Monday, November 30, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020 Recap!

My favorite holiday has come and gone! I finished my last plate of leftovers for lunch today, and I'm so sad Thanksgiving (or, as vegans like to call it, ThanksLIVING) is over. Two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, my parents and I started a two-week quarantine so we could safely gather for the holiday. We're very lucky in that we have a tiny family (just me, my parents, and my me-maw) and that no one is working in an office or public setting. I've been working from home since March, and my parents are retired. It also helps that my family lives an hour away by car, so there's no need for air travel or road trip pee stops. I know it was tough for so many families to safely gather this year, and I'm grateful that mine was able to.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for two reasons: 1) my family, and 2) THE FOOD. I love to eat, and nothing makes me happier than a big ole plate of vegan turkey and my mama's famous vegan dressin. Here's my plate!

On that plate, you'll find Tofurky with gravy, cornbread dressin, hash brown casserole, vegan chicken & dumplins, corn, green beans, coleslaw, homemade cranberry sauce, and a dinner roll.

Every year, I change up the vegan turkey, depending on whatever roast is new for the year. But so far, Tofurky is still my fave, so I went with an old standard this year. Here's a not-so-great shot of my Tofurky after I'd hacked it all up. Every year, my mom makes me a Tofurky, and she makes turkey for the rest of the family.

The stars of every Thanksgiving at my parents' house are the Cornbread Dressin and Hash Brown Casserole. Both recipes are actually in Cookin' Crunk, but somehow, when I make these dishes, they're never as good as my mama's. For one, she uses white flour for the cornbread, and the Crunk recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour because I was on a health kick when I wrote that book. So if you try the recipe at home, just use white flour for maximum effect!

We don't typically have Vegan Chicken & Dumplins for Thanksgiving, but this is one of my other favorite meals from my mom, and I made a special request this year. She used the Better Than Bouillon No Chicken broth, and these were perfect.

I was on dinner roll duty, so I made Jackie Sobon's Fluffy Dinner Rolls from the holiday issue of VegNews. These were fluffy (as advertised!) and great! We cooked them a little too long waiting for the tops to brown (the oven was a bit crowded), so they dried out a bit. But it was nothing a generous schmear of Earth Balance couldn't fix. 

For dessert, my mama made a Lemon Cream Pie that was AMAZING! It had a graham cracker crust, a layer of vegan cream cheese mixed with coco whip, a layer of lemon curd, another layer of coco whip, and a top layer of crumbled lemon Oreos. WOW! My mama and daddy don't like pumpkin, so we tend to go non-traditional with the pie every year.

Maynard makes the drive over to his grandma and grandpa's house for the holidays, so he got in plenty of couch time with them.

And we got a nice nature walk in around the woods by their house. I also went for a solo 4.5-mile Tofurky Trot at Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro before Thanksgiving lunch.

Family photo time! It always takes us forever to get the right angle on these timer shots. I think we'd given up by this point. 

I've been eating leftovers for days! My mom sent me home with so much food! Most days over the weekend, I had big leftovers plates, but I did make a couple of Thanksgiving Sliders using the dinner rolls, Tofurky, dressin', and cranberry sauce.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Venezuelan Food + Grain Bowls + Scrambled Chickpeas!

I'm currently doing a Thanksgiving quarantine, so I've been avoiding my usual takeout pick-up and opting instead for contactless delivery. Global Café in Crosstown Concourse offers free delivery within four miles of the building, so last Thursday, I ordered the Venezuelan Vegan Plate with black beans, white rice, and plantains. It sounds so simple, but everything is seasoned to perfection. It's one of my favorite dishes in Memphis!

Last Monday, I made the Turmeric Tahini Bowl from Eat Feel Fresh. This has quinoa with lentils, kale, sweet potatoes, avocado, and a creamy turmeric tahini sauce. It's topped with radishes and nori flakes. I love wholesome meals like this!

I wanted to make scrambled tofu for breakfast a couple days ago, but I only had enough tofu left for another recipe I wanted to try later in the week. And I couldn't get more tofu since I'm quarantining, so I made Scrambled Chickpeas instead! This recipe is from Isa Does It, and I'd made it before years ago. It's a nice alternative to tofu.

I wanted a quick, healthy, snacky dessert one night, so I made the Two Minute Turtles from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. These are just dates stuffed with pecans and chocolate chips. You heat them in the microwave for just a few seconds so the chocolate gets melty.

