Thursday, August 31, 2023

End-of-Summer Supper!

Every year, toward the end of summer, my mama makes a giant Southern supper with all the fried, fresh seasonal veggies. It’s one of my favorite traditions. We’d planned the meal this year for late July, but my parents ended up getting Covid. Boo! So we had to reschedule.

That rescheduled dinner was this past Friday. I made the drive to my parents’ house in Arkansas, and dinner was already on the stove. We had Fresh Purple Hull Peas and Cornbread, Fried Summer Squash, Fried Green Tomatoes, Air-fried Okra, Fried Potatoes with Chow Chow, and Buttered Corn off the Cob. And on the side, we had sweet tea. This is the one time per year I actually drink sweet tea (even though I love it).

After dinner, my parents’ neighbors took us on a pontoon ride around their lake, and then we came back in the house for dessert: Vegan Lemon Icebox Pie! Lemon desserts are my favorite. I’ll take that over chocolate anyday.

The next morning, I got in an early 12-mile run in the Ozark foothills (talk about some hill work!) before brunch. And then we had these awesome Breakfast Bowls. The base was seasoned rice, and that was topped with hash brown rounds, Impossible sausage, Just Egg, and Violife vegan cheddar. The Violife doesn’t always melt, but that’s okay! This was so good.

And that wasn’t all. We also had Biscuits and Gravy on the side. A fantastic post-run brekky!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Book Review: The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook

If there's one thing I love more than running, it's eating. So naturally, I love to nerd out about performance nutrition. The day before a long run or race, I try to focus on specific foods that I believe will give me an edge, and I'm a big nerd about during-run and post-run nutrition, too. When I got a chance to review the new Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook by Nichole Dandrea-Russert, I jumped at the chance.

This book is loaded with information on what to eat for plant-based performance with in-depth chapters on each macro (carbs, protein, fats), fiber, and hydration. Plus, there are entire chapters on key micronutrients: one for calcium, one for vitamin D, etc. I was really impressed that each nutrient got its own chapter, and the author includes tips on how to get more of each into your diet.

But the book goes beyond nutrition with looks at how sleep and supplements can help your performance as well. Plus, there are sample vegan athlete meal plans at different calorie levels and tips on creating your own meal plan.

Best of all though are the recipes! So far, I've tried three things. The Loaded Lentil and Mexican Corn Bowl was a totally whole-foods, plant-based meal with taco-seasoned lentils, baked sweet potatoes, raw massaged kale, fresh jalapenos, fresh red cabbage, and avocado. A very filling meal with lots texture and flavor. You can never go wrong with a bowl like this, and bonus: The leftovers made for a great burrito!

I also made the Glycogen-Restoring Black Rice Salad. This had an Asian flair with a miso-soy sauce-sesame dressing flecked with lots of raw garlic. I never know what to do with black rice, but I always have some lurking in the pantry. Also, the recipe didn't call for tofu, but I added some baked teriyaki tofu for extra protein.

The last thing I tried was the Recovery Smoothie, and I don't have a photo because I can never remember to take photos of my post-run smoothies. But it had soymilk, banana, mixed berries, spinach, hemp seeds, apple, and peanut butter. Plus, I added some Complement protein for extra post-run protein.

Other recipes I want to try: the Long, Slow, and Steady Tempeh Farro Bowl (tempeh, lots of veggies, farro, and cashew cheese), Plant-powered PR Meatballs (made with lentils and quinoa), and the Warrior Breakfast Bowl (a savory bowl with quinoa, veggies, and hummus).

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Tempeh Nuggs, Fava Beans, & Caprese Pasta

I recently made the Baked Tempeh Nuggets from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook as part of my quest to make every recipe from the book. These were very tasty! They're seasoned in a marinade and then coated in breadcrumbs and baked. And they're really taste dipped in the creamy hemp dressing from the book. Served with Wicked Foods BBQ Mac & Cheese and broccoli because I love a toddler meal.

I picked up a can of Fava Beans in Tahini Sauce at an Indian market in Little Rock. This is basically canned ful medames, which is a really tasty African and Middle Eastern dish. There was a Middle Eastern restaurant near my house that closed years ago, and it served the best ful medames with a vegan garlic sauce that's very similar to the Trader Joe's garlic sauce. So I added some of that! And I had kale, kraut, and paratha. A very multi-cultural meal!

