Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bluff City Vegan Eats: City Silo Table + Pantry

There's a new(ish) vegan-friendly restaurant in town! The former Cosmic Coconut — an all-vegan smoothie & juice bar — closed a few months back for a massive re-branding and renovation. It reopened a couple weeks ago as City Silo Table + Pantry. Same owner (Scott Tashie), same location, new concept.

Get in the Chopper salad with tempeh

City Silo features a full food menu, whereas Cosmic just had a handful of lunch items. And City Silo retained a number of the smoothies and juices from the old Cosmic menu.

Aaah-Sigh-Eee smoothie bowl

The biggest change, though, is one I'll admit that I'm not stoked on. City Silo is not a fully vegan restaurant; they serve eggs and chicken. Thankfully, those items are more of an afterthought, and the menu is about 90 percent vegan. A few dishes offer the option of adding eggs or chicken, but most dishes are vegan by default. They're also super careful about cross-contamination, but that isn't as much of a concern for me as just having meat on the menu. I'll miss the safe space that Cosmic Coconut offered to vegans, but I will say that the vegan menu items at City Silo are very tasty and totally impressive.

City Silo invited me and a few other vegans and vegetarians in this Sunday night for a tasting of some of their most popular items. We were blown away by how much nicer the space is. They expanded into the storefront next door to double the size of the restaurant.

And "pantry" is in the restaurant name for a reason. They're carrying locally made and hard-to-find vegan and organic dry goods and cold items. I picked up a Tennessee-made protein bar by V Raw B Energized and one of my favorite oat cups from Vigilant Eats. I noticed they're also carrying Cocomel's vegan caramels!

But onto that tasting! I have a lot of pics to share. The food pics above came from City Silo, so they're much prettier than mine. Anyway, one of the most inventive dishes was the Foxy BBQ, named after my friend Justin Fox Burks of the Chubby Vegetarian blog. It's a spaghetti squash BBQ sandwich with vegan slaw. Who would have ever thought to use squash as a stand-in for pulled pork? This was really excellent, and I see myself ordering it often.

As I mentioned earlier, City Silo retained a few Cosmic items. One of those was my very favorite dish at Cosmic and will probably remain so at City Silo. It's the Buffalo Tempeh + Sesame Cauliflower Wrap with roasted sweet potatoes, corn, red onion, garlic greens, and cashew ranch. It's soooooo good, y'all. I could drink a vat of that cashew ranch.

We also tried the Silo Burger — a black bean, lentil, and quinoa burger served with vegan cheddar and pickles on a homemade bun. Solid veggie burger, very tasty. My partner Paul — the only non-vegan/vegetarian at our tasting — declared this his favorite item. He always loves a veggie burger, and he said the melted vegan cheese was the best vegan cheese he'd ever had. Not sure what brand they were using, but I suspect Daiya slices.

Another of my faves was the Kale Caesar with pine nuts, vegan parm, and croutons. Chef Will, who worked hard to get all of these dishes together for us, said they achieved a caesar flavor by using capers and some other brine-y things. Honestly, I can't remember what all he said. But this was definitely the best vegan caesar I've ever had.

Another yummy side was the Green Micro Machine salad. This has locally grown microgreens, cherry tomatoes, hemp seeds, quinoa, and balsamic-truffle oil dressing.

Cassi's favorite was Get in the Chopper — a chopped salad made with corn, arugula, cherry tomato, pepitas, raisins, vegan parm, and creamy basil dressing. Our friend Audrey, who handles the marketing and PR for City Silo (and set up the tasting), recommended ordering this with added tempeh. That's how it's pictured above in the pic City Silo provided.

Speaking of tempeh, I could have eaten a giant plate of the TCB — roasted, smoky, grilled tempeh and sesame cauliflower tossed with buffalo sauce and drizzled with cashew ranch. Seriously. So good. When you order a full serving of this it also comes with carrots and celery for dipping.

The TCB is on their small plates menu, as is the Red Rooster Roast — roasted sweet potatoes sprinkled with black sesame seeds and pink salt and served with vegan sriracha aioli. Nothing beats potatoes dipped in mayo, y'all.

