Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Jollof Rice, a Vegan Omelet, and a Flashback Burger

Here are a few things I've been eating lately! I picked up this jar of curry Royal Red Stew, the sauce used to make African jollof rice, at the Cash Saver.

So I made some Jollof Rice with white rice, homemade seitan, spinach, peas, and that curry tomato sauce. So good!

Here's a recent scramble. This was the Sunshine Scramble from Plant You, which has a lot of tomatoes and spinach. Plus some sourdough with Marmite on the side.

Another breakfast: I recently bought the Speros Pepita Egg, which was next to the Just Egg on the shelf at Sprouts. It made a tasty omelet. It's not as fluffy and egg-like as Just Egg, but the main ingredient is pepita seeds, so it felt slightly less processed.

And finally, here's a blast from the past! I got some Boca Burgers recently for old time's sake and because they were on sale. And my friend at Tofutti had sent me some American cheese slices, which I haven't seen sold in stores here since my early vegan days. This tasted like nostalgia, and I loved it.

Also, my dad has a little tip for making Boca Burgers taste better. Thaw and marinate the patties in soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke, and hot sauce before pan-frying. It's very good!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Pizza, Pasta, Potatoes, and Pinto de Gallo

I've been eating a lot of good stuff lately, y'all! I made my favorite Tuscan Flatbread from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook a week or so ago. This had a sourdough crust with artichokes, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, and lots of homemade cashew parm. It's like salad on pizza! But it's sourdough so even the dough is good for you.

I also recently pulled Julie Piatt's This Cheese Is Nuts book off the shelf and made this Mac & Cheese with Garlic Spinach. I have some exciting Julie Piatt news to share soon, but I'll save that for another day. But her cashew-based mac and cheese, made with Banza pasta, was so comforting and delicious. 

I've been focusing on whole foods a lot lately, so I'm cooking more from Plant You. Everything in this book is super healthy, including this BBQ Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potato. This was super easy. Just season and roast some chickpeas, bake a potato, and top with tahini sauce.

And finally, here's one of my favorite healthy meals from The Blue Zones KitchenPinto Gallo! Few things are more comforting than this combo of black beans and white rice. I also made the Fried Plantains from the book and served with cashew cream and hot sauce. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Knifebird

I have a group of lady friends I get together with once a month or so for happy hour, and we always try to go somewhere kinda fancy: cocktail bars, wine bars, etc. For our February meetup, we gathered at Knifebird, a wine bar that turned out to be very vegan-friendly!

For starters, you can get a wine flight during happy hour. That's three 3-ounce pours of white, red, and rose, which are served in proper glasses. All four of us ordered that, so our table was filled with wine glasses! It looks like way more than it was, I swear.

As for the food, their menu includes vegan bruschetta, a kale caesar salad and — this is exciting — vegan charcuterie! I had to get the charcuterie.

It came with pita, hummus, black olive tapenade, carrots, and celery. So simple, and I feel like any bar that offers charcuterie could do this. It's really nice that Knifebird added this option to their menu. My favorite kind of meal involves bread, hummus, and wine. Really, that's all I need.

Knifebird is located at 2155 Central Ave. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Takeout: Donut Burger, Strata, and Raw Toast

Here's a recap of some recent restaurant meals! A couple weeks back, Imagine Vegan Cafe posted on their IG that they were offering a Donut Burger special. They offer this about once a year, and I always have to get it. It's so ridiculous. It was a Saturday, and I was running something like 18 miles that morning, so thoughts of this burger carried me through those long miles. The burger itself is a Beyond burger, and it's topped with a burger sauce that's kind of like Big Mac sauce. I love that savory-sweet combo!

On the side, I got Imagine's Seasoned Greens for balance. 

A few Fridays ago, I stopped into Lulu's Bakery & Cafe for lunch and got the Strata, which was made with sourdough bread, greens, and cashew cheese. 

On the side, I got the soup of the day, which was a curry soup with potatoes and carrots. Very nice on a wintry day.

And finally, here's a recent lunch from Raw Girls. Their Avocado Toast comes with a raw flax cracker, avocado spread, pickled tomatoes, and mustard. And you wouldn't think one raw cracker would be enough food, but they're surprisingly filling.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

HLT Sammy, French Onion Stew, & More!

