WIAW: Weekend Fashion & Monday Food

I’m baaaaack after a semi-relaxing weekend and a busy start to the week. You know how it goes. But I’ve got a major countdown going on until Thanksgiving break…only 23 days until no school for a week and a couple days! Yeah, that’s 23 days totalincluding weekends. Where has the semester gone? There’s only 5 1/2 weeks left, not counting finals week. Not that I’m complaining though. I’m in desperate need of a break!

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

This week’s edition of everyone’s favorite party features what I ate on Monday, along with a few extra pics from the weekend. I’ve been taking more fashion photos lately so enjoy those!

Can I pull off the hippie look?

Sometimes I think I could almost be a hippie. Vegan? Check. Liberal leaning? Yup. Long hair? Of course. Love of boho fashion? Sure. I don’t do the whole drug thing or ‘natural’ hygiene habits (I like my showers and trips to the salon, thankyouverymuch) but I think I could fit in with the hippie crowd just fine. Plus I have a newfound love for their headbands. I just think they add a cute touch to almost any outfit. But are sparkles considered hippie?

Or maybe I’m more of a hipster, writing a paper in Starbucks…

I spent a few hours on Sunday at my favorite FoCo Starbucks. Not because I love coffee so much (though I do) but because I had a paper to write and I thought I’d be less distracted at ‘bucks. Well, turns out that a change of scenery did me good. I was able to finish the paper, enjoy a tall Americano with sugar-free hazelnut and do some people watching while jamming out to Pandora. It was a great, productive afternoon.

First socca pizza = success flavor-wise, but not so pretty.

I finally invested in some garbanzo flour (it was only $2.50 at Sprouts…score!) so I could try out the blogger fave, socca. And I’ve gotta say, it makes a great gluten-free grain-free sub for pizza crust. However, I’m warning you–don’t taste test the socca batter before you cook it. The flavor reminded me of when I used to get bloody noses, it was so metallic-y. But once cooked (I did the skillet method) it tastes great. Especially if you mix it with plenty of spices.

Saturday’s errands outfit: navy striped crop tee (Hollister), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), silver bangles (American Eagle).

I’ve been wearing flip-flops, tees and shorts on a regular basis…and yes, it is October. I know some of you may have already gotten snow, but this is why I love Colorado. Our weather is so unpredictable this time of year, but it can definitely be summer-like into October. Sadly this streak is coming to an end soon–snow is in the forecast for tomorrow into the weekend 😦

Breakfast

Monday breakfast: pumpkin vanilla protein pudding. Topped with pomegranate seeds and maple pecans.

Like I said, it’s been warm enough here even in the mornings to not want warm breakfasts quite yet. I still have to do smoothies and protein puddings so I don’t overheat. But I still want my meals to be fall-inspired, so Monday’s breakfast fulfilled both requirements. Pomegranate tastes awesome with pumpkin and pecans and maple. It’s like all the flavors of fall in one bowl.

Lunch

Lunch plates for the indecisive girl. Coconut oil roasted brussels sprouts (with organic ketchup), coconut flour microwave muffin crumbles, sweet stuffed acorn squash, peanut flour paste, almond butter, Alter Eco mint chocolate bar.

I haven’t been doing snackplates as much lately but I have been doing them for lunches! One of my go-tos is a coconut flour microwave muffin. It’s so simple to make, just add some coconut flour (1 or 2 tbsp), baking powder, salt/stevia and almond milk to a microwave safe bowl and let it cook for a minute or so. It turns out really crumbly, but totally voluminous and cake like. It’s crazy that a grain free flour turns out like a tasty muffin, but it just does. And I love it!

A side of pomegranate seeds and my phone.

I realize the seeds are called arils, but I don’t like that word. Seeds sounds better. I can’t believe how obsessed I am with these little guys. They were so worth almost staining my skin and every surface of my kitchen 😉

Monday’s outfit: navy pullover sweatshirt (Gilly Hicks), brown woven leather belt (Abercrombie), burgundy twill shorts (Abercrombie).

