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Race Recap: Ragnar Pennsylvania 2017

WARNING: A copious amount of reading ahead! Turn back now or if you so desire, enjoy the copious amount of rambling verbiage that lay before you…

It’s hard to really sum up a weekend like the previous one. It’s an emotional weekend. It’s a physically draining weekend. It’s a constant comedy of ramblings and silliness type of weekend. It can even be a stinky weekend. It’s an “eat all the vegan snacks” type of weekend. And for certain it’s a weekend that goes by way to flippin’ fast!

This was my fourth Ragnar; third as a member of Strong Hearts Vegan Power and they’ve become a second family for me. I’ve raced on a few different teams, and there really is no comparison because they all had people who meant a lot to me but if I HAD to compare them one thing would separate SHVP from the rest and that’s equality. No matter who you meet on this team there is a connection that goes beyond primal, it’s a fundamental understanding you are both on the same level and the thing that you are about to do is so important to each and every one of you. While we may have an A, B, C, D and even an E team we are all one Strong Hearts Vegan Power family.

We had members converge upon PA from all over the country, this time we even had a married couple (Corey and Channon who were in my van) who came from Chattanooga, TN. A good portion of the team is from New York, Boston and Philly but we’ve got folks from the West Coast as well. For most,  the trip started on Thursday. I left my house at about 7:30am to make it to Worcester (Marie’s house) by 10am.

At about 8:15am a series of events played out in front of me and I wasn’t as quick to react, I crashed my truck into the guy in front of me that stopped short. Thankfully this was not some sort of calamitous foreshadowing of the weekend, just a blip in the road; literally. After assessing the damage and realizing it was just a glancing blow, we traded info and were on our way.

I got to where I needed to be, albeit earlier than I thought I had to. Shortly after I showed, the rest of the Boston contingent arrived. We arranged all our stuff in two vans and off to Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary we went. The plan was to drop our camping gear there as we would be camping out Saturday night after the race. Some of us thought it’d be smart to set up our tents before hand so we got that done and got back into the vans to head to Philly to meet more teammates and look for food.

One of our sponsors was Blackbird Pizzeria, an all vegan pizza joint in Philly. Not only do they do pizza but they do vegan cheese steak subs and the most glorious seitan wings. We got in kind of late and I think they were overwhelmed. I did reach out when we were about 30 minutes away, but they were busy and 10-15 more bodies on top of their rush was formidable at best. Since we had nowhere else to be, we were patient. Most of us had not been to Blackbird before so between the table, we ordered just about everything they offered. I chose the habanero seitan wings and cheese fries. I sincerely regret not getting the cheese steak, but my stomach can only hold so much and with all those miles coming up, I didn’t want to have to deal with gastric stuff mid run; that would NOT have been good. The wings were great, some of the pieces were quite thick and weren’t as cooked as they could have been, but again; they were overwhelmed so I will give them a pass because the flavor was off the charts. The cheese fries were amazing. I’d give them a solid 4.5 stars!

After sleeping the night away (thanks for the hospitality Erin), 4am came really quick and we were out the door by 4:30am. We hit a Wawa for coffee and off to the start line we went for pre-race meeting, team photo and to see our first team off. We had three teams taking off at 830am including my team for the weekend; team C. Even though we officially started at 8:30am, we were van 2 and that meant we weren’t on the clock until runner six hit the first major exchange at Salisbury Township Community Park, which is where we headed off to.

We checked in, watched our safety video and relaxed a bit. While walking around we had to come to terms with a few things. We were in farm country and we surely would see some stuff that bothered us. Looking around at some of the farms close by not only did you see animals grazing but there were some of those small white containers (veal crates) all grouped together. You know, the one’s where young male cows are hidden away from their moms to live a short life and become veal? Yeah, those things were all over and the realization was horrifying as there was not much anyone could do. The best thing we could continue to do though was to stay visible, it was hard not to notice a bunch of (mostly) tattooed vegans dressed in black with “Strong Hearts Vegan Power” emblazoned on the front in white lettering. And that’s a big part of the reason we are at these things, to represent the animals and be a voice for them.

