Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pizza, Burgers, Muffins, & Bowls!

A few months ago, while visiting Nashville, I picked up some locally made BE-Hive seitan pepperoni. I stashed it in the deep freezer until I was ready to make pizza. And that time came on Saturday night! I had some frozen whole wheat pizza dough as well and some leftover homemade marinara. I added Daiya Classic Blend and some sliced red onion, and voila! Vegan Pepperoni Pizza! Y'all, the BE-Hive pepperoni is the best I've ever had!

Since the pandemic began, I've pretty much been exclusively shopping at Trader Joe's. It's very far from my house (like a 35 minute drive), but they're staying well-stocked and limiting how many people can be in the store. It makes for a pleasant shopping experience, which has not been the case at my chaotic neighborhood Kroger. Plus, TJ's has fun foods that bring me some extra joy during these crazy times. I grabbed some of their Hi-Protein Burgers last time and have been enjoying them with Green Beans & Tahini Sauce (a simple recipe from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook).

Bowls are a simple meal easily pulled together from pantry ingredients. Here's a Stir-Fry Bowl I made this week with tofu, broccoli, bell pepper, and brown rice. I've been trying to keep the fresh veggies stocked!

Here's another bowl — White Bean with Kale & Dill Sauce — that I whipped up using canned beans, fresh kale, brown rice, and an easy yogurt sauce with homemade soy yogurt, fresh dill, fresh parsley, salt, and garlic powder.

And finally, here are some Berry Lemon Protein Muffins! I used this recipe from One Clever Chef (the vegan version) to make these protein powder muffins. I'm doing lots of yoga and strength work at home this week (virtual gym classes!!), and it's nice to have something besides a smoothie after. I stocked up on frozen berries for the pandemic!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Vegan BBQ + Spaghetti Night + Breakfasts!

Here's a round-up of a few things I've been eating while quarantined at home! Last Tuesday was The Great American Takeout (a day when we were all encouraged to support restaurants still open for takeout), so I ordered the Vegan Memphis BBQ plate from Imagine Vegan Cafe. They're doing pick-up and delivery, and I plan to order at least once a week for as long as this goes on. I really hate how much this COVID-19 thing is hurting small businesses like Imagine.

I'm working from home these days. Paul is still working at work, but his company has reduced the number of days they're working, so he's home in Memphis when they're off. That means there are lots of Spaghetti Nights in our future. That's our favorite meal to cook together. Here's a recent spaghetti night pic!

Last week, for breakfasts, I finished off my Be Leaf Vegan Fried Eggs (served with toast and air-fried potatoes). I'm sad these eggs, made with tofu skin (yuba) are gone! They're so good but a little on the pricy side. 

Here's another fun breakfast! I made some soy yogurt in the Instant Pot using unsweetened soy milk and starter from a friend. Here's a Yogurt & Fruit Parfait Bowl!

And finally, here's a yummy Ramen Bowl for Sunday's breakfast. Now that I'm not 50K training anymore, I don't have to run on Sunday mornings. And that means more time for ramen!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Giveaway: Low-Carb Vegetarian Cookbook

Quarantine time means more time in the kitchen! And more opportunity to stuff your face with carbs for comfort. And if that's what makes you feel good, you should absolutely be doing that! I'm a big fan of carbs — for fuel, for satiety, and for comfort. If you're a vegan looking to cut down on carbs, however, keto or another meaty diet wouldn't work for you. But my friends (and fellow Memphians) Chubby Vegetarian bloggers Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence's new cookbook is there for you. They've just released the Low-Carb Vegetarian Cookbook, and it's loaded with recipes that are light on carbs and heavy on nutrition.

Their publisher has generously offered to send a copy of their book to one lucky reader, so stay tuned for instructions on entering at the end of this post.

I've tried a couple dishes from the book so far! The Mock Chicken Salad (made with tempeh, vegan mayo, celery, and spices) was a simple recipe that really cured my cravings for a creamy salad. With only a few ingredients, this recipe comes together quickly and tastes very much like chicken salad. In keeping with the low-carb vibes, I served this atop a green salad one night.

Justin and Amy recommend trying this stuffed into lettuce leaves, but I'm not a fan of lettuce wraps. Nor am I watching carbs, so the next day, I enjoyed this salad stuffed between two slices of sprouted grain toast for a quick work lunch (back when people were still working in offices!). Not low-carb, but it hit the spot!

This week, while stuck at home, I made the Tofu Hot Wings with Yogurt Ranch Dressing to serve alongside some steamed broccoli with nooch.

