WIAW: Ashley Lately

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately–my Thanksgiving break started on Thursday afternoon and since then I’ve been busy writing papers (why do professors make assignments due right after break?), cleaning the house before my grandparents come for T-day (I haven’t seen them since my high school graduation 2 1/2 years ago!), doing a butt load of grocery shopping and just enjoying my time off. I definitely needed to come back in time for WIAW though! Especially since it’s just before American Thanksgiving and I have a couple of recipes to share 😀

How appropriate–my most loved veggie shaped like a heart!

Garnet yams and sweet potatoes are my fave veggie right now, other than kale. Or maybe cauliflower. Anyways, I think I love sweet potatoes because they’re one of the few veggies where it’s totally normal to top them with sweet things. I went with raisins and maple almond butter this time, and it was a great combo.

Not food, but I can’t resist cute Christmas things!

I am such a sucker for all things Christmas, whether it’s a limited edition holiday coconut milk drink, or an adorable decorated Kleenex box. I realize these things tend to be overpriced, but Christmas only comes once a year. Why not live it up with a snowman tissue box 😉

Halfway through the longest paper I’ve ever had to write!

As much as I like to write, I don’t like it enough to be able to breeze through a 4000 word term paper. Ironically, this is for one of my journalism classes and in all journalism, specifically broadcast journalism which is my (hopefully) future career, the writing is very short and to the point. None of this 20 page paper bull shit  crap. At least I’m interested in the topic I’m writing about, it’s just incredibly time-consuming. But I literally only started this paper on Friday, so I’ve gotten pretty far. This calls for a coffee break…

Speaking of Christmas…my favorite Starbucks holiday drink.

Most people even hate or love peppermint. I personally love it, especially combined with chocolate. So it’s no secret that I love Starbucks’ soy peppermint mocha. And now I love it even more that they offer a skinny version. I like sweet things, but their normal version is way too sweet so I like that they have a sugar-free version so it’s not too overpowering.

I love the Christmas Pandora stations.

Speaking of Christmas, it’s definitely not too early for me to start playing Christmas music. I started a week ago, when Sirius XM started playing their holiday stations again and now I’m listening to it daily, almost non-stop. It just puts me in a good mood, even when I’m mad because I got a crap ton of work to do over break.

Another take on the easy-as-pizza cinnamon roll.

Remember when I made cinnamon rolls out of pizza dough? Cinnamon rolls have always intimidated me but when you make them with fresh dough, they are beyond easy to make and customize. This time I went with a pumpkin chocolate chip combo and it was even better than the original maple pecan rolls.

Pumpkin Chip Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)

half ball of fresh multigrain dough (can use gluten-free)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave or coconut nectar)

sprinkle cinnamon, to taste

powdered stevia, to taste

1/2 tbsp mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix dough with sweetener to taste. Roll out dough on floured cutting board until about 1 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Mix pumpkin, maple syrup and cinnamon in a small bowl until thick and paste-like and spread on dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and roll into a thick log, pinching ends. Cut into 6 small rolls with a floured knife and place in sprayed baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown on top. Serve warm from the oven topped with pumpkin butter, protein frosting or more maple syrup.

The return of the hipster glasses…

Remember when kids used to be made fun of for wearing glasses? I find it so funny that now it’s actually fashionable to wear them. These aren’t my real glasses, but they are my new favorite accessory. They add a nerdy chic touch to any outfit and I just think they’re fun.

Latest dinner obsession: pineapple fried quinoa.

I hope I never get sick of this dinner, because it is just so damn good! I think if I keep mixing around the ingredients, I could eat this forever. I’ve had it three times since last Wednesday and each time it’s been a little bit different. One time I topped it with peanut flour paste and had red cabbage and kale in it, then I had cauliflower in it and the other time I had sweet potato chunks and kale in it. Sooooooo good, so easy.

With gorgeous weather like this, I can’t complain too much.

