Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cookbook Review: The Vegan Meat Cookbook

I love plant meats! I don't eat them every day since I try to stick with a whole foods-based diet most of the time, but a few times a week, I'll get down on some vegan burgers, chicken, or hot dogs. I usually just prepare vegan meats in the way the box or bag instructs, but there's a new cookbook that's been giving me some fresh ideas. The Vegan Meat Cookbook by Isabel Minunni is filled with fun ways to use Beyond burgers and brats, Gardein beefless strips, Field Roast sausages, and more.

The book is divided into chapters for breakfast, apps and snacks, soups/salads/side, and main dishes. Think breakfast burgers, bagel nachos, cheeseburger omelets, sausage bites, Italian BLT sliders, poutine, tofu scallops, Mexican sloppy joes, and beef & broccoli pizza!

So far, I've made two main dishes. This past Sunday, I made the Chicken Pot Pie Bake with Alpha Foods chicken strips, puff pastry, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery. 

The recipe called for Gardein Chicken Strips, but the Alpha Foods brand were on sale at Sprouts, and they worked perfectly. I accidentally forgot to add the peas, but that would have been nice. This has a creamy vegan chicken-y gravy, and the puff pastry is so light and fluffy. I would eat this again and again! I was sad today when my leftovers were gone.

For Valentine's Day, I made the Pepper Steak with Mushrooms. I posted this image in my V-Day post, but I wanted to share it again for the review. This is made with Impossible Burger that's fried with lots of black pepper and a creamy mushroom gravy. We served this with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Paul is a meat and potatoes kind of dude, and he loved this recipe! I love having ways to use Impossible burger besides just burgers.

I have so many more recipes to try! There's a Grilled Sausage & Pepper Potato Salad with Beyond brats that sounds amazing for a spring picnic. The Szechuan Beef Skewers with Gardein beefless strips sounds really yummy, and the Sausage Stuffed Breakfast Bread is going on my next brunch menu (it has vegan sausage, vegan eggs, and potatoes all wrapped up in a pizza dough!).

Several recipes call for Impossible Pork, which I haven't seen for sale around here yet, but I hope to see that product soon! There are also a few recipes for homemade seitan meats, and some just call for tofu instead of plant meat. All of the recipes are indulgent though, so this is definitely a special treat meal kind of cookbook!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Corn Dogs & Avo Toast!

I recently discovered that Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs are now vegan. They haven't always been, and I remember picking the box up over and over at the store to read the ingredients, hoping that maybe (just maybe) they'd be vegan one day. I read an article years ago about how Morningstar was veganizing some of their product line, but it took them forever to finally make those corn dogs vegan. And maybe they've been vegan for awhile, but I didn't notice until a few months ago. I had some for dinner one night last week. They're just as good as I remember them being in my vegetarian days!

Here's some Avocado Toast with chopped baby spinach and balsamic vinegar.

And here's one of my favorite meals from Imagine Vegan Cafe. The Southern Staple is the healthiest thing on their unapologetically indulgent menu. Some days, you need fried vegan chicken sandwiches, and other days, you need this wholesome bowl of brown rice, black beans, and collards. Of course, it's smothered with garlic aioli and served with a buttery slice of cornbread, so it's not too healthy!

I had a planned 14K trail race on Saturday morning that ended up being canceled due to the weather. We woke up to thunder and intense lightening on Saturday morning (and there were tornado warnings later in the day!), so the race was postponed. But I had no idea that would happen the night before when I ate this carb-full meal of Lentil Bolagnese (from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook) with whole wheat pasta, salad, and some garlic toast with Miyoko mozz. This still made for good fuel for the solo 9-miler that I managed to squeeze in between thunderstorms.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Spring Break with Sheridan & Drew!

My BFF Sheridan and I go back 28 years! We became friends in 8th grade, bonding over our love for teen star Jonathan Brandis. And we've been friends ever since! She lives in Little Rock now, and in normal times, we see each other several times a year since it's only a 2.5 hour drive from Memphis. I did see Sheridan and her partner Drew a couple times during 2020 but only for brief, masked visits. 

But Sheridan and Drew are fully vaccinated now, and I'm half-vaccinated. They're teachers on spring break, and they finally felt comfortable spending the night in Memphis and hanging out at outdoor bars. So they came down on Wednesday after I got off work (from home). Then we headed to Loflin Yard for dinner and beers! Loflin is a large outdoor bar with firepits, lawn chairs, picnic tables, and yard games. 

And they just added some vegan options! You can now add Beyond Sausage or Beyond Beef to sandwiches, nachos, and tacos. We all ordered the Beyond Sausage Po'Boy, and I got Zapp's Voodoo Chips with mine (the best chips!). I also had a Hampline Dunk Tank dunkel ale.

