Workdays Like Today Are My Reward for the Shitty Ones

I had to go back to Nashville today, but this time the main reason was for a training class for work.  We don’t have to do that often, but I always kind of enjoy it.  Not so much the class as just the opportunity to do something DIFFERENT!  To get out of the office!  And an excuse to dress in something a little cuter than uniform khakis and a company tee.

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The class only lasted slightly over two hours, but when you factor in the drive there and the drive home, that made it a 6-1/2 hour workday.  After the class was over at lunch, I checked in with my office to see if they needed me for anything.  They assured me everything was fine, so I took the rest of the day as personal leave and hung around Nashville a while!  Woohoo!

First thing I did was head to The Wild Cow, another vegan restaurant I’d heard amazing things about.  I ordered a chickpea salad wrap with a side of garlicky kale.  OMG, that kale.  I’ve never had it that way before.  Must. Copycat. Recipe.

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With a full belly and time to kill, I headed to one of my most favorite shopping spots and hit up a store that I’m often too cheap to shop in–LULULEMON!   But thanks to my travel pay for today, I was feeling a little less frugal.  haha  I’ve had to toss out a couple of running bras lately.  My favorite running bra that I’ve ever owned is a lulu, so I wanted to get another one like it, and try to find another pair of versatile, comfortable, black running shorts.  My favorite go-to Under Armour shorts have seen better days, so I wanted to scout out their successor.  I found a pair that I really like–the Run Times.  They are super comfortable and flattering… in the dressing room anyway.  Let’s hope for the same when I take them for a run.

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From there I went around the corner to Trader Joe’s!  I LOVE that damn place but so very rarely get to go!  I got a few grocery things hat I needed anyway plus several Trader Joe exclusives.  The jalapeno cilantro hummus alone is worth the trip.

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And I couldn’t leave without hitting up the beer aisle for a “build your own” six-pack!

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I’ve never tried any of those before, so I’m excited.  Especially so about that chocolate one.  Color me intrigued.

Pretty good practice for all those vacation days I’m gonna take this year, huh?!  🙂

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Food For Thought X: My Plant-Based Thanksgiving!

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This is my second year of being the only herbivore at Thanksgiving.  The first two years, I was vegetarian, so that was pretty easy.  Pass up the turkey and the ham, and you’ve got yourself a vegetarian Thanksgiving.  But after I went totally plant-based, most of the Thanksgiving dishes we’d always served were off limits.  Deviled eggs, hashbrown casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, potato salad, and the list goes on.  So for the past couple of years, I’ve found veganized versions of some these things, and y’all, I don’t feel deprived one tiny bit.

We went to my parents’ house this year.  There were only six of us there, but MAN, you should have seen the spread.  I brought everything you see above, and my mom made all of their meat, a few vegetable sides, and all the desserts.  I feel like I kind of get the raw end of the deal here… I bring all this vegan stuff to share with everyone else, but they don’t have to share their meat and dairy-laden stuff with me!  haha  Although in the interest of full disclosure, I did cheat and have a piece of very much nonvegan chocolate chess pie.  I never claimed to be perfect.

So what did I bring?  Since I didn’t get a chance to get to Nashville (the nearest place that sells vegetarian roasts), I just made a hippie loaf as my main dish with golden gravy to smother it with.  This is seriously the best brown gravy ever.  The dressing was just plain old cornbread dressing, which is easily veganized from any recipe you might find just by using substitutes for the egg and milk in the cornbread and by using No-Chicken broth when you’re putting the dressing together.  The green beans are just plain ol’ green beans with a little no-beef broth powder and garlic added while they were simmering, and the turnip greens just had a splash of white vinegar and quite a bit of cayenne pepper.  The sweet potato casserole is my signature dish.  Everyone has asked me for years to bring this stuff, and no one batted an eye when I veganized it last year.  I don’t have a link to the recipe as it’s one I just have typed up and saved, so I’ll add the recipe to the bottom of this post.  The only new-to-me recipe I tried this Thanksgiving was Cookin’ Crunk’s Deviled Tofu Bites.  They were AMAZING.  It was remarkable how much they tasted like deviled eggs.  These will definitely be a new holiday staple!

