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Vegan Brats! Philly Wraps! Curry Tofu Salad!


Vegan Brats! Philly Wraps! Curry Tofu Salad!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
RP Tracks, a college bar by the University of Memphis, has always been super vegan-friendly (even way back when I first went vegan in 2004!). They are, after all, the home of world-famous BBQ Tofu Nachos. But they just expanded their vegan options to include a few new menu items, including the Brat Wrecker (a Beyond Brat with black bean chili & onions, served with amazing fries). We had last month’s Memphis Vegan Drinks meet-up there, and of course, I ordered the brat! It’s buried under all that chili. The bun is a little too large for the Beyond Brat, but I’ll never really complain about extra bread.

They’ve also added vegan ranch (made locally at Imagine Vegan Cafe!) for their buffalo tofu. I ordered a side of ranch for my fries! And they’ve got a new Tofu Tuesday deal where they offer a lemongrass tofu dish. Haven’t tried that yet but can’t wait.

One day last week, I had lunch in the cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work), and I’d tried to order the philly wrap. But they were out of seitan steak. So I went with the Curry Tofu Salad instead. Love this creamy tofu with almonds and grapes.

The next day, I still needed my philly fix though. So I ordered the Philly Steak & Cheese Wrap and — yay! — they had seitan! This vegan cheesy seitan wrap with sauteed peppers is SO GOOD. Chef Raymond makes his own seitan, and it’s to die for.

Here’s a quick breakfast of Whole Wheat Bagel with Garlic Hummus & Sriracha, plus fresh berries and clementines.

And finally, here’s a great Lemon Tahini Pasta with Veggies that I made last week using the lemon-tahini sauce from the No Meat Athlete Sauce System blog post. I mixed the sauce with Explore Cuisine Red Rice Pasta and sauteed squash, zucchini, bell pepper, garlic, chickpeas, and baby spinach. Very good and super simple.

April 3, 2019 at 05:00AM

Papa Crunk’s 65th Birthday


Papa Crunk’s 65th Birthday

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
My dad, better known on here as Papa Crunk, turns 65 on Wednesday! But since I live an hour away, it made more sense for me to go home and celebrate this past weekend. Paul and I drove over to Jonesboro yesterday after a 10-mile training run.

When I asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday, he requested a half-gallon of Wild Turkey 101. He’s experimenting with aging his own whiskey blends in a small barrel and needed this for his experiment. He’s also been wanting some Pritchard’s moonshine, so Paul picked him up a couple bottles in Nashville, where the distillery is.

If you’ve been reading Vegan Crunk for awhile, you know how badass my dad is. But in case you’re new, I should just catch you up. My dad rides a Harley, drinks whiskey straight, and makes his own rules. He’s also the most generous person you’ll ever meet. He GETS my veganism and is always experimenting with new vegan recipes for me to try. Growing up, he was pretty much the best dad role model a girl could have. He taught me to think for myself and not worry what other people think.  Oh yea, and a couple years ago, he beat color cancer. I love my dad!

For dinner, he asked if we all go to the Ruby Tuesday. I LOVE the Ruby Tuesday salad bar, so that sounded great to me! I got a giant salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

For dessert, he requested cupcakes that didn’t have too much frosting. So I picked a recipe from Isa’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that had no frosting — Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache.

These were more like muffins but very good! My dad loves peanut butter so I knew these would be a hit.

Happy birthday, Papa Crunk!

April 2, 2019 at 05:00AM

Cookbook Review: Plant-Based Meats


Cookbook Review: Plant-Based Meats

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.

I’ve gravitated more toward a whole food-based diet over the past couple years, but if you knew me back in the day, I was a diehard "plant meat & potatoes" kinda vegan. I ate lots of vegan meat substitutes, both storebought and homemade. I still love that stuff, but in my efforts to work more beans and veggies into my diet, plant meats have taken a bit of a backseat.

That said, I LOVE the stuff. And a few nights a week, I like to live it up with homemade seitan meats or delicious vegan meaty dishes from my favorite restaurant, Imagine Vegan Cafe. Of course, making the meats at home is best (and the healthiest way). And there’s a new cookbook — Plant-Based Meats: Hearty, High-Protein Recipes for Vegans, Flexitarians, and Curious Carnivores — that covers the art of homemade plant-based sausages, meatballs, ribs, jerky, burgers, roasts, and more.

This new book by Robin Asbell features both seitan-based, homemade meats, as well as more whole foods-based options (like meats made from walnuts, tofu, or mushrooms). There’s a chapter for just about every type of meat you can imagine. The Basic Meats chapter gives instructions for how to make a few plant meats, such as beef seitan, vegan chicken breasts, and vegan ham, that are used in many recipes.

