Thursday, October 27, 2022

Borscht, Sprout Salad, and Stir-fry

I've rejoined the Bring It Food Hub CSA after letting my membership lapse for about a year. I love getting bi-weekly fresh produce bags so I can eat as locally and seasonally as possible (without having to squeeze in a Saturday visit to the farmers market). A few weeks back, I got beets in my CSA, so I made the Roasted Beet Borscht from Veganomicon. I knew I wanted to find a borscht recipe and figured there'd be one in there. And of course there was! It was simple and warming.

On the side, I had some sourdough bread with the New Classic Hummus (made with home-sprouted chickpeas and lentils) from The Sprout Book, plus a Sprout Salad (also from that book). I'm loving all the fun ways to use sprouts in Doug Evans' book!

The night before a 10-mile race last weekend, I made a quick bowl of Garlicky Kale Pasta from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook. This is such a simple dish to whip up when you're low on ingredients and need something hearty and healthy. It has an olive oil sauce, which is a nice change from red sauce.

And speaking of my CSA, here's a recent Green Bean Tofu Stir-fry made with green beans from last week's CSA bag. The tofu was a baked, 5-spice tofu from my local Asian market, and I made a quick sauce with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili paste, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Served over brown rice. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Indian Food, Pizza, and a Tasty Tater

I'm still cooking my way through Plant-Based India, my favorite cookbook of the moment. I recently made this tasty Chili Cauliflower and Tofu dish that's got an Indo-Chinese flare. It reminded me a lot of my the Gobi Manchurian from Memphis' long-closed Woodlands Indian Restaurant. I loved this over white jasmine rice!

I also made Handvo from the book. This is a savory Gujarati cake that's typically eaten for breakfast or a snack. Rather than using flour, it's made from a batter of soaked dal and basmati rice, and then you add shredded veggies, like cabbage and zucchini (bottle gourd is traditional, but that's not available here). The top is seasoned with curry leaves, mustard seeds, and a tasty Indian-spiced oil. Perfect with chutney and Indian pickle.

Here's a recent pizza with the last of my Plantcraft pepperoni, kale (because I was running low on veggies), and onions. Not my typical pizza toppings but still delish.

And when in doubt about dinner, I always turn to something simple like this Baked Sweet Potato with Chickpeas and Kale. Topped with lots of sprouts because I've started sprouting at home, and I want sprouts on everything.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Belated Birthday with the Parents!

As a Libra, I do birth week (okay, more like birth month) and last weekend, I celebrated my birthday with my parents. My actual birthday was October 16, but my parents live in Arkansas, so it's a bit of a drive to visit them. And I had lots going on my birthday weekend in Memphis. So I headed to their house last Friday. Pretty soon after I arrived, we hit up Chokdee Thai Kitchen for dinner. 

This was a very tiny little Thai place in Ash Flat, Arkansas (population: 1,200), and yet when I ordered my Pad See Ew with tofu (hold the fish sauce), the server knew what vegan meant! I was very impressed. Also, this was my parents' first time trying Thai food, so they also ordered the Pad See Ew. It's my very favorite Thai dish, and it's always a go-to at any Thai restaurant.

This Pad See Ew was so good! And my parents loved theirs too. For an appetizer, I ordered the Summer Rolls with peanut sauce. 

After dinner, we met up with some of my parents' friends at the Spring River Draft House.

I ordered the Mother's Brewing Co. Mr. Pumpkin Ale, because it's October! Pumpkin everything!

Later, we had some delicious Lemon Cake with Lemon Oreo Buttercream that my mom made. I love lemon flavors so much, and this cake was perfect. Soft, moist, not too sweet.

The next day, my mom made Vegan Breakfast Casserole with Impossible sausage, vegan cheddar, Just Egg, biscuits, and gravy, plus a side of hash browns. Sooooo yummy! I could eat this everyday.

I had to leave Saturday afternoon, but before I hit the road, my mom and I got out the kayaks for a quick spin around their lake. It was very windy, so we really had to work to paddle back to shore. But it was fun and probably the last time we'll get in the lake this season. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

My 42nd Birthday!

I turned 42 on Sunday! It's crazy how I used to think the 40s were so old when I was in my 20s. And now that I'm solidly in my 40s, I don't feel old at all! In fact, I'm running faster and lifting more than ever, and I feel about a decade younger. So take that, aging!

I started my big day with a 4.2 mile birthday run through Overton Park. And then I headed to Imagine Vegan Cafe for takeout brunch. I made my own meal with al la carte items — Tofu Scramble, Cheesy Grits, Garlic Kale, and Veggie Bacon. There's a breakfast platter on the menu that's similar, but it doesn't have kale. And I wanted that. 

The main reason I went to Imagine was for a birthday donut! My friend Lily of Darling Donuts took a hiatus while she was pregnant with her last kid, but she's back at it now. I got a plain glazed for my birthday wish.

Oh, and I had mimosas, of course.

