Thursday, December 29, 2022

Cookbook Review: Jazzy Vegetarian

I've long been a fan of Laura Theodore, aka the Jazzy Vegetarian. Her PBS show was among the earliest vegan cooking shows, and I love her smooth, jazzy voice. You can tell she's a jazz singer! I also love that her recipes are all simple and whole food, plant-based. You know when you make a Jazzy Vegetarian recipe that it's going to be healthy.

Laura recently released the revised and updated 10th anniversary version of her classic Jazzy Vegetarian cookbook, and I was sent a copy to review. The book is full-color with gorgeous photos of almost every dish. She includes sample menus for brunch, a picnic, a 30-minute dinner, a meatloaf supper, and more.

I picked a couple of quick and easy dishes to try, starting with this Celery, Carrot, and Tofu Soup. I don't love the cold weather we've been having, but I do love soup. So I'm making the best of winter with delicious, warming meals.

This simple soup was loaded with potatoes, carrots, and a ton of celery. I loved the cubed tofu in it! Perfect with sourdough bread or a vegan grilled cheese. This cookbook has a lot of great soup recipes that I'll be turning to to keep me warm this season. Next up, I want to try the Carrot and Orzo Soup.

Next up, I made the Penne with Garbanzo Beans and Broccoli Rabe. Except I couldn't find broccoli rabe. So I subbed in some broccolini (which I like better anyway).

I had this the night before a long run, and it was so good. So often, I turn to spaghetti with red sauce before my long runs, but that gets old. It was nice to enjoy a pasta without a red sauce. This dish has an olive oil base with garlic, chickpeas, and lots of broccoli. Also great with sourdough bread. The cookbook has a whole chapter devoted to pasta, so this will certainly help me plan more diverse pre-run meals.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Plant Meats and More!

I got so excited when I first heard about Beyond Steak, so I started looking everywhere for it. But every place that had a spot on the freezer shelf for it was always out. And then one day, the Kroger near my house finally had it in stock. Yay!! I hoarded it in my deep freezer for a couple weeks while I thought about the perfect way to use it. And then it dawned on me — Steak Fajitas!

The Beyond Steak was SO GOOD. The little bits were very tender and juicy and, well, steak-y. They seemed much meatier than the Gardein Beefless Tips, which I've heard people compare them to. I sauteed these in a skillet with onions, peppers, and some homemade taco seasoning. And then I dressed my fajitas with some squeezy guac. Perfection! I can't wait to try the "steak" on a philly cheesesteak. That'll be my next experiment.

I heard on the Plant-Based Morning Show (my new favorite podcasts from the No Meat Athlete folks) that Burger King is doing $3 Whopper Wednesdays for a limited time, so I had to get one. You have to download the Burger King app and place the order online for it to work. So I did! I placed the order, drove to the BK a few blocks from my house, and my Impossible Whopper was waiting. I added some vegan mayo when I got home.

A couple Fridays ago, I met my friends Susan and Toby (both old Memphis Flyer coworkers) for lunch at Slider Inn. Slider has lots of vegan options, but my favorite are the Vegan Tofu and Cauliflower Wings. I also got a side salad with vegan ranch. Yum!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Different Kind of Christmas

For the first time in my 42 years, I spent this Christmas away from my parents. On Thursday evening, Winter Storm Elliott made its way through the Mid-South, dumping ice and snow and extreme cold on both Memphis (where I live) and the small Arkansas town where they live. And since the temps didn't rise over 5 degrees on Friday or 20 on Saturday, the ice didn't melt up in the Arkansas Ozarks. So we weren't able to safely make the drive.

We'll have a makeup Christmas next weekend. But Paul and I wanted to make the day the holiday at home special so we did what we could. For Christmas Eve dinner, we picked up takeout Vegan Pho from Pho Binh. The leftovers doubled as our Christmas dinner, too. 

We slept in on Christmas morning, and then I made Sourdough Pancakes and Vegan Sausage. And mimosas, of course!

Then we opened presents with each other and the pets. We each got one another Memphis Grizzlies sweatshirts.

And Maynard got a new dog bed and some toys.

The kitties got lots of new toys and treats, which they immediately fought over. You'd never guess these two are 17 and 15 years old sometimes. Seymour, our cabinet kitty, got some new toys, too. 

After presents, we got dressed and headed to the Malco to watch Avatar: Way of Water on the big screen. And yes, I know James Cameron, a self-professed vegan, promoted the film at a live animal dolphin show. And that sucks. But I put that aside and just enjoyed the movie.

Later that night, the Memphis Grizzlies played the Golden State Warriors in our team's first-ever nationally televised Christmas Day game. So we stayed in to watch that and enjoyed our leftover pho. Unfortunately, we lost. Oh well! It was a fitting end to a weird Christmas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Holiday Foods!

