College Vegan on a Budget: Under $50

A series about shopping for vegan groceries on a college budget, without compromising my values or health standards.

Another budget post? Yep, I’m just having a lot of fun doing these things and most importantly, I’m definitely improving on my budgeting skills. At least when it comes to grocery shopping. I needed another pair of jeans, so I hit up my city’s (lame) mall and ended up spending over $60 on a pair of burgundy jeggings at Hollister and a set of headbands at American Eagle. I didn’t need the headbands but they were so calling my name 😉 So obviously I’m still not great at saying ‘no’ when clothes shopping but what can you do when you’re a fashionista? Plus I justified it by saying I haven’t shopped for clothes in almost 3 months, so I was in desperate need (and still am) of some new pieces to freshen up my closet.

Anyways, this post is about groceries, not clothes. I was able to spend under $50 this weekend, and I shopped at two stores! This just goes to show that you can buy healthy, vegan foods at specialty stores and not burn a hole in your wallet. Obviously this was more of a stock-up-on-a-few-extras type of trip but it’s inspired me to try to pare down my regular shopping trips as well. I’m making a plan not to buy more than 1 or 2 special items a week–these things add up and I can’t afford to be buying multiple things over $5 or $6 each trip. So if one week I need more maple syrup, I’ll forgo buying some fancy nut butter or coconut aminos or whatever (I still want to buy those, BTW, but it’s $7 per bottle). I know that most of these more expensive items last longer, which is great, but I still can’t be buying them right and left.

My Sprouts mini-haul of the week.

Sprouts

What I Got: Medjool dates (much cheaper than at WF), plantain, garlic*, Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour (socca, here I come!), Metromint chocolate mint water, raw cashews, pomegranate, dried apple rings

What It Cost Me: $22.80

Verdict: I just really love Sprouts for their produce deals. The plantain was 99 cents, the pomegranate was $2.50 (and huge!), and the dried fruit is pretty cheap for having no added sugars or oils. There were a few more things I was planning on buying but decided not to to save money. But next time, I am definitely trying Zico pineapple coconut water!

 

Yummy Whole Foods buys.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Kaia sprouted party mix pumpkin seeds*, Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate bar, bulk cacao nibs, bulk almond flour, bulk maple pecans, 365 full fat coconut milk*, Vegan tropical protein powder, bulk olives, vegan chocolate mousse, sweet stuffed squash

What It Cost Me: $25.50

Verdict: The bulk bins save me again! I only have to buy what I need, so I end up saving a ton. Buying almond flour prepackaged costs about $8, but getting a quarter of a pound only cost me $1.20. And cacao nibs are usually very expensive but I got a small amount for just 98 cents! I prefer buying this way because I only make single lady meals, so I want my foods to stay fresh and by buying only what I need, I know it’ll stay fresh when I need it. 

I am super proud of my budgeting skills this week and I know I can make future shopping trips this cheap by watching what I’m spending my money on.

Do you do better at budgeting your grocery shopping or clothes shopping? What’s your policy on ‘splurge’ items?

Raw Survey and Letting Go

Another survey, I know! If this was a tweet, I’d be saying #sorryimnotsorry. So yeah, I like surveys and they’re easy to do. But I’ve also got a more serious discussion in this post too, so look for that! This survey is all about raw foods, because I’m interested in raw foodism and I love experimenting with raw dessert recipes.

Favorite nut?

Oh man, this is a super hard question! I love so many nuts/seeds. But my fave nut at the moment is definitely cashews. I can’t believe I used to hate them, now I eat them in some form almost every day. They make amazing raw dips and spreads (like my spicy nacho cheez and mascarpone ‘cream’) and can be incorporated in all kinds of raw desserts.

Favorite fruit and veggie?

Another hard one. I’ll just go with what I’m loving most right now–mango and kale. I actually dominated an entire mango the other day at one time, no shame. Now I really want to make some kind of raw massaged mango kale salad!

How good does this look?!

What raw food have you never liked?

Sashimi. Um, yuck. I used to like fish before I became vegan, but even then I thought raw fish sounded nasty. I never wanted to risk getting sick, so I never tried it.

Favorite raw dessert?

Either raw brownies or raw cheesecake. Both are really easy and fun to make but I want to try a store-bought or restaurant version some day!

Raw key lime cheezcake, made with cashews.