Later that night, Paul and I had very special concert tickets. So we hit up Cameo for a light dinner and drinks first. I started with a cabernet.

I wanted to try Cameo's new vegan flatbread, but they only serve brunch on Sundays. So I went with the only vegan brunch option — Vegan Toast (with vegan cream cheese, pickled onions, tomatoes, and spices). It was very good!

For dessert (it was my birthday after all!), I had the It's Not Stealing If It's Yours cocktail with pumpkin liqueur, bourbon, Tiny Bomb, and nutmeg. Tasted like fall!

And then it was time for our concert! We saw Tiffany (like from the 80s!) at the Buckman Arts Center. It was a very small show (only about 100 people), and we had front-row seats. There was a Q&A session in the beginning, and Paul raised his hand to tell Tiffany it was my birthday. I wanted to kill him, but she was super-cool and told me happy birthday (she just had one too; fellow Libra!). And then throughout the show, she pointed at me a lot. And told me happy birthday a few more times!

Afterward, there was a meet-and-greet, and she was SO NICE. I met her once before, in 2000-something, when she played a gay club here in Memphis. But it was so cool to meet her again. Such a magical night. Thanks to Paul for making all of that happen! 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Birthday Weekend Kickoff!

My 42nd birthday was Sunday, and I'll share more on that later this week. But since I'm a Libra, I celebrate birth week. And that started on Friday when my friends Sheridan and Drew came to town. They got here about an hour before our scheduled dinner plans, so we all went to Crosstown Brewing for a pre-dinner beer.

Dinner was at Slider Inn, a very vegan-friendly burger joint. A lot of my friends came out and we filled up a big table! 

I started with Slider's signature cocktail — a Jameson Slushie. No visit to Slider is complete without this.

For my meal, I went with the mix-and-match with one each of Slider's vegan options — the No Meat, No Problem burger (a plant meat-based patty), the Vegan Triple B (a beet/bean/brown rice patty), and a Falafel Slider (hold the tzatziki). Plus, fries of course!

After dinner, a few of us went to the Rainbow Rumble: Goth Night drag competition at Black Lodge. Nothing beats a little after-dinner drag!

Such a fun Friday with friends. Of course, the birthday celebration continued into my Sunday (my actual birthday), so I'll share more on that soon. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Chana Saag, Autumn Kale Salad, & Cookies!

As you may know if you read this blog often, I'm a diehard No Meat Athlete fan. I love their podcast, cookbook, running plans, blog, Complement brand supplements, everything. And now NMA Radio hosts Matt and Doug have a new show, The Plant-Based Morning Show. It's different from the original podcast because 1) it's daily instead of weekly, and 2) it's live on Instagram and YouTube, so commenters can join in on the fun. If you can't catch the live show, they're uploaded to Apple Podcasts (and all the other podcast places) later. The shows air at 10 a.m. CST when I'm working, so I can only listen on Fridays when I'm off. But I've been catching up on the podcast stream. 

All this is to say I was recently inspired to make Coconut Chana Saag from Isa Does It because host Doug talked about how it's a staple in his house. It'd been a while since I'd pulled Isa Does It off the shelf, so I figured I should make it. And I'm glad I did! This tasty curry has coconut milk, tomato, chickpeas, and kale, and it was so perfect for a fall night.

Speaking of fall, I also recently made the Autumn Kale Salad from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook. This hearty meal has massaged kale with apples, roasted butternut squash, pom seeds, pumpkin seeds, and a tahini dressing. I also added some kidney beans for protein (not in the recipe).

One day last week, my friend Susan texted me "left something for you." Susan often does drive-by giftings, so I peeked outside and found two Chocolate Chip Sesame Cookies. She'd picked them up from The Ginger's Bread, a new bakery that has some vegan items. I haven't been there myself yet, but these cookies were awesome. And now I want to go!

And finally, here's a quick breakfast of Tofu Egg on Sourdough Toast with hummus and sprouts. I'm reading The Sprout Book by Doug Evans, and I'm really into sprouts right now. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

It's a Wrap!

I go through phases where I just want to eat everything in wrap form. And I think I'm in one now. Last week, I ordered the Jerk Chicken Wrap from Da Guilty Vegan with a side salad. Da Guilty Vegan is an awesome food truck that typically parks in Cordova, which is very far from where I live and work (okay, it's like 20 minutes, but I'm a Midtowner who works Downtown, so you know, I complain when I have to drive more than 10 minutes to get anywhere). But it's been parked in Court Square Downtown for lunch on Thursdays, so I'm trying to hit them up while I have the chance. 

The wrap was so good! The chicken was grilled, and Chef Derek included a generous portion. And the jerk sauce was spicy! I was proud of myself for getting salad on the side when fries were an option. But I knew I'd feel better and have more energy for my gym class later if I stuck with salad. 

Last week, I ate Bean & Rice Burritos for several days in a row. Just simple brown rice, black beans, corn, tomato, lettuce, avocado, sprouts, and Tofutti sour cream. I even had one on National Taco Day, which maybe counts?