By this point, everyone at the table was STUFFED. But then Will came out and asked if we'd like some smoothie samples for dessert. Well, yea! He made the Dream Bean — my personal fave — with banana, almond butter, espresso, cacao, reishi, almond milk, and maple syrup. I loved how this one had such a strong coffee flavor.

And the Magic Sword — turmeric, mango, pineapple, mint, reishi, ginger, lemon, cayenne, and cold-pressed carrot and apple juices. This one was loaded with superfoods! And the pineapple and mango helped to mask the strong flavor of turmeric.

But wait! There was more. City Silo also makes Wellness Lattes, which are coffee-free steamed lattes with superfoods. We tried the Matcha Matcha Matcha (matcha tea, cashew cream, maca, maple, vanilla and almond milk) and The Tombstone (turmeric, ginger, cashew cream, maple, cinnamon, pink salt, and almond milk). The matcha one was my fave, but I'm a diehard matcha fan anyway. The turmeric one had a VERY strong turmeric flavor, so it's not for the faint-hearted!

Here's a much prettier Wellness Latte pic from City Silo!

City Silo also has locally made kombucha on tap! It's served in booze-free kombucha cocktails. Scott whipped me up some booch with a shot of their Immunity Juice (pineapple, carrot, orange, lemon, cilantro, cayenne). So good!

Everything at City Silo was AMAZING. While I'm still not thrilled about the addition of chicken and eggs from an ethical standpoint, it's possible that having those items may draw in a larger segment of the Memphis population, thereby exposing them to vegan food they may have just avoided before. I'm glad to see that MOST of the menu items are totally vegan! I will be eating at City Silo as often as possible! It's a little far from my home in Midtown, but I'll make special trips out east for that buffalo wrap and caesar salad.

Also, they'll be adding beer and wine very soon! So stay tuned for that. We'll definitely be holding a Memphis Vegan Drinks meetup there as soon as that option is available.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lemon Poppyseed Protein Waffles!

I tried a new (to me) FitQuick Protein Waffle flavor this morning, and it's my new fave! Meet Lemon Poppyseed Protein Waffles, y'all! Served here with maple, tahini, and banana.

If you're not familiar with FitQuick, it's Rise & Resist co-host/New Ethic gym owner Holly Noll's vegan protein waffle company. And her waffles are the BEST! Each waffle is loaded with 22 grams of vegan protein, and they're gluten-free (just because some folks need that, so why not?). It's a powdered mix that comes in a bag, and all you do is stir a couple scoops of waffle mix with a little plant milk. Then you can make waffles or pancakes!

On an episode of the Rise & Resist podcast — Holly and Lacy's fitness/feminism/punk rock podcast — Lacy cited the lemon poppyseed as the best flavor in the FitQuick line-up. I had to see for myself! Previously, I'd had the pizza flavor, java chip, birthday cake, as well as the special FitQuick vanilla sprinkle protein doughnuts. But last week, I made the startling realization that my FitQuick stash was almost gone!

I typically eat FitQuick waffles post-run once a week and supplement with protein smoothies/oats/bars on the other days that I run. FitQuick is a little pricy (about $23 a bag), so I can't afford to eat these waffles after every run. But I so look forward to those days when I get my protein waffle breakfast. The way I see it, you'd pay about the same price for a tub of protein powder, so the high price is a worthwhile investment if it fits into your budget.

The pizza flavor is probably a tie for my fave — just depends on whether I'm craving sweet or savory. But this lemon flavor has a bright, citrus note accented with crunchy poppyseeds. Perfect with maple and tahini!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Vegan Meatball Party!!

Last month, my friend Susan and I went to Memphis' brand new IKEA store and dined on their delicious vegan meatballs. We loved them so much that we each bought bags of the frozen veggie balls to take home.

But then, about a week later, we both embarked on January reset plans while our meatballs stayed untouched in our freezers. Susan was also avoiding processed food, sugar, and gluten, and her reset ended on Wednesday. Mine ended last Monday. Throughout the month, Susan would send me random food texts — just words of foods that we were not eating. French fries, candy, Girl Scout cookies, mac and cheese, pie. And somewhere in there, she decided that, as soon as our resets were done, we should have an IKEA meatball party.

