Sunday, March 18, 2018

St. Patrick's Weekend Recap!

I love St. Patrick's Day! Nothing makes me happier than to see people participating in holiday fun, so I'm always giddy when I see random strangers wearing green on St. Paddy's Day. Plus, we all know much I love beer! I also have a soft spot for Irish food, probably because way down the family line, I've got a little Irish in me.

My St. Pat's fun actually started several days before the holiday though. Our Crosstown Running Crew had our monthly group run on Wednesday, and we encouraged everyone to wear green. And then on Thursday, Misti, Paul, and I took part in my very favorite St. Pat's tradition — the Breakaway Running Pub Run! Misti and I have been doing this annual run for three years now, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

We start at Breakaway Running — our local Midtown running store — and run to three bars. The more you drink, the easier running gets! We ran from Breakaway to Memphis Made Brewery, then to Hammer & Ale, and then to Slider Inn, where we also snacked on sliders and fries (a Vegan Triple B Slider for me!). We made some new runner friends at Slider, so we followed them to LBOE for a little more socializing before calling it a night.

On Saturday, I had a 10-mile long run planned, so I woke up early and had this pre-run breakfast of Irish Steel Cut Oats with vegan butter, maple, cinnamon, and walnuts. I finally got some of the vegan Bailey's Almande! So I made Irish coffee too!

I planned my route so that I would pass through the Cooper-Young neighborhood just as their annual St. Pat's parade was lining up. I missed the actual parade, but I got to see some of the walking groups and floats lined up and waiting to start. After my run, of course I had to have a green smoothie! This has kiwi, apple, banana, spinach, almond milk, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, and vanilla protein powder.

Around 1:30 pm, I met up with Andy and Tyler for green beer (the Siren Blonde Ale) at Crosstown Brewing Co. 

Then we stopped back by my house for a few Irish car bombs before heading downtown for the St. Patrick's parade on Beale. This was the first year I was able to use vegan Bailey's and Guinness for my car bombs! In the past, I had to use other brands of beer for my stout since Guinness wasn't vegan yet, and I always made my own vegan Bailey's. But now I can just buy the real thing! So cool that these two companies care are now vegan-friendly!

Then it was off to the parade downtown! We scored so many beads!

After the parade, we went back home, and I whipped up some Corned Beet & Cabbage with Colcannon — both recipes from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. 

I had a lot of trouble with the corned beet seitan recipe, mostly because I didn't follow directions. I tried making it the night before in a slow cooker, even though the recipe says to cook it on the stovetop for four hours. I just didn't have four hours! The seitan was super spongey, so I tried steaming it in foil Saturday morning after my run. That still didn't firm it up, so I tried baking it. Ha! After all of that, the seitan was still too soft, not meaty enough. Thankfully, a few hours in the fridge did the trick, finally making it sliceable and meaty.

The colcannon is just mashed potatoes with olive oil and kale. Simple and delicious!

After dinner, we headed to Crosstown Arts for an art opening, and then we hung out with some of my co-workers at Crosstown Brewing before calling it a night. Good times!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Here's a round-up of what I've been eating this week! We'll start with this Double Chocolate Brownie Protein Waffle by FitQuick with maple and raspberries. I've been eating FitQuick waffles after at least one weekly run for a couple years now, and I'm still not tired of them!

Here's a thrown-together Taco Bowl of quinoa, kale, kidney beans, and some Veg-All (from a can!) topped with avocado and a quick nooch sauce seasoned with taco spice. 

And here's a Loaded Avocado topped with brown rice, kidney beans, zucchini, corn, bell pepper, cherry tomato, and salsa.

Last Saturday, I went to an afternoon tea party for my friend Nathan's birthday. He made these yummy Baked Sweet Potato Chips topped with hummus (on the second and third tiers).

And he made Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Everything Bread. I'm all about everything anything!

He also made a really fun vegan dessert by crumbling chocolate Oreos and mixing with extra filling from some golden Oreos to create a sort of chocolate buttercream, which he then piped atop the golden Oreos and topped with strawberries.

Here's a post-run Warm Oats & Protein Nice Cream bowl with blueberry protein banana soft serve. The oats were sweetened with maple syrup. 

And here is a bowl of Savory Spinach Oats with Tofu Egg. I mixed some frozen spinach, vegan butter, nooch, garlic powder, and Bragg's into my oats, and then I topped with pan-fried tofu that I spread with Vegg yolk as it cooked. Topped with habanero sauce, natch.

Still eating lots of Dave's Bagels. Here's an Everything Bagel with Leaf Cuisine Garlic Herb Probiotic Cashew Cheese. Found the cheese at Whole Foods in Little Rock. It's so good!