Around here, tofu is a hot commodity these days, and it's been flying off the shelves as people stock up for the pandemic, but I was able to score four pounds of tofu from three different stores! I used one block for this recipe, and it was well worth using precious tofu for. Extra-firm cubes are coated with wing sauce (I made my own with hot sauce and Earth Balance) and dipped in an herbed yogurt ranch.

I made my own soy yogurt last week in the Instant Pot, and it was a great low-fat alternative to traditional cashew ranch or bottled vegan ranches. We all need comfort food right now, and nothing is more comforting than hot wings and ranch, right?

I should mention that this isn't an entirely vegan cookbook, but there are many vegan recipes. And almost all of the recipes are veganizable (and they often provide tips for making the recipe vegan).

I have my sights set on a few more recipes from this book, including portabella mushroom jerky, vegan cheeseburger salad, hoison-glazed tofu with stir-fried veggies, and one-skillet tacos with refried pumpkin. REFRIED PUMPKIN!! A few desserts on my list: No-Bake Vegan Cheesecake Bites and Peanut Butter Coconut Cups!

Want to win your own copy? Leave a comment letting me know your favorite low-carb treat, and be sure to INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL in the comment (otherwise, I won't be able to contact you!). I'll randomly select a winner next Monday, March 30.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My First 50K!!!!

I ran my first 50K on Saturday, March 21 — a solo, completely self-supported adventure on the trails at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis.

I've been training for a 50K for three years. THREE YEARS! Back in 2018, I signed up to run a 50K and started a training plan. This was just a few months after recovering from my second stress fracture (my first one happened years before while training for my first half-marathon). I dove into the training plan, and then one month before the race — bam! — another fracture. I let that heal, got the doctor's okay to run again, and signed up for the same race in fall 2019. And then — bam! — another fracture only a few weeks into training.

But there's one thing about me — I'm stubborn AF. And when the universe tells me no, I say, "watch me." And so, I let that fracture heal, looked deeply into why it was happening/how to prevent it, and then signed up for yet another 50K — the Big Buffalo 50. I started my training plan yet again, and for the first time, I made it through the training without a fracture. My race was set for March 21, and it looked like it was FINALLY going to happen for me. And then — bam! — COVID-19 ruined everything for everybody.

My race was postponed until fall, so I will have a chance to run it with the group, but I was all trained up and ready to race now. For months (years, really), I've been running around 30-40 miles a week, forgoing any semblance of a social life, getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday/Sunday mornings for long runs and back-to-back recovery runs. No way was all that training going to waste. I would run this 50K solo, using my car as an aid station after every six-mile loop.

So I set my alarm for 5 am on Saturday and woke up to this King Cake Bagel with Almond Butter & Maple. Bagels are my go-to pre-race breakfast.

I made the drive out to Shelby Farms Park around 8 am so I could start around the time the race would have started. I had a banana in the car on the way. The park is still open to the public, but the bathrooms and facilities were understandably closed. That meant all peeing would be done in the woods! That's no problem for me! 

I parked my car in the main visitors' center lot. I was trying to stick as close as I could to the Big Buffalo route, which is five 6.25-mile loops around the massive park. It's part paved/part gravel/part rugged trail. I packed a few gels, blocks, and rice balls the bladder holder of my Nathan hydration pack and filled two 10-ounce bottles with Nuun water. After each loop, I'd be able to stop at my car for extra water, snacks, dry shoes, etc. Here's my survival kit, which was loaded with extra gels, tamari sesame rice balls (from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook), salt tabs, Clif cubes, alkaline electrolyte water, a Clif protein bar for post-run, Pringles (salty chips are a MUST for any long run!), an extra pair of trail shoes and socks, my hydration bladder (just in case), and a few towels since the trails were pretty muddy.

The first two loops went so smoothly! I passed several other runners on the course, also out there running it anyway. One woman passed me and said, "You making up for Big Buffalo?" And I said "Yep! Running the 50K!" She wished me luck and said she was aiming for 26.2 that day. I saw another runner friend, Sherry, out there pounding the miles too. Every time a runner passed, we'd exchange a knowing smile or nod or a few words of encouragement. The running community is just the best!!

The wheels started to come off a bit on the third loop when the realization set in that I was only halfway through. I'd run the first two without headphones, just basking in the sounds of nature. But when I need a distraction, my headphones really help. I listened to the latest No Meat Athlete podcast episode about finding ways to stay positive during this virus outbreak, and that helped. And then I listened to an episode of the Plant-Strong Podcast with Rip Esselstyn. I typically love that podcast, but this particular episode was all about reversing diabetes and I got pretty bored. I eventually switched to my favorite running playlist, and that really improved my mood. That said, the fourth lap was a true slog. Wow, was that hard! The fifth loop went much better because I knew, with every landmark I passed, that it'd be the last time I'd see that for awhile!