And so last night, we did! She said she'd make meatball subs and meatball pizza. I signed up for Swedish meatballs. And then somehow, we just kept adding foods to the dinner list, so we ended up with a totally international meal with Italian, Swedish, Chinese, and American dishes. Here are my Swedish Meatballs with IKEA Lingonberry Sauce. I made the creamy, white, mushroom sauce using this recipe on the Beyond Meat website. The lingonberry jam is from a jar I purchased at IKEA.

Susan made the best Vegan Meatball Sub Sliders with homemade cashew cheese and marinara on toasted baguette.

And she made Meatball Pizza! This had Daiya and arugula on a cracker thin crust. IKEA vegan meatballs are incredibly versatile and work well in all kinds of dishes!

Saturday was the Chinese New Year, and I made a 2017 resolution to cook something from Isa's The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook for every holiday this year. So I made these Cold Sesame Noodle Bundles. The noodles have a peanut-sesame sauce, and they're served in romaine leaves. You're supposed to tie them up with scallions, but the scallions kept breaking so I just chopped them and topped the bundles with them instead.

Susan made the yummiest Buffalo Cauliflower and served with Hampton Creek Just Ranch. These were very spicy and crispy, just the way I like 'em. These would be perfect SuperBowl food!

I wanted to show off my new air fryer, so I brought it over to Susan's house, and we made Air-Fried Tater Tots! Tots do so well in the air fryer! They taste deep-fried! We were going to make onion rings too, but we wised up and realized we had plenty of food.

Susan asked me to make peanut butter chess bars, but I couldn't find a vegan recipe for those on the internet. In fact, I could only find ONE vegan recipe for chess bars at all (not peanut butter ones)! And that recipe seemed a little sketchy. Chess bars have a lot of eggs, and converting a traditional recipe sounded like too much experimentation for a Saturday afternoon. So rather than experiment and have it fail, I asked my friend Stephanie for her recipe. She sells her chess bars at Imagine Vegan Cafe, and they're soooooo good. She told me she'd have to kill me, but she'd share if I PROMISED to never share with anyone else. So I swore on my life! The Chess Bars came out great! I considered adding peanut butter, but I was afraid it might mess up Stephanie's perfect recipe.

By the way, chess bars are totally a Southern thing. If you're not familiar with them, they're basically soft cakey bars topped with a sweet gooey, buttery topping.

Yay for Meatball Party!! We ate so much, and it was such fun!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wild Garden Review!

Just after Christmas, I posted this review of Wild Garden's pilafs and marinades after the company sent me a sample pack. But I didn't get a chance to try everything they sent before starting my reset eating plan on January 2nd.

So I finally got that chance tonight! Wild Garden makes three marinades (Persian, Shawara, and Turkish) and three prepared, heat-and-serve pilafs (Bulgur, Couscous, and Rice & Lentil). But the Rice & Lentil flavor isn't vegan, so steer clear of that one. Both the marinades and pilafs come in shelf-staple pouches.

The marinades are great for tofu, tempeh, and seitan, so I used the Turkish one last night to marinate some firm tofu. I staked it onto kabob sticks this morning before work and baked for 40 minutes on 350 degrees while I was getting ready for work. Then I stuck it in the fridge so I'd have a quick dinner ready when I got home from work! The marinade combines tomatoes, cumin, and garlic and is loaded with flavor. The resulting Turkish Tofu Kabobs were the right level of spicy, tangy, and salty.

These marinades would be ideal for anyone who just doesn't know what to do with tofu. The tofu takes on so much flavor, and it literally takes two seconds to dump a bag of marinade over the cubes and stick them in the fridge to let them soak up all the flavor. These kabobs would also be excellent on the grill, but baking is an easy way to fix it and forget it (except don't forget to take them out of the oven so they don't burn!).

As a side dish, I used the Bulgar Pilaf to make a Bulgur Salad using one of the recipes Wild Garden included in the care package.

These pilafs are already cooked. All you do is dump them in a bowl and microwave if you want them hot. For this salad, I didn't even need to heat! I just dumped out the contents of the package, fluffed it with a fork, and then added chopped red and green bell pepper (half of each), parsley, the juice of one lemon, and a couple tablespoons of chopped red onion.