And my breakfasts this week have been Thai Overnight Scramble Wraps from Isa Does It. The scramble is "overnight" because you mix the ingredients together the night before and just saute in the morning. It has shiitake mushrooms, cilantro, basil, and red curry paste, and I added avocado and sprouts in the wrap. A fun twist on scramble!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Product Review: Plantcraft Pepperoni & Bologna

I try to eat an 80% whole food, plant-based diet with about 20% reserved for processed stuff, like plant meats and cheeses, desserts, etc. But when plant meats are made with more whole ingredients than is typical, it's a big bonus. Sure, they're still processed no matter how "clean" the ingredients, but it's nice being able to pronounce everything. Plantcraft focuses on using real foods to make fake meats. They sent me two products to try, and I was very impressed!

The Plant-Based Pepperoni arrived right on time. I already had plans to make a Veggie Pizza for dinner that night.

I added a few slices to my personal-sized crust and topped with Follow Your Heart mozzarella and lots of veggies. 

These tasted very much like meaty pepperoni, but they're made with pea protein, faba protein, green banana flour, citrus fiber, konjac gum, alginate, and herbs/spices. If you're wondering about konjac gum, it's made from the root of the konjac plant. Alginate comes from brown algae. That's a pretty impressive ingredient list if you ask me!

Next up was the Plant-Based Bologna, which I was most excited to try. I loved fried bologna sandwiches as a kid. 

When I opened the pack, I immediately put a slice in my mouth. And I was whisked straight back to childhood. But it wasn't exactly bologna that it reminded me of. My first thought was Vienna Sausages. You know, those little potted meat snacks in a can. I used to LOVE those. Even more than bologna. So needless to say, I loved this stuff. Of course, bologna's flavor isn't far off from Vienna Sausages (that's pronounced "vy-ee-nee" where I come from! Arkansas is classy, y'all). 

First, I tried these cold-cut style on a sandwich with sprouts, lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo. Chips on the side, natch. And this was a perfect lunch. Once on bread, it really did taste like bologna. And again, this is made with simple ingredients (just green banana flour, flaxseed flour, herbs/spices, and pea protein).

And of course, I had to make a classic Fried Bologna Sandwich with the rest. I fried some slices in a cast-iron and added to a sandwich with a Tofutti American cheese slice, mustard, and mayo. Veggies don't belong in a fried bologna sandwich, so I had a salad on the side. Very good! My only complaint is that I wish the slices were a little thicker. They're paper thin and tend to break easily, and bologna was always a thicker deli slice.

I haven't seen Plantcraft for sale in Memphis yet. But when I do, I will definitely be buying this stuff. Some of the best deli slices I've had, well, ever!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Vegan Chicken Sammy, Vegan Fish, and a Loaded Scone

On Saturday, I finally made it back to Plant-Based Heat, a totally vegan restaurant here in Memphis that I really need to visit more often. I'm slowly working my way through their menu, and this time, I got the PBH ChickN Sandwich which comes with a crispy vegan patty topped with pickles, mayo, and tomato. So good!

On the side, I got the Mac & Cheese, and this was definitely the best vegan mac I've had! OMG, it was so good. Y'all, I licked the bowl.

I found the new Good Catch Plant-based Fish Fillets on BOGO sale at Sprouts, and it's pretty good! I never actually liked fish after one bad catfish experience as a little kid. But plant-based fish tastes more like the ocean and less like fish. I air-fried this patty and topped with a homemade creme fraiche and served with steamed broccoli and vinegar-based slaw.

And finally, here's a tasty Loaded Scone that I picked up at LuLu's at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market this past Saturday! It had jalapenos and lots of other stuff inside. Not sure what, but it was delicious. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Oktoberfest Dinner!

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Even though I'm not a fan of fall weather (I like it hot), I love Halloween and Oktoberfest and my birthday (Oct. 16!) and Thanksgiving. So fall holidays are the BEST! Oktoberfests are happening at our local breweries almost every weekend, and the real Oktoberfest is underway in Munich until Oct. 3. 

To celebrate, I had a little Oktoberfest at home last night with a Beyond Brat on a pretzel bun with roasted onion mustard (an Amish treat from the little Amish store by my parents' house) and homemade pink kraut. I've seen these pretzel buns at Sprouts a few times, but I usually stick with whole wheat so I've bypassed them. But one must have pretzels for Oktoberfest!

On the side, I made the Smoky Potato Salad from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. This is a mayo-free salad with an olive oil-based dressing and smoky paprika. Really tasty!

And of course, I had an Oktoberfest beer! I love the new Danke Oktoberfest from Soul & Spirits Brewery. If you live in Memphis and haven't been to Soul & Spirits yet, get there. Best brewery in town. They make every beer true to style and serve beers in the appropriate glassware. And if you're visiting and only have time for one brewery, go there (and if you have time for two, hit up Crosstown Brewing next!).