Spring transitioning into summer months is probably my favorite time of the year. The days aren’t too hot yet and the evenings still cool down enough to wear a sweatshirt. It’s the perfect weather for barbecuing. Cooking and eating outside is a warm weather activity that I wait for all year, and luckily, living in California affords me the opportunity to do this far more often than most. When I first transitioned to eating a more vegan diet I was worried that I wouldn’t have many options for barbecue-type foods, but fortunately, there are so many more options than I originally thought. Vegan burger patties, vegan sausages, vegan hot dogs, ALL of the things you would think of for an outdoor cookout. And beyond that, there are so many ways to change up your sides recipes to make them vegan. This is one of those recipes that I’ve been playing with for a while and is one of my favorite barbecue/cookout sides – potato salad.
This potato salad recipe uses red potatoes, but any type of potatoes will do. You can also peel them if you prefer – I like skins on for the extra nutrition boost and the whole less work and time argument. I used Follow Your Heart vegan mayo which is my absolute favorite. I’m actually not usually a mayo person at all, but this mayo is bomb. I also used fresh dill from our garden, but you could use dried, just be sure to use less if doing so (about half of what you’d use fresh). Without further rambling, let me just post the recipe…
Vegan Potato Salad
4-5 cups of red potatoes, cut into about 1 inch pieces
1/4 c red onion, diced
1/4 cup dill pickle, diced
2-3 Tbsp of fresh dill
1/2 c vegan mayo
1 Tbsp mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil a large pot of salted water and once boiling add potatoes. Cook potatoes for about 10-15 minutes or until pierced by a fork, stirring occasionally to avoid the water boiling over. You can also turn the heat down a bit once a boil is reached to avoid this.
While potatoes are cooking slice and dice all other ingredients and add to a large bowl for mixing.
Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Let potatoes sit for a while to cool off. You don’t want to mix your mayo with super hot potatoes or it will melt and be an icky looking mess. If you’re in a rush, leave cold water running over potatoes until mostly cool or slightly warm.
Add potatoes to bowl with all other ingredients and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours before serving.
I’ve never been a big traveler, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found joy in visiting new places when I can. Luckily, my job allows me to travel now and then, mostly to Las Vegas, but this year our big tradeshow was in Nashville, Tennessee. I had never been to Nashville before, but I was so excited to visit a new place, especially a new place that was so focused on music and the history of music. We were scheduled to be there for a week. This gave us enough time to work as well as get some personal time in to explore the city. We stayed downtown near the convention center – known as Music City Center – since that was where our tradeshow was. Fortunately, this put us within walking distance of the famous Broadway strip which is where we spent most of our free time.
We stayed in the OMNI hotel downtown and it was incredibly nice. Had I not been on a company trip I wouldn’t be able to afford a whole week here by myself. It’s a 5 star hotel with all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of that caliber. We hardly spent any time in our hotel but it’s worth mentioning since they are basically connected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and are walking distance to the Music City Walk of Fame Park and many other cool tourist attractions. One of my favorites was the Hatch Show Print shop which is located inside the hotel. You can see all of the old screen printing supplies and posters from when country music was blowing up in Nashville. They even have a museum dedicated to it, which I didn’t get to check out but would definitely add to my list for the next time I’m able to visit.
The food everywhere was basically amazing. I had cat fish tacos for the first time at a place called Martin’s BBQ Joint. When we arrived there was a line out of the building which was enough to make us second guess going there, but soon realized that the wait (which didn’t end up being too terribly long) was totally worth it. Being a pescatarian was a little tough in Nashville but fortunately not as difficult as being a vegetarian. There is barbecue everywhere and loads of chicken wings. After hours Martin’s turns into a 3 story bar with cornhole, steel tip darts, pool and board games. They even had live music (which most places in Nashville do). Martin’s was definitely one of the best BBQ places we visited.
We also dined at City Tap House. They had a huge selection of beers (seriously, the beer menu alone was like 4 pages) and we had their shrimp and grits, oysters, mussels and their addicting elote street corn dip. Everything was amazing down to the service.
My favorite place ended up being a place that had opened only two weeks before we arrived – Downtown Sporting Club. They had axe throwing, cornhole (indoors and outdoors), and some of the biggest portions of food I’ve ever seen in my life. I ordered their wild mushroom pasta and swear I could’ve done the backstroke in my bowl. The food was absolutely divine and again the service was impeccable. It makes you wonder if there really is a thing to genuine southern hospitality (I’m looking at you California!).
Drinks & Live Music
Most of our free time was spent on the famous strip of Downtown Broadway. There are 3 and 4 story bars lining the strip with live music filling the air everywhere you turn. Most bars have rooftop areas where you can look out over the city or look down and people watch. Every floor of every bar had a different band playing live music, and walking down the street was like walking through different radio stations as you passed by. There are several bars owned by famous country musicians and a few that are famous for being around during the era of the country music boom. The neon lights go on and night and make you feel like you’ve been thrown back in time. Everyone is fairly pleasant and you’d be surprised at how little security there seems to be in most of the bars compared to a place like downtown Sacramento. Most bars sell bar food so you can snack while you drink and people watch, and surprisingly enough most of the rooftop bars even let you smoke – just like the old days! This area was definitely my favorite place to hang out during our trip and I can’t wait to go back and be able to spend even more time here perusing and listening to all the amazing talent that Nashville has to offer.
Before I left for Nashville I had decided that I would reward myself with a souvenir. I hadn’t purchased anything new in 5 months and thought that this trip was the perfect time to buy myself something special. I knew I either wanted a hat or boots and when I went to look at my options, I was not disappointed.
