PlantBasedATL Meet-Up: Go Vegetarian

This past Sunday, we hosted our first event of 2015 at Go Vegetarian, a new vegetarian/vegan joint in Atlanta. I’ve been to Go Veg once before with my pal Beevy and the service was very very slow (growing pains?) and the food was ok. You can read about my first visit here. We decided to go back there and host our meet up because we love supporting local vegan joints, and it’s become clear that they need it (Drink Art recently closed before I could try it! A travesty.) We were lucky to have Go Veg all to ourselves on Sunday because they kindly opened their doors an hour early for us. And then they danced for us. But we’ll get to that.

We had about 45 people show up to eat their hearts out, have great conversation, and enjoy a sunny Sunday in Atlanta with like minded and likewise awesome vegans. I spent the first 20 minutes meeting people, passing out “Hello My Name Is” name tags, and seriously debating what to eat. I mean, I was seriously having a moral dilemma. I knew I wanted to try something different than what I had the last time, but do I get the kale salad with chicken on top? Do I get the tacos? Do I just throw a dart and pray that it’s delicious?

PlantBasedATL was here.

PlantBasedATL was here.

Lucky for me, the food gods were smiling on me and guided my mind and heart to the Veggie Chicken Sandwich with buffalo sauce and truffle fries. I also got a slice of the caramel cake to go (although several bites were eaten before I left the restaurant). Us vegans get REALLY excited about vegan caramel because caramel is naturally not vegan. When we see vegan caramel, we salivate like wolves eyeing a meal. I kid you not, 5 other people (at a minimum) also got the caramel cake and also could not help but eat some before leaving. More on the cake later.

The chicken sandwich was DELICIOUS. A little secret about me is that I love some buffalo sauce, so I get very excited about the thought of it dripping down my chin as I struggle to lick it off. The sandwich was made out of tofu that had been battered and fried and smothered in sauce, then placed on a bun with lettuce and tomato. The truffle fries are all hand cut, fried, then topped with vegan Parmesan. Behold the beast that was my meal on Sunday, and what I am currently craving approximately 2.5 of at this moment:

Drool.

Drool.

I ate EVERY bite, it was that good. I know I should try other items on the menu the next time I go in there, but I can’t help it. This sandwich had everything: fried, buffalo, crispy, gooey, dripping, hearty. And don’t get me started on the fries. Those little guys are hand-cut gems that melt in your mouth. So much awesome.

In fact, everyone that ate at Go Veg really really enjoyed their food. Food was flying out of the kitchen at an amazingly fast rate and no order were ever sent back. The only issue was that they were out of the milkshakes, but that was made better by the caramel cake.

STOP.

STOP.

Not only was the food quick, delicious and completely on point, but once the tickets were cleared, the staff of Go Veg came out and danced to the opening of “Apache (Jump On It)” for us. No, I’m not kidding. It was quite an amazing sight to behold. Lucky us, we got lunch and a show!

Go vegans!

Go vegans!

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Holly and I.

Holly and I.

It was a wonderful time had by all. We made new friends, we ate delicious vegan food and supported a local restaurant, and we made plans to see each other soon. What happened to the caramel cake, you may ask? What force on this earth could have possibly separated my beloved caramel cake from my clenched hands?

My mom. Caught.

My mom. Caught.

I mean, look at that face. You wouldn’t stay mad at her either.

 

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Coding with Knives: A Cooking Class

My lovely homie Adrienne, of Crack the Plates and Coding with Knives, has begun to raise the awesome bar by offering cooking classes. I mean, seriously you guys. This woman can do it all. Once a personal chef and a one-woman-meal-delivery-triumph, she now has taken coding to the next level and has incorporated cooking and guiding the vegan noobs (read: me). Last Thursday, Adrienne held a seitan (pronounced: Say-Tan) cooking class. I was so damn lucky to have learned about the glorious wheat meat from her, as well as tried her goodies.

First and foremost, Adrienne writes her own recipes. Ya know, because that’s how she rolls. I want to be like her when I grow up. I’ve recently started pairing ingredients up to see what shakes out, mainly because I read cookbooks like novels and therefore incorrectly believe that I have it in me to be like Isa or Adrienne. One day…one day.

Get your garlic ready.

Get your garlic ready.

