(Almost) Wordless Weekend

I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever, but really, it’s only been 5 days. It’s been quite the whirlwind of 5 days though and a LOT has changed, though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet…

Instead of boring you with the details of my (amazing) weekend, I’ll just share some of my favorite pictures from the last 3 ish days. It’s still crazy to me that Christmas is in less than 2 days now, since I just moved out of my apartment this morning and I’m finally home for the holidays. I’m planning on ‘celebrating’ tonight with some Whole Foods salad bar action 😉

Ashley-sized mojito at Luscious Nectar downtown to celebrate being done with finals with some friends.

Ashley-sized mojito at Luscious Nectar downtown to celebrate being done with finals with some friends.

 

Fun (and cheap) Target finds. Navy blue wedges, sparkly gold nail polish, under $10 for both.

Fun (and cheap) Target finds. Navy blue wedges, sparkly gold nail polish, under $10 for both.

Getting ready before graduation on Saturday.

Getting ready before graduation on Saturday.

 

Getting pumped to be a college grad!

Getting pumped to be a college grad!

Leaving for the commencement ceremony.

Leaving for the commencement ceremony. It was so cold, I was glad I wore pants!

 

First selfie as a college graduate.

First selfie as a college graduate.

My mom and me after the ceremony :)

My mom and me after the ceremony 🙂

My family held up signs for me, how cute!

My family held up signs for me, how cute!

 

Caught in the act of taking a selfie!

Caught in the act of taking a selfie!

The amazing vegan reuben on gluten free bread at my favorite vegan restaurant in FoCo.

The amazing vegan reuben on gluten free bread at my favorite vegan restaurant in FoCo.

 

Cute lamb slippers at Bath & Body Works shopping for my mom's Christmas presents.

Cute lamb slippers at Bath & Body Works shopping for my mom’s Christmas presents.

 

 

Soy skinny peppermint mocha and some sister and dad time at Starbucks after shopping.

Soy skinny peppermint mocha and some sister and dad time at Starbucks after shopping. My first Starbucks drink in 3 weeks!

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to attend the school that I did, have an amazing experience there, and was able to graduate in 3 1/2 years without too much stress! This weekend was incredibly fun (and busy) so I’m ready for Christmas and some down time before I start the job search. I still can’t believe I’m living the post-grad life haha.

Enjoy your holidays, and have a happy New Year if I don’t talk to you before then!

What did you do this weekend?

 

Friday Five: T Minus 2 Weeks

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who commented on and emailed me about my last post. I really appreciate all the feedback you gave me about my “no added sugar” plan, and I’m working towards being more flexible with my eating and not letting food become an obsessive thing in my life. Especially around the holidays, when I’m already stressed as it is, and sometimes a girl just needs a Hail Merry miracle tart (which I’ll be treating myself to at the end of finals week).

1. There are just over 2 weeks left til the big day…graduation!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day for forever. Okay, maybe not, but it’s been a source of excitement and fear in my life since at least last year. I think getting the opportunity to graduate a semester early, and start my ‘real’ life will be the best Christmas present I get this year–and it just so happens to be right around Christmas. I’ve just got to get through one more week of classes, 2 real finals, 1 take home test and an online final and then I’m there! I know the next two weeks are going to fly by, but I hope I can enjoy them to the fullest. My time in college has been so much more than I could have ever imagined, so in a way, I’m going to miss it. At the same time, I’m ready to be done with school!

2. I’m obsessed with balls.

Nope, not those ones 😉 I’ve been whipping up some Larabar knock-offs in ball form and eating them for snacks, at breakfast/lunch, you name it. My latest creations are PB&J (my favorites, and literally just raisins+no salt/sugar PB), protein peppermint mocha (recipe below!) and cookie dough (almond meal+dates+stevia chocolate chips+vanilla extract). Let’s just say that my Ninja has been getting a lot of love lately!

Some of my 'balls'.

Some of my ‘balls’.

Protein Peppermint Mocha Balls (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw, no added sugar)

1 scoop Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder (can sub any coffee-flavored protein powder, or just chocolate and add a little instant coffee)

1 tbsp cacao powder or dark cocoa powder

8-10 pitted dates, soaked 2 hours

3-4 tbsp pumpkin seeds, soaked 2 hours

dash peppermint extract, to taste

In a food processor/high speed blender, process all ingredients until they start to come together. Roll into balls or flatten into bars and enjoy.

