Thursday, October 29, 2020

I Run for Beer (and Donuts!!) Virtual 5K

After most of our races were cancelled due to COVID, Paul and I got a little overly excited about virtual races with really cool medals! I signed up for a few; he signed up for more than he could handle. I convinced my friend Megan to sign up for one with me — the I Run 4 Donuts 5K from I Run 4 Movement (an awesome virtual race company). We planned that donut run back in late August and went through with our race, but Megan's medal got lost in the mail. So clearly, we had to do it again! But I earned my medal at the August run, so I ordered another medal/bib/tee for the I Run for Beer 5K. And you know what that means? We got to do a Beer & Donut 5K!

We met up in Overton Park last Saturday, and Paul joined us to run his International Space Station 5K (with a cool space station medal). Paul hasn't run much lately, and he was struggling for the first mile or so, but by mile 2, he'd left me in his dust. Still, I finished in good time; it was my third fastest 5K!

Here's Paul's cool medal!

But the best part of running of a Beer & Donut 5K are the beers and donuts afterward. Saturday was a cold, drizzly, grey day, so we decided to drive the couple blocks over to Megan's house and have a toast with donuts on her porch. I ordered the Spooky Donut Box from the all-vegan Darling Donuts Memphis. This has red velvet skull cake donuts, a yeasted Bavarian cream-filled candy corn donut, an apple fritter, and chocolate sprinkle donuts. Megan and I each had a chocolate donut, and the halved the candy corn and fritter. 

I had my skull cake the day before when the donuts were delivered because I couldn't help myself. Here's a sexy inside shot! Most of Darling Donuts' offerings are yeasted, but there are a few cake donuts.

As for beer, I brought some Hi-Wire Oktoberfest that I picked up in Asheville at Hi-Wire Brewing. Paired perfectly with spooky donuts. And check out this cool medal. It's a beer opener!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Soup, Spaghetti, & Stewed Okra!

Before we get into tonight's post, I wanted to share this link to my appearance yesterday on Chef AJ's show! I made the chipotle chickpea chili from Cookin' Crunk, and we talked about being vegan in the South, what I eat in a day, running, and more. I met Chef AJ years ago at a VegFest in New Orleans, and she's so cool! It was an honor to be on her show.

I'm currently working my way through a chakra balancing program, and as I work on each chakra, I'm making the corresponding chakra soup from Eat Feel Fresh. I just finished up work on my solar plexus — the center of your confidence, self-esteem, and strength — so I enjoyed this Solar Plexus Soup. It's made with roasted cauliflower, coconut milk, and turmeric, and it's my favorite of Sahara Rose's chakra soups thus far! Served with a vegan grilled cheese.

I had some leftover Sundried Tomato Pesto from my Mabon/Autumn Equinox ritual meal (yep, that's how far behind I am on these posts!), so I mixed it unto some whole wheat spaghetti, sprinkled with lots of Parma, and served with a side of kale.

Here's a Veggie & Cheese Pizza from the last Slice Sunday. I've since changed my weekly meal themes so I'll be sharing new meal ideas soon! This pizza had a gluten-free almond flour crust.

I signed up for the Bring It Food Hub's fall CSA, and here was my first bag! This was about three weeks ago. They also included fresh pasta, but I gave that away because it had eggs. 

I used that okra and some tomatoes to make Curried Okra & Tomatoes! I started with the Stewed Okra & Tomatoes recipe from Cookin' Crunk, and then I added curry powder and chickpeas to give it an Indian flair. Served with cornbread sticks (made using my recipe in Cookin' Crunk).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Bagels, Burgers, and Breakfast Sushi!

I'm so behind at these meal round-up posts, so here are some things I ate a long time ago! Like two months ago! LuLu's – my favorite Friday breakfast spot — now has homemade tomato jam and cashew cheese for bagels, so I got an Everything Bagel with both. Y'all, this cannot be beat.