I’m not sure the exact time but Michael Harren was coming in and the hand-off to Corey was imminent. There were a couple other teams hanging out waiting for their runners so we all crowded the exchange and Michael rounded the corner, came up to the line and… WHAT? Yup, Ragnar moment for sure and the slap-bracelet bent a weird way and it hit the deck. Corey recovered and Team C van 2 was on the clock!

It wasn’t until a little before 4pm that my first run started. The sun had peaked and it was beating down. In my first 2-3 miles my water bottle was empty and I could have used an aid station, but I didn’t see one anywhere. This would become a running theme for the weekend. There were either no aid stations on my run or the one’s that were there didn’t have anyone at them or water in the jugs they so blatantly left unattended.

The hills were rolling and there was not as much elevation as my next two runs were going to have. As I mentioned, this was farm country and most of them are run by the Amish. You could see them everywhere. If they weren’t flying by trying to run you off the road in a horse-drawn buggy, they were zipping along on push scooters. Yeah one Amish  guy did try to run me off the road all the while staring me down, it felt very Amish mafia so I just kept running)Even in the hottest heat of the day, the younger kids were outside playing basketball in button down shirts, suspenders and jeans. I started to get into a zone thank to Pandora and the amazing playlist I had going. Nothing like a Black Tongue beat-down as you run through Amish country. The total run was 6.3 miles in 1:08:04 with an elevation change of only a couple hundred feet. Not the best time or pace but I was trying to save something for later, it was about to get real.

At this point, once your van is done you do one of two things, get food or sleep. I say either or because sometimes that is all you can do. We basically lived at Giant Food grocery stores on our time off. Our first stop I grabbed some fresh strawberries, watermelon and a couple of green juices. Everything I bought had a coupon on it and the juices were buy one get on free. This seemed to confuse the person behind the counter and they had to call over some back up. I got over $10 worth of fresh fruits for $3 though; I’m a cheap vegan and look for a bargain everywhere and anywhere I am!! After scarfing our grub we did head to the next exchange and waited for van 1.

I didn’t start my next leg until almost 2am. I was prepared for the hand off and headed up the mountain for some nasty elevation. I was about to see 800+ feet of elevation gain in a 2.5 mile climb. Good thing is there was also a 2.5 mile downhill. Getting up was a challenge as my legs we already a tad tired but I slogged on and actually got some kills headed up the mountain. Not being the fastest runner, I am not one to notch too many kills, so it was nice to get some under my belt. I did this run without music. I’m not a huge fan of running in the mountains late at night without being able to hear what is possibly coming out of the woods to eat me. Luckily the bears didn’t see me so I was off the menu; Aaron didn’t see me either so I was doing a good job at not being noticed (just kidding Aaron). The backside of the mountain was great and I gave it all I had. Again, I’m not a fast runner but using momentum was able to log 7:20 for a good amount of the run down. 6.8 miles after starting this leg of the race I handed off the slap-bracelet to Britt. After our van was done we went to the next exchange and I think we actually got some sleep; I’m sure I did because I woke up not knowing where the heck we were, haha!

At 2pm I finally started my last leg and it was going to be brutal to say the least. I was getting out of the port-a-potty just as Brian was hitting the exchange and I wasn’t ready. I grabbed the slap-bracelet though and started the 800+ feet of elevation gain in two miles span; it was a soul crusher for sure. 3/4 of the way up the top the van had pulled over to give me my handheld, again I was unprepared to start this leg. I started pounding the water right away and probably should have tried to save it. I was losing steam fast and for the first time I slow to a thru-hike like pace. As I hit the top I felt a wave of nausea overcome me and I ran for the woods. I lost whatever I had in my stomach and was out of water.

I have never had this happen before but I’m sure a combo of the heat and the abuse my legs were taking from all the elevation changes had a bit to do with it. I got myself back together and put one foot in front of the other and got a run going again. I felt something in my handheld shaking, yet I knew there was no water. Luckily, Johnny had squirreled away some GU Chews for me and they came in really f*cking handy at that point.I ate them with sincere ferocity and got into a zone to finish this leg. 5.8 miles later and 900+ elevation gain, I did!