And then I was done!!! There was no finish line to cross, no race medal or beer waiting. Just the satisfaction of achieving a long-time goal! By the way, I took this pic around mile 19. No way I could jump like that at mile 31!

I finished in 7 hours and 35 minutes. That's slow, but I'm still very proud. I took a few short walk breaks in the last two laps, but for the most part, I ran the whole time. Because part of the route was on muddy trail, I was definitely slower there. And with it being my first 50K, I have some lessons to learn about pacing. But I just ran my fastest-ever marathon in 5 hours and 27 minutes on March 1, so I know I've got it in me to shave off some time before the Big Buffalo 50's new fall race date.

After my run, I stretched, snacked on chips and a Clif PB Chocolate Builder's Bar, and made the drive home. I was so stiff after sitting in the car for 20 minutes on the drive. I struggled to get down the driveway, and as I made the turn to my porch, I noticed something gold and shiny hanging on the doorknob. It was a homemade medal!!!! Made from spray-painted cardboard.

I flipped it over to find this lovely note!

I was stunned! Who could have done this??? I'm not a crier, but this made me tear up a little. I started texting friends to get to the bottom of this mystery so I could thank someone. Turns out, the night before after I'd hung up from a virtual happy hour with a few friends, they'd plotted to craft a medal and leave it for me. My friend Audrey donated an old triathlon medal with a buffalo on it for the top piece. How awesome!!! This is better than any medal I could have gotten at the race.

I cracked open a Wiseacre Ananda IPA and enjoyed it in the shower. Nothing beats a well-deserved shower beer after a hard run!

Once I was all cleaned up, I called in a pick-up order for a Vegan Cheese & Veggie Pizza from Midtown Crossing Grill. I'm so grateful they're still open for takeout because I NEEDED this pizza. I ate every slice, washed down with a second beer, while enjoying Schitt's Creek on Netflix. What a perfect day!

Note: In case you're wondering how I'm attempting to prevent future fractures, I thought I'd go into that here. After my fourth metatarsal fracture (those are the bones that connect to your toes), my doctor told me I either 1) had low bone density or 2) I had back luck. Lower bone density does run in my family, so there's likely a genetic factor there. But he never offered a bone density test, so I can't say for sure. I did read up a bit on what causes frequent fractures in women, and a lack of nutrition/fueling in comparison with calorie burn can be a contributor. 

I've always eaten a lot of food, but I don't think I was trying hard enough to re-fuel after tough training days. On some runs, I can burn up to 2,000 calories, and on those days, I should be eating something like 4,000 calories to make up for the loss. But I don't think I was managing that well before. In this last training cycle, I really focused on eating more food! And that seems to be helping so far. Just wanted to put that out there in case other female runners find themselves in the same boat.

Monday, March 23, 2020

What I Ate the Day Before My First 50K

I ran my first 50K on Saturday!!! That was supposed to be the date of the Big Buffalo 50, a race I've been training for since October (and, really, for three years, thanks to constant injuries preventing me from running other 50Ks I've signed up for). The race was postponed, much like everything else in life, thanks to COVID-19. But I was finally in shape and ready to run, so I ran it anyway! I'll go into details tomorrow in a big post dedicated to my run, but tonight, I wanted to share a post about what I ate the day before my run.

I always start my pre-race day with a smoothie! First, I had a couple dates with almond butter and went on a two-mile shakeout run to calm my race jitters. And then I had this Avocado Bliss Smoothie from the No Meat Athlete website. This has avocado, banana, strawberry, spinach, almond butter, flax, and pumpkin seeds. Plus, I added some maple syrup since avo smoothies tend to be not-as-sweet as banana smoothies. I usually add protein powder to post-run smoothies, but I didn't think was needed after a 2-miler. Enjoyed in my fave Memphis AF pint glass!

I'm working from home for the forseeable future, so that means more opportunities for snacking. I've been keeping healthy snacks around though! My morning snack on Friday was Trader Joe's Three Layer Hummus with Baby Carrots.

Thursday was Ostara, the Spring Equinox, and I wanted to continue that celebration into Friday. Everything may suck right now, but it's beautiful outside, and springtime is my fave! Traditional Ostara celebrations include eggs (as symbols of fertility), so I had this lunch of Eggy Toast (made with yuba-based Be Leaf Vegan Egg) and a Big Ass Salad. I love having giant salads with grains and tofu or beans the day before a race. I used a homemade vegan yogurt ranch as the dressing.

