Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Totchos!!!! And Cute Animals!!!!

Warning: This post contains delicious vegan junk food and fuzzy animals.

First with the junk food. I had Totchos for dinner. Tater Tot Nachos, folks. Why have toppings on chips when you can have toppings on tater tots? I think this one is a no-brainer.

Whole Foods brand Tater Puffs topped with Teese Nacho cheese sauce, black beans, raw corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, romaine, pickled jalapenos, peach salsa, and Tofutti sour cream. Sadly, Teese has discontinued for individual sale, but they're still selling to food service operations, and I get mine at Imagine Vegan Cafe. 

Now, for the animals! This morning Datsun did a little detox yoga with me. Okay, actually he just immediately went into savasana. Lazy dog. What really happened — laid out my mat, went to bathroom, came back and found Datsun had taken over.

And then Mabel discovered earrings. 

She tried to put them over her head, like a headband ...

But that didn't work, so she just chewed on them instead.

For those who don't know, we rescued another baby squirrel this summer. Her name is Mabel. She's about nine weeks old, and she lives in the bathroom now. At 12 weeks, she'll be ready to be released into the big world outside (a.k.a. my backyard). Herman, our baby from last summer, finally stopped coming by to visit a couple months ago. And we miss him very much. But Mabel has been keeping us busy. She's a handful.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Nut & Seed Hummus Toast For Breakfast!

I'm a big believer in breakfast. Most important meal of the day. I go to sleep at night thinking about how excited I am to wake up and eat breakfast. I prefer savory things over sweet things most of the time — tofu scrambles, PB & Marmite toast, noochy oats, Indian pudla, cheezy grits. Except for smoothies. I have sweet fruity protein smoothies three days a week.

But I do tend to fall into breakfast ruts, eating the same things over and over. Well, I recently found a new recipe for the breakfast rotation. I had some leftover hummus and some sprouted grain bread, and I knew I wanted to combine those for a quick breakfast. But I didn't want just hummus and toast. I needed something else.

So I did what anyone would do. I googled "hummus toast for breakfast." And I stumbled onto this simple recipe from The Minimalist Baker for Seedy Hummus Toast. I didn't have enough sunflower seeds to make a full serving, so I subbed out walnuts, and a new favorite breakfast was born — Nut & Seed Hummus Toast.

It's so simple you don't even need a recipe, but here ya go. It's my adaptation of the Minimalist Baker recipe.

Nut & Seed Hummus Toast

2 slices sprouted grain bread
1 Tbsp. walnut pieces
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. hummus (any flavor)
1 Tbsp. raw hemp seed

Toast the bread in a toaster or in the oven.

In a dry skillet, toast the walnuts and sunflower seeds over medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning. They're done with they start to smell fragrant.

Spread the hummus over both slices of toast. Top with hemp seeds and toasted sunflower seeds and walnuts.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Weekend Eats!

It's been a fun, relaxing, and productive weekend. The best kind, right? I spent Friday night at a hip-hop DJ show at the Hi-Tone. On Saturday, I lazed around the house, binge-watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix until my parents stopped by to deliver a brand new deep-freezer! They bought it for my birthday (which is coming up next Friday).

And then on Saturday night, I went over to Stephanie's new house in Cordova for game night with my friends. We played Cards Against Humanity, and Stephanie went all out with the food. She made Eggplant Caponata, which was excellent on slices of toasted baguette.

These Mini Vegan Chicken Salad Sandwiches were amazing. I only ate one so I'd have room for other food, but I wish I would have had more.

There was a trio of Hummus with Garlic Naan Chips.

And Mini Cucumber & Cream Cheese Sandwiches and Mini Radish & Butter Sandwiches. The radish sandwich sounded weird, but it was so good. And now I'm craving more. I never know what to do with radishes besides adding them to salads.

She sat out some Heidi Ho Smoky Chia Cheeze with Crackers. I ended up mixing the caponata with the chia cheeze on baguette slices, and it was delish.

But the star of the show were the Scones & Vegan Clotted Cream. This is my very favorite thing that Stephanie makes, and I bug her all the time to make them for me. It's been about a year since she last made them for a party, so this was long overdue.

I fixed up two scone halves with the cream and Stephanie's homemade Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam and her Blueberry Lavender Jam. I never had clotted cream before going vegan, so I can't speak for that. But vegan clotted cream is basically the best thing in the world. 

On Sunday morning, I woke up early and had a leftover scone. Stephanie sent me home with a couple and a container of the clotted cream. I had these with wild lingonberry fruit spread and lemon fruit spread. I enjoyed these while watching Lost on Netflix.

And then it was time to head to Cassi's birthday brunch at Deja Vu Creole & Vegetarian Restaurant. She didn't want to do anything for her birthday this year, but we made her at least do brunch. Deja Vu only serves beer, so we brought our own champagne. All this champagne for six people! And yes, we drank it all. (By the way, I cannot speak for the vegan-ness of any of these brands. I'm not always that great at making sure the booze I'm drinking is vegan, especially when it comes to wine).

I ordered the Curry Tofu with a side of Collard Greens (not pictured). Fried, coconutty, curry goodness.

I was going to bake Cassi a cookie cake, but she ended up baking her own birthday cake. She does own a vegan bakery after all. But then she left it in the freezer at the bakery, so we didn't have cake at brunch. And that was just fine because I really didn't need any more sweets after all those scones.

After brunch, I went home and took a champagne nap. And then I got up and got busy — cleaning my car inside and out, weeding my garden, doing laundry, cleaning out my fridge, and stocking my new deep freezer. Whew! Busy afternoon, but I got so much done.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vegan Bowls

Why is it that food tastes so much better in a bowl? You can have a stir-fry with brown rice and veggies on a plate, and it's just a stir-fry. On a plate. But layer that meal in a bowl and add some tahini sauce, hemp seeds, and baked tofu cubes, and you've got yourself a Bowl. With a capital "B."

Bowls — with layers of grain, veg, protein, and sauce — are just better. But if you're like me, it's easy to fall into a bowl rut, eating the same combo of grains and veggies over and over. Enter Zsu Dever's new cookbook, Vegan Bowls.  By the way, if you're not familiar with Zsu, you should check out her awesome blog, Zsu's Vegan Pantry. If you followed the Vegan Mofo wrap-ups this year, you're already familiar with Zsu!

This gorgeous full-color book features tons of recipes, and they're broken down into chapters based on the bowls' contents — grain bowls, sauteed bowls, pasta bowls, grilled bowls, salad bowls, soup bowls, and breakfast bowls. And the last chapter is dedicated to building your own bowls with handy charts laying out suggestions for Asian, European, or Latin-American Bowls.

I picked two recipes to try for this review on Zsu's Vegan Bowls blog tour. I'm a huge breakfast eater, so I knew I wanted to try something from that chapter. After much deliberation, I finally settled on the Hungarian Breakfast Bowl — tofu scramble, mushroom sausage, and toast.

Yes, you read that right — mushroom sausage. Cremini mushroom caps are sauteed with fennel, garlic, sage, and some other spices to give them a sausage-like flavor. The scramble is loaded with paprika, giving it some Hungarian flair. And the toast — I used Ezekiel sprouted grain spread with Earth Balance and Marmite — is perfect for scooping everything up.

For dinner, I made this Jalapeno BBQ Tempeh Bowl Over Creamy Grits and Chard from the "grilled" chapter.

This meant dragging out my indoor countertop grill, but it was so worth it. The tempeh is basted with this sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce, and then it's grilled to perfection. You also throw a few jalapenos on the grill with them. I used some from our garden.

For the veggies, you can pick from a list of many, and I went with carrots, squash, zucchini, okra, and chard. I love okra so much, and it really stepped up the Southern-ness of this dish. It's served atop creamy grits, so it's basically the stuff of my dreams. Loved this bowl so much! I'm so glad I have more for leftovers!

Vegan Bowls is full of creative bowl combos that I would have never dreamed up on my own. I'll definitely be using this book as a guide in the future. Other bowls I have my eye on — Lemongrass Bok Choy and Tofu Bowl, Reuben Mac & Cheese Bowl, Buffalo Chickpea Salad Bowl, and the Philly Cheesesteak Bowl. YUM!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Voke Tab For Energy!

I'm a caffeine-aholic. I drink a cup of hot coffee and a glass of iced green tea every morning to get me started, and throughout the day, it's not uncommon for me to hit up the funky breakroom coffee for a pick-me-up. Without caffeine, I'm groggy, and I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

But coffee isn't always available. Like say, when you're driving across town for a meeting and you can't keep your eyes open. Or when the last person to empty the office coffee pot fails to make more, even though the handmade, passive-aggressive sign hanging over the coffee machine strongly suggests that you're an asshole if you don't (you know who you are).

In these cases, Voke Tab really comes in handy. Voke sent me a tin of their all-natural, vegan, chewable energy tablets to try. And I can attest that they really do work!