3. I am seriously looking into moving to California. Or somewhere else warm.

Not that I wasn’t already, but after this week, I’m considering it even more. Not only did we get 6 inches of snow (not too unusual, and it made it feel more like Christmas, but it made the roads horrible) but we’ve been having Arctic-like temperatures since Tuesday, and they will be continuing until this coming Tuesday. I’m talking daytime highs of 10 degrees at the most, and overnight lows in the negatives. That just doesn’t happen here more than a random day or two, usually in February. The strange thing about Colorado is that we still get plenty of sunshine on these frigid days, so it’s like the weather is taunting us by looking warm but feeling beyond cold. This awful weather has made me just want to stay in and watch Christmas movies #noshame.

This sums it up, basically.

This sums it up, basically.

As does this tweet.

As does this tweet.

4. Some random search terms for your enjoyment.

I haven’t looked at my search terms in awhile, so I knew there was bound to be some, erm, interesting ones. Here are some of the weirdest!

  • drinking olive oil with salt to jump start my period: I would suggest putting that olive oil and salt to better use as a dip for some fancy bread…
  • cappuccino float: I’m not even sure how that would work, but coffee+ice cream is always a winner.
  • how did i spend my thanksgiving holiday for middle school: I haven’t been in middle school for 8 years, so I can’t remember that far back what I was doing for Thanksgiving!
  • selfies gone wrong: If they’re referring to my car selfies, they couldn’t be more wrong!
  • slang saying yaaasss: I personally love slang words, so go for it.

5. My apartment is sufficiently Christmas-ified.

2013-12-05 17.41.082013-12-05 18.23.02

It’s hard being away from home during the holidays. I really struggled with this during my freshman year of college–it was my first time away from home, and I was dealing with all the typical finals-time stress, along with a not-so-great roommate. What’s made my holiday seasons since then a little better (besides living in an apartment on my own!) is having Christmas decorations up and listening to Christmas music as much as possible. My lovely mom was nice enough to decorate my place while I was at class when she dropped me off after break on Monday, and now my apartment is looking pretty festive. Having all that snow helps too (though, lets be honest, I’m sick of it already) and even though I won’t be going home for good (aka until I find a job) until the 23rd because that’s when I’m moving out of my apartment, I can still enjoy this holiday season, while looking forward to the time that I’ll get to be home with my family again. T-minus 17 days until I’m home for Christmas 😀

Do you like to decorate your home/apartment/dorm for the holidays? What’s the weather like where you are–I need some hope that warmer temps will return soon!

WIAW: 6 Days

Ahhhhh I can’t believe we’re so close to Christmas! It always seems like the days drag on leading up to the big day, but then it’s all over so fast. So this year I’m trying to savor each moment leading up to the 25th so it doesn’t zip by me!

This week’s WIAW is what I ate Monday and it’s a random assortment of old favorites and new foods…and there’s even a recipe thrown in there.

Breakfast: carrot cake buckwheat waffle topped with shredded coconut and vanilla Sunwarrior protein frosting

Breakfast: carrot cake buckwheat waffle topped with shredded coconut and vanilla Sunwarrior protein frosting

I’ve been alternating between homemade waffles and protein chia puddings for breakfast. This waffle was carrot cake inspired–filled with carrot shreds and raisins, and topped with coconut and vanilla ‘frosting’. The Sunwarrior is new to me, and not my favorite protein powder, but I think it’ll grow on me.

OOTD: colorblock dress (American Eagle), pink heart necklace (Forever 21), tortoiseshell hipster glasses (American Eagle).

OOTD: colorblock dress (American Eagle), pink heart necklace (Forever 21), tortoiseshell hipster glasses (American Eagle).

It was not warm enough to wear this dress on its own (Colorado in December isn’t quite that nice!) but I paired it with my faux leather jacket, grey tights and my favorite grey wedge booties and felt like a total fashionista hipster. This is my first winter-appropriate dress and now I want even more–dresses are my absolute favorite thing to wear so it’s nice not to have to say goodbye to them during the colder months!