If you’ve never been to Colorado, you probably think we’re the land of snow and cold, at least in the fall and winter. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the mountains get dumped on but here on the Front Range, we get temps in the 60s into November and December sometimes (I remember a couple of days this past January that were nearly 70!). We almost never get a white Christmas (we’re more likely to get a white Easter) and Thanksgiving Day is usually pretty warm. It’s been sunny and gorgeous all week and I’m loving it. As much as I want to move somewhere like California or Arizona for even warmer weather, I do love it here. And I get to see the beautiful mountains every day!

Can you believe I’m just trying spaghetti squash now? Crazy talk.

Guys. Why did I never try spaghetti squash until now? It’s so good, and really interesting. I like pasta and noodle dishes, but it’s all about the sauce and toppings. Spag squash makes for a great noodle replacement because it’s a fiber-filled veggie with a light taste that goes with red sauce, Asian sauces and pretty much anything. This version featured cauliflower, a spicy peanut flour-based sauce and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Gooooooooood stuff!

My latest lotion obsession: BBW sweet cinnamon pumpkin.

I go crazy over seasonal scented lotions. Bath and Body Works is my lifesaver–they have so many yummy scents at a decent price and they introduce new ones all the time. This one was new this year, and I hope they never stop making it. It’s just great, period. Please go smell this now if you haven’t.

Do you like seasonal products? What’s the longest paper you’ve ever had to write? 

College Vegan on a Budget: Doubling Up

One in a series of posts about how I stay on a budget while getting my fill of healthy, vegan foods from higher-end stores.

As it is the week before Thanksgiving break (hollllllla!) I was in a bit of a pickle. I was running out of some things I need weekly (almond butter, kale, nuts, olives, almond milk) but I didn’t want to make a big stock-up trip and end up wasting money on things I won’t be able to use up in a week or be able to keep around until after break. I knew I couldn’t really live on what was left in my fridge unless I wanted to be totally restrictive and veggie-less for the week so I made the trip to Whole Foods…twice! Yeah, crazy, I know, but one of those times I went with my mom when she came up with the rest of my family for the weekend and the other time was a semi-emergency trip.

All this stuff should last me through this Thursday, and some of it I should be able to take home with me over Thanksgiving or just leave here without risking food poisoning. And I didn’t spend too much, which is a total win!

*=organic

New find, just in time for the holidays! And it’s fair trade!

Whole Foods (trip 1)

What I Got: dark chocolate covered raisins* (a fear food of mine I wanted to challenge–they had pretty clean ingredients so I went for it), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze pack (ran out of AB, needed a quick fix for a couple of days), Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (OMG, so good, look for a review of it soon), Theo peppermint dark chocolate bar (splurge, but it’s worth it for good chocolate)

What It Cost Me: $32.15 (I had a $5 off coupon for the protein powder, score!)

Verdict: I could have maybe skipped the chocolate and the raisins, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could go outside my comfort zone and buy a couple items I’ve been wanting for awhile but haven’t been brave enough to try. The protein powder was a total leap of faith (I’ve had the brand before, but a different flavor) but it was worth the money–great taste, good nutritional profile, awesome ingredients. 

My bigger Whole Foods haul, with plenty of produce and staples.

Whole Foods (trip 2)

What I Got: Pacific Naturals vanilla unsweetened almond milk*, Rising Moon garlic merlot pasta sauce (my favorite brand for sauce)*, Made in Nature dried pineapple and apple* (on sale!), Truvia, Farmer’s Market boxed pumpkin*, Maranatha maple almond butter (new favorite AB), maple covered almonds, Nada Moo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, Celestial Seasonings vanilla red rooibos tea, green kale* (also on sale), 2 small bananas, green figs*, bulk olives

What It Cost Me: $47.23 (not bad!)

Verdict: I am so happy I stayed just under $80 for this week’s groceries (this is a new goal of mine for every week) and I got a lot of good stuff I was out of so this was a much-needed trip. Even better, we went at night so the store was not crowded at all!

Like I said above, I want to try to stick to a budget of $80 a week on groceries (I think I can do it!) and this week showed that I can do it, even buying more expensive items like the protein powder and vegan ice cream. I know there are certain things I don’t want to give up, because the higher price is worth the health benefits and taste, but I also know there are ways I can keep whittling down my budget to consistently stay around the $80 mark each week.

If you use protein powder, do you buy it online or from a store? What are some things you can’t live without every week?

