Monday, February 28, 2022

Avocado Bagels, Berry Oats, & Tea Time

Kroger had their mashed everything bagel seasoning avocado on markdown, so I picked some up for my pre-workout bagels and avocado toasts for the week. The avocado spread was perfect on a plain white bagel.

Here's a bowl of Peanut Butter Berry Oats that I had Sunday morning before a 10K race. I mixed monkfruit and PB into the oats, and then I topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and more PB.

One day last week, I had a quick dinner of Hearty Bean Chili (from the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution cookbook). I'd frozen some back in January when I made a big pot. Topped with Tofutti sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and Daiya shreds and served with corn muffins (also frozen, also from that book).

Since I've been working from home, I've been trying to do daily tea time in the afternoons. Typically, I'll have dark chocolate with my herbal tea, but one day last week, I had these little Sesakiss sesame seed orange biscuits from Poland. We have a local hygge store called Lucyja Hygge, and they have lots of Polish snacks!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Margs, Taco Salad and GGB Bowls

Tuesday was National Margarita Day AND Taco Tuesday. WHAT?! That's one holiday I knew I needed to celebrate. For my marg, I used the standard recipe from The Taco Cleanse cookbook (just tequila, lime, and triple sec), but I had some blood oranges that were going bad, so I added the juice from one of those. Perfection!

I'm trying to eat salads every day (after being inspired by a podcast with Dr. Joel Fuhrman), so rather than have regular tacos, I had a Taco Salad. Also, I'm out of tortillas. For the dressing, I had half an avocado that needed using, and I had the weird idea to mix in balsamic vinegar. I instantly realized that an aesthetically bad choice. Ha! Brown avocado dressing, it is! But it was still tasty. I told myself it was "creamy balsamic," and that made it seem better.

Here's a delicious, recent GGB Bowl (grain/green/bean) with Trader Joe's Sriracha Tofu, steamed kale, and pearled barley. I love meals like this!

And here's this week's breakfast — Tofu Scramble & Toast with Coconut Butter. I've been doing scramble a lot lately. This is my standard No Meat Athlete scramble from their Health Made Simple program. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Sushi & Miso Soup Night!

In my seemingly neverending quest to make every recipe from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook, I made the Anti-Inflammatory Miso Soup on Monday night. This hearty miso soup has lots of turmeric (hence the color), quinoa, carrots, bok choy, and red cabbage, and it's very tasty. And way more filling than I would expect from a miso soup!

But you can't have miso without sushi, so I made some of that too. Just some basic Veggie Rolls with avocado, carrot, cucumber, and scallion. Sometimes, I do brown rice to be healthier, but white rice works so much better. 

I got this adorable sake set from my former colleagues at Crosstown Arts when I left for my new job. And they gave me a giant bottle sake to go with it. So I heated up some sake and enjoyed that with my meal. Love a good sushi night at home!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Dining Out: Mung Bean Pasta & Pad Pak!

Here are a couple meals I've eaten out over the past week! Although my new job is mostly a "work from home" deal, I do have to go into the office once a week. And I pass right by the Raw Girls new downtown location on the drive. I love this all-vegan, healthy grab-and-go spot, and I'm guilty of not eating there often enough. So I've decided that, every office day, I'm going to stop in and grab lunch on the way to work. On Monday, I got their Mung Bean Pasta with sweet potatoes, hemp seeds, and basil pesto, and it was perfect!

Last Saturday, Paul's sister Sheila came to Memphis for a visit, and she wanted to go eat at The Nine Thai Sushi downtown after seeing our Valentine's pictures there. This time, I started with a Fresh Salad Roll (minus the shrimp). This was mostly lettuce, but there was a tiny sliver of avocado. It came with plum sauce, rather than peanut sauce (which is the way it typically comes at a Vietnamese restaurant). Still good though.

My entree was excellent! I ordered the Pad Pak because I was craving veggies! This is a traditional Thai stir-fry with lots of veggies and tofu. I saved some for lunch the next day and was glad I did.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Ramen, Overnight Oats, & Buffalo Chicken Sandwich!

Last night, I needed to use up some leftover tofu puffs that Paul didn't eat. I picked him up some tofu pho from Pho Binh on Friday, and he only used about half the puffs (they're packed separately from the broth) in his soup. So I had the rest, plus all of the pho fixings he didn't want (onions, scallions, bean sprouts, jalapenos, and hoison), in a bowl of Vite Ramen Miso Soup. This hit the spot.

Last Friday, I had Overnight Oats for breakfast. The oat base had soymilk, chia seeds, and allulose (the Trader Joe's brand of all-natural sugar sub), and I added dates, blueberries, walnuts, and peanut butter on top. Plus, extra soymilk. This was an exceptionally good bowl of oats.