Well, this will likely be my last post before Christmas, so I figured I'd share some of the holiday foods I've been eating. Hanukkah started on Sunday, and though I am not Jewish, I love every holiday. And I love latkes. So I typically make them every year. This time, I made Isa's Sweet Potato Latkes from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook (she includes several latke recipes there). These had scallions and nutmeg, and they were perfect with Tofutti sour cream.

On the side, I had some Israeli Couscous Salad (made from this recipe) and Roots Chipotle Hummus with Carrots. The latke recipe made quite a few latkes, so I've been eating them every day!

A couple weeks ago, the Crosstown Memphis CDC board (on which I serve as secretary) held its monthly board meeting, and we all agreed to bring cookies to share. I made the Vegan Gingerbread Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (another Isa and Terry classic). These were excellent. And I had some left so I took them to the office, and they were a hit with my non-vegan co-workers. 

And finally, last night — Dec. 21 — was Yule/Winter Solstice, so I made two recipes from Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac. The recipes in that book are very meat-heavy, but I enjoy veganizing them. For Yule, they suggested a berry-coated salmon, so I thawed a Good Catch Plant-Based Salmon Burger and shaped it into a salmon shape. And then I topped it with the recommended juniper berry and black pepper rub and a compote of blackberries and raspberries before baking it in the oven. It's not pretty, but it was quite tasty. I enjoyed this preparation much better than eating the salmon burgers on buns. 

The book also included a recipe for Horseradish Potato Salad, which was easy to veganize with Tofutti sour cream and Bubbie's horseradish. 

And the book also suggested Candy Cane Cocktails, which I made with a few substitutions. Mine had vodka, peppermint schnapps, grenadine, and oatmilk with a peppermint candy rim. Yum!

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Lil Buck's Vegan Cheese at Imagine Vegan Cafe

Lil Buck, a Memphis-based jookin' dancer who has performed with Yo-Yo Ma and Madonna (he's kind of a big deal), also happens to be vegan. And he's a big fan of Memphis' Imagine Vegan Cafe. So the two of them collaborated on a new vegan cheese sauce called Buck Up Sauce. And it's purple!

Imagine held a Buck Up sauce release party with Lil Buck a couple weeks ago, and my friend Susan and I stopped by. At the event, you could get the purple cheese on any menu item. I was excited to meet Lil Buck. I've long been a fan, and I especially love that he's vegan (and that he credits his awesome skills to his veganism; check him out dancing at the Kennedy Center).

I ordered the BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Buck Up Sauce and a side of Onion Rings. In retrospect, I wished I'd asked for the sauce on my onion rings too! 

But check out that purple cheese mixed with the BBQ sauce. This sandwich had two fried vegan chicken patties topped with lots of both sauces. It was huge!

Imagine also had purple lemonade.

And purple cupcakes!

Now that the party is over, you can get Buck Up Sauce on any dish at Imagine any time. And Lil Buck has plans to distribute the sauce to other vegan restaurants around the country.

Monday, December 19, 2022

All the Vegan Chicken (and a Burger!)

Just before Thanksgiving (that's how behind I am!), three Memphis vegan pop-up businesses (The Vegan Goddess, Rich Health, and Chef Avery) got together and held a pop-up at Wiseacre Brewing Co. I stopped in to get some takeout, and WOW! The food was awesome. The Vegan Goddess made Jackfruit Fried Chicken, and there was Mac & Cheese and Cabbage & Greens

The Vegan Goddess makes all of her plant meats from jackfruit, and she has some special skills. I'm not usually a huge fan of jackfruit, because it's always kinda wet and briny. But she works some magic and dries it out a bit and then shapes it into all sorts of things. Look inside!

Speaking of vegan chicken, have y'all tried the new Morningstar Farms Incogmeato Vegan Chicken and Wafflewich? It's good, but they're a little smaller than I'd imagined they would be. There are two in a box, and I was hoping for a regular burger size. But they're more slider-sized. The waffle has maple syrup in it already, but I added more.

I also recently had the Gardein Ultimate BBQ Chicken Nuggets, and they were excellent. Gardein Ultimate wins every time. On the side, I had some Modern Table vegan mac and some slow-simmered greens with turnips. 

And this isn't chicken, but it was tasty. Huey's serves the Morningstar Farms Black Bean Chipotle patty as their black bean burger, and the company recently made the patties vegan! Morningstar made a promise a few years ago to veganize their products, and it looks like they're making good on it. So I can finally order the Black Bean Burger at Huey's! YAY! I still prefer their chargrilled veggie patty and their Beyond Burger, but it's nice to have three vegan burger options on Huey's menu. Also, they have vegan Gouda and vegan mayo, so score! Thanks, Huey's!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Tacos, Nachos, and Classic Beans & Rice

Okay, y'all I know I've missed a few days again. But I've been busy, and I'm thinking I may go to blogging more like 2 to 3 days a week rather than every Monday through Thursday. Just depending on time. It's just hard to commit to daily blogging these days. So some weeks, I may blog a few less days. But I'll still be around. And some weeks, I'll be here every day!