Lunch: fresh raw lemony kale salad topped with raw sunflower taco 'meat', mango salsa and guacamole.

Lunch: fresh raw lemony kale salad topped with raw sunflower taco ‘meat’, mango salsa and guacamole.

I love kale salads for lunch but I need a way to mix them up. Enter: raw sunflower taco ‘meat’. Obviously it’s not meat, as I am vegan, but it replicates taco filling so well…actually, better than taco filling! I’ve seen a few recipes for raw vegan tacos so I tweaked those to come up with my own, crave-worthy taco filling that’s totally raw, packed with healthy fats and protein and is delicious.

Raw Sunflower Taco Filling (vegan, grain free, gluten free)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 tbsp coconut aminos

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

chipotle powder, to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until it comes together and resembles taco filling. Serve in kale or lettuce leaves with guacamole, salsa and raw cashew cream. Makes about 1 cup. 

Lunch (part 2): fresh Satsuma tangerine.

Lunch (part 2): fresh Satsuma tangerine.

Can’t go without fruit or something sweet to end lunch! On my trip with my dad to WF over the weekend we picked up some Satsumas which are my favorite type of citrus fruit, and luckily, they’re actually good this year. I love how pretty they look with their leaves and stems, too.

Snack: rice cake topped with cheap girl pumpkin butter/chocolate chips/coconut shreds, baby carrots, peanut flour paste, Theo orange dark chocolate square, fresh fig.

Snack: rice cake topped with cheap girl pumpkin butter/chocolate chips/coconut shreds, baby carrots, peanut flour paste, Theo orange dark chocolate square, fresh fig.

The snackplate lives on! Sadly I had to toss the fig after a few bites because it was dried out inside and not tasty, but everything else was. The rice cake combo is something I’ve been having almost daily–there’s just something about pumpkin butter, chocolate and coconut that goes together so well.

Dinner (repeat photo, sorry): pineapple 'fried' quinoa with edamame, kale and cauliflower.

Dinner (repeat photo, sorry): pineapple ‘fried’ quinoa with edamame, kale and cauliflower.

As much as I love to give new recipes a try, there’s nothing like reinventing a classic. I’m just obsessed with pineapple ‘fried’ quinoa for some reason and I’ve been eating it at least once a week. I think it’s the sweet, salty, spicy and crunchy combo that just gets me. It’s so good and it’s so quick and easy to whip up.

Dessert: PB chocolate microwave protein cake topped with Nuttzo, java chip coconut milk ice cream, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate square.

Dessert: PB chocolate microwave protein cake topped with Nuttzo, java chip coconut milk ice cream, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate square.

I’ve been having some kind of protein cake for dessert for at least a week now and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. This version is probably my favorite though–I just combine peanut flour and raw chocolate protein powder with a splash of unsweetened almond milk, baking powder and sometimes a few Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (love them!) and pop it in the micro for a minute until it puffs up and turns into a cake-like consistency. I sometimes have it with a small side of coconut milk ice cream and a square of dark chocolate if I want a little extra something.

Do you prefer making new recipes or sticking with old favorites? Do you like citrus fruits?

Recipe submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #22

Countdown to Christmas Recipes: Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins

My Friday post was scheduled ahead of time, so I was unable to acknowledge the horrible tragedy that occurred in CT. Please keep everyone affected by the event in your thoughts and prayers.

This may seem like more of a Thanksgiving recipe than a Christmas one, but I think pumpkin is still fitting this time of year. If you’re in need of a quick dessert to take to your holiday parties, this might fit the bill. It’s healthier than most muffin recipes–it’s grain free, packs in almost 5 grams of protein (if you go by the serving size, has only 2 tbsp of added sugar in the entire recipe and is packed with Vitamin A in the form of pumpkin, but I think most people will just be focusing on the incredible taste 😉

This is a very crumbly recipe, so you should probably keep it refrigerated ahead of time if you want it to hold up at a Christmas party. But if you make it just for yourself, I’d suggest crumbling one on top of some chocolate chia pudding, a bowl of fruit or whatever you want. Messy food is fun!

almond flour pumpkin chip muffin

 

Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins (vegan, grain free, gluten free)

1/3 cup almond flour or meal

2 scoops Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder (or any ‘clean’ vegan protein powder of choice)

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

1/2 tbsp baking powder

cinnamon, to taste

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp ground flax (made into flax ‘egg’ with 2 tbsp water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin or baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients through salt. In a food processor or blender, mix pumpkin, maple syrup and almond milk until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir in flax egg until batter forms. Pour batter into muffin tins (or 1 baking dish) and bake for 20 minutes. Makes 10 small muffins. 

