WIAW: Branded for Life

Sadly, spring break came to an end for me and now it’s back to the daily grind. The break really got me excited for summer and I can’t wait to start my TV internship in exactly two months! I just want school to be over with already–just six and a half more weeks left in the semester. It’s actually pretty crazy how quickly this school year’s gone by for me. I can’t believe I’m almost a junior and I’ve got less than 2 months left of dorm living. Trust me, I’m not complaining though–I think I’m going to start a countdown til I move in to my apartment 😉

This WIAW, I don’t have any exciting food pictures or recipes to share with you, since I just got back from break and my dorm room eats have been sub-par but I still wanted to participate in the part-ay so I’m gonna do a little twist on the typical WIAW. This edition is all about brand loyalty, whether it’s to clothes or food or beauty products. I know most of us have some brand preferences so I wanted to share a few of mine.

Sorry for the repeat picture, but it was too good not to share twice!

When it comes to coffee, it’s Starbucks or nothing for me. Really. I’ve tried Archer Farms’ flavored coffee blends and they were just nasty. Yes, Starbucks is an expensive habit, but luckily I only go maybe once or twice a month right now, so it’s not too expensive. When I want coffee at home, I buy their VIA instant packets and pretend I’m drinking it inside a real ‘bucks.

A tempeh-topped salad with a side of frozen bloobs and half a yam topped with almond peanut cashew butter and raisins.

I’m one of those vegans who eats fake ‘meat’. I’m not a fan of the overly processed stuff, or of meat-like subs such as seitan and tofu (tofu is alright, just not my fave) but I do love me some tempeh and soy pepperoni slices. For those, I always rely on LightLife. Their faux meat products are always vegan, and full of protein and fiber. They are a little processed, but they don’t have a million and one ingredients and I can actually pronounce all of them. Plus they’re tasty, so they’re winners in my book.

My Coach Poppy backpack is probably my favorite designer purse.

I haven’t talked about it much on this blog, but I am a designer purse fanatic. I currently own 5 (all of which I was so lovingly gifted with for my birthday or Christmas over the past few years) and I love them all, from my orange Gianni Bini hobo bag to my brown leather Fossil tote. However, if I had to pick a favorite designer brand, I’d go with Coach. I have 2 Coach purses (well, one’s a backpack) and I just love their classic but standout designs. I realize they aren’t cheap by any means, but I take good care of them and they are well-worth the price…at least for me!

My favorite banana whip smoothie made with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Oh, almond milk. I go back and forth on this one. Not that I don’t love it, because I most definitely do. But I do switch between three brands on occasion–Pacific Naturals, Whole Foods 365 Organic and Almond Breeze. I love Pacific Naturals’ unsweetened vanilla flavor–it’s so creamy and thick. Whole Foods’ organic brand doesn’t have a u/s vanilla flavor, so I stick with their u/s original, which is pretty good for using in recipes. And Almond Breeze is the only one I know of that has a u/s chocolate flavor, so I buy that. They’re all good in their own ways, but for my personal favorite, I have to go with Pacific Naturals.

My new mini lotions (and lip gloss) for spring: Coconut Lime Breeze, Bali Mango, White Citrus and Liplicious Limeade.

Is anybody else obsessed with Bath and Body Works? I really just love going into a BBW and smelling all their lotions–they’re just so yummy-smelling! Of course, sometimes I do actually buy some of their products and as far as lip gloss and lotions go, they’re the only place I’ll buy from. They have the best quality products at fairly low prices and so many amazing scents.

Maybe I like this chip brand because my birthday's in Late July?

You guys all probably know this by now, but I am way more of a sweet snack fan than a salty snack fan. However, there are some times when I could really go for something salty and crunchy–like Late July multigrain chips. These chips come in a ton of varieties (I’m really loving the sweet potato kind right now) and they’re all gluten-free and most flavors are also vegan. I love that they’re baked and made with organic, whole foods ingredients like brown rice, chia seeds, quinoa and amaranth. I love plating them up with sweeter stuff for an afternoon snack plate.

Greek yogurt and frozen blueberries make a perfect sweet treat.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am NOT a “Cho Ho” or whatever fans of Chobani like to call themselves. I realize I am in the minority here, but my favorite brand is and always will be Stonyfield Oikos. Why? Because it’s organic, I like the flavors they have (like superfruits, peach mango and even chocolate) and they don’t have as much sugar as Chobani. I’ve yet to try the new Oikos by Dannon, but I’m too busy enjoying my one true Greek yogurt love…

Spring break = perfect excuse for a shopping spree!