The rest of the van crushed it and the final 4 runners got a great pace going as we headed toward the finish line. Channon brought it home for us and as she came toward the finish we followed behind her, along with van A, and finished together. There was an overwhelming sense of elation for the team, more so for myself. I’ve done races with elevation before, but PA really taxed my ability to sustain forward momentum. I’m so proud of my teammates, not just C team but ALL of the teams. Everyone truly shined in what was probably the toughest Ragnar course we’ve run to date.

We headed toward Tamerlaine after the race for a pizza party and to crash. I seriously don’t know how long it took me to fall asleep but it was quick I know that. The next morning we awoke to the sounds of farm animals starting their day. There were roosters crowing, goats bleating and in the distance (not at Tamerlaine) a peacock was screaming at the top of its lungs. Well, that’s what it sounded like to me. Gabby and Peter (co-owners of Tamerlaine) as well as other volunteers were getting things settled and were also working on an amazing breakfast for SHVP. There was coffee, bagels from a local shop and just about anything you could want on them. I simply had a untoasted sesame seed bagel with almond butter, I was more looking forward to the view out of the back of the veranda more than anything. There was this stunning sense of peace that came over me just sitting there enjoying my breakfast. With all of the hubbub of the race, it was wondrous to slow down and just be present. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that calm and it was beautiful.

Members of the team that had camped on site were waking up and starting to make their way to the veranda for rations and coffee as others who had stayed at local hotels showed up as well. Everyone enjoyed a fantastic breakfast filled with joy and friendship. There was talk of the race, obviously, but it seems that Tamerlaine kind of took over for people and the animals were calling. We all had to go see them.

We first went to hang with the turkeys and the newest resident, Pecan the pig. Things started getting a little hairy when the male turkeys started getting competitive with one of the woman from the team, we had to leave the pen so they could calm down. We made our way over to the goats and they were all so amazing. They were not shy at all and wanted nothing more than to cuddle and to be scratched.

We toured the farm some more and met other residents such as all the roosters and chickens. Some of those chickens were saved from the Kaporos ritual  (the link is horrifying, watch with caution) that is held in Brooklyn. All of the animals here were saved in one way or another. Whether it was from a slaughterhouse or some crap backyard farm where the owners got over the head. Tamerlaine is doing some amazing work. It was mind-blowing to know that the fundraiser we had for them that ran concurrent to Ragnar raised over $10,000 for those animals. Some of the donations were from readers here and I thank you as do the folks at Tamerlaine.

Later on in the afternoon it was time to head back to the real world so we got the MA contingent together and off we went. Minus getting caught in some major traffic in CT, the drive was far less eventful than my ride to meet them on Thrusday. Here’s where I finally wrap this up and thank you for sticking with me and reading, but I also want to thank the folks in SHVP. When I say this I truly mean it, I love you guys! It’s hard to put into words what you have done for me just by being here and showing me kindness. I am humbled that you have accepted me as one of your own and cannot wait to see you all next!!!

Lastly, thank you to our sponsors The Herbivorous Butcher, Dandies, Blackbird Pizzeria, Grindcore House, GU Energy, Little Secrets and Newzill! Your support not only helps us do what we do but shows the integrity that stands behind your business, thank you!

 

Sriracha Mac

I am really excited to share this recipe from the new cook book “YumUniverse Pantry to Plate,” by Heather Crosby. Be on the lookout for a write up on the book in the next few days. Heather does an amazing job whipping up creative dishes from every day ingredients that are not  hard to find. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t feel adventurous with the recipes here, the templates are there, and she leaves the endless possibilities to you.

Here’s the recipe, I can’t wait to make it myself!

———-

Sriracha Mac


photo courtesy of Heather Crosby

Serves 4+

I discovered the magic of Sriracha in my mac and cheese at a vegan diner in Chicago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. For a simple-yet-decadent version, skip the Sriracha, ginger, and scallions. Try adding your favorite veggies or switching up the delicata for sweet potatoes or any other winter squash.