The pilaf is already seasoned with sundried tomatoes and Mediterranean herbs, so no additional spice is necessary. The recipe called for 1/4th cup of olive oil, but I left all of the oil out because there is already a little oil in the pilaf, so that seemed excessive to me. Also, I love how the grains are perfectly cooked to retain the right level of tenderness and chewiness.

I served this meal with some Roasted Cauliflower made in my new air fryer, but I'll post more on that in a future air fryer post!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A 2-Day Food Diary

On Monday, I posted a round-up of all the delicious things I ate the day after my 3-week Reset & Restore intuitive eating program ended. But of course, that post was filled with pizza, ice cream and brownies, fried things, and beer. After any sort of January reset, I always like to have a big ole crazy celebration meal.

But I wanted to check in and show y'all what I've been eating over the past couple days because these meals are more reflective of how I plan to eat most days going forward after the reset. My hope is that I'll find some balance between indulgent foods and super-healthy, whole foods. For example, if I know I'm going to have pizza at lunch one day, I'll try and have a very veggie-packed dinner. I'm also trying to eat plenty of nutritious snacks and limit big desserts (like cakes, pies, Oreos) to a couple days a week. On other days, I'll go for a square of dark chocolate or a piece of candy.

On Tuesday morning, I had a six-mile run planned, so I woke up and had a Cookie Doughpness Picky Bar (cinnamon raisin) made with peanut butter, dates, currants, and walnuts. It was early and I failed to take a picture. After my run, I had my new favorite breakfast of Warm Oats Over Banana N'ice Cream. This time I added chocolate protein powder to the banana soft serve and drizzled the whole thing with a sauce made using PB2 peanut butter powder. Mmmmmm.

My morning snack at work was more Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Crackers. I cannot get enough of these!

I had a leftover slice of Imagine's Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Pizza that I needed to eat, so I had it for lunch with a side salad (using hummus in place of dressing). This was a nice way to balance a not-so-nutritious (but very delicious) food with a very healthy one!

I had a little Brew Dr. Clear Mind Kombucha (with herbs designed to help you focus!) at my desk after lunch. I usually don't have much in the way of afternoon snacks because lunch usually keeps me satisfied. But I had a board meeting after work, and I knew I wouldn't get a real dinner until at least 8 p.m.! So I had some Vanilla Roast Almonds and a Tropical Fruit Strip before the meeting. These are snacks that I found in the office. My office always stocks the best snacks!

After work, I had about 40 minutes to run home and feed the pets and freshen up before my 6 p.m. meeting. So while I did those things, I snacked on some Treeline Herb-Garlic Cashew Cheese and Chili Sauce with Smokeouse Nut Thins, Water Crackers, and Melba Toast. My co-worker Tom made the chili sauce and gifted us all jars for Christmas! So good on crackers!

My meeting let out around 8 p.m., and while I was hungry, I wasn't HANGRY. The nuts and crackers and cheese and fruit held me over pretty well. Rather than have a giant meal right before bed, I settled for some Carrots & Celery with Smoked Paprika Hummus & Sundried Tomato Hummus

And that was it for Tuesday! On Wednesday mornings, I usually go to the gym for Butts & Guts class, but I needed to be at the office early this morning. So I did one of the Reset & Restore workout videos at home. That saved me about 30 minutes! Before that workout, I had a Cascadian Farms Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bar. I have to have a small snack before my morning workouts because I always wake up hungry.

After the workout, I had an Ozery Bakery Cranberry-Orange Morning Round with Go Veggie Cream Cheese and an organic Gala Apple with Grape PB2! See that balance here? Gluten-y refined flour thing with fatty topping meets fresh fruit with low-fat peanut butter.

Since I ate my breakfast earlier than usual, I was hungry again by 10 a.m. I raided the office snack stash and found this Baja Blend Fruit & Nut Mix (kettle cooked habanero almonds, sweet 'n' salty peanuts, dried cranberries). I also had a few more Earth Balance crackers.

On the last Wednesday of every month, my office orders lunch for our staff meeting (on the other Wednesdays, we just bring our own lunches to staff meetings). Stacy, the woman who orders lunch, is vegetarian, and we have a number of other vegetarians in the office. And she always makes sure there's a vegan option! Today we had a build-your-own taco bar! I made a giant Taco Salad with black beans, jicama, salsa, guacamole, pico, cilantro vinaigrette, white rice, and a couple crumbled tortilla chips. I stuffed some of that salad into a flour tortilla. 