A fashion-lover like me must have some favorite brands, right? Of course. But I’m not a fan of runway styles or a lot of high-end designer pieces (mostly because of the price) so I stick with fairly high quality but lower price options such as Abercrombie & Fitch (okay, not exactly cheap but I love them anyway), American Eagle, Forever 21, Gilly Hicks, Hollister and VS Pink. The styles that these stores carry really just appeal to me and the prices are reasonable. If I had to pick one favorite, I’d go with Hollister, because I love their bold beachy style and most of my closet is made up of stuff from that store. In fact, when I went shopping over spring break, I picked up three things from Hollister, one thing from A&F, two things from American Eagle and one thing from Forever 21. So I am definitely obsessed with Hollister! Oh, and in case you were interested, you’ll hopefully be seeing some of my new purchases on here soon!

These are a few of my favorite bars!

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with bars. But I am pretty picky when it comes to the brand. I have tried out several kinds, but my personal favorites are Clif (Mojo and kids bars only), Kind bars and Pure bars. I still need to try my new cappuccino Larabars and the raw cacao chia bar I got over break, but Clif, Kind and Pure are definitely my top three. I’m weird when it comes to bars, though, because I’m even more picky about the flavor. Like with Clifs, I really don’t like the originals anymore and I only buy the Mojo bars in mountain mix and white chocolate macadamia. With Kind bars, I’m obsessed with the PB & strawberry, but I also kinda like pomegranate blueberry pistachio. And I’ve tried all the Pure bars except the naturals line and their new dark chocolate berry flavor (which I’m dying to try) and I like them all but I only ever buy the chocolate brownie, cranberry orange and wild blueberry.

What are some brands (food, clothing, etc.) that you’re loyal to? What’s your favorite lotion scent?

WIAW: Spring Break Bonanza!

Let me start off by saying…thank you all SO much for your comments on my last post! It seriously means the world to me that you all care so much about me and want to see me live my life to the fullest–without ED in it, of course.

BTW to all who asked, the doctor appointment was not what I expected. My weight was a little higher than it was when I weighed myself at home, because the appointment was soon after breakfast and I was wearing jeans with a belt, but both weights were low and I was expecting the doctor to say something about it but she really didn’t. I guess she didn’t think losing about 5-7 pounds was a big deal, which obviously I think is, considering my BMI is now between 15.5 and 16. It’s kind of discouraging to not have the support of the doctor is my efforts to eat more, but I will just have to rely on my own strength (and your comments) to take the plunge and fuel myself properly. It’ll be hard, but I know it’ll be worth it.

Anyway, on to more exciting things–like this week’s WIAW! I have tried a ridiculous amount of new-to-me things in the past couple of days and I’ve loved being home because I can actually cook things. I only have a couple of recipes for you so far, but I will be sharing more in the next few days as I continue to cook up a storm! Today, I want to share the recipes and also my reviews on some products I just tried. Let’s get to it!

Probably the best nondairy 'ice cream' I've ever tried!

I love almond milk, especially Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but I had never tried (or even seen) almond milk ice cream. I’ve had a couple of flavors of soy ice cream before and they were okay but nothing too great. Luckily, this Almond Dream ‘ice cream’ was way more amazing! It was super creamy, and tasted exactly like an iced latte from Starbucks. The swirl of chocolate was a nice surprise too. I would definitely buy this again, but I also want to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice creams.

Orange and dark chocolate is almost as good as raspberry and dark chocolate.

And to think just a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t go anywhere near chocolate! Yes, it is still somewhat scary for me to eat, but I still eat a little bit of some dark chocolate every day, because it makes me happy. When I discovered this mini Chocolove bar at Whole Foods, my dad encouraged me to get it so I did. The moment I tried my first square, I fell in love. Orange and dark chocolate are a match made in foodie heaven, for reals! Now I really want to try all of their other dark chocolate bars–I love that they’re dairy-free, and local-ish (they’re made in Boulder).

Quinoa pasta with vegan spinach 'cheese' sauce, smart bacon strips.

Since I bought nutritional yeast a few weeks back, I’ve been really wanting to try a vegan mac and cheese recipe. I kind of improvised my own and it actually turned out pretty tasty. The quinoa pasta I served it on was new and really yummy. I loved that it’s just made out of corn and quinoa flours (so it’s gluten-free for all of you out there who are gluten-intolerant or just want to switch it up from wheat pasta) and this variety also incorporated some spinach and beets. Extra veggies = win!

Spinach ‘Cheese’ Sauce (vegan, high protein)

1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or other nondairy milk)

1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour (or cornstarch)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

cracked pepper, to taste

handful spinach

Mix almond milk and flour in a pot over medium heat until combined and thickened. Add in rest of the ingredients and stir until spinach is wilted. Serve over pasta, quinoa or as a spinach ‘cheese’ dip (makes 1 serving). 