Each muffin is around 70 calories, so it’s a good smaller-size option for parties, but if you’re making them for yourself, you can make 5 or 6 bigger muffins and still be enjoying a much healthier treat.

Do you still eat pumpkin around Christmas time? Have you ever baked with almond flour before?

 

 

WIAW: Dead Week Staples

Well, guys, I’m in the midst of dead week here, and it’s kind of hitting me hard. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’m definitely a lot busier than normal and last-minute assignments are still pouring in. Side note: doesn’t the term ‘dead week’ just sound so much more awful than it is? Don’t get me wrong, it is a stressful time but I have yet to die in the 5 dead weeks I’ve experienced so far in college. Just sayin’.

Anyways, here are some of the things that have been keeping me sane during this crazy week full of papers, presentations, class evals and finals.

Looks weird, tastes good.

Looks weird, tastes good.

This week, I’ve been loving on the crepes more than the waffles. Errr…well…my attempt at crepes. I’m calling them ‘pancrepes’ because they’re not quite as thick as pancakes, but thicker than crepes. Either way, they’re really good and easy to make. Basically I just take 3 tbsp of buckwheat flour and mix it with stevia, then add enough almond milk to thin it out, swirl it around in a pan, cook and then stuff with lots of fillings, fold over and eat. Who knew crepes were so easy to make?

Lovin' on the raw kale salads.

Lovin’ on the raw kale salads.

A raw kale salad has been my lunch staple for the past few days and it’s not changing anytime soon…except when I run out of kale. I bought a new salad dressing over the weekend, a no-oil tangerine dressing that’s sweet and sour and perfect for mixing with kale, dried fruit, nuts, lentils, whatever other weird things I decide to throw in my salad.

I'm usually a sucker for seasonal things, but this was not good.

I’m usually a sucker for seasonal things, but this was not good.

I had such high hopes for this bar. I’ve been looking for it since last year, with no luck until a week or so ago. I haven’t had a Clif bar in probably a year because I just don’t care for the flavor anymore, and they’ve got too many ingredients for me, but I really wanted to try this. Unfortunately, it disappointed this peppermint-loving girl’s taste buds. It was not peppermint-y at all and I couldn’t even swallow the one bite I took. Sorry, Clif, but I just can’t do your products anymore.

Another variation on the classic stir-fry: orange-glazed tempeh, kale, cauliflower, quinoa, pineapple, pumpkin seeds.

Another variation on the classic stir-fry: orange-glazed tempeh, kale, cauliflower, quinoa, pineapple, pumpkin seeds.

Another thing I can’t really stomach anymore? Tempeh. I blame it on a few instances of stomach bugs over the summer that for some reason turned me off tempeh. I used to prefer it over tofu and ate it regularly, but I just can’t stand the taste of it anymore. I tried an orange-glazed version but only liked it when I ate it with the other parts of the stir-fry and not by itself. I’m thinking of going back to (organic) tofu again–I seem to really love it at the Whole Foods salad bars.

A delicious new breakfast: sprouted grain French toast topped with fresh fig and raw vanilla chai protein powder.

A delicious new breakfast: sprouted grain French toast topped with fresh fig and raw vanilla chai protein powder.

Up until this summer, I’d never had French toast. For real. Then I made this recipe, loved it and then forgot about it. Until I bought a new brand of sprouted bread. And I loved this version even more than the original one. I cut a slice of the sprouted bread down the middle (the slices are pretty big), toasted it first, soaked it in a mix of almond milk and raw vanilla chai protein powder, cooked it up and topped it with almond butter and a fresh fig. The key was definitely toasting the bread first–it made the French toast less soggy. Plus the flavor combo was totally winning. You can’t go wrong with fresh figs.