And here's a recent Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. I used the last of the Gardein Ultimate Buffalo Chicken that I bought for the Super Bowl, plus cashew ranch. Messy but so tasty!

By the way, I've started my new job at The Daily Memphian, and I love it! A big part of my job is writing the morning news wrap-up with blurbs about the stories from the past day's news cycle. If you're interested, you can check out this morning's column here. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Avocado "Toast," Burrito Bowls, & a Valentine's Cup

On Tuesday morning, I wanted avocado toast for breakfast. And I had plenty of avocados that I didn't use for Super Bowl guac. For some reason, I bought 4 avocados for my guac, even though I was only making enough for one person (Paul likes it but rarely eats it, so it was just for me). Ha! But I was out of bread. So I made sweet potato "toasts" by roasting slices in the oven and then popping them in the toaster. I topped my "toasts" with lots of everything bagel seasoning and sriracha.

I also had lots of beer cheese dip left from the Big Game, so I made a Burrito Bowl for dinner last night (and again for lunch today). The base is brown rice, garlickly black beans, and corn, topped with beer cheese dip, salsa, lettuce, Tofutti sour cream, pickled jalapenos (my obsession of the moment) and guac (because of all those avocados!).

And finally, I just had to show you all the awesome wine tumbler my friend Mike sent me for Valentine's Day! It's nice to have friends who have your back. ;-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Valentine's Food & Races!

I know Valentine's Day gets a lot of crap. But I love cheesy holidays, hearts, romantic dinners, and chocolate so I'm all in. My parents are the best Valentine's, and they always send me something tasty. This year, my dad picked out two boxes of Sjaak's Melk and Dark Chocolate Caramels from Vegan Essentials and had them shipped to my house. I've been enjoying these (only one a day so they'll last!).

My mom sent Paul and I a check to pay for our Valentine's dinner, so we took ourselves out for a nice meal at The Nine Thai Sushi on Saturday night.

When we arrived, we had the place to ourselves, which was a little weird. But it started filling up 30 minutes or so later. We realized we'd shown up a little early for dinner (5ish), but we were hungry!

I started with the Crispy Spring Rolls. I tried to order the rice paper rolls, which they do serve (we've ordered them before), but they're not on the menu. And there was a language barrier, so I ended up with these. They were tasty though very tiny.

For my main, I went with the Tofu Pad See Ew (hold the egg). I thought they only gave me three pieces of tofu when this was delivered to our table, but I did some digging and found lots hiding under the noodles. It was very good pad see ew! So good that, the next day, Paul asked if he could trade me his Tofu Panang leftovers for my pad see ew. I enjoyed the panang as well, so I made the trade.

Oh, and I should have mentioned earlier that day, on Saturday morning, my friend Megan and I ran the Cupid's Dash 15K at Herb Parsons Lake in Collierville. My friend Peter race-directed this Valentine's Day trail race, and we had a blast. Peter always provides Fireball at his races (and vegan-friendly snacks!), so we did a post-race shot together (and enjoyed lots of peanut butter pretzels and pickles). Here's a fun pic of us from the race, taken by Mark Ogletree.

The next day, Sunday, was Galentine's, and my gal Megan and I ran another race! This time, it was the non-Valentine's-themed (but still relevant cause it fell on Galentine's!) Stanky Creek 8K trail race in Bartlett. This was a fun one, but we were both pretty tired from the day before.

On actual Valentine's Day (do you like how I drag holidays out?), Monday, Paul and I made his and hers lasagna. His had meat and dairy cheese, but mine was made with green lentil lasagna noodles, Nabati Foods vegan mozz, homemade tofu ricotta, and some tasty mushrooms that Paul sauteed for us. We enjoyed our dinner over a movie — King Richard with Will Smith — and it was lovely.

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Super Bowl Snacks!

Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite winter holidays! I'm not a big football fan, though I do enjoy watching the big game. But I'll confess that I never have a clue which team I'm for until the day of. Last night, I was rooting for the Bengals because they had cooler helmets. So there ya go! Despite their loss, it was exciting to watch the Rams come back in the last quarter. 

The real fun for me though isn't the game or the commercials (though I do love those! That Uber Eats commercial was my fave of the night). It's the snacks for me. Last night, I made Gardein Ultimate Buffalo Chicken in the air fryer and served with Imagine Vegan Cafe's ranch dressing. Plus, I made Beer Cheese Dip from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. And of course, I had to have guac!

The beer cheese dip looks a little dark because I used a dark beer, but it had great flavor. The dip has cashews, walnuts, beer, and lots of nooch, and it got a little thicker than I'd like (I added more cornstarch than the recipe called for). But I noticed that it thins out well when heated with some additional liquid. I have a lot left so I see burrito bowls in my future!

Here's a close-up of that chicken. The Gardein Ultimate is by far the best vegan chicken on the market, IMO, and these were fantastic.