The next day, we went to Crosstown Concourse (where I work when I'm actually in an office, which isn't often) for breakfast. We got Avocado Toast and coffee from French Truck. They have the BEST avo toast. The bread is fresh-baked focaccia, and the pickled tomato topping really takes it up a notch. I requested the day off work to hang with Sheridan and Drew, so it was weird being at work during work time without working.

A couple hours later, it was time for lunch! I love a day that's planned around meals. We went to Slider Inn since they have vegan options and a nice outdoor space. It was a little rainy, but their patio is covered.

I typically order the tofu/cauli wings at Slider, but I had a planned 4-mile run that afternoon, so I needed something a little less fried. I opted for the Vegan Triple B Sliders (homemade veggie burgers with beets, brown rice, and black beans) with a side of fries (gotta have something fried!) and a Crosstown Brewing Animal Frequency Hazy IPA (not pictured). 

This burger used to just be okay, but they've really stepped it up since I've last ordered this! The veggie patty is more flavorful now, and they've added caramelized onions and mushrooms. Will definitely order this again, but the wings will always be my fave.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Breads, Spreads, & Casseroles

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'm working on a new cookbook project — a vegan fitness fuel book — just for fun! It's been fun to craft some new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. Since bagels with spreads are my go-to pre-run/race fuel for longer distances, I want to include lots of spread ideas. And you've gotta have a basic cream cheese in there! I'm working on perfecting my Cashew Cream Cheese recipe, and then I'll come up with lots of fun stir-ins.

Yesterday, for breakfast, I wanted Avocado Toast with bread and on sweet potatoes, so I had both! For the sweet potatoes, you just slice them thinly and bake for 20 minutes. And then you stick the slices in the toaster. This also has tahini, salt, cumin, and lemon.

I made a big batch of Cauliflower Casserole from Eat Feel Fresh this week. This has cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and chickpeas with a cheesy cashew sauce. It's topped with a coconut flour noochy topping. I've had a bag of coconut flour in the freezer for years, and I've never known what to do with it! I love that it has a slight coconut flavor. 

Here's a big bowl of the casserole. It's light enough to be a side if you want, but I've been enjoying giant bowls as a main.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Happy Spring!

Saturday was Ostara, the Spring Equinox! Summer is my favorite season, but I love Spring! This has been a long, cold, boring winter (thanks COVID), and I can't wait to sit on patios and ride bikes and go on picnics. I always mark the changing of the seasons with fun themed meals, and this past Ostara was no different. 

Traditionally, Ostara is celebrated with eggy dishes, so for me, that means tofu eggs! I had more of my leftover eggless egg salad on a Spring Onion Scone from LuLu's after my 8-mile Saturday morning. 

And for dinner, I made Isa's Caramelized Onion Quiche from Vegan Brunch (with some added kale from my neighbor Dennis' garden). This quiche is made with tofu and cashews, and it's long been my go-to quiche recipe. On the side, I had some Beyond Sausage.

I also made a Peach Caprese Salad with Miyoko's mozzarella, fresh basil, pea shoots (from the farmer's market), olive oil, and balsamic. This was a fun twist on the traditional tomato caprese. 

For dessert, I had a LuLu's Molasses Rye Cookie. This oversized chewy cookie was so good! It's not as sweet as your typical cookie, and it has a fresh rye flavor.

And I washed it all down with a Blackberry Mint Grapefruit Mimosa (with fresh, local mint). This refreshing drink has champagne and grapefruit juice!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Another Pandemic St. Paddy's Day!

It's hard to believe we're a year into the pandemic and spending ANOTHER St. Patrick's Day at home. Most years, I'm sitting on a patio drinking green beer, attending the city's St. Pat's parade, or doing a pub run with friends. And while parades and pub runs are still canceled in Memphis, I guess I could have had a beer on a patio. But yesterday was stormy with tornado weather (nothing touched down in Memphis, thankfully), so it was kind of a yucky day for a patio. And I'm only half-vaccinated, so indoor bars aren't something I'm wild about just yet.

So it was another St. Pat's at home! I started my morning with a 4.5-mile run to my Irish punk playlist and had some Irish coffee with Bailey's Almande (the vegan one!) and Jameson. Nothing beats whiskey on a Wednesday morning!

I also had a post-run Banana Walnut Green Smoothie with spinach, protein powder, and wheatgrass. Yay for getting in your greens!

I stocked up on all the necessary St. Pat's booze, so after work, I made an Irish Slammer (half a Guinness with a shot glass filled with half Jameson/half Bailey's). Good stuff! I know it's not a traditional Irish drink but rather some American thing, but they're so tasty. And yes, Guinness is vegan now!! 