WIAW: Protein-Packed, Plant Style

Any current or former vegetarians and vegans out there know this question all too well: “So where do you get your protein?” To most omnis, protein is only found in meat, eggs and dairy products. But as we all know, protein is found in pretty much everything, from kale to cacao nibs. Yes, there are actually 3 grams of protein in a one ounce serving of cacao nibs, which is all the more reason to enjoy chocolate 😉 Anyways, the point is, even strict vegans don’t need to worry much about adequate protein consumption as long as they’re consuming enough calories as well. However, I do love a lot of plant-based protein sources–I love me some healthy carbs, but I can’t survive on those alone. Last year, when I was just starting out on my vegan journey, I gravitated more towards carbs, which is okay, but nowadays I have a much better balance of fats, protein and carbs and I feel a lot more energized. If I had to categorize my macros, I’d say I’m usually around 45% carbs, 20-25% protein and 30-35% fats. That’s a big change, especially in the fats department, but I’m definitely embracing protein a lot more today too.

That being said, here are Monday’s protein-packed, plant-based eats. Note: I am a big fan of plant protein powders (not soy-based ones, but ones made from sprouted quinoa/rice, pea and cranberry proteins, like Vega and Sunwarrior) and I use them frequently, but I don’t think they’re a necessity in a plant-based diet. I use them (along with peanut flour, which isn’t really a protein powder but just concentrated peanut protein that tastes AMAZING) because I like how they taste and that they give me a protein boost for relatively fewer calories. Yes, I will admit that I still have a fear of eating ‘enough’, mostly because I don’t know what ‘enough’ is for me and it’s scary to change our habits. I do like whole food sources of protein, but protein powders are fun and tasty and I always choose the less processed versions.

Breakfast: banana bread in a bowl. Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder, half of a mashed banana, almond milk, mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, topped with Maranatha maple almond butter.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with banana bread. I’ve been fulfilling that craving with making my protein microwave cakes with a banana mashed in and adding chocolate chips. Maybe you won’t believe me, but this legit reminds me of banana bread. The best part is the gooey banana and chocolate, and the melty nut butter on top. Swoooon…

Protein: 19 grams

Lunch: pumpkin curry socca pizza topped with kale and red cabbage, side of black grapes and Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate square.

Socca is a great way to have pizza while still getting in some great protein. I love loading up my pizzas with veggies, and since I don’t eat cheese, most traditional pizzas don’t have much in the way of protein. But socca does, and I love it! Today’s version had a pumpkin curry sauce (made by mixing pumpkin puree and a premade coconut curry sauce) and was topped with sauteed kale and crunchy red cabbage. Perfect combo!

Protein: 8 grams

Afternoon snack: peanut and buckwheat flour waffle, topped with maple almond butter and vegan chocolate mousse.

You guys already know I have an insane obsession with homemade waffles. I love everything about them–the toppings, the texture, the endless flavor options, the flour choices. This one was made with a mix of (mostly) peanut flour and a little buckwheat flour and then topped with my new favorite almond butter and some mousse from the Whole Foods dessert section (it has a really great ingredients list of just dark chocolate, tofu and maple syrup). I added in a bit of banana and some more chocolate chips into the batter and it was just too good.

Protein: 14 grams

Dinner: pineapple fried quinoa, with edamame and (unpictured) Kaia raw sprouted “party mix” pumpkin seeds, unpictured side of kabocha squash dipped in organic ketchup.

Guys, this may be my new favorite dinner (other than waffles). I made it for the first time around my birthday back in July and made it a few times shortly after, but then forgot about it as I was moving into my apartment and starting school again. I randomly decided I wanted to make it again and I am so glad I rediscovered it. It is really so simple, but tastes crazy good. The best part is, it’s packed with protein from whole foods sources–edamame, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.

Protein: 11 grams

Dessert: PB Puffins mixed with peanut flour, almond milk, raisins and mini chocolate chips, unpictured side of peppermint dark chocolate square and Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds.