Down on Broadway there are several shops that sell boots, hats, and other western wear. I finally decided I wouldn’t wear boots as often as a hat, so eventually I narrowed my search to places that sold hats. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted – something a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Finally I found Goorin Bros. Their shop was smaller than the rest but specifically sold hats in different styles and sizes. I knew I had found the right place. I almost immediately found the hat that I wanted, but did decide to do a little more walking around town before settling just in case. After walking around to a couple different stores I knew that I would not find anything else that compared. I went back to Goorin Bros and bought my new hat. It was pricey, sure, but it’s something that I know will last a long time and will get alot of wear. If you’re looking for boots, hats or other western wear Broadway is definitely the place to go.
I absolutely loved the city of Nashville, TN. The people were so friendly, the music was loud and the food was delicious. I can definitely see myself making another trip to visit and go outside of the city a bit to see what else there is to explore. I hear their mountains and lakes are gorgeous, and I can only imagine based on all the greenery and nature I saw just while driving from the airport to our hotel. It’s not necessarily somewhere I thought I would fall in love with, but it really is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. If you ever get a chance, I definitely recommend you make a trip out there.
Today’s post is short and sweet. I’m going to be sharing a recipe for a quick and easy vegan broccoli salad. This recipe is great because it’s light since it does not use mayonnaise like most broccoli salads. It’s perfect for all of the spring and summer barbecues coming up – which I cannot wait for! Let’s jump right into the recipe…
Vegan Broccoli Salad
5 medium sized broccoli florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup almond milk yogurt alternative
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the yogurt alternative, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper together in either a small bowl or a jar and either whisk or shake to combine.
In a separate large bowl, stir together broccoli, onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.
Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir to coat all the ingredients.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to make sure the flavors settle into the broccoli.
Spring is finally here! I love the change in the weather because it means that I get to spend more time outside. Not only that, Daylight Savings makes the days longer giving me even more time to enjoy the sun. One of my favorite things about the changing of the seasons is being able to cook outside. Last year my husband and I moved into a new house with a good sized backyard. One of our first new home purchases for spring was a new barbecue. We opted for a gas style to make it faster and easier to use the barbecue whenever we had a craving for cooking outdoors. You can make almost anything on the barbecue, and as a vegetarian it’s great that almost every vegetable tastes better coming from the grill. A simple way to incorporate several of your favorite vegetables at once is the kebab. There are so many different combinations to choose from. Throw on a little bit of vegan sausage and you’ve got yourself a filling and delicious meal that might be more fun to assemble than to eat (who am I kidding, both parts are the best!).
Grilling kebabs is a quick and easy way to have a healthy and delicious meal. You throw all of your ingredients on a skewer and let cook on the grill for only a few minutes. Luckily, my mom bought me a brand new metal skewer set for Christmas. It even came with a rack to place all the skewers on which made them so easy to turn and take off the grill once they were finished. You don’t need metal skewers to make kabobs, but if you buy the wooden skewers there’s a couple things to keep in mind. First, is you need to soak wooden skewers in water. Soak them in water for 10-30 minutes before assembling, otherwise you may end up with a bunch of firey skewers in your barbecue. Trust me, I’ve done this, it’s not as fun as it might sound. The water soaks into the skewers which keeps them from burning on the grill during cooking. Metal skewers are great because they can be used over and over again (hello, sustainability). Remember not to touch them with your bare hands when they are on the grill (yes, I’ve done this too). We use pot holders to turn them or you can use tongs or something else to pick them up to avoid burning your hands.
Kebabs can be made with any combination you like. For this particular recipe, I used the Tofurky Beer Brats, red onion, and a combination of colorful bell peppers. I also put baby bella mushrooms on mine which I thought were extra delicious. Simply cut each item into pieces and layer onto the skewer. The order of the ingredients really doesn’t matter, but it is fun to play with different patterns and hey, it makes for a good photo-op. Other ingredients that would be tasty are pineapple, cherry tomatoes, squash/zucchini, white onions, corn, tofu and shrimp (if you’re pescatarian like me). Kebabs are great as a vegan offering as well because they’re so simple and can use only vegetables if you or your guests prefer. I suppose you could also marinate these if you wanted to. I prefer to let the flavor of the vegetables stand on their own. But to marinate simply soak your cut ingredients in the sauce or marinade of your choice at least 30 minutes before grilling.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I hope it inspires you to have a colorful dinner outdoors! It really is one of my favorite things about this time of year. What are you favorite items on kebabs? And do you have any other yummy recipes for cooking outside?
1 pack of Tofurky Beer Brats, sliced into about 1.5″ chunks
1/2 red onion, sliced into chunks
1 green bell pepper, sliced into chunks
1 red bell pepper, sliced into chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into chunks
1 orange bell pepper, sliced into chunks
Baby bella mushrooms, I used 10
Olive oil, for drizzling on skewers
Salt and Pepper
Take your chunks of ingredients and layer onto skewers. You can do this in whatever order you like. I did all vegetables, then a piece of sausage or mushroom and then repeated until the skewer was full.
Place finished skewers on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them as well.
Heat up the grill.
Place skewers on the grill and close the grill.
Let them cook for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables start to blister and brown.
When they are cooked to desired texture, remove from the grill and place back on the baking sheet.
To serve, use a fork to push all ingredients off the skewer.
Serve with a baked potato and a side salad for a filling meal that’s sure to please!