Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Mostly because of my mama's dressin' and hash brown casserole but also just because I love to eat all the things. Gluttony is totally my jam, so I like to work up an appetite on Thanksgiving morning with a nice run.

For the past couple years, Misti and I have been running with a group of folks in Paragould, a small town just outside my parents' hometown. It's an unofficial Turkey Trot that meets outside Greene County Primary School. The full group does 10 miles, but some choose to do less. My No Meat Athlete Marathon training plan called for a 5-mile tempo run today, so Misti, her daughter Melani, Paul, and I just did 5 miles. It was so cold this morning — 30 degrees! — but we made it.

Post-run, Paul and I both had protein smoothies with chocolate hemp protein, banana, chia seed, and soymilk. Those held us over until noon when it was time for my mama's Thanksgiving lunch!

Here's my plate. I've been eating so healthily over the past few days on my No Meat Athlete meal plan, and it was fun to pile my plate full of plant meat and vegan cheesy, buttery casseroles.

We have a small family, so it was just my parents, Me-Maw, Granny, and me and Paul.

Here's a close-up of everything. I opted for a Tofurky Roast this year. I'd planned on getting those individual Gardein turk'y cutlets (because I didn't want a ton of leftovers), but I couldn't find them anywhere. And Sprouts had Tofurky on sale, so there ya go. Honestly, I do think Tofurky really is the best plant turkey out there, taste-wise and texture-wise.

And here are the stars of the show — Mama's Cornbread Dressin' and Hash Brown Casserole. She makes vegan versions (for me!) and non-vegan versions for everyone else. I have a lot left over that I can freeze for later!

She also made a Vegan Broccoli Cheese & Rice Casserole with the new Daiya cheese sauce packets. She didn't do a non-vegan version of this, so everyone ate it (and it was actually Paul's fave -- even though he claims he doesn't like vegan cheese).

Of course, there was homemade Cranberry Sauce.

And Green Beans.

And Corn.

Mama always makes some sort of salad, and this year, that was a Coleslaw made with olive oil and a little sugar and salt.

Mama said she thought she put too much Earth Balance on the Dinner Rolls. I told her there's no such thing as "too much Earth Balance."

She usually makes some sort of pie for dessert, but this year, Mama already had a non-vegan turtle cheesecake in the freezer that she wanted to serve. So I picked up a Daiya Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake, and she made me a pecan praline caramel topping for it. Mmmm mmmm, y'all. This was a tasty vegan cheesecake!

Hope y'all had a delicious Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Marathon Roadmap Meal Plan, Day 4

I'm on day four of my 2-week No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap meal plan. It's a sample plan that's included in my race training program, all of which is available for purchase as an e-book on the No Meat Athlete website. I've been using this running plan for 16 weeks for instructions on how long to run on what days and which days to do speedwork. And there's also a sample two-week meal plan that I opted to do in the two weeks before my December 2 marathon.

Every morning starts with a smoothie. This morning, I made the Bulked Up Protein Smoothie from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook (not from the e-book, but Matt Frazier's awesome hardcopy cookbook). This smoothie doesn't have protein powder but instead relies on a combo of beans and almond butter for protein, plus oats, banana, berries, cocoa powder, and greens (I used a greens powder rather than fresh greens). I used no-salt-added cannelini beans, and you can't taste them at all, but they do make for a creamy, delicious smoothie.

By the way, I don't run on Wednesdays, so I typically hit up the gym for Butts & Guts class. Today's class was super-challenging with lots of weight lifting, ab work, spinning, and sprinting on the treadmill. This smoothie was the perfect post-workout treat.

My morning snack — enjoyed at my desk — was a Trail Mix made with raw cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, dried apples, cherries, and cranberries.

Lunch was leftovers from last night — Spiral Pasta with Squash and Tomatoes. This is made with gluten-free brown rice and quinoa pasta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.

My afternoon snack every day is a salad, but I left that at home to nibble on before dinner. I started to get hungry at my desk at work around 4 pm, so I snacked on the last of my Rosemary Pecans from So Nuts (the nut roastery inside Crosstown Concourse, where I work). I figured this was a whole foods snack that would be No Meat Athlete-approved! Enjoyed out of the lid of a Mason jar, like you do.

When I got home, I had my salad, which had romaine, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and a ginger-tahini dressing (made by mixing fresh ginger, tahini, and rice vinegar).