I don’t have cereal as much anymore, but I still have a soft spot for PB Puffins. They’re just so…addictingly good. Now when I have cereal, I like to add in some protein powder or peanut flour in with the almond milk to make it more substantial. This particular bowl was very peanutty, but good, even for a girl who hates peanut butter (but loves peanut otherwise).

Protein: 11 grams

The total protein count for the day was 63 grams! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s right in line (actually a little higher) than Fitsugar’s chart on protein needs based on weight and activity levels. And for me, it’s about double the protein that I was eating a year ago so I consider that a major success! And it just goes to show that vegans can get enough protein, without having to eat a ton of soy (I only had half a serving on Monday) or even a lot of supplements (I only used one full scoop of protein powder the entire day).

Do you ever track your protein consumption? What’s your favorite plant-based protein source? 

WIAW: Tricks & Treats

I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween (can it just be Christmas already?) but I had to tie in this week’s WIAW with it. Well, at least a little bit. I’m not going to be dressing up, other than for my campus TV station’s special Halloween live show (I’m reporting on the weather!), or indulging in any candy, but I do have some product reviews for you this week. How’s that for a treat 😉 Plus I’ve been kinda burned out on food lately–some of my favorites haven’t been sounding so appealing sometimes so it’s been kind of boring on the eating front so I decided to do this instead of a usual WIAW.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Whole Foods canned pumpkin.

I usually buy the Farmer’s Market brand of canned pumpkin, because it’s organic and the cans are BPA-free, plus they now come in boxes which is even better than cans. But I spotted the 365 brand of canned pumpkin and couldn’t pass it up since it was a dollar cheaper than my usual brand. When I opened the can, the pumpkin was more orange and a bit runnier than the Farmer’s Market pumpkin, but it tastes about the same. I might just stick with my favorite brand though because I like the fact that there’s no BPA.

I originally took the coffee maker my dad used when I moved into my apartment 2 months ago because he said he wasn’t using it very much. I didn’t mind that one, but it made way more coffee than I needed at one time. So when my dad said he wanted his coffee maker back, I was more than happy to return it in exchange for a brand new one. I got this baby for under $20 at Kohls…isn’t it adorable?  It only makes one serving’s worth of coffee which is great for a single lady like me. And it works perfectly, so I’m happy. Plus I like that it’s green, and not black like the other one. What can I say, I’m a sucker for bright colors!

Saturday’s shopping outfit: grey lace tee (Hollister), fish necklace (American Eagle), burgundy jeggings (Hollister).

I bought these jeggings last weekend because I was in desperate need of some more jeans. I paid more than I would have liked for them, but they fit great and the dark red color goes with a lot. I can’t complain!

Maranatha raw maple almond butter.

My go-to brand of nut butter has been Archer Farms for quite awhile. I love their almond peanut cashew butter, it’s so creamy and nutty. But–surprise–it was one of the recalled nut butters under the salmonella scare. So I’ve been APCB-less for a month or so, and it’s been sad. I especially loved it because it was pretty cheap for an all-natural, nothing-added nut butter. I finally decided to try this Maranatha variety after seeing it on a few blogs. And while it’s no almond peanut cashew butter, it’s really good! It’s not overly sweet, but I prefer it over the Justin’s maple almond butter. And it’s only a couple bucks more than my favorite, so I guess that’s not too bad.

Tessemae’s vegan hot wing sauce.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a buffalo wings fan, not even when I was omni. However, you all know my love for all things spicy. I was in the market for a new dressing, and when I saw this one on the shelf at Whole Foods, I knew I’d love it. It has very simple ingredients, basically just lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and spices. You know it’s good stuff because it separates and hardens up…gotta love all-natural foods with all their quirks! P.S. This stuff is amazing massaged on kale!

Letting my nerdy side show!

I have been dying to get a pair of reader’s glasses since they first came into vogue. I don’t know if you think they’re cute or not, but I sure do! I bought my pair for 15 bucks at American Eagle and it is the best 15 bucks I’ve ever spent. I love the tortoiseshell print and how they add a hipster touch to any outfit. Best part is, I can wear them with my contacts since they’re not real glasses, just a fashion accessory!

So Delicious no sugar added chocolate coconut milk ice cream.