Every week day, I listen to the Plant-Based Morning Show podcast with hosts Matt and Doug (from the No Meat Athlete podcast, but this is their new one). And sometimes, they talk about what they ate for dinner last night. On a recent episode, Doug mentioned that he threw together a super-quick dinner of vegan boxed mac with chickpeas and spinach. I love a good vegan boxed mac, but I typically pare a vegan plant meat, like tenders or nuggets, as the protein. I loved the idea of adding healthy chickpeas! So I had that for dinner one night, using a box of Annie's Vegan Mac.

Here's another meal idea from Doug. He also mentioned on the podcast that he liked to make sandwiches with the Smiling Hara Hempeh (tempeh made from hemp seeds). It's a little pricy, and it's pre-seasoned, so I never buy it. Mostly because I'm not sure what to do with it that wouldn't mask its awesome flavor. But this HLT (like a TLT!) was perfect. The smoked salt and pepper-flavored hempeh was the star.

Speaking of No Meat Athlete, I'm still trying to cook my way through every recipe in the NMA Cookbook. And last week, I made the French Onion Stew with mushrooms and white beans, topped with sourdough bread and broiled cashew cheese. A nice end-of-winter meal.

And finally, here's a weird stir-fry. I found some soy chicken rounds that I bought at the Viet Hoa Vietnamese market ages ago in my deep freezer. They were still good, so I sauteed that with some veggies and served over rice. The "meat" tasted more like hot dogs than chicken, but it was tasty! Hot dog stir-fry doesn't sound great though. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Race Recap: Little Rock Marathon 2023

I ran my seventh marathon on Sunday in Little Rock! It was my third time running the full 26.2 in this race, and it's always a favorite. Mostly because of these giant medals! I've also run the half-marathon there four times.

This year's race had a 1960s peace and love theme, and there were peace signs, smiley faces, and hearts all over the expo at the Statehouse Convention Center. I arrived there on Saturday afternoon to pick up my bib and race shirt. And I bought a super-cute Sprints veggie cap to wear in the race. I had to grab a selfie in front of the expo's VW van.

After the expo, I went to my friends Sheridan and Drew's house, where I'd be staying for the night. Since my BFF lives in Little Rock, I rarely miss this race! We headed out to have a pre-race beer on the patio at The Pantry. I went with a locally brewed brown ale.

And we split this tasty Hummus Plate. These fried pita chips were just amazing! 

Then we browsed a nearby Indian market and found some tasty treasures. When I travel, I pretty much just eat and check out grocery stores. After shopping, we headed back to Sheridan's, and she cooked a pre-race pasta meal with Banza pasta, Beyond meat crumbles, and a veggie-heavy marinara. Sheridan cooks me pre-race pasta every year because she's the best!

The next morning, I woke at 5 a.m. and got ready for the race, and then I headed downtown around 6:15 a.m. to find parking. Luckily, I found a free street parking spot right away, so I jogged to the expo to stay warm. It was 48 degrees that morning, but it would warm up to the mid-70s, so I was only wearing a singlet and shorts.

Once inside, I grabbed a selfie and took a few bathroom breaks. Pre-race nerves!

And then I met up with Natasha for a quick pic. Natasha is from Memphis, and she's at nearly every race in the tri-state area. 

The race took off at 8 a.m., and I fell into a nice pace. I had planned to treat this race as a training run for my upcoming 50-miler, so I tried not to push too hard. Within the first mile, there was a beer stop, so of course, I stopped! And in mile 8, there was a Fireball stop, another beer stop, and a champagne stop. I had one of each. These are teensy pours though, y'all — maybe one ounce of each. Just enough for a little mental boost to help break through the boredom. This lady knows what I'm talking about! I don't know her, but I had to snap a pick of her shirt. What a cool lady!

About halfway into the race, I realized I was possibly on pace for a PR. And even though I didn't plan to PR, I figured I should probably try since I was doing well. So I kept up that pace. But it got pretty hilly around mile 15, and that slowed me quite a bit. And it got very hot. The sun was shining, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Oh, and I forgot to wear sunscreen, and I could feel my skin baking.

So needless to say, that last half was a tough one. An aid station with tater tots at mile 16 certainly helped though! But when I crossed the finish line, I was eight seconds short of a PR. I took three mid-race bathroom breaks, so one less break (or maybe one less beer or tot stop!) would have done the trick. But how was I to know? Anyway, I'm still proud of my second-fastest marathon! And this weather was far hotter than in my PR race last December. PR or no, I earned this crazy medal.