I chose to try a few recipes, including this one for Moroccan Merguez Tagine. This traditional tagine is made with sweet potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, diced tomatoes, and a fragrant bouquet of spices, like cinnamon and coriander.

But the star ingredient is Moroccan Merguez, a seitan sausage spiced with harissa and flecked with bits of white potato (to mimic the look of fat). Wouldn’t this be beautiful on a charcuterie board with vegan cheese and crackers?! I have some leftover sausages that I’ll probably use for just that!

Loved the tagine! The spice combo was amazing, and the chewy, meaty seitan sausage really stepped it up.

I also tried the more whole foods-y Walnut-Cauliflower Ground Beef for tacos! This ground beef sub is made with minced walnuts and riced cauliflower and seasoned with oregano, chipotle powder, and smoked salt. I can’t remember the last time I had a better taco than this. Seriously.

There are so many more recipes I want to try — Cantonese Honey-Glazed Lemon Chicken (with vegan honee and seitan chicken breasts), Jamaican Curried Greens with Jerk Chicken, Smoky King Trumpet Mushroom Bacon (on a BLT, obvi), Pomegranate Glazed Wings (on bamboo party forks to mimic bones!!), and the Savory Miso Roast with Gravy (a seitan roast for the holidays).

If you love vegan meats, you’ve got to check this book out. It’s definitely the most comprehensive guide to vegan meats I’ve seen to date!

March 29, 2019 at 05:00AM

Burritos! Bagels! Buns!


Burritos! Bagels! Buns!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
Last Sunday was the last Lulu’s pop-up brunch for the forseeable future. They’re going on a bit of a pop-up hiatus (although I hear there may be one more pizza pop-up in the near future). So of course my brunch friends and I had to go to this last one. It had a Mexican theme with nachos, tacos, and burritos. But most everyone at the table (except for Anthony) ordered the Breakfast Burritos because you got two! These were stuffed with tofu scramble, cumin roasted potatoes, and blackeyed pea chorizo and topped with red sauce and cashew queso.

Lulu’s will still be at the Cooper-Young Farmer’s Market most weeks though, and they’re expanding to the downtown market too! Last Saturday, I stopped by the CY Market and got one of their Smoked Carrot Bacon & Cashew Cheddar Buns to eat for breakfast on Sunday. My fave!

Speaking of Lulu’s, I used some of the Cashew Coffee Cream Cheese I bought last week to top these Almond Butter Banana Pancakes (from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook). I made the pancakes a couple weekends back and froze the leftovers. They made an excellent breakfast on Friday morning with the cream cheese.
I also spread some of that cream cheese on these Blueberry Bagels from Dave’s Bagels (also from the CY Market) before my Saturday long run of 18 miles. Nothing powers me through a long run like a white bread bagel! They stay with me longer and don’t cause digestive issues. 
Last bagel pic/last of the cream cheese. For Monday’s breakfast, I had a Dave’s Whole Wheat Bagel with Cashew Coffee Cream Cheese and Mixed Berry Jam. I made the jam on the stovetop by cooking down a half-cup of frozen mixed berries with a tad bit of water and a teaspoon of agave. Yum!

March 28, 2019 at 05:00AM

JUST Vegan Egg!


JUST Vegan Egg!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
The long-awaited JUST vegan egg is finally making its way to stores across the country! We finally got the liquid vegan egg mix at our Sprouts stores in Memphis a couple weeks ago, and I learned about it on Facebook. So of course, I immediately drove out to Sprouts after work, only to find an empty shelf where JUST Egg had been. Clearly, people are very excited.

But last weekend, when I went grocery shopping, the JUST Egg was back in stock! I’ve been having fun with it ever since.

JUST Egg is a liquid made with mung bean protein isolate, and it cooks up just like scrambled eggs. Sure, it’s a highly processed food, which I try not to eat too often. But if I had to pick one non-vegan food that I miss the most, it’s eggs. Tofu scramble is great most of the time, but it’s nice to have something that more closely mimics the texture and taste of eggs.

I’m a big fan of Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg, which cooks up perfectly for fluffy vegan omelets. FYH did change their formula a bit, and it doesn’t taste quite as good as it used to. But I find it can be doctored up pretty easily with black salt and pepper. However, this new JUST Egg needs no doctoring. It tastes JUST LIKE EGGS (or at least how I remember eggs tasting … haven’t had an egg since 2004). And the texture is spot-on.

The bottle says 3 Tbsp of JUST Egg equals one serving (or one egg), so that’s what I cooked for my breakfast burrito on my first try. But that cooked down to a teensy little serving, too small even for a burrito filling.