Red cabbage with vegan Caesar dressing, Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast topped with almond peanut cashew butter and peanut flour, frozen pineapple, orange seitan.

Westsoy seitan strips and Follow Your Heart vegan Caesar dressing are two of my many new Whole Foods finds. It was my first time trying seitan and I wasn’t really a fan. I love that it has tons of protein (21 grams per serving) but the texture just sketched me out. I made it orange chicken style, and it was decent but I wouldn’t buy it again. Maybe it was just the brand, but I didn’t really like it. The dressing on the other hand, was perfection in a bottle! It reminds me of regular Caesar dressing, only less rich. I love dipping carrots in it and topping fresh cabbage with it. I even made kale chips with the dressing that turned out pretty yummy.

This is my "Gotta go take a drug test so I have to drink up" face.

I have been loving being able to drive myself places over the past few days. At school, I don’t have my own car but being at home and having three cars at my disposal has been so nice! This may sound weird, but I love driving all by myself because I can sing along to “Starships” (one of my new fave songs) and go wherever I want. The reason I’ve been driving myself so much is that I’ve had tons of appointments this week and since both my parents have to work, I had to go to them on my own, which was fine by me. That means more singing 😉 Plus I’ve always wanted to take one of those pictures when you’re in the front seat so yesterday before my internship meeting, I did just that. No worries, I was parked–otherwise I would have had no hands on the wheel! And I was just drinking some iced water sweetened with some vanilla stevia so I could take a required drug test for my summer internship. If you’ve never put liquid stevia in your water, dooooo it now! The vanilla reminds me of a non-carbonated cream soda.

There's no shame in going to Whole Foods three times in five days!

Speaking of going wherever I want, I made a pit stop after my meeting on Tuesday at Whole Foods. It was weird shopping on my own, mostly because I think other people thought I was just a kid and not an almost-20-year-old because of my size, but I didn’t get too many weird stares because the store was pretty dead compared to most times I go. At first I was going to grab myself a lunch thing from the hot/cold bars but I decided to play it cheap and just buy a bunch of random stuff I’ve wanted to try. I’ve had the unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze before, but not in a while and it’s just so good (plus it was on sale). I grabbed a couple of fruit strips, some vegan sprinkles because sprinkles are just fun, another mini Chocolove bar (this time raspberries in dark chocolate) and a Two Moms in the Raw cacao chia bar. I really wanted to get their almond butter cacao truffles, but they were a little bit too expensive. I love raw bars in general (especially Pure bars) so I can’t wait to try this one. I also snagged a couple cappuccino Larabars when I hit up WF on Saturday–this is my first time getting a Larabar and I’m so excited to try out their new flavor!

The perfect dessert for spring.

I finally got around to making raw cashew ‘cheesecake’. I mentioned in my last WIAW that I wanted to make a key lime version so I did! I tweaked the recipe I’m posting a little because I had to basically scrape the crust together out of a few things I had and it didn’t make enough to be the base for a whole cheesecake. But it’s pretty tasty and really simple.


Raw Key Lime ‘Cheesecake’ (vegan, raw, gluten-free)

1 cup cashews, soaked for 6-12 hours

1 tbsp sweetener (I used a mix of maple syrup and vanilla stevia drops)

1/2 lime, squeezed

1/2 cup raw almonds

4-6 Medjool dates, pitted

2 tbsp raw rolled oats

Mix cashews, sweetener and lime juice in a food processor until thick, creamy and combined. Add water as needed. Set aside and blend almonds, dates and oats in a blender or food processor until combined. Spread crust in a small dish and top with cashew cream. Top with key lime slices (makes 4 slices).

The newest overnight oats flavor--chocolate covered orange!

I haven’t come up with a new overnight oats combo in a while–obviously that had to change. Taking inspiration from my newest obsession, the Chocolove orange peel in dark chocolate bar, I whipped up chocolate covered orange oats. I sweetened the oats base with some Valencia orange stevia drops and then in the morning, topped them with Sumo tangerine slices and a square of the orange peel chocolate. Mmmmmm! Next time, I’d make a parfait, layering chocolate oats and orange oats with orange slices and keeping the chocolate on top.

This vegan meat sub is a definite winner!