At the post-race party, I grabbed some pasta with marinara (Little Rock always has vegan options; another reason I don't miss this race!) and my free beer.

And then I headed back to Sheridan's for a shower. And then I stopped by Blaze Pizza for a vegan pie with Daiya, meat-free chorizo, and all the veggies. Plus, a balsamic and olive oil drizzle. We don't have Blaze Pizza in Memphis, so I was excited to try this, and it did not disappoint. 

Another marathon in the books!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Mardi Gras Meals!

Mardi Gras was last Tuesday, and I never let a Fat Tuesday go by without a celebration. I don't celebrate Lent or anything. But I love a party. And I love Cajun food. This year, I made the Eggplant & Sausage Jambalaya from Cookin' Crunk.

It's been so long since I've made this! I got a little burnt out on my cookbook recipes after it was published because I had to make them over and over in testing. But the book came out in 2012 (over a decade ago, y'all!), so some time has passed. I forgot how much I loved the Creole Seitan Sausage that I used in this recipe. You make that first, and then it goes in the jamabalaya. The eggplant stands in for the chicken. This was spicy and comforting.

I typically make a king cake every year. But I was feeling lazy this year, and I didn't really want to be stuck with a whole cake. So I googled a recipe for a single-serve Mug King Cake. This recipe was vegan except for the milk, which was easily subbed for soymilk. Now, this was nothing like a king cake. It was a mug cake. But it had the signature icing and colored sugar, and that was good enough for me.

I also had an Abita Mardi Gras bock beer. Let the good times roll!

Monday, February 27, 2023

Belated Valentine's Day Dinner

Paul and I couldn't go out on Valentine's Day this year because it fell on a Tuesday. He works late on Tuesdays, and I go to bed at 8 p.m. every night because my work day starts at 4:30 a.m. So we put off dinner for a night when we both had time. And that night finally came last Friday. 

My parents mail a Valentine's Day card every year with a check to pay for our dinner, so we had some money burning a hole in our pockets. We had planned to go to Ciao Bella, a vegan-friendly Italian place. But we didn't make reservations, and Ciao Bella was packed with an hour wait. So we called Seasons 52, our go-to date night place. And they said they could fit us in. 

So we made the 10-minute drive from Ciao Bella to Seasons 52. And when we got there, a different hostess told us it'd be an hour wait. Dang! Luckily, there were two spots open at the bar, so we grabbed those and opted to eat our dinner there instead of at a table.

We started with the Grilled Artichoke and Lemon Hummus app. This was our first time trying this, and we were both blown away by those chargrilled chokes! The lemon hummus was good too (though a little heavy on the tahini). 

For my entree, I got Winter Gnocchi. The gnocchi is always the only vegan entree option, but the sauce and toppings change with the seasons. I'd only ever had this in the summer with a tomato and veggie base, so I was excited to try the winter version. It had a butternut squash sauce with sweet potatoes, kale, and mushrooms. 

One note: The menu does list this dish with mozzarella, so leave that off. The rest of the gnocchi is vegan. The summer version is naturally vegan, but they add cheese in the winter for some reason. I loved this winter variation. It was hearty and filling, and the whole meal felt pretty darn healthy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Dinner at Good Fortune

Last Saturday, I met up with my pals Megan and Stephanie (and Steph's whole family) for a fun dinner at Good Fortune, my favorite vegan-friendly ramen bar.

I've been there a number of times, and I've blogged about it before. But this last time, I discovered several new-to-me vegan dishes. I ordered the Tan Tan Ramen, which I've had before. It has TVP and kaffir lime, and it is phenomenal. Also, they make their own noodles, and they're amazing.

But I never knew these Tofu Bites were vegan! They're listed on the menu with as having honey butter, but they have a vegan symbol next to them. Still, I just assumed they were maybe only vegetarian, but a server told us they use non-dairy butter and not-real honey. So yay! These were awesome: crispy, spicy, buttery.

We also tried the Impossible Rolls for the first time. These are crispy, fried spring rolls stuffed with Impossible burger. I loved the crunch, and they were so meaty. 