Ingredients

One 12-ounce (340 g) package gluten-free macaroni noodles
2 cups (230 g) peeled, seeded, and diced delicata squash, steamed
¾ cup (180 ml) water
½ cup (70 g) raw, unsalted cashews, soaked for 4 to 6 hours, drained, and rinsed
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or any similar style hot sauce), plus more to taste
½ teaspoon peeled, minced fresh ginger, or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
4 scallions, sliced
Toasted sesame oil (optional)

Instructions

Get a large pot of water boiling and prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions.

While the noodles cook, combine the squash, water, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt, Sriracha, and ginger in the blender and purée until ultra-smooth. Taste and add more Sriracha if you like. Transfer to a large pot heated to low.

Drain the noodles and dump into the pot of sauce; add the scallions. Stir together, seasoning with more salt if necessary. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil if you like and serve warm.

Recipe from YumUniverse Pantry to Plate © Heather Crosby, 2017. Photographs copyright © Heather Crosby, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com

What The Health; a Review

Having just finished a screener for “What The Health“, I felt like I needed to write something up real quick to give my input and share the reason why I think you, and everyone else, needs to see this film.

Without spending too much time on the back story; Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn, the guys that brought you “Cowspiracy” are the same behind “What The Heath.” While the visuals and presentation is similar, the production has become more polished and eye-catching. And while it may seem too over done, the value outweighs the melodrama. Sometimes you have to put a pretty little bow on the ugliest of subjects in order to get the message across; they’ve done that.

Another glaring similarity is the message; animal agriculture is a big issue and is not going away anytime soon. You’d think that the investigative journalism they uncovered in “Cowspiracy” that it would have created some sort of change; yet the message was not taken to heart. With overwhelming statistics, interview and actual real science is it absolutely mind-blowing that it was not the catalyst for change. Yet, our country votes in dimwits who have the gall to say it isn’t real. But I digress…

I think the major difference with the two films is that one hits home on a more personal level. Let me explain that because for me, and many others, both hit home. But maybe, just maybe, for the climate deniers; this film can be an eye opener to the value of a plant-based/ vegan diet. Why would that be?

For one; health reasons. With corroborated material by some of the top medical leaders in the country, it’s hard to deny the truth that is laid out. You’ve got Dr Caldwell Esselstyn who is one of the most well-known doctors for helping to reverse heart disease in patients using a plant-based diet. Neil Barnard, founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, gives his opinion on an array of topics related to plant-based healthcare. You’ve even got the verbose and kinetic Dr Michael Greger who is behind NutritionFacts.org; one of the fastest growing resources about plant-based/ vegan health on the internet.

Besides doctors and researchers, there are also dozens of well-known names in the plant-based scene. If you are on any social media platform, or have seen other documentaries, then you know them. They are endurance athletes (Tim Schieff) , NFL stars (David Carter) ultra-runners (Rich Roll), bodybuilders and FAIO ninjas such as Ryan Shapiro. Having a decent cast of folks who can humanize this lifestyle helps those that think it’s hard to do, they see people who have had success living this way; knowing they didn’t have to give things up, just animal products.

Getting off track a bit but the fact remains, What The Health does come from a different angle besides just parading big names in the community and it will horrify you to learn the things that Kip dug up. You’d think groups like the American Diabetes Association would align itself with legit companies that are trying to impact those suffering from diabetes in a good way. But to find out that major pharmaceuticals are pumping money in and putting their name on research should scare anyone. And Susan Komen being supported by major dairy producers? Seriously, this film will wake up even the most sleepiest of souls, those that believe everything is ok and good intentions are enough; collusion and corruption are not. It’s not a conspiracy theory, the proof cannot be any more clear.

I hope you will take the opportunity to watch the film and that you will share it with your friends and family. The information is important and eyes will be opened if this film is given the opportunity it deserves. Kip and Keegan put their hearts and souls into this and it shows. Find out more at http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/

Transitioning To Veganism: Jerky

One thing I loved when I was not vegan was jerky. It wasn’t the fact that it was meat, it was all about the flavor and texture. I think a good reason behind it as well was the portability. Jerky was good for hikes, long runs and when I started running OCR races; I always had jerky with me. Like those frozen, funky vegan burger patties back in the day, jerky has come a long way and has become oh so glorious. It’s not just for omnivores anymore!