So you know how I said above that I’m not a fan of seitan? That doesn’t mean I don’t like any vegan whole food meat substitutes. I think I’m a tempeh girl at heart! The first time I tried Lightlife’s tempeh bacon last summer, I fell in love. I finally decided to try their flax tempeh, even though I’ve heard people say that the plain varieties can be bitter. Not to me! I even tried a little piece uncooked and I loved the nutty flavor. I cooked some up fry-style (sliced thin and sautéed until browned) and served it on top of a spinach salad with spicy avocado hummus and a side of a yam topped with nut butter and raisins. I loved this tempeh even more when it was cooked–I’m thinking it’s definitely a new staple. It’s actually got pretty stellar nutritionals–20 grams of protein in 4 ounces, plus 11 grams of fiber!

Curried sweet potato pinto burger (under the red cabbage and jalapeno), grilled asparagus, sweet potato tots, mustard.

For dinner last night, I made some veggie burgers for my fam–first time ever making them for someone besides just me! These were a winner, which is always exciting for me to hear because I love seeing my family choose healthier options. These are totally healthy, but hearty enough for any meat lover…and they’re perfect for sweet potato lovers like me! They’re based off Mama Pea’s recipe, but I made some tweaks to make them my own.

Curried Sweet Potato Pinto Burgers (vegan, gluten-free)

1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 small sweet potato, cooked and peeled

1 1/2 tbsp nut butter (I used almond peanut cashew)

spices, to taste (I used cumin, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, garlic salt and black pepper)

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Flatten bean mix and make into four even-sized patties, and place patties in pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and slightly crunchy. Serve on buns, in a wrap, on top of a salad, however you like your veggie burgers!

Wow, this was a crazy-long post! Sorry about that, obviously I am just so excited about all my new finds and recipes I’ve tried out. Of course, there’s still more to come, but I will save that for a later post. I don’t want to bore all of you 😀

Have you ever tried tempeh or seitan? What’s your new favorite Whole Foods find (or from another store if you don’t have one near you)?

Yum vs. Yuck

Everyone has them. A ‘yum’ and a ‘yuck’ list. Maybe they’re not actually written-down lists, but you know what foods you can’t live without and those that you wish would just disappear.

Here’s a few things I want to share from my own lists. Some of them have changed over the years, while some have stayed the same. Of course, it’s great to work on incorporating a lot of variety into our eats, but it’s okay to admit that there are some foods we just can’t stand.

Yuck!

  • Cottage cheese. I haven’t tried it recently, or very often, but the texture is just too sketchy for me. I much prefer Greek yogurt, thank you very much! Plus, now that I’m mostly vegan, I see no need to include it in my diet.
  • Green beans. It’s one of my mom’s favorite veggies, so I’ve been forced to have it throughout the years and it’s just never good. The only way I can stand them even a little bit is with tons of mustard!
  • Ketchup. I think I might have liked it as a kid, but now it’s just so gross to me! I mean, who wants a sweet condiment? Plus, I hate tomatoes (except in salsa) so it kind of explains my disdain for ketchup.
  • White potatoes. Give me a sweet potato any day and I’ll happily devour it. But a white potato–no thanks! They just make me really thirsty for some reason, and I really can’t stand them roasted.
  • Eggs. This one’s been on my list since I first tried them. Ick, ick ick! I think it’s the whole texture thing. I know they have a ton of protein, nutrients, blah blah blah but…just no.
  • Cheese. Used to like it as a kid, was scared to death of it during the worst of my ED, now I just think it’s disgusting. Soy and almond cheese, however, are sometimes part of my diet since they’re vegan-friendly and yummier than dairy cheese.

I prefer my pizzas with tons of veggies and NO cheese!

  • Coconut. Not quite sure how I feel about this one. Part of it is because it’s a “fear food” for me (because of the high sat fat content) but part of it is that it just weirds me out, especially in shredded form.
  • Pears/cherries/canteloupe. These are the only fruits that I’ve tried (and can think of) that I just don’t like. Cherries are too sour, but I’m okay with dried cherries, pears are just too squishy and canteloupe is bleh, not to mention that whole scare that happened over the fall with them–the farm traced to it is only 2 hours away from me 😯

The only way I'll eat cherries is in overnight oats.

  • Cashews. I like a lot of nuts, from almonds to walnuts to pecans to pistachios but there’s just something off with cashews for me. I do want to try them in a raw cashew cheezecake, though!

Yum!

  • Medjool dates. Actually, I had never tried these until about a year ago, and I fell in love. They’re so sweet, with an almost caramel taste and an amazing soft texture. Now I love them stuffed with almond butter, dark chocolate or used in raw desserts.
  • Unsweetened almond milk. The blog world helped me discover this, and I’m forever thankful. It’s so deliciously creamy and makes the perfect base for smoothies. I looooooove the vanilla kind, but I want to try Almond Breeze’s unsweetened chocolate kind.
  • Rolled oats. Another blog world find. I never used to like oatmeal as a kid, since it was too mushy, but once I figured out how to make it overnight (and voluminous) style, I was hooked. Now I get a perfect, chewy bowl of oats practically every day. And the topping/flavor combos are almost endless.