My usual coconut milk ice cream brand is Nadamoo, and I love all their flavors and pronounceable ingredients, and they’re much cheaper than most coconut milk ice creams. But when I saw the So Delicious no sugar added variety for the same price, I had to give it a try. This stuff is a little less creamy than Nadamoo, but it’s only 100 calories for 1/2 cup and has just 1 gram of sugar–the rest is all erythritol, which is a natural no calorie sweetener. It tastes basically like a Fudgesicle, which I loved, but I wish they had had one of their other NSA flavors available for me to try since I usually go for more exciting flavors. Guess I can always jazz it up with toppings though!

Feather print jeggings from American Eagle.

Two new pairs of jeggings within a week?! A year ago, this never would have happened. I was scared to death of tight-fitting jeans because I hated my legs (still kinda do) and I didn’t want them to look big in skinny jeans. But around Christmas last year, I finally caved and bought a pair of dark wash jeggings from American Eagle…and finally fell in love with them. I now have 4 pairs and am definitely embracing the trend. I prefer the pairs with more structure, like pockets and zippers and actually made from denim or a thicker material so they look more like jeans. I love this new pair because it’s very unique but it’ll still go with everything because it’s in a dark color, I think feathers are cool and these fit perfectly. American Eagle is definitely my favorite store for jeggings, they always fit me just right. And they were $15 on clearance, you can’t pass that up!

So Delicious mint chocolate coconut milk.

Too soon for the holiday-inspired drinks? Never! I’d been dreaming of Silk’s mint chocolate soy milk since last Christmas, but now that I don’t do soy milk (too processed) I was excited for a different nondairy version. And So Delicious definitely delivered! I’d never had refrigerated coconut milk before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but this was pretty thick without being overwhelming. The flavor was perfectly sweet and partly sweetened with stevia so that lowered the sugar content a lot! There’s only 50 calories in half a cup which makes it a perfect lower calorie sub for Starbucks peppermint mochas! And as a huge mint chocolate lover, I totally approve of this drink!

What kind of jeans or pants do you like to wear? Do you drink holiday-type beverages?

5 Ingredient “Raw”nola

So I decided to make it my goal this summer to try to post at least one recipe per week. I’d really like to do a weekly recipe round-up of all the recipes I’ve made in that week but that probably won’t be happening, since I have a lot of recipe mishaps. Most of the things I make are at least edible, if not yummy, but sometimes they don’t turn out as well as I hoped they would and I don’t post them because they aren’t amazing. Like the sour ‘cream’ and onion kale chips I made last weekend. They weren’t half bad and I loved how the dehydrator made them perfectly crispy, but the flavor wasn’t exactly reminiscent of sour cream and onion.

This “raw”nola on the other hand is delicious. It’s got just enough sweetness with a touch of nuttiness and I like that it came out in huge clumps. The clusters are always my favorite part of granola! Plus it’s (mostly) raw and has only 5 simple ingredients. And it’s so easy a 4 year old could make it.

Mmmm, look at those clusters!

Sunny “Raw”nola (vegan, raw)

1 cup oats (could use oat groats)

1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds

1 tbsp raw almond butter (or other raw nut butter)

1/4 cup agave (I used honey vanilla flavored agave)

pinch sea salt

In a large bowl, stir together the oats and seeds. Add the almond butter, agave and salt until they coat the oats and seeds and form a sticky mixture. Spoon large clumps onto a lined dehydrator tray (I used a round wax paper cut-out) and spread out until granola is about 1/2 inch high. Dehydrate for 4-6 hours, then set granola out to air dry for 1 hour. Store in a plastic bag/container or enjoy with almond milk. Makes about 2 cups.

What’s your favorite granola flavor? 

Best of…May! (and an award)

Uh, yeah, so how crazy is it that it’s already June? Where has this year gone? I can’t believe that last month at this time, I was stressing about finals and projects. Now I’m stressing (sorta) about my internship and packing. More on those later though!

Best New Find: Justin’s vanilla almond butter and So Delicious almond milk ice cream

Probably the best dollar I’ve ever spent!

