Thursday, February 22, 2018

Vegan Beer Chili

My partner Paul's brother Donnie and his partner Jackie are involved with a family brewery business in Pennsylvania called Sobel's Obscure Brewery. Jackie's father, along with herself and her brother Gordon, lauched SOB (as its nicknamed) in 2012. Though we can't buy the brew down here in Memphis (craft beers tend to be regional), Jackie and Donnie brought some down over the holidays and asked if I could create a few vegan recipes with them.

I love cooking with beer! It adds such a complex flavor to recipes. Of course, the dish that comes to mind immediately is beer chili. Beer adds a nutty, malty flavor that complements to spiciness of the chili pepper and the heartiness of the beans.

I used the SOB Prehistoric Pilsner in this Vegan Beer Chili (recipe below!).

It's a light-bodied ale with just a little hint of citrus. There's a slight hops flavor that's balanced and not at all overwhelming. I prefer easy-drinking beers like this in a chili rather than something hoppy like an IPA. If you can't get SOB brew in your area, any great pilsner will work for this recipe. But if you're in the Pennsylvania region (here's the store locator), you should definitely try it! I'll be creating another recipe using their IPA soon. Stay tuned!

By the way, Donnie creates the art for the labels. There's a different beer gnome on each varietal. This is Badgertail.

Vegan Beer Chili
Yields 6 cups

1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 bell pepper, any color
1 small hot pepper, minced (I use habanero, but jalapeno or any kind would work)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 14-ounce cans beans (whatever kind you like — I used a mixed 3-bean blend), drained & rinsed
1/2 cup SOB Prehistoric Pilsner (or any pilsner)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Heat the oil in a stock pot. Add the onion and saute 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and saute another minute.

Add the carrot, bell pepper, and hot pepper, and saute another 5-7 minutes or until veggies start to soften. Add the corn, tomatoes (and the juice), beans, beer, tomato paste, and spices. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with vegan cheddar, vegan sour cream, tortilla chips, cornbread, crackers, or whatever you fancy on your chili! Also makes great filling for burritos and topping for nachos and fries.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Straight from the Root

I work a full-time job, train for marathons (and now a 50K!), serve on volunteer boards, and lead a pretty active social life, so I'm a busy lady. But meal time is important to me, so I never skip meals no matter how busy I am. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are my top three favorite times of the day! I'm all about eating, and I prefer to eat healthy, fresh foods whenever I can.

But cooking takes time, and while I manage to find time (thanks meal prep!), I can still use a short-cut every now and then. That's why I'm super-stoked to discover Straight from the Root — sous vide-style cooked vegetables that are recipe-ready. They sent me some samples of their vegetables to review, and I've been working them into all sorts of fun, quick meals.

Sous vide cooking keeps all of the vegetables' vital nutrients intact, unlike traditional cooking methods, such as boiling or steaming, which typically cause nutrient loss of up to 30 percent (according to the Straight from the Root website). Plus, sous vide-style cooking really lends these veggies the perfect texture.

To prepare these, simply place the plastic bag into the microwave and heat for 90 seconds. They can also be enjoyed cold, straight out of the bag! By the way, here's the store locator on their site to see if they're available in your area (sadly, they're not in mine YET).

Last night, I used the Organic Baby Potatoes to make a Potato Salad. I didn't heat them, just opened the package and dumped them in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of vegan mayo, about a quarter of an onion (minced), one stalk of celery (minced), pickle relish, and a plop of Dijon. Perfect! These had the texture of al dente potatoes, exactly how I like mine for a potato salad. Served with BBQ Tempeh and Roasted Garlic Asparagus.

I especially love the Organic Butternut Squash because I DETEST cutting butternut squash. I hate it so much that I rarely ever cook with it, yet I love the flavor and texture. I know you can buy pre-cut squash, but my Kroger rarely carries it, so if I want the pre-cut stuff, I usually have to drive out to Whole Foods. I used the butternut squash in Gena's Black Bean Enchiladas (from Power Platessee Sunday's review), which were stuffed with kale and butternut squash. Her recipe called for roasting a butternut squash, but I was able to skip that step! WINNING!

The Baby Carrots were a lot of fun. I don't typically eat cooked carrots unless they're in a recipe, but after enjoying these, I'm thinking I'll be eating them cooked more often. I love how cooking releases the sweetness of the carrot. Plus, these were so cute with their little tops (which I did not eat, by the way). I enjoyed these as a side dish to a quiche with some hummus for dipping.

The Organic Sweet Potatoes made perfect burrito filler! I stuffed some in a burrito with chickpeas, Daiya, baby spinach, and fire-roasted tomatoes — a use-up-what-I-have-in-the-fridge burrito. 

