Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook

Just a little after Christmas, my parents insisted on buying me an air fryer. My dad had gotten one for my mom for Christmas, and in just a few weeks, the appliance had become indispensable in their lives. They were literally cooking EVERY meal in the air fryer! And when I say "they," I mean my mom and my dad. My dad who never bothered to cook anything that couldn't be microwaved had suddenly become quite the chef. Months later, my dad — who is semi-retired and stays home most days — now cooks dinner in the air fryer every night and has a meal on the table when my mom gets home from work!

Suffice it to say, the air fryer has been a game changer in their lives. And since my parents bought me one, it's been pretty handy in my world too. I don't use every day like they do, but it certainly helps me get dinner together quickly (and healthfully) several times per week. I use it for so much more than "frying"! Most often, it serves as an oven, offering a speedy way to roast veggies, bake kale chips, and heat frozen plant meats.

While I know lots of air fryer tricks already, I'm still learning. And no resource has been greater in that effort than JL Fields' The Vegan Air Fryer — the first totally vegan, air fryer cookbook. I've made a number of JL's recipes so far, but I started with this Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce.

I often air-fry marinated tofu without any sort of breading. When you do that, it gets a texture similar to the fried tofu in Asian dishes. But JL's recipe is different because you dredge the tofu in cornmeal, cornstarch, and spices, creating a crispy breading. When prepared this way, the tofu is best eaten right away (I found the the breading got a little dried out in the fridge overnight). But when fresh, it's so amazing! A perfect little appetizer to dip in rich, creamy peanut sauce. I brought this to a party of non-vegans, and they loved it.

From the sides chapter, I just had to try JL's Hasselback Potatoes. My friend Nicole bought an air fryer after learning how much I love mine, and she'd told me that the insides of whole potatoes get super-creamy in the air-fryer. These hasselback potatoes lived up to that hype!

By thinly slicing the potatoes part-way through, you get super-crispy edges and creamy insides, plus the potato just cooks more evenly. JL only calls for a tiny bit of oil in these plus a little fresh, grated garlic for flavor. I didn't add any extra oil or butter, but I did add a nice sprinkling of nooch upon serving (oh, and ketchup!). I didn't miss the fat at all! That's one of the coolest things about the air fryer — lower fat cooking is still so full of flavor. I had the potato with some peanut butter tempeh from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook and some collard greens from Cookin' Crunk.

I wanted to try one of JL's main dishes, and I'm trying to encourage Paul to eat more vegan foods. So on Monday night, we made the General Tso's Soy Curls.

For this, you rehydrate Soy Curls and then toss with a little flour and spices before air-frying. The air-frying gives the curls a meatier texture while drying out some of that rehydration water. After air-frying, the Soy Curls are quickly sauteed in a little spicy-sweet sauce. I served ours atop some steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, and rice (brown for me, white for Paul).

Well, the omni partner LOVED it! He finished all of his Soy Curls and went back in for seconds. You know a recipe is a winner when the omni goes back for seconds.

I have many more recipes bookmarked to try. The Tofu Bacon Wraps will be next for sure! These are slabs of bacony tofu, wrapped in rice paper, and air-fried until crispy. JL also has a very impressive-looking recipe for a Slider & Bacon Bloody Mary where you air-fry tempeh bacon and vegan sausage patties and make little sliders to garnish a Bloody Mary. Will be making!

Other faves to make include Doughnut Holes, Spicy Mac & Cheese Balls, Soy Curl Fries, Beany Jackfruit Taquitos, Poutine, Mixed Vegetable Fritters, Buffalo Cauliflower, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Hot Dogs (yes!!!), Corn Dogs, Chick'n Fried Steak, Calzones, the Cake for One with Coco Whip (because it's always just me eating cake), and the Fried Ginger-O's (using the Newman's Own brand).

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Heart Keenwah Snacks!

My blogger bud Natalie of Bake & Destroy also happens to work for I Heart Keenwah, and she's been steadily keeping me stocked with toasted quinoa and quinoa snacks for review. A few weeks back, she mailed me some of the I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Puffs and Quinoa Clusters. I've been enjoying these as desk snacks in the mornings and afternoons at work since I pretty much need to be stuffing my face all day to stay productive and happy!

