Thursday, July 21, 2016

Justin's Snack Packs

I love, love, love Justin's nut butters. And I've been known to open a jar of maple almond butter (my fave!) and just dip a spoon in. Or my finger. Whatever's handy. But now Justin's has new snack packs, and they actually come with pretzel sticks for dipping. Pretzels are much tastier than fingers.

Justin's sent me some free product coupons so I could test these out. But I had the hardest time finding these in Memphis. Our Whole Foods doesn't carry them yet (but our store is particularly slow about getting new products), but Justin's store locator said I could find them at Target. A quick glance around the Target nearest me didn't produce any easy-to-find results though. I finally found these at a small indie health food store in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where my parents live. Hopefully, you'll have better luck! I need to make a request at my Whole Foods.

Anyway, I finally found these little packs, and I'm so glad I did. Each pack comes with pretzel sticks and a couple tablespoons of nut butter.

These are perfect for stuffing in a purse or lunch bag as a quick work day snack. On Thursdays, I go to a lunchtime yoga class at my gym. It runs from 11:30 to 12:30, so I always have a hearty snack before class to tide me over since I'm not able to eat a real lunch until about 12:45 or 1 p.m., when I get back to my desk. 

Last Thursday, before class, I snacked on the Hazelnut Chocolate Butter Snack Pack in the car. I've long been a fan of Justin's hazelnut chocolate butter (it's like vegan Nutella), and it paired wonderfully with the pretzels.

Today, I had the Classic Almond Butter Snack Pack before yoga class. The classic almond butter is a little thicker, so I broke a few pretzels off in it. But that was okay. Honestly, once all my pretzels were gone, I just dug my finger in. Not a drop of almond butter went waste, and I was satisfied throughout the entire yoga class.

There's also a Maple Almond Butter Snack Pack, but I wasn't able to find that one. I hope to stumble upon it soon though. I could see these becoming a crucial part of my Thursday snacks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

Quick note: One of our fellow vegan bloggers — Hillary of My Cat Loves Daiya — has fallen on some hard times. You may know her as Vegan Peace, the name she comments under. She's lost her apartment and was forced to place her cats in a shelter until she can get on her feet. She has a GoFundMe page to raise money to help supplement the money she's saving from work. If she meets her goal, she should be able to save her cats and get into a home again! If you can spare a few bucks, help her out! I tossed in as much as I could afford to. Hillary has been a long-time commenter on Vegan Crunk, and we're internet friends! You can read more about her situation (and her cats) on her blog.

I usually do meal round-ups of all the random meals I ate over a week or so, but I rarely show y'all what I eat in a typical day. Today was filled with yummy food, so I figured this would be a fun project. Mind you, I ate out twice today and had dessert, so it wasn't really a super healthy day. But my days aren't always about "clean eating" (I really hate that expression). It is rare for me to dine out twice in a day though. But, when I do, I try to make at least one of those meals a little on the healthier side.

My morning started in a super healthy way though. I woke up at 5 a.m., ate half a peanut butter & chocolate chip Larabar, and threw on my running gear. I got an easy 4-mile run in and then recovered with this breakfast of a Berry-Vanilla Protein Smoothie (frozen cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, acai powder, banana, Silk Nutchello caramel cashew milk, and Nutiva vanilla protein powder). Oh, and there's So Delicious CocoWhip Light on top because that's how you do a smoothie.

I snacked on a few SuperSeedz curry pumpkin seeds at my desk around 10:30 a.m., when my smoothie started wearing off. 

For lunch, my co-worker Susan wanted to check out this new bubble tea place in the Wolfchase Mall. But one cannot make a meal of bubble tea alone, so we hit up the mall food court! By the way, I dressed totally 90s today (tattoo choker, boho shirt, graphic tea, platform flip-flops) for our mall field trip because it just seemed appropriate. There's a Chipotle in the mall, so we both got food from there. I went with the Tofu Sofritas Salad with fajitas veggies, corn salsa, tomatillo salsa, pico, and vinaigrette*.

