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!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fat Tuesday Fun!

February is such a brutal, dreary, cold month. But at least it's filled with holidays! SuperBowl, Oscar Night, and this month, we get Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras back to back. We get way into Fat Tuesday down here since Memphis is just a short drive away from New Orleans. Plus, my family and I kind of adopted New Orleans as our favorite city years ago when we started taking yearly summer trips down there.

It's been awhile since I've made it down to Crescent City, but I partied like I was in NOLA today. As always, I started the day with one of Kittee's homemade vegan king cakes. Her king cake recipe never fails. I used this one for the basic instructions, but I filled it with vegan cream cheese (Daiya) and cherry pie filling.

I had a slice for breakfast this morning and washed it down with a cup of French Truck Coffee's Big Chief Ya Ya dark roast. French Truck is a NOLA-based roastery with a location in Crosstown Concourse, and this is their Carnival season blend. It's very tasty.

And wouldn't you know it? I found the baby in my first slice! The baker isn't supposed to find the baby! But it does mean you're supposed to bake the cake next year, and if I want vegan king cake, I have to make it. So ... I guess that's accurate! But I washed her off and shoved her back in anyway, so one of my co-workers could find it.

I brought the cake to work, and around mid-day, my friend Shay, who works at another Concourse office stopped by, and she found the baby! But she also shoved it back in. Not sure who found it after that.

My lunch was a vegan beef burrito, not New Orleans-inspired at all. But I did convince my cat Ozzy to pose with Mardi Gras beads while I was home for lunch.

Around 4 pm, Crosstown Concourse — where I work — hosted a Mardi Gras parade. We had the Memphis Second Line Jazz Band and lots of folks in costumes, masks, and beads. Lots of fun! I got a few pics of the pre-parade festivities.

And then around 5:30 pm, it was time for the first group run of our new Crosstown Running Crew. We met on the Concourse plaza and ran 3 miles around the neighborhood. I was so amazed that so many people showed up. A co-worker and I just put this idea out into the world, and people came! WHAT?!

Our plan was to meet back up at French Truck in Concourse for post-run beers. They had a special Abita Mardi Gras beer, but when we returned to Concourse after the run, they were closed! Apparently, they close at 6 pm on Tuesdays. But thankfully, our friend Clark saved the day! He let us into the new Crosstown Brewing Co. (on the west side of Concourse) for beers. It doesn't open until this Friday, so it was so cool to have a sneak peek. I got the Crosstown Brown Ale.

I had one beer (and chatted with some new running friends! YAY!) and then headed home for dinner, which I'd prepared the night before. I made a ton of Isa's Andouille Sausage & Cannellini Bean Jambalaya. This has brown rice, Field Roast sausages, kidney beans (subbed out for cannellinis), tomatoes, and the holy trinity of onions, peppers, and celery. So good! I had this with a small side salad.

Paul worked late tonight, but when he finally made it home, we headed out to one of our fave bars — the Bayou Bar & Grill — for Abita Mardi Gras Bock and live music by the Mighty Souls Brass Band.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pie Party!!

My friend Susan has long been threatening to host a pie party. And she finally did last weekend! This ladies-only party (because you've got to have a pie for pie party, get it?) was potluck, so we had lots and lots of pie, both savory and sweet. (UPDATE: Someone pointed out that the aforementioned "got to have pie" comment was un-trans-friendly. Didn't even think about that! But we definitely would have welcomed anyone who identified as female to our pie party!).

I brought the Classic Broccoli Quiche from Vegan Brunch. This tofu quiche is my go-to for an easy (and delicious) brunch, and my friend Pam (a guest at the party) loves quiche more than life itself. So I knew I had to bring this! I used a frozen, pre-made crust because ain't nobody got time to make a homemade crust.

And for my sweet pie, I took it WAY back to 2008 with the Smlove Pie from the Veganomicon. I used to make this pie all the time when VCon was one of only a few books in my cookbook collection. Plus, this pie was pretty much an internet sensation in the vegan world back then. It's a chocolate mousse pie with peanut butter caramel, candied pecans, and chocolate ganache. Pre-made graham cracker crust to save time.

Susan made so many things! These little Potato Empanadas were cute and delicious, especially dipped in Susan's vegan ranch.

To save time, she bought a few pies — like this Daiya Pizza Pie.

And these Amy's Vegetable Pot Pies.

Sadly, I failed to get a picture of everyone's favorite pie — Frito Chili Pie! Susan had all the fixins to make this amazing mess-pile of Fritos, vegan cheddar, chili, and onions. As for sweets, Susan made these pillowy Apple Turnovers.

And she made some yummy Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Ganache. It may not have been the prettiest pie, but it was damn tasty with all that PB and chocolate!

And finally, check out these adorable Orange Cream Tarts that Susan made in little phyllo cups. So cute! And creamy! Loved the little orange zest on top.

