Monday, July 31, 2017

Stuff I Ate

Here are a few random meals I've eaten over the past week. We'll start with breakfast — an obvious place to start, right? I'd gone to Midtown Crossing Grill for brunch last Sunday and had a leftover Biscuit with Gravy, so I had that for breakfast Monday with some Scrambled Vegan Egg (using the Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg).

Protein smoothies are always a staple in my life, and I have them after most runs. I usually just drink my smoothies, but I found some Nature's Path Coconut Cashew Butter Granola on sale at Kroger so I used some to make a smoothie bowl. This Mango Lassi Smoothie had Vega One Vanilla Chai protein powder, Silk Vanilla Almond Yogurt, frozen mango, and almond milk.

I tried to order the now-discontinued Dark Chocolate Raspberry FitQuick Protein Waffle mix a few months ago from Vegan Proteins, but I was informed that their supply was all gone. Sadness. But thankfully, I recently discovered that FitQuick creator/New Ethic gym owner Holly Noll had a few bags left in her supply at the gym! Woo hoo! I ordered one of eight remaining bags, and it arrived last week. I had this Dark Chocolate Raspberry Protein Waffle with Chocolate Sesame Tahini & fresh Raspberries after a run one day.

On the last Wednesday of each month, our office brings in food, and we have a big staff meeting/birthday party (to celebrate all the birthdays of the previous month). Last Wednesday, we had Greek Hummus Flatbread and Salad from Midtown Crossing Grill. Yay for my vegan-friendly office!

Paul and I stopped by Crazy Noodle last Sunday night so he could grab dinner (and I could use wifi because ours was out). I just drank beer that night because I'd already eaten, but he had the Tofu Noodle Soup. He didn't finish it and accidentally left it behind when he drove to Nashville the next day. So guess what I had for dinner Monday night?

Here's a random work day lunch — frozen Red's Bean & Rice Burrito with a Salad from the Curb Market salad bar.

I met Pam for lunch at Mama Gaia on Friday. We both got the Asia Pita (sesame-crusted tofu with Mama Gaia sauce and Asian slaw), and I had a Side Salad with mine.

And finally, here's a terrible photo from Friday night. A few of us gathered at our friend Andy's house to grill. But our food wasn't done until about 9 p.m., so the daylight was all gone. And I was too famished by then to bother with trying to find good lighting. Here's my Beast Burger with Grilled Vegetables & Corn with Miso BBQ Sauce.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Vegan Drinks Pool Party!

Our monthly Memphis Vegan Drinks meetups are typically held at vegan-friendly restaurants that serve booze, and we usually meet up on a weeknight for cocktails and dinner. But for our July meetup, Vegan Drinks friends (should we call them Vegan Drunks?) Melissa and Anthony offered up their lovely home for a Vegan Drinks Pool Party & Taco Potluck! And it just so happened to fall on the four-year anniversary of our little Vegan Drinks meetup group. So we gathered at their house yesterday to stuff our faces and float in the pool.

Here are our hosts Melissa and Anthony!

Everyone was instructed to bring taco fillings (and whatever they wanted to drink), and Melissa and Anthony provided taco shells and tortillas in all shapes and sizes. They also made some killer sangria and yummy taco fillings and sides. Here's Melissa prepping in the kitchen at the start of the party.

Melissa made some creamy, dreamy Guacamole Potato Salad.

Megan brought her famous Flautas, and Don and Kenzie created some mouth-watering taco filling using Beyond Meat and fresh, local veggies.

Melissa cooked up a big batch of Fajita-Style Onions & Peppers.

And I brought all the things to make the BBQ Brisket & Mac & Cheese Tacos from The Taco Cleanse. There's homemade seitan simmered in a homemade 'cue sauce on one side and a noochy-jalapeno mac & cheese on the other.

