Food Coma

The Lunch Diaries: Part 1

I was tasked with grabbing some new lunch ideas for my homie, Mow. Mow is a new momma and wants to eat less meat overall. Starting slowly by decreasing your meat/dairy intake can sometimes be easier than going balls to the wall I’M A SUPER VEGAN I HATE EVERYONE NOW WHERE’S MY CAPE? Believe me, I was an angry vegan when I first started, and no one wants to be that stereotype (or be friendless). I salute those that want to enjoy Meatless Monday or have lunches without meat. Let your meat-free flag fly and try these lunches on for size!

Mow wanted something easy to prepare (see: new momma), super hearty, and something that could stick to her ribs. The first thing that popped into my head is one of my go-to lunches: the tuna salad.

I don’t exactly have a recipe for this, but here’s the deal: grab a can of chickpeas and drain and rinse those little boogers. Mash those bastards up as fine or as chunky as you prefer. Add some Just Mayo (or your favorite vegan mayo of choice), chop up some sweet pickles, add a splash of yellow mustard (the condiment of the Gods), maybe some garlic powder, and salt and pepper. This is totally customizable according to your tastes and needs. Make this stuff on a Sunday night and keep it in your fridge at work. This will last for about 3 lunches for me, especially if I don’t make a sandwich but instead dip it up with these chips:

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Holy shiza, these are good. They are hearty and delicious and tasty as hell! Dip dip dip til your heart’s content.

Mow also eats a ton of lunch meat. I actually never got into the vegan lunch meat world because I never ate a ton of lunch meat when I ate meat. But here are some suggestions for you and Mow to try:

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We are SUPER lucky to be living in a world of vegan lunch meat. Get thee to your grocer’s “healthy and cold” section, near the tofu and tempeh, and get some delicious vegan meats. If you hit up the Whole Foods, be sure to peep their selection of dairy free cheeses to go along with your meats:

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Field Roast is the Cadillac of the vegan meat/cheese world. Get a hold of some Chao and get to cooking some grilled cheese sandwiches and wipe away your happy tears with the bread. It’s that simple. ALSO! We are lucky to live in a place where a friend of mine makes her own vegan cheese and sells it to the masses. It’s delicious and sold all over Atlanta.

I have never made a vegan chicken salad but I’m dying to try these new recipes from Peta, Beyond Meat, and The Sensible Vegan. In fact, I’ll make one (or two or all) of these and report back.

Sometimes though, not all the time, but sometimes, you need something really meaty. Sometimes you need to bite your teeth into a burger and wince from the beauty of it all. If this is the lunch you desire, and you have a microwave at work, buy this shit immediately and keep a stash in your freezer:

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Yes, these are from Kroger. Yes, these are the best frozen veggie burgers I’ve EVER HAD. Bring some bread to work and have everyone at work ask, “What are you eating? Damn, that smells delicious. THAT’S VEGAN?” as you cackle and slap them all in the face and sashay your way out of there.

 

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Food Coma, Life

Decorating Apartments You Don’t Have Yet and Other Musings

I’m moving into a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a few weeks and I’M SO EXCITED. As in: I cannot stop buying stuff for the apartment that I do not live in yet. I’m trying to control myself…I’ve banned myself from going to Target because that place is like walking into a giant pit where all my money leaves my body. You guys, the other week I went into Target to buy ONE THING (the new Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream. Have you guys tried it??) and then I blacked out and $86 later I find myself in my car wondering what happened. But it was all stuff I NEEDED for the new apartment. There was a green garden gnome fortheloveofgodalmighty. Ahhhhhhhhh ugh. So I can’t go to Target anymore, or Walmart (they had a $5 mirror that I had to have), or apparently any store in Little 5 Points (there were these Atlanta-themed coasters that called to me from inside of a hippie store), or shop at Amazon, or Etsy, or a thrift store, or anywhere else that sells items for purchase. All of this is to say that I have a problem and this is my cry for help.

Let’s talk about some new foodz!

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Check out that VEGAN caption!

I found these bad boys at Walmart and had to try them. They taste like a buttery blueberry muffin, which is to say I inhaled two of them and broke the speed of sound.

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Go, Kroger!

Kroger has really stepped up its vegan game, in my opinion. These patties are HUGE and seriously delicious. I had one for dinner last night and will eat another for lunch today. I highly recommend these.

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Yum!