Before the reset, I would have probably filled two tortillas and then made a giant pile of nachos. Instead, I made the salad the focus but treated myself to a tortilla because I love tortillas!

Later in the day, at my desk, I had more Clear Mind Kombucha, a small piece of Chocolate Hollow Hazelnut Truffle Log, and some herbal Rose Tulsi Tea. I go to yoga on Wednesday nights, so I snacked on some more Treeline Cashew Cheese with Smokehouse Nut Thins before class. I don't like to eat a full meal before yoga.

Then it was dinner time! As I mentioned in Monday's post, I'm currently working my way through a ton of homemade hummus from my friend Diane. So I made a Hummus & Veggie Sandwich using smoked paprika hummus, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and grated carrot. The bread was a delicious herbed loaf that my mom gave me right before the reset. I froze it since I was going off gluten for three weeks. It thawed beautifully! On the side, I made Kale Chips in my air fryer! 

I plan to do a whole post on my air fryer soon, so I'll go into more detail about the chips then. But let me tell ya, these kale chips were so perfect and crispy. Plus, they were a way healthier side than potato chips. I'll still be eating potato chips and tortilla chips sometimes, but since I'd already had crackers and a few chips at lunch, I figured kale was the smarter choice for dinner.

So this is about how I'll be eating going forward. I will be cooking some more complex dishes of course! Just going through a snacky hummus/crackers/cashew cheese phase right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January Goddess Provisions Box!

Every month, I dedicate a blog post to unpacking my monthly Goddess Provisions box — a subscription box with crystals, teas, essential oils, vegan snacks, and other magical goodies. It's by the same folks who bring you Vegan Cuts Beauty and Snack Boxes, so you know it's got to be great, right?

This month's box arrived a couple weeks ago, but I was smack in the middle of my Reset & Restore plan, and I was dedicating all of my posts to what I was eating. So without further ado, here are the contents of my January box.

There's a House of Intuition Clarity Bath Bag, buttons by Your Joyologist, a raw fruit & nut bar by Ommie, soapberry shampoo by Tree to Tub, an amethyst/garnet pendulum, a throat chakra oil blend by Awaken Essential Oils, a Charged Up iron-on patch by Black Dress Wild Heart, and a face mask powder by Jacq's Organics.

My very favorite thing is probably the iron-on patch cause it's the best! How cute is this? Sadly, I don't have anything to iron it on yet. But I'm in the market for a jean jacket. By the way, y'all should check out Black Dress Wild Heart's Etsy page. She makes awesome feminist, body positive pins and iron-ons!

The amethyst/garnet pendulum is a beautiful addition to my growing pendulum collection. A friend gave me a Pendulum Magic book for my birthday, so I'll be reading up on that soon.

I somehow failed to take my own pic of the Clarity Bath Bag, so I stole this one from their website. It's an uplifting mix of salts, dried rose, lemongrass, and peppermint, and it comes with a small cloth bag that you fill and float in the tub.

The button set is so cool!!! I love all of these messages and am proudly displaying them on my totes and handbags.

The shampoo has a lovely lavender scent and is made from all-natural soapberries. It also came with a soapberry, which the instructions said could be used to make a lather for a face wash. But I couldn't get the berries to lather! Oh well. The shampoo is awesome.

The Green Smoothie Masque & Scrub is loaded with ground greens and superfoods. You just mix a small amount with water, apply to your face, and let it dry. When you rinse, small particles work to scrub your face like an exfoliant.

I failed to photograph the throat chakra oil by itself, but I swiped a pic of it from Awaken's Facebook page. It's made with oils that support the throat chakra, and it's infused with crystal and flower essences. Since I work in the communication field, throat chakra oils are very helpful!! And it comes with a little mantra.

Finally, I LOVED this Ommie Cherry Chocolate Bar! It was made with dried cherries, chocolate chips, and seeds. Perfect pre-run snack!

Goddess Provisions ships monthly and only costs $33 a month! I've been a subscriber since it launched more than a year ago. If you'd like to subscribe, use this link. I'm an ambassador so I make a couple bucks from sales using my own link!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stuff I Ate After the Reset!

