Thursday, October 21, 2021

Burgers & Breakfast Sandwiches!

I've been craving a wholesome, homemade veggie burger lately, so I flipped through the recipes in The Plant-Based Athlete book and selected a Black Bean Veggie Burger (contributed by ultrarunner and Vega founder Brenden Brazier) that's made with black beans, rolled oats, vegan cheddar shreds, and brown rice. As much as I love a meaty burger, sometimes I crave a squishy homemade patty. This one hit the spot! Paul made us some air-fried fries on the side.

One day last week, I grabbed Farm Burger's Superfood Salad (topped with their homemade veggie patty) to go for lunch. They offer this kale salad with either their homemade quinoa and sweet potato patty or a Beyond patty. It's good both ways, but I was feeling healthy. I love the fried chickpeas on this salad!

I've also been eating lots of breakfast sandwiches lately! Lulu's is doing Wednesday morning breakfast pop-ups at Boycott Coffee downtown for all of October, so that's my new Wednesday morning routine. Here's this Wednesday's sando with tofu egg, sauteed butternut and mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, and cashew cheese on their homemade bun. With a Boyott oatmilk latte. What a perfect morning treat!

And finally, here's a made-at-home breakfast sandwich on a locally made Dave's whole wheat bagel. Stuffed with Nabati Plant Eggz, tempeh bacon, microgreens, and Tofutti cream cheese. YUM!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

My 41st Birthday: Part Two!

And I'm back with the rest of my 41st birthday recap! Yesterday, I blogged about my family birthday with my parents on Friday night and Saturday morning. They just moved to Cherokee Village, Arkansas, so I spent the night at their new place. And then after breakfast on Saturday, I headed back to Memphis for my celebration with friends! 

I got back just a bit before my BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew arrived! They live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and came up to spend the night and hang for my birthday. We had dinner plans, but we had some time to kill. So we headed to Crosstown Concourse for a big, free Day of the Dead celebration! It's an event that Concourse puts on every year with dancing, live music, and altars to commemorate those who have passed.

We stayed there for about 45 minutes, and then we caught an Uber to head downtown to Good Fortune Co. for dinner. Good Fortune is a new vegan-friendly ramen shop, and we were excited to try it! When we arrived, a bunch of my friends were already there. We got a nice spot on the patio. 

It was a cool night (sweater weather!), so I started with a Hot Sake.

And then the owner came out and asked me if I was the birthday girl. When I said yes, he handed me this beautiful (and tasty) Lemongrass Mojito!

For starters, I had the Impossible Wontons — delicate handmade wontons stuffed with Impossible burger and served in a savory broth with scallions. THESE WERE AMAZING. I can't stop thinking about them.

For my main dish, I had the Tan Tan Ramen. This vegan ramen dish features soft wheat noodles, umami broth, bok choy, and more of that tasty Impossible beef. I've had a lot of ramen in my day, and that was by far the best ramen bowl of my life. 

What a perfect dinner! Paul had to work for most of my birthday (the day before and the day of), but he got off work just in time to meet us for drinks at Loflin Yard! Most of my friends from dinner met us there, and a bunch more friends showed up. After a year of very little social interaction, it was so amazing to have so many friends in one place. 

Loflin is an outdoor bar, so it was nice that everyone could feel safe and hang out, and since it was chilly, we were able to build a fire. They typically have someone who works there tend the fires, but they weren't doing fires that night. So we foraged for wood and lit our own fire (and somehow managed to not get kicked out). I'm so grateful for my amazing friends and my awesome family! What a perfect birthday!

Monday, October 18, 2021

My 41st Birthday: Part 1!

I turned 41 on Saturday! And I had a fantastic birthday weekend! I'm breaking this into two posts because there are just so many fun things to share. My celebration started on Friday (which I took off work) with a visit to my parents' new house in Cherokee Village, Arkansas. 