Another LuLu's brekky! The classic Brekky Sandwich on a butternut squash potato bun with tofu egg, cashew cheese, and carrot (or maybe parsnip??) bacon. They just use whatever veggies are local and in-season to make the bacon, so sometimes you'll get beet bacon. Other times, it could be mushroom bacon. It's always fun to see what the bacon is made from! I got a Sweet Potato Pie Latte with oat milk from Dr. Bean's to wash it down.

A few weeks ago, I had to make a mid-week grocery trip out to Whole Foods, which is about 20 minutes from my neighborhood. There's a great vegan-friendly restaurant out there called City Silo that I only get to eat at when I'm already in East Memphis. So I planned a quick dinner on their patio before my grocery trip and got my favorite Buffalo Cauliflower & Tempeh Wrap (also available as a bowl). The best part of this is the amazing cashew ranch for dipping!

Here's a recent Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burger on a LuLu's potato bun with Simple Truth vegan pepper jack cheese and a side of Zucchini Parm from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I had some zucchini in my CSA, so I whipped this tasty baked treat up as a side. It's breaded with panko, hemp seeds, nooch, and spices.

And finally, here's another fun recipe from the NMA CookbookStrawberry Shortcake & Key Lime Pie Rice Balls! These are in the chapter that covers foods to fuel your workouts, and they're recommended as a "during workout" or "post-workout" snack. White rice breaks down very quickly for quick carbs, which you need to power through a long run or bike ride, and you also need quick carbs immediately after a tough workout. I saved these for after runs because they're a little hard to tote around during my run (unless I leave the bladder out of my Nathan hydration pack and stuff it with snacks, which I have been known to do!). The strawberry ones have fresh berries and chia seeds, and the key lime ones have lime juice and coconut. They're sweet, but they have a touch of sea salt for electrolytes. I love that these are like little breakfast sushi rolls!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Recipe: Blueberry Banana Cardamom Protein Muffins

For the past couple of months, I've been trying to follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle, which means eating seasonally and focusing on foods that are best aligned your dosha. As a vata dosha, who is cold-natured with dry skin, I'm supposed to avoid cold foods like smoothies. But I love smoothies!! So I can't give them up, but I can make a compromise and opt to only have them during pitta season (late spring, summer) when it's warm outside. Sadly, pitta season has come to an end in Memphis, Tennessee, and we're solidly in vata season (fall). And that means smoothie season is over for me as well. 

But I still need a good way to get my Complement Protein in after my workouts! So throughout fall and winter, I'll be experimenting with baked protein goodies. I'm a Complement ambassador, so I'm all about promoting this awesome super-clean vegan protein powder from the folks at No Meat Athlete. It's made with almond, chia, pumpkin, watermelon seed, and yellow pea protein, and it's free of sweeteners, fillers, gluten, or heavy metals (yes, there ARE heavy metals in most vegan protein powders! But not this one!).

This morning, I whipped up some Blueberry Banana Cardamom Protein Muffins, and I wanted to share the recipe. These whole wheat muffins are oil-free and sweetened only with maple syrup and mashed banana. They're light and fluffy and don't taste at all like protein powder (that's thanks to Complement, which has a totally neutral flavor). 

Each muffin contains one tablespoon of Complement. Since it takes three tablespoons to equal a full serving, three of these muffins equal the protein in one of my daily protein smoothies. Not a bad trade-off — 3 muffins to replace one smoothie! Here's the recipe!

Blueberry Banana Cardamom Protein Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

2 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup plant milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup Complement Protein
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed banana, maple syrup, plant milk, and vanilla extract until well-combined.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt until well-combined. Mix in the wet ingredients and stir until you've got a uniform batter. Fold in the blueberries.

Scoop into paper liners and bake for 18-20 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the muffins and check to see if it comes out clean to ensure the muffins are cooked through.

If you're interested in trying Complement, please use my link (and I'll make a few bucks for the referral). But just so ya know, Complement Protein is on back order until November due to a worldwide watermelon shortage. If you do go ahead and place an order though, use the code MOREMELONS at checkout to save 10%!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Asheville Birthday Trip, Days 4-5

I spent my 40th birthday on a camping trip in Asheville, North Carolina! Yesterday, I shared pictures from my actual birthday, and the day before, I shared images from the first 2 days of our trip. Tonight, I've got the last two days covered.