What raw food do you eat most often?

Definitely fruits and veggies. I actually prefer most veggies in their natural, aka uncooked and raw form, they just taste so much better that way. A lot of people don’t like raw kale, but I’m obsessed with it. Just squirt a little lemon juice on it, sprinkle some nooch on it and you’re good to go!

What raw food do you want to try?

Raw protein powders. I would love to add a protein punch to my raw desserts and I just think the raw powders might taste even better and more real than the vegan powders I currently love.

What is your favorite raw food discovery?

Cacao nibs. I was intrigued by them when I saw them on someone’s blog and then I decided  to order some. They make a great (but less sweet) sub for chocolate chips and they’ve got a cool texture.

An (almost) totally raw breakfast, featuring banana softserve and cacao nibs.

Onto the “letting go” part of my title. As I said in my last post, I’m going on vacation soon. As much as I love getting away from the daily grind, vacations can be so hard, especially for my eating and exercise habits. I’m realizing that I won’t be able to do my daily 45-60 minute workouts for a few days and we’ll be eating out for dinner every night and I’m kinda freaking out. But really, why can’t I enjoy myself for 5 days and balance my normal healthy eating with some meals out (that’ll still be fairly healthy) and just working out by hitting the outdoor pool and walking around the town and hiking in the mountains. I think I’ll live, and probably have more fun. So for at least the days I’m on vacation, I want to skip adding up my meals and workouts in the calorie tracking app I use and not flip out if I can’t be as balanced as I am at home. I think I can still be really healthy–it’s not like I’m going to start eating junk because it doesn’t make me feel good–and the few days I’m away might make all the difference in the changes I’m trying to make to fight my ED. I like knowing the numbers and the macros, but really, they’re not the be-all end-all. I want to try moving towards intuitive eating, instead of restriction and counting.

What raw food do you eat most often? How do you balance vacations and your health?

Raw Foodism 101

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, particularly my recipe posts, you’ll know that I’ve recently discovered a love for raw ‘cooking’ and foods. I currently only have 8 raw recipes in my repertoire but I’m constantly thinking up new desserts I can ‘raw-ify’. I know a lot of people out there don’t know a lot about what raw foodism is, so I thought I’d give you a little rundown of what it means to me and how to start incorporating raw foods into your diet. Note: I am NOT a strict raw foodist, or an expert on this topic. These are just my opinions and what I’ve read from other blogs about raw foodism.

In a (raw) nutshell, raw foodism is eating foods that have not been cooked above a temperature around 115-118 degrees. The main type of raw foodism is raw veganism (as many vegan foods are safe for consumption without being cooked), but some raw foodists are vegetarians or omnivores. Raw foods are preferred over cooked because cooking can destroy the healthful enzymes found in the raw form.

Raw vegans eat fruits, vegetables, soaked nuts & seeds and sprouted grains & legumes. The strictest raw vegans follow a diet known as 80/10/10, which is 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat, and eat just raw fruits and veggies.

Raw ‘cooking’ is a bit more complicated than just eating straight-up raw or soaked foods. You need a lot of kitchen appliances, like a food processor, blender, juicer and dehydrator. Raw foodists can still eat crackers and cookies–by using these appliances, they can make healthier, more nutrient-dense versions of these popular items while still staying raw. Dehydrators technically heat foods, but only to 115-118 degrees.

Raw ‘cooking’ involves different ingredients than regular cooking. I haven’t done as much experimenting with savory raw dishes, but I can tell you some of the staples needed to make raw desserts.

  • raw, soaked nuts and seeds (especially cashews)
  • raw cacao powder
  • agave nectar, raw honey (not vegan)
  • dates, other dried fruit
  • fresh fruit
  • chia and flaxseed
  • maca/mesquite/lucuma powder
  • cacao nibs
  • soaked buckwheat

If you’ve ever wanted to try preparing raw meals for yourself, but are worried about how complicated it might be, never fear! There are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive raw recipes out there for you to try out. Here are some that I’ve made in the past or planning to make soon…oh, and don’t mind my lame attempt at raw humor 😉

Rawcos (raw tacos)

Photo courtesy of My New Roots.

Tirawmisu

Photo courtesy of A Raw Story.

Cheezy Sundried Tomato Kale Chips (dehydrator recipe)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Key Lime Cheezcake 

My own photo & recipe.