I'm glad to have even more options at Good Fortune. I swear, like half the menu is vegan. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Pizza Day, a Healthy Cookie, and Bagel/Soup Combo

National Pizza Day was Feb. 9, and I'm obviously a little behind on posting. But I cannot let a National Pizza Day pass without eating pizza! Lucky me, I had some Rotolo's Vegan Sausage & Pepperoni slices in the deep freezer. They were left over from a pizza I ate over the summer, and I actually forgot about them for months. But they were still perfect! I thawed out the slices and reheated in the air fryer, and they were like brand new.

My parents got me a big Valentine's Day snack box, and so far, my favorite snack was this Rule Breaker Birthday Cake Cookie. It's made with chickpeas and other whole foods, and yet somehow, it tastes decadent. It's a soft cookie, which is my preference. I'm probably going to order a whole box of these in different flavors.

And a couple Fridays ago, I stopped by Lulu's for lunch and ordered the Mushroom Dumpling Soup. It had wild mushrooms and sourdough dumplings, and it was perfect on a chilly day.

But I wanted something more to go with it, so I also got an Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese. The sourdough bagels, like everything at Lulu's are made in-house, and their cashew cream cheese is the absolute creamiest!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Valentine's Dinner for One

Paul has had to work late every night this week, as he fills in for a coworker on vacation. And that meant we couldn't do a Valentine's date on Feb. 14. But we'll have a makeup dinner soon! Still yet, I couldn't let Valentine's pass me by without a fancy meal. So I had a hot date with myself! 

I had picked up the Tabitha Brown Sweet Pea & Basil Ravioli at Target a few weeks back, and I was saving it for a special occasion. So I made a white wine-garlic sauce with olive oil, Kite Hill plant-based butter, chardonnay, garlic, and red pepper flakes. And I steamed some broccolini. Then I tossed the ravioli and broccolini with the sauce. I topped it all with some Kelly's Roasted Garlic Parm (made with nuts and nooch). Voila! Fancy dinner in 15 minutes or less. I served it with a glass of red wine. 

Paul did make it home before my bedtime though. So we had a few minutes to exchange Valentine's. I got him some of his favorite truffles and gummy candies. And he got me this box of Lake Champlain Vegan Truffles in raspberry and dark chocolate. They're stuffed with chocolate coconut cream, and they are divine! (And one is missing because I ate it.)

Monday, February 13, 2023

Super Bowl Snacks!

I only watch football one day a year, and that is Super Bowl Sunday. I don't dislike football, but I'm more of a basketball girl. It helps that Memphis has an NBA team — the Memphis Grizzlies. The nearest NFL team is the Tennessee Titans, and they're based out of Nashville. But Nashville is three hours away, and culturally, it's even further away. Our cities couldn't be more different.

But I love Super Bowl snacks. And I love the halftime show. Last night's halftime show was especially amazing. Y'all, Rhianna killed it — and while pregnant! On a flying platform! Paul and I were just blown away. 

As for those snacks, I had Morningstar Farms Pepperoni Pizza Rolls, Gardein Ultimate BBQ Wings, and Chips with Guacamole.

A simple but tasty meal! Both the wings and rolls were cooked in the air fryer, and it took me less than five minutes to make the guac. It was possibly the easiest Super Bowl meal ever!

As for the game, I was rooting for the Eagles since they have a couple players from Memphis, but oh well.  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Winter Salad, Moong Dal, and Tabitha Brown Sauce

We're still in winter, but we're getting hints of spring here in Memphis with a few 60-ish degree days. And let's be real: I love soup and stew, but sometimes, I just want a fresh salad. So this week, on a 65-degree, sunny February day, I made the Winter Sunshine Salad from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. This is free of salad greens, but it has red grapefruit, red cabbage, shaved fennel, walnuts, cilantro, lime, and avocado, and it was very tasty. I had some sourdough with hummus on the side.

But I do still love me some stew. And I also made the Whole Moong Dal from Plant-Based India this week. Another hit from this awesome book! I love how these recipes call for authentic ingredients like hing and curry leaves. I served it with Indian-spiced brown rice and parantha.

I made a tofu scramble last week, and I had some left on Monday morning, so I made Breakfast Tacos with avocado and salsa. Everything is better in a taco.

And finally, here's a tasty Roasted Veggie and Tofu Bowl that I had late last week. It had quinoa, steamed kale, and roasted squash, mushrooms, and tofu seasoned with an herby mixture. But the star of the show was the Tabitha Brown Garlic Truffle Sauce on top. I bought a jar of it at Target, and it's fantastic!