College Vegan on a Budget: New Finds

A series of posts on one college girl’s trials and errors in budgeting her grocery money and still eating well.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last CVB post! Don’t worry, I’ve definitely still been buying groceries since then, I just haven’t had too many exciting purchases. Until this week, that is.

As I mentioned in my WIAW post this week, I’ve been enjoying a lot of new-to-me products this week. Other than the ones I already mentioned, I just got my latest iHerb order in the mail and other than my usual peanut flour and Alter Eco dark chocolate bar, I also gave in and finally bought the blogger favorite–coconut butter. I’ve heard so many raves about it that I had to give it a try, even at $11 a jar (yes, I bought the Artisana kind). And…I love it! I know a year ago, it would have been a waste of money since I both disliked and feared coconut anything, but now that I’m pretty much obsessed with all things coconut (oil! flour! milk! shredded! bars!) I hoped I would like it. Coconut butter is amazing as a nut butter substitute, especially stuffed in dates. I can’t wait to try it out in recipes!

My new finds from Sprouts and Whole Foods.

My new finds from Sprouts and Whole Foods.

You know me, always on the lookout for new, clean, vegan bars that I can try out as snacks and quick meals. I first spotted the new Larabar ALT variety on their website towards the beginning of the year, but I never saw them in stores until I shopped at a new Sprouts last Sunday. My college town has two Sprouts stores (kinda crazy considering my hometown of half a million only has one, but my tiny college town of only 150,000 has two) but I’d only been to one of them before. I was disappointed in that location’s selection of bars so I decided to check out the other Sprouts. This one is closer to me, bigger and seems to have a much better selection of everything…they even had the strawberry Zevia I’ve been looking all over for! Anyways, they also happened to carry all 4 flavors of the ALT bar so I snatched up all but the cinnamon apple crisp (I’m not a huge fan of apple-flavored things). So far, I love the pumpkin flavor and I really like that they offer 10 grams of pea protein.

As for my other new buys, I picked up the carrot cake Larabar, an organic raw foods bar, my second flavor of Vega One bars (I love these because they’re just the right amount of sweet and chocolate and have 15 grams of protein + greens in a 250 calorie bar, which is perfect for a quick lunch!), grape Zevia, Pure Via (I’ve heard some negative things about my favorite Truvia so I wanted to try a cleaner brand), Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour in bulk (only $3.99 per pound which is much cheaper than buying prepackaged), a champagne mango (better than regular mangoes!), tricolored carrots and baked apple chips (I know you love these, Amanda!)

I like trying new things because then I can find things I love, and figure out what things I don’t like so I don’t end up wasting more money on them in the future. That’s why I like when I can find single-serve things (like the bars and Zevia) that aren’t so expensive, so if I hate them, I didn’t waste that much money. Luckily this time around, I’ve really liked everything I’ve tried so far!

Do you buy new things at the store a lot, or stick with old favorites? Do you like trying different varieties/colors of produce? 

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WIAW: New & News

Before I get to the best party of every week, I wanted to share a little news with you guys. I’ll be doing a couple reviews (with a possible giveaway) within the next week so look forward to that! I love entering giveaways and reading reviews so I’m really happy that companies have started to reach out to me to share their products with my readers.

Now onto the eats! I’ve been eating a lot of “new-to-me” stuff lately which I always love. I’m not really a creature of habit, I do know what I love and stick with that but I really like switching things up and trying out new food. I did some of that over spring break and apparently that trend is continuing this week.

Breakfast: chocolate coconut chia protein pudding topped with cacao nibs, shredded coconut and chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.

Breakfast: chocolate coconut chia protein pudding topped with cacao nibs, shredded coconut and chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.

The chia seed pudding obsession is going strong, but what’s new is the addition of (half of) this new-ish to me Larabar flavor. I tried the chocolate chip cherry torte flavor last summer and didn’t love it. But after having it a second time, I kinda like it. I pretty much hate anything cherry or cherry-flavored, so this is huge for me. Probably the chocolate chips are what make it ok 😉

Lunch: spinach salad with green garbanzos and balsamic.

Lunch: spinach salad with green garbanzos and balsamic.

The salad-for-lunch thing isn’t new (I’ve been eating one almost every day for three months!) but the green garbanzos sort of are! I bought some frozen ones from Whole Foods on a whim about a month ago and haven’t been using them a lot, but they’re really good in salads drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I’d love to try making falafel from them too!

Lunch side: half a pumpkin pie ALT Larabar.

Lunch side: half a pumpkin pie ALT Larabar.

If you have the new ALT bars near you, please try them! Especially this flavor. It reminds me of spice cake, and is really good and filling! Half of one made the perfect lunch dessert, and it had 5 grams of pea protein to boot (the entire bar has 10 grams). I love finding all-natural vegan protein bars that actually taste good!

