Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ramen, Fancy Tofu, and a Big Ass Salad

Last Friday, Paul and I met up with my vegan pals Kenzie and Melissa (and her husband Anthony) at Good Fortune Co., my very favorite place in Memphis! This vegan-friendly ramen restaurant makes their noodles from scratch and always has a number of meat-free options that are clearly marked "vegan" on the menu. And the menu changes often, so I was excited to see a new vegan bowl — the Miso Fungi with mushroom scallops and a miso broth.

To start, I always order the Charred Edamame with chili-citrus salt because it is EVERYTHING!

Mabon — aka the Autumn Equinox — was last week, and I made Nut-Crusted Tofu from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. The tofu is coated in ground pistachios, breadcrumbs, shallots, and lemon zest and baked in the oven. So good! I chose that recipe because the 2022 Sabbats Almanac had a recipe for hazelnut-crusted salmon for Mabon, and obviously, I couldn't make that. That book did include a recipe for a vegan Bean & Corn Salad so I made that, as well as some quinoa cooked in veggie broth.

Here's a big ole salad that I ate recently! Sometimes, I get a craving for the kind of salad that has every salad topping you can possibly find. I even made tofu "boiled eggs" by coating bits of plain air-fried tofu in black salt. I used the Simple Truth spicy vegan ranch for a dressing. Found that on markdown for 99 cents, and it's good!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

LuLu's is Opening a New Place!

My friends at LuLu's — a worker-owned bakery serving vegan pastries and sourdough bread — have been popping up at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market every week for a few years. And they're also at Boycott Coffee most Wednesday mornings. For a brief time during the pandemic, they had a permanent space downtown. But it was inside a food hall, and the owner decided to close the whole place. So they were back to just doing pop-ups again for a while. 

But they're getting ready to open a new space again! This time, it'll be in a shop across from East High School on Poplar (in the old donut shop that had a sign that looked more like a butthole than a donut ... some folks around here called it "Butthole Donuts"). Anyway, the butthole-donut sign is gone, and LuLu's will be selling their breakfast sandwiches, hand pies, cookies, bagels, sourdough loaves, cake, and more there very soon.

They had a pop-up in the new space a couple weeks ago, but it was the same day that I was running the Stanky Creek 25K. I'd hoped to be done racing in time to get there, but the pop-up ended at noon. And I was still enjoying my post-race beer at the finish line. But no worries — my friend Stephanie of LuLu's asked me what I wanted. She saved a few things back, I Venmo'ed Don from LuLu's, and then Stephanie hand-delivered the goods to my house. That's great customer service (and it helps that Stephanie and I are essentially neighbors).

I got the Breakfast Sandwich with tofu egg, cashew cheese, pumpkin seeds, and smoked apples. A perfect post-race treat! The smoked apples were next level. LuLu's pretty much always has some kind of breakfast sammy with tofu, but the other fillings change seasonally.

And I got a slice of Vanilla Sheet Cake, baked by Stephanie. She's a master cake maker, and I'm so glad there will be a regular spot to pick up her cake again!

They don't have a set opening date yet, but you can follow their progress by signing up for the newsletter! 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Eat to Live Veganfest

The Eat to Live Veganfest took place at Grind City Brewing Co. in Memphis on Saturday, and lucky me, it was a rare rest day from running. I had a 10K race (that I PR'ed, by the way!) on Sunday, so I just hit up a Saturday morning HIIT class at the gym and then headed for the veg fest right as it opened at 11 a.m.

I've learned with Memphis vegan fests, it's best to go early and beat the crowd. Once lines form at the food vendors, it can take a while to get your food. But I was among the first to arrive, so no line and no waiting. Here's the view from the brewery. There were lots of tents with vendors selling food, merch, and health products. And the periphery was lined with food trucks.

I walked around to get the lay of the land and settled on a Vegan Chicken on a Stick from Utopia Deli, a food truck visiting from Little Rock. This had deep-fried vegan chicken, potatoes, bell pepper, and onion with vegan ranch drizzled on top. And IT WAS AMAZING. Definitely the best thing I ate all day.

So that was my appetizer. Next, I needed an entree, so after much deliberation, I settled on a slice of Lasagna from Sun of a Vegan. They're a local pop-up, but I'd never tried their food because they're set up out on Winchester Road, which is quite the drive from my house in Midtown. They're known for their lasagna, so I had to try it. And it didn't disappoint. Super cheezy and vegan meaty!