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of Choosing Raw.

Rawco Salad (raw taco salad)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Raw Mini Pecan Pie

My own photo & recipe.

So now you have no excuse not to try out raw foods for yourself!

What’s your favorite thing to eat raw? Have you ever made a raw meal or snack?

WIAW: Secret Nutrition Edition

I like eating healthy, but I also like to enjoy what I’m eating. If I’m not liking what I’m putting in my mouth, then what’s the point? Luckily, I’ve trained my taste buds to love nutritious things, like kale salads and raw seeds, but I still like to have fun with my food. That  being said, this week’s WIAW features a few of the meals I’ve been enjoying lately, with the ‘secret’ (or not so secret) nutrition aspect of the food too!

Breakfast: banana softserve ‘sundae’ topped with peanut flour paste, cacao nibs and PB Puffins.

Secret: Cacao nibs. These tiny dark brown bits are raw and packed with magnesium, which helps with muscle function and bone strength. They also have more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea and red wine! Cacao nibs pack a powerful healthy fat punch and can boost your energy.

Lunch: Qdoba naked taco salad with romaine, black beans, habanero salsa and guacamole.

Secret: habanero peppers and guacamole. Habaneros are one of the spiciest peppers (between 100,000-500,000 Scoville units) because of their high concentration of capsaicin. Capsaicin can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and can even increase the body’s metabolism while consuming it. Guacamole is made from avocados, which can increase absorption of lycopene and beta carotene when combined with lettuce or spinach. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, and their oleic acid can increase absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.

Snackplate: organic kettle corn, Way Better Snacks Simply So Sweet Chili multigrain chips, fresh pineapple, baby carrots, tamari pumpkin seeds, Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate.

Secret: pumpkin seeds and multigrain chips. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and protein. Their phytosterols can help lower cholesterol, and the seeds have anti-inflammatory benefits. This brand of multigrain chips is probably the healthiest I’ve found. All of the ingredients are real foods, and the chips are full of healthy fats in the form of sprouted flax seeds and sprouted chia seeds. The chips are also made with sprouted quinoa, stone ground corn and sprouted broccoli seeds, and are low in sodium.

Dinner: spicy mac ‘n cheez (quinoa pasta, Field Roast Mexican chipotle vegan grain meat sausage, spicy nacho cheez sauce, nooch).

Secret: nooch, spicy cheez sauce, quinoa pasta. Nooch, aka nutritional yeast, is a vegan staple for a reason. It’s a complete protein source (the brand I used has 8 grams per serving) and is full of necessary vitamins including B12. The spicy cheez sauce recipe can be found here and it’s made with simple, whole ingredients including raw cashews. Cashews provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and magnesium which helps with bone health. They also can prevent gallstones. Quinoa pasta is made from two simple ingredients, quinoa and corn, so it’s perfect for a gluten-free diet. It’s full of fiber and protein, so it can fill you up faster than traditional white pasta, plus it has all the benefits of quinoa.

Unsweetened brewed iced coffee from Panera.

Secret: coffee. This tropical bean is full of antioxidants, helps prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and protects against some forms of cancer. Without any milk/cream or sugar added, it’s a very low calorie drink. To boost your iced coffee, add in unsweetened almond milk and stevia for minimal calories.

What’s something you enjoy eating that also has a ‘secret’ benefit? Do you like iced coffee?

WIAW: The Finish Line

So who else had an awesome weekend? I finished two papers this weekend (not exciting, but it always feels great to get those done with, plus it means I’m just that much closer to being done-zo) and also saw Wicked at the Denver Center on Sunday. My sister is a huge musical fan, and Wicked is probably her favorite show, but this was my first time seeing it and I was blown away. Such an amazing score, costumes, actors and story. If Wicked comes to a city near you, I definitely recommend seeing it.

As I’ve mentioned probably a bazillion times, it’s my last week living in a dorm, and I only have 3 more days left as a sophomore. It’s kinda bittersweet, since I really enjoyed this year, but I definitely have some bigger and better things ahead of me, both this summer and in the fall, so I’m just ready to be done with this school year. So this WIAW is my final compilation of dorm room eats. I will NOT miss only having a microwave to do my cooking in!