The Quinoa Puffs are like a healthy version of those neon orange cheese balls I used to love as a kid. You know, the kind that cake your fingers in orange powder that you get to lick off when you're done? But these are way healthier!

They're made with puffed quinoa (duh!) and spices. That's it! They're also low in fat and pretty high in protein. She shipped me the Sweet Chili flavor, which makes me super-stoked because anything sriracha-flavored is my fave. But they also come in Sea Salt Truffle and Herbs de Provence. (Note: There's also a Cheddar flavor that isn't vegan, so watch out for that. As far as I can tell, that's the only I Heart Keenwah product that isn't vegan. Would be cool if they'd take a cue from Skinny Popcorn or The Little Kernel snacks and use a vegan cheese flavoring instead!).

The Quinoa Clusters are similar to granola. They're crunchy little clusters made from quinoa, brown rice syrup, brown rice crisps, dried fruit, and nuts. Natalie shipped me the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor.

These have sunflower seeds, pepitas, dark chocolate, and sunflower butter. Plus chia seeds and hemp hearts for super-nutrition! They have a nice crunch balanced with just the right amount of chewiness.

I've been snacking on these clusters at my desk at work, but they'd also make a fine topping for a smoothie bowl! They also come in cashew cranberry, peanut butter cacao, and almond.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

More Stuff I Ate

And here are some more things I ate over the past couple weeks!

I stopped by Memphis Tilth's Garden at the Gate farmer's market at Crosstown Concourse last week and sort of freaked out over some heirloom tomatoes. I really needed, like, one tomato, but they were so beautiful that I bought six. Ha! So I've been eating hella tomatoes all week. I made some Summer Tomato Salad from Cookin' Crunk last week with cucumbers, red onion, rice vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.

And I've had my fair share of Tomato & Mayo Sandwiches as snacks lately. These aren't hearty enough for a meal, but they're perfect before my afternoon yoga classes. Sometimes, I also sub out avocado for the mayo.

FitQuick has come out with a new flavor of protein waffles — Orange Cream Bar Waffles! The flavor was released last week, and I ordered right away. I had them by week's end! I topped this one with banana soft serve made orange with some carrot juice powder and flavored with a little vanilla extract and orange essential oil. Vegan white chocolate chips on top because why not?

I picked up the Lenny & Larry's Birthday Cake Complete Cookie at Sprouts the other day. This cookie has 16 grams of protein! Perfect excuse to eat cookies and almond milk post-workout. This flavor is by-far my fave.

At Food Truck Fridays at Concourse last Friday, I got the Vegan Sushi Burrito from the Sushi Jimmi food truck. Isn't this rainbow sushi gorgeous? The yellow stuff is pineapple, which I've never had in sushi, but it works.

On Sunday morning, we had brunch plans at Midtown Crossing so I had a light pre-brunch snack of Koyo Mushroom Ramen with Veggies.

And then a couple hours later, we met up with Stephanie and Katie Hubbard (from the PPK, who was in town for the weekend!) at Midtown Crossing. I ordered a pizza, but since my order took longer than everyone else's, they brought me a FREE Vegan Biscuits and Gravy to snack on while I waited. SCORE! I freakin' love Midtown Crossing so much.

Here's the pizza I ordered — The Watkins (Thai peanut butter flatbread with tofu, green apples, pickled carrots, and sriracha). It's a new vegan option, and it's soooooo good. You can never go wrong with peanut butter and tofu.

Well, that's it for now! I'll be sure and get to eatin' so I'll have more random meals to share soon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stuff I Ate

My food game has been pretty strong lately. Lots of delicious restaurant meals + plenty of fresh, healthy meals prepared at home with the bounty of summer produce available at the Memphis Farmer's Market (downtown) and Curb Market (in Crosstown). I've also been WAY into sandwiches lately.

Last week, I made the Roasted Vegetable Po'Boys from my own cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. I've been cooking from my book more lately now that fresh produce is everywhere. So many of my recipes call for summer produce, and this one has long been a fave. Roasted zucchini, bell pepper, portabella, and red onions on toasted po'boy bread with vegan cheddar. On the side, I cooked from Cauliflower-White Bean-Onion Veggie Rings in the air fryer. These awesome onion rings have extra veggies added for bonus nutrition! I found them in the freezer section at Kroger.