I don’t wear my glasses often in public (I usually wear contacts) but some days they’re just necessary. Like when one of your contacts is seriously bothering your eye and you realize that it’s illegal for you to drive without contacts or glasses. I can’t believe how bad my vision has gotten since I first got contacts/glasses 4 years ago. I hope I can eventually get laser surgery, but it’s kinda scary too…

Afternoon Snack

Yes, I like weirdly green food. Mint chocolate buckwheat waffle made with kale, topped with mint kale infused protein frosting.

I love love love homemade waffles, in case you couldn’t already tell. My waffle maker is my most-loved kitchen appliance for sure, it gets used almost every day whether for breakfast or a snack. I prefer making my own because ones from the store don’t taste that great, they aren’t as healthy and with homemade ones I can add in only the ingredients that I want and make them whatever crazy flavors I’d like! Plus they’re almost as convenient as store bought, so why not?

Dinner

Sepia-ified nachos. Sweet potato multigrain chips topped with 1/4 vegan Mexican chipotle seitan sausage, coconut oil-sauteed plantain slices, guacamole, crispy kale and nooch.

I love healthy nachos for a quick and easy dinner. The best part is, they’re totally customizable. Monday night’s version included delicious plantain slices, my favorite vegan sausage (it’s so spicyyyy and I love that it’s made with simple ingredients), pan-crisped kale and fresh guac. My nacho base is always Late July multigrain chips, which are great because they’re healthier than the typical chips, gluten free and packed with chia and flax seeds. So nachos can definitely be considered a ‘health food’…well, if you use the right ingredients 😛

Nighttime Snack

My latest favorite nighttime snack: chocolate peanut butter protein microwave cake, made with raw chocolate protein powder, peanut flour, almond milk, baking soda and topped with almond butter and vegan mousse.

I have a strange addiction to microwave protein cakes lately. They’re just so foolproof and you can make them almost any flavor. And they just call for toppings, dontcha think?! I recommend coconut milk ice cream, coconut whipped cream or almond butter!

Do you prefer making some things from scratch, or buying them? Have you ever tried socca or pomegranate?

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: Goals for the New Year

Hi everyone, and welcome to 2012! I know it’s been a few days already, but it still feels so weird to me that we’re in a brand new year. 2011, especially the second half, just flew by! I can’t believe I only have 2 1/2 years left in college–part of me is excited though, because I can’t wait to get out in the ‘real world’ and be even more independent!

Peas and Crayons

Sadly I missed out on WIAW last week and I did not want that to happen again this week (which is why I’m a little early to the par-tay)! I haven’t been so great with taking food photos, but honestly I’d rather just be having fun at home than trying to document every meal. But I do have a few pics from throughout the week so I’ll roll with that 😀 I also wanted to share a few of my goals for 2012. They’re not exactly resolutions, since I don’t really believe in them, but just things I’d like to make happen in the new year.

My last skinny soy peppermint mocha of the season? Say it isn't so!

  • Try out more raw foods/recipes. I’m not going to go completely raw, but I really love how whole, fresh, raw foods make me feel. I’ve made a couple of raw recipes in the past year (check them out here) and I actually loved them more than ‘traditional’ desserts so I’d love to make more. I’d also like to try out some raw main dish recipes (like raw tacos made out of walnuts!) and maybe even a raw dish at a restaurant!

Sweet potatoes make the best lunch! With fresh pineapple and mango and topped with peanut flour paste.

  • Improve my GPA in spring semester. Because of my (horrendous, horrible, awful, insert-word-here) stats class last semester, my GPA slipped a little bit. I will admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so getting a C+ as a final grade for the first time ever was somewhat devastating. I’m hoping I can pull my GPA back up in the coming semester, and maybe even make it better than before, since I’m taking all classes that interest me.

Switching up my breakfast has never tasted so good! 1/3 cup PB Puffins, plain Oikos mixed with a little organic raspberry jam, peanut flour paste sandwiched in half a banana.

  • Get a Twitter? I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but I’ve always been interested in it. However, I already waste enough time as it is on Facebook, so maybe not. But it seems like a good way to stay connected and stalk my fave celebs.

Organic kettle corn and a peanut flour-ed banana make a delicious nighttime snack!

  • Get an internship. I’m taking a class this next semester that I need to get an internship at a TV station over the summer, so I’m crossing my fingers that I land one. I honestly don’t care if I have to run Starbucks errands or make copies, as long as I can get my foot in the door in the TV news industry, I will be very happy!