There are tons of companies doing their own thing and offering a variety of flavors and textures. Vegan jerky is becoming more of a niche market and is exploding. Ask companies like Louisville, their product is far from a novelty and is sought after by vegans all over. Believe me though, none of them are similar to the other and stand out on their own. I’m going break down 4 of my favorites and explain to you why they are better than eating animals; besides the obvious of course. So here we go…

Since I’ve already mentioned them, let’s talk about Louisville Vegan Jerky.  I was able to first try Louisville at this past years Ragnar Relay in the Adirondacks. They were a sponsor of the team I ran with, Strong Hearts Vegan Power. Teammates in my van can attest, after opening a bag (and completely finishing it) my reaction was a phrase I don’t know where it came from nor do I know what it meant. I exclaimed, “Jesus jumped up!” The jubilation and joy I felt overwhelmed me I guess. I missed jerky and this stuff had the texture and flavor I remembered so well. While it didn’t have that pull that some jerky has, the chewiness and seasoning of Louisville was amazing. At this point I’ve tried nearly every flavor minus a few of the small batches. If I had to choose a favorite flavor, I couldn’t. Can I recommend a few? Sure! The black pepper is amazing and is a bit more dry, which I prefer, it gave it more of that pull I spoke of before. The South Carolina BBQ is tasty as heck and is extremely moist, there’s a nice zip at the end as well. If you twisted my arm, I could pick my absolute favorite Louisville Jerky and that is the Buffalo Dill. My wife got some for me on my birthday and I was in heaven. Amazing! So far I have only been able to get Louisville by mail order, check them out at http://www.lvjco.com.

Next up we have the most accessible of all vegan jerky companies, Primal Spirit Foods. I say that because you have probably seen these at any major grocer or even in quite a few convenience stores; they seem to have a good handle on marketing and getting the name out. Another thing that helps them stand out is their incredible array of flavors. Lets not stop there though, the hits keep coming; they also offer a variety of textures based on ingredients. Most of their jerky strips are made from seitan, but they do also have some made from soy and my favorite; the spicy one was made from shiitake mushrooms as a base and was the most jerky like of all of them. The flavors are fantastic and are based on real ingredients. Being packaged singularly, Primal’s jerky is super simple to thrown in a backpack, ruck or even your fancy lil fanny pack! Minus the spicy flavor which was closest to jerky texture, the other have a similar chew to them. My only complaint, and I stress the ONLY is the fact they are somewhat difficult to open and you always end up with stick hands. I’m not sure there is much that can be done to the packaging to make that easier though. If for some strange reason you have yet to try these, you absolutely should; I eat these all the time now. For more info in Primal Spirit Foods vegan jerky check out http://www.primalspiritfoods.com.

For a while now, this next jerky company has been on my radar big time. Chris from the Vegan Zombie is always cooking up/ talking about Maywah Veg Market. He rants and raves about their products so I had to reach out and see about getting some jerky samples. What started as a small niche shop in Chinatown (downtown NYC), Maywah now not only services customers in the state of New York, but anywhere UPS can deliver too. I got the opportunity to try three of their products; the Roasted BBQ, Beef Jerky and the Bacon Jerky. As with the other two companies already reviewed, their products had their own distinct character and texture that carried throughout each flavor. The Roasted BBQ eerily looked a lot like meat jerky as it was a good piece that you bit and tore off pieces from. This had the most authentic texture to “real” jerky than most. I remember nearly 20 years ago being at a small general store in New Hampshire and seeing jerky in jars on the counter that had been smoked and roasted. Maywah’s jerky reminded me of that. The beef jerky had a similar texture, but was kind of pre-shredded you might call it; so it was easier to grab just a bit at a time and not have to tear into it. Again, the flavor was amazing and the texture couldn’t get any closer to the “real” thing. The bacon jerky was similar to what Primal is doing as it was more of a strip, but had the distinct Maywah flavor profile and texture. It had a real nice smokiness to it and as I’ve said a bunch, the texture was fantastic. It is not bacon, but bacon jerky. If you’ve had no experience with Maywah I highly recommend you order from them. The jerky is super inexpensive and they ship all over. I can’t wait to place a bulk order as they carry all sorts of substitutes. You can find them on the web at www.maywahnyc.com.