And finally, dinner! This Quinoa with Cashews & Oranges was AWESOME. It was basically a stir-fry with a sauce made from the canned mandarin orange juice (thickened with cornstarch). For the veggies, I picked a frozen stir-fry mix that had asparagus, zucchini, carrot, and green beans. Plus, there were orange bits, cashews, and some fresh mushrooms.

Tomorrow — Thanksgiving!!! — I'm giving myself a day off the meal plan (except I'll stick with the morning smoothie). And I'm taking Black Friday off too since it's my 14-year veganaversary. I'll post a recap soon! And I'm back on the meal plan this Saturday. Happy Thankgiving, y'all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Marathon Roadmap Meal Plan, Days 2-3

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm following the meal plan included in the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap — the training plan I'm using to get ready for the St. Jude Marathon on December 2. It's a healthy, whole foods-based plan with lots of salads and smoothies. Here's what I ate yesterday and today!

Mondays always start with a 3-4 mile run, and I opted for 4 miles yesterday. I had a medjool date with almond butter before my 6 am run, and then afterward, I replenished with homemade switchel and a Cacao Strawberry Protein Smoothie with chocolate protein powder, strawberries, banana, flax seed, almond-cashew milk, and cacao nibs.

My morning snack on the plan was a fun one — Sprouted Grain Wrap with Veggies & Hummus! I used Ezekiel wraps, which don't usually fold well, but this one held together okay. The hummus was Trader Joe's Spicy Hummus Dip, and I chose romaine, bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber as my veggies.

Lunch was leftover Orzo with Citrus "Cooked" Veggies from Sunday night's Thanksgiving potluck. I made a big batch to share, but I kept a little back for lunch. This had a citrus vinaigrette, plus cherry tomato and avocado. I love that this plan has you eating leftovers from the previous night's dinner as lunches because that's how I eat in real life, when I'm not following a plan.

I'm supposed to have a salad as my afternoon snack every day on the plan, which is awesome because it forces me to get those raw veggies in daily and it gives me something to eat while I'm getting dinner ready. Yesterday, I made a salad with romaine, mushrooms, tomato, bell pepper, and Cashew Ranch from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. All the recipes for the meals are included in the Marathon Roadmap, but it doesn't include salad dressings. I could use bottled ones, but this gives me an excuse to make some of the awesome dressings in the NMA cookbook.

I snacked on my salad while I prepped dinner, Potato Lentil Curry over brown rice. This was a fantastic, creamy curry with coconut milk, red potatoes, green lentils, and peas. Paul is doing the plan with me, and he's much pickier than me. But he loved this!

Today — Day 3 — started with an interval speedwork run. I had my usual medjool date with nut butter (sunflower this time!) before my run and then post-run switchel and an Orange Hemp Creamsicle Protein Smoothie. This had a mix of frozen mandarin oranges, papaya, pineapple, and banana, plus almond-cashew milk, vanilla protein powder, flax seed, and hemp seed.

Morning snack on the plan was Broccoli with Spicy Hummus Dip. I lightly steamed the broccoli because I don't care for it raw.

Lunch was leftover Potato-Lentil Curry, but I totally forgot to take another pic. It wouldn't have been as pretty as the one above anyway because I ate it at my desk, out of a plastic Tupperware bowl. My afternoon snack was another salad — this time with green leaf lettuce, blackberries, cucumber, almonds, and the Classic French Vinaigrette from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I also had a small square of Endangered Species dark chocolate in the afternoon. There aren't any desserts on the plan, but I'm allowing myself a little dark chocolate when I want it (because antioxidants!). 

And dinner was another carb-heavy meal of pasta! This Spiral Pasta with Squash & Cherry Tomatoes was simple and hearty and comforting. The squash is cooked in oil and garlic, which coats the pasta. Glad I have more for lunch tomorrow!

After dinner, I was craving something sweet. I rarely eat dessert, so I think I was only craving it because it wasn't on my meal plan. Rather than reach for more chocolate (which would have been fine), I opted for a Sparkling Kombucha Mocktail. I mixed some of my homemade strawberry booch with unflavored sparkling water and a squeeze of lime. Yum!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Marathon Roadmap Meal Plan, Day 1

I'm running my third marathon — the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis — in two weeks! I've been training for 16 weeks (plus a few weeks of pre-training), and I'm ready to take on the distance again. My last marathon was back in early March, so it's been awhile. Before I started training, I downloaded the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap — a training plan with tips on how best to eat when preparing for your race.