Carrot cake oats are one of my current fave combos!

  • Brussels sprouts. I grew up thinking they were beyond nasty, even though I’d never had them before, because they just had a negative connotation. I tried them for the first time this fall, and they are so good grilled or roasted with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.
  • Cilantro. I know some people can’t stand the taste of it, but it’s my favorite herb!
  • Almond butter. This one is a pre-blog discovery, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve never been a fan of peanut butter, even as a kid (I would always eat jelly-only sandwiches–yeah, I was weird) but almond butter is a whole different story. Now I also love walnut butter, pecan butter and almond peanut cashew butter.
  • Tropical fruits. I love practically all fruits, but this is probably my favorite group. Pineapples, bananas, mangos, kiwi, limequat, pomegranate, tangerine, watermelon…I love all the kinds I’ve tried and I still want to try even more!
  • Quinoa. I had this for the first time several years ago, when my cousins introduced it to us. They lived in South Africa for a year and quinoa’s really popular there and as soon as I tried it, I was hooked on the fluffy texture and nutty flavor. I also love that it’s so versatile and is a complete vegan protein source.
  • Edamame. I know some people say soy is unhealthy, but I just can’t get enough of edamame! It’s so good in stirfrys and I love getting it in the pod at Asian restaurants. And it has tons of healthy plant protein!

Edamame guacamole, ready to be mixed.

What’s one thing on your yum or yuck list? Have you tried anything lately that moved from one list to the other?

WIAW: Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve

Hey friends, what is up? Can you believe that we’re just 4 days away from Christmas (hence my title)? It’s total craziness if you ask me, but I’m definitely looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for several reasons. One being I love the church service my family goes to every Christmas Eve, and I also can’t wait to watch the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TBS! That is my favorite Christmas movie, so hilarious and such a classic.

But enough about Christmas, let’s get on with this week’s WIAW! Is it lame that I’m always super excited for it? Nah, I don’t care if it seems dumb, it’s such a fun foodie party that I can’t not participate in it week after week. This week’s edition includes some random eats I’ve been loving lately, as well as a couple of recipes too–BONUS 😀 And apparently this week I was obsessed with Instagram…

Peas and Crayons

Hot caramel apple pie volume oats--I know you've gotta be drooling by now!

As I mentioned in my NaNeFoMo bucket list post, I said I was planning on making some raw treats. Well, the first thing on my mind was raw salted caramel apple dip. I bookmarked this recipe a few weeks back and was just itching to test it out for myself. I made a few tweaks to it, though, but it still turned out yummy. Next time, I think I’d add a bit more salt, though, because it didn’t have quite the hint of saltiness I thought it would.

Raw Salted Caramel Apple Dip (vegan, no cook)

1/2 cup dates (the original called for Medjool, I used California pitted), about 12 dates

1 T raw nut butter (I used Artisana’s walnut)

squeeze fresh lemon juice

sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt, to taste

Soak dates in water for at least four hours (I did overnight) and cover. Drain dates and reserve soaking liquid. Blend dates and rest of ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add in soaking liquid one spoonful at a time until it’s the right consistency for you. Use as a topping for oats, as a spread on fruit or bread or as an apple dipper, of course! Makes about 3/4 cup.

The salad kick continues with a homemade salad of spinach, crispy tempeh bacon slices and Whole Foods' carrot ginger dressing.

The dressing can really make or break a salad, but luckily, this one was a winner! I found it in the produce section when I hit up WF the other day, and it’s got a nice tanginess to it.

The perfect sides for a salad--a ripe Satsuma tangerine and some peanut butter balls cereal.

Hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) and frozen raspberries make a yummy snack.

I’ve been craving hot cocoa lately, so I decided to whip up an easy mug of it. I just heated up some unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the micro, mixed it with some Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder and a packet of stevia, and topped it with a few pescetarian marshmallows. It was the best hot cocoa I’ve had in quite a while (I actually rarely drink hot cocoa), so I’m thinking almond milk is what made it amazing. But then again, what isn’t amazing about almond milk?

A throwback to an old favorite--"taco salad" with black beans, spinach, plain Oikos and crushed mild green mojo multigrain chips on top.