By this point, I was ready for dessert. And my friends from LuLu's were there, so course I had to try one of Stephanie's Have It All Cookies. I don't even remember what all was in this delicious cookie, but it was sweet and savory (my fave) with chocolate, pretzels, and maybe potato chips?

Sift Bakery was also there with their vegan macarons, so I picked up an Oreo Macaron and a Raspberry Macaron to take home. They're individually wrapped, so they traveled well. Sift has a space in Germantown, which again is very far from where I live, so vegan macarons are a rare treat for me.

Besides food, I also picked up some Irish sea moss to make gel with (it's apparently all the rage right now, so I figured I should get on that bandwagon), some African black soap, and some all-natural deodorant. I've been making my own deodorant for years, but I'm lazy, and I just wanted to buy some that works. And so far, this stuff seems to work well!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cookbook Review: Plant-Based India

I LOVE INDIAN FOOD. Possibly more than any other culture's cuisine. But I've never been able to make authentic Indian food at home because most recipe books written for an American audience avoid harder-to-find traditional ingredients, like various dals, hing, curry leaves, black mustard seed, etc. And the best Indian restaurants in Memphis are all a good 30-minute or more drive from my house. So I just rarely eat Indian food. 

But that's changed with Plant-Based India by Dr. Sheil Shukla. This totally vegan Indian cookbook is written by a doctor who doesn't shy away from traditional ingredients. We have three Indian markets in the Memphis area, so authentic ingredients aren't hard to find here. And really, in this age, you can buy anything online. His recipes are a blend of Gujarati dishes (where his family hails from) and a few modernized recipes that call for less-traditional ingredients, like quinoa. And the photos are GORGEOUS. This hardcover book could double as a coffee table book!

I went to Janta Farmers Market in Southaven and stocked up on ingredients that were called for in multiple recipes and dove right in. I told the clerk, an older Indian gentleman, at the store that I was going to start experimenting with Indian cuisine, and he said "You'll never learn until you dive in." So right! So I dove! Here's what I've made so far.

I started with the Rice Vermicelli and Corn Upma, which is something you'd eat as both a snack or breakfast. I ended up eating it for breakfast for several days. This may have been my very favorite recipe. It has tender vermicelli (a special short version I found at the Indian market) with curry leaves, hing, lots of turmeric, corn, and roasted cashews. Still dreaming about this.

I also LOVED this Roasted Aloo Chat. I'm all about Indian snack foods, but the North Indian restaurants near me don't serve things like this. You've got to drive out to Hacks Cross in Memphis for South Indian, where the chat is more likely to be found. This has roasted potatoes tossed with chat masala (it has black salt and lots of other spices) topped with cilantro-mint chutney, date chutney (recipes for both are in the book), unsweetened yogurt, finely diced onion, carrot, and bell pepper, and sev (the crunchy sticks on top! I love sev!).

Here's one of Dr. Shukla's less traditional recipes. This is Quinoa Kachumber (kachumber is a salad) with cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and onion, served with roasted papad. I bought the papad at the Indian market. I love crunchy, salty papad, which is why I wanted to make this salad.

There's a whole chapter devoted to dal, like this Tadka Dal made with masoor dal with an added spicy oil. It was excellent with some storebought whole wheat parantha. There is a parantha recipe in the book, but it calls for atta flour, and the Indian market only sold this in giant bags. I figured I'd save money and be lazy with a frozen version.

I also tried this Gujati Dal, made with toor dal and peanuts! The peanuts add such a fun texture and flavor. I served it over basmati rice with more parantha. The author includes Instant Pot instructions for the dal recipes, which is very nice!

And finally, here's a yummy dinner of Flavar Vatana Nu Shak with Lemon Rice. The flavar dish is cauliflower and peas with lots of turmeric and spices, and the rice was white basmati flavored with lemon, curry leaves, and peanuts (which sounds weird in lemon rice, but it was awesome!). Also, many (probably most) of these recipes call for hing (or asafoetida), which is probably my favorite Indian food ingredient. It's a pungent spice made from tree sap that just makes everything better!

I have so many more recipes dog-earred in this book! There's an Indo-Chinese Chili Cauliflower Tofu that I can't wait to try and a fermented bread called Handvo. Plus, I'm definitely making the Masala Chai from the drinks chapter soon and the Cardamom Coffee Cake from the desserts section!