Then I got to work on Irish Stew with Potato Biscuits from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. This stew has a base of Guinness and veggie-mushroom broth, plus kidney beans, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions. The biscuits are made with mashed potatoes and flour and you just drop them on top and bake in a casserole dish. Such a hearty meal!

Here's hoping that next year, we will see a return of pub runs and parades!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

"Egg" Sandwiches, Red Lentils, & Cheezy Mac!

Ostara (aka Spring Equinox) is just around the corner, and I've been in an eggy mood! This week, I made some Tofu Egg Salad from a e-book called the 4-Week Vegan Meal Plan. It's a little different from the eggy salad in my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk, so I thought I'd give it a try. It has the usual vegan mayo base but no celery or red onion. Instead, there's parsley, green onion, nooch, lemon, and turmeric. It's good! I added some black salt because no tofu egg salad is complete without it.

Earlier this week, I made a Tofu Eggy Breakfast Sandwich with fried vegan tofu egg (seasoned with Vegg) and topped with melted Follow Your Heart shreds. It needed avocado, but I didn't have any.

I'm kind of playing around with a new cookbook project (with a fitness theme). I'm not sure if it'll ever see the light of day or if I'll get bored (which happened last time I tried to write a second book). But I'm having fun in the kitchen for now. Earlier this week, I came up with a red lentil dal that I'm calling Root Charka Red Lentil Coconut Curry. It's more yellow/solar plexus-colored though, thanks to all the turmeric. I also made some Easy Indian Streetbread from the No Meat Athlete book for dipping.

And finally, here's a tasty and fun meal! I bought a box of Daiya Cheezy Mac with bacon bits on a whim. I hadn't had the Daiya mac in a couple years! It was always so good, but I'm cheap, and I just kept telling myself I could make a cheaper, healthier version myself. And that's true. But sometimes, you need a quick, out of box, not-healthy-at-all plate of mac. I had some kale to balance that out. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Soul in the Raw's Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen

Last year, I purchased the No Meat Athlete Health & Fitness Bundle, which included e-cookbooks, cooking courses, workout plans, and all kinds of fun stuff. I've been working my way through the products and just wrapped up Soul in the Raw's Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen cooking course. It's a comprehensive course on creating raw (and some cooked) pates, dressings, dips, and sauces, as well as recipes to use some of those sauces.

I'm not a raw foodist, but it's already 80 degrees in Memphis (YAY!), and I love to eat more raw foods in the spring and summer. The key to making raw veggies taste good is a good sauce, and the instructor, Marina, is a master of sauces. 

Marina's virtual cooking class features videos on stocking a vegan pantry, making sauces without a recipe, lots of recipe videos, sprouting, and even a class on digestion (which is a topic I love to nerd out on). She also provides you with three e-cookbooks and meal plans. Here's what I've made from the cookbooks so far! This week, I made a cooked recipe for her Cheesy Broccoli Bowl. The cheesy sauce is made with white and sweet potatoes, and it's served over steamed broccoli and kale, millet, and roasted sweet potato. I love a healthy, simple meal like this!

I also used her cheesy sauce to make her Nacho Cheese Dip with Homemade Corn Chips, which is basically dipping nachos. You layer black beans, her cheesy sauce, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion and dip away. 

I've also made her Mediterranean Bowl, which I blogged about a while back. This has marinated, raw zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms with an oil-free edamame hummus. Marina's recipes are all oil-free, and though I do use some oil in cooking, I can get down with oil-free recipes too. 

And finally, I loved her Curry Dill Sauce (with a carrot base!) to top grain/green/bean bowls.

There is a cost for the course, but if you're looking to start eating healthfully or incorporating raw foods, it's definitely worth it! And you can watch the videos over and over. The ebooks are also yours to keep. I'll be using her sauce formula in my kitchen for years to come!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Imagine Vegan Cafe's New Mac & Cheese!

Imagine Vegan Cafe has been branching out beyond the restaurant with new products that are sold in stores for a couple years now. You can buy their vegan ranch, "honey" mustard, spinach dip, and chess bars in Memphis grocery stores, and the dressings are in vegan-friendly shops all over the country! And now they've added a new store product, Mac & Cheese!!!

At the restaurant, you can order three kinds of mac — cheddar, white cheese, or mixed mac (that's cheddar and white mixed together) — but this new version sold in stores is a different recipe that's less perishable, so stores can keep it in stock a little longer. Kristie, the owner of Imagine, let me try a free sample, and I AM SOLD, Y'ALL.