I got to my parents' house just in time for dinner. Cherokee Village is a lot smaller than Jonesboro, the town I grew up in, so they don't have many restaurants. But there are a few restaurants in nearby Ash Flat, including a Mexican place and a Thai place. We decided on a Mexican restaurant called El Palenque because they had a vegetarian menu with a Veggie Fajita dish. We assumed we'd be ordering margaritas, but to our surprise, they don't serve alcohol! But that was okay. The fajitas were awesome (SO MANY VEGGIES!), and they served us the largest-ever bowl of guac.

After dinner, we went back to my parents' house for presents and cake. But first, my dad made us some margaritas. They have a "bar room" in their new house, so we sat at the bar for a pic. My mom made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake pictured above, and my parents got me a new Garmin Forerunner 745 running watch!

I went to bed around 10 pm, because I wanted to get up early for a birthday run to test my new watch. I got up around 6 am and had this No Cow Birthday Cake protein bar and coffee before heading out in their new neighborhood.

I'm not used to hills because Memphis is very, very flat. But they have lots of hills in Northern Arkansas! This was a very tough 8-miler!

After my run, I did a little birthday Yoga with Adriene video outside by the lake behind their house. What a perfect view for my yoga practice!

While I did yoga, my mom made a Vegan Breakfast Casserole with biscuits, Just Egg, vegan cheese, and gravy, which we enjoyed with hash browns and mimosas.

We took a quick family selfie, and then it was time for me to head back to Memphis to meet up with friends for my birthday party. More on that tomorrow! What a perfect birthday! My parents the best!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tacos! Tostadas! Nachos! Quesadillas!

I've been on a bit of a taco kick lately! I'm always behind on reading my magazines, so I'm still working my way through the VegNews Summer of Tacos issue, and the recipes have had me all inspired. Last week, I made the Migas Breakfast Tacos with Nabati Plant Eggz (cooked with crumbled tortilla chips, salsa, and vegan cheese) and tempeh bacon. There's really no better breakfast than tacos!

I also made the Oaxacan Black Beans recipe from that VegNews issue. These slow-cooked, refried black beans are seasoned with epazote, and the recipe recommends topping them with a homemade tofu queso freso (that recipe was also in the magazine). I enjoyed the beans and "cheese" in tacos.

And on crispy tostadas!

And atop nachos with lots of other toppings! This was more like nacho salad. I used some Kite Hill queso for melted cheese on these. These nachos were fire!

And finally, I had the last of the beans in a vegan quesadilla with Nabati cheddar shreds and mushrooms and topped with all kinds of toppings (including the last of that tofu queso fresco). I had more of that delicious Kite Hill queso with chips on the side. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

BBQ, Burgers, Wings, & Donuts

Who says you have to give up the good stuff to go vegan?! Today's post is full of recent meals that would make any omni want to go plant-based! Last Tuesday, I went to a National Night Out potluck in my Crosstown neighborhood (a potluck!! I am so glad those are back!!). I'm on the Crosstown Memphis CDC board of directors, and we hosted this outdoor event at Crosstown Brewing. The treasurer was bringing pork BBQ, so I made some slow-cooked Jackfruit BBQ and Vegan Coleslaw. It was a hit!! And I think I was the only vegan there! I had enough left to make one leftover sandwich on a Lulu's bun for lunch the next day.

On Sunday, Paul and I grilled the Wicked Kitchen Jalapeno Burgers. WOW! These were amazing. The "meat" was very similar to Beyond, but the burgers were loaded with finely chopped green jalapenos. They weren't very spicy, but the flavor was fantastic! I will absolutely buy these again.

Speaking of jalapenos, here's a Tomato Jalapeno Scone from Lulu's at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. Had this as a pre-run snack on Sunday. 

Last Thursday, I met some friends at Slider Inn for a late night meal of Vegan Tofu & Cauliflower Wings & Fries (and beers!). This is not a great photo since we sat outside on the dark patio. But trust me: These wings are fire! The yellow-looking dip is vegan ranch, and it is actually white and delicious. The lighting was just really bad. 