Guys, seriously try this right now if you haven't--Medjool date stuffed with a couple dark chocolate chips. It legit tastes like a cookie!

  • Learn how to budget. Now that I have my first job and am getting paid on a somewhat regular basis, I’d like to work on my budgeting skills. I know I still rely mostly on my parents to provide me groceries and such, but I do need to learn in advance so I’m not completely lost when I’m out in the adult world. Oh, and I need to stop impulse buying clothes! I don’t really regret my purchases ever, but I should at least try to wait til they’re on clearance 😉

Cheeseless pizza makes my world go 'round! 2 slices Amy's vegan roasted veggie pizza, side of roasted brussels and a simple almond milk/banana/peanut flour smoothie.

  • Have more fun. I will admit that I’m naturally an introvert, and I actually like quiet nights at home vs. going out most of the time, but I’d like to take more risks and hang out with friends outside of class. I do tend to get bored spending a whole day at home, so I do like to go out for some shopping or whatever, but I usually don’t feel comfortable enough doing stuff like that with friends and I’d really like to do more of that this semester.

What is one of your ‘goals’ for the new year? What is the best thing you’ve eaten so far in 2012?

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Hi peeps! Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Black Friday (if you live in the U.S.)! I am so sad that it’s over, mostly because I’m headed back up to campus tomorrow 😦 I’ve had such an amazing time this past week that I can’t believe break’s almost over. However, in less than 3 weeks, I’ll be back home for a whole MONTH! I ❤ college 😀

I decorated my little Christmas tree, even though I won't get to see it again for a couple of weeks. Ignore the toilet in the background, I am so classy 😉

Let’s back up to the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday before–I love shopping, but can’t handle the crowds and possibility of being attacked viciously by desperate shoppers 😯 My family decided to head up to Denver’s 16th Street Mall the day before Thanksgiving to try to avoid the crowds. We hit up the brand new H&M store first…where apparently a million other people also decided to go! So yeah, we did not end up avoiding the crowds. And unfortunately, the store was underwhelming. I mean, it looked cool inside, but it was packed and the clothes were kinda eh. I was definitely expecting more. I was considering buying a cute gold clutch, but I didn’t really think it was practical, so I passed. The only things I really wanted, a pair of cream knit legwarmers and a sequin skirt weren’t there or in my size so I left empty-handed. My sister and I also left Forever 21 without buying anything. They had more cute things than H&M, but I wasn’t really feeling it.

The lovely boots I was telling you about in my last post. I've already worn them out a few times!

What didn’t end up being a disappointment was Pinkberry. But then again, is froyo ever disappointing? Especially peppermint froyo? My mom and sister really wanted to try their seasonal peppermint flavor, so both of them got a cup topped with peppermint bark. I also got peppermint, but topped mine with just pomegranate seeds. Weird? Yes. But also really good. Don’t knock it til ya try it 😉

Another way I've been avoiding my homework--reading my fave magazine, People StyleWatch.

After walking around the pedestrian mall to kill some time, we drove across town to our favorite mall. We seriously go there quite a few times throughout the year, even though it’s probably 60 miles from our house. Dedicated shoppers right thurrrr 😛 But it is such a nice mall, and pretty huge. I just realized that it has an Anthropologie store–I may have to check that out next time we go there! Anyways, my sister and I were on a mission so we ditched our parents and headed straight for Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. As I’ve said before, those are two of our favorite stores. I know they’re totally cliché or whatever, but we truly love them and don’t just shop there because it’s the ‘cool kid’ thing to do. We both ended up getting one thing at each store and with all the discounts we used, we ended up saving a ton of money. Love when that happens! Afterwards, we met up with our parents at the T-Mobile store. Our cell phone contract expires soon with them, so we wanted to play around with the phones and see what we might end up buying. A lot of them were really neat, but my mom ended up deciding later that we’re probably going to switch to AT&T. Fine with me, as long as they have awesome phones!

Navy striped pullover sweater from Hollister, red/navy plaid shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, both for less than $50 total!

Can I have this sexy man for Christmas? Kthx.