Snack: snackplate of yellow carrot, maple mesquite sprouted walnuts, baked apple chips, Kaia buckwheat rawnola and Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig GF granola, southwest ranch kale chips, peanut flour paste with mini dark chocolate chips.

Snack: snackplate of yellow carrot, maple mesquite sprouted walnuts, baked apple chips, Kaia buckwheat rawnola and Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig GF granola, southwest ranch kale chips, peanut flour paste with mini dark chocolate chips.

The kale chips are semi-new (the southwest ranch flavor of Kale Krunch chips is unreal) and so are the apple chips and the cashew butter (the WF brand reminds me of cookie dough, but it’s just made from cashews and a little safflower oil!) but the real newbie is the yellow carrot. Can you believe I’d never had a whole carrot before a week ago? I spotted a bunch of tri-colored carrots at Whole Foods and just had to snag them. I don’t think I’m gonna rely on baby carrots so much anymore, I love the crunch of these full size carrots! And the fun color is just an added bonus.

This doesn't look awkward at all...

This doesn’t look awkward at all…

‘Nuff said!

Grape Zevia.

Grape Zevia.

I’ve been wanting to try this flavor for awhile, but I didn’t want to pay $5 for a 6 pack, in case I didn’t like it. Verdict: while it’s not my favorite flavor (that would be the cream soda) , it actually grew on me and I do like it. At first it reminded me of children’s Tylenol, but it’s actually pretty tasty!

Dinner: sauteed kale, sweet potato socca pizza.

Dinner: sauteed kale, sweet potato socca pizza.

Socca pizzas are a staple around here, but this was a first for me–a sweet socca pizza. I made my usual socca base (1/4 cup chickpea flour, salt, enough water to thin) and topped it with 1/4 of a mashed sweet potato mixed with almond milk and cinnamon, crumbled maple mesquite walnuts, shredded coconut and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was like dessert pizza for dinner, and it was oh so good!


These were actually all my meals for Monday, minus my nighttime snack (unpictured because it was eaten too late for a good photo to be taken), which was coconut flour mixed with a little baking powder, chocolate chips and almond milk and microwaved to make a coconut flour muffin, a square of Alter Eco dark mint chocolate, peanut flour paste and a date stuffed with cashew butter and cacao nibs. Nothing exciting, but I love it.

If you’ve tried Zevia, what’s your favorite flavor? Have you ever eaten a weird colored veggie?

Bread for All (Grain Free Flatbread)

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Paleo, it’s basically one of the biggest trends in the healthy living blog world at the moment. Obviously, it’s not for me as it completely eschews legumes (no black beans? no peanut flour?), soy (I love me some edamame and tofu/tempeh) or grains (I can go grain free most of the time but I still love buckwheat, quinoa and other GF whole grains). Basically, it’s a vegan’s worst nightmare. I’m not knocking paleo by any means, I’m just sayin’ that I could never handle all the meat and eggs the diet requires. I think it’s great that it promotes whole foods rather than the processed junk that a lot of Americans live off of but I think any kind of whole f00ds-based diet can be healthy and it’s all up to the individual to decide what works best for them.

Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with grain free vegan recipes. They’re actually really hard to come by, because grain free recipes generally work better with lots of eggs holding them together. However, I came across a recipe for grain free flatbread made with coconut flour and surprisingly, it was already vegan! I knew I had to try it out, so I made a few tweaks and it turned out amazingly well. It actually held together for the most part, even when I made eggplant muffulettas with it, and it tasted better after a day or so of sitting out. Plus, it only requires a handful of ingredients and is perfect for both paleo people and vegans and well, pretty much everyone!

Eggplant muffuletta (adapted from Veganomicon) on coconut flour grain free flatbread.

Eggplant muffuletta (adapted from Veganomicon) on coconut flour grain free flatbread.

Coconut Flour Flatbread (vegan, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

1/4 coconut flour 

1 tbsp ground psyllium husk or psyllium powder (CANNOT substitute/omit)

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

3/4-1 cup boiling water

spices, to taste (can add garlic, salt and red pepper for savory bread or cinnamon, ginger and salt for sweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk coconut flour, psyllium and spices. Add in coconut oil, and slowly pour in boiling water. Use just enough to make mixture thick and make sure there aren’t any dry spots. Spread mixture onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet and smooth out with back of a spoon or a spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bread starts to become a little crumbly. Remove from oven and let cool. Makes 4 regular sized slices. 

I enjoyed this as the bread for my eggplant muffulettas (it soaked up the olive juices and tastes amazing) and as a flatbread to dip into an African peanut stew I made last weekend. It tastes even better a day or so after being made so be patient and let it sit 😉

Have you ever had a grain free food that’s usually made with grains? What’s your favorite style of bread?

WIAW: Loving Lately

Happy WIAW! I swear, this year’s gonna be over before I know it. I can’t believe I’m already almost done with midterms, am about to sign up for classes for next semester and Christmas is almost 2 months away. I’m one of those crazy people who can’t wait for it to be the holiday season so I’m already counting down to Thanksgiving. But can you blame me, I need a break!