Speaking of po'boys, Paul and I had dinner at the Bayou Bar & Grill recently. I always get the Portabella Po'Boy minus the cheese. This has the best sauteed mushrooms and peppers. The juices soak into that soft bread, and it's just so good. It comes with fries, but I subbed a salad this time because I needed to lay off the fried stuff.

But of course I had fries on National French Fry Day a couple weeks back. Had dinner at Imagine Vegan Cafe with some friends and got the BLTA with Sweet Potato Fries. 

I ate at Imagine again last week with Isabella, a new German vegan friend who was traveling through Memphis on a North American/South American adventure. She wanted a taste of the South, so we went to Imagine where she could get vegan chicken and waffles. I had the Sheila Dog — a fried veggie dog topped with coleslaw, vegan cheese, kraut, and pickled jalapenos. 

Plus, we all shared some Spinach & Artichoke Dip, courtesy of my friend Vaughan, who very nicely paid for the entire meal! There was Biscoff cheesecake eaten as well, but we failed to take a picture.

Found some Beyond Meat chicken strips on sale at Target a few weeks back, so I used a recipe from the back of the bag to whip up this simple Vegan Chicken Salad — Beyond Meat strips + vegan mayo + celery + grapes. Perfection in a wrap.

Susan and I had dinner at City Silo one night a couple weeks ago. I got the Foxy BBQ Sandwich (a spaghetti squash BBQ sandwich) with added buffalo tempeh. Vegan slaw on top, plus a side salad.

Hey, this isn't a sandwich! Fridays at Crosstown Concourse are now Food Truck Fridays, and the Paul's Cariflavor truck was here. They have Caribbean food, and several options are vegan. I got the Vegan Roti, which was stuffed with curried chickpeas and potatoes. OMG SO GOOD.

As always, I'm still eating my FitQuick protein waffles! Here's a Lemon Poppyseed Waffle with Maple & Local Boysenberries and Vegan Sausage.

I've also been eating plenty of Avocado Toast lately. Got this idea to add baked tofu from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I added a thin slice of Wildwood Savory Baked Tofu to each avo-toast, plus tomatoes, homemade pickled onions, hot sauce, and Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.

More random food tomorrow!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Everything Vegan Tees!

I'll confess — I have a tee-shirt problem. My closet is about 90 percent tee-shirts — Memphis pride tees and message tees of all varieties. I like to wear my opinions about veganism, feminism, running, and every other thing I'm into on my chest. My typical weekend uniform is a message tee, short shorts, and flip-flops. For work, I dress it up a little by pairing tees with cotton skirts or skinny jeans.

Not that I needed any more tees, but when the founder of Everything Vegan — an online tee-shirt store — asked me if I'd to review their shirts, of course I jumped at the chance. This online store has so many vegan message tees to choose from, but I picked out three. You can choose to have the messages printed on a variety of styles of tees, from women's junior fit (my fave) to racerback tanks to unisex tees and sweatshirts. Even kids sizes! You're also given the option of multiple colors for every style.

Since I do have so many message tees in my daywear collection already, I opted to have two of my three tees printed on racerback-style tanks to run in. I also have a lot of workout wear but not nearly as much as I do tees. I couldn't resist this Vegan Runners Last Longer tank! I'm not even sure that the message is true, but I like it.

The cotton is super soft, and the tank is fitted and slim. I went with extra-small, and it was perfect. I also opted for a No Meat for This Vegan Athlete tank in the same size and style. This one has been great for both running and the gym.

For my women's junior style tee, I picked this Dressed to Kale shirt in a lovely shade of blue. I love a good kale pun. And this tee has been fun to pair with a black skirt and flats for work. If my tee says I'm Dressed to Kale, it must count as dressing up, right?

As for the women's junior fit, I also thought this was perfect. The neckline goes up a little higher than some of my other tees, but I liked that. It made for a different shape and adds some variety to my wardrobe.

Other messages I'd love to order from Everything Vegan (because I need another tee like I need a hole in my head): "I Just Want to Drink Kombucha and Save Animals," "I Can't Make Everyone Happy, I'm Not an Avocado," "Eating Animals is Weird," "Tofu Makes Me Happy," "I Don't Carrot All" (told y'all I love a pun), and "I Get Plenty of Protein, Thanks!".