So remember me talking about how I’ve been obsessed with salads lately? Ummmm, well, that obsession’s gotten a little bit stronger since then. Since I got home, I’ve had a different salad for lunch every single day and it’s been glorious. Having fresh spinach leaves really takes them over the top. A good obsession to have, am I right?

Simple ingredients make for the most delicious cookies!

Nutty Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies (vegan)

1/4 c almond butter

1/3 c maple syrup

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/4 c pumpkin puree (I used butternut squash, since it was on hand)

1/2 c oat flour

1/4 t salt

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 c vegan chocolate chips

1/4 c unsweetened dried cherries

1/4 c chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine almond butter and maple syrup together until mixed; add in pumpkin and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda and then add in to wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, cherries and pecans until combined. Cover and chill batter for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350. Scoop chilled batter with a melon baller onto baking sheet, spacing dough 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown and just slightly soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside on baking rack to cool. Makes 12.

I loosely based this recipe off one from the Whole Foods website, but I made it vegan by subbing almond butter for dairy butter, maple syrup for white sugar and pumpkin puree for eggs. They turned out pretty good, a little small, but nice and “rugged” I guess. I like cookies that aren’t delicate–I definitely prefer ones like these that have chunks of good stuff in them! These cookies are pretty low-cal (about 120 per cookie) and you can feel good about eating them because they’ve got healthy ingredients like nuts and oats in them. But mostly you’ll just like them ’cause they taste good 😉

A 'classic' dinner with a twist--homemade black bean burger, sweet potato tots (best little things ever!), peanut flour sauce.

I made an attempt at making my own veggie burger last night, and it actually turned out decent, except it was too crumbly. I basically just mashed drained black beans and rolled oats together with a little chili powder and cooked it up in the skillet. It was a simple and delicious dinner alongside my favorite sweet potato tater tots and some peanut flour sauce for dippage. My kind of “burger and fries”.

What better way to start out the morning than with peanutty raspberry chocolate volume oats?

I have so much fun creating new oats combos. This one, like most of them, was a total winner, but then again when isn’t the combo of raspberry, peanut and chocolate delicious? Unfortunately, my supply of peanut flour is running dangerously low (no worries, another bag is on the way) so it turned out kinda runny but it still mixed well with organic jam and a few dark chocolate chips.

 

What is something you’ve tried again recently for the first time in a while? What is your favorite part of Christmas (if you celebrate it)?

WIAW: Old Things, New Ways

Hi ladies 😀 Well, another Wednesday is upon us, and I for one couldn’t be happier. First of all, it’s supposed to snow for the first time this season today! Okay, so that might not be so fun to walk to classes in, but I think snow is so pretty, and the first few snowfalls are the best. Come January and February, not so much 😦 But right now it’s great. It’s also another week closer to Thanksgiving break–aka 9 days of freedom from this crap known as school. I have big plans for that week–well, not really, but I have a lot of cooking and baking plans, that’s for sure. And finally, it’s almost the weekend and I’m headed home again! So it should be a pretty busy but fun 2 days.

Peas and Crayons

So I was really struggling coming up with some kind of theme for this week’s WIAW. I don’t know why, but I think it’s more fun with a theme or extra thing, like a survey. I kinda got burned out on surveys, so lately it’s been all about some theme like new purchases or recipes or what I did over the weekend. Since I haven’t had any of those this week, I couldn’t think of anything…until I looked through my pictures and realized that they were all of things I’ve had before, but in a new way. So that’s my WIAW theme this week!

Banana whip smoothie, half a sweet potato topped with hot Mexican style chili powder. Sweet and spicy...awwwww yeah!

 So I haven’t had a ‘banana whip’ since sometime this summer but that’s only because I haven’t had almond milk around since then. Sad, right? I finally grabbed a carton of unsweetened vanilla AM two weekends ago and it’s definitely been put to good use in lattes and cereal. But then I remembered how much I loved this smoothie, and I made it for a snack, alongside half a chili powder-spiked sweet potato (eaten cold, BTW). Basically, you just take 3/4 cup almond milk, a packet of Truvia or stevia and a handful of frozen banana slices, and blend away. Once I invest in xantham gum, you best believe this will be even better and more milkshake like.

Pumpkin spice Vitatop (with a bite taken out of it, oops!) topped with a teaspoon of almond peanut cashew butter.

 Vitatops aren’t quite the same when you can’t toast them (stupid dorm rules) but they still smell amazing in the microwave. I topped this one (pumpkin spice, of course) with some drippy, almost-at-the-bottom-of-the-jar APCB. So. Good. Period. Why did I never do this before? I honestly don’t know!

Vintage-ized photo taken by my lovely phone. Dr McDougall's vegan tortilla soup.