And finally, here's a tasty Easy Caprese Pasta from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook. It's got homemade tofu feta with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic. I had some sourdough toast with vegan Boursin cheese spread and kalamata olive spread. A perfect night-before-my-run meal.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Spam Sushi and Samosas

But not together! That would be weird. Anyway, I've had a half-pack of OmniPork vegan luncheon meat (aka vegan Spam) in the deep freezer for awhile, so I decided to make Spam Sushi with it last week! These salty, meaty filets were perfect sushi filling because they added a salty bite to the otherwise sweet-tangy sushi rice and crisp cucumbers. 

A perfect use for this spam, by the way. I had the other half of the pack in a spam hash awhile back, and it was good. But I think this was better!

Here's a bowl of Khatti Dal that I made from Plant-Based India last week. This uses masoor dal, and it has a tangy (almost sour) flavor. It's made creamy with a little vegan soy yogurt. Really good, though not my favorite dal from the book, admittedly. 

On the side, I had some Trader Joe's Vegetable Samosas with a cilantro chutney that I bought at an Indian market. These TJ's samosas are a new fave. I've picked them up and put them back on just about every trip to TJ's over the years. I don't know I never went through with buying them, but I'm so glad I finally did. I'll be stocking up on these with every trip now!

Monday, August 21, 2023

IKEA Eats!

I rarely get out to IKEA because it's just such a big event. The store is huge, and I like to spend a couple hours browsing. Plus, it's best when I actually need something from there instead of going to blow money on things I don't need.

But I needed two new lamps to replace a couple lamps that I was tired of. And so, a couple Fridays ago, I spent the better part of a day at IKEA. And of course, that meant lunch in the cafe! Since my last trip there, pre-pandemic, IKEA has come out with new Plant Balls, which are made with pea protein. They're meatier than the Veggie Balls, and I was excited to try them. The selection of sides is rather random, but I went with a veggie medley and black beans. Kind of a Mexican meatball meal. Ha!

Weird, but good! And of course, I picked up some Plant Balls and Lignonberry Jam from the Swedish grocery area to bring home. Swedish meatballs will be on my menu soon!

I also got a bag of the Veggie Dogs for the house. They sell these for $1 in the cafe, and I've had them there before. But on my last trip, they weren't available in the frozen section as a take-home thing. I picked up a jar of their Mustard & Dill Sauce to serve on the dogs at home.

Love these! They're basically the same as the Veggie Balls but shaped like hot dogs. They're fairly low-cal and low-protein, so when I eat them at home, I've been having two at a time.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Veggie Hoagies, Dosa, & More!

I've mentioned this about 500 times before, but I'm on a years-long quest to make every recipe in the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I swear I'm getting close. I only had about three recipes left in the entrees chapter, and one of those was this Veggie Hoagie. So now I'm down to two. Though I still have a number of sides, desserts, and athletic performance recipes to go!

For this, I made my own sourdough baguette with my new baguette pan. It was my first time trying any shape besides a boule. I still need to work on it because my baguettes were a little misshapen, but they tasted great. The inside of the hoagie was stuffed with artichokes, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, onion, pesto, and balsamic vinegar. 

I also tried making from-scratch dosa for the first time using the Simplified Dosa recipe from the Fiber Fueled Cookbook. The insides were stuffed with curry potatoes. For this, you ferment the batter for 24 hours, which was pretty cool. I couldn't get my dosa to be paper-thin like the restaurants do, but it was still very tasty. I had some Trader Joe's mini Veggie Samosas on the side.

Here's a recent Lulu's Brekky Sando with tofu egg, cashew cheese, and red pepper bacon. The bacon changes based on what veggies are in season.

I enjoyed that with an iced Tropic of Cancer Latte with coconut and lime. Those aren't flavors you'd expect in a coffee drink, but it worked! And it hit the spot on a very hot day.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Lammas Eats

Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh) was August 1. It's one of the three harvest holidays celebrated by modern-day pagans, and it's all about the bread. There's also a Christian holiday called Loaf Mass — one of those stolen holidays from back in the day when the Christians took all the pagan holidays and made them something else. Couldn't they just come up with their own holidays? But I digress.

I celebrated on August 1 with bread, of course! I've been baking my own sourdough for about a year now, and I recently got some baguette pans so I could try a new shape. Before, I'd only made boules. There was a recipe in the Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac for Sausages and Tomatoes on Bread that sounded really good, so I veganized it with Field Roast apple-sage sausage, farmer's market cherry tomatoes, and my baguette slices. The sausage and tomatoes are all roasted together and mixed with lots of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So good!

For dessert, I made a Blackberry Cobbler from that same book. It was a naturally vegan recipe, so that was easy. 

This was a super cakey cobbler with a thick layer of soft cake atop mixed berries. Best enjoyed with a scoop of Coco Whip on top. I brought the leftovers to work to share with co-workers, and it was a hit!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Birthday Fun with Sheridan (and Cinnaholic!!)