* sadly, I later learned that Chipotle puts honey in their vinaigrette,
so next time, I'll dress my salad with guacamole
After lunch, we hit up Blooming Bubbles & Sno Cone for bubble tea! They have a huge menu, and all of their fruit teas are dairy-free. I ordered a Mango Fruit Tea (with mango and strawberry boba). I didn't realize the fruit teas come with popping boba by default rather than chewy tapioca. The popping ones are okay, but I love the chew of traditional boba. Next time, I'll make a special request.

Susan and I went back to work high on sugar and with full bellies. But by 5 p.m., I was feeling quite peckish. As soon as I got home from work, I snacked on a few Beanfield's Sea Salt tortilla chips with black bean and corn salsa.

And then, around 6:30 p.m., my street was having its neighborhood watch meeting at Midtown Crossing Grill — our vegan-friendly neighborhood pizza joint. I walked over and ordered a build-your-own 10-inch pizza with vegan cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onions. And of course, I doused my pizza in sriracha.

After the meeting, I grabbed my hula hoop from home and walked over to our neighborhood hula-hoop studio — Co-motion Studio — for a hoop jam skill share dance party. After dark, we all broke out the glow hoops, and I totally danced off that pizza!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Protein Donuts!!!!!!!

Anyone who reads this blog probably already knows I'm obsessed with FitQuick Protein Waffles. I got into them when I was binge-listening to every episode of the Rise & Resist podcast — a vegan fitness & feminism podcast by Lacy Davis and Holly Noll.

Holly also runs a vegan body-posi gym in Oakland and owns her own vegan protein waffle company called FitQuick. After listening to her talk about waffles one day, I knew I just had to try them. I ordered a couple bags — birthday cake and pizza waffles — to get started. I've since added java chip FitQuick waffles to my collection. And now, Holly has released FitQuick Protein Donuts! Or, as Holly likes to call them "pronuts"!

Like the waffles, each two-scoop serving contains 22 grams of plant-based protein, and they're gluten-free, low-carb, and low-fat. Nothing against carbs and fat, by the way, but I'd rather reserve my fat grams for my donut toppings! Plus, it's best to have higher fat later in the day and not right after your workout. Anyway, the first protein donut flavor — Vanilla Sprinkle —launched this month, and my order arrived last week (with a free donut pan because I pre-ordered!). I love that the label has the same awesome muscle unicorn logo that the birthday cake waffle package has!

I first tried the donuts after my 12-mile run on Saturday. The package suggests topping them with vanilla almond butter, salted peanut butter, or powdered peanut butter mixed with soymilk. So I used Maple Brown Sugar PB Lean powdered peanut butter on two of them. For the third, I used Endangered Species Cocoa Spread. Of course that was the best one!

I made more protein donuts after my 5-mile run this morning. Here they are undressed (as I waited for them to cool) next to a bowl of banana matcha soft serve. Yes, I had donuts and ice cream for breakfast this morning!

Once they cooled, I topped a couple with a yummy frosting made from Kite Hill almond cream cheese mixed with a bit of powdered sugar. So good! It reminded me of a carrot cake frosting. On the third, I used Hazelnut Cocoa Spread by Endangered Species Chocolate. YUM!

Pronuts for the win!!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Beanfield's New Chips!

I've long been a fan of Beanfield's bean and rice tortilla chips. They're tortilla chips you can actually feel pretty good about. Since they're made with real beans and rice, these chips have a decent amount of protein (for a chip) and more fiber and less fat than traditional tortilla chips.

Plus, Beanfield's is the maker of the first (and only?) vegan nacho cheese tortilla chip. I remember when they first came out, it was like a vegan miracle. We could finally have something resembling nacho cheese Doritos again and have it be much healthier. They also make amazing barbecue tortilla chips, pico de gallo chips, and vegan ranch chips!

And now Beanfield's has released three new flavors. I actually won an Instagram contest for free samples of the new flavors (lucky me!), and Beanfield's sent me a giant box of chips in every flavor! I've reviewed the older flavors before, so I figure I'll just talk about the new ones here. My favorite new flavor is Jalapeno Nacho! It's just like the regular nacho flavor but SPICY! Look how much spice powder is on this chip!