And finally, here's my latest Bring It Food Hub CSA haul! Daikon, mustard greens, apples, cauliflower, and green tomatoes. 

I hope y'all have a happy Thanksgiving! I'll be spending the day with my very tiny family, and I'll check back in after the holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Southern Fried Awesomeness + Omelets, Mac, & More!

A few weeks ago, a traveling vegan pop-up made a stop at Memphis Made Brewing Co. Southern Fried Vegan is oddly based out of California, nowhere near the South, but I'm glad they were traveling down here! The food was SO GOOD. There was a line wrapped around the brewery for hours, waiting for their food. I think every vegan in Memphis showed up for this. Ha! They were doing plates for $20, and you got a main and four sides. Since that was a little pricy, Paul and I opted to split a plate, but it turned out to be more than enough food. Oh, and we got a side of tots with cheezy sauce.

We went with vegan fried chicken, mac & cheese, greens, coleslaw, and baked beans. Paul and I took turns standing in the line (while the other person guarded our table inside the open-air brewery). Paul ended up being the one who was in line when it was time to order, so he arrived at our table carrying our plate of food plus tots and cheeze, which I wasn't expecting! He said just tots sounded good, and I will always agree with that. He got the cheeze on the side because he thinks he doesn't like vegan cheeze. More for me! The meal was amazing, and the fried chicken was our favorite part. We were wishing we had two pieces to share instead of having to halve one, but we had plenty of food.

We had leftover cheezy sauce, so I took the rest home and used it to make some Vegan Mac & Cheese the next day. I used Barilla red lentil protein pasta and some broccoli for good measure. The cheezy sauce seemed to be made with melted vegan cheese, so it was oily and indulgent. Really yummy!

I treated myself to a Just Egg Omelet on a Sunday morning forever ago! I have such a backlog of photos to post! Just Egg can be a little tricky to flip, but it tastes just like chicken eggs, and I felt very special eating this. It was stuffed with wild mushrooms from Bluff City Fungi, spinach, and vegan cheese.

Here are some recent healthy weekday breakfasts. I made the Pumpkin Pie OMmeal from Eat Feel Fresh. This is just rolled oats with pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice, plus lots of coconut milk. Topped with dates and pumpkin seeds. Tis the season!

And here's a really fun new way for me to get my morning protein powder in! I made the Sweet Potato N'oatmeal from Eat Feel Fresh, an alternative to protein oats. These mashed sweet potatoes have Complement Protein, pumpkin spice, and coconut milk. Topped with cashew butter, maple, and pumpkin seeds. Will be making this again!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

New Daily Meal Themes for Fall/Winter!

If you were following my blog over the summer, you might have noticed that I'd adopted some daily meal themes to plan my dinners around. I got the idea from the No Meat Athlete podcast, and I had been doing Macaroni Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wok Wednesday, Takeout Thursday, Freestyle Friday, Sizzle Saturday (grilled food), and Slice Sunday (pizza!). But as it's gotten colder out, I've been wanting to work in some soups and other warming dishes, like Indian food or hearty sandwiches that stick to your ribs.

So I came up with new themes! Here's a rundown. Mondays are now Monk Bowl Mondays, otherwise known as Buddha bowls. But Buddha doesn't alliterate with anything! Basically, I can have any kind of grain, green, bean bowl on Mondays. I recently made this amazing and beautiful Rainbow Pad Thai Bowl from Eat Feel Fresh on a Monk Bowl Monday. The recipe called for kelp noodles, but the Whole Foods is far from my house, so I subbed shirataki noodles that I found at the Vietnamese market. It also has zucchini, carrot, and beet noodles (sauteed, not raw), edamame, bean sprouts, and a cashew-ginger sauce. It was as good as it looks.

Tuesdays are still Taco Tuesdays because tacos are forever. This past Taco Tuesday, I had a Black Bean Tostada with canned refried black beans, Chao cheese, and sauteed veggies (onion, cabbage, corn, and spinach). Topped with guacamole salsa and red salsa. And lots of hot sauce!

Wednesdays have become World Cuisine Wednesdays, which opens things up to a world (get it?!) of possibilities. Last Wednesday, I went Middle Eastern and whipped up some oil-free Baked Falafel from a No Meat Athlete recipe. I served it in whole wheat pita with tomato, avocado, kalamatas, Trader Joe's tabbouleh hummus (the best!) and Simple Truth plant-based cauliflower tzatziki. 