You may or may not already know that Earth Balance makes sticks of vegan butter. These are perfect for baking because the measurements are already on the side. Or, if you’re like me, they’re perfect to bring to work and keep in a baggie so that you can butter your blueberry waffles. DON’T JUDGE ME.

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I ate the entire box.

Please tell me that you already know this: Thin Mints are vegan! Welcome to swim suit season, thin mint eaters!

What new products have you guys tried?

Life

Hello. It’s me.

So, yeah. It’s been 8 months since I last wrote. I have pretty much been dreading this post since August of last year. But it’s time. This post may be a slight downer but I promise that afterward it’s back to food posts and longing to pet cows and epic rants that involve wondering why vegan chocolate costs more than regular chocolate (but seriously, WHY).

I started working as a teacher in August of 2015. I believed wholeheartedly that it was going to be my career for the rest of my life. I thought I would love it. But I soon realized that not only did I not love it, but that I hated it. Teaching was not at all what I thought it would be, and I do blame myself for being naive. I hated that most of my day was spent disciplining, or completing bureaucratic paperwork to prove how you’re teaching, or that I could hear teachers yelling at students across the hall. It was less about what and how you’re teaching, and more about kicking students out of my class and punishing. I think there was only 1 week total in my almost 4 months of teaching that I did not cry. Usually, I cried on the way to school and on the way home. I always always always cried while lying in bed, wondering how much longer I could hold on. I felt beaten down. It seemed like the dream I had longed for was dead and that I was a failure. Why didn’t I love it like so many others? Why couldn’t I be happy doing this?

One Wednesday in November, I came home and laid on the couch and sobbed. My mom told me that I should quit. But wasn’t this job what I was supposed to do with my life? Wasn’t this what I was meant to be? That Wednesday, though, I gave myself permission to change and to end the pain. I realized that I deserve better than this. I turned in my notice that Friday and never went back to the school.

My mom eventually suggested that I start taking antidepressants. They took a while to work, but I do think that the combination of antidepressants and quitting my job helped to heal me. I went to work for a dear friend who owns a restaurant while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. For the first time in my entire adult life, I didn’t have a plan. And it felt amazing! I started to feel like ME again. I was laughing, hanging with friends, smiling, enjoying the sunshine.

When 2016 started, I was ready for anything. Teaching felt (and still feels) like a dream, like it may not have even happened. It’s hard to even remember being in that classroom. I randomly got an email from the law firm I used to work for as a paralegal, and yada yada yada I’m back at the firm full time. Crazy how life works out, right?

I’m moving into an apartment in the city in a month and I’m excited for what’s to come. The following things will all be discussed: getting back to yoga, going to therapy, walking/jogging again, horrible and not-so-horrible dates, and figuring out how to keep climbing mountains. All while eating delicious foods. Stay tuned!

Life

Alive! Expo Review

Is it possible that I’m “expo-ed out”? Am I tired of all the goodies, the coupons, and making small talk with complete strangers? Am I just  #OVERIT when it comes to the sensation that my left arm will soon detach itself from my body because it simply cannot hold that many items at once?

No. Have we met? You all should be well aware that I will go to great lengths to be the owner of free items. For a free t-shirt, I’ve stumbled across miles of sweaty and humid terrain with blistered feet. FOR A T-SHIRT. And this expo brought the heat.

How cute is she?
How cute is she?

I went with my 17-year-old cuz because she’s a bad ass and also because, secretly, I think she’s veg-curious. Though Chik-Fil-A is her favorite food, so I have my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, she was game to see where the day lead us. We met up with my pals Holly and Aaron and let the games begin.

Saffron Road!
Saffron Road!
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I have seen Saffron Road’s frozen meals before and have never tried them because I can’t find a vegan one. BUT. They showed me that not only do they offer vegan seasoned chickpea snacks (YUM) but they also offer tasty sauce packets. Yay! They’re coming to the vegan side of the world where it’s nice and cozy and the patchouli runs like water. I’m excited to try more of their products!

CHOCOLATE ALERT
CHOCOLATE ALERT

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I was immediately sold on Pacari chocolates for many reasons: family-owned, Ecuadorian, organic, sustainable farming methods, small scale farmers. Sigh. We all were smitten with Pacari and I bought some to take home. You had no idea that lemongrass belonged in chocolate until you taste it Pacari-style.

Bearded Brothers!
Bearded Brothers!