Well, my 3-week Reset & Restore program has come to an end! I've done some sort of reset/cleanse/detox/whatever every January for years, and some years, I'm counting down the days until I can have cupcakes and veggie dogs and pizza. Other years, I'm a little sad to see it go. This would be the latter.

I really enjoyed these last three weeks of eating (mostly) only whole foods, very little sugar, no gluten, and limited booze. I've been stuffing my face with wholesome grains and veggies and fruits, and other than a couple days of gassiness (thanks, beans!), I've felt fantastic!

That said, I have missed bread. And dessert. So going forward, I plan to add those things back in, but I'm hoping to strike a nice balance between super-healthy meals and fun, junky processed treats. I'd like to eat the R&R way most days of the week with an occasional meal of plant meat or white bread and an occasional ice cream sundae or slice of pie. I'll add my usual dark chocolate squares back in daily, and most of the time, my breads will be whole grain or sprouted grain. Thankfully, my body handles gluten like a champ.

For my first day back to eating whatever I want, I treated myself to a little (okay, a lot of) sugar and bread and processed delights. But I tried to find some balance with a Lacy/Reset & Restore meal and salad for lunch and fruit for an afternoon snack. My day started with a four-mile run, and rather than have a date (what I would have had during the reset), I treated myself to a Cascadian Farms Peanut Butter Granola Bar. I bought a ton of these on clearance before the reset, but I had to wait and eat them because they're high in refined sugar.

Of course, sugar is actually ideal for pre-run/pre-workout because it quickly converts into energy that you can use!

After my run, I had one of my favorite breakfasts — FitQuick! I didn't have any FitQuick protein waffles or doughnuts during my reset because, even though they're gluten-free, they do contain sugar. But I was glad to have it back in my life. This morning, I made the Vanilla Sprinkle Pronuts and covered them in Vanilla Maple Frosting Fluffbutter and S'mores Fluffbutter. I plan to do a full review of Fluffbutter soon. It's protein-packed, dessert-flavored nut butter!

For my morning snack, I had a few Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Crackers! At work, our gallery director orders amazing snacks to stock in the break room, and she always makes sure some of the snacks are vegan. She ordered these crackers — which have long been my fave — last week, but I couldn't eat any until today! So good.

My lunch was a healthy, wholesome meal. I had leftover Vegan Kale Quiche from Reset & Restore, and a Side Salad with Smoky Hummus (in lieu of dressing). It's all about balance, y'all.

In the afternoon, I had some masala chai with almond milk and stevia and a satsuma. But then at dinner, it was time to let loose! I met up with Stephanie, Pam, and Mike at Imagine Vegan Cafe so I could finally quell those pizza cravings! I ordered a Diamond Bear Oatmeal Stout, my first brew in three weeks. Even though I allowed myself wine on the reset, I really missed beer. Beer is kinda of my thing. And nothing beats a good oatmeal stout.

Imagine has pizza by the slice now, and tonight, they were offering a Philly Cheezesteak Pizza with vegan beefless tips, sauteed peppers and onions, mushrooms, vegan cheddar, and mozzarella. I got two slices (and then owner Kristie gifted me a bonus slice for leftovers just because!).

The special for the night was vegan chimichangas with a side of Jalapeno Poppers. They sounded amazing, but I opted for pizza because I knew my body probably wasn't ready for a giant plate of fried everything. But I was dying to try those poppers, so they brought out a small plate for us to sample. These were like hush puppies but with jalapenos and vegan mozzarella.

And I still had to save room for dessert!! Behold the Bianca Sundae! Yes, it's named after me. And it's awesome. Peanut butter/Oreo brownie topped with vegan soft serve, chocolate syrup, and nuts.

The pre-reset Bianca would have probably hoarded the entire thing for myself. But I knew that after beer and pizza and poppers, I didn't really need an entire dessert on my own. So I shared it with Stephanie. That's what friends are for, right?

Tomorrow, I'm back on a healthier eating wagon (but I do have that leftover pizza now)! I'll do another Stuff I Ate check-in later this week with a more average round-up of meals. Today's indulgence doesn't accurately reflect how I'll be eating all of the time!