I recommend eating the Jalapeno Nacho unadorned — no dip or toppings — so you can get the full effect of the awesome flavor. But sometimes, you just gotta have nachos, and they work well there too! Here they're topped with Let Thy Food Chili con Queso, Fantastic Foods Vegetarian Taco Filling (made from TVP), guacamole, Tofutti sour cream, Drew's mango-habanero salsa, and lots of veggies.

Most of Beanfield's flavored chips (and the sea salt variety) are made with a mix of brown rice, black beans, and navy beans. But there's a new White Bean with Sea Salt chip that's made with just navy beans and rice. It has a slightly different flavor, one that's more reminiscent of a white bean dip or spread. I enjoyed these with more Let They Food queso.

They've also released a new Black Bean & Sea Salt chip that's made with — you guessed it — just black beans and rice. These have a deep beany flavor that pairs WONDERFULLY with hummus. I ripped open the first bag in my car on my trip to Bonnaroo last month, which is why the torn bag is positioned atop my camping gear, pillow, and hula hoop.

These black bean chips literally sustained me throughout my weekend at Bonnaroo. I picked up a Tribe Garlic & Herb Hummus at Walmart near the campsite and stored it in the cooler all weekend. I had chips and hummus for a snack every day. So good!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Veggies Noodles!

I have a veggie spiralizer that, sadly, spends more time in the closet than on my countertop. But every once in awhile, I drag it out and make zucchini noodles (or zoodles) for a raw version of pasta with marinara or vegan fettucine alfredo. I've tried other veggies — beets, sweet potato — but that's about where my creativity stops.

But a new cookbook — Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca— just might change all that! I was sent a review copy, and I've already made some really unique dishes. Not only does this book contain recipes for the traditional raw zucchini noodles, it also features recipes using apple noodles, kelp noodles, celeriac noodles, chayote noodles, daikon noodles, and so many more. Some recipes are raw, but others are cooked. There's even a chapter on desserts made with raw noodles (pear noodles with chocolate sauce! carrot cake noodles!).

I selected a couple recipes. First up, I just had to try the Noodle Pizza because noodles and pizza! This is made with a baked chickpea-zucchini-hemp crust, and that's topped with zucchini and sweet potato noodles, eggplant, mushrooms, red pepper "marinara," and a homemade garlic-chive cashew cheese.

I've never had anything quite like it, but it was delicious and beautiful. The cashew cheese was creamy and super garlicky. The crust doesn't hold together well when lifted, so it's best to eat this with a fork. But I was totally okay with that.

I had some leftover Garlic & Chive Cashew Cheese and some leftover zucchini and sweet potato. So the next day, I made a simple raw noodle dish with spiralized zukes, sweet potatoes, and the creamy cheese. I topped that with hemp seeds for added nutrition. It was like vegan alfredo!

Finally, tonight I made the dish that first caught my eye when flipping through the book — Seaweed Noodles with Maple Orange Tempeh. 

There's a gorgeous photo of this in the book (much better than mine), but the word "seaweed" scared me away. I'm not a big sea veggie fan (except for nori). But upon closer inspection, I saw the seaweed was kelp noodles. And I love kelp noodles because they don't taste fishy at all. In fact, they don't taste like anything, but they have a neat, crunchy texture. The kelp noodles are mixed with beet noodles (I used golden beets), carrot noodles, and a spicy tahini sauce. On top is the most delicious maple-orange glazed tempeh, sesame seeds, and bits of nori. The savory sauce and tempeh combined with the crunchy noodles made for a very satisfying dish. Bonus: It takes quite awhile to eat because it involves so much chewing. And I love meals that drag on and on because I'm happiest when I'm eating.

I love this book, and I know it will inspire me to branch out and use my spiralizer in more creative ways. I plan to try the Curry-Lime Sweet Potato Noodles, the Zucchini Noodle Salad with Moroccan Chickpeas, the BLT Noodles (made with zucchini noodles, kale, cashew cheese, and coconut bacon), and the Fresh Spring Rolls stuffed with carrot and cucumber noodles.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peanut-free Nut Butter Giveaway!!

I'm not allergic to peanut butter (or any foods, actually), and for that, I am eternally grateful to the universe. Peanut butter is right up there with pizza and french fries and ramen as a favorite food. I probably eat something peanut butter-flavored or with straight-up peanut butter at least every other day. Sometimes, I just dip my finger in the jar.