 So I’ve had this soup before, and it’s really really good but for some reason, I’ve always eaten it out of the paper container it comes in. I decided to fancy it up a bit by pouring it in a bowl. Classy, no? And I also just realized, after almost 2 years of having my phone, that it can edit photos right on the phone itself. Since this picture was taken at night (and therefore was super yellow), I messed around with the coloring and also decided to make it look vintage-y. I got bored, okay?

Caramel Oikos (in a bowl) topped with frozen banana slices.

 Again, I’ve had frozen banana slices and this flavor of Greek yogurt before, but never together and never in a bowl. I mean, it comes in a container you can eat out of, so why use dishes, right? Turns out, it tastes much better in a real bowl, especially when mixed with frozen banana. It’s like dessert almost (I had this for lunch, though).

Homemade Starbucks latte, half sweet potato, raisins, sour gummy vitamins, almond peanut cashew buttah.

 I’m a coffee girl at heart. Not so much for the caffeine, because it doesn’t do much for me (other than when I get anything larger than a tall at the ‘bucks–then I feel sick and have a humongo headcahe afterwards) but for the delicious taste. I’m not a hardcore black coffee person at all–I like some sweetness and flavor. Oh, and I also rarely have coffee at breakfast, usually opting for the afternoon (because caffeine does not keep me up at night–I could probably drink coffee at 10 pm and still sleep fine) but lately, I’ve been feeling a nice cup thermos at breakfast time, especially since it’s getting pretty cold around here. Anyways, I make my coffee with half a packet of Starbucks VIA mocha instant coffee, a packet of Truvia, 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk steamed in the micro and a dash of cinnamon. Alongside that I had half of a hot sweet potato, some raisins and APCB. Oh, and my beloved sour gummy vitamins. I wish I could eat them more than just once a day, because I totally would, they’re so good 😛

The new Halloween Clif Kid bar flavor--full moon brownie.

 I love Clif Z-bars–they’re perfectly snack sized and come in really good flavors. So far, I’ve tried the blueberry, chocolate brownie, apple cinnamon (which was discontinued) and s’mores and have liked them all. But the full moon brownie is by far my favorite! I love the soy white chocolate chunks and the richness of the bar itself. I wish it was a permanent flavor, though–guess I’ll just have to stock up before Halloween!

 

What “old favorite” have you eaten lately in a new way?

My Foodie Staples

Aren’t there a few many things you can’t live without? I’m sure we all have them, I know I do! They tend to change every once in a while, but I definitely have some items I’d prefer to not go without. With that being said, here’s my current list of foodie staples!

Cereal: Right now, I’m loving on the PB Puffins (hope I never get sick of those!), Kashi Honey Sunshine, 365 Organic Honey Crunch & Oats and Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch. I also really like Bear Naked Fit granola (especially triple berry crunch–what’s with all these cereals and having crunch in their name?) and Udi’s cranberry granola. I generally don’t have cereal at breakfast (I used to everyday, though) but it makes an amazing snack…or small dinner?

PB & Chocolate Puffins, Bear Naked Fit granola

Fruit: Gosh, no way could I ever live without this! I love almost all fruits I’ve tried, except for plums and pears. In my dorm, it’s hard to have some of my favorite fruits, like pineapple and berries, so I’m sticking with some tried-and-true varieties, like bananas, black grapes and apples. They’re all pretty versatile and easy to take with me to classes.

Red grapes, giant Honeycrisp apple, bunch 'o bananas

Veggies: I also love veggies, but I don’t really have a way to cook it, so raw it is. Luckily, I love raw cauliflower, and it’s pretty easy to eat. I also discovered butternut squash, which is amazing and simple to heat up in the micro. Plus it comes pre-cut (thanks, Whole Foods!) so it’s perfect for someone without a sharp knife handy. Baby carrots are also a good option.

Cubed b-nut squash, baby carrots, cauliflower

Dried fruit: Mmmmmm, yes! Dried fruit is the bomb.com and even less of a hassle to bring to classes. I love Medjool dates, raisins (golden and regular), dried pineapple, freeze-dried fruit…the list goes on and on. I just look for dried fruit without any added sugar or chemicals and I’m good to go!

Organic Medjool dates, raisins, organic dried pineapple

Mini frozen burritos: I have 2 small fridges with tiny freezer compartments, so I need all the space I can get. EVOL makes mini burritos, which are perfect as a snack or part of dinner/lunch. I love the veggie fajita kind, since it’s vegan and yummy. Score!