And finally, here's a Vegan Classic Glazed Donut from Darling Donuts Memphis. Lily of Darling Donuts sells her donuts at French Truck Coffee on Mondays. I grabbed one to enjoy with some raspberry leaf tea as a mid-morning snack. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Reubens, Legumes, & Spaghetti (AGAIN!)

Last Sunday, Backlot Sandwich Shop offered their Vegan Reuben on special again. I've blogged about this sandwich before, but it's just SO GOOD. Chef Kyle makes the "corned beef" with roasted and smoked celeriac root, and it's also got a homemade red kraut and vegan cheese. This is by far the best sandwich in Memphis. Kyle says they'll be offering it most Sundays now! They're also offering the Roasted Brussels Sprouts side without bacon now (yay!).

I'm all about that legume life! Here's a recent soup of Lentil Soup made with potatoes, spinach, and carrots. Paul requested lentils for dinner, and he likes potatoes in his lentil soup. So that's what we did. It was good, and we have so much leftover!

One day last week, I needed a quick desk lunch, so I brought some TastyBite Bombay Potatoes (with chickpeas) and TastyBite Jasmine Rice — both in microwavable packages. I added a little hing for extra flair!

And here's another plate of Spaghetti & Mushrooms (my standard Friday night dinner) — perfect carb-loading for last Saturday's 22-mile training run. I'm training for another 50K on Oct. 23! We didn't have any fresh mushrooms, but I always keep some canned mushrooms on-hand. And I had some frozen broccoli and cauliflower on the side. This was right before grocery day, so frozen and canned had to do!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Product Feature: Doughp's Vegan Legit Cookie Dough

Let's be real — one of the greatest things about being vegan is being able to eat the cookie dough straight from the mixing bowl without worrying about salmonella. And let's also be honest and say that cookie dough is greater than actual cookies. Well, there's a new vegan-friendly cookie dough in town, and it's packed in an ice cream pint for maximum spoon scoopage. 

Doughp Legit Cookie Dough has released a vegan flavor — Avocadough Brownie! Like all the Doughp flavors, the new vegan dough is made with just a few real-food ingredients: avocado puree, brown sugar, flour, dutch cocoa, flaxseed, salt, vanilla, and baking powder.

When my dough arrived (a gracious sample from the folks at Doughp!), I dug straight in with a spoon and was blown away with fudgey flavor. The avocado adds a richness without effecting the taste. It just tastes like eating the tastiest brownie batter with a spoon.

Although Doughp is designed for eating straight from the pint, you can also bake it into cookies if you feel so inclined. I decided to give that a try! The cookies come out very soft, almost like little brownie bites. 

On the side of the pint, they suggest half-baking the cookies and serving them over ice cream. So I had to try that as well! I baked some more cookies for only 8 minutes instead of the 11 minutes that I baked the first batch for. They came out a little gooier, which was perfect for topping a double-scoop of Doozy Pots Coffee Gelato and Ben & Jerry's dairy-free Netflix & Chill'd. The warm cookies melted the icy cream just a bit, and it tasted like a hug in my mouth.

Doughp makes a bunch of other flavors, but so far, the Avocadough Brownie is the only vegan one. I hope they release more because this stuff is legit good!!

Doughp isn't just awesome cookie dough though! They also have a great mission. The founder, Kelsey, is in recovery from alcohol addiction, so they donate a portion of every sale to the SHE RECOVERS® Foundation. SHE RECOVERS is a non-profit charity with a mission to connect, support and empower women in or seeking recovery. They also offer mental health days to their staff! Very cool!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Flame Ramen

Memphis has two new ramen restaurants! One of those is Flame Ramen, and I finally got to try their ramen last week on a dinner date with my friend Susan. Ramen is hands-down my favorite food, followed closely by popcorn, donuts, and pizza. But ramen has my heart!

Flame Ramen is located on the busy corner of Union and McLean. Susan wanted to sit outside because she's not super-comfortable with indoor stuff yet, so we sat on the small patio. It wasn't too hot outside, so that was nice. But the traffic on Union was pretty loud, so I'd recommend indoor seating if you go. But the traffic is my only complaint. The food was fantastic!