The plan includes a sample two-week meal plan and recipes, so I decided I'd implement that meal plan two weeks prior to my race. Of course, Thanksgiving falls during that two weeks so I'll be deviating a bit. But I'm sticking to it as best I can. The plan calls for a smoothie for breakfast every day, a hearty morning snack, whole foods-based lunches and dinners, and a snack salad in the afternoon. I've noticed it's pretty carb-heavy, which totally makes sense pre-race.

Sunday was the first day of that meal plan, and of course, it fell on the same day as our annual Vegan Thanksgiving potluck with all of my friends! So I stuck to the plan until dinner and then I tried to eat mindfully (without gorging) at the potluck. The day started strong with a Strawberry Banana Spirulina Smoothie with flax, kale powder, almond-cashew milk, and agave.

I nibbled on my morning snack of an Orange, Walnuts, and Almonds while I cleaned the house.

Lunch was a simple meal of Brown Rice with Soy Sauce, Lime, & Avocado. I planned to use a half of an avocado in this, but my avo was spotty and brown. Sigh. So I just used a quarter of it. I also added some turmeric because it's awesome. I love simple meals like this!

I was supposed to have a salad as my afternoon snack, but our potluck started at 4 pm, so I skipped my snack. We arrived at the potluck — hosted by Nicole and Vaughan — and there was SO MUCH FOOD.

And most of it was really healthy stuff! Lots of whole grains, greens, salads, and casseroles made with veggies. I brought a big batch of the dinner I was supposed to eat on the meal plan — Orzo with Citrus "Cooked" Veggies. This is a carb-heavy salad with a garlicky-citrus vinaigrette, cherry tomato, shallot, and avocado.

Here's my plate! This was "going light" for me. I typically pile on way more food and go back for seconds at any potluck. Restraint is a huge challenge for me when delicious food is around.

Don and Kenzie showed up late, but Don brought the most amazing Biscuits with Carrot Bacon & Cashew Cheddar. I found room for that!

There weren't many desserts, which was actually a good thing for me as this plan is mostly free of added sugars. I did have a small raw brownie, a bit of homemade dark chocolate, and a small slice of Shay's perfect Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Plus, I indulged in a couple glasses of wine. I will have some booze on this plan, but I'm hoping to limit that to special occasions and weekends. And I'll be sticking to beer most of the time because carbs!

I'll catch y'all up on days 2 and 3 tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Nashville's Butcher & Bee

Last week, I was invited to a special dinner with some Nashville foodies. I won't go into much detail about who was there, but I want to tell y'all about the food! We met at Butcher & Bee, a farm-to-table concept with locations in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina. I'll admit that the name of the restaurant threw me off at first. It's not a vegan place, so I wasn't expecting that. But with both "butcher" and "bee" in the name, I assumed it wouldn't be very vegan-friendly.

But boy was I wrong! Yes, they do serve meat, but they also know how to properly treat a vegetable. Chef Bryan Weaver dined with us, and he talked about how, like so many of us, he grew up not liking vegetables. But he later learned that was simply because the veggies he was eating weren't well-prepared. Weaver treats vegetables like some chef treat cuts of meat. They're well-seasoned and prepared in thoughtful, innovative ways.

We started with mezze plates. The Zucchini was sliced into ribbons and paired with candied tomato and cherry pepper. The sauce was slightly spicy from the pepper, and it was hands-down the best zoodle dish I've had.

Next up was the Celery Salad with jalapeno pickled cherries and peanut vin. This was like a fancy version of Ants on a Log! The celery was shaved and paired with the peanut and these sweet cherries. I've never had celery prepared this way, and I've been dreaming about it ever since that meal.

The Fire-Roasted Carrots were my fave among the mezze plates. For one, I just love carrots, especially fresh-from-the-ground, roasted baby carrots. These were dressed up with peanuts, sambal onions, and a phenomenal coconut cream that blew the non-vegans at the table away (and me too!). When I first saw this dish, I just assumed it wasn't vegan. So stoked that the white stuff was coconut cream!

Butcher & Bee serves a number of dips and spreads, and we had the Baba Ganoush with chili salsa, an excellent baba. Served with pita bread.

For our salad, we were served the Autumn Greens — shaved collards, pecans, and pickled apricots. This salad typically comes with parm as well, but they made me a special one without cheese. I'm not typically a fan of raw collards, but these were amazing. Very tender and well-dressed. The pickled apricots were a lovely addition and didn't taste too pickle-y or tart.