Oh, and here was a fun Super Bowl Sunday find. Paul and I stopped by Kroger for snacks, and I just happened to check the ingredients on these. They're vegan! 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Pizza, Burgers, & Tofu Scram

Wednesday was National Pizza Day, and that's one I couldn't let slip by without a celebration. I met some former co-workers for drinks at Art Bar after work (for a former coworkers' retirement party), and afterward, I grabbed a Pizza del Giardino from Pizzeria Trasimeno. This pizza is vegan on the menu (no need for special instructions to leave off the cheese), but it doesn't come with a vegan cheese option. And it doesn't need it! I love a good gooey vegan cheese pie, but this one lets the veggies shine. I always order with no arugula (cause I don't like it) and add truffle oil (because I REALLY like it).

On Tuesday night for dinner, I had some leftover Thanksgiving Burgers from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook in the freezer, so I had one of those with leftover vegan goat cheese dip (from Imbolc) and Trader Joe's Romesco Dip (makes a great burger topper). Plus, I made the Sesame Turmeric Fries from the NMA Cookbook too.

And here's my breakfast this morning! A quick Tofu Scramble to use up some old veggies (the last of my baby spinach, shredded carrots, onion, and cherry tomatoes). I added some pickled jalapenos for heat. Since I'm doing totally whole food breakfasts, I skipped butter on my sprouted toast and used tahini and nooch instead.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Desk Eats, Wrapzody, & Overnight Oats

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, one of my February goals is to nail a whole food, plant-based breakfast every day. No vegan sausage & Just Egg sandwiches this month! Just whole foods (and no sugar) for breakfast. I'm focusing on monthly goals in 2022, and my other Feb goals are strength training 3x a week and journaling every single day. Plus, I'm still on a yoga and foam rolling streak!

I made Overnight Oats from the Complement Well app this week for breakfast. These have almond milk, chia seeds, chopped dates, allulose (a natural sugar-free sweetener), and matcha powder. I topped them with a little Picky blueberry granola, raspberries, and unsweetened Kite Hill Greek yogurt.

I started a new job this week, and although I'll be mostly working from home, I'm going into the office a bit as I learn new things. On Monday, my first day, I wanted to bring a very easy lunch because I didn't know what kind of equipment they had in the break room. Fortunately, I picked up this Wicked Foods Punchin' Potatoes & Beans Chili Mac on clearance at Kroger, and that was perfect. I love the Wicked Foods line, but it's so expensive. Always fun to find things like this on sale! It was surprisingly filling with bean chili and pasta. I also packed some Rosemary Garlic Ka-pop Chips from my Vegan Strong box.

On Tuesday, my second day in the office, I went out for lunch with a co-worker (who also happens to be an old friend) at Wrapzody downtown. I noticed they had a vegan menu so I wanted to check it out. They have several vegan options (including a Beyond Burger), but I went with a classic Garden Vegan Wrap (with black beans, corn, hummus, romaine, mushrooms, and red onions) and Veggie Chips.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Tofu Puffs & Vegan Chicken Spaghetti!

On Friday, we were iced in after a major ice storm that hit Memphis on Thursday, leaving 140,000 homes without power (and many are still waiting for that power to be restored five days later). We somehow escaped damage to our home (from falling icy limbs and trees), and we never lost power. But it was cold!! So on Saturday, Paul and I were craving the tofu pho from Pho Binh. It's the best cold-weather soup in Memphis (and possibly the only vegan pho in Midtown, but I'm not certain). 

Unfortunately, a call to Pho Binh for takeout revealed that they were closed due to the power outage. So we took things into our own hands and made Vegan Pho at home. We stopped by the Viet Hoa grocery store (thankfully not out of power) for rice noodles, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and fresh jalapeno. I already had some vegan pho broth cubes at home. It wasn't quite the same, but it hit the spot.

We had a bunch of tofu puffs left over, so I used the rest to make a Tofu & Veggie Stir-fry for dinner on Sunday. This made a ton, and I'm so glad to have enough left for lunch tomorrow!

Backing up, my lunch on Sunday was this plate of Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Vegan Chicken and Marinara. I had some leftover Gardein Scallopini from last Wednesday's Imbolc feast, so I pan-fried that and chopped it up atop some spaghetti with marinara. This was really good! I used a no-sugar spaghetti sauce since I'm trying to keep my sugar down to 25 grams or less per day (jarred pasta sauces tend to be very high in sugar). 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Rainbow Wraps & Healthy Breakfast!

I started a new job today — as the newsletter editor for The Daily Memphian newspaper! Very exciting, and I'm learning lots of new things. But last week, I took a full week off to rest and reset before starting a new career. Rather than take a trip, I just stayed home and watched a lot of Netflix, organized my home office (much of my work will be remote), and ran a bunch of errands. 