Thursdays are still Takeout Thursdays because I like to support local restaurants at least once a week. And since I don't run on Friday mornings (rest day), Thursdays nights are the best nights to go wild. Last Thursday, I got Imagine Vegan Cafe takeout and ordered their new Chicken Philly with fries. You can't see it, but under all that cheesy sauce, there are vegan chicken strips and sauteed peppers and onions.

Fridays are still Freestyle Fridays (anything goes!), but I try to focus on whole foods on Friday nights since my long runs are on Saturday mornings. Last week, I made this Roasted Potato Bowl with air-fried roasted red potatoes (from my CSA), black beans, noochy sauce, coleslaw, and avocado. Unfortunately, the avocado turned brown almost immediately. BOOOOO! Still tasted good though.

Saturdays are now Sandwich Saturdays, so that can mean a traditional sandwich or a burger, hot dog, or really anything stuck inside some bread. On a recent Saturday, I made the Mushroom & Spinach Panini from the original Engine 2 book (the one that's all about the diet, not the cookbook). This simple sandwich has sauteed wild mushrooms (from my CSA), baby spinach, and hummus. That's it! It was nice and simple.

Sundays are Soup Sundays! Typically, that would be a warm soup or stew, but last Sunday, I made the raw Heart Chakra Soup from Eat Feel Fresh because I'm working on balancing all of my chakras, and I'm currently focused on the heart. This blended cold soup has avocado, zucchini, cucumber, spinach, garlic, and almonds, and it was really good. Fortunately, it was a warm November day here, so I didn't mind a cold soup.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Recipe: Fluffy, Oil-Free Blueberry Protein Prancakes

Now that it's getting cooler out, I'm trading my post-run protein smoothies for warmer protein-packed treats. Protein oats, protein muffins ... heck, this morning I even had protein mashed sweet potatoes (more on that in a future post). I like to add a PR to the beginning of all foods that contain protein powder, so that would be proats, pruffins, and protatoes!

All of these warm breakfast treats are spiked with Complement Protein, my favorite vegan protein powder. It's made by the same folks who run No Meat Athlete (of which I am a superfan), and it's unflavored, unsweetened, and free of that weird chalky taste that most people associate with protein powders. It's also free of heavy metals, which is a rarity in the protein powder world.

Last Sunday, after my run, I came home to a pile of protein pancakes! Or should I say, PRANCAKES?! I converted my favorite white flour pancake recipe to healthier one with added protein powder. My white flour pancakes the fluffiest, and I worried the fluffy trick (lots of baking powder and ACV) wouldn't work without white flour, but it did! These were so fluffy! Like little pancake clouds!

This recipe could easily be made gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. I did not, so I didn't want to label it as such because not all oats are gluten-free. You can buy oat flour, but I just make my own by grinding rolled oats in a coffee grinder. You could also make this without protein powder, but if you do, I'd just sub out six tablespoons of additional chickpea flour (or you could go wild and use almond flour instead of protein powder).

If you're interested in learning more about Complement, check it out here. That's my affiliate link since I'm a Complement Ambassador (again, SUPERFAN). You can save 10% on your order with the code VEGANCRUNK. Okay, here's the recipe.

Fluffy Blueberry Protein Pancakes 
oil-free, can be gluten-free if made with gluten-free oats
Yields 2 servings (about 6 pancakes)

1 cup plant milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 cup oat flour (you can make this by grinding oats in a coffee grinder)
1/2 cup chickpea flour
6 Tbsp. Complement Protein
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup blueberries (or any berry you like!), plus more for topping

In a medium bowl, combine the plant milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and maple, and set aside for a few minutes while you mix the dry ingredients. 

In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, chickpea flour, Complement protein, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until well-combined. Allow the mixture to sit for about five minutes. This will allow the vinegar and baking powder to do some science magic that will result in fluffier pancakes.

While the batter sits, heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. After five minutes, fold in the blueberries. For oil-free pancakes, don't use any spray oil, but if you feel like the pancakes may stick, you can use a little spray cooking oil. Scoop about 1/3rd cup portions into the skillet (you'll have to do this in batches), and allow to cook until bubble form on the exposed side. Carefully flip the pancakes, and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.

Serve with maple syrup and extra berries!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Cookbook Review: The Plant Protein Revolution Cookbook

Has any vegan cookbook author written as many books as Robin Robertson? This woman is prolific! I have many of Robin's books, and they're all fantastic. And her latest book, The Plant Protein Revolution Cookbook, is no exception. 

This book is all about my second-favorite macronutrient — protein!! In case you're wondering, carbs will always be #1 in my heart. But protein is super-important, especially for vegan athletes, and while I do rely on protein powder in my post-run breakfast, I like to get to the rest of my daily protein needs from whole plant foods. And that's what this book is all about. All of the protein-rich recipes rely on beans/legumes, whole (or very lightly processed) soyfoods, grains, nuts, and seeds. That's it! No fancy plant meats here!

There are protein-packed appetizers, like Faux Gras (a mushroom/lentil/walnut pate) and Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce. The salad chapter includes a Chickpea "Tuna" Salad and a Caesar with chickpeas, baked tofu, and a homemade bean/seitan ham. 

I picked two recipes from the Super Sandwiches chapter, including this Tempeh Avocado Reuben. This simple sandwich has braised tempeh, kraut, avocado, mayo, and toasted bread. That's it! She includes a recipe for cashew mayo to boost the protein, but I used a storebought vegan mayo because it was easier.

I also made the Tempeh Tacos with Sriracha Lime Slaw (yes, tacos are in the sandwich chapter! I'm not sure why!). These tacos are stuffed with baked tofu, avocado, and a creamy, spicy slaw. The baked tofu recipe may become my new to-go. It was so flavorful with lots of soy sauce, garlic, maple, and nooch.

There's a chapter on stovetop meals, like Tofu Ramen Bowls, Edamame Fried Rice & Quinoa, and Indonesian Noodles with Tempeh. And there's a chapter on oven meals, like the Easy Peasy Mac & Cheesy made with silken tofu and cashew sauce. There's even a protein-packed dessert chapter! Chocolate-Kissed Peanut Butter Pie (with protein from silken tofu and peanut butter) anyone?

The best chapter, however, may be the last one — Plant Protein Basics. Here, Robin covers everything from how to cook beans from scratch to making seitan, baking tofu, and creating your own cashew creams.

Love this book! In true Robin style, most all of the recipes have few ingredients, are based on whole foods, and come together in a jiffy.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Pizza, Porridge, & Sandwiches!

A couple Fridays ago, we filmed some promotional videos for work, highlighting some of our Crosstown Concourse businesses and the fact that our multi-use building has one million square feet of space for people to safely socially distance while enjoying local food and fun. I was in one of the videos at Pizzeria Trasimeno, the new pizza place, so I enjoyed this Pizza del Giardino (their vegan vegetable pizza) and an Aperol Spritz. Crosstown Concourse, where I work in communications, is a giant multi-use space with nonprofit orgs, restaurants, retail, arts space, and all kinds of fun things to do, and most businesses inside are still open during COVID. Masks are required of course!

Speaking of Crosstown Concourse, here's a Watkins Sandwich that I picked up a couple weekends ago at Curb Market in Concourse. Curb is our building's grocery store, and they have a deli that serves this vegan smoked tofu sandwich. It's usually topped with onion straws, BBQ sauce, and vegan slaw, but they were out of slaw. So the deli man added some pickled veggies instead. I really liked this version!

And one more thing about Curb Market! They've started carrying VGAN chocolate bars, and they're the best vegan chocolate bars I've ever had. I got this one and a white chocolate bar, and I can't stop eating them. 

Here are a few meals from home. I made the Lentil Porridge from Eat Feel Fresh last week for breakfasts. This has red lentils, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice. It's a nice alternative to oats. Who knew lentils would be good sweet?! They are!

And here's a recent GGB (grain, green, bean) bowl. It looks weird, but it was good. Just thrown together stuff — brown rice, white beans, kale, pumpkin seeds, kraut, and chow chow. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Impossible Everything! And a Chili-Cheese Burrito!

I've been trying to find all kinds of fun new ways to use my chipotle chickpea chili that I made on Chef AJ's show a couple weeks ago. Chili is great on its own in a bowl, but it's even more fun as a topping for, say, a Chili Cheese Burrito! This has Simple Truth Plant-Based Queso (the best!) and the chili on top, and the inside is stopped with sauteed tofu, spinach, black beans, and rice.

I finally found Impossible burger in stores! Our Trader Joe's carries it, so I picked some up a couple weeks ago. I used some to make Impossible Spaghetti. For this, I just browned some Impossible burger with mushrooms and added a jarred marinara sauce.