And there were more fillings too, but I failed to photograph them all. Also, the Jennifers (there are two) made sure we had plenty of fixins, like lettuce, homemade salsa, and sour cream. We all sat poolside while we stuffed our faces.

Here's my first taco plate with a BBQ Mac & Cheese Taco, a Beyond Meat & Veggie Taco, a Flauta, and some Potato Salad.

And plate number two with a Black Bean & Pepper Hard Shell Taco and a soft taco filled with something delicious (but I'm not quite sure what! I know peach salsa was involved. And maybe some kale?).

Then it was pool time! We lounged around in the pool for hours, sipping beers and bouncing a beach ball around.

Pam showed up late and didn't swim, but we caught some selfies as she made up for lost time by cramming her face with leftover tacos.

A few of us stuck around til nearly dark, when the mosquitos were starting to come out. Here's Jennifer rubbing herself with the leaves of a citronella plant!

We had such a fun time! I mean, how can you go wrong with tacos, beer, sangria, and pool time with fellow vegan friends, right? Thanks so much Melissa and Anthony for hosting!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook

Just a little after Christmas, my parents insisted on buying me an air fryer. My dad had gotten one for my mom for Christmas, and in just a few weeks, the appliance had become indispensable in their lives. They were literally cooking EVERY meal in the air fryer! And when I say "they," I mean my mom and my dad. My dad who never bothered to cook anything that couldn't be microwaved had suddenly become quite the chef. Months later, my dad — who is semi-retired and stays home most days — now cooks dinner in the air fryer every night and has a meal on the table when my mom gets home from work!

Suffice it to say, the air fryer has been a game changer in their lives. And since my parents bought me one, it's been pretty handy in my world too. I don't use it every day like they do, but it certainly helps me get dinner together quickly (and healthfully) several times per week. I use it for so much more than "frying"! Most often, it serves as an oven, offering a speedy way to roast veggies, bake kale chips, and heat frozen plant meats.

While I know lots of air fryer tricks already, I'm still learning. And no resource has been greater in that effort than JL Fields' The Vegan Air Fryer — the first totally vegan, air fryer cookbook. I've made a number of JL's recipes so far, but I started with this Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce.

I often air-fry marinated tofu without any sort of breading. When you do that, it gets a texture similar to the fried tofu in Asian dishes. But JL's recipe is different because you dredge the tofu in cornmeal, cornstarch, and spices, creating a crispy breading. When prepared this way, the tofu is best eaten right away (I found the the breading got a little dried out in the fridge overnight). But when fresh, it's so amazing! A perfect little appetizer to dip in rich, creamy peanut sauce. I brought this to a party of non-vegans, and they loved it.

From the sides chapter, I just had to try JL's Hasselback Potatoes. My friend Nicole bought an air fryer after learning how much I love mine, and she'd told me that the insides of whole potatoes get super-creamy in the air-fryer. These hasselback potatoes lived up to that hype!

By thinly slicing the potatoes part-way through, you get super-crispy edges and creamy insides, plus the potato just cooks more evenly. JL only calls for a tiny bit of oil in these plus a little fresh, grated garlic for flavor. I didn't add any extra oil or butter, but I did add a nice sprinkling of nooch upon serving (oh, and ketchup!). I didn't miss the fat at all! That's one of the coolest things about the air fryer — lower fat cooking is still so full of flavor. I had the potato with some peanut butter tempeh from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook and some collard greens from Cookin' Crunk.

I wanted to try one of JL's main dishes, and I'm trying to encourage Paul to eat more vegan foods. So on Monday night, we made the General Tso's Soy Curls.

For this, you rehydrate Soy Curls and then toss with a little flour and spices before air-frying. The air-frying gives the curls a meatier texture while drying out some of that rehydration water. After air-frying, the Soy Curls are quickly sauteed in a little spicy-sweet sauce. I served ours atop some steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, and rice (brown for me, white for Paul).

Well, the omni partner LOVED it! He finished all of his Soy Curls and went back in for seconds. You know a recipe is a winner when the omni goes back for seconds.