We started with the Vegetable Gyoza, and they were perfect. Each little pillow was stuffed with savory veggies, and they were topped with a spicy salt and seasoned with soy sauce.

I ordered the Vegan Paradise Ramen, which has soft, fresh noodles, tofu, scallions, vegetable gyoza (there were more in the soup!), corn, and wood ear mushrooms.

I loved everything about this soup. The noodles tasted so fresh, not at all like the fried packaged noodles you'd buy in the store. The gyoza were a lovely surprise. Who doesn't like dumplings in their soup? I'd never had wood ear mushrooms, but these had a nice bite. And corn is a must-add in all my at-home ramen bowls, so I appreciated that this bowl had corn. But we all know the most important part of a ramen bowl is the broth, and this broth was great! It was garlicky and savory without being too salty. 

10/10 would eat again! And again! Flame Ramen is located at 1838 Union Ave. in Memphis, TN.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Cauliflower Gnocchi & More!

Another random meal round-up! I've been eating lots of the same things lately, so I haven't had many exciting meals to blog out. But one very exciting thing that I ate this week was Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi with Simple Truth Vegan Alfredo Sauce!

I picked up these frozen TJ's gnocchi a couple months ago, and they've just been chilling in my freezer. But after I discovered the awesome Simple Truth alfredo (the best I've ever had!), I knew they needed to be paired with that sauce. These little puffs were so tasty. They had the texture of potato-y gnocchi with the flavor of cauliflower. I'm guessing they're low-carb (no idea!), but they were soooo gooood. 

Here's a very un-sexy meal of a Big Ass Salad and Avocado Toast. This was a "throw in every veggie in the fridge" salad that had a balsamic dressing, some nooch, and chickpeas. Plus, a probiotic pickle (I'm trying to eat something fermented every day!). It was just okay. But the avocado toast was super-yummy. I'm reading The Blue Zones right now and hoping to learn some tips to live to 100!

And finally, here's yet another Vegan Omelet made with Nabati Plant Eggz and Nabati Cheddar Shreds (which I reviewed in this post earlier this week). The omelet was stuffed with bell peppers, onions, and spinach, and I served Roasted Sweet Potatoes on the side.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Taco Bake, Fettuccine Alfredo, & Stir-fry!

I'm making progress in my quest to cook every recipe from The Plant-Based Athlete book! Last week, I made the Taco Bake from bikini athlete Bre Wigley. This was so good! It has layers of brown rice (you use instant!), black beans, spinach & bell peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, and vegan cheese. And then you serve it with guacamole and chopped onions (plus, I added Tofutti sour cream). It can be eaten with a spoon, with tortillas, or as a dip for corn chips (that was my preference!).

Here it is out of the oven. I used the Nabati vegan cheddar shreds for the cheese.

I recently discovered the Simple Truth Organic vegan alfredo sauce, and it is AMAZING. Best vegan alfredo from a jar I've ever had! I tried to recreate those Marie Callender's chicken fettuccine frozen meals with some whole wheat spaghetti, steamed broccoli, and sliced Gardein scallopini in this Vegan Chicken Fettuccine. It was perfection.

And finally, here was a super-easy Tofu & Veggie Stir-fry made with air-fried tofu, sauteed broccoli, and mushrooms. When I don't have time to make anything fancy for dinner, stir-fry is my go-to! For the sauce, I always just use a little cornstarch to thicken whatever marinade I used for the tofu and add it in at the end of cooking time. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Product Review: Nabati Plant Eggz & Cheeze Shreds

I subscribe to VegNews' Deal of the Week emails, where they sent out hot deals on new vegan products. And a couple weeks ago, they sent one for Nabati Plant Eggz and Cheeze Shreds. You could get two bottles of vegan eggs and packages of cheddar style and mozzarella style shreds for $15. Considering that you'd pay way more for two bottles of Just Egg and two packs of Daiya, I figured that was, indeed, a hot deal! So I ordered some!