What I like most about seitan is that it is completely versatile. Depending on the herbs and spices you use, you could have a fried chicken type of meat or a chipotle meat. It’s up to you! Adrienne demonstrated two flavors of seitan as well as two different types of cooking methods, wet and dry. The wet method means you boil the seitan in a delicious broth. The dry method means you wrap the seitan up like a tamale and steam it in a steam basket.

The seitan begins.

The seitan begins.

Prepare to stir and beat.

Prepare to stir and beat.

One of the main lessons I learned was that apparently you have to beat the shit out of the seitan or else it will be spongy, and we don’t want that. Adrienne taught me to release any anger or frustration by beating the seitan into a fury. Behold:

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While it may look like I am pleasantly tossing the seitan around, please be aware that the seitan is fearing for its life because of my unrelenting beatings. I didn’t even realize my own strength until the poor defenseless seitan was lying there, begging for mercy.

The wet chicken-style seitan.

The wet chicken-style seitan.

The dry seitan must be rolled into foil like a tamale, and not like a baked potato, which is what I was originally doing. See? This is why Adrienne’s cooking class is so important. One must learn to roll seitan properly or all will go to hell.

Gathering the seitan to roll.

Gathering the seitan to roll.

Roll!

Roll!

Voila!

Voila!

I'm drunk on seitan.

I’m drunk on seitan.

Adrienne made a wet chicken-style seitan and a dry Italian-style seitan. After tasting them both, and after I recovered from dying inside, I loved the chicken-style seitan the best. The reason is because after we took it out of the boil, Adrienne pan-fried it into a crispy perfect chicken bite that made me fall to my knees. Basically, you could fry anything and I would eat it.

Chicken-style Seitan.

Chicken-style Seitan.

FRIED

FRIED.

Many thanks to Adrienne and her cooking prowess for teaching this vegan noob how to make delicious vegan meats from scratch! She is hosting another cooking demo this week, and I’m already drooling just thinking about it.

The chef herself!

The chef herself!

Adrienne and I.

Adrienne and I.

Y’all. THIS.

Holy shitballs, people. I have successfully made and eaten what will now become my most favorite dessert ever. Chocolate Covered Katie is AMAZING and I cannot recommend her enough. So after dinner on Sunday night (where I whipped up my own dish of fried tofu mixed with steamed kale/steamed bok choy/shoyu/peanut suace on top of soba noodles. BOOM.) I was craving something a little sweet. Especially after my mom made her famous chocolate cake, served with vanilla ice cream, and some f-ing brownie/cookie bars on the side (all not vegan). I decided to give Katie’s One Minute Mocha Mug Cake a try. Could a cake really come together in one minute? I decided that I would happily be the judge of that.

Getting the ingredients together and mixing everything took a total of maybe 5 minutes. I then poured the concoction into a glass dish and microwaved it for one minute. Out came the most amazing, soft, warm, chocolately cake that has ever existed. Side note: I didn’t have instant coffee granules, so I basically made a chocolate cake. But I’m not one to complain, so I ate it ALL. No sharing.

Cake with Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe.

Cake with Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe.

I am utterly amazed. How could this be? How could something SO SIMPLE and SO QUICK taste like this? I realized, as soon as I ate the whole thing, that this could be dangerous. I had to stop myself from making one last night. It’s just so quick and simple…can’t I eat one every day? Yes, I can. But with the half marathon training gearing up, I have to pump the breaks on some things. I see this as a single serving treat and not a daily event.

Dudes.

Dudes.

Long story short, try this. Trust in me and in Katie. Make this cake tonight and regret nothing as all of your cares drift away and are replaced by chocolate heaven.

 

Let’s Talk About Food, Baby.

Let’s talk about you and me.

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things

that may be.

Ha! Now that song is stuck in your head. You’re welcome. If you know me at all, you know I love food and love to eat it. I’m not one of those “food is only fuel” types of people, and for that I am happy. I am a food lover, taste absorber, bite enthusiast, and smell-aholic. Becoming a vegan has only heightened my love of food and it has opened my world up to tastes and dishes that blow my mind regularly. I want your minds to be blown, too, preferably all over your face. Welcome to my world of food.