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. The food of T-Day is never my favorite part–I just love being with my family. The Macy’s parade was fun to watch and it was so nice to just spend the morning and afternoon relaxing while my mom slaved away in the kitchen. One of our traditions is to have snacks in the early afternoon instead of lunch and I was looking forward to that. I filled up a turkey-decorated paper plate with some of my fave snacks and then just chilled out on the deck with my madre and padre. It was so weird that it was warm enough to sit outside on Thanksgiving–usually it’s pretty cold and sometimes snows. But Colorado is so random weather-wise, I love it. After snacks, my dad and I went on a long walk and then came back and started prepping the brussels sprouts we were going to grill for dinner.

My T-Day outfit: grey wool duster cardi (A&F), grey floral tank (HCo.), coral culotte shorts (A&F), grey polka dot tights (Target). Sorry about my weird stance, I was trying unsuccessfully to show off the tights.

Snack plate lunch: Whole Foods kettle corn, jalapeno-stuffed green olives, local salsa, Whole Foods guac, bell pepper strips, green mojo multigrain chips, artichoke hummus. I went back for more kettle corn and chips latah!

Thanksgiving dinner was pretty quiet with just the four of us, but it was nice. My dinner ended up being all vegan, but it was kinda disappointing. I tried this field grain celebration roast that tastes exactly like stuffing. Unfortunately, I hate stuffing, but the roast wasn’t awful. The best part of my dinner by far was the baked sweet potato topped with a little maple syrup and some peanut flour sauce. Mmmmm, so darn tasty! What is it about sweet potatoes that’s so addicting? The sprouts turned out way too hard and dry, which was sad because I usually love ’em. You win some, you lose some. I tried a little of my mom’s stuffing, which she made vegan, but honestly, I still hate it. Sorry stuffing lovers! I might like a cornbread stuffing though so that may be tested out at next year’s feast. However, dessert is always the best part, hands-down. I had another piece of the festive garland bars I made (I’ve seriously had a piece of it every night since I made it on Monday–can you say obsessed?) and a slice of the pumpkin pie bars my mommy made. She also made these vegan especially for me, and they were super delicious, even better than a pumpkin pie. They were a little cakey and pretty sweet but so good.

My breakfast on T-Day: banana softserve topped with chocolate & PB Puffins and peanut flour sauce.

Friday I woke up later than I have in awhile (9 am!), had breakfast and just hung out for awhile. Lunch was a strange but yummy creation I’ve been enjoying this week. I cook up some butternut squash cubes, top them with black beans and some plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little guacamole. Then I pour on some really good salsa and crush some Late July mild green mojo chips on top. It seems so weird, but it’s actually good and kinda Mexican-y. I made something similar to it over summer break, but it was on top of lettuce instead. We ran out of lettuce this week, so I decided to use squash as the veggie base and it turns out just as good. Plus I’m obviously obsessed with anything orange.

I'm not even sure what to call this, except amazingly delicious!

Later on, my sister and I drove out to brave the Black Friday crowds get our Starbucks fix. The ‘bucks we went to was crowded as usual, but we actually ended up getting to sit in the leather chairs in the corner, so that was a win. I got the tall skinny peppermint mocha with soy, and it was even better with the soy versus the skim. A lot creamier without being sickening. I think this will be my holiday drink go-to. Afterwards, we walked over to Ulta to goof around and try on sunglasses and smell all the lotions and stuff. I love that girl; we always have so much fun together, especially when it’s just the two of us. Surprisingly, most of the stores weren’t that crowded (except the Apple store) but then again it was almost 5 at night. I guess most Black Friday shoppers head out early.

I'm a sucker for the red cups!

Friday night my dad had another performance of his play, so the rest of us just stayed home and had a nice dinner of leftovers (I had a slice of the celebration roast topped with yellow mustard, which made it so much better, and some sweet tater fries) and then spent the rest of the night watching The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie ever!) and playing games.

How sad is this--packing up to go back to school 😦 The countdown til Christmas break officially begins Monday!

What have you been up to the last few days? Have you ever shopped at H&M?