A recent breakfast obsession: banana 'pudding' topped with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

I’ve been having smoothies-in-a-bowl almost every morning since I bought xanthan gum. I am so glad I made that purchase, because now my smoothies are so thick and creamy, almost like pudding. This one tasted like banana pudding, and it was amazing topped with Puffins.

Return of the snack plate: raw broccoli, spicy avocado Hope hummus, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, kettle corn, mixed dried fruit, kalamata olives.

I know most of the blogworld is obsessed with certain brands, like Chobani for Greek yogurt, Love Grown for granola and Sabra for hummus. Let’s just say I’ve never been one to go with the trends 😉 My favorite hummus brand is Hope Hummus, which is a Colorado company. They only make 3 flavors right now, but the spicy avocado flavor is the best hummus I’ve ever tasted.

Just like the diet cream soda I used to live, only more natural!

Diet cream soda used to be my favorite soda flavor. I never drank soda  a lot, but when I did it was usually that. Now that I avoid fake sweeteners, I love that there’s a more natural alternative to diet cream soda. And it tastes so good!

A very summery outfit: navy lace tank with pinstripe belt (Abercrombie Kids), red/navy/white plaid twill shorts (Abercrombie and Fitch), silver bangles (American Eagle), unpictured red flip-flops (Hollister).

It's crop top time! Dark grey Navajo-style cropped tee (American Eagle), fish necklace (American Eagle), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle).

Time for an outfit break! I’ve been loving the super warm weather (can anyone say 70s and 80s in April?) and wearing all my springy and summery clothes again. Summer is my favorite season for clothes–I could just live in dresses, cute twill shorts, pretty tanks and tees and leather sandals.

Sweet potatoes are back! Sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and pecan pieces, raisins/dried apples/Mission fig dipped in almond peanut cashew butter, cheezy lemon pepper kale.

Sweet potatoes don’t go away just because it’s almost summer. Oh no! I enjoy them year-round, with a variety of toppings. I especially love nut butters/peanut flour/actual nuts on top.

Stuffed dates are my favorite little treat!

If you’ve never stuffed a Medjool date with some kind of nut butter, you’re crazy! My recent favorite is honey walnut butter–basically I took some Artisana raw walnut butter and stirred in a little raw honey. I normally don’t like raw nut butters because they’re blander, but the touch of honey made it perfect.

A random dinner: frozen pineapple and mango, spicy guacamole, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, cheezy lemon pepper kale, edamame with nooch.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking, “This girl is obsessed with cheezy lemon pepper kale.” And you’d be right! But it’s a good obsession…I’ll even share the super-simple recipe I came up with with you. It doesn’t even have real measurements, which is always the sign of a good recipe 😉

Cheezy Lemon Pepper Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

handful kale, about 1 cup (I prefer shredding mine into smaller pieces)

squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

nutritional yeast, to cover the kale

Squeeze lemon juice over kale in a bowl or measuring cup and massage into leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste, and nooch to coat the kale. Stick in the fridge for at least an hour, and enjoy as a salad base or a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Chocolate banana smoothie in a bowl with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

The chocolate version is just as good as the banana pudding version, but it’s even better with the Puffins on top. I love the contrast between the thick, smooth ‘pudding’ and the crunchy cereal.

Another iHerb order: peanut flour (duh), cacao sweet nibs, tiny jar of kumquat jam, sunflower seed butter, Chocolove dark chocolate bar with sea salt and almonds.

iHerb is officially my favorite online store ever! I can get so many foodie items that I either can’t find around me (cough cough peanut flour) or that are actually cheaper online. I finally realized that if you order at least $20 worth of stuff, you get free shipping. Score! So I stocked up on more peanut flour (can’t live without it), as well as three new-to-me products: cacao sweet nibs, sunflower seed butter and dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. And they sent me a little freebie, a tiny and super-cute jar of kumquat jam, which I can’t wait to try! So exotic. The sweet nibs aren’t exactly like dark chocolate, but I like that they’re a raw product and only have 3 ingredients. The sunflower seed butter is my new second-favorite nut butter after almond peanut cashew butter; it’s perfectly salty and seedy. And the chocolate is heavenly and probably my favorite Chocolove flavor. Dark chocolate+almonds+salt=perfection.

What’s the most exotic jam or jelly flavor you’ve ever had? Do you like smoothies in a bowl?