On the night of day 12, we had plans to have happy hour at Seattle’s Plum Bistro, a vegan restaurant known for its unpretentious comfort food, and I was dying to be inspired by the visit. Let me tell ya, Plum Bistro did not disappoint. My hubs and I both ordered their Spicy Cajun Mac and Yease, and—I have to be honest here—even though it was vegan, it was better than any mac and cheese I’d ever had in the entire 40 years I’ve been alive. It wasn’t gooey, but had nice chunks of creamy goodness, and a wonderful mouth feel. It was rich and tasty, and the spice was warming, but not hot. The happy hour portion was small, but that was a good thing, even just a small bowl was deeply satisfying. Especially when eaten alongside a side dish, which we did, as we shared the Rosemary Garlic Russet Fries, which were also heavenly.
As my eyes rolled back in my head in ecstasy, I snuck peaks around the room. People were eating various things like little vegan sliders, and pizza. You know, happy food. Everyone seemed content. As were we.
Then came time to put Plum Bistro to the ultimate test: dessert. If you remember my sad vegan bakery experience from a few weeks ago, then you know that dessert needed redemption, and I hoped Plum would nail it. We ordered the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse drizzled in chocolate glaze with salted caramel sauce, and waited expectantly, praying. When it came, it was beautiful, artfully arranged on a white plate. My hubs and I looked at each other as if to say, This is it, then we both picked up a small spoon and carved off a spoonful. I lifted it to my lips and slid the spoon over my tongue, and…whoa. Mind blown. Dessert had been redeemed. Angels sang, and God-rays came down from the heavens. It was seriously amazeballs.
Inspired, I marched up to the hostess’ desk after dinner and flipped through their cookbook. It looked simple enough, which was good, because I get turned off by cookbooks with long ingredients lists and complicated instructions. I knew that if I bought the book, it would help me learn techniques to make tastier vegan food, which I desperately needed, so I whipped out my wallet and did it. I planned on spending as much time with the book as I could.
The next morning and afternoon, my headaches were back with a vengeance, because I drank a fruit smoothie for breakfast and had rice with veggies for lunch, and learned the hard way that any meal that digests quickly because it has fruit or white starch as the base will lead me to a horrible sugar crash. I pushed through my headache and forced myself to go grocery shopping, even though I could barely concentrate. I piled my cart with ingredients, then headed home, and started reading the Plum cookbook, choosing to start with some food prep that would give me a head start on recipes for the week, making flavor base sauces and roasting tons of veggies. I spent a few hours doing this, but it was worth it. The very next night I made a gluten-free, vegan flatbread pizza, inspired by the Plum cookbook (using their vegan Basil Walnut Pesto as a flavor base), but with different embellishments, like roasted zucchini squash. Here’s a pic. It was tasty, and filling, and I was really proud of myself. Slowly, I was getting the hang of this thing.
The next day I made Plum’s Yam Sliders (minus the tofu—I’m terribly soy intolerant) and those were so good. Slices of savory, spiced roasted yam as a sandwich filling is genius, dontcha think? I also made the Mushroom Sliders—they’re designed to taste like barbecued pulled-pork—but I left off the onions, due to an allergy, and subbed in sauerkraut, which was actually delicious with the vegan aioli. These sliders are sooooo satisfying that I’d serve them to company in a heart-beat, vegan or not. Hubs, who had gone back to eating meat last week, was genuinely impressed by their meaty goodness. Score!
Meanwhile, the clumsiness and balance issues I experienced last week have gone away, and the headaches have been abating. They haven’t been as bad as last week, though I have noticed that when I eat Japanese seaweed salad (called goma wakame), they go away completely. A quick analysis on Wolfram Alpha tells me that about 4 tablespoons of wakame (the seaweed ingredient), has about 10% of my recommended daily requirement of folate, among other nutrients. I have no idea if the folate is helping my headaches directly, or if I’m simply getting more calories, but hey, it works! I’m taking supplements too, so I’m covering myself from all possible angles, but the supplements don’t seem to prevent the headaches. Hmmm. Luckily, other things have helped make them better. I’m also throwing chickpeas in my salad side-dishes, to boost my protein and calorie intake, and have noticed that helps keep the headaches at bay as well.
If you’ve been following these blog posts for a few weeks, you’ve inferred by now that I’ve reintroduced wheat products into my diet, because eating a soy-free, wheat-free vegan diet was too limiting for me. So I’m eating a small portion of bread once a day, for the time being. It hasn’t resulted in joint pains yet, which happens when I eat wheat several times a day. Soon though, I’ll be making an effort to get better at wheat-free vegan baking—maybe I’ll even tackle that tomorrow.
In the meantime I’m eating better, and feeling better. Tonight I might even make Plum Bistro’s Smoky Mac (not their Mac and Yease, which is a super-duper top-secret recipe), though I’ll have to use some wizardry to make a soy-free version. I look forward to reporting on that soon. And I’m praying I won’t destroy my kitchen too much. Um…
Wish me luck!