WIAW: Halloween (Weekend) Edition

Hey guys, how were all of your Halloweens? Mine was basically like any other school day: classes at 10 and 1, then an editorial meeting with staffers at 3. Oh yeah, not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I’m the editor for my campus’ faculty & staff newsletter! I’m so stoked because it’s a paid job and it’s in journalism, which is my field. I was dreading trying to look for some lame minimum wage job but I’m so glad I got hired for this. It was a long process of interviewing and paperwork, but it’s finally coming together. Me and another girl (the other editor) get along really well, and even though we’re pretty confused and overwhelmed at this point since we have a deadline this week and only just hired our writers, we’re still loving the position. So yeah, I officially have my first ever job 😀 But anyways, yeah, my Halloween was pretty boring…but Halloween weekend is a totally different story!

Peas and Crayons

Mi madre picked me up around 2 on Friday and we were off! Unlike most weekends that I go home, she was able to get me earlier which meant I got to eat a home cooked meal. Score! Sure, I like going out to fast casual places, but they can get repetitive and expensive after a while, and I’ve missed being able to use the oven. So that’s exactly what I did–I made Gardein meatless ‘chicken’ nuggets and Alexia sweet potato tots (best thing ever!) alongside some green beans (ick, but decent with some spicy three-pepper mustard) for dinner. It was basic but gourmet compared to my dorm meals. Though I can get pretty creative with those… 😉

Look how much snow was still at our house 4 days after the storm!

Friday night was so much fun, because we all carved pumpkins and watched some reallllllly old (from the early 90s!) Disney Halloween cartoons. Those 2 things are basically a Halloween tradition in our house, and I love it. I ended up carving a pumpkin in my pumpkin because I thought a face was too cliché haha. It was so much easier than carving a face too, and the only part that sucked was digging out all the seeds. The insides of all the pumpkins were freezing cold so it hurt our hands after a while to get all the seeds out. But trust me, it was worth it–you’ll see why soon!

My pumpkin in a pumpkin!

My mom's and dad's pumpkins. My dad always likes to do something--erm--creative!

Saturday morning I woke up a little early (like 8:15, which is totally not early but it is for the weekend) because I wanted to make pancakes for my lovely familia. But not just any pancakes–oh no!–I made pumpkin pancakes with dark chocolate chips! OMG, pumpkin and chocolate are a match made in heaven for sure. I love the Archer Farms pancake/waffle mixes because they have the best flavors, especially seasonal kinds. My personal fave is the double chocolate peppermint (I’ll be making those over Thanksgiving break!) but pumpkin is awesome-sauce too. I also added a scoop of vanilla protein powder, to up the protein a little and use up the powder. They turned out really good but sadly, there weren’t that many of them. The amount I used only made 15 mini pancakes, so everyone got 3 (and I froze 3 for myself for later…shhhhh!)

Pancake batttttttah 😉

Just 3 ingredients: pumpkin pancake mix, mini chocolate chips and vanilla protein powder. Oh, and water of course!

My dad and I ventured out to (where else?) Whole Foods. Knowing us, we also made stops at Sunflower Market and Albertson’s. Gotta stock up on food, ya know? I got bunches of yummy stuff from WF, including some new things you’ll hopefully be seeing on this bloggie soon, like purple cauliflower and dried figs. Love that store. At Sunflower, I basically took their entire bar selection 😉 Just kidding, but I got soooooo many bars, like my newly beloved Clif Mojo white chocolate macadamia, Clif Kid Z-Bar full moon brownie and Pure orange cranberry. That is literally the only store near me that has that flavor of Pure bars and Clif Mojo bars, so I gotta get ’em where I can.

I may love the chocolate and PB Puffins even more than the PB!

Back at home I had a super late lunch and then got to work roasting my pumpkin seeds. You know the seeds are the best part, right? Of course they are. I decided to stray from the usual spice combinations and make a spicy-sweet kind. I found the recipe from here and they turned out better than I thought. I made a few tweaks though based on what I had on hand: I used Eggbeaters egg sub in place of the egg white, I used raw sugar instead of cane sugar and I used crushed red pepper flakes instead of cayenne pepper. They still ended up amazing, with just enough sweetness and heat.

So. Flippin'. Addicting.

Dinner turned out to be an (almost) family affair. My dad and I really wanted to try grilling eggplant and brussels sprouts so we fired up the grill for those. Meanwhile, my mom made dinner for the rest of the fam (minus me) while I cooked up a couple of Gardein meatless nuggets at the last minute. My sister, the only non-cook in the house, was of course the only one who didn’t participate but it was still fun. I miss being in the kitchen with everyone. It’s just such a fun, lively atmosphere. Anyways, dinner turned out great, especially the grilled veggies. I’ve had grilled eggplant before, but I’ve never done it myself and it turned out amazing. Same with the brussels sprouts. The outsides got nice and crispy and the insides were warm and smooth. So. Darn. Delicious.