On New Year’s Eve, I had the joyous privelege of being Adrienne’s (of Crack the Plates fame) hot date to Cafe Sunflower’s NYE Buffet. This shit was the jam, y’all. Adrienne and I both had two giant plates of food and dessert, and with shaking hands we tried as hard as we could to stuff the last bites into our mouths. I believe we did the Cafe justice. On the menu was black-eyed pea soup (but who gets soup at a buffet, amiright?), pot stickers, basil rolls, avocado salad, samosas, collard greens, basil eggplant, stuffed acorn squash, pad thai, fresh fruit, cupcakes, and cake. I personally tried to mainline all of the pot stickers and the samosas.

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Cafe Sunflower NYE Buffet.

Cafe Sunflower NYE Buffet.

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My first plate.

Let them eat cake.

Let them eat cake.

Adrienne and I.

Adrienne and I.

On New Year’s Day, my mom cooked black-eyed peas for the family while I ate gardein fish fillets and homemade sriracha tartar sauce:

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Let me tell you guys, if you haven’t tried these yet you MUST. Especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian or simply not insane. Amazing food stuffs.

On the 2nd of January, I drove in town to meet my good pal Holly (of Veganadian fame). We met at Revolution Doughnuts, which is clearly the best place that has ever existed. My mom’s birthday was the next day and that woman bleeds doughnuts, so I had to get a dozen. I HAD TO. Here I am shoving a coconut doughnut (my absolute fav) into my face with my buddies Darin and Michael. No judging allowed at Revolution.

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After the doughnuts, Holly and I were clearly still hungry. We hit up the Whole Foods hot bar for some very special goodies:

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Yes, in case you’re wondering, we each coincidentally got the exact same food. Mac n cheese, chicken fried tofu, fries, sauteed garlic green beans, and garlic kale to the rescue! Damn, people, that Whole Foods hot bar gets me every time. And that chicken fried tofu is made of dreams and unicorns, I swear.

For dinner that night I treated myself to Harmony, my all-time favorite restaurant in all of Georgia. I have been going to Harmony since I was in college and was a vegetarian. Because I don’t live very close to it anymore, I tend to get a shit ton of food when I am there. Can you blame me? Look what I got:

Fried crunchy chicken with peppers.

Fried crunchy chicken with peppers.

Fried dumplings.

Fried dumplings.

Chicken and broccoli.

Chicken and broccoli.

The chicken and broccoli was not my favorite entree I’ve had at Harmony. I went rogue and decided to try something new (total rookie mistake). I almost always get the fish and black bean sauce or the Singapore noodles. The crunchy chicken, however, is a MUST when you go. It’s delicious.

That Sunday, I made a delightful breakfast before heading off to K for my second shift that weekend: Upton’s bacon sandwich with Just Mayo and greens, Field Roast Italian sausage, and an amazing deliciously juicy orange.

Food. It's what's for breakfast.

Food. It’s what’s for breakfast.

For lunch last week my coworker and I went to Mellow Mushroom which will forever be in my diet. It has so many yummy vegan options that drive me crazy. For this lunch I had the tempeh hoagie, no mayo, no mushrooms, add avocado. Behold the most beautiful sandwich that has ever lived:

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For reals, look at that beast. Doesn’t it just look so damn fresh and delicious? I definitely showed that sandwich who was boss.

I went back to Mellow for dinner with Beavy after Zumba kicked our asses and I made my own salad. Tofu, broccoli, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, and sprouts. Like a bowl filled with f-ing chlorophyll.

Holy shit, right?

Holy shit, right?

This past Friday was an epic day in food for me. Holly, Daniel and I got together for a Super Secret Meeting™ and decided that food must be involved in some way. I mean, how could it not? All three of us love us some delicious food, but this time, we went too far. Even for us. Holly stopped and got us wingz from Barrelhouse, which I had never had before. I though I was going to LOSE MY STUPID MIND, they were so good.  They also came with celery and vegan ranch, because Heaven felt like showing off apparently.

Wingz.

Wingz.

Then, it got crazy and perhaps we blacked out, but this is seriously what we prepared for 4 people:

Falafel, pita, tahini, hummus.

Falafel, pita, tahini, hummus.

Earth Fare pot pie, homemade pizza, eggrolls, dumplings.

Earth Fare pot pie, homemade pizza, eggrolls, dumplings.