On Saturday, I woke up to a very cold morning! Our RV stays nice and toasty, but our kitchen is on the outside of the camper, so that meant cooking breakfast in the elements. And that's okay! That's what camping is about. I don't really understand the giant RVs that are basically homes on wheels. I had planned to do yoga and run that morning, but it was a bit too chilly for yoga and I didn't have much time to run since we had plans for the day. So I just threw on some layers and headed out to make breakfast. Paul requested pancakes every day, but I also brought stuff to make Camping Breakfast Wraps, so that's what I had.

These have Just Egg (perfect for camping!), seitan chorizo, vegan pepper jack slices, avocado, and tomato. We enjoyed our breakfasts inside the camper with the heat on. 

Here's what most mornings looked like. No makeup, lots of layers.

After we showered and got ready for the day, we headed out to a couple stores near the campsite that we'd spotted. And then we had lunch at Thai Basil, a Thai place in Black Mountain, NC, by the campsite. Paul had spotted it the day before, and he loves Thai food, so we went! I started with the Deep Fried Tofu appetizer. Very crispy with a yummy sweet and sour sauce.

We split an order of Panang Curry with Tofu. I'm a pad see ew gal, but panang is Paul's fave, and I didn't want us to order two entrees because we didn't want to have leftovers. Our RV fridge was already stuffed with lots of beer, leaving little room for leftovers. This was tasty! I loved all the veggies in it!

We had 1:30 pm reservations at the Biltmore, the largest privately owned house in the US. This is one of those must-do things for Asheville visitors, and we failed to tour the house on our last Asheville trip, so we figured we had to. It's very cool! The home was built in 1895, and it is BEAUTIFUL. So many rooms! So much land! 

My favorite room was the library. It had two floors within the room and one of those cool spiral staircases that leads you up to the landing. And the ceiling was hand-painted. 

The indoor swimming pool was a close second. It's located right in the center of the house, and there were rows of ladies' dressing rooms leading up to the pool room. The house also had a bowling alley and about a million pantries.

The Biltmore has an on-site winery, but you have to make reservations for a tasting in-person. So we headed over there (about a 15 minute drive from the house!) to get our spot. They gave a reservation that was for two hours later, so we had some time to kill. We did some shopping, met some goats, and enjoyed some Raspberry Sorbet and White Wine on the on-site creamery. 

When it was finally wine time, we headed into the winery. We got to taste five wines each, and then we grabbed some bottles to go from the wine shop.

By the time we left the Biltmore, it was well past my dinner time — almost 8 pm! I really wanted to eat at Rosetta's Kitchen (an all-vegan comfort food diner) while we were there, but they were only doing takeout. So we headed there to grab some food to go. Unfortunately, they were pretty much out of everything, so they couldn't make the dish I ordered (mashed potatoes topped with peanut butter tofu, kale, and gravy). So instead they hooked me up with a giant order that PB Tofu and Kale! For free! Thanks Rosetta's! By the way, there's a recipe for this tofu in the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I've made it a few times, but it's never as good as Rosetta's.

I enjoyed that delicious tofu in the camper when we returned while I waited for Paul to get our fire going. The temps had dropped again, and it was chilly! We spent the rest of the night by the fire until bedtime. 

The next morning, we got up early and started packing up, since we needed to check out by noon. I made another breakfast wrap and got ready for the day, and then said goodbye to our campsite. But before we headed back to Tennessee, we'd planned a stop at Looking Glass Falls, an awesome waterfall we'd visited on our last trip 11 years ago. As we were driving there, we passed a sign for the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. It's closed for COVID, but we'd heard they were doing curbside meals and six-packs from their restaurant. It was about lunchtime anyway, and Paul had heard good things about their chicken wings (he eats meat, so ...). So we swung by and ordered some takeout and six-packs of beer to take home.