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Hodo Reviews: All-Day Egg and Moroccan Tofu

Earlier this year, I ordered a few care packages from vegan bodybuilding legend Robert Cheeke. He puts together these awesome packages with vegan protein powders, bars, snacks, and coupons. So I ended up with quite a few Hodo free product coupons. I love Hodo's tofu products, but they're kind of expensive. So I never buy them. But I can buy free! 

On my last grocery trip, I picked up some Hodo All-Day Egg Scramble, which is basically tofu scramble. It's about $7.50 a pack, and it's enough for one serving (the box says 2.5, but let's be real). I wanted to make it last though, so I had some atop a couple pieces of sourdough to stretch it into two servings. It's really good! The flavor is awesome, and Hodo has a firmer texture than most tofu. Would I pay full price for it? No. But it's delicious.

I used another coupon for these Hodo Chermoula Moroccan Cubes. These were spiced and pre-crumbled, and all you have to do is heat it up. But honestly, it was so good, I ate about one-fourth of it straight out of the package before I could even cook it. These were a little cheaper than the scramble, and I'd pay money for this because I'm not sure I could recreate that chermoula spice (coriander, paprika, garlic, and cumin) the same way at home. I enjoyed mine over a bowl with brown rice and chard. I added tahini after this pic.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Beyond Orange Chicken at Panda Express!

Panda Express recently released Beyond Orange Chicken, and I couldn't wait to try it! I once tried to go to a Panda Express, years ago, thinking that an Asian-themed fast food place would certainly have a veggie stirfry or something I could eat. But no, back then there was nothing. So I was excited to hear about Panda embracing vegan options!

The nearest Panda Express to my house is about a 20-minute drive though, so it wasn't exactly fast food for me. But I ran a 25K race on Saturday morning, and I was hungry, and orange chicken sounded really good. So I drove out to the Memphis Panda near Poplar and Ridgeway.

I wasn't sure how to order there. It's a little confusing, but I ended up getting the bowl, which comes with one entree and one side. But they'll let you split the side so you can really get two sides. I got Beyond Orange Chicken for my entree and white rice and power greens (broccoli, cabbage, and kale) as sides. The chow mein is also vegan, but it seemed like a weird pairing with orange sauce.

This was SO GOOD, y'all. The crispy chicken was very realistic, as Beyond Meat products tend to be. I doubt a non-vegan would even know the difference. And the sauce was the perfect blend of sweet and savory. I was also really impressed with the power greens. They were well-seasoned, and the broccoli was the perfect texture. 

I also got some Veggie Spring Rolls since they're vegan too!

It's probably a good thing that Panda Express is so far from my house because this is too good, and I'd be eating it all the time if it were closer. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Product Review: Nutpods Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I've said on this blog so many times that I don't like fall. It's always just symbolized the end of summer and the beginning of cold. Neither of which sounds good. But in recent years, fall has grown on me. I'm trying to get better about embracing the seasons and all that they bring. And one thing fall brings is pumpkin spice everything, which I love, love, love. Fall may be a week away still, but it's slightly cooler here this week (we're back in the 90s next week because this is Memphis). 

So with the chilly snap, I decided to break out this new Pumpkin Spice creamer from Nutpods, which they mailed me to review a couple weeks ago. I wanted to wait until it felt right to be consuming pumpkin spice, and here we are.

I've been a longtime fan of Nutpods dairy-free creamers because they offer an unsweetened line, and their sweetened creamers contain stevia rather than sugar. I try to keep my sugars down to 25 grams on most days, and it helps having a sugar-free creamer. 

The pumpkin spice is from the unsweetened line, and it is THE answer to a vegan-friendly PSL. As you may know, Starbucks' famous pumpkin spice latte is not vegan-friendly because there's dairy in the syrup. But who needs that when you have Nutpods? The creamer is delicately spiced, and if that fall crispness we feel in the air had a taste, it would be this. I enjoyed it in a dark roast coffee every morning this week.

So come on, fall. Bring it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sandwiches, Two Ways!

Here are a couple sandwiches I've eaten lately! Last Thursday, I had a board meeting at Crosstown Concourse (where I used to work), so I got there a little early to grab a quick dinner from Global Café. When I worked in the building, I ate at Concourse at least once a week, but now that I don't, I'm don't eat there as often. So it's kind of a treat! I noticed the Falafel Wrap was marked vegan on Global Café's menu (it previously wasn't due to something in the bread). So I had to get it! I love their falafel, and it's even better on a wrap with tahini and bell pepper.