Oh, Bearded Brothers. So chill. So awesome. I was super happy to see them there and meet them. I will be reviewing their products soon so more on them later.

All in all, it was a great Expo. There was an overwhelming amount of products versus food, but that’s cool. Bloggers were treated especially well there which made me (and my unsuspecting cuz) super happy. On to the next expo!

Life

PlantBasedATL’s One Year Anniversary Party!

We came, we saw, we ate fried foods at 2:30 in the morning. We were there for one reason only: to dance the night away and take questionable pictures in celebration of our One Year Anniversary. After a super duper busy day, we were ready to relax and listen to music with 20 of our closest friends. PlantBasedATL has become quite the buzz in the vegan part of Atlanta; from bringing Cowspiracy to town to starting a successful book club and holding our first ThanksLiving event. We’ve eaten our way across this glorious town with gusto. And we wanted to share the love with our tried and true homies.

Balloons floated across the dance floor as we munched on fruit, hummus, and homemade curried rice. Michael Jackson or Prince or Britney Spears made us boogie late into the night (morning?) and we truly celebrated what we had built: community. PlantBasedATL is not just about the food (it sort of is), but it’s also about the connections we make along the way. From local restaurants offering healthy foods to the community giving donations for Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, we have tried to bridge the gap and make lasting relationships. And this deserves celebrating!

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Here comes trouble.
Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!
Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!
Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?
Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?
Meghan + Daniel!
Meghan + Daniel!
The late night crew.
The late night crew.
Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.
Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.

If you didn’t make it to our anniversary party, fear not. We have many many MANY more fun things in store!

Food Coma, Life

Saying Goodbye to Dough

Dough Bakery closed for good on Sunday after their announcement the Tuesday before. To say the community was shocked is a grave understatement. And while we may never know the full reasons why, and we respect the owner’s privacy, I am nonetheless saddened. My brunch life now has a hole in it that once was filled with savory country fried steak and biscuits.

Dough was the very first place I ate at in Atlanta as a vegan. I remember vividly being REALLY excited that Dough and Dulce had vegan baked goods made fresh daily for the vegan pie-hole.  These joints offer cupcakes, pies, cakes, custom creations, cookies, and the like. When a vegan says that we miss nothing, we mean it. Dough made my birthday cake (red velvet with cream cheese frosting. BOOM).

I  googled “Atlanta Vegan Bakery” and Dough popped up. I made the plan to go try it, and for some reason I was scared sh!tless. I think at that point, I was still nervous about my vegan decision, and I had no one to turn to help me along (except my beloved websites, bloggers, and books). I had to do this alone.

Dough became a refuge of sorts…feeding my mind, body, and soul. I started to feel nourished there…completely stuffed with delicious southern food, and also so very happy to be with “my people”. I didn’t stick out at Dough, I didn’t have to ask “Is there cheese in that? Butter? Can I just have a side of steamed broccoli? No butter. Sorry.” I felt welcomed there. I began to feel whole there, too. I started to feel like my decision was my own, and that I also had to become comfortable with it. I was on a journey, and I still am.

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Drool.
Drool.
Bow to the cheddar.
Bow to the cheddar.
Free Just Mayo!
Free Just Mayo!

On Monday, Dough hosted a Vegan Waffle Party to benefit the Atlanta Veg Fest. I was so happy to have gone and enjoyed Dough for one last time. The food was AMAZING. I chose the cheddar waffle topped with sausage gravy, fried chicken, scrambled tofu, and bacon, because I’m the smartest person alive. I cleaned my plate. There were sweet toppings, like chocolate chips, salted caramel drizzle, and whipped cream. I didn’t have time for all that mess. Plus they had Gardein fried fish, which was the SHIZ.

We ate, we laughed, there were tears. We talked about where we would meet up for brunch in the future, now that this hole was here. I am thankful that Dough played a part in my life, however big or small. There will be many others, but you always remember your first.

Food Coma, Life

10 Things I Love: Tuesday Edition

1. Sprouts. I had been waiting for this damn store to open near me, as my jealousy for those west-coast people grew by the day. Do those Californians really get to have sunshine and Sprouts, too? No longer, friends! Sprouts has been popping up everywhere in Georgia, allowing me ample time to finally realize the dreaded truth: Whole Foods is too damn far from me, and it is waaaay too expensive. So long, vegan cookies that I don’t need but always buy…goodbye, awesome fresh juice stand. There’s a new sheriff in town. If you’re lucky enough to live or work by a Sprouts, take your happy arse over there and take a big whiff of savings on healthy goodies.