My BFF Sheridan had a birthday on Tuesday, but I made the drive to visit her in Little Rock last weekend. Sheridan is a theater teacher, but during the summers, she directs community theater shows. And her performance of Cabaret was closing last weekend, so this gave me a chance to see the show and have birthday fun time.

Shortly after I arrived on Friday, Sheridan, Drew, and I headed to Raduno Brick Oven for pizza and beer! They have several vegan menu items.

We started with the Spinach Dip Appetizer. This was great! I loved the gooey, cheesy dip.

We ordered a Vegan Pepperoni Pizza and a Funghi Pizza. The pepperoni one had vegan cheese, and we went cheese-less on the mushroom pie. That one also had a lovely truffle oil topping. 

We had some lattes and walked around downtown after dinner, and we checked out the Arkansas Arts Center's galleries. 

Then it was time for Sheridan and Drew to head to the theater. Sheridan was the director, and Drew played several parts in the show. They had to be at the theater early, so I met up with our friend Brittany (who I've been friends with since the second grade!) and some of her friends for drinks at El Sur. I had a Jalapeno Margarita.

Then we headed to the theater to get our seats. Cabaret was fantastic! Super fun show! And afterward, we joined the cast for drinks at BJ's Brewhouse, but I didn't get any pics there.

The next day, Sheridan made us Vegan Breakfast Sandwiches with Beyond Sausage, Chao cheese, tofu egg, mayo, and hot sauce on English muffins. Sheridan's tofu egg is the best.

We went with that light brekky at her house rather than going out for brunch because we had big plans for lunch treats at Cinnaholic! Little Rock has had a location of this all-vegan cinnamon roll chain for a while, but I've somehow never been. We don't have one in Memphis, so this was a big deal. I got the Campfire Smores Roll with marshmallow cream, graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and chocolate sauce. 

Whew! This was a lot of sugar, and I had a big crash later. But it was worth every bite. Maybe it's for the best that the closest Cinnaholic to me is 2-plus hours away. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Vegan Food I Didn't Cook

Here's a round-up of a few meals I've eaten from Memphis restaurants lately. Lulu's changes their lunch sandwich special every few days, but they recently offered this Corned Beet Reuben. I'll never say no to a reuben. And beets are the best. Plus, Lulu's makes their own ferments, so I knew that kraut would be fire. And it was.

On the side, I got the Potato Salad. A nice treat on a hot summer day.

And I got a Strawberry Lemon Scone to go. I'm making sure to treat myself to a full dessert at least once a week, maybe twice. I enjoyed this with a cup of black tea and a book at home that afternoon.

Another sweet treat I enjoyed recently: a Fruit Loops Macaron from Sift Bakery. They always have vegan macaron flavors for sale at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market!

The Veggie Fajita Tacos from Maciel's in Cooper-Young were so good. I met up with an old co-worker for lunch there a couple Fridays ago and tried these for the first time. This will always be my order now. They also have fried potato tacos, but I like these even better. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Plant-Based Athlete Recipes & More

I've been on a years-long quest to make every recipe in No Meat Athlete founder Matt Frazier's books. I'm nearly there with his No Meat Athlete Cookbook, but I'm also working through the recipes in he and Robert Cheeke's Plant-Based Athlete book. Last week, I took a deep dive into that book's recipe section and made three things. 

One was this Vegan Power Bowl from vegan RD Pamela Ferguson. It had a buckwheat base, which was a fun grain that I rarely eat. That was topped with roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, chopped red peppers, corn, avocado, and sunflower cream. This is the kind of dish that just makes me feel good.

I also made the Vegan Taco Bowl from bodybuilder Korin Sutton. This has a lettuce base, kind of a taco salad. And that's topped with cooked vegan burger, vegan cheddar shreds, bell pepper, tomato, and vegan sour cream. A nice balance of whole foods with some processed fun stuff.

And finally, here's James Wilks' Overnight Oats. Wilks is a former MMA fighter, but you probably know him as the producer and host of the Game Changers film. The oats were a little different from most overnight oats recipes I've had because they had hemp seeds instead of chia. I think I prefer the hemp seeds because the oats don't get so thick and pudding-like. It also has peanut butter, and it's naturally sweetened with mashed banana.

Not from that book, but here's a recent Tofu Stir-fry with Trader Joe's super-firm tofu and lots of chili crisp over sauteed local squash and bell peppers. I really love TJ's super-firm tofu! It's topped with awesome vegan sriracha mayo we found at the Vietnamese market.

And finally, here's a tasty Breakfast Sandwich with local, fresh tomato and Smart Bacon.