So I'll admit I was a little hesitant to believe that Wowbutter, a peanut-free toasted soynut butter, could be as good as (or better than) peanut butter. I love all nut butters, but not all nut butters are created equal. And, in my humble opinion, peanut butter has always reigned supreme over almond, cashew, hazelnut, or any other nut butter. But the folks at Wowbutter offered to send me a few sample jars, and I WAS BLOWN AWAY. IT'S SO GOOD, Y'ALL!

This toasty, creamy, sweet 'n' slightly salty nut butter is designed to be safe for schools since so many kids are allergic to peanut butter these days (what's up with that anyway?). I'm kid-free, and my house is a total peanut butter zone, so the safety isn't a concern for me. But I can see where this would be handy for parents. It's also gluten-free and gmo-free, and each serving has 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and a healthy dose of omega-3s.

The most amazing thing is the flavor. It's so toasty! I've eaten straight soy nuts before, and they're good. Not as good as peanuts. And that's why I wasn't expecting the flavor of Wowbutter to be so impressive. But I daresay that I think it's — gasp — better than peanut butter. At least, that's how I'm feeling lately. I cannot stop eating this stuff. I've been spreading it on sandwich thins before runs, eating it on bananas, adding it to smoothies. It's just so good. There's something about it that reminds me of the PB of my childhood, back when we all used to eat Peter Pan or Jif or one of those hydrogenated oil-containing peanut butters. But Wowbutter is totally free hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and the sugar used is cane sugar.

Since they sent me several jars, I'd like to give one away to a lucky reader! Leave me a comment here about your favorite use of nut butter, and I'll randomly choose a winner. U.S. readers only, please (because international shipping isn't in my budget right now!). Contest runs through Sunday night (July 17th). BE SURE TO INCLUDE AN EMAIL ADDRESS (unless you know I know how to contact you — like through another blog or if we're FB friends).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More Stuff I Ate

I posted a handful of random meal pics yesterday. Here are some more!

One day last week, I dropped by Pink Diva Cupcakery for lunch and got Cassi's Chili Mac. It's made with spiral pasta, tempeh, and a chili-cheese sauce, and it's served with sour cream. I added jalapenos from my garden. Yes, I bring peppers to work for such occasions.

I showed y'all Imagine Vegan Cafe's amazing homemade Vegan Cashew Mozzarella Sticks in my Fourth of July post. They were running them on special for the holiday weekend. I ate them twice in one weekend because they'll probably never have them again, and they were the best thing I've ever eaten. Here's my second batch. I added vegan honey mustard for dipping this time.

Today, I met my buddy Dawn at Maciel's Tacos & Tortas for a quick work day lunch. She's vegan, and she said the Papas Fried Tacos were vegan when ordered without cheese and sour cream. So we got those! These are FRIED TACOS, y'all. They deep-fry the shells, and they're stuffed with smashed potatoes. As with all Mexican joints, you never know if the rice and beans are actually vegan, but I have a personal policy of "don't ask, don't tell." If they serve rice and beans with the vegetarian entree, I'd rather just hope for the best. Other vegans have different outlooks on that theory, and that's fine. To me, it seems better for the animals if vegans don't come across as picky eaters who ask lots of questions because that makes veganism seem rigid and unapproachable for non-vegans (read: potential future vegans). I did a workshop on that topic at Vida Vegan Con 3, and the lovely ladies on the Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack podcast have recorded an awesome episode on the topic.

I've been eating a tad healthier at home, of course! Lots of salads lately. Earlier this week, I had salad and a side of Beyond Meat Griller Strips with Hope Kale-Pesto Hummus for dipping. That's a little snack I learned about on the Rise & Resist podcast. Turns out cold Beyond Meat strips dipped in hummus are phenomenal. 

I stocked up on Tofurky Hot Pockets when I visited my parents in Jonesboro last weekend. They carry all the flavors at The Truck Patch, their health food store there. This was a Ham & Cheese Style Pocket with a side salad covered in Just Ranch.

Alright, I'm off to bed. I have lots of good eatin' planned for tomorrow!