In the afternoon, I snacked on orange slices. And then for dinner, I had a big ole carby bowl of Roasted Tomato Pasta with Chickpeas and Spinach (also from the No Meat Athlete website). Whole wheat pasta is tossed with olive oil, roasted tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas, and spinach. The recipe called for arugula, but I subbed spinach because arugula is gross. I made some Garlic Toast on the side, spread with a little butter bean-based Simple Truth margarine and garlic powder.

There are plenty of opinions out there about whether carb-loading the night before a race is helpful, but I know it helps me! And I'm of the opinion that we NEED carbs for fuel. 

After dinner, I had virtual happy hour plans with friends! A few of us met up over Google Hangouts and shared drinks together. I had my one pre-race beer — a Wiseacre Ananda — and then went to bed early for my 5 am alarm! I'll be back tomorrow with a 50K recap!

Also, just FYI: In the U.S., we're celebrating The Great American Takeout on Tuesday! Support your local restaurants, and get some takeout!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Some Stuff I Ate When the World Was Normal

Hey, remember last week? When we could still move about freely and high-five people with reckless abandon? It seems like a million years ago. Back then, when I was still working at work (and not at home), I picked up an Evergreen Sandwich from Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse. This has smoked tofu, avocado, hummus, and veggies on locally baked bread, and it's really just perfect. Side of corn salad.

Here's one of my all-time favorite breakfasts — Cottage Tofu on Vegemite Toast. I made cottage cheese with crumbled tofu and a little Vegenaise and served atop toast with Vegemite (which is way better than Marmite).

Since I've been trapped at home, I've been trying to eat SUUUPER healthy. It's so easy to live on junk food in times like this, so I'm trying to do the opposite. Plus, I'm running a self-supported 50K this weekend (my race was postponed), so I need to fuel properly. I'll update y'all on the "race" next week. Here's a bowl of Caribbean Coconut Collards & Sweet Potato from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook.

And finally, here's my first "working from home" lunch this week. On Monday for lunch, I had a Burrito Bowl with brown rice, kale, pintos, Daiya cheese, salsa, and homemade yogurt. I made the yogurt in my Instant Pot!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

St. Patrick's Day in Quarantine!

It's my third day of working from home and trying not to go out into the world (aside from grocery runs, liquor store runs, and running/walking my dog). I have plenty of work to get caught up on, so the break has been nice so far, but there are moments when I really miss people. Like on St. Patrick's Day yesterday!

I started the morning with an Irish Coffee (coffee with a splash of Jameson and BomBom Brands hempmilk liqueur). I make this every year, but when you're working from home, you can make it just slightly stronger than usual. :-)

I wore a green tee and shamrock earrings even though I knew no one would see me. I refuse to let a holiday go by uncelebrated!

After 5ish, I did an Irish car bomb to celebrate the end of the work day. That's vegan Guinness with a shot of Jameson/BomBom. By the way, I used the BomBom rather than Bailey's because it's what I had on hand, and the taste is very similar. Then my friend Misti texted me asking if I wanted to get a green beer somewhere. Of course I did! But that didn't seem like the responsible choice, so I turned her down. Bummer.

Instead, I stayed home and made the Kale-cannon Stuffed Portabellas from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. 

Marinated bellas are stuffed with mashed potatoes mixed with kale (rather than cabbage, which is in traditional colcannon). The potatoes have cashew cream in them, which makes for really rich and creamy taters, much better than those made with milk!

I hope everyone had a great St. Pat's Day despite the home quarantine. In Shelby County, Tennessee, where I live, many bars and restaurants are still open (though many are moving to takeout only). I feel really bad for the service industry through this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bowls and Jars!

I'm working from home for the next two weeks, so I'll be doing lots of cooking! But I still have photos from a couple weeks ago to share. Crazy to think I ate the meals in this post back when life was normal, and we weren't all socially distancing and hand-sanitizing like crazy. How the world has changed in two weeks' time!

Here's a Buddha Bowl I made a few weeks ago from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. It has brown rice, spinach, beets, air-fried tofu, kimchi, avocado, and the most amazing Korean BBQ sauce.

Here's a not-so-pretty bowl enjoyed at my desk at work. I'm only two days into working from home, and I really miss my desk. This has brown rice, lentils, spinach, kimchi, and tahini sauce. No recipe! Just whipped together with some stuff I had at home. The lentils were from a can.

Here's a yogurt bowl I had for breakfast on Friday. I'd gotten some Vega Protein Yogurt to eat as a post-bootcamp snack, but on Friday morning, I realized it probably wasn't safe to go to the gym. So I did yoga at home and had this as my breakfast with berries, apples, flax, pumpkin seed, and tiger nuts.