Alright, on to the food. I had some Hodo free product coupons that expired at the end of the year, so I used the last one to buy the Hodo Mexican Crumbles again. These are tofu crumbles seasoned with taco spices, and they're great! Made some excellent (but huge) Tofu Tacos on flour tortillas.

I also had this tasty plate of Black Bean Nachos recently. I used Core & Rind Cashew Cheesy Sauce (from a jar) with black beans, corn, and lots more veggies. Almost like a salad on chips!

Here's a quick week day lunch from Raw Girls — Yukon Potato & Beet Salad. I love having their salads on my office days.

And finally, here's a dish of good ole beans and rice. I made the Mexican-style Basic Beans & Rice from the first No Meat Athlete book and served with avocado and kale. Beans, greens, grains. Can't beat it!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Cookbook Review: Vegan Africa

Ethiopian food is up there with Indian for my favorite cuisine. I'd say it's a solid tie, but nothing satisfies like spongey injera and hearty wats. When it comes to traditional African food though, Ethiopian is where my knowledge stops. But Africa is a giant continent with many different countries and many styles of cooking. So I was so excited when Marie Kacouchia's Vegan Africa cookbook came out a couple months ago.

I was sent a review copy, and it's a thing of beauty. Hardback, full color, and loaded with photos. The recipes aren't organized by country but rather type of food (like sauces, snacks, starters, mains, rice, desserts, and drinks). But Marie includes background on each dish in the recipe intro. 

There are so dishes I'd like to make from Vegan Africa. There's an injera recipe that looks relatively simple compared with some of the other recipes I've seen. My one try at homemade injera years ago was a massive fail. 

I've also got my eye on Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms with Plantains (a sub-Saharan Africa dish), Egusi Stew (a Nigerian pistachio stew), and Yam Akpressi (Ivorian eggplant and yams). The Plantain Beignets are also calling me! Yum!

So far, I've made two dishes, which I served together. I had the Cauliflower Yassa with Atassi. 

Yassa is a Senegalese dish made with chicken or fish, but Marie veganized it with cauliflower. And it was wonderful. The dish has olives, which give a nice salty tang, and a spice mix of mustard, garlic, ginger, and bay. Even though it didn't have a protein, it was a very hearty meal.

But the protein was in my side of Atassi — Beninese rice and beans. This simple dish was made with blackeyed peas, white rice, cumin, paprika, and a little baking soda. It reminded me a lot of the pigeon peas and rice that I love from our local Jamaican restaurant (Evelyn & Olive). The dish made a TON, so I had atassi for days. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Brats, Toasts, and a Burrito Bowl

Ever since Oktoberfest beers came out this season, I've been on a bratwurst-on-pretzel-bun kick. I bought some Beyond Brats and some Impossible Brats, and I've been enjoying the heck out of them. Here's an Impossible Brat (my fave of the two) with homemade kraut and air-fried potatoes.

And here's a Beyond Brat with pickles and mustard and a side of vegan chips and cashew queso. Honestly, the two sausages taste very similar, but the Impossible has a slighty meatier flavor. Somebody should do a Beyond-Impossible Challenge (like the Pepsi-Coke challenge from back in the day; I always guessed correctly on that!).

I'm also still making sourdough bread — nearly every week. I love having toasts for breakfast with all kinds of toppings. This week, I made some Garlicky Cannellini Beans on Toast with vegan cream cheese and sprouts.

And I often do Avocado Toast with my sourdough. This one has lots of notch and Yellowbird Jalapeno Sauce.

Finally, here's a recent Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans sauteed with Swiss chard, cashew queso, salsa, avocado, and jalapenos. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

How I Fueled for a St. Jude Marathon PR!

On Saturday, I ran my sixth marathon (or ninth if you count 50Ks and virtuals) at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon! Though I've run several marathons now, it had been over a year since I'd done a 26.2, and my PR was set in March 2020 (right before the pandemic hit). But I knew I wanted to try and PR every distance in 2022, so I worked hard all year with an end goal of PRs in my 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon. And guess what? I did it! I got new PRs in all of them this year, ending with a successful marathon on Saturday.

I finished St. Jude in 5:17:23, which is 10 minutes faster than that March 2020 PR. I wrote a race recap for The Daily Memphian (the newspaper I work for), so I'll just link that here and won't go into too many race details in this post. 