I have many more recipes bookmarked to try. The Tofu Bacon Wraps will be next for sure! These are slabs of bacony tofu, wrapped in rice paper, and air-fried until crispy. JL also has a very impressive-looking recipe for a Slider & Bacon Bloody Mary where you air-fry tempeh bacon and vegan sausage patties and make little sliders to garnish a Bloody Mary. Will be making!

Other faves to make include Doughnut Holes, Spicy Mac & Cheese Balls, Soy Curl Fries, Beany Jackfruit Taquitos, Poutine, Mixed Vegetable Fritters, Buffalo Cauliflower, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Hot Dogs (yes!!!), Corn Dogs, Chick'n Fried Steak, Calzones, the Cake for One with Coco Whip (because it's always just me eating cake), and the Fried Ginger-O's (using the Newman's Own brand).

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Heart Keenwah Snacks!

My blogger bud Natalie of Bake & Destroy also happens to work for I Heart Keenwah, and she's been steadily keeping me stocked with toasted quinoa and quinoa snacks for review. A few weeks back, she mailed me some of the I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Puffs and Quinoa Clusters. I've been enjoying these as desk snacks in the mornings and afternoons at work since I pretty much need to be stuffing my face all day to stay productive and happy!

The Quinoa Puffs are like a healthy version of those neon orange cheese balls I used to love as a kid. You know, the kind that cake your fingers in orange powder that you get to lick off when you're done? But these are way healthier!

They're made with puffed quinoa (duh!) and spices. That's it! They're also low in fat and pretty high in protein. She shipped me the Sweet Chili flavor, which makes me super-stoked because anything sriracha-flavored is my fave. But they also come in Sea Salt Truffle and Herbs de Provence. (Note: There's also a Cheddar flavor that isn't vegan, so watch out for that. As far as I can tell, that's the only I Heart Keenwah product that isn't vegan. Would be cool if they'd take a cue from Skinny Popcorn or The Little Kernel snacks and use a vegan cheese flavoring instead!).

The Quinoa Clusters are similar to granola. They're crunchy little clusters made from quinoa, brown rice syrup, brown rice crisps, dried fruit, and nuts. Natalie shipped me the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor.

These have sunflower seeds, pepitas, dark chocolate, and sunflower butter. Plus chia seeds and hemp hearts for super-nutrition! They have a nice crunch balanced with just the right amount of chewiness.

I've been snacking on these clusters at my desk at work, but they'd also make a fine topping for a smoothie bowl! They also come in cashew cranberry, peanut butter cacao, and almond.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

And here are some more things I ate over the past couple weeks!

I stopped by Memphis Tilth's Garden at the Gate farmer's market at Crosstown Concourse last week and sort of freaked out over some heirloom tomatoes. I really needed, like, one tomato, but they were so beautiful that I bought six. Ha! So I've been eating hella tomatoes all week. I made some Summer Tomato Salad from Cookin' Crunk last week with cucumbers, red onion, rice vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.

And I've had my fair share of Tomato & Mayo Sandwiches as snacks lately. These aren't hearty enough for a meal, but they're perfect before my afternoon yoga classes. Sometimes, I also sub out avocado for the mayo.

FitQuick has come out with a new flavor of protein waffles — Orange Cream Bar Waffles! The flavor was released last week, and I ordered right away. I had them by week's end! I topped this one with banana soft serve made orange with some carrot juice powder and flavored with a little vanilla extract and orange essential oil. Vegan white chocolate chips on top because why not?

I picked up the Lenny & Larry's Birthday Cake Complete Cookie at Sprouts the other day. This cookie has 16 grams of protein! Perfect excuse to eat cookies and almond milk post-workout. This flavor is by-far my fave.