And finally, here's today's lunch! Our chef at Crosstown Arts and his team made hummus, baba ganoush, and tabbouleh for the resident artists, and they stashed the leftovers in the office fridge. I brought quinoa, chickpeas, and collards from home and topped with the hummus, baba, and tabbouleh. Perfect Mediterranean Bowl!

Hope y'all have a happy St. Patrick's Day weekend! It's one of my favorite holidays. I'll report back on Sunday with an Irish food and drinking recap. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Goddess Provisions: Ayruveda Box

My March Goddess Provisions box is one of my fave boxes so far! But before we dig in, I should mention that I've been a subscriber to Goddess Provisions — a vegan monthly box of mystical and magical supplies — since day one. They're one of my very favorite vegan companies, and I like to feature their boxes in a monthly post.

Without further ado, here's my March Ayruveda Box!

Ayruveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses through diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. I've long been interested in Indian culture and actually went vegetarian at age 14 thanks to the influence of my junior high BFF Purvi and her family (they moved to the States from India in the mid-90s). I'm also a big believer that Eastern medicine has stuck around for as long as it has because it works! 

That said, I wasn't terribly familiar with Ayruveda, so I was thrilled to have The Idiot's Guide to Ayruveda. I've read several of the Idiot's Guide books, and they really do a great job at breaking things down in simple, easy to digest text. I'm on chapter four already, and I've learned that my dosha (the energies that define my physical makeup) is vata. Now I'm digging into how that effects what I should and shouldn't be eating on the regular to balance my vata energy.

Also in the box was a copper tongue scraper. Tongue scraping is a big thing in Ayruveda, and it's supposed to remove bacteria and prevent bad breath. I've been using it in the mornings after I brush, but it's a little tricky with my tongue ring!

The box also contained Gonesh Sandalwood Incense Cones, which I failed to photograph. But they smell amazing. Long ago, the aforementioned Purvi gifted me a sandalwood pocket mirror from one of her visits to India, and I always loved the way it smelled. Sadly, it's been lost over the years, but this incense took me back.

There was also a Carnelian, a sacral chakra stone that's supposed to be good for balancing pitta dosha (although I'm primarily vata, I do have some pitta traits). I also love carrying carnelian for boosting creativity and helping with goal-setting.

Lots of smell good stuff this month! There's Tridoshic spritzer (a lovely aromatherapy spray that helps balance vata, pitta, and kasha doshas), Balanced Guru Scalp Treatment (which I haven't tried yet, but is said to be good for reviving your tired head after a long day), and Ahimsa Essentials Zen oil blend (a mix of peppermint, lavender, and bergamot – my faves!).

I love the Copper Cup Turmeric Latte Mix! This is a powdered mix with a dried coconut milk base, turmeric, and other spices. It's sweet and warming and delicious paired with hot water, warm almond milk, and agave. 

If you're interested in subscribing to the monthly Goddess Provisions box, use this link. I'm an ambassador, so I make a couple bucks from each sale using my link.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fuel Cafe's Vegan Pizza (& More!)

Fuel Cafe has been around for years, and they've always been vegan-friendly (and have long boasted the best homemade vegan burger). But this Midtown contemporary American cafe just got more vegan than ever! Fuel has gone through a few menu revamps over the years, and each time, they add more vegan options. Past menus have included vegan grilled cheeses, quinoa chili, vegan TV-style dinners, gourmet bowls, and even vegan root beer floats. But this time, they've truly outdone themselves by adding VEGAN PIZZA.

Fuel closed temporarily over the past few weeks while they installed a pizza oven and concocted a new menu. They hired my friend Don, who, as the leader of Memphis Pizza Cult and the baker of Lulu's Baked, has a bit of a local reputation for being a vegan pizza/cashew cheese wizard. Don makes his own crust from sourdough starter and handcrafts artisan cashew cheeses. Plus, he's got serious pizza topping knowledge.

Fuel reopened today (Tuesday!), but we were invited to the soft opening last night. My friends Susan and Kenzie (Don's wife, aka the First Lady of Pizza) shared a few pies. I ordered the Jason's Temptation Pizza, vegan-style. This has a cream sauce with cashew mozz, potatoes, and dill.

The great thing about Fuel's new menu is most things can be made vegan (and the menu lets you know what to say to sub out for vegan ingredients). Also, many of the sauces — like the cream sauce and mushroom cream for pizzas — are already vegan. This was definitely my fave of the bunch because I think potatoes and cream on pizza cannot be beat.

Susan went with the Carrot Hawaiian Pizza (vegan-style) with carrot ham, cashew mozz, red sauce, and pineapple. Don's carrot ham is simply amazing. He's been using that to stuff inside his Lulu's Baked buns at Saturday farmer's markets, and I'm so glad I can get it on pizza now.

