Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stuff I Ate: Brown Food Edition

I'm back with a random meal mash-up post. And as always, I've got a ton of food pics, so I'll share some tonight and the rest tomorrow. I've got about one hour to get this blog post done, finish my laundry, and get some more chores done before bed, so we'll make this quick.

As noted in the title of this post, there's been a lot of brown food in my diet lately. And while brown food isn't always the healthiest, we all know brown food is the most delicious food.

One day a couple weeks back, as I was walking home from my Hoop Flow class at Co-Motion Studio, I passed the Tamale Trolley food truck parked outside Amurica (a photo studio/event space). I'd already planned out my dinner, which I was about to eat when I got around the block to my house. But I noticed the truck's menu said "Vegan Tamales," and well, I just can't let an opportunity like that pass me by. I grabbed an order of the most delicious Vegan Black Bean Tamales I've ever eaten. Seriously. That good. And they were huge! The red sauce on top was just perfect too.


I had lunch with a friend a couple weeks back at Phuong Long, a Vietnamese joint around the corner from my house. I got the Curry Tofu lunch special. Crispy deep-fried tofu coated in a coconut-curry sauce with carrots, onions, and bell peppers. Just the right portion for a lunch (but I only ate about half that mound of rice).


We split an order of Spring Rolls with peanut sauce. So much peanut sauce!


A couple Saturdays ago, the brunch bitches (Pam, Stephanie, and Megan) and I had a non-brunch date night. First, we went out for dinner at New Hong Kong — a hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint with a secret vegan menu filled with mock meats — and then we went to drive-in to watch the new Ghostbusters movie over parking lot cocktails poured in the back of Megan's SUV. Classy. At New Hong Kong, I ordered the Sesame Mock Chicken. The sauce was sweet 'n' sour with a slight hint of sesame, and the mock meat was deep-fried, gluten-based goodness.


They gave us a platter of Fried Sugar Biscuits while we waited for our food. I love these things! When I was a kid, I'd load up on these at the Chinese buffet. We gobbled several up before I remember to take a picture.


Unfortunately, the mock meat dishes at New Hong Kong are pretty light on vegetables. There were maybe two pieces of broccoli hiding under that sesame chicken in the pic above. But I sauteed some more broccoli and carrots to add to my leftovers for lunch the next day. And I made brown rice to go with my leftovers because it makes me feel better about myself.


And finally, one more brown thing! A few months ago, my dad ordered me a dozen Larsen Bakery Chocolate Doughnuts from Vegan Essentials. I had about four left in the deep-freezer, so I heated one up and enjoyed with some coffee a few days ago.


More pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Old-School Sunday Dinner

Remember that vintage vegan cookbook project I was working on? Well, I've taken quite a break from it. No reason other than I just haven't been terribly inspired to create new recipes (or type them up!). For the past six months or so, I've mostly just been interested in cooking from other people's cookbooks. But the inspiration bug strikes me every now and then.

Most recently, I was inspired after reading Mark Hawthorne's article "The Way We Eat" in the August issue of VegNews. It's all about America's broken food system and looks at how we used to eat back in the day before industrialization, factory farming, and the birth of modern convenience foods and fast food. A sidebar with the article showed sample meals from past decades, and the one for 1900 listed "broiled prairie chicken, mashed turnips, green corn, potatoes, soup, Lima beans, slaw, watermelon, and baked Alaska."

I picked a couple of those foods to veganize for the 1900 chapter of my book. By the way, if you're not familiar with my (neverending) cookbook project, I'm veganizing trendy foods through the past century. For this meal, I created a Baked Prairie Seitan in place of the broiled prarie chicken. This is a homemade seitan that's rubbed with vegan butter, dried rosemary, and lemon zest.


I cut it into thin slices and topped with some Leahey Foods No Chicken Golden Gravy (from a package!).


That meal description with the article also mentioned "mashed turnips," which I'd never had but sounded really good. I love turnips. I created a recipe for Mashed Turnips using peeled, boiled turnips, shallots, herbs, and Yukon gold potatoes. Also topped with gravy because everything is better with gravy.


I served the two new recipes (Sorry, saving them for the book! Also, too lazy to type them up right now!) with simple sauteed green beans and a B Free gluten-free dinner roll with Miyoko's Cultured VeganButter. Full review of those B Free rolls (and other bread products) coming soon in a later post.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Memphis-Made Designer Vegan Chocolate!