Last Tuesday, I made the drive out to Trader Joe's. It's about a 35-minute drive from my house, so I rarely go. I figured my off week would be the best time. I picked up some fun new products (the TJ's vegan feta was fantastic!), and I grabbed this quick Rainbow Wrap with chickpeas, curried hummus, beets, and spinach to eat in the car since I had more errands to run. This was good, but it needed way more curried hummus.

Now that I'm off my 30-day reset plan, I'm trying to strike a healthy balance between whole foods and indulgent treats. My goal for February is just to nail breakfast every day, meaning I want to make sure to eat whole foods only for my first meal of the day. To do this, I'm getting some inspiration from the Complement Well app (run by the No Meat Athlete folks). They have links to lots of WFPB breakfast recipes, like this Spicy Tofu Scramble from Lazy Cat Kitchen. This was made with silken tofu rather than firm, so it had a different texture from what I'm used to. It was perfect atop sprouted grain toast with avocado!

And here's some more traditional Avocado Toast from Sunday morning. I sprinkled this with turmeric and Everything But the Bagel seasoning, plus my homemade hot sauce.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Imbolc Eats!

Wednesday was Imbolc (aka Candlemas) — a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Of course, actual spring doesn't start until next month, but this is the time when we acknowledge that spring is coming back soon. It's no coincidence that it also happens to be Groundhog Day (RIP, Milltown Mel). 

The holiday is traditionally celebrated with dairy products, specifically goat or sheep cheese because this time of year was associated with baby lamb and baby goat season (when the mothers were providing milk for their babies). As a vegan, I can't have goat or sheep cheese, but I can veganize anything! I used the 2022 Sabbats Almanac book, which has a few Imbolc recipes, for my feast. 

There was a recipe for Goat/Sheep Cheese Dip, so I subbed Trader Joe's feta for the goat cheese and Kite Hill Greek unsweetened yogurt for the yogurt in the recipe. TJ's feta is awesome! But much like Violife's version, it tastes very much like goat cheese, so it was perfect for this herb-y dip. Trader Joe's also had the rainbow carrots and rainbow cauliflower!

The book also had a recipe for Citrus Chicken, so I used Gardein Scallopini. The chicken is marinated in citrus juice and ginger (I used blood orange and lime juice) and then baked in the oven. It was really good, especially paired with some garlic green beans!

After my feast, I whipped up some vegan hot cocoa (using the vegan Swiss Miss) with Bailey's Almonde and Dandies and sat on my porch as I watched the cold rain come down. 

We'd wake up the next day (Thursday) to ice-covered trees, which have been dropping branches ever since. Much of my city is without power, but thankfully, ours is still on. During wintry weeks like this, I'm so glad Imbolc reminds me that spring is coming soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Beyond Chicken at KFC!

On Monday night, the last day of my 30-day whole food-based NEURO meal plan, I wanted to treat myself with something ridiculous. So I got the KFC Beyond Chicken nuggets! I had serious FOMO a few weeks ago when they first launched nationwide and all of my vegan friends were trying them. But I waited patiently until my meal plan was over. 

I tried these when they were testing them out in Nashville KFCs a few years back, and I couldn't wait for them to launch nationwide. It took long enough! But I'm so glad they're finally here. These crispy little nuggets are the best vegan chicken nuggets I've ever had. I've heard mixed reviews from vegans, but I think they're amazing. Crispy, flavorful, meaty. And cruelty-free!

I got the fries as a side. I don't typically eat a lot of fried food, and when I do, I always get a tummy ache. But sometimes, it's worth it. I made sure to eat this meal several hours before bed, because I sleep terribly if my body is still digesting fried food. But this time, I gave it plenty of time to digest. 

Oh, and one important note: None of the KFC dipping sauces are vegan (come on, KFC!! Fix that!). Even the BBQ sauce has honey. So I made my own agave mustard dip, and I also dipped some in Imagine Vegan Cafe's ranch.

I know some vegans don't feel comfortable eating these because they're prepared in shared grease. And I get that. Personal purity is important to some vegans who wish avoid consuming any animal products whatsoever. But the way I see it, no additional animals are harmed by shared grease or shared grills. My sole mission as a vegan is to do the least harm, and I believe putting your money behind plant meats is a way to do just that. Just think of all the non-vegans who will try these out of curiosity. Some of those people may even go vegan one day, and the rest, hey, that's one meat-free meal in their day. Every little bit helps.

I got these at the Union Avenue KFC in Memphis — the same KFC where my animal rights group used to protest once a month with PETA KFC Cruelty signs back in the early 2000s. Of course, KFC still supports cruelty. But the fact that they're taking a chance on plant meats is a step in the right direction, and it makes me feel like all of our protests back in the day weren't for nothing. How times have changed for the better!