The Organic Red Beets were really convenient. I love beets, but I don't love getting the red stuff all over my hands, clothes, and cutting board. These made a great side dish (Straight from the Root sent me two packages of each, so I've been trying them all kinds of ways), but my favorite use was in this Beet Hummus (recipe below!). I brought this to a full moon gathering, and it was so pretty and delicious. Look at that pink!

Beet Hummus

1 14-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1/2 package (2 ounces) Straight from the Root Organic Red Beets
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. water (or more depending on the texture you want)

If you want super-smooth hummus, place the chickpeas in a bowl and use your fingers to pop off the chickpea skins, one by one. Discard the skins. You can skip this step to save time, but your hummus won't be quite as silky smooth (I typically start this process and give up halfway through!).

Place the chickpeas and all other ingredients (except the water) into a food processor and process until smooth. Drizzle in the water, using as much as you need to assist the processor in making smooth hummus. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stuff I Ate

Here are a few random things I've been eating!

Probably the most exciting meal lately was this awesome Taco Night plate prepared by my awesome dad. Since he's semi-retired, he's started cooking dinner for my mom so it's ready when she gets home from work. My dad was never a cook before, so this is all new, and he's really got some serious talent that we didn't know was there. He made Vegan Tacos with seasoned Gardein beef, Daiya, and all the fixins. Plus, he made some special-recipe Air Fryer Vegan Taquitos! He made me a bunch to stash in my freezer, but I accidentally drove off and left them at my parents' house. So sad! I'll have to go back and visit soon and pick them up!

By the way, I plan to get his recipe for the taquitos soon, and I'll share! Also, for that dinner, my mom made Vegan Queso using the new Daiya cheeze sauce with canned Rotel, plus some awesome homemade guac. And she ordered takeout chips and salsa from their neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Oh, and mama made Spanish Rice too.

I got several great meals out of the leftovers. I made burritos for a couple days with the leftover beef and Daiya.

And the queso and salsa made the perfect Saturday afternoon "cleaning the house" snack. I have to snack when I'm cleaning. It's the only way to clean, y'all. You just get a bite or two after each room. Food is an excellent motivator.

Speaking of snacks, here's the last ever Cashew Cheddar & Carrot Bacon Bun from Lulu's Baked. Don held his last Saturday market a couple weeks ago. So sad to see him go! But he's moving on to awesome-r things that will do more to improve vegan options in Memphis, so stay tuned! More on that soon!

Here's another fun snack — Activated Turmeric, Coconut, & Lime Pepitas from Moon Juice. I scored these at Delta Groove Yoga. They sells lots of Moon Juice stuff!

I was weirdly craving Buckwheat Pancakes and Vegan Sausage Friday night, so I decided I'd have that as my pre-bootcamp breakfast on Saturday morning. Luckily, I had Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mix in the pantry and Field Roast Apple-Maple Sausages in the deep freezer. Sometimes, it pays to be a food hoarder.

I had my third trail race on Sunday — the Stanky Creek 8K (plus an extra 3-mile training run on my own to get in my 8-mile long run for the day). Before the event, I had some Oatmeal with Sugar Cookie Peanut Butter, Maple Syrup, & Blackberries. The peanut butter was by Wild Friends, and I found it on sale at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro. Also, guess what? I loved the 8K so much that I signed up for the Stanky Creek 50K (in September) later that night!!! It'll be my first 50K (that's about 31 miles), so I'm pretty excited and also nervous.

Here's Monday's breakfast — Gena's Savory Oats with Tempeh Sausage and Everything Hummus. I just discovered Sprouts Everything Hummus, and it's the greatest thing ever. It's like an everything bagel, but it's hummus. I can't wait to try it on an everything bagel with TJ's bagel seasoning and have my MIND BLOWN.

And finally, here's an awesome fried tofu plate from Pho Binh. I met my old co-workers Susan, Toby, and Justin there for lunch last Thursday. All of this awesomeness is from their buffet — lemongrass tofu, green bean tofu, and tofu veggie stir-fry, plus cabbage soup!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Goddess Provisions Box: Faerie Magick

It's time for my monthly "unpacking my Goddess Provisions box" post! Every month, I share what's inside my subscription box, usually a collection of crystals, candles, chocolates, teas, and beauty products. The February box theme was Faerie Magick!

But we should back up a little before we talk about what's in the box. We should back WAY up to high school/early college. It was the late 90s, and I was super into faeries. I even got a tattoo of a faerie — my first tattoo — in 1999 (or was it 1998?). The design came from a Brain Froud book. I was way, way into Froud back then (and still am!). I had faerie knick-knacks and art pieces all over my apartments, and a few of those have survived the years and still decorate my home today.

So I was super-stoked over this theme! Brought me back, y'all. Here's what was inside.

There's a Cottagewicks Candle with strawberry quartz and turquenite. It's scented with lavender essential oil. I'm really excited about the turquenite since I don't have this crystal in my collection already. Once the candle burns down, I'll save it!