Kenzie got a build-your-own pizza with Beet Pepperoni and Cashew Mozz. I mean, beet pepperoni, y'all! How great is that????!

With the build-your-own menu, the vegan combinations are endless. Next time (when I don't have kale-hating Susan with me!), I'm getting a cream sauce base with baby kale and cremini shrooms.

The dinner menu also features several vegan sub sandwiches — an oyster mushroom banh mi, one with blackeyed pea falafel, and a roasted veggie (with vegan cheese). 

We also got an appetizer to share — Oyster Shrooms with a Vegan Aioli. These were crispy and well-seasoned without being overly oily. LOVED the dipping sauce.

Kenzie got the Caesar-Esque Salad (ordered vegan) with tahini dressing and Don's handcrafted sourdough croutons. I tried a bite, and it was fantastic.

The starters menu also features a vegan Herbed Lentil Salad, Roasted Carrots with Dill Tahini, Blackeyed Pea Falafel, and Walnut Pate. 

I'm am just tickled to death about this new menu, and this will for sure be my new go-to place for vegan pizza!! Sadly, the veggie burger I mentioned is no longer on the cafe menu, but I hear it's still available on the Fuel food truck, which also happens to serve some killer vegan tacos using their handmade burger.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Air-Fryer Vegan Taquitos

My awesome dad just started cooking over the past year, thanks to the magic of the air fryer. He wasn't interested in cooking for pretty much my whole life, but a couple Christmases ago, my parents got an air fryer — and everything changed.

My dad, who is semi-retired, started messing around with the air fryer and realized he had some serious kitchen skills. Soon, he was cooking entire dinners in the fryer so they'd be ready when my mom got home from work. From there, he branched into occasionally using the oven, the stovetop, and other appliances and gadgets. But I credit the air fryer with turning my daddy into a chef!

He recently made me some Vegan Beef & Cheese Taquitos — some of which he served fresh to me while I was in town and the rest he froze for me to heat in my own air fryer. I had some of the frozen ones yesterday with a little sauteed veggies, avocado, kidney beans, and brown rice. Salsa for dippin!

He was nice enough to share his recipe, so I'm sharing with y'all!

Air-Fryer Vegan Beef & Cheese Taquitos
Yields 24 taquitos

24 corn tortillas
1/4 cup oil (plus more as needed)
1 pound vegan ground beef crumbles, thawed (we like Gardein!)
Half white onion, minced
1 cup vegan cheddar shreds (we like Daiya!)
1 package taco seasoning

Coat a skillet with oil and heat to medium. Place one tortilla in the skillet, heat for a few seconds, flip, and heat the other side for a few seconds. You're just making them pliable here, so don't overcook. Cover cooked tortillas with a warm towel until ready to roll.

As you're heating your tortillas, add a little more oil to another skillet. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the beefless crumbles and taco seasoning. Heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

To assemble, place one tablespoon of beefless crumbles and a half-tablespoon of cheddar in the center of a heated tortilla and roll up. Use a toothpick to hold the taquito together. 

From here, you can cook immediately in the air fryer on 350 for about 8 minutes or freeze in plastic bags. To cook the frozen taquitos, simply heat in the fryer for about 10 minutes on 350 degrees.

If you have leftover meat and cheese afterward, save it for nacho night! Or taco night!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Veginner's Cookbook

When I went vegan in 2004, there were a few good resources out there for newbie vegans. Joanne Stepaniak's The Vegan Sourcebook was super-helpful, and I got lots of money-saving tips for new vegans from Stephanie Scarborough's The Cheap Vegan zine. 

But I wish I'd had The Veginner's Cookbook: The Ultimate Starter Guide for New Vegans and the Veg-Curious by Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer of Elephantastic Vegan. Not only is this new cookbook/guide book co-authored by someone who shares my name (bonus points from me for that!), it's also a really useful tool. The book opens with essays on vegan substitutions, basic ingredients and equipment, and tips for avoiding and/or arguing with skeptics. Plus, Bianca's kitchen hacks and Sascha's tips for navigating social situations are peppered throughout the book.

Most of the book is reserved for recipes, however. These are simple, comfort foods with short ingredient lists and easy instructions, perfect for the new vegan (or old vegan)! You'll find recipes for homemade seitan, cheese sauce, cashew parm, almond milk, and more in the Basics chapter. There's a Breakfast chapter with tofu scramble, blueberry pancakes, apple pie overnight oats, and strawberry chia pudding. 

The Soups chapter is short and sweet with five recipes, but all sound (and look — the book is filled with color pics) delicious. I made the Soothing Mushroom Ramen Soup with Crispy Tofu, and it was perfection!