On Sunday, we met my friend Misti and her boyfriend Josh and some other friends for brunch at Railgarten. The Farmer is the on-site restaurant there, and despite the name, it's not very vegan-friendly. But they did have a Mushroom Bhan Mi, which typically comes with sesame mayo, but I had that left off. It was very good! I loved the pickled veggies and shiitake mushrooms. Would get again, but I'd bring mayo from home next time. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Breakfasts and Quinoa (But Not Together!)

I do love breakfast quinoa porridge, but this post isn't about that. Rather, I've got some pics of breakfast, and I've got some pics of quinoa. On Friday, I tried making a Just Egg and veggie omelet, but the "egg" stuck to the pan, so I ended up with a Veggie Just Egg Scramble. This has happened with my last few Just Egg omelets, so I think I need a new nonstick skillet. For the veggies, I added carrots, red cabbage, and bell peppers (just what I had laying around the fridge!), and I also mixed in some Sweet Earth bacon. And I had toast with grape jelly and oat butter on the side. Grape jelly really is the best jelly.

Here's another scramble, but this one is a Tofu Scramble. I added some vegan cheddar shreds for extra tastiness, and there's more veggie bacon and sourdough toast on the side. Forgot I had grape jelly!

Today for lunch, I had a Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl from Raw Girls. This has black olives and roasted tomatoes, and it's so good!

On Saturday, I attended the Memphis Rox Yoga Festival, and Loc'd and Vegan was there. They had BBQ Jackfruit Quinoa Bowls with slaw. This fest was outdoors, and it was chilly and rainy all day, so this was a nice warm lunch. That yoga fest was just so magical!!! Even in the rain!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Southern Fried Goodness, Breakfast Pizza, and Vegan Chicken Salad

On Friday, I went to visit my parents' house in Arkansas for our annual Southern fried meal. Every summer, my mom makes one big meal of fried veggies and delicious Southern dishes, and this was it. This time, we had Fried Squash, Beyond Chicken, Buttered Corn, Granny's Rotel Blackeyed Peas and Cornbread, and Fried Potatoes with Chow Chow. So good! I look forward to this every year!

The next morning, my mom made our new favorite brunch dish — Vegan Breakfast Pizza with Just Egg, Vegan Sausage, Vegan Cheddar, Gravy, and Crescent Roll Crust. With a hash brown on the side of course!

Speaking of Southern food, I picked up some Lady Peas from the CY Farmers Market and made this simple and delicious dinner. I added carrots, onions, and veggie broth to make a simple summer soup. I love fresh lady peas!

And finally, here's a tasty Vegan BBQ Chicken Salad from Da Guilty Vegan food truck, which just happened to be Downtown last Thursday on a day I was working in the office! Da Guilty Vegan is most often parked in Cordova, which is quite a drive from my home or work, so it's nice when they're in my area.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Burgers, Air-fried Okra, and the BEST ICE CREAM BAR

I think they say Labor Day weekend is the end of grilling season, but in Memphis, we're solidly in summer weather until mid-October. So we did grill out on Sunday, but it likely won't be the last time this year! I made Beyond Burgers, and as usual, we grilled mushrooms, corn, and asparagus (three veggies Paul will actually eat).

I also recently tried the Gardein Ultimate Black Bean Burgers, and they were good! I love the Ultimate chicken, so I figured I'd give the bean burgers a try. I still prefer a meaty Beyond burger over a bean patty, but I do feel healthier eating these.

My neighbor Dennis gave me some okra from his garden a few weeks back, and I used the last of it as a side for my black bean burger. Per Dennis' recipe, I marinated halved okra pods in Bragg's, nooch, hot sauce, and olive oil, and then I dusted them with cornmeal. He recommended roasting the okra, but I air-fried mine because I'm lazy, and ovens take forever. These were really good!

And finally, y'all, omg. Have y'all tried the Wicked Foods Berry White ice cream bars??? I have been looking all over for them, and my neighborhood Kroger finally had them in stock. These have vanilla ice cream coated in vegan white chocolate with berry bits (and berry filling inside the vanilla ice cream). Best ice cream thing I've ever eaten!!