Basically speaking, we’re all completely insane. The next morning we made vegan cinnamon rolls (go Trader Joe’s!) and they were magical.

No peeking.

No peeking.

Holy shitballs.

Holy shitballs.

I was in a food coma for days. On Sunday, Beavy and I ate at this Greek restaurant at Discover Mills.

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Their dolmas and Horiatiki salad are legit the best I’ve had at a Greek restaurant. The eggplant spread, however, is made with MAYONNAISE even though it does not say that on the menu. Oh well. Life goes on, right?

Speaking of a food coma, I found myself at Loving Hut on Monday night and got my usual meal:

The world's best wonton soup.

The world’s best wonton soup.

Cha Cha Cha and Pad Thai.

Cha Cha Cha and Pad Thai.

That soup makes me want to be a better person. It is the perfect blend of sesame flavor mixed with crisp veggies and warm wontons. I want to be that soup.

And last night, in a moment of creativity, I made this for dinner:

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Fried tofu on quinoa and smothered with a tahini/lemon juice/garlic sauce care of Crazy Sexy Diet. That shit was bananas, and I was full for hours. It made enough for leftovers for lunch.

Looking at all of that food, I may never eat again. But who am I kidding? Who’s hungry?

 

Seasonal Jobs and Resolutions

It’s been a very very very very long time since I’ve lost written anything worthwhile. You and I can blame K, my seasonal job, for that. That job zapped all energy, any discernible Christmas cheer, hope for sleep, or feeling in my toes. The pros of a seasonal job: 1) people get it. They get that you’re working when you’d rather not be, and they appreciate your pasted on smile and fake laugh. They feel your pain. I did not have ANY mean customers; 2) extra money. I paid for my Christmas presents with my employee discount and coupons and “won” when my nephews chose my gifts as their favorites. Not that it’s a competition, but I WON; 3) what else was I doing? Not jogging? Mainlining popcorn and (vegan) chocolate? Being bitter? I can do that when I’m dead (right after I sleep).

Now that the season is over, the seasonal job is morphing into a part-time job, with may be 1-3 shifts a week. Any money I make from it will be directly funneled into the “get SarT out of debt” fund. Which brings be to Resolutions. I used to never make them, for fear of letting myself down and feeling bad about it. In 2014 I realized something amazing and superbly simple yet powerful: there is always hope and anything is possible. You want to learn to walk only on your hands? That is completely wack-a-doo but I applaud your originality. You want to eat better, do better, be better? Get on that shit. The world waits for no (wo)man.

When I sat down to think about my Resolutions for this year, I looked back at the ones I made on January 2, 2014 @ 9:14 pm:

be active

be healthy

jog my first 5k

jog the Peachtree

-have a plant based whole foods diet

-continue yoga

-walk/jog every other day

-Spain

pay on credit cards

be a good person

donate to Ruffus Rescue

donate to Farm Sanctuary

Seemingly, I rocked the shit out of last year’s Resolutions! I’m still working on getting my diet right, I didn’t make it to Spain, I did not jog/walk every other day, and I stopped going to yoga in the winter when life got super cray. But I tried my hardest and 2014 was an amazing year filled with great times, new friends, TONS of food, and new hair styles. Seriously, though…I went from auburn to blonde. #YOLO, homies!

This year is special. If last year was when I still had training wheels on, then this year is when I learn to ride on my own. So far, these are the Resolutions for me:

-be active

-be healthy

-jog my first half marathon in June

-jog my second half marathon in December

-donate to Full Circle Farm Sanctuary

-sponsor an animal from Full Circle Farm Sanctuary

-pay off credit cards

-quit my job

-begin teaching

-have a plant based whole foods diet

-run one race each month

-remain grateful, centered, and regain my power.

You may note that this year will bring with it some heavy balls and major changes. Quitting my job? Starting a new career? Paying OFF credit cards? Ahhhhh yes friends…it’s time to cut the bullshit and harness this beast known as potential. Why wait for the world to just toss great things in your lap? I’m bringing good things to me every day. I’m shaking off the cobwebs and the Christmas crank, the extra lb’s and the crappy food wants, and I’m doing a proverbial round house kick to my life’s face. There is no time like the present. Anything is possible. There is always hope.

Anyone else make some awesome Resolutions?