Pam D. (we had two Pams) made this Peanut Butter Banana Pie from The Chubby Vegetarian Cookbook. It's a frozen pie made with banana soft serve and drizzled with chocolate syrup. So good!

The other Pam — that would be Pam S (aka MY PAM) — woke up on Saturday morning to no power at her home due to a neighborhood outage. And it didn't come on until almost time for her to leave for the party, so she swung by the store and picked up two Marie Callender frozen pies (did you know most Marie C fruit pies are VEGAN???? YES!). She got this Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Pie.

And this Peach Lattice Pie. We enjoyed both with So Delicous CocoWhip and almond milk ice cream. I'd heard about these pies being vegan but never tried them. Both were excellent and just as good as homemade in my opinion. I'll definitely be turning to these in a pinch in the future!

Here's the whole pie spread (look at my cute cherry pie holder — score from the Goodwill!).

After we ate, we played this Pie Face game that's basically Russian roulette with pie. You put some vegan whipped cream (we used blobs of CocoWhip) on the hand and take turns clicking a wheel until the hand springs up someone gets pied in the face. It didn't work super well, but we managed to make a huge mess on Susan's coffee table. Here is Pam and Pam preparing to be pied.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Impossible Burger Comes to Memphis!

We finally have the Impossible Burger in Memphis! And I had a chance to try it out Friday night. The Liquor Store — a hip, diner/cocktail bar located in an old converted liquor store in the Broad Avenue Arts District — recently added the Impossible Burger to their menu! It's not a totally vegan restaurant, but they're super-vegan friendly, and I could not be happier that they're serving this burger.

This burger was EVERYTHING it's cracked up to be. It seriously tasted just like the beef burgers I remember, even more on-point than the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger (which I also love). The patty is thinner, and the Liquor Store cooks it up diner-style so it's pressed flat and cooked all the way through.

This burger contains heme, an iron-containing molecule found in plants and animals, and that's what's responsible for the red, bloody burger look when the Impossible Burger is prepared rare. But the Liquor Store serves them well-done. I'd still love to try a rare version, but honestly, when I did eat meat as a kid, I always preferred everything to be well-done and a bit crispy on the outside. The Liquor Store's preparation captures that perfectly!

It's served on a vegan bun with vegan cheddar (pretty sure it's Daiya) with thinly sliced dill pickles and red onions, iceberg, and tomato slices. On the side is a generous portion of fries. The only thing that could have made this meal any more magical would have been a vegan vanilla milkshake. But they don't have those, so I had a Crowd Control IPA instead.

I've blogged about the Liquor Store before (you can read that here) and their amazing Cuban Platter with black beans, yellow rice, and perfectly crisp plantain chips. Love that they have options!

And they even have vegan dessert! They keep fresh desserts on the bar counter, and I spotted this last Vegan Danish and had to have it. It was just lightly sweet with a raspberry jam and slivered almonds. I took this to go and enjoyed it before my Saturday morning bootcamp class at the gym.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

New Ben & Jerry's Vegan Flavors!

Ben & Jerry's has DONE IT AGAIN! They've released two new non-dairy flavors, and I was thrilled to be sent a couple pints for review!!

I've had a lot of vegan ice cream in my day, and let me tell ya — Ben & Jerry's makes the best. It's delightfully creamy, and it doesn't even try to masquerade as health food. Ice cream is a treat, and it should taste like one. Fat and calories be damned! Also, I just so happen to prefer chunky over creamy, so all the flavorful bits and bites in the B&J's ice creams delight me.

The new flavors blew me away! There's Cinnamon Buns and Peanut Butter Half-Baked.

Out of the two, Cinnamon Buns is my fave since I'm always one to choose a vanilla base over a chocolate base. The ice cream is cinnamon flavored with chunks of cinnamon bun dough and a cinnamon streusel swirl. The bun dough is soft and sweet and chewy, and the streusel adds a bit more chunky sugar texture. This is like eating a cinnamon roll topped with ice cream.

The Peanut Butter Half-Baked is great too though! And if you're a chocolate ice cream fan, you'll no doubt love this one the most. Chocolate and peanut butter ice creams are swirled together (!!!!) and mixed with fudge brownie chunks and gobs of peanut butter cookie dough. YES! Those PB cookie dough gobs are pretty special. I found three big ones in my bowl today, and I savored those bites for last.

I can't recommend these flavors highly enough! Out of all the vegan B&J's flavors I've tried, Cinnamon Buns may be my very top fave (right after PB & Cookies!). That said, I still haven't gotten my hands on a couple of flavors — Coconut Seven Layer Bar and Caramel Almond Brittle. I've seen the coconut one in stores here but only ever when I've already got a freezer full of ice cream and can't justify buying more. And I've never seen Caramel Almond Brittle in Memphis, though I'm sure it's around here somewhere (probably at the East Memphis Ben & Jerry's scoop shop — they tend to have all the flavors).