A friend of mine, who has eaten eggs much more recently than me, pointed out that most people don’t just eat one egg as a serving. He suggested trying three servings of JUST Egg, so I did that for my brinner plate last night. And it was perfect!

At $8-$9 a bottle, JUST Egg is certainly not economical. Using the 9 Tbsp. I used to get a decent portion took about half the bottle! But JUST Egg would be a great thing to have around as an occasional treat. They’d also be perfect in a recipe that calls for eggs in lesser amounts, like say a vegetable fried rice with a little scrambled egg.

For omelets, I’ll stick to FYH Vegan Egg because it cooks up fluffier and is less likely to stick to the pan. I’m so glad vegans now have multiple options for vegan eggs!

March 27, 2019 at 05:00AM

Bialy! Pancakes! Tea Cake!


Bialy! Pancakes! Tea Cake!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
I rarely make pancakes, but I got a craving for some late last week. I finally got my pancake fix on Saturday morning when I made the Almond Butter Banana Pancakes from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook. 

These are made with whole wheat pastry flour and almond flour, and almond butter stands in for the fat (so they’re mostly oil-free except for a little spray oil on the griddle). They’re also refined sugar-free since banana provides sweetness in the batter and maple on top. I added blueberries to my batter because why not?

Later that morning, I stopped by the Lulu’s booth at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market and grabbed one of Don’s vegan Caramelized Onion & Poppyseed Bialys. This savory bun made the perfect side for a salad at lunch.

Don was also selling tubs of his cultured Cashew Coffee Cream Cheese — a vegan cream cheese made with finely ground coffee. I enjoyed some on a whole wheat Dave’s Bagel for breakfast on Monday morning (my workout rest day this week). The cream is very lightly sweetened with a strong coffee flavor. It tasted great and I felt like it gave me an extra boost!
Here’s a Savory Oat Bowl from last week! With nooch, spinach, broccoli, avocado, everything bagel seasoning, and sriracha. I’m such a fan of savory oats, especially when topped with ALL THE AVOCADO.
And finally, here’s a moist and delicious slice of Mixed Berry Tea Cake from the cafe at Crosstown Arts. I’d brought berries from home as my afternoon snack, and when I saw this tea cake on the counter, I knew it’d be the perfect accompaniment. Enjoyed with Earl Grey tea made in the office Kerig.
Happy Spring, y’all! I’ll be back tomorrow with a very vegan-eggy spring foods post!

March 21, 2019 at 05:00AM

Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Mac


Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Mac

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
My top five fave foods:
1. Ramen
2. Pizza
3. Doughnuts
4. Tacos/Burritos (I’m counting this as one because I can’t decide)
5. Mac & Cheeze

So it goes without saying that I don’t let a new vegan mac & cheeze product pass me by. Sure, I love creating a creamy, cheesy whole foods-based pasta at home using nooch, cashews, or butternut squash. But I also love trying the easy packaged versions for those nights when you just don’t have time to cook.

Friday night was one of those nights, so I turned to a box of Upton’s Natural Cheesy Mac that I’d been holding onto for a few weeks.

I found it for sale at Natural Grocers in Jonesboro, Arkansas (an hour from Memphis, my hometown), and as a fan of all things Upton’s, I had to put it in my cart. Memphis readers, we may have this here, but I haven’t looked!

This shelf-stable mac comes in a box with a vacuum-sealed bag of pre-cooked, wide-noodle elbow mac and a pouch of liquid cheese (similar to the pouch in the boxed Daiya mac). The cheese is made from nutritional yeast, rice bran oil, sea salt, cornstarch, mustard, onion, garlic, paprika, turmeric, sugar. So while this may not be the most whole food (hey there, white pasta), it’s not bad! The sauce is made with minimal ingredients, and they’re all real foods.

To prepare, you simply dump the pasta and cheese in a pan and heat. Takes about two minutes. The result is a creamy, noochy pasta that made a perfect side for my Gardein crispy tenders and agave-mustard dipping sauce (told ya it was a busy night) and some steamed broccoli with tahini sauce.

Will I buy this again? You bet!

March 20, 2019 at 05:00AM

Bibimbap! BLT!


Bibimbap! BLT!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
It seems like all my random meal round-up these days feature food from the cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work as the communications coordinator), but when there’s amazing vegan food right outside your office door, what’s a girl to do? Today for lunch, I had the Bibimbap with added tofu (minus the egg).

This is typically served with a fried egg on top. The cafe is not entirely vegan (but I’d say 90% of the items are), but anything can be made vegan. For this, you could simply leave the egg off. Or you can pay a couple extra bucks and add tofu on top! I saw someone post this version on Instagram last week and had to try it.