Last but certainly not least, is Lightlife. One of the first meat alternative companies, Lightlife has been at the forefront of veg movement for over 30+ years. I’d like say I’ve tried all of their products but at this point there are so many I can’t say I have. Their jerky is something new I’ve tried and it’s distinct from the others. They come in strips, similar to Primal but not as moist. Lightlife jerky has more of a dryness and chew like smoked/ dried jerky does. The only complaint is they only have two flavors. Having a wide range of products, I don’t expect that they will offer many more; they don’t need to. I’ve read other reviews online that say these are sweet; I don’t agree at all as I found them to be quite savory and smoky like jerky is supposed to taste. You can find these at most grocery stores as their distribution is pretty big in the major stores. Another solid jerky that you can just throw in your back pack or lunch bag for the matter. Find out more about Lightlife Jerky at https://lightlife.com/products/jerky

Every day more and more vegan foods & meat alternatives are hitting the market. Whether it’s faux hot dogs, sausages OR jerky, the fact is these products can stand up to, and maybe even push meat off the market. Once people realize they can enjoy the flavors and textures they love, without all the cholesterol and garbage that is in processed meats; they will be better off. I am so excited to have jerky in my life and thank all the companies involved in this article for sending samples to be part of it. If you are part of a company that was not written about here, e-mail me at vegancableguy@gmail.com and I’d be happy to create an addendum piece or add to this one.

What’s your favorite vegan jerky?

 

 

BBQ Seitan Ribs

I’ve tried my hand at a couple different ways of preparing seitan. I’ve made a variety of deli styles for making sandwiches. I’ve tried making a smoky bacon and a couple other things. Lately I have been wanting something with barbecue flavor; it made sense to give BBQ ribs a day in court.

This recipe came out fantastic, I got it from HERE and manipulated it based on ingredients I had. The only thing I will do different is make sure I finish these on a grill to give them some nice char. Anyway, here is what you will need. Honestly, this doesn’t get any easier!

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon of ground chipotle
1 teaspoon of chik’n flavoring
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Braggs liquid aminos
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Preheat over to 350º

Mix all the dry ingredients well in one bowl while doing the same with the wet.

Combine them both until it forms a spongy ball. You can knead it if you like, but I wouldn’t do it too much as it becomes tougher and tougher as you knead and you don’t want the ribs to come out tough and super chewy.

Spray a glass 8×8 container and lay the seitan flat into it, pressing down so it’s as flat as you can get it. Lightly press a knife onto it creating 6 lines horizontally and 1 vertically that way you can pull these apart easier when they are done.

Lightly brush on some BBQ sauce and place in over for 25 minutes.

Here’s where you have options… You can simply flip these in the pan, brush more BBQ sauce on and finish in the over for another 10-15 minutes OR take them out to the grill and finish there, brushing BBQ sauce on of course.

You also need to make sure to run the knife over the pre-cut lines, lightly of course as you don’t want to separate them yet.

I made mine in the oven and the bottom (which is actually the top when you are finished and flip them back over) caramelized nice and the ribs had a good crunch on the edges. Being finished on the grill you should get a bit more crunch and smoky flavor. Regardless, these are awesome and I hope you let me know how they come out for you.

What’s your favorite BBQ sauce to use? Do you make your own or use store bought?

Oh Look, It’s so Shiny!

Should we buy just because it’s new and Vegan?

How far will you go to get the new shiny Vegan food or product?

Is it worth making an hour (or more) drive to the nearest Target because you heard they finally got the birthday cake flavor of Just Cookie Dough. I mean, you drove there to pick up the chocolate chip so why not this flavor? You have to try it, right?