The candle goes well with the Element Botanicals bath salts with rosewood and lavender essential oils. I've been enjoying relaxing baths with these!

My favorite item was this Pacifica Liquid Highlighter. I've been applying this glittery, crystal makeup to my cheekbones for a fun glow.

Maynard thought the Biolumenessence Flower Essence was a treat for him. But nope, it's a treat for me. A few drops of this essence on the tongue helps you align yourself with nature spirits. I definitely feel uplifted when I take it. It's amazing the power of essences and tinctures.

The Superfeast Mushroom blend is a powdered mix of eight medicinal mushrooms. On its own, it's very bitter, so I don't recommend mixing with straight water. But the flavor is completely masked when it's added to a smoothie.

The crystal this month was rose quartz, and they accidentally sent me two! I didn't take any pics of these by themselves, but you can see them in the picture above. Just little pocket crystals. Nice for carrying around and great for crystal grids.

And here's my second favorite item! The Lisa Junius faerie pin! I've got the quite the pin and patch collection going on my jean jacket (mostly thanks to Goddess Provisions boxes), and this one is a perfect addition.

By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $33 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Power Plates

My blogger bud Gena Hamshaw (of the Full Helping) has done it again! She's come out with another amazing cookbook — Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced One-Dish Vegan Meals. Her first book Choosing Raw was so awesome that I used it to guide one of my January resets a few years back. And I think I love this new book even more!

Why, you ask? Well, I'm all about a one-dish meal. I'm a busy lady, and I rarely cook a meal that has more than one dish. Sure, I'll often pair a one-dish meal with a salad or steamed veggie, but I'm typically not going out of my way to prepare a meal with multiple dishes. Gena's book makes that easy since her recipes are nutritionally balanced. And in true Gena fashion, everything is super-healthy and wholesome without being boring.

I'm especially into her breakfast chapter because, like me, she prefers a savory breakfast over a sweet one. There are a few recipes for sweet things, like muesli and whole grain waffles. But there are even more recipes for savory treats, like breakfast tostadas with refried beans, root vegetable hash with tempeh, and cauliflower scramble. I made her Savory Breakfast Oats (in two ways!).

I had the Savory Turmeric Chickpea Oats on a workout rest day since this bowl is higher in fat, thanks to tahini and cashews on top. The base recipe is seasoned with nooch, salt, and pepper and has wilted spinach, and then the variation called for turmeric, chickpeas, scallions, cilantro, tahini, and cashews. YUM!

I had the Savory Mediterranean Oats after Friday morning bootcamp. Same oat base but with tomatoes, white beans (I used chickpeas), parsley, and Gena's Savory Tempeh Sausage (seasoned with fennel and sage). The recipe called for sundried tomatoes, but since it was for post-workout, I opted for fat-free fire-roasted tomatoes instead. I could only find the oil-packed sundried tomatoes at Kroger.

Last night, I made Gena's Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Butternut Squash for dinner. The enchiladas are stuffed with a mixture of black beans, kale, onions, and butternut squash, and they're topped with a homemade sauce that's out of this world. Loved this dish so much!

My tortillas cracked because they were a little dry (a few weeks past the expiration date but not moldy!), but after topping with the sauce, the dish was really moist and delicious. Gena recommends topping this with avocado and cilantro, but I forgot to pick up both at the store earlier in the day. So I added parsley and topped my serving with some Daiya. Gena doesn't use processed vegan cheeses in her recipes, but I'm a fan of using them in moderation. And this was delicious! I'll try it with avocado instead tonight though.

I can't wait to try more from this book, like the Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lentils, the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Seared Tofu, White Chili with Butternut Squash, Golden Rice Bowls with Tofu Paneer & Vegetables, Sweet Potato Falafel Bowls with Freekah Pilaf, Roasted Zucchini Tacos with Corn and Tofu, and Spinach & Gnocchi with White Beans, to name a few.

There are no desserts in this book, but I'm totally fine with that. It's about meals, not treats. And honestly, I'm not into daily sweets so I don't make dessert unless it's for a party or potluck. Typically, my dessert is a square of chocolate, or a bowl of ice cream!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Month of Nailing Breakfast!

I just realized I haven't even told y'all about my commitment to the No Meat Athlete 2018 Monthly Challenges. I'm following this 12-month plan for self-improvement where each month, you take on a different challenge.

January was simply — Define Your Year. You basically pick a theme or area of focus for your year. I'm declaring 2018 the Year of Trail Running, since I'm hoping to run a 50K trail race in the fall. And I've been getting in some short trail races this winter with the Memphis Track Runners Club Winter Off-Road Series.

February's challenge is Nailing Breakfast. I'm already pretty good at breakfast if I do say so myself. I never, ever skip breakfast, and I try to eat wholesome meals to start my day most of the time. Every now and then, I'll sneak in a fake meat/fake cheese breakfast sammy, and I'm okay with that. But I really do want to get better at post-workout carb/fat/protein balance.

I've recently learned that it's best not to have much fat post-workout. Fat is great, but it's better enjoyed later in the day rather than right after a morning workout. Before, my post-workout breakfasts (which is pretty much every breakfast, except for on my one rest day) were usually pretty high in fat. So I'm working on that! Also, I've slacked a little on protein after non-run workouts, but I should be taking in protein after lifting and bootcamp classes too!

Here are a few examples of post-workout meals from the month so far. I enjoyed this meal of a Whole Wheat Bagel with Zucchini Spread, Tofu Scramble, and Berries after a bootcamp class. In the past, I would have just had the bagel with zucchini and berries, but I added the scramble for extra protein. Also, I used water to saute the veggies in the scramble to cut down on fat.

And here's a post-bootcamp Breakfast Sandwich. Instead of my usual Lightlife sausage and vegan cheddar, I used tofu (cooked in Vegg powder, that's the yellow stuff), spinach, and a tad bit of Lulu's Baked cultured vegan butter. Some fat is okay, but I used way less than I normally would have.

I'm still doing lots of post-workout smoothies, but I'm leaving out the nuts or nut butter that I would have often put in. Instead, I'm eating my nuts as a morning snack later in the day! Still getting them in, just not right after a workout. This Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie has blueberries, banana, oatmeal, spinach, and vanilla protein powder.

And of course, FitQuick protein waffles fit right into my healthy morning routine since they're high-protein, high-carb, and low-fat. Here's an Orange Cream Bar Waffle with Blueberry Maple Syrup and Hemp Hearts. Just a sprinkling of the hemp hearts so not much fat.

And finally, here's this morning's breakfast of Pizza Protein Waffle with Cauliflower Marinara & Nooch. Side of berries and plums. In the past, I always topped my pizza waffles with Daiya mozz, but nooch is a lower-fat option. Another thing: I'm trying to work fruit into every breakfast since I don't tend to eat fruit any other time of day.

I haven't been perfect. I totally had a sugary, fatty, protein-less slice of king cake for breakfast on Tuesday, and my weekend breakfasts have certainly been more lax! But I'm just trying to nail breakfast as well as I can this month.

March is Daily Meditation (and I've already got a headstart on that since I've been meditating daily since December!). If you want to follow along with the No Meat Athlete Monthly Challenges, here's the link.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Eats!

Happy Valentine's Day! As I mentioned yesterday, I'm ALL ABOUT a holiday, and V-Day is no exception. I love to theme my foods and my clothes around every major and minor holiday! So yes, I wore a heart sweater, heart earrings, and my Joyful Vegan heart necklace to work. And I started my day with chocolate! I had a Nature's Bakery Double Chocolate Brownie Bar before my 5-mile run this morning.

And then I treated myself to a post-run Strawberry Cacao Chip Protein Smoothie with fresh berries, frozen banana, cashew milk, chocolate fudge protein powder, and cacao nibs (pulsed into little teensy chips).

I always give the pets their treats while I'm making my morning coffee. They've now come to associate the sound of the tea kettle, as its boiling water for my French press, with treat time. I stopped by Hollywood Feed's dog bakery a couple days ago and picked up Valentine's for Maynard (pumpkin cream cheese hearts and a carob whoopie pie). The cats — seen here creeping in the background — got some new treats too.

I met a former co-worker for coffee at French Truck in Concourse before heading up to the office. Ordered a Cappuccino with Coconut-Almond Milk. The latte art wasn't quite a heart, but I think it's close, right? No?

Lunch was leftover Andouille & Cannellini Bean Jambalaya from Fat Tuesday. But for my side salad, I attempted to cut my radishes and carrots into little hearts. Didn't do the best job, but not bad for a rushed work-day lunch.

In the afternoon, I had one of these adorable Valentine's Day cookies from Kind Confections, the vegan baking company in my hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. My mom ordered me a dozen of these as my Valentine present! Katie at Kind Creations makes the BEST iced shortbread cookies ever.

Right after work, I stopped by Crosstown Brewing Co. for its soft opening. I met my friend Cassi there, and we enjoyed some beers. I had the Traffic IPA, one of CBC's two flagship beers, but I forgot to take a pic.

Paul wasn't feeling great today (sickness has been floating around his office), so he didn't feel like going out for dinner. Instead, I grabbed some takeout from our fave noodle joint, Crazy Noodle. It's been way too long since I've eaten there, so I got my go-to ramen bowl, the Tofu Ramen. Excellent rainy Valentine's comfort food.

Hope y'all had an excellent Valentine's Day too!