At Food Truck Fridays at Concourse last Friday, I got the Vegan Sushi Burrito from the Sushi Jimmi food truck. Isn't this rainbow sushi gorgeous? The yellow stuff is pineapple, which I've never had in sushi, but it works.

On Sunday morning, we had brunch plans at Midtown Crossing so I had a light pre-brunch snack of Koyo Mushroom Ramen with Veggies.

And then a couple hours later, we met up with Stephanie and Katie Hubbard (from the PPK, who was in town for the weekend!) at Midtown Crossing. I ordered a pizza, but since my order took longer than everyone else's, they brought me a FREE Vegan Biscuits and Gravy to snack on while I waited. SCORE! I freakin' love Midtown Crossing so much.

Here's the pizza I ordered — The Watkins (Thai peanut butter flatbread with tofu, green apples, pickled carrots, and sriracha). It's a new vegan option, and it's soooooo good. You can never go wrong with peanut butter and tofu.

Well, that's it for now! I'll be sure and get to eatin' so I'll have more random meals to share soon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stuff I Ate

My food game has been pretty strong lately. Lots of delicious restaurant meals + plenty of fresh, healthy meals prepared at home with the bounty of summer produce available at the Memphis Farmer's Market (downtown) and Curb Market (in Crosstown). I've also been WAY into sandwiches lately.

Last week, I made the Roasted Vegetable Po'Boys from my own cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. I've been cooking from my book more lately now that fresh produce is everywhere. So many of my recipes call for summer produce, and this one has long been a fave. Roasted zucchini, bell pepper, portabella, and red onions on toasted po'boy bread with vegan cheddar. On the side, I cooked from Cauliflower-White Bean-Onion Veggie Rings in the air fryer. These awesome onion rings have extra veggies added for bonus nutrition! I found them in the freezer section at Kroger.

Speaking of po'boys, Paul and I had dinner at the Bayou Bar & Grill recently. I always get the Portabella Po'Boy minus the cheese. This has the best sauteed mushrooms and peppers. The juices soak into that soft bread, and it's just so good. It comes with fries, but I subbed a salad this time because I needed to lay off the fried stuff.

But of course I had fries on National French Fry Day a couple weeks back. Had dinner at Imagine Vegan Cafe with some friends and got the BLTA with Sweet Potato Fries. 

I ate at Imagine again last week with Isabella, a new German vegan friend who was traveling through Memphis on a North American/South American adventure. She wanted a taste of the South, so we went to Imagine where she could get vegan chicken and waffles. I had the Sheila Dog — a fried veggie dog topped with coleslaw, vegan cheese, kraut, and pickled jalapenos. 

Plus, we all shared some Spinach & Artichoke Dip, courtesy of my friend Vaughan, who very nicely paid for the entire meal! There was Biscoff cheesecake eaten as well, but we failed to take a picture.

Found some Beyond Meat chicken strips on sale at Target a few weeks back, so I used a recipe from the back of the bag to whip up this simple Vegan Chicken Salad — Beyond Meat strips + vegan mayo + celery + grapes. Perfection in a wrap.

Susan and I had dinner at City Silo one night a couple weeks ago. I got the Foxy BBQ Sandwich (a spaghetti squash BBQ sandwich) with added buffalo tempeh. Vegan slaw on top, plus a side salad.

Hey, this isn't a sandwich! Fridays at Crosstown Concourse are now Food Truck Fridays, and the Paul's Cariflavor truck was here. They have Caribbean food, and several options are vegan. I got the Vegan Roti, which was stuffed with curried chickpeas and potatoes. OMG SO GOOD.

As always, I'm still eating my FitQuick protein waffles! Here's a Lemon Poppyseed Waffle with Maple & Local Boysenberries and Vegan Sausage.

I've also been eating plenty of Avocado Toast lately. Got this idea to add baked tofu from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I added a thin slice of Wildwood Savory Baked Tofu to each avo-toast, plus tomatoes, homemade pickled onions, hot sauce, and Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.

More random food tomorrow!