I first put them to the test one morning when I had to be at a press conference at 9 a.m., much earlier than I typically make it to the office. I hadn't slept very well the night before, and I was dragging. After the 20-minute drive to the event, I was fighting to stay awake. And I hadn't thought to bring any coffee along. I popped one of the seven Voke tabs, and voila, I was okay. It was like I'd just drank a cup of coffee or energy drink.

But unlike an energy drink, these aren't made with weird chemicals. The energy comes from organic guarana berry seed (good for focus and memory), green tea leaf (endurance), and acerola cherry (vitamin c and antioxidants). Each tab contains 77 milligrams of caffeine. There's no sugar since they're monk fruit sweetened. The reddish color comes from beets, not artificial colors. And there's 100% of your RDA for vitamin c in every tab! And they come in a handy purse-sized tin.

The only negative is the taste. They're not bad, but they're very, um, tart. The chewable tablets have a tanginess that reminds me of that B12 mouth spray. It's not super-pleasant, but you just chew it and the taste subsides, leaving you alert and ready for action.

One of the worst (okay, the worst) things about being a reporter is transcribing interviews. An hour-long interview can turn into a 3-hour transcription session with all the stopping and rewinding (and Facebook/Instagram breaks to keep your mind from going to mush).

I had to transcribe a particularly long interview on Tuesday afternoon, and I was fading fast. So I popped a Voke tab. The first pic is before (see how I tired I look!). The second one is me eating the tablet. The third pic is the face I make while eating the tablet, and the final one me all perked up. I plowed through the rest of my interview with no problem.

Since you only get seven tabs in a tin, I'd say these aren't for everyday use. But they're great to have on a hand in a pinch. You can order single tins from their website, or if you want a stash, they sell the tins in boxes of four or 12. And they have memberships for those who want to re-load their tins on a monthly basis.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Stuff I Ate, Part 2

And now for the conclusion of "Stuff I Ate in September" — all the meals and treats eaten during Vegan Mofo that didn't make it onto the blog.

Let's start with the doughnuts, shall we? Imagine Vegan Cafe made doughnuts for brunch one morning, but I wasn't feeling great. So I skipped brunch. And I couldn't stop thinking about doughnuts. I texted my friends Pam and Stephanie, who were there eating brunch, to see if Imagine had any left. They did. Pam offered to bring me some — Chocolate and Vanilla Doughnuts. Doughnut delivery! My friends are the best.

Not to be outdone, Cassi decided to make doughnuts at Pink Diva Cupcakery the following weekend. Of course, her doughnuts were pink. Life is so hard with my all my friends making doughnuts in their restaurants!

While we're on the subject of my two favorite vegan restaurants, here are some things I ate at them both. I recently had Vegan Ravioli with Garlic Toast at Imagine.

And last weekend, at brunch at Imagine, I went off-menu and ordered the Epic Burger — veggie burger with onion rings, mushrooms, and cheeze sauce. They made it once as a special, so it's not on the menu. But if they happen to have onion rings in the freezer, they'll whip one up by request. It's the kind of burger you eat with a fork.

Now that it's fall, I can eat pumpkin. I have a strict "no pumpkin until the Autumn Equinox" rule. Last weekend, Stephanie made these Pumpkin Spice Insanity Bars to sell in Imagine's bakery case. Layer of sugar cookie, layer of Pumpkin Spice Oreos, layer of blondie. BEST THING EVER.

I eat at Imagine and Pink Diva at least once a week, so I also have some more meals from Pink Diva to share. I was a little hungover Thursday morning after the Memphis Flyer's annual Best of Memphis party. But these BBQ Tofu Nachos from Pink Diva did the trick.

One day a few weeks back, I ordered The Susan Sandwich at Pink Diva. It's a chickpea salad sammy named after my Flyer managing editor Susan Ellis. Avocado Kale Salad on the side.

I don't get out to LYFE Kitchen, our new vegan-friendly fast-food chain, as often as I'd like because it's way out east. But we had Vegan Drinks there last week. I ordered the Quinoa Crunch Bowl — quinoa, edamame hummus, avocado, radish, steamed broccoli. I even liked the arugala. What's happening to me?

Our friend Chef Nigel hosts a weekly vegan brunch in his backyard, and we stopped by a few weeks ago. I got the Tofu Scramble, Garlic Kale, and Sausage & Peppers.

One night a few weeks back, I went to Jonesboro to visit my parents. We picked up personal-sized pizzas from Uncle Maddio's. Mine had whole-wheat crust, Daiya mozzarella, green & black olives, mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and artichokes with a garlic olive oil base.