Sweet Potato Casserole:

  • 4-1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg equivalent of Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish.  In a food processor, mix together mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup Earth Balance, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg replacer.  (I have to do this in two rounds because it won’t all fit in my food processor.)  Spread mixture into dish.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour, then mix in the other 1/3 cup of Earth Balance until mixture is crumbly, then mix in pecans.  Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the pecan topping is golden brown.

Tuesday Tidbits – The “New Stuff” Edition

  • New ‘do!  I used to play with the color and change it up quite often, but I’ve been the same plain brown for a few years now, only varying the shade slightly with the season.  I was totally ready for a change.  Something a little funky!  We darkened the color and added some red streaks.  I love it!

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  • “New” outfits!  I’m trying to keep the shopping to a minimum for my winter wardrobe, so I’ve been trying to put together new outfits out of what I already have in my closet.  I threw this one together last weekend and thought it was super cute–a dressy lacy tank top from Ross with an army green American Eagle button up with Michael Kors skinny jeans and knee boots.  I love putting together things that don’t really match.

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  • New restaurant!  Going out to eat as a vegetarian was no problem, but since going fully plant-based a couple of years ago I’ve found it more challenging.  I’ve been saying this whole time that I wish we had more options in this area, and then I very recently found out that there’s a vegan restaurant called Living Well only about a half-hour from here!  (They call themselves a “vegetarian” restaurant, but the owner said the only non-vegan thing under their roof was honey and that was only on-hand for people who ask for it with their tea.)  It’s been there for THREE YEARS, and I’m just now finding out about it?!  I went last weekend, and I hate myself for not knowing about it sooner.  It was AMAZING!!!  And SO CHEAP!  I had a salad, appetizer (tofu balls), and entree (roti), and my bill was $13.  I will be going back every chance I get.
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I had never heard of roti, but it was delicious!
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That salad dressing was to DIE for. I could have drunk it right out of the bowl.
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Roti
  • Off topic for a second…On my way home from the restaurant I passed this and had to stop to take a picture.  I thought it was simply beautiful.  The “southern snow” went on as far as the eye could see.

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  •  New beer!  I went to pick up some more of my favorite seasonal beer, Blackstone Brewery’s pumpkin ale, a few days ago, and this one caught my eye too.  After Leinenkugel’s fall brew flops, I was a little skeptical, but I had to try it.  It’s greatt!

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  • New iPod!  My several-year-old shuffle has been gimping along on its last leg for my last few runs.  It’s getting hard to get it to come on and even harder to make it stay on.  I can’t stand running without music (it’s dangerous to leave me and my thoughts alone together for too long haha), so I knew I’d best be procuring backup.  I know these things are pretty cheesy and old school, but if I’m gonna fall and break something or let something get ruined by rain or any of that other stuff that’s likely to happen on a run, I’d much rather it be an iPod that I bought on eBay for $40 than my Samsung phone!

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Food for Thought VIII – All Things Pumpkin!

Yep.  I’m one of those people.  One that goes nuts every fall and wants pumpkin in All The Things.

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte (full recipe in link) – I love a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte as much as the next guy, but I don’t get them often for several reasons.  First, they’re stupid expensive.  Second, the nearest Starbucks is over an hour away.  Third, (and even if the first two weren’t an issue) even when you order it with soy milk it’s not vegan as the pumpkin flavoring they use has dairy in it.  My average of three or so yearly PSLs are some of my very few cheats!  This isn’t quite as good as a Starbucks PSL, but it’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it’s completely veganizable!

 

Pumpkin Pancakes from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean (also on the HH web site–full recipe in link) – I wasn’t so crazy about these.  I like my pancakes light and fluffy and these were heavy and dense.  They had a great flavor, but they just sat really heavy on my stomach.

 

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie (full recipe in link) – I had some canned pumpkin left from making the pancakes so I went to the internetz to find a smoothie recipe using it, and I found this one.  It was really, really tasty!  But the second time I made it I added more cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Gooey Pumpkin Pudding Cake by Chocolate Covered Katie (full recipe in link) – This recipe showed up in my Facebook news feed and I couldn’t NOT make it knowing I had everything I needed already in my kitchen!  It was absolutely delicious.  Katie nailed it!

It smelled AMAZING!
It smelled AMAZING!
YUM
YUM!  Only thing missing was a big scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream!