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I’m currently on a road trip through the Southeast of America (ie. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina!) If you wanna read more about the road trip, head to this post. For now, I’m gonna talk about some of the more delicious food experiences I’ve had in the South.
I ate a delicious and fresh meal at Beauty Shop Restaurant in Memphis. I tried chickpea flatbread/crepes from an Italian restaurant in Oxford, and it was one of the more unique textures I’ve ever had. (I’m going to try to recreate it soon – don’t worry.) And yet, my favorite food experience thus far has been at a place called Brat Brot in Birmingham.
The brat I had was made out of jackfruit and was delicious on it’s own, but the real star of the show was the tangy-sweet relish on top. It was perfectly complimented by the vegan mayo spread on the bun. I fell in love and knew I had to make my own version.
I wanted my version to have all the same notes – tangy, sweet, creamy, salty and herbaceous. But I also knew I wanted mine to taste more like summer, so I headed straight for the best end of summer produce – squash and okra. I adapted my Sweet Turmeric Pickle brine to make the relish brine. I added a bit more coconut sugar (hence the brown color of the brine.) I substituted apple cider vinegar for Pompeian White Wine Vinegar. I removed the turmeric and replaced it with mustard seeds and fennel seeds. This gives it that tart, herbaceous note. However, if you wanted to substitute coriander seeds for fennel, that would work too!
The relish turns out to be the perfect sweet, tart crunchy note on your veggie dog. However, I should warn you that the okra makes the brine a little bit thick and sticky. So if you want to avoid that – omit the okra or substitute it with cucumber or cauliflower.
As for the tofu mayo, it’s a super easy way to make vegan mayo at home. (I mean, if I can make it in an Airbnb, you can make it in your kitchen.) The ingredients are just tofu, Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pompeian White Wine Vinegar, dijon mustard, and salt. It does have a hint of tofu taste, but I’d rather have that than a list of mystery ingredients. Plus, when you slather it on a bun and top it with a veggie dog and summer relish – it’s perfect!
Now, I used a veggie dog. I have no favorite brand here, just use whatever you like! You don’t have to use a veggie dog here, but why not try to go meatless once in a while? It’s a good way to help the planet and you’ll be just a bit *health-ier* for it! (Ps. You could even use my Baked Veggie Dog recipe here.) xo.
Summer Relish Veggie Dogs with Tofu Mayo
Summer Relish Ingredients
- 1 cup yellow squash, diced into small cubes
- 1/2 cup zucchini squash, diced into small cubes
- 1/2 cup okra, sliced into thin rounds
- 1/3 cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Pompeian White Wine Vinegar
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Tofu Mayo Ingredients
- 7 oz extra firm tofu, pressed to remove as much water as you can
- 3 tbsp Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Pompeian White Wine Vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Veggie Dog Ingredients
- 6 pretzel buns (sub any kind of bun you prefer)
- 6 veggie hot dogs or sausages
Dice your squash, okra, onion, and garlic. Add these ingredients to a large jar. Set aside.
Heat a small pot with your water, Pompeian White Wine Vinegar, coconut sugar, salt, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and fennel seeds over medium-high heat until boiling. Stir occasionally. Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before pouring into the jar with your squash and okra.
Let the jar cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour before sealing and transferring to the refrigerator. I suggest allowing the relish to pickle for at least 6 hours before serving. (AKA. make this the night before!)
Use a paper towel to press your tofu until nearly all of the water is released.
Transfer your tofu to the base of a blender or a bowl (to use an immersion blender). Add in all other tofu mayo ingredients and blend until smooth.
Toast and cook your pretzel buns and veggie dogs on a panini press, grill, or skillet until the buns are toasty and the veggie dogs are cooked through.
Slather tofu mayo over the sides of the pretzel bun, add in your veggie dog, and top it with summer relish!
* Tofu Mayo recipe is adapted from this one from the NY Times.
We’re starting week two of our road trip, and thus far we haven’t stayed in a place for longer than one night. That means I’ve been spending a lot of time in a car (not moving) and a lot of time packing and un packing my car. It’s hard to fit in time for self care, like time alone and working out in the midst of this schedule. And as it often happens, this lack of time and space for myself has lead me to a very negative headspace when it comes to food and my body.
I figured I’d end up here. These mental patterns become predictable after you’ve dealt with them for a while. I’ve always likened eating disorder recovery and distorted body image recovery with alcoholism. You don’t just magically get better and never deal with it again. It’s a day by day commitment, and sometimes a day by day struggle. Maybe it will never go away fully, but it definitely gets easier with time.
Even with the knowledge that I’d probably end up back in my old patterns of degrading mental language and judgement when it comes to my body, I always forget how hard it can feel to get out of. There are days it can paralyze me.
This morning I sat in front of a mirror – poked and prodded at my arms – and with tears in my eyes, thought that I’d like to go back to bed and skip the whole day. I can still make myself feel like I’d like to give my body back, and just check out of the human experience.
When I write those words out, I can hear them and acknowledge how terribly sad and harsh they are. The healthy side of me comes out to comfort the recovering side of me. I hold myself close and remind myself of all of the important things happening in the world and my place in that mix. The world is so big and my arm fat is so small.
But in the moment that can be hard to see, it can be hard to acknowledge, so I’ve developed a system for working through these feelings on days when they arise. I thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever find yourself in a negative funk…
- Remind yourself that despite everything you are feeling, the sun still shines and coffee still pours. Get out of bed and make the coffee. Feel the sun on your face.
- Put on an outfit you KNOW you are comfortable in. Don’t push fashion boundaries today. Sweats will do. But just put them on.
- Eat a breakfast with protein, fat and carbs. Do it within a reasonable time frame of waking up. I know this can be hard if you’ve ever dealt with food restriction, and avoiding breakfast is a pattern. That’s precisely the reason you have to do it.
- Tell someone that you are struggling. Whoever you are with that day. Or if you are alone, text someone who will understand. (I promise that someone you know will understand.)
- If you have time to exercise, do that. If you don’t, try to go on a walk. If you don’t have time for either, take some very deep breaths and remember that time moves quickly and you can move your body tomorrow.
- Turn on a playlist you love – dance, scream, sing, cry. Feel your feelings.
- Buy yourself the green juice or the kombucha or the lavender latte or whatever the heck will bring you momentary joy. Momentary joy is still joy.
- Eat a salad. Your body likes green things.
- If you are presented with a meal situation that feels indulgent (even if that’s a mental lie) like these Summer Relish Veggie Dogs, give yourself the permission to eat without guilt. Withhold judgement of yourself until the next day (I promise you won’t feel the same tomorrow.)
- Go to bed. Early. Sleep heals most things.
I love you and your body, and I hope you can give the same love back to yourself. I know that I am going to. Be gentle with yourself. And eat all the delicious summer foods while you still can. xo.