Would you like a little fake chicken with your veggies?

I love how pink this raspberry cappuccino smoothie is!

The rest of the night was spent watching-slash-making-fun-of a really lame infomercial on 70s music, my dad helping me with stats (beeteedubs, I absolutely HATE stats with a passion, so this sucked but was also super helpful), me learning to enjoy hot tea (my mom got some Celestial Seasonings candy cane and sugar cookie tea bags, and they totally transformed me into being a hot tea lover) and watching reruns of SNL. I ended up staying up pretty late but it was so worth it.

Mmmmmmm, I'm such a sucker for all things seasonal!

I love this mug (please ignore all the random crap in the background).

Sunday, as usual, was pretty chill. Enjoying breakfast with the fam, reading the Sunday newspaper, packing up my stuff, lunch, hanging out with my sister and finally having to drive back up to school. I always hate Sundays on weekends I’m at home because it means I have to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I like school and my dorm and all, but I just really cherish the weekends I spend at home and it sucks when they’re over. They always seem to go by way too fast 😦 Back up in good old FoCo, my mom and I stopped for more groceries (I couldn’t live with nut butter, of course!) but sadly, I’ll have to be sweet potato-less for the next two weeks ’cause we couldn’t find them anywhere. We also stopped for dinner at a new-to-us place, HuHot Express. We went to HuHot once for my dad’s birthday, but this one was slightly different because it’s not all-you-can-eat. But I ended up loving what I got here better than at the regular place. I got rice noodles topped with shrimp, fresh jalapeno (spicy is where it’s at), edamame, spinach and what was called a Mongol mustard sauce. It was really delish, a little spicy, and not too overwhelming. I ended up mostly just eating the shrimp and veggies, but I would totally get it again. But the real star was the super-cool, high-tech soda machine. It had a touch screen menu so you could mix and match between all kinds of sodas and juices. Normally, I don’t drink soda but I had to try this. I got diet orange Coke mixed with diet vanilla Coke–it was like an orange creamsicle! Have you guys ever seen one of these machines? They are le-git!

Overnight oats in a jar! I basically just saved this jar and keep reusing it. Cookies 'n cream overnighters, frozen raspbs, spicy veggie sausage. Breakfast of champions right thurrrr!

I love tempeh bacon. And apples. And sriracha. Oh, and cold brussels sprouts. Don't judge me 😀

Of course, it was sad to say goodbye to such a fun-filled weekend, but Thanksgiving break is in less than 3 weeks–wooooohooooo 😀 You know I’m looking forward to 9 days away from school!

What was the best thing you did or ate this weekend? Do you like roasted pumpkin seeds?

WIAW: Weekend of (Many!) Firsts

First off…thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for your responses to my story. It means so much to me that I’ve gotten so many amazing comments and that you’ve taken the time to read it. You ladies are the best 😀 I’ll be posting part 2 (my recovery journey so far) hopefully on Friday or Saturday.

Peas and Crayons

Now let’s get on to WIAW! I promised y’all some weekend update-age, so here it is! Instead of posting my eats from this week, they’re all from this weekend and best of all, there’s 3 recipes, plus mini product reviews! You guys are so lucky this week 😉

My Saturday morning started out with one of these little suckers. My throat's been bugging me lately, and I hate cherry/honey lemon cough drops so I was pumped to find these when I got home--tropical cough drops!

 Mi madre picked me up after classes on Friday and we hit the road…and a bunch of traffic. We planned on going to urgent care when we got back so we could get it over with, but first we stopped at Panera. I love their salads so much, and I ended up getting a new-ish favorite, the Thai Chopped salad without wontons or chicken. The dressing on this is actually delish especially compared to most restaurants and not too overpowering, plus I love the edamame and little cashew clusters.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find these in my drawer. Well...I did order them a week or so ago, but I'd had them shipped home instead of to my dorm. In case you can't tell what they are, they're coral culotte shorts (from A&F). They'll be great for pairing with tights when it gets cold!

