Forever 21

Finally 21. I usually don’t feel different on my birthday, but this year I did. I feel more mature, more independent. Not just because I can legally drink but also because I’m just a few months away from graduating college. It almost feels like yesterday that I started college as a scared little freshman, and now I’m about to embark on my adult life. Weird.

21 was a birthday I’ve only really looked forward to in the past year or so. Before that, I vowed I would never drink–because the few sips I sampled of my parents’ drinks tasted gross to me. That’s not to say that now I’m 21 I’m going to become a crazy partier. I have no desire to get drunk or drink cheap alcohol. I would much rather sip a glass of white wine while watching a movie at home, or enjoy a fun cocktail at a fancy restaurant.

I did drink on my 21st, but my birthday was more than just about the alcohol. This birthday marked the last time (most likely) I’ll be living at home to celebrate. It’s bittersweet looking back on the past 21 birthdays (obviously the first few I don’t remember)–going to waterparks on my birthday, spending it by the pool in the mountains, watching the Summer Olympics, always going out to eat with my family/friends. I’m going to miss this part of my life.

As I said, my 21st was a lot more than being able to drink in a restaurant–which I definitely did, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I started the day as usual–waking up, checking my phone, enjoying some sweet potato-Sunwarrior-banana softserve with homemade magic shell (hey, had to make it special for my birthday!) and getting ready. I did wake up still sick, with a still-sore throat and irritated eyes, but I’m sick of letting little things ruin my day, so I’m really glad I didn’t let lingering sick feelings make my birthday less than special. And what made it that much more special was the decorations I found once I got downstairs. My parents have always been great about making our birthdays feel fun, no matter what we end up doing, and I’m really grateful for that!

bday decos

Starbucks and shopping were on the agenda…with none other than my sister! Even though we’re really different, we have a lot of things in common–namely our love for the ‘bucks, shopping for clothes (especially at Forever 21), Whole Foods salad bar and alt rock music. All of which we enjoyed together on my birthday 😀 I’m seriously gonna miss that girl when I graduate and I still can’t believe she’s just a year away from college herself! Anyways, we had the best time drinking iced coffees, yelling at stupid drivers, finding the perfect things to buym laughing at the dumbest things and marveling at the giant Whole Foods we ate lunch at.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent making my own birthday dessert. I’d never done that before, but I really wanted to make something that my family and I could all enjoy together. I went with this raw coffee cheesecake and it.was.delicious. My dad even said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made, and he’s a total dessert freak! It’s definitely a great dessert to make for raw vegans and non-raw vegans alike, especially if you love coffee. Aaaaaaaand…I got to enjoy a piece for two nights afterwards, so a total winner!

Dinner was what I was looking forward to all day though (other than shopping obviously!) I’d been wanting to go to a tapas place in town since I’d heard they had lot of vegan options, and the fact that they’re 100% gluten free was icing on the cake. I wasn’t sure if my family’d like it, especially my sister who’s pretty picky and likes typical teen food, but they loved it just as much as I did!

Tapas are basically small dishes generally in a Mediterranean or Spanish style that are meant to be shared with others. I’d never had tapas before but since I love eating little bits of a lot of different things (and Mediterranean food!) I knew I’d like it. My family got some dishes with meat or cheese, but I was still able to try a lot of the things we got, like warm olives (love olives!), fresh garlic bread (the best garlic bread I’ve ever had, and GF too!), patatas bravas, artichoke and onion salad and a gazpacho ‘shooter’. Everything was so fresh and tasty–definitely my kinda place. And their sangria was amazing as well. We got two carafes–one was the sangria del dia, which was pineapple orange with white wine and my personal favorite, and the other was a traditional blood orange sangria with white wine. I got carded (of course) but I loved the experience of being able to enjoy a quality drink in a nice atmosphere. And sangria is now my favorite drink!

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

But the best surprise of the night was when our waiter found out it was my birthday and he let me pick out a dessert for free. I had already made a dessert for us at home, but the chocolate tasting plate sounded too good to pass up, so I ended up sharing that with everyone. It was basically 8 small squares of dark chocolate ranging from 65-85% cacao and it was paired with some blueberries and Marcona almonds. It was some good chocolate, and it went really well with the berries and almonds. So glad I went for the dessert instead of opting out just because I had dessert already planned!

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

Back at home, I opened presents and then we had my birthday cake cheesecake. A few of my presents were total surprises, like the denim shirtdress and Zoku pop maker, but everything I got was something I’ve been wanting for awhile. You know you’re a foodie when you get excited for a popsicle maker and vegetable peelers 😉 And the raw ‘cookbook’ has some really delicious looking recipes so hopefully I can share some with you guys soon! The purse and clothes will also get a lot  of use–this girl can never have too many purses or outfits!

My birthday was one of the best birthdays I’ve had, and it wasn’t just because I got presents I loved or because I could finally order a drink in a restaurant. It was more about the memories I made with my family and the happiness I got from being able to enjoy one last birthday with them.

What made your last birthday special? What’s your ultimate birthday dessert? 

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?

Best of…March!

Hi! Can you believe we’re at the end of another week already? If time keeps flying by this quickly, it’ll be summer before I know it! Of course, I’m not complaining. School is starting to get hectic and I’m more than ready for an actual break for a few months.

As usual, I have my monthly recap post. It’s hard to believe that I’ve already done five of these (I started last October). I always have fun compiling these posts and I hope you all enjoy reading them as well.

Best WIAW: Spring Break Bonanza

I can see this being my go-to dinner this summer!

Over spring break, I got to try so many new products and new recipes. It was totally a party in my mouth 😉 I’m looking forward to being able to do this all over again in just 4 short weeks when summer starts.

Best Deep Post: When Less Isn’t More

Working on increasing my intake hasn't been easy, but I think it'll be worth it in the long run.

You guys really blew me away with your well thought-out, candid responses. Yes, some of it was hard to read, but I know if I want to make progress, I have to break bad habits and work through my issues. The only way to do that is to be honest, and while I was scared to post it, I think it was worth it.

Best Fun Post: ABCs and Recipes

I miss being able to tan outside...

Surveys are so fun! I’m really hoping someone in the blog world comes up with a new one ASAP because I’m definitely not creative enough to come up with one as good as this one. I also loved reading what you guys answered for all the letters if you did it on your own blog.

Best Recipe: Raw Key Lime ‘Cheesecake’

How delicious does this look?

I had 5 real recipes from last month, so it was hard to pick, but this one was definitely a winner! Next time I make it, I’ll experiment with other flavors (I want to try a chocolate raspberry variation) and increase the ingredients so it makes a bigger cheesecake. Who knew cashews could make an amazing dessert?

Best New Discovery: Chocolove Chocolate

So far I've tried 4 of their dark chocolate varieties and they're all really good.

I can’t believe 6 months ago, I was still deathly afraid of chocolate. It’s still a fear food of mine, but I can proudly say that I have eaten a small serving of dark chocolate every single day and I haven’t blown up like a balloon. Chocolove is now my favorite brand because they have so many flavors of dark chocolate. I love the orange peel, raspberry and chilies/cherries varieties, but I still want to try the crystallized ginger and peppermint ones, just to name a couple. I’m obsessed!

Did you do any recipe experimenting last month? What’s something you tried last month for the first time that you can’t live without now?