2 mini EVOL veggie fajita frozen burritos

Sweet potatoes: I’ve been missing these guys like crazy lately, but luckily, they’re back in my life again. They heat up quick in the micro and taste so so good topped with almost anything–nut butter, trail mix, honey, guacamole, chili powder…

Cinnamon and almond butter topped sweet potato

Spices: Speaking of chili powder, girl’s gotta have her spices. All I got right now is curry powder, ground cinnamon and hot Mexican chili pepper, but it’s good enough for me! Those are probably my 3 fave, and they can ‘spice’ up anything from coffee (the cinnamon, of course) to veggies.

Ground cinnamon and hot Mexican-style chili powder

Truvia: I like things sweet, but I don’t want to add real sugar to some things, ya know? That’s where Truvia packets come in. They’re easy to carry around in case I get an unsweetened iced tea on-the-go and I always add a packet to my oats to sweeten them up. I love that they’re a natural sub for fake sugar.

Big box o' Truvia packets

Almond/nut butter: Where would we be without nut butter? As I’ve said several times before, PB is not my fave (sorry!). But I absolutely adore almond, and lately, almond peanut cashew. Nut butters are soooooo good on sweet taters, as an oats topper, on wraps/sandwiches, with fruit (especially dates) or even off your finger 😉

Archer Farms almond peanut cashew butter

Morningstar spicy veggie sausages: I have one of these almost every morning, and have for probably the last year. Somehow, I’m not getting bored of them. I’m definitely not a savory person, especially at breakfast, but they’re a great source of vegetarian protein, they’re easy to make (except when your micro burns them…) and they taste so darn good. I like anything spicy, like I’ve said millions of times before.

Spicy veggie breakfast sausage, fudgie-topped millet bread

Organic jelly: It’s kinda upsetting how many jellies have high fructose corn syrup in them. I mean, come on, why can’t they just have simple, natural ingredients? When I found Smucker’s Organic line of jellies, I fell in love. Sure, there’s still sugar in them, but it’s real sugar, and it’s natural and organic. There aren’t any weird ingredients in it either. Is it weird that I like it with nut butter and crackers????? It’s also delish as an oats topper.

Smucker's Organic concord grape jelly

Starbucks VIA instant coffee: I can’t live without my ‘bucks fix every once in awhile. But when you’re a college student with no car, it’s kinda hard to get. Lucky for me, they came out with instant coffee packs that are almost as good as their brewed stuff. Not only do I love it in homemade skinny lattes, but it’s amazing mixed in with overnight oats. Talk about an energizing breakfast 😛

Date with almond butter, homemade Starbucks VIA latte, Greek yogurt with raw organic honey

Protein bars: I’m no athlete, but I still eat these like it’s my job. Kidding, but I do love ’em. I don’t get the huge ones, like regular Clifs (I usually cut them in half to have as a snack), I prefer the Mojo kind which are like trail mix bars, and Pure and Halo bars. They make a perfect on-the-go lunch alongside some fruit and they come in so many varieties. My faves at the moment are Mojo white chocolate macadamia and mountain mix, Pure chocolate brownie and Halo s’mores and nutty marshmallow. I try to get bars that have at least 6 grams of protein (the Halo ones don’t, but they’re good for a snack) and only natural sugar.

Clif Mojo Mountain Mix & White Chocolate Macadamia, Clif Z-Bar Chocolate Chip and Full Moon Brownie, Pure Cherry Cashew and Chocolate Brownie, Halo Nutty Marshmallow and Clif C Blueberry

Almond milk: I switched to soy last May, and I liked it for a while, but now I prefer almond. I still have soy milk every so often (the Silk seasonal kinds are SO good) but now I’m trying to buy almond more often. I really love the Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but the plain Whole Foods brand is also good. It lasts longer in the fridge than soy and has a nice, light nutty taste.

Pacific Naturals organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Rolled oats: Of course I have these! I probably have oats in some form every single day…well actually, I pretty much just eat them in overnight oats 😀 Unlike a lot of people, I prefer overnighters to cooked oats. But anyways, oats are incredibly versatile, easy to prepare and so healthy. I don’t even want to start to explain my overnight oats, so just check out my page devoted to them!

Carrot cake overnight oats

 Greek yogurt: Another “duh” if you read my bloggy regularly! Oikos is my one true Greek yo’ love, but sometimes I go off and have an affair with Fage mango guanabana or blueberry acai. Shhhhhh, don’t tell 😉

Oikos organic plain, Fage Total 0% blueberry acai, Oikos organic caramel

 Of course, there are many many more products I’ve (sadly) had to leave out ’cause I didn’t wanna bore y’all with it, but these are what I have most often and love the most!

What are your foodie staples?