And then last Saturday, Paul and I grilled up some quick Impossible Burgers with Chao Cheese after we watched Joe Biden's speech. Wasn't it just amazing??? Awwwww. What a great day Saturday was! Not only did we win the election that day, but it was 70-something degrees in Memphis and sunny all day. A perfect day for grilling. Sorry for the crappy pic, but it was late by then, and I was HANGRY.

Last Thursday, I had to get groceries after work, so I stopped by City Silo, which is out by our Sprouts, for takeout. I got the BBQ Squash Bowl, which has spaghetti squash, kale, BBQ sauce, croutons, corn, rice, quinoa, and cashew ranch. It was sooo good. Their patio is open, and I would have liked to have eaten there, but it was chilly that night. So I ate this in my car. 

And finally, here's some delicious and hearty Corn Chowder that I made for dinner on Sunday. It's from Terry Walters' Clean Food cookbook — one I haven't used in quite awhile. I'm attempting to make a recipe from every one of my cookbooks over the next few years (it'll take a few years!). This simple recipe has corn, potatoes, carrots, celery, and unsweetened soymilk, and it's so delicious. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day!

I don't know about y'all, but I've never quite understand the breakfast skippers. I usually have about three meals before lunch! There's first breakfast (aka pre-run snack), real breakfast (the bigger meal), and morning snack (usually hummus and crackers or a Larabar). Those morning meals power me through my day and give me the energy I need to be focused at work. 

First breakfast is usually something small, like toast with jam or a banana with nut butter. Just something to tide me over during my run. 

On warm days when I run, I often have a protein smoothie for post-run breakfast, but now that it's getting chilly, I've switched to Proats (protein oats). I stir some Complement Protein into my rolled oats, add a splash of almond milk to thin it out, stir in some maple and nut butter, and top with nuts, seeds, and berries. Without protein powder, oats tend to keep me full for about an hour, but with added protein powder, I'm good til at least 11 am (morning snack time). 

I'm a Complement Ambassador, so I have to tell you how awesome this clean, heavy metal-free, unsweetened protein powder is. You can stir it into anything, and while it does thicken the texture some, there's no weird chalky flavor. Wanna learn more? Go here!

I also love me some tofu scramble. I usually have it with toast, but some days, I make Breakfast Bowls like this. It has air-fried potatoes and lots of guacamole salsa.

If I'm feeling wild, I'll have Breakfast Tacos. Same ingredients as in the bowl but better because tacos. I also added Simple Truth Plant-Based Queso to these.

If I'm having tofu scramble for dinner, I may have Breakfast Burrito, which I enjoyed on a recent Taco Tuesday. I love how much scramble I can squeeze into a giant tortilla.

On Fridays, my breakfasts come from LuLu's. I love making the morning drive downtown to grab a breakfast sammy and coffee from their space at Puck Food Hall. Last Friday, I got the Blackeyed Pea Saysage Biscuit with Apple Butter and a Campfire Latte with oat milk on the side.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lemongrass Tofu: Three Ways

On the Friday that our sweet Gelfling (our 15-year-old kitty) died, the only thing I wanted to eat was comfort food — something greasy and fried that would temporarily fill the kitty-sized hole in my heart. So we grabbed some Pho Binh to go. I ordered the Lemongrass Tofu (my very fave), and Paul got us an order of Veggie Fried Rice and Tofu Spring Rolls to share. Very few veggies, mostly brown. I can say that this meal (and a few glasses of wine) certainly helped for a little bit.

The thing is, when you order Pho Binh, you have leftovers for days. So I had to find new ways to use my leftover lemongrass tofu. The next day, I made a stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, bean sprouts, leftover white rice, and lemongrass tofu.

By Monday, I was still eating lemongrass tofu, but I wanted to be a tad healthier at the start of my week. So I made a Buddha bowl with lemongrass tofu, steamed broccoli, steamed carrots, and brown rice. 

Paul had ordered the Tofu Pho that Friday when we placed a big order, and he had some leftovers that he didn't want. So I finished those off too. I added broccoli for some extra nutrition. Pho Binh's Tofu Pho is the best! I'm actually kind of looking forward to colder days so I justify ordering this more often.

And here's a non-Pho Binh meal. Have y'all tried these Soon ramen cups? They're vegan and really good! Best instant ramen cups I've had. The kimchi flavor is awesome.