The bowl is made from fried rice paper, and it’s stuffed with pink rice, brussels sprouts, kimchi, and zucchini, plus the most amazing baked tofu.

My breakfast this morning was Overnight Oats with Chia, Walnuts, Berries, & Banana, enjoyed after a core work class at the YMCA. I love having creamy overnight oats prepared to enjoy after my workouts!

And here’s my dinner last night — a BLT from Imagine Vegan Cafe. Such a classic. Stuffed with veggie bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and vegan mayo. It’s usually served on a white hoagie bun, but I like to sub wheat bread instead. Side of kale.

March 14, 2019 at 05:00AM

Banh Mi! Galette! Burrito!


Banh Mi! Galette! Burrito!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
Lulu’s Food hosted another vegan pop-up brunch this past Sunday at Fuel Cafe. The theme this time was sandwiches! Don made homemade bagels and did a vegan carrot lox & bagel sandwich thing, and he also made Breakfast Banh Mis. As much as I love a bagel, I cannot resist a banh mi!

Don’s homemade baguettes were stuffed with tofu scramble, mushroom pecan pate, harissa, and pickled carrots — all made-in-house. Served with roasted potatoes. Sooooooo good.

But before I ate that around 11:30 am on Sunday, I had this tasty slice of Avocado Toast with a side of fresh berries. First breakfast to tide me over. I topped the toast with sriracha and Spice Hunter Bagel Crunch, a knock-off of TJ’s Everything But the Bagel. It’s good, but it’s salt-free so it’s not as good as the original.
I’ve been eating a lot of Black Bean & Brown Rice Burritos lately! I’m using the oil-free refried black beans from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook (which I made a few weeks ago and froze some) with brown rice and various fillings. This one, enjoyed in the dark yesterday because my power was out (thanks to a transformer blowing up!), has beans and rice, steamed potato, vegan cheddar, salsa, and lettuce. Luckily, when the power goes out, I can still cook on my gas stove. It came back on around 8 pm last night (after being off for 12 hours!).
And I’ve saved the best for last! Ali, our baker at the cafe at Crosstown Arts, made these amazing Black Sesame & Almond, Mixed Citrus, and Blueberry Galettes this morning. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the sesame seed in there, but I could not resist those flaky layers. And turns out the sesame was a perfect complement to the sweet fruit filling. Was planning to split with a co-worker, but I decided it was too good to share.

March 13, 2019 at 05:00AM

Cheeseburger Pizza, Tofu Chicken, & Kool-Aid Pickles!


Cheeseburger Pizza, Tofu Chicken, & Kool-Aid Pickles!

This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
The cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work) has two menus – an ALWAYS menu and a TODAY menu. The ALWAYS menu stays the same for several months at a time, only changing with the seasons. But the TODAY menu changes, well, everyday. And Fridays are flatbread days! Flatbread Fridays! A couple weeks back, the featured flatbread was this Cheeseburger Flatbread with Impossible burger crumbles, cheese (I opted for non-dairy cheese), fried onions, vegan aioli, and pickled shishitos. It was SO GOOD.

Here’s another amazing plate from Crosstown Arts. The TODAY menu also features a daily vegetable plate, which stays the same for a week at a time. Last week, it featured Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Brussels, Sizzled Kale, and Carrot Puree. I loved all the different textures from the various cooking methods, and that kale was OFF THE CHAIN Y’ALL. It was fried and very crispy, like a perfect kale chip. Best veggie plate I’ve ever had.
Down the stairs from my Crosstown Arts office inside Crosstown Concourse, there’s a new popcorn shop — Pop-a-Roo’s — that just opened. Not only do they have popcorn, but they also carry KOOL-AID PICKLES! This is a Southern thing, but I’d somehow never tried it. Probably because I’d never actually seen a real-life Kool-Aid pickle. I’ll try anything though, so I bought some as soon as I heard they had them. And you know what? They’re freaking good. They sell grape and red (guess it’s cherry?), and the grape is definitely the better flavor. I know this is a combo that shouldn’t work, but it does. It tastes like a sweet and sour grape pickle.
Here’s a less-weird meal that I made at home last night — No-Chicken Tofu Bites with Agave Mustard, Oven Roasted Fries with Curry Ketchup Aioli, and Roasted Asparagus. 
The no-chicken tofu bites are actually a recipe for the air fryer from my dad. They’re really good! You bread the tofu in a batter that’s seasoned with vegan chicken broth and then coat with panko. This entire meal was basically oil-free, aside from a few spritzes of cooking spray. I feel best when I’m eating oil-free!

March 12, 2019 at 05:00AM

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