Last month I discovered sooooooo many new-to-me products, it was a little crazy. Not that I’m complaining, though–one of my favorite things to do is buy new products and try them out. Sure, sometimes they disappoint but in other cases (like with the nut butter and ice cream), they were beyond amazing.

Best Discussion: Eating Comes at a Cost

I know I’ve said this before, but you guys are the best! Seriously, I’ve been loving all the responses I’ve gotten so far. I am very passionate about issues like this but these kinds of posts are always hard for me to publish because I worry about the backlash. You guys are always really respectful and thoughtful in your comments, though, which is great!

Best Recipe: Peanut Flour Pancakes

How delicious do these look?

Not gonna lie, this was muy dificil to decide on! Considering I had a record number of recipes in May (12 of them!) I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just one. But these protein-packed, peanutty pancakes are something I’ve been coming back to over and over. They’re simple to make but taste almost gourmet.

Best Non-Food Post: Work It Out

Hiking in snow…in the summer?!

Even though my blog is usually about food, I definitely have other interests, like fashion and fitness! I really liked sharing my favorite ways to workout and even though none of them involve the gym, I’ve come to realize that no one way to exercise is better than another.

Best Photo

I don’t know why, but this is just a gorgeous photo!

A lot of you commented on this photo and said you liked it. Well, I do too! Instagram is my favorite app, hands down, and this photo just speaks to me somehow.

And now for the award ceremony 😉 Hahaha, just kidding, but both Aja and Kat nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award. Thanks, ladies!

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
2. Answer these 10 questions, below, for fun if you want to.
3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs 
(I was too slow.) you enjoy. Or you pick the number.
4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.
5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.

1. What is your favorite color?

Pink, for sure! I love hot pink, light pink, whatever shade. I also love orange, especially paired with pink.

2. What is your favorite animal?

This is really hard, but I’m gonna go with rabbits. I think bunnies are the cutest thing ever, especially the lop-eared kind. I really want to get a bunny for a pet someday.

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Iced coffee, no milk and sweetened with flavored stevia. I just discovered that Panera has this as a drink option by the soda machines…score!

4. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter! I love reading really short updates (I have a short attention span) and funny tweets (like by Condescending Wonka).

5. What is your favorite pattern?

Is lace a pattern? If it is, that’s what I choose. I have a few lacy pieces that I really love–they’re girly and cute but still elegant.

6. Do you prefer giving or getting presents? 

Not gonna lie, getting presents is better. I do love giving presents, but getting them is just so exciting!

7. What is your favorite number?

7 or 11. I like 7 because I was born on July 27th, and I like 11 because it rhymes with 7 😀

8. What is your favorite day of the week? 

I probably would have said Saturday a month ago, but now that I intern on that day, I’ll go with Friday. It’s not quite as special during the summer, but it’s still great.

9. What is your favorite flower? 

I like those huge, brightly-colored daisies!

10. What is your passion?

Clothes and grocery shopping, being outside and yoga.

Now it’s time for some nominations!

Alexandra She just started a new blog all about lifting and life in general. I loved her old blog and I have a feeling I’m gonna love this one even more!

Tessa I can always relate to her ED posts and she always has the best insights! I love her honesty and she really takes the time to respond to her reader’s comments, which I think is awesome.

Chloe I am super jealous of her cooking skills! Her food photography always makes me drool, too.

Amy Lauren I wish I could be an amazing runner like she is! She’s also a really great writer, and her race recaps are fun to read.

Lena I love that she’s from Colorado too, and I’m jealous that she gets to go to all these cool Denver-area restaurants! She’s also an awesome runner.

What was the best workout you did in May? What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

So Many Products, So Little Time

It’s probably no secret that I absolutely love product reviews. I’ve done them a few times on my blog and I also like reading them on other blogs so I know what’s worth trying out and what’s not. It’s so much fun trying out new things and since I know a lot of you like product reviews too, I like to be able to share my unbiased opinions.

Lately I’ve been able to buy more new products and test them out, so I’m gonna share a bunch of them right now!