But I wanted to focus on what I ate the day before and right after. Of course, I can attribute my getting faster to the months of training ahead of the race, not what I ate the day before. But I do believe carb-loading is important. And it's even more important on the day before to make sure you don't eat something your stomach won't agree with on race morning. So here we go. On Friday morning, I had a bowl of Oats with Berries and Walnuts, sweetened with maple syrup and beefed up with some almond butter.

Morning snack was a smoothie with banana, frozen mixed fruit, and hemp seeds.

Lunch was a Burrito Bowl with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn, bell pepper, avocado, and Kite Hill sour cream. I try to avoid processed foods the day before because I just figure I'll get more benefit from whole foods. This recipe was a pre-race recommendation from the No Meat Athlete website.

Dinner was pasta! Of course! I had Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Marinara and Chickpeas and Homemade Sourdough Garlic Toast. I typically add in greens, like kale. But on the day before a race, I actively try to limit fiber (even though all plants have fiber, so that's a little hard on a whole foods meal plan). Fiber is awesome 99% of the time, but for a race, you kind of want to limit bathroom business. 

On the morning of the race, I had my usual white bagel with vegan cream cheese and jam (pumpkin butter is my current obsession). No picture of that. And I had a banana about an hour before race start. During the race, I fueled with Plant Bites, Huma and Spring gels, pickles, Fireball, and a few pretzels.

Now for the grand finale! Paul also ran on Saturday (the 5K), and we planned to go out for pizza after. He ended up getting hungry before dinner and had something at home, but he took me to get a pizza — the Ain't Nothing But V Thing vegan pizza — from Slim & Husky's. I added extra vegan pepperoni and got some vegan garlic butter on the side. 

Slim & Husky's doesn't serve beer, and I needed a post-race beer with my pizza. So we took my food next door to High Cotton Brewing Co., where I enjoyed a Xmas Stout. What a perfect day!

Monday, December 5, 2022

Veganaversary Solstice Prep!

Hi there! Still playing catch up with some holiday posts. My 18-year veganaversary was Black Friday (and that would also be my 28-year vegetarian anniversary!). I always celebrate on Black Friday even though the date changes because it's easier to remember that way. But I gave up meat on Black Friday in 1994 and dairy/eggs/by-products on Black Friday in 2004. I used to celebrate by going to brunch and then holiday shopping with my mom, but we stopped that tradition in 2020 during the pandemic. And now she lives further away, so it was time for a new tradition.

So I stole one! Since 2020, I've been celebrating my veganaversary with a fancy snack plate while decorating for the Winter Solstice holidays. My friends Sheridan and Drew started this tradition of snack plates, fancy drinks, and decorating, and I liked it. So I now I do that too. So on Black Friday, we dragged the holiday tree down from the attic, and I made this fancy plate.

It has Miyoko's Garlic-Herb cashew cheese with crackers, vegan Babybel cheese, Viana vegan sausage, veggies and jalapeno hummus, assorted olives, and grapes. 

To drink, I made Spiked Vegan Holiday Nog with spiced rum. Yum!

And then we decked the halls! We decorated our tree and the inside of our house, and Paul put up some of those moving holiday light displays outside because we're lazy for real holiday lights. Tis the season!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thanksgiving with the Family!

Yesterday, I shared pics from our awesome pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Friendsgiving potluck. And tonight, I've got my family gathering photos. We did Thanksgiving lunch at my Me-Maw's house in Arkansas. But before I headed across the river, I ran the Memphis Hungry Turkey 5K and got a PR! I finally broke 30 minutes in my 5K time with a total time of 29:08. I've been working on this for years, so I'm pretty stoked.

After the race, I got cleaned up and headed to Me-Maw's. Here's a pic of my Me-Maw with my Uncle Grey Boy (yes, a cat is my uncle because she considers him a son).  

Here's my plate! My mom brought giant plates for us to use, so I may have gotten a bit too much food. But that's what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Forget gratitude. Let's be real: It's about stuffing your face. 

I roasted the Tofurky this year, and my mom brought regular animal turkey for everyone else.

But she made the rest of the dishes vegan, as usual. There was Mama's Famous Cornbread Dressing! Her dressing is SO GOOD. The recipe is in my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk, but it's just better when she makes it.

She also made her Vegan Hash Brown Casserole (also in my book) with hash browns, cheese, vegan cream of mushroom soup (made from scratch), and buttery cornflakes.

Those two dishes are yearly staples, but this year, she also made a Vegan Broccoli Cheese Casserole. Very tasty!

Me-Maw made Chickpeas, Corn, and Green Beans, and she made sure to use vegan butter in everything. Yay!

And finally, for dessert, we had Pecan Cream Pie. This was amazing. It was fall-ish, thanks to the pecans, but creamy and dreamy with vegan whipping cream and vegan cream cheese.

Here's a family photo! I love my family!