 We got to urgent care and basically sat around for 15 minutes until the receptionist directed us to the check-in desk for x-rays. We checked in, waited another 5 minutes and then I got x-rayed (for like the millionth fourth or fifth time ever, not counting tooth x-rays). Luckily there wasn’t anyone else in line for the x-ray (who would at like 7:30 at night?) so I got it over with. But of course, if you’ve ever gotten an x-ray, you know you have to wait around for awhile for it to be developed. So my mom and I were stuck in the pediatrics area, watching incredibly lame Disney Channel shows. Never have I been more glad that I am too old to watch these shows. I mean, Disney used to be awesome back in the day, but now? Not so much. Anyway, the x-ray came back and the doctor said there was no fracture or anything, but that I have plantar fasciitis. Apparently, you can’t do a lot to treat it, but it can become a chronic problem that I might have to get injections for. So fun 😦 I actually kinda wanted it to be fractured so it could be fixed, but oh well.

Long name, delicious taste. Can I just say I've fallen in love with Target's nut butters? They are so simple (this one's just almonds, peanuts, cashews and sea salt) but so good.

Apple pie...gum?! I saw this when we were checking out and I had to try it. I honestly wasn't expecting much, but it's so yummy! It doesn't last long, but while it does, it's amazing.

I really wanted a more natural alternative to agave and a cheaper one to maple syrup, so when I found this, I snapped it up. Raw is goooooood!

Ugh, the lighting in my room is legit the worst. I need a lightbox or something. But this was delish nonetheless.

OMG, my new favorite vegetable!

 On Saturday, my wonderful daddy and I ran a bunch of errands, which is honestly one of my favorite things to do, especially when it involves Target/Whole Foods. Don’t judge me 😉 At Target, I found SO many new-to-me products that–ahem–weren’t on my list, but I couldn’t pass them up, now could I? Especially this seasonal stuff–I’m such a sucker for them. So here’s my honest reviews on them (disclaimer: I bought my dad bought these, I wasn’t given these to review and the opinions are my own).

Archer Farms Almond Peanut Cashew Butter: I’ve had the Archer Farms almond butter before, and it’s really really good. This was also yummy, almost as good as the AB. That’s probably because I’m partial to the AB, but this was very yummy. It’s pretty smooth and drippy, which is perfect for sandwiches/wraps and oats. It’s pretty peanutty, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but there’s also a hint of almond in there which balances it out nicely. I just wish there was more cashew taste.

Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie gum: I can’t believe this is a sugar-free gum! It’s so sweet, but in a good way. Oh and yes, it does taste and smell exactly like an apple pie. I know, I was shocked too! I thought it’d just be apple, but there is definitely a pie element to it. I don’t know how Extra does it, but this is a winner in my book!

Archer Farms Organic Raw Wildflower Honey: If you’ve gotta have sugar (which I do!), organic and raw is the way to go. I love feeling like I’m treating my body right, while also getting my sugar fix. This will be so good on frozen nanner slices, with nut butter and as an oats topper.

Vitatops Pumpkin Spice: I love Vitatops! My favorite include banana nut, golden corn and bluebran, but there are so many I really want to try. When I saw this, and realized it was already October, I knew I couldn’t leave the store without em. I heated up my first one on Monday night, and I could smell the pumpkin coming from the micro. It was love at first bite. I loved the little pumpkin seeds on top (even though they weren’t well-distributed) but I was surprised to find chunks of candied ginger in the Vitatop. It seemed weird at first but it’s not a bad thing.

Brussels Sprouts: How have I never tried these before? I think it’s probably because they have such a bad rep for being gross. My dad decided to buy them, I said I’d try them and at home, we sprinkled a little olive oil, kosher salt and ground pepper on them and then roasted them in the oven. As soon as I took my first bite, I was in lurrrrve 😀 The outside was crispy and salty and the inside was tender and so good. I had a bowl full of them at dinner, and then at lunch on Sunday, I polished off the leftovers. You could say I’ve discovered my new favorite veggie!

Spicy pumpkin pizza: brown rice tortilla crust, topped with organic canned pumpkin puree mixed with spices, green chiles, orange bell pepper and tempeh bacon.

Close up of my new fave pizza...holla!