I ordered the Roasted Beet & Kale Salad, which was topped with a Kolsch dressing! We enjoyed our meals on a bench overlooking the waterfall. Y'all, this salad was top-notch! The beets were huge, and that beer dressing was amazing. 

Here we are at Looking Glass Falls!

Paul even got in the ice-cold water because he's crazy.

After we enjoyed the falls for a bit, we hopped in the car and make the 5-hour drive back to Nashville. Paul had to work in Nashville the next day, so he was staying there. But I still needed to complete the drive to Memphis, so I transferred my things to my car and headed out for another 3-hour drive. It was late, and I was hungry again, so I was scoping out every fast food sign off the interstate, looking for a Burger King or Taco Bell. And guess what? I found something even better! White Castle!! They have Impossible Sliders, and Memphis doesn't have White Castles, so this was a treat! They don't look like much, but these are tasty little burgers. I only got two (because I had lots of snacks in the car, and I need to be constantly snacking so I don't get tired), but I was sad that I didn't get 10.

That's it! I finally made it home around 1 am, and I went straight to bed. What a fun trip! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My 40th Birthday in Asheville, NC (Day 3)

October 16 (on a Friday this year!) was my 40th birthday. We went on a camping trip to Asheville, North Carolina to celebrate, and we arrived the day before. Yesterday, I posted about the first two days of my vacation in Nashville and Asheville. And tonight, I'm sharing pictures from my big day!

We woke up just after the sun in our little pull-behind RV at the Asheville East KOA in Swannanoa. I had a few loose plans for how I wanted to spend my day and they included 1) running up a mountain, b) drinking on brewery patios, and 3) eating a fancy vegan dinner at Plant. But first, yoga! I always bring my mat when I travel since I try to practice yoga daily. It was chilly in Asheville, but that first morning wasn't too bad (they got much colder as the weekend went on). I dressed in some warm running clothes and took my mat over to a green space near the creek that ran through our campsite.

I did a short 10-minute vinyasa flow, and then Paul and I hopped in his car and headed for Lookout Trail in Montreat, NC (just outside Asheville). I didn't know anything about this mountain trail, but I used the AllTrails app to find the best views near our campsite. This trail was rated as moderate, so I assumed we'd be able to run parts of it. HA!!! This flatlander didn't run a step up this mountain. It was a straight uphill climb with stairs and some rock-climbing toward the end, so we hiked the whole thing. The climb was tough for us since we're not used to any elevation, but the views were so worth it.

Mountains are so amazing! Memphis, where we live, is only 338 feet above sea level, so we're always so amazed when we see actual mountains. It felt amazing to be on top of one on my birthday. 

Eventually, we made the trek down (going down was harder than getting up!) and headed back to our campsite, where I made us some birthday pancakes! I use this Tasty recipe for pancakes every time, and they're always so fluffy and perfect. When we camp, I pack pre-measured mix and soymilk in separate mason jars for easy breakfasts. We also had some Gimme Lean sausage on the side.

We took showers at the campsite and decided to head into Asheville to check out some breweries. Asheville is one of the top US cities with the most breweries per capita! My kind of town! Most of their breweries have reopened but are operating at limited capacity or patio only, so the first place we tried to go — Asheville Brewing Co. — was full with an hour wait. But there's an outdoor bar next door called Rabbit Rabbit that serves only Asheville Brewing beers, so we went over there instead. They had plenty of beautiful outdoor space in the sunshine. I started with a Perfect Haze IPA.

From there, we walked over to Hi-Wire Brewing. They had a wait as well, but it wasn't as long. We stood in a line for about 20 minutes to get a table in their open-air indoor space (with roll-up windows so it felt like an outdoor space). I had another IPA, but I can't remember which.

I could brewery-hop all day, but it was getting late into the afternoon, and we had dinner reservations for Plant — Asheville's fine-dining vegan restaurant! I'm not much on indoor dining in these COVID times, but this was a special occasion. Plant is very small, and they were only seating six tables at a time to allow for plenty of distancing. We left our masks on until our food arrived.