That’s how I felt about Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger. It’s supposed to be the closest thing to a meat burger, obviously without the meat. For months I’ve seen friends and other Instagrammers posting pics of it and talking up how amazing it is.

I would check the retailer list once a week to see if my local Whole Foods was finally carrying it. 2-3 days ago they made the list and I immediately packed up and headed toward Hyannis to get a package. I was elated; excited even! I was finally going to try these magical burgers.

I got into the store, grabbed a package and was hit by a wave of disappointment. The burgers were the size of sliders. There was only 2 to a package. They were $7.99! WHAT?! For real? To buy two slider sized burgers for that price they better cook themselves for crying out loud, yet I’m certain they do not.

Needless to say, I walked out of Whole Foods empty handed. I could not justify that cost. To be honest, I could just go get the black bean burgers from Lightlife. Hell, I could buy two packages for less than the Beyond Burgers and have 8 burgers!

8 > 2  is a much better cost ratio at $7.99!

Do they taste good? I don’t know, I’m sure they do though. I love Beyond Meat’s products; the grounds are amazing and the chik’n strips are untouchable. But these new burgers? Keep em! Until the price comes down I will stick to other brands. And to be honest, this has taken the wind out of my sails a bit as far as jumping on the bandwagon for the newest and coolest vegan products.

There’s so much new stuff coming out. Watching my Instagram feed I’ve been taking a virtual tour of the Natural Products Expo West. It looked like people were having tons of fun. But I’m starting to wonder, is it just more hyped up crap? I certainly hope not. If that happens these companies are going to scare away potential new vegans with the cost. The myth that vegan food is expensive has already been perpetuated, this is just going to help keep that alive.

Do you jump at the new shiny vegan product? Were you ever let down by one? For what?

addendum 7/23/2017: So um yeah, I tried em and they are worth that hype. My post is moot at this point… I buy them whenever I can and justify the cost because of the taste and pleasure they bring. I know, hypocrite: bite me!

 

Buffalo Tofu Nuggets

Seems only appropriate that my “comeback” post is one of my favorite meals on the planet! I hope to post more frequently, and an explanation is coming as to whats been going on the past couple months that have slowed my posting. Putting that aside… let’s talk tofu!

This morning I had a rough 4+ mile run. I’m currently on the third week of T25 and my legs are sore as all get out, but I have another Ragnar in June so I have to start getting these runs in too. So after slogging through the miles, and fighting a gusty head wind, my body needed something good to help it recover.

An hour after my usual shake I was feeling rather ravenous. I had a container of tofu that needed to be cooked so I whipped together this mid-day meal real quick and was amazed at how it came out. Here’s what you will need and instructions on how to prepare it is below.

Tofu Buffalo Nuggets

12 oz. package of extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup of corn starch
1/2 cup of Frank’s Louisiana Hot sauce (my favorite, I literally “put that sh*t on everything”)
1/4 cup of Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
2 tbsp oil

Drain your tofu for 30-45 minutes under whatever weight it is you use. Mine was a stack of vegan cookbooks including such summer hits as Thug Kitchen, Bringing Home The Seitan and more. Send $29.95 for your copy of savory summer hits… sorry, lost my mind for a sec.

After its drained to your liking, get as much of the liquid out as you can; cut it up into bite sized cubes.

Add the corn starch, chili powder and turmeric to a plastic bag. I added the turmeric for it’s medicinal qualities, you really don’t need to add it but if you have it, why not! Add the tofu cubes and shake until it’s all covered.

Heat up your oil and fry away. You don’t really need to use more than the 2 tablespoons, you are not looking to deep fry these, you just want to give the outside a nice crunch.

While the nuggets are frying up, melt the butter and add the Franks to it when it’s done. Again, you don’t have to do it this way, you can use your favorite buffalo sauce or your favorite recipe for it, this is just how I made it.

When the tofu is done lightly toss with the sauce and plate. I cut up some celery and used some Hampton Creek Just Ranch to go with it. I can’t wait until tomorrow to eat the leftovers!

Enjoy!