 Alright, it’s recipe time! First up is my super-simple recipe for spicy pumpkin pizza. I know a lot of bloggers are ob-sessed with pumpkin and I am too. But I wanted to find a way to use it in a savory recipe. Then I thought–why not make a pizza sauce? So I bought a can of organic pumpkin puree and got to cookin’!

Spicy Pumpkin Pizza (vegan, makes 2)

2 brown rice tortillas, whole wheat naan bread or whatever crust you’d like to use

2/3 can organic pumpkin puree

veggies (I used spicy green chiles and grilled orange bell pepper)

spices (I used black pepper, a little kosher salt and chili powder)

tempeh bacon, precooked tofu cubes, whatever protein you’d like to use

Spoon pumpkin into a bowl and mix with spices to taste. Spread “sauce” on your crusts and top with veggies and protein source. Bake in a 400 degree oven (on a baking sheet) for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Dig in and enjoy!

I had a very orange dinner...can you blame me, it's October! I love getting in the Halloween spirit with my food.

 Creamy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (vegan, makes 1)

1/3 can pumpkin puree (use what’s left from the pizza!)

1/2 cup Silk soy eggnog (I love it ’cause it’s nondairy but so delish)

ground ginger, cinnamon to taste

Pour all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add xanthan gum if you want it to be really thick, or make it a Green Monster by adding in a handful of spinach.

Corn bread is good, but pumpkin corn bread is even better!

 I found this recipe for corn bread several years ago when I was first getting really into cooking. I haven’t baked anything in awhile, but I was really wanting to make cornbread to take back to school with me. But then I thought, why not keep this pumpkin trend going and make it pumpkin cornbread? Genius, no? 😛

Pumpkin Cornbread (makes 12 pieces)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup cornmeal

2 tbsp honey*

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup Silk soy eggnog

*This recipe is vegan if you replace the honey with agave or brown sugar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray loaf pan (or muffin tins, if you want to make muffins) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mix flour, corn meal, baking soda and salt in a bowl til combined. Add in honey, pumpkin and soy nog until blended. You may have to add up to 1/2 cup water to make batter wet enough to stick together. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until outside is golden brown. Let cool and slice; serve with honey, nut butter or in a yogurt mess.

My first encounter with butternut squash..and I didn't have to prepare it. Thank you, Whole Foods!

I've found a new tortilla love...move over sprouted grain tortillas!

 

Awh, it's all crumbly and broken!

Butternut Squash: I’m pretty new to the squash world. I’ve been hunting down kabocha with no success, but when I saw this package of pre-cut b-nut squash at Whole Foods, I decided to try it. Since I’m such a newbie, I had to guess what to do with it, and since my only heating apparatus thingie is a microwave, I used it to heat up the cubes, since they were kinda hard. After a minute and a half, they were nice and tender and I sprinkled some raw honey and cinnamon on it. OMG, so tasty! Maybe this is my new favorite veggie…?

Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas: I’m not gluten-free, but I don’t like regular tortillas, so when I discovered Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas, I bought them. I’ve had them all summer and liked them for the most part, but lately I haven’t really been that excited about them. I’ve seen a ton of bloggers have the brown rice tortillas by the same company, so I was on the lookout for them. I love that they’re huge but not so calorie-dense (I’m looking at you, Chipotle burritos!) plus they’re just darn good and make perfect pizza crusts. They remind me of the tortillas EVOL burritos have, and I love those, so these are also a winner.

Sunshine Falafel veggie burger: I love veggie burgers, specifically many of Amy’s, but I wanted to find a new one I could buy regularly. I had my first Sunshine burger on vacation this summer and it was so good and dense. I wanted to try another variety, and I thought falafel sounded interesting enough. And it actually does taste like baked falafel, and it even kinda looks like a giant falafel. I just hate that it’s so crumbly, but I can live with that.

Woo, you all made it through that monster of a post 😀 But I hope you enjoyed my mini-reviews and recipes (and will go out and buy the products I loved…basically all of them, and maybe got a lil recipe inspiration…a girl can dream, right 😉 ?)

What is something new you’ve tried lately and loved? Are you into seasonal food items (like pumpkin or apple-flavored things)?

P.S. Check out my Best Of… page for these recipes and all the others that I’ve posted on here–with more to come!