Used a Cafe Eclectic gift card after the Cooper-Young Fest to get this Black Bean Hummus & Veggie Wrap with Guacamole & Chips and a Side Salad.

I FINALLY tried a sno cone from the legendary Jerry's Sno Cones. It's a Memphis must, and it's been on my to-do list for years. I went with Shock Tart — a mix of blue raspberry and green apple. So good! I'm gonna miss the hell out of sno cone weather.

Let's contrast that high-fructose-laden sno cone with something healthy. I made this Banana Split Protein Smoothie at home. Banana, cherries, Vega One Berry protein, cashew milk, So Delicious Cocowhip, and nuts.

Midtown has a new vegan juice bar — I Love Juice Bar! I stopped in on opening week for an Orange You Glad Juice (orange, carrot, pineapple, ginger) and an Energizer shot (wild orange and peppermint essential oils with coconut water).

A couple days later, I popped into I Love Juice again for a Cacao Banana Smoothie (cacao, banana, peanut butter, coconut milk) and some Spring Rolls. YUM!

Most of the meals I cooked at home were for Mofo, but I did whip up some non-Mofo-related Vegan Chicken Tacos — Simple Truth Organic Meatless Griller Strips fried up with hot peppers and nooch, Daiya, Tofutti sour cream, and peach salsa. Side of Beanfield's Pico chips.

Whew! That was a LOT of food. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stuff I Ate, Part 1

I typically do these big ole photo dumps of random meals every couple weeks, but since Vegan Mofo was going on for all of September, I didn't get a chance to show the internet all of the important meals that made it into my mouth! So I'm dividing this Stuff I Ate post into two days. Here's your first installment.

I've been eating lunch at least one day a week at Cassi's new Pink Diva Cupcakery since it's ridiculously close to my office. This is the BBQ Tofu Plate with Vegan Mac & Cheese and Sauteed Veggies.

Another meal from Pink Diva — Vegan Fried Fish with Sauteed Veggies and Avocado Kale Salad. Mustardy BBQ sauce for dippin'.

Picked up some Tofu Manicotti from Pink Diva one day and brought it back to work. This is one of the plates I stash in my desk. Sauteed Veggies on the side.

Paul and I went camping for Labor Day weekend with our friends David and Nico. Nico is also vegan, so I brought along some Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burgers for grillin'. They were so tasty that Paul ate two. I packed a tomato, and Nico had an avocado, so dinner was made!

We were camping at Reel Foot Lake, a beautiful lake with cypress knobs and praying mantises (manti?) everywhere! There's a legendary mom-and-pop country cookin' joint near the lake called Boyette's. Even though I knew it wouldn't be vegan-friendly, I wanted to check it out because I kinda love that kitschy country weirdness. The only thing I could eat was French Fries and a Garden Salad. But that's okay. I like iceberg lettuce. Sometimes.

Back at home, we had some gift cards for the Bayou Bar & Grill, a Cajun bar in Midtown. It's not super vegan-friendly either, but they do have a few veganizable dishes. Like this Portabella Mushroom Po' Boy made without the cheese or butter. Really, really good. And their fries are amazing.

There was a lot of party food in September. Kristie, the owner of Imagine Vegan Cafe, just had her fourth baby (FOUR BABIES! I don't even know she does it.) We had a surprise baby shower for her at the restaurant. I brought these Tiny Tomato Tarts from Vegan Finger Foods. They're yummy little tofu quiches!

I also brought some last minute Vegan Buffalo Strips — Beyond Meat chicken tossed with Earth Balance and hot sauce.

There was lots of other vegan food there, but I didn't get pics of it all since Mofo was going on. I did, however, manage to get pics of the shower cake — Raspberry Petit Fours made by my friend Stephanie of Swell Baked Goods.

My friends Vaughan and Nicole held another vegan party in September at their house. They had it mostly catered by Cassi's Pink Diva Cupcakery. She was testing out these fantastic Avocado Wontons for the first time, and they are so good. Fried wontons filled with guacamole, with ranch for dipping. YES! They were such a hit at the party that she's added them to the regular menu.

She also made these cute Cucumber "Cupcakes" — raw cucumber slices piped high with vegan cream cheese.

Cassi didn't make these Falafels, but they were delicious. I think Vaughan bought them from somewhere.

She did make these Sweet Potato Mango Cupcakes for the party though. YUM!

Well, I'll leave you on that high note. More pics tomorrow.