fried tofu. But at least this Stir-Fry Veggies with Tofu had lots of veggies. To keep with 80/20 Plants, I had a big salad for dinner.

Here's a recent 80/20 Plants breakfast — Sprouted Grain English Muffin with homemade nut butter and mashed berries.

The best part about this plan is that I have wiggle room for a dessert when I want (there's my 20%!). A couple Saturdays ago, that treat was a Pear Muscadine Muffin from Lulu's booth at the CY Farmers Market.

And finally, here's an amazing WFPB breakfast that I made using recipes from 80/20 Plants. Tofu Scramble & Roasted Potatoes. The potatoes only have a teaspoon of oil, and the scramble is seasoned with nooch and hummus (yes hummus!). Perfect with avo and tomato on the side. Really loving how I feel on this plan. I had this for a big ole weekend brunch!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Last Meals at the Cafe at Crosstown Arts

Sadly, the plant-based cafe at Crosstown Arts (the nonprofit arts organization where I work in communications) stopped serving lunch and dinner last week. It's not closed. We're still open with vegan pastries and coffee every Tuesday-Saturday. But we're just no longer serving meals to the public. The cafe's first mission is to feed our resident artists, who come to Crosstown Arts from all over the world, and they'll still get fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But those meals aren't available to the public now. We're moving to a model of more community-driven events in the cafe space, like vegan potlucks and pop-ups. And I'm excited for what's to come. But I'll sure be missing those vegan meals.

Here are the things I ate last week in the final week of food service. This Vietnamese Sandwich with sweet & sour oyster mushrooms was insane! The mushrooms were deep-fried and coated in a tangy sauce, served with homemade pickles and cilantro.

Next up, I had a Tofu Scramble Wrap with avocado, plus a side of home fries. The cafe's home fries were SO GOOD. And this wrap was a perfect breakfast for dinner.

And finally, I had to get the Bibimbap ONE LAST TIME. This Korean rice dish is served in a fried rice paper shell that's both beautiful and functional. The dish is typically served with a fried egg on top, but I always subbed tofu for the eggs. 

As I'm transitioning to eating more whole foods (and trying to eat out a little less), I suppose it'll be better for my health to not have such decadent amazing food right outside my office door. Just trying to look at the bright side! That said, I'll certainly be treating myself to a weekly vegan pastry. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Fueling for a Trail Race on 80/20 Plants

Yesterday (Sunday) was supposed to be the day I ran my first 50K, the Nesbit Park Trails Classic in Bartlett on the Stanky Creek Trails (my favorite local trail system). But I got yet another stress fracture back in June, and I had to stop training for about 2 1/2 months. My foot was finally getting better at the end of August, so I started running again. But I had to bump my 50K down to the half-marathon distance. Fortunately, the Nesbit Park Trails Classic offers multiple distances.

I was super-bummed to not be able to run 50K, but I'm glad I was able to run at all! I'll just aim for 50K another day. Now I can say that I've successfully run my 8th half-marathon, so that's something to be proud of.

Fueling for a race always starts the day before. I try to eat super-clean the day before a race with plenty of whole, plant-based carbs. I'm currently doing the 80/20 Plants program, which calls for 80% of your meals to be whole food, plant-based, with the other 20% for indulgent meals and snacks. 

On Saturday (day before the race) morning, I made the Banana Oat Pancakes from 80/20 Plants. These are gluten-free and made with oat flour, mashed banana, and chocolate chips (the indulgent part), served with maple and fresh berries.

I had some homemade cashew cheese and whole wheat crackers as a mid-morning snack, but I forgot to take a picture.

For lunch, I met my friend Megan at the cafe at Crosstown Arts. It was her birthday! So we enjoyed mimosas (more of that 20%!), and I had a Big-Ass Salad (romaine, olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, vegan ranch, and focaccia croutons).

Dinner was a totally WFPB meal based off an idea from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I made the Peanut Butter Tempeh from that book and used it to top a bowl with quinoa, roasted beets, and steamed kale, plus tahini sauce on top. The PB tempeh is one of my favorite recipes from that book. You make this yummy PB nooch sauce and coat tempeh cubes before baking them in the oven. The peanut butter sauce gets all crunchy and delicious.

I always have one pre-race night-before beer, so I enjoyed a Bear Walker Ale after dinner.

Race morning is totally different though! I opt for white bread bagels because white bread carbs digest more quickly for quicker fuel. Here's my (poorly lit) Blueberry Bagel with Vanilla Almond Butter, eaten at 5 am before the race.

During the race, I used a combo of energy gels and chews. I'm loving Muir Energy gels right now (full review coming soon), which are made with whole, natural foods. Since this was a trail ultra, the aid station had all kinds of snacks, like soda, chips, cookies, and PB&Js. I would have gone for all of those things if I were running the 50K, but since I was just doing the half, I stuck with a few chips (for salt), Gatorade (for electrolytes), and a little soda (for fun). Soda is SO GOOD when you're running distance on a hot day. 

Post-race, I wanted to reward myself with something amazing! So first, I had an Oktoberfest beer from Ghost River Brewing.

Then I went to Imagine Vegan Cafe for a meal that I don't typically order because it's purely indulgent — Vegan Chicken and Waffles!!! Six crispy vegan chicken strips are served with a soft, buttery waffle. I ordered some collards on the side for good measure.

What a fun weekend! Now I'm back on that 80/20 plan!