The Plant Eggz and shreds arrived last week, packed in a cooler box with lots of reusable ice bricks (I saved those for our coolers and lunch boxes). I finally got a chance to try the eggz and cheese in a couple of ways. First, I made a Plant Eggz Omelet with bell pepper, onions, spinach, and Nabati cheddar-style cheeze shreds. I had toast with homemade muscadine jam and some Fry's Family Foods breakfast links on the side.

The egg mix is liquid, much like Just Egg, but it's a quite a bit thicker. To make an omelet, I had to thin out the mix with some water before pouring it into the hot skillet. But it cooked up very much like Just Eggs does. It was a little more delicate, so flipping wasn't super-easy (hence my weirdly shaped omelet). The shreds were super melty, so they worked great for this!

As for taste, it honestly tasted very much like Just Egg. Plant Eggz are made with lupin protein concentrate, and Just Egg is made with mung bean concentrate. I'm not sure what the difference is, but they're both legumes. I'd say Just Egg is still my favorite, but this is just about as good. The cheeze shreds are made with coconut oil, tapioca starch, and carragenan, and they are very melty, but flavor-wise, they're just okay. Not bad. But I much prefer Daiya for shreds. I know there are some Daiya haters out there, but Daiya makes my favorite shred. 

A couple days later, I made some Scrambled Cheeze Eggz using the Plant Eggz and Nabati cheddar shreds. The Eggz scrambled up much better than they worked in an omelet, so I'd recommend that. But just like Just Egg, a serving size doesn't make much eggs. Luckily, I had plenty of air-fried red potatoes and toast on the side for a hearty meal.

Nabati is a Canadian company, and I haven't seen their products in stores around Memphis yet. But you can order them from their website. They're good, and I love seeing more options hit the shelves. But Just Egg and Daiya still have my heart!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Mabon Feast!

Mabon (aka the Autumn Equinox) was Wednesday, and for the first time in forever, I'm actually excited about fall! Summer is my favorite season and always will be, but every year, I try really hard to get excited about fall. But every year, I can't help but feel like it's just the prelude to winter. In the South, we have about five months of summer temps and about one month of fall temps before winter hits us. And I really hate the cold! Granted, our "cold" here doesn't often get below 40 degrees, but anything less than 75 is freezing, in my opinion. 

Anyway, enough about the weather! I'm actually excited for fall because it means pumpkin spice everything, my birthday (Oct 16!), Halloween (the best!), and Thanksgiving (the absolute best!). Yesterday, on the first day of fall, the temps here fell down to the mid-70s, and the air had that crisp feeling that means fall has arrived. It was kind of magical! It rarely feels like fall here on the first day!

For breakfast, I made Pumpkin Pancakes with Vegan Butter Syrup and Cranberry Compote from the Llewelyn Sabbats Almanac. Served with vegan Gardein sausage.

The recipe wasn't vegan, but I veganized it! The pancakes were easy to veganize by subbing extra baking powder for the eggs. But the syrup recipe called for evaporated milk with butter and sugar. I googled "vegan evaporated milk" and found instructions for making it from scratch with soymilk. Basically, you just reduce soymilk by half on low heat. Easy enough! After the milk reduces, you stir in vegan butter and sugar. It makes a nice creamy, buttery topping. The cranberry compote was just cranberries cooked down with sugar and maple. 

I also made some Apple Pie Trail Mix from the Llewelyn book. This was a tasty morning treat at my desk. It has dried apples, cranberries (subbed for raisins in the recipe), pecans, walnuts, cinnamon, and vegan white chocolate chips. 

Dinner was a simple and delicious meal of Roasted Delicata Squash & Sweet Potatoes mixed with kale, homemade seitan, toasted pepitas, and an apple cider vinegar-olive oil dressing, served with a side of hearty barley. The squash and sweet potatoes were locally grown and came in my CSA.

Happy fall, y'all!