2. Almond butter. This sleeper food has slowly risen to the top of my “Just one more bite…” list. Go for the organic raw variety, where the only ingredient is “almonds.” Damn. Isn’t simplicity awesome? There is an important warning to go along with this: Kroger called me (how in the hell did they get my number?) to tell me that there has been a mass recall of MaraNatha almond butter (my favorite kind!) due to a possible salmonella contamination. Get thee to Kroger (https://www.kroger.com/recall_alerts) to see if you have purchased any of these products. I had, and two jars had to be returned last night. It took the clerk five minutes to pry them from my hands. Now I must dip my apples in the subpar Sunbutter. Sigh.

Total recall.
Total recall.

3. The library. This should go without saying. It’s free and it’s not just for your grandma. Rent movies, music (cough cough…burn it to your computer…cough cough), and books. You know, those things with paper pages and words typed on them that smell like old people. Did I mention it’s free?

4. Sesame fries at Takorea. Though Takora is not exactly in my neighborhood, I will travel a great many miles to satiate my sesame fry needs. Read about Takora here and learn why it’s one of my new favorite Atlanta spots. Give me fries or give me death!

5. Revolution Doughnuts. It took me long enough to try this place, mainly due to Atlanta having so many awesome vegan places that I want to try immediately. I got a dozen doughnuts one Saturday and brought (almost) all of them home for the fam. My personal favorite is the coconut, which I long for day in and day out. Their catchphrase is “Put Something Good in Your Mouth.” Clearly, I am meant to live in the back and make doughnuts like an elf in the night. Peep them here: http://revolutiondoughnuts.com/#welcome.

6. Farm Sanctuary / Walk for Farm Animals. We all know about Farm Sanctuary (don’t we?) and how awesome they are. With two locations in California and one in New York, they are the first sanctuary of its kind to rescue farm animals from the factory farming industry. Farm animals have rapidly become a cause that is very dear to my heart (which you can read about here) and I secretly long to run away from the daily grind to join forces with those that care for these amazing animals. One day. Atlanta is hosting Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals on October 5 this year, and Gene Baur (Farm Santuary’s President and Co-Founder) will be speaking at the event. Seriously, I can hardly contain my excitement. I have read Gene Baur’s book and have cried over all that he has done to save lives. It will be amazing to walk with him for this cause. If you’re thinking about going, walk with me! Check the walk out here and also cruise around Farm Sanctuary’s website: http://events.walkforfarmanimals.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=646.

7. Asheville. Ahhhhhhh Asheville. Sweet, beloved, hippie paradise, mountain mama land, Asheville. I have been craving and yearning for the colored fall leaves, the crisp windy air, bright pumpkins, and scary Halloween. This year, I will celebrate nature and all that is awesome in Asheville this November. Hopefully Momma Veg-Head can come with me, as she desperately needs a vacation. If not, dare I take this vacation alone?

8. Loving Hut’s Monthly Buffet. Friends, the brilliant minds at the Loving Hut have stumped me once again. I thought I would never find better than their Pad Thai (read about that here), but I have. Once a month, the Loving Hut in Norcross offers an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet for $11.99. I had the chance to swing by on Saturday and I was not disappointed. Well, I was actually disappointed that I couldn’t unhinge my jaw to continue eating much like the anaconda. The monthly buffet changes each month, so if you missed it this past Saturday, fear not. The buffet will rise again!

The Loving Hut: a vegan haven.
The Loving Hut: a vegan haven.

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9. Vegan MoFo. Eeeeeeeek I am SO very excited for this! Not only am I still planning my Vegan MoFo posts for September, but I have actually created a calendar for which posts should go on which day. But seriously, is anyone surprised by the nerdiness/organization? Sometimes I scare myself.

10. Card from Fritz. I’m going to visit my homie Fritz in NYC in September for her birthday. Though there’s never enough time in New York, the trip is going to be amazing. Want proof? This chica sent me this card, in the mail:

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She actually found a card with a “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” pun. This woman is unstoppable. One of my other friends (holler, Adrienne!) has taught me how awesome snail mail is. Now, I believe. How great is it to get an actual card in the mail? It made my Monday so sassy.