Memphis chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix has been called the "real life Willy Wonka" by Forbes Magazine. He runs a small designer chocolate boutique in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, but this dude is big-time. He designed golden pralines as gifts for attendees of the Oscars this year (each chocolate retailed for $79 because he used real gold!). But he sells much more reasonably priced chocolates at his shop and online store and through Neiman Marcus. Each piece is hand-painted and handcrafted with crazy flavors like orange dreamsicle, sweet potato, caramel apple, key lime pie, and barbecue. 

Most of the Phillip Ashley chocolates aren't vegan, but just a couple months ago, he released the Vegan Collection — 12 handmade vegan chocolates in six different flavors (there are two of each flavor). At $40, the collection was a little pricey for a gift to myself, so I asked Paul to get it for me for our anniversary last month!


He placed an order a couple days before our anniversary, but since they're handmade, it took a few days before they were ready. Phillip Ashley will ship chocolates anywhere, but since they're local, I swung by the store to pick them up. Here's the vegan label. Love all the veggies!


Phillip Ashley Chocolates come in all sorts of molded shapes, but all of the vegan ones are in the shapes of little leaves. 


The flavors are El Matador (Mexican hot chocolate), Love Potion (French vanilla lavender), Mother Nature (sweet potato avocado), No Tortoise No Hare (salted caramel pecan praline "vegan turtle"), Tiger Lily (blood orange balsamic), and Spirited (cognac).


All but one of the flavors are truffles. The one non-truffle chocolate is the No Tortoise No Hare (LOVE that name!). It's a vegan turtle candy with a chewy salted caramel and bits of pecan inside. I really love this. I'd say it's my third fave!


My very fave, though, was the Tiger Lily — the blood orange balsamic. I love the pairing of sweet citrus and just ever-so-slightly tangy vinegar with the deep dark chocolate. 


I didn't photograph the insides of the others, because they all look pretty much like the Tiger Lily on the inside. But Spirited (cognac) was my second fave. It has a very strong alcohol flavor, and y'all know I love my booze. 

The Mexican chocolate one has just the right amount of heat, and the French vanilla lavender was perfect for a bedtime snack. As for the sweet potato avocado, it tasted to me the most like a traditional plain chocolate truffle, as you couldn't taste the veggies much. But the those two creamy veggies made for a very creamy chocolate filling. 

I love these chocolates! I've been hoarding them a bit, only allowing myself just one per day (or one every couple days) so they'll last longer. I did share one with Paul (just one!).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Black Lives Matter Vegan Soul Food Cookout!

The Memphis chapter of Black Lives Matter held a vegan soul food fair in North Memphis on Saturday. It was billed as a cookout, but nobody was cooking onsite, so it was more of a fair. The event was held in a grassy vacant lot in the Smokey City neighborhood, just five minutes from my house, so I popped by to grab lunch (and dinner for later).



Of course Cassi and her son Keithon were there with food and cupcakes from Pink Diva Cupcakery. 


She had several cold dishes that seemed like they'd be perfect to save for dinner. I bought her Chickpea Salad.


And her Avocado Kale Salad. Later, for dinner, I combined the two salads in a gluten-free pita pocket.


Nigel and Andrea from Irie Vegan Kitchen were there too. They don't have a restaurant space yet, but they often host invite-only vegan brunches in their home. 


I love Nigel's food, but I don't get to enjoy it very often, so I was super-stoked to get this platter of Baked Mac & Cheese, Vegan Hot Wings and Ranch, and Irie House Salad for lunch.


The ladies from Two Vegan Sistas — a high-raw vegan cafe in Bartlett — were there with grab-and-go raw cashew burgers and desserts. I love their food, but I don't get out to their cafe often enough. It's just a drive from my home in Midtown — about 20 minutes — but I need to make it a point to visit more.


I bought a slice of their Strawberry Cake — a healthier cake made with wheat flour, coconut oil, fresh berries, and turbinado. So good and moist! Loved that simple strawberry glaze on top.


And I couldn't resist grabbing a bag of the Two Vegan Sistas' Protein Poppers popcorn. It's loaded with spirulina and other spices, and it's just so good. I always get a bag to go when I stop by their restaurant too.


That was all for the food vendors, but there was also a Black Lives Matter and 901 Evolution info booth. 


It was a really cool event, and it had a great turnout. So cool to see veganism and the fight against systemic racial oppression come together!

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!!!!!