For starters, we ordered the Actually Crispy Potatoes, which were smashed, deep-fried, and served atop salsa verde and shallot butter. These were AMAZING. I could have eaten several more plates of these.

For my entree, I went with the Plant Cheese Plate, which was probably an appetizer, but who doesn't want to eat a whole plate of vegan cheese for dinner? This had three kinds of cashew cheeses (one was truffle-ly, one was a ricotta, and the other was a more solid nut cheese), muscadines, golden beets, pear slices, and bread. Perfect with the glass of red wine I ordered.

Paul ordered the Ravioli, and I tried a bite. It was very good! The portion was a little smaller than he expected, but he was still stuffed by the end. 

I really wanted to share a birthday dessert, but after eating all that cheese, I didn't have room for another bite. So we opted to skip dessert in favor of a wine toast at the campsite. We made our way back and found that our cool neighbors, Jamie and Phil, had left me a birthday balloon on my camp chair! Paul opened a bottle of some fancy white wine he'd bought for the occasion, and we drank wine by the fire until bedtime. What a perfect birthday!! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Asheville Birthday Trip: Days 1-2

I'm back! I've spent the past few days in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina for my 40th birthday. When COVID gives you lemons, you gotta make lemonade. Since I couldn't have a big blowout party with my friends this year, we decided to get outdoors and take our RV to the Smoky Mountains. I took a lot of pics, so I'm going to break my recap into three posts this week. Tonight, I'll share pics from Wednesday (when I drove to Nashville to meet up with Paul) and Thursday (when we left Nashville for Asheville).

On Wednesday, I took the day off so I could finish packing and get an early start on my drive to Nashville. Paul stays there part-time, and our RV was already parked at his parents' house, so I decided to drive there a day early so we could leave for NC first thing Thursday morning. But I had one very important task before I left Memphis. Early voting!! It started here on Wednesday, and I made sure to vote on the first day. Casting my ballot for Kamala (and Joe) felt SO GREAT, and we have some local candidates (Marquita Bradshaw!!) who are pretty exciting as well. The whole process took about an hour, but the line moved quickly and it was worth the time.

My mom came over to pet-sit for the week, so I hit the road shortly after she arrived. I got hungry on my 3-hour drive, so I stopped at a Burger King for an Impossible Whopper. I typically reserve these for road trips, so they're always a special treat.

I arrived in Nashville a little before Paul was scheduled to get off work, so I killed some time the best way I know how. With ice cream! A stop through Nashville isn't complete without a visit to Koko's Plant-Based Ice Cream. I got a scoop of the pumpkin spice latte and the Dutch apple pie.

On Thursday morning, we loaded up the RV and car and headed for Asheville (about 5 hours from Nashville). I had some oatmeal before we left, but by noon-ish, my tummy was growling. We were afraid we couldn't get the RV through a drive-through due to its height, and most fast-food dining rooms are closed for COVID. So our only vegan fast food option was Subway. I got a Veggie Delite with all the veggies, plus guac and sweet onion sauce. Not pretty, but tasty. Subway just tastes like college to me, and I like that. I ate a LOT of Subway as a college vegetarian.

We arrived in Asheville later than we'd hoped — around 5:30ish — thanks to traffic jams, a few stops along the way, and the time zone change that we forgot was a thing. Oops! But it was still daylight, so we had time to get our campsite all set up at the Asheville East KOA in Swannanoa. It was a beautiful campsite with a creek running through it and great mountain views.

I brought stuff to make spaghetti in our camper kitchen, but we were tired. Even opening a jar of sauce and boiling noodles sounded hard, so we roasted Veggie Dogs instead. 

Not pictured are the vegan s'mores I made after dinner! We enjoyed a few beers around the campfire and met our cool neighbors, Jamie and Phil from Florida. Then it was time for bed! The next day, Friday, was my 40th birthday, and I wanted to get plenty of rest since we had a big day planned. I'll check back tomorrow with a birthday post!