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bowls, Bowls, All Kinds of Bowls

Do you ever have one of those days that's just a straight-up amazing food day? At the end of the day, you look back and think "Damn, I killed it at meal time ALL DAY LONG." Tuesday was one of those days. I had a bowl (of sorts) for every meal, and each one left me wanting to start over and eat the same thing again and again.

My day started with a Toasted Quinoa Breakfast Bowl. 

I was planning to have I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa Cereal with almond butter that morning, but while I was at the gym pounding out some goblet squats, I started dreaming of a savory bowl with Vegan Egg and sausage.

When I got home, I got to work. I cooked the toasted quinoa cereal according to package directions and stirred in some thawed, frozen spinach, pink salt, and a tablespoon of nooch. While the cereal was cooking, I fried up a Hilary's Eat Well Apple-Maple Sausage patty and I scrambled some Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg. Then I piled it all into a bowl. SO GOOD. And very filling. Hot sauce on top, of course!

And then came lunch. I'd eaten a BBQ Burger Bowl at Nashville's Sunflower Cafe over the weekend, and it was so yummy that I'd been thinking of how I could recreate it at home.

Well, I had one Spicy Black Bean & Beet Burger patty left from when I made these last week (from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook). So I served it atop some I Heart Keenwah toasted quinoa (the only kind I eat these days!) and sauteed zucchini and corn. I topped the burger with Trader Joe's Sriracha Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce and pickled onions. And then I whipped up a quick garlic aioli using low-fat Vegenaise and garlic powder. Simple, quick, and delicious. I did all this in my hour-long lunch break from work and still had plenty of time to eat and enjoy it.

Dinner was equally awesome. I'd purchased some fresh butter beans from the Memphis Farmers Market a couple weeks back and put them in the freezer until I was ready to cook them. I simmered these (about 2 cups of beans) with about 4 cups of veggie broth and one chopped onion. While they cooked, I threw together the Jalapeno Cornbread recipe from my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk. And the best ever bowl of Beans & Cornbread was on the table!

Some folks like to crumble their cornbread over their beans, but I prefer to chunk the whole slice right on top. Southern summer perfection. On the side, I made a Summer Tomato Salad (another Southern delicacy) from Cookin' Crunk — chopped, local heirloom tomatoes, local cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, rice vinegar, avocado oil, sugar, and salt.

Such a good day! I wish I could go back and do it all over again!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July Goddess Box Unpacking!

It's that time again! My July Goddess Provisions box arrived a week or so ago, just in time for my weekend trip to Nashville. You see, this month's box theme is "Goddess on a Road Trip." So perfect!

Here's what was inside. There's a cool sticker, a lemongrass car air freshener, a palo santo stick and essential oil, happy drops, hair oil, black tourmaline, and chimichurri almonds.

I didn't use ALL of these things on my trip, but a number of them did come in handy, especially that car freshener. It's been awhile since I've replaced my old air freshener, which no longer had any scent left. And this one by Purple Frog is way better than what I had anyway because it's all-natural and smells of fresh, bright lemongrass. You can even recharge it by adding essential oils as the scent starts to wane!

These Spice Foods Chimichurri Almonds were a LIFESAVER on the road. I get very bored on road trips and sometimes even a little sleepy. But I've found that so long as I'm stuffing snacks in my face, I stay entertained and alert. These almonds are dry-roasted and coated in a delicious herb mixture.

I took the black tourmaline with me on the road too. I always travel with crystals (usually yellow jasper because it encourages safe travel). I did pack my jasper, but I also included this tourmaline, which guards against negativity and protects you from environmental pollutants (great for highway travel!).

I didn't take the Prim Botanicals Hair Oil or the Calm-a-Mama Happy Drops with me. But I've been using the Happy Drops at home daily, and wow — I will certainly be buying these when I run out. It's an elixir made from rose hydrosol, lemon balm, and chamomile flower essences, and 2-4 drops on the tongue is seriously SO UPLIFTING. It's an instant mood changer. I've long been a believer in flower essences (I use them on the pets as well), and I'm so happy to have this new elixir in my life. I haven't tried the hair oil yet, but I plan to give it a go this weekend. You can use it as a leave-in mask or as a finishing touch, but I'm going to try it as a mask.

