It's been exactly a year since my last post. I've still been blogging...ish. Mostly, I've shared my thoughts on Instagram, where I'm pretty active. But recently, I was looking for a recipe and realized I'd never published it. I didn't have a good picture to go with it, so I just never posted. I have little natural light in my house now, so my food pics are even worse than ever. And I feel the pressure to have at least one good photo on a post.

But more about why I want to blog again. I have things to say! I have recipes to share (and save)! I want to get my money's worth out of this website I'm paying for!

And now for a bit more about why I stopped blogging. I didn't just stop blogging here. I also stopped blogging (after almost six years) for the Nashville Scene's Bites blog around this time last year. I hit a wall. I had things to say, but became unable to type out coherent thoughts.

I was exhausted. The restaurant scene in Nashville exploded during that time and I found myself writing the easy posts about new restaurants rather than writing thoughtfully about food. Though I wrote a few things I'm really proud of, including a series on school lunches (here, here, and here) and a piece on carp. I wanted to write for the audience, but I became less and less interested in all the new restaurants and unsure of exactly what readers cared about. Based on web traffic, my posts were still interesting to readers (well, some of my posts), but reader engagement really fell with a new comment system a while back, so I lost a valuable method of feedback. It's a shame that this post about coconut oil no longer includes the 200-ish comments from people who took it way too seriously. Or the comments from those who didn't get the humor in Nashville's most vegetarian un-friendly restaurants.

Also, with all the new restaurants and the attention Nashville was getting nationally, the camaraderie among food writers was turning into something less amicable. Though I was never interested in breaking news, there was competition among others and a tenseness I didn't enjoy. There's also (is or was; I'm not sure because I stopped paying attention) a boys' club in Nashville of writers, bloggers, and chefs that was just so tiresome. I don't care about meat, barbecue, hot chicken, whatever and all the back-slapping and glad-handing that came along with their discussions. Not to mention that they all think making fun of vegans and vegetarians is cute/clever/funny. It's not; it's uncreative and shows an inferiority complex. Cooking meat is easy (I know; I did it for almost ten years and I can still perfectly sear a scallop and braise a pork chop); cooking vegetables and making them taste great is a lot more difficult. Side note: most of the best restaurants in Nashville are led by women. They are generally too damn busy to care if they're being written about.

I also grew tired of dealing with the daily onslaught of emails from PR reps. It was so voluminous that I was missing emails important to my actual life. I wasn't managing that well at all. They're just doing their jobs, but so many of them were not doing them well. I got way too many pitches about meat-heavy restaurants and events. Y'all, it's not hard to learn a little bit about me.

Anyway, I hope I will get back to blogging regularly. Share some of these recipes in my drafts folder even if my picture is unusually terrible. Maybe update you on the handful of things my child will eat other than bean and cheese burritos. Maybe even tell you about some of the new restaurants in Nashville that I've actually visited!

Oh, geez, it's been so long since I've written a blog post, that I now have a ton of stuff in the queue to write about. Twitter and Instagram make it so much easier to share things that I love quickly, but sometimes, I need a little more room to fit all my praises.

bfreebagelFirst up, let me tell you about BFree gluten-free breads. I'm not GF, but I am always interested in breads that have more nutrition and fiber than conventional wheat-based breads. BFree breads do not contain wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts or soy (all the major allergens) and are all vegan. But they do contain other ingredients like pea and buckwheat flours, flaxseeds, and other nutritious and fiber-filled elements. The BFree product line is huge, so there is a little something for everyone, regardless if you're gluten-free or just want breads with a higher dietary fiber level, more protein, or lower glycemic index.

When I expressed some interest (after hearing that they're now carried at Publix), the folks at BFree generously shipped me a box full of products, so I got to try everything! Because there are white and "brown" versions of just about all their products, there are some taste and texture variations. The white breads are definitely better suited for folks who miss traditional white breads. They're all delicious, but not quite as nutritious as the seeded and brown products. It's also worth noting that you need to keep them refrigerated because they are free of synthetic preservatives, so they can mold quickly in a humid kitchen. My favorites are the pita (virtually indistinguishable from wheat pita), bagels (far better than other GF bagels I've tried and very similar to other grocery brands as far as taste and texture), and the rolls (heartier than most dinner rolls, so they're more satisfying and filling). Find out where you can purchase them with their store locator.

Nocciolata-Dairy-FreeNext up is Nocciolata Dairy-Free, an organic hazelnut and cocoa spread. There's a milk version of it, too, but I tried the vegan version. I loved it. Though I must admit that I ate the entire jar (not at once!) with just a spoon. I didn't make anything with it. It was just really satisfying to eat it that way. It's perfectly sweet (not too sweet), so I didn't get a headache from eating it (or a sugar rush); it was just pure hazelnut and cocoa flavor. Insanely delicious. Perfect texture.

I also recently tried Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk. I really hadn't intended to, but my local store was out of my favorite So Delicious Coconut Milk. I have to say, I'm really impressed. I don't know that I'd love the other almond milks they produce (almond milks are a little too...earthy may be the word...for my taste), but I really loved the toasted coconut version. I like it straight, but I also love it mixed with my tea.

IMG_4450Lastly, I'm all about Nasoya tofu these days. If you're sensing a theme, you guessed it: these are all vegan products. I've gotten less tolerant for dairy recently (cheese and yogurt are fine, but I've been off dairy milk for 15 years and recently phased out dairy-based ice cream). Nasoya's silken tofu is great in a smoothie that really works as a meal replacement since it's packed with protein. It needs some strong fruit flavors (like frozen strawberries) to cover up the soy taste, though. I mix it with coconut milk, too. And I still LOVE the sesame ginger baked tofu. Recently, I made a dinner of steamed broccoli with zucchini and carrot noodles, tossed with Soy Vay toasted sesame dressing and topped with the sesame ginger tofu (cut into cubes) and sprinkled with Eden Foods seaweed gomasio. Truly fantastic dinner.