I just love Christmas trees!

I just love Christmas trees!

I couldn’t ignore Christmas, even amidst all the studying and stress! Decorating my mini tree and listening to Christmas music all day long have really helped me get through the past week and it’s reminded me how close I am to being home for Christmas. I think the season’s even more special now that I actually get to go home for Christmas.

A cheap girl's answer to pumpkin butter.

A cheap girl’s answer to pumpkin butter.

So I was always jealous of the bloggers who slathered their food with pumpkin butter. I craved that fall-ish spread but didn’t want to shell out $6 or more for a teeny jar. So I got creative, invested in this much cheaper (and larger) can of organic pumpkin pie mix that’s basically just pumpkin, cane juice and spices and realized that it’s exactly like pumpkin butter. But it’s better for your wallet and it lasts longer too. Win win!

Now this was a winner of a dinner: creamy kale enchiladas roja.

Now this was a winner of a dinner: creamy kale enchiladas rojas.

I haven’t been having too much success with recipe experimentation lately. But this dinner discovery definitely made up for it! I found the recipe for cashew kale enchiladas on this great vegan recipe blog but as per usual, I made a few changes to it and well, it’s a keeper.

Creamy Kale Enchiladas Rojas (vegan, gluten-free)

1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

sea salt and pepper, to taste

cayenne pepper, to tastes

kale, rinsed and shredded

4 gluten-free tortillas (I used Rudi’s gf spinach tortillas)

1 cup canned lentils, drained and rinsed

red vegan enchilada sauce (I used the Frontera brand)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large glass oven-safe cooking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. In a food processor, blend soaked cashews, nooch and spices with enough water to smooth out. Place tortillas in the cooking dish and fill with cashew cheese, shredded kale and lentils. Roll each tortilla tightly and place side by side. Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas to cover them. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until sauce starts to soak into the tortillas. Serve with extra cashew cheese, fresh guacamole and salsa. Makes 4 enchiladas.

Have you ever had a crepe? What’s one thing you used to love that you just can’t stand to eat anymore?

Countdown to Christmas Recipes: Pecan Pie Pecans

First things first: thanks for all the great responses and advice on my last two posts! I really appreciate all you had to say and hopefully I can put it in to use and start working on getting rid of that annoying calorie counting habit.

***

Who doesn’t like the flavors of the holiday season? Peppermint (my personal favorite), gingerbread, eggnog, spices, pumpkin (I know, it’s more of a fall thing but it’s still sticking around), cranberry…there’s a flavor for everyone to enjoy. The holidays are not just about the food, of course, but enjoying the special food of this time of year is a big part of the experience.

One of my other favorite Christmas-y flavors is pecan. I don’t know why it reminds me of Christmas but it does and I love its roasty flavor. Last year at this time I came up with a couple recipes using pecans–coffee maple pecan butter and raw mini pecan pies. I’m not even sure that I’ve ever had real pecan pie, but I do know that I love that flavor, all caramelized and gooey.

So why not take the flavor of a pecan pie and add it to…pecans? Over Thanksgiving break, I was planning on making some grain free maple pecan bars for the big day, but the crust didn’t turn out great and I almost scrapped the whole thing. But then I tasted the pecan topping and thought, “Wow, this tastes like pecan pie!” So I decided to roast the pecans and they turned out amazing.

Roasting nuts at home is super easy, and you can add whatever flavors you want. Obviously these are inspired by the classic pecan pie and they really do taste like pie. Trust me.

Ummm, yum!

Pecan Pie Pecans (vegan, gluten free)

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 tbsp Grade A maple syrup

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp almond butter (I used AB that’s just made from almonds)

sea salt, to taste

In a medium pot over high heat, bring maple syrup, coconut oil and almond butter to a boil, whisking frequently. Stir in pecans and sea salt; make sure pecans are mostly covered with the maple syrup mixture. Preheat oven to 375. On a baking sheet lined with foil, spread pecans out in 1 layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pecans start to caramelize. Makes about 1/2 cup. 

Do you like pecan pie? What’s your favorite holiday flavor?

This recipe was submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #19.