So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Plus

Like I mentioned in my last WIAW post, I’ve been trying out different almond milks lately. I’ve had my eye on this one since I first heard about it, but had yet to see it anywhere until my mom made a stop at Walmart and I noticed it there. Yep, Walmart of all places has a pretty decent selection of almond milks. Who knew? I opted for this one instead of the Silk unsweetened vanilla I was planning on getting since this one seems to be pretty rare. I like that it’s unsweetened, has some vitamins (not enough calcium though, boo!) and even has 5 grams of protein per cup. I always need a little extra protein and since I don’t do soy milk much anymore, it’s great to find an almond milk that has some. It’s fairly thick for almond milk, and makes a great addition to smoothies or with cereal. I just wish they’d come out with an unsweetened vanilla kind.

Carrot cake smoothie made with So Delicious Almond Plus.

Ohgave! Honey Vanilla Agave Syrup

If you’re vegan and miss honey (I still have raw honey from time to time, as I don’t believe it harms the bees) this agave is perfect for you! I honestly wish it had more of a vanilla taste, but that’s just me. It’s the perfect drippy syrup consistency, so it works great on pancakes. I bought it because I wanted a cheaper alternative to real maple syrup and it’s great for recipes too that call for maple syrup. The company has several other flavored agaves, including blueberry, but I passed on that because it’s not as versatile as honey vanilla. I would love to try it when I run out of this one though.

Peanut flour chocolate chip pancakes drizzles with Ohgave! honey vanilla agave.

Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter

Even though it’s a local-ish company (from Boulder) I’ve never tried Justin’s nut butters. I know, I know, I’m crazy. They just never appealed to me because I prefer nut butters without added sugar or oil. However, when I saw the mini squeeze-pack of the vanilla almond butter in the Whole Foods aisle when I was checking out, I couldn’t pass it up (especially since it was just 99 cents). It tastes basically like frosting in nut butter form so it’s a definite repeat buy!

Rising Moon Organics Artichoke & Olive Ravioli

I first tried their butternut squash ravioli for Christmas Eve dinner and fell in love. I was never a huge ravioli lover as a kid, but the vegan kinds are actually super delish. I am obsessed with artichokes and olives so I knew this kind would be perfect for me. They cooked up fast and were yummy, if not strongly flavored. The insides were soft and purple, which was a little weird, but still good. I want to try their gnocchi next, since I’ve never had gnocchi before.

Rising Moon Organics vegan ravioli (not the artichoke olive one) with peanut sauce and roasted asparagus.

So Delicious Cookies ‘N Cream Almond Milk ice cream

I’ve also been on the lookout for this since So Delicious introduced almond milk ice creams a few months ago. I love Almond Dream’s cappuccino swirl almond milk ice cream but the So Delicious flavors sounded even better. I will admit I’ve been drooling over their line of coconut milk ice creams (you can’t tell me turtle trails and pomegranate chip don’t sound heavenly) but I’m scared to death of anything with coconut because of the high saturated fat content. It’s a fear I want to conquer, though, because a lot of vegan items contain coconut and from what I remember, it’s delicious. Anyways, I finally found the So Delicious almond milk ice creams at the Whole Foods I rarely go to since it’s on the other side of town. It was well worth the trip (and the 4 bucks) for this pint of deliciousness. I’ve always preferred cookies ‘n cream to cookie dough flavored things, and this version was totally creamy and cookie-packed without being overwhelming. In half a cup it only has 7 grams of sugar plus 5 grams of fiber. Try finding that in dairy ice cream! I’m excited to try the mint chip and mocha almond fudge flavors next. Who am I kidding, I want to try them all!

Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookie

I’ve always wanted to try Whole Foods vegan baked goods but since I usually shop there with my parents, I was never able to convince them to shell over a few bucks for a cookie or muffin. I like baking things myself, but when I can find relatively healthy vegan treats for a pretty low price, I’m there. When I made a quick solo stop at Whole Foods last week (when I got the vanilla almond butter and almond milk ice cream) I also bought one of their vegan chocolate chip cookies for just 99 cents. For just 170 calories, this cookie is thick, huge and delicious. Mine wasn’t as soft as I would have liked, but a quick spin in the microwave took care of that. You wouldn’t even know it’s vegan, because it’s just that good.

Do you prefer cookies ‘n cream or cookie dough? What’s the best new product you’ve bought lately?