This hearty ramen has rich mushroom base with carrots and spinach. It's topped with crispy, pan-fried tofu that's coated in curry sauce. I will definitely be making this again. The curry from the tofu mixed into the broth, creating a complex, comforting flavor.

The Main Meals chapter is the largest, and it contains everything from Creamy Avocado Pasta and Baked Falafel Pita to a Sweet Potato Hawaii Burger and Tomato Coconut Chickpea Curry. From that chapter, I picked the Stovetop Avocado Pizza.

The crust is basically a flatbread that's cooked in a skillet in a matter of minutes. It's soft and chewy, like pizza crust, but it comes together so much more quickly than a yeasted dough. It's topped with mashed avocado and pan-roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic glaze. I made this for a quick weeknight dinner before pulling a rare night shift at work. So awesome to make pizza in minutes! I made Paul a crust like this as well, but he topped his with more traditional pizza toppings.

Back at the end of January, I consulted the Snacks & Party Food chapter to make an appetizer to take to a full moon gathering with my lady friends. I opted for the "To Share or Not to Share" Pizza Pinwheels — phyllo dough rolled up with pizza sauce, vegan parm, and green olives. I added some Daiya mozzarella to mine as well, even though the recipe didn't call for it. These were a huge hit at the gathering!

Other snacks in the chapter include Cheesy Dill Popcorn (nooch and dill have long been my fave popcorn toppers), Garlic Herb Breadsticks, Baked Hummus Dip, and Homemade Crackers.

There's also a hearty dessert chapter, but I haven't tried anything from it. I've got my eye on the Lemon-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls though (sounds weird but delicious), as well as the Life-Changing Frozen Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookies. There are even four recipes for various flavors of banana Nice Cream!

Whether you're a new vegan or a veteran, this book has something for you! 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Vegan in 7 Giveaway!

I love a simple recipe with few ingredients. I spend so much on groceries every week, mostly because I refuse to deny myself any meal that I want — no matter how many ingredients, no matter how much those cost. That works for me since I don't spend extravagantly in any other area of life. I rarely buy clothes or shoes. I don't travel often (and when I do, it's usually a paid-for work trip). But I realize that saving money would be wise, so I appreciate recipes that call for only a few things. Especially when those things are fresh fruits and veggies.

Enter Vegan in 7: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes in 7 Ingredients or Fewer by Rita Serano. I was sent a copy of this to review, but it was mailed to my old office, so when I didn't receive the copy after several weeks, the marketing person for the book then sent me another copy to my our new work address. That copy arrived, and then just a few days later, the other copy was forwarded to my new address too. So I ended up with two copies, and I'll share one with a lucky reader. Details for the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Anyway, about the book! As I mentioned, each recipe has seven (or less!) ingredients. And they're primarily fresh, easy to find items. The chapters are organized not by meal type but by adjectives that describe the meals. There's Start (breakfast), Fresh (salads), Fast (easy meals), Nourish (entrees), Gather (made with lots of fresh, seasonal produce), Sweet (desserts), and Basics (sauces, snacks).

I started with the Start chapter since I'm all about breakfast. I made the Tofu Scramble and the Blackberry, Plum, & Black Pepper Chia Jam.

The scramble was seriously the easiest scram I've ever made, yet it was so full of flavor. It was made with tofu, onion, spinach, turmeric, chili powder, and black salt. That's it! But the onion and black salt made it taste so good! I feel like I always add way too much seasoning and veggies to a scramble. It's nice to have one that's so simple.

The jam is an easy stovetop chia jam made with blackberries, plums, lemon, maple, chia seeds, and dash of pepper. I love chia jams because they're such a breeze to make at home. I've been enjoying this on whole wheat toast with vegan butter at breakfast and also on PB&Js for snacks.

From the Fast chapter, I made the Portobello Satay with Peanut Sauce.

These skewered 'bella mushrooms are grilled (I used my indoor grill) and served with toasted coconut and a tasty peanut sauce. I made these because Paul grew up in Holland, where they eat tons of satay, and portabellas are his favorite veggies. He liked this meal! We served it with steamed kale and quinoa cooked with a little garlic.

Other meals on my list: Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Guacamole, Zucchini Frittata, Green Quinoa Bowls (with kale, avocado, quinoa, and peas!), Noodles with Carrot Miso Sauce, Salt-Baked Beets & Potatoes with Saffron Aioli, Carob Cake with Strawberries and Black Pepper, and Sunflower Butter Fudge.

Want your own copy of Vegan in 7? Just leave a comment here with your favorite few-ingredient meal idea. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win! I'll randomly select a winner on Monday night.