The Abalone Mushroom was so much better than any portabella I've had. Like most vegans, I view portabellas as totally cliche. They're often just as an easy option thrown on a menu so the chef doesn't have to put any thought into a vegan dish. But this abalone mushroom had such a complex flavor, and it was served over a pickled green tomato jam. It typically also comes with a yogurt sauce, but they left that off to make this vegan. It reminded me of steak!

My very favorite dish of the night was the Avocado Crispy Rice! This was unlike anything I'd ever tried. The rice is deep-fried, so you get these awesome crispy bits. It's topped with greens, peanuts, serrano chiles, and avocado. It had an Asian flair. I'll definitely order this on my next visit.

I also LOVED the main dish of Grilled Eggplant with black garlic tahini, pickled cherries, and pine nuts. The tahini took the eggplant to the next level. I tend to find most eggplant dishes to be a little meh, but this was astounding.

I've never been to Vedge or Dirt Candy, but I imagine this thoughtful preparation of veggies is similar to what you'd find in those famous, veggie-forward vegan/vegetarian restaurants. It's so rare to find even a vegan restaurant that treats veggies with such admiration and respect as Butcher & Bee did!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gettin' (Vegan) Crunk in Nashville

Hey y'all! Sorry for the absence. I was visiting a friend in Nashville over the past couple days. But I'm back now, and I have fun food pics to share. My best friend Greg lives in Indiana, but he's in Nashville for a month dealing with some family stuff. Greg's Indiana apartment is about 6 hours from Memphis, but Nashville is only 3 hours away, so I knew I should get over there and see him while I could. And just so happened that I was also invited to a fun dinner with some foodie folks at Butcher & Bee on Tuesday night, so I cut two carrots with one knife and did it all!

I'll share a full post on Butcher & Bee next week! But tonight's post will feature everything else I ate and did while I was in Nashville. As soon as I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, I picked up Greg and we had lunch at Sunflower Cafe. We both opted for the daily special — Tempeh Chorizo Tacos with Avocado Crema, and I picked Sesame Kale as my side. Amazing tacos!! I wish I had these every Taco Tuesday.

Then we hit up Trader Joe's! I always stock up at TJ's when I'm visiting Nashville since we don't have one in Memphis. Greg doesn't have one in his small Indiana town either.

I got lots of fun stuff — more bagel seasoning and onion salt, the Turkey & Stuffing kettle chips (VegNews says they're vegan!), salsa-style refried beans, Charles Shaw shiraz, and more. But the coolest thing I found was Bamba Peanut Snacks! I saw these on Sarah's blog, Long Island Vegan, and knew I had to get some. These are like salty peanut butter Cheetos. OMG.

After our TJ's trip, we went to my AirB&B so I could check in. It was a super-cute 1920s apartment with three beds! And cable! And wifi! And it was just across the street from several cool bars and a vegan-friendly pizza joint (more on that in a few).

Greg and I parted ways for a few hours while I dined at Butcher & Bee, and then I picked him back up at his hotel. We had a glass of wine at my AirB&B, and then we walked to Canvas, a cute gay bar just a few minutes away. Look at this Warhol-inspired Divine art!

After a drink at Canvas, we grabbed a late-night pizza snack at Two Boots Pizza. I've blogged about this vegan-friendly pizza place before, and I just LOVE it. They sell vegan pizza by the slice, which is such a rare thing. The V is for Vegan Slice has artichokes and pesto. I fully intended to eat a few bites of this and save the rest for breakfast since I had a big dinner a couple hours earlier. But it was so hot and delicious that I just devoured the whole thing right there.

Finally, we hit up Kung Fu Saloon, an arcade bar across from the B&B. We played skee ball and Street Fighter.

And then we called it a night! The next day, we had one final meal together at Wild Cow in East Nashville. The daily special was a Thanksgiving plate with Tofu Dressing, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Mac & Cheeze, Smoky Collards, and Cranberry Relish. SO GOOD. It made me really excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Also, I loved the bits of tofu in my dressing. I'd never thought to add tofu to dressing, but it makes sense. It was like the vegan version of turkey bits in dressing.

I had to head back to Memphis after lunch, but we made a quick stop at the International Grocery first. I found Vegemite, y'all! And a Bhel Puri kit! And pre-made Dosa Batter! So expect to see those finds worked into posts soon.