Imagine Vegan Cafe has started selling Cake Jars! It's basically a slice of cake stuffed into a jar, which makes it super portable and somehow more fun to eat. Plus, you can eat half and keep the rest pretty fresh for a few days in the sealed jar. If you save your jar and bring it back, you get a discount on a cake refill. I picked up this Caramel Vanilla Cake Jar recently.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Imagine Vegan Cafe Cook-off Challenge, Week 2!

It's week 2 of the Imagine Vegan Cafe Cook-off Challenge. Our local vegan restaurant is pitting its cooks against one another in a friendly cooking contest. Each Sunday, one cook will create a new dish, and it's available through the following Saturday. Customers can vote on their faves.

And yes, Imagine is STILL OPEN despite the COVID-19 craziness. For safety, I suggest takeout, which is what I did last night. I picked up chef Fran's Teriyaki BBQ Chicken & Broccoli and re-plated at home.

Eight pieces of fried, golden, vegan chicken are sauteed with crisp broccoli and tossed in a sweet and savory teriyaki BBQ sauce. Served with fluffy brown rice. This was excellent, especially enjoyed while watching Netflix on my couch, which is apparently what I'll be doing a lot of in the coming weeks. My job has sent us all home to work remotely, and after work, I'm pretty sure I'll be moving from the computer chair to the couch.

In these crazy times, we should definitely be supporting local businesses as much as we can. Takeout is a great option! If you're local, stop by Imagine, and pick this dish up this week. It will be available through Saturday, March 21.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Soup and Salad!

Here's another round-up of random meals. I love Big Ass Salads, especially when I don't have anything else planned for dinner. Here's one I made recently with homemade sprouted grain croutons, white beans, and vegan shreds, plus lots of veggies of course!

I still have some soup in the deep freezer from our vegan soup swap a few months back. One night last week, I had this Beans & Greens Soup with chunks of potato. I really wanted some good crusty bread for dipping, but all I had were sprouted grain slices. So I toasted a couple slices and topped with hummus. Tasty chardonnay on the side.

I also had some Smoky Tomato Soup (from that same soup swap) in the freezer. Had that with a Grilled Vegan Cheese for a quick dinner on Friday night (while watching the new Hillary doc on Hulu!).

I've finally found a vegan yogurt that I love! Most of them are just too high in sugar and too low in protein, but this Siggi's plant-based yogurt has 10 grams of protein and lower sugar than most. It has that tangy flavor that yogurt should have, rather than a sweet flavor.

I visited my parents in Jonesboro on Saturday night, and since I was doing my long run the next day, I wanted to fuel with something healthy the night before. I'd been wanting to try Twisted Foods, a healthy build-a-bowl place, so we went there! For $5, I got to fill my bowl with whatever I wanted! I went with brown rice, pinto beans, grilled veggies, broccoli, grilled tofu, corn salad, guac, jalapenos, and salsa. Yummy burrito bowl! (Note: The tofu is $2 extra but totally worth it).

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tofu Tuesday!

Forget Taco Tuesday! What about Tofu Tuesday?! I'm dedicating this post some recent tofus in my life.

Last Wednesday (I know, should have been Tuesday), a coworker and I met up with our Memphis Grizzlies marketing friends for a work lunch at new Slider Inn location downtown. The Vegan Buffalo Wings, my favorite thing to order at the Midtown location, are on the downtown menu too! I got an order of wings (mix of cauliflower and tofu wings) with vegan ranch, plus a Shack Salad (hold the cheese) with vegan ranch.

Yesterday (Monday), I had a late meeting at Concourse, so I got the Evergreen Sandwich from Curb Market for dinner. This has smoked tofu, avocado, hummus, cucumber, mixed greens, and tomato on fresh-baked Lucy J's Bakery bread. They were offering a special corn salad on the side, so I got that and a green salad (not pictured) from the salad bar.

I've been on a tofu scram kick lately. Had some for breakfast on Friday with toast/marmalade and some more for breakfast today with avo toast.

RP Tracks has Tofu Tuesdays every Tuesday! For real! In addition to all the other awesome vegan options they offer daily, on Tuesdays, they have a special Lemongrass Tofu dish. We went there last Tuesday to celebrate Kristie's (owner of Imagine Vegan Cafe) birthday. I ordered the Lemongrass Tofu (cubes of crispy, seasoned tofu over white rice with a sweet-savory soy sauce).

And of course, we had cake! Kristie's oldest daughter Savannah decorated this Caramel Vanilla Cake. It was soooooo good! Here's the birthday girl with her youngest kid, Aspen.