There's also the Sacred Wood Essence Palo Santo Stick and Oil. I have a few palo santo sticks already, but this one is special because "You're a Goddess" is carved into it. I burn palo santo and sage daily to clear out negativity and protect my space. I've never owned palo santo essential oil, but it smells amazing. I've been applying to my pulse points in the mornings to boost a sense of peace and well-being.

Finally, there's this really cute sticker! The message is so rad. I placed it on a mirror in my hallway that I look into daily as I'm headed out the door. This will serve as a reminder to face each day with love and gratitude.

By the way, I'm a Goddess Provisions ambassador, which means I make a couple bucks if anyone signs up using this link. I don't get my boxes free though, just to be clear. I subscribe and pay the $33 a month, and it's totally worth it. It's a great deal, and the boxes are so much fun!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Weekend in Nashville

Sorry for the long silence! I spent the weekend in Nashville visiting my partner Paul, and I took Monday off as well. I intended to post last night, but I got back to Memphis yesterday afternoon with only enough time to clean, unpack, and do this week's food prep before bed. Here's a recap of my delicious and fun weekend in Music City.

Paul has been living over there part-time for a little over a year for work, but he's taking a job back home in Memphis soon, so this weekend was his work going-away party weekend. And he wanted me there. So on Saturday morning, I made the 3.5 hour drive to Nashville. He had to work until 6 p.m. Saturday, so before I met up with him, I stopped by Trader Joe's to stock up and then to Sunflower Vegetarian Cafe for a yummy vegan BBQ Burger Bowl — sunflower seed rice topped with sesame kale, caramelized onions, tomato slices, a veggie burger patty with BBQ sauce, and garlic aioli. So good!

After Paul got off work, we met up with several of his co-workers and his sister Sheila for a night of bowling and beer. By the way, us ladies were doing the silly "sorority squat" thing because we thought it'd be funny.

We moved on from bowling to a karaoke bar to close out the night. There are pictures, but they're terrible so I'm not posting them.

On Sunday morning, Paul, Sheila, and his co-worker/friend Colin met up for brunch at Graze in East Nashville.

This is my fave vegan restaurant in Nashville because they have fresh, awesome food and cheap, strong drinks. We started with a couple of $5 Bloody Marys!

I ordered the Breakfast Bowl — biscuit topped with veggie sausage, tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, hollandaise, and fresh greens. Amazing!

Sunday was National Ice Cream Day, and the Piped Piper Creamery is just a few blocks away from Graze, so we popped in for frozen treats. The only vegan options were a couple of sorbets. I chose the Pearis Hilton (pear riesling sorbet). I loved the combo of white wine and fresh pear.

We spent the rest of the day chilling at Colin's pool. I had a couple of lemon radlers that I picked up at Trader Joe's and TJ's Super Burrito (heated up in Colin's microwave) while everyone else had non-vegan pizza. That burrito was delicious, but it was dark by the time I ate it, and my pics are awful.

On Monday, I woke up early and went for a 4-mile run on the Station Camp Greenway in Gallatin, close to Paul's parents' house (where we were staying).

Then I had this Evolve Mellow Mocha Protein Shake that I brought from home. This was my first time trying the Evolve drinks, and I can say that they're definitely my new fave. They're so thick and creamy, like a smoothie!

I needed to leave Nashville by 1 p.m. to make it home in time to get all my chores done. So Paul and I grabbed a quick lunch at Thai Phooket II in Goodlettsville. They had lots of vegan options, but after a long weekend of beers and decadent meals, I wanted something light and fresh. So I opted for an order of Tofu Summer Rolls (the best I've ever had!!!!).

And the Phooket Salad with fried tofu and peanut sauce. So much peanut sauce! I could drink that stuff.

In the car on the drive home, I broke out the Veggie Wrap with Hummus that I picked up from TJ's. This was stuffed with hummus and a yummy coleslaw. Perfect for a meal on the go.

Paul still has a few weeks left in Nashville, but I won't be back there likely until the holidays. While I hate the drive and am not crazy about having to ask people to pet sit, I will miss having an excuse to drive to Nashville from time to time.