This new mac is so creamy! And you get a pretty big portion in a box. It could make two servings as a side, but I ate it all as my main dish with a small salad on the side. It's solid when cold, but after a couple minutes in the microwave, it gets super creamy. It reminds me a little of that awesome Amy's frozen vegan mac (probably because of the cute plastic tray), but this version has a cheese sauce based from Violife rather than the Daiya in Amy's mac. And Violife is the best cheese!

I mean, would you just take a look at that? DREAMY.

If you're in Memphis, you can find the mac at Curb Market, Super Lo, High Point Grocery, and Miss Cordelia's or in North Mississippi at Coffee Central and Coffee Central Squared. The dressings are available at small vegan-friendly markets across the country and on Vegan Essentials (or you can order on Imagine's website)!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Da Guilty Vegan

Memphis has a new vegan food truck! Da Guilty Vegan is a Black-owned food truck specializing in vegan fried chick'n sandwiches. They started serving in mid-February, and I've been trying to catch them ever since! I finally got to try their food last night!

I ordered the Nashville Hot Chick'n Sandwich. This has breaded and fried vegan chick'n topped with coleslaw, pickles, and vegan ranch. Y'all. OH. MY. GAWD. It was every bit as delicious as it looks. The chick'n was so tender, and the breading was light and crispy.

I couldn't decide between fries or a salad on the side, but since the truck is called Da GUILTY Vegan, I figured I should probably just go all in and eat whatever I wanted. You can make it a combo by adding a drink for 50 cents, and they had my favorite Dr. Zevia cola, so I did that!

The concept is super-fun. There's a Guilty Menu and an Innocent Menu. The Guilty Menu has several fried chick'n sandwiches, a Memphis BBQ sandwich, an Impossible burger, a Beyond brat, and vegan chick'n tenders. The Innocent Menu has fried chick'n salads or a classic green salad. I've seen the chick'n salads on their IG page, and they look really good, so I'll try that soon. 

When you order, Chef Derek Richardson asks if you're vegan or not. And if you are, he'll bang the gavel for you!

Da Guilty Vegan moves around town, but they're most often located at the corner of Walnut Grove and Houston Levee in Cordova. That's quite a drive from my Midtown house, so I was lucky to catch them downtown last night in Harbor Town. You can follow their IG to see where they'll be!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tofu Pho & Bowls, Bowls, Bowls

Paul and I have been craving Pho Binh's Tofu Pho for weeks! Pho Binh (Memphis' BEST Vietnamese restaurant) was closed for a couple months due to COVID, and when they reopened, everyone was so excited that their takeout business was swamped. We tried to order tofu pho a couple weeks ago, but they were fresh out of pho. But then last Saturday, we scored Tofu Pho

They were super-busy, and the takeout wait was about an hour. But it was so worth it. We got their pho and an order of Tofu Spring Rolls. When we arrived to pick up the food, they hooked us up with an extra couple orders of spring rolls that someone had called in and never picked up. Lucky day!

Here's a quick and tasty Grain/Green/Bean Bowl with quinoa, white beans, and collards. I like to cook my quinoa in veggie broth for lots of flavor, and then I add the greens and beans when the grains are almost done. One pot meal! 

Last night, I had another kind of grain/green/bean bowl, but this one had brown rice, lentils, roasted acorn squash, and steamed brussels. You know, I had no idea until a few weeks ago that you can buy frozen brussels sprouts? Life-changing! Also, check out this cool bowl holder (under the yellow bowl) that my friend Misti gave me! It's like a potholder, but it's bowl shaped, so you can grab hot bowls without burning your hand. Where has this been all my life?

And finally, here's a Tofu & Broccoli Stir-fry. I marinated the tofu in tamari and vegan chicken broth, and I made an easy stir-fry sauce with tamari, agave, and cornstarch. 

Who's ready for daylight savings time to end this weekend?! Or as I like to call it "natural light for food photos season"!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Vegan Reubens, Blueberry Scones, & Lady Gaga Oreos!

Last Wednesday, I'd planned to try out a new vegan food truck, but they posted that morning that they would be closed due to an unexpected issue. But I was still craving vegan junk food! So I went to Imagine Vegan Cafe and ordered the Reuben and Garlic Kale to go. This has plant-based salami with their housemade reuben sauce and kraut. The kale was just to make me feel better about myself.

On Friday morning, I made the Blueberry Scones from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. These are made with whole wheat flour and oats, and they're pretty healthy for scones. I had some for breakfast Friday morning and some before my Saturday run and Sunday trail race.

This morning, I had some Oatly Strawberry Yogurt with fresh berries, locally made granola, and some keto granola that my dad made (it's just nuts and coconut with no oats). 

And finally, check out these Lady Gaga Oreos! My friend Susan left them on my porch as a fun little surprise. They're just vanilla Oreos, but they're way prettier! I'm so glad Oreos are vegan.