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Unlike my most recent WIAWs, this one isn’t documenting what I ate on a certain day. I used to like doing that but then I always ended up posting similar items each week. I don’t feel like I eat the same things all the time, but I almost always end up taking pictures of the same things. So this week is all about what I’ve been loving on lately.

Apple nachos. Half a sliced Jazz apple. Peanut flour drizzle. Mini chocolate chips. Raisins. Maple almonds.

Not much to say about these, except you’ve gotta try them. They take apples to a whole new level!

One minute coconut flour carrot cake. Coconut flour. Chopped carrots. Cinnamon. Chopped dates. Ground flax. Almond milk. Peanut flour paste.

This was a microwave cake, but I’m working on a vegan, grain free coconut flour based carrot cake for the oven. Stay tuned!

Coffee roasted squash seeds. Ground coffee. Kabocha seeds. Maple syrup. Coconut oil.

These were even better than the original squash seeds. But then again, anything coffee-flavored is.

Dirty chai waffle. Buckwheat and almond flours. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Ground coffee. Raw cacao powder. Topped with raw pumpkin chocolate protein frosting, mini chocolate chips, fresh figs and maple syrup.

What’s dirty chai? Apparently it’s chai tea mixed with espresso, and this waffle was inspired by that delicious combo. The best part of any waffle is the toppings though!

Roasted kabocha with peanut flour drizzle. Coconut flour microwave cake crumbles. Frozen grapes. Alter Eco dark mint chocolate. Justin’s vanilla almond butter.

This snackplate style lunch was perfect right before class. This week I roasted my first kabocha and I’ve gotta say that now I understand the addiction. The texture is a little weird but it’s so tasty!

Kale topped with nooch.

So simple, so good. Seriously, try this and you will be amazed how good kale can be when topped with plenty of nooch.

My macros. So proud of that 25% protein!

I don’t really talk macros on here much, but I really love tracking mine. Usually my carbs are around 45%, protein at 20% and fat at 35%, it’s just what works for me. But there are a few days that I definitely love my protein and fats more. Who says you can’t get enough protein as a vegan?!

Spicy Italian-style kelp noodles. Sauteed kale. Half a chopped Field Roast Mexican chipotle vegan sausage. Nooch. Olives. Spicy harissa hummus. Kelp noodles. Basil pasta sauce.

Who knew I’d end up loving kelp noodles even more than my beloved quinoa pasta? It’s really just so cool how kelp noodles are pasta-like but are made from a sea veggie instead of grains. I love having them any way, but the Italian way is my fave. Bring on the olives and the nooch!

Whole Foods salad bar box. Crushed homemade tortilla chips (the best!). Curried wild rice. Cold sweet potato salad. Coconut curry tofu. Orange chipotle tofu. Calabasitas (mixed grilled squash).

I wish this weren’t true, but the Whole Foods salad bar at my home WF is so much better than the one at the WF near school. I love the store near school, but the salad bar rarely has many tasty vegan options like the one at home has. As you can probably guess, this particular box was from a weekend trip home.

What foods have you been loving lately? What do your macros look like (if you track them)?

WIAW: Fall Flavors

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m excited for fall. I vowed to not wear long pants until fall officially arrived…yeah, that didn’t happen. I wore them twice in the past two weeks because it got randomly chilly for a couple days. I’ve embraced my moccasins again (and I’m looking for another pair to buy). And I’ve been enjoying the flavors of fall. Here they are, WIAW style!

Caramel apple coffee? Uh, heck to the yes!

You know me, I’m a sucker for anything seasonal or limited edition. I recently inherited my dad’s coffeemaker and I was planning on buying the coconut macaroon flavored coffee from Target, but when I saw this, there was no stopping me. I mean, you can’t go wrong with caramel and apple in coffee. Especially when it’s made with vanilla almond milk.

Looks weird, tastes amazing.

I’ve finally got a recipe for y’all! I made this last week when I got down to the end of my first can of pumpkin. I also had a bit of a leftover sweet potato so I decided to mix them up with a few other things and it turned out surprisingly really good.

Pumpkin Coconut Mash (vegan, gluten-free)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/4 sweet potato (or another 1/4 cup pumpkin)

1 tbsp coconut flour

drizzle agave or maple syrup

maple or vanilla extract

unsweetened vanilla almond milk, to thin

cinnamon, raisins, protein frosting, etc. for topping

In a bowl, mash together pumpkin, sweet potato (if using) and coconut flour. Add in liquid sweetener and extract to taste and pour in almond milk until mixture is thick and wet. Microwave on high for 1-3 minutes, or until combined and hot. Drizzle with more maple or agave, cinnamon, raisins, protein frosting or whatever you want. Makes 1 serving.

Coconut oil makes everything better!

This was my attempt at homemade plantain chips. I’ve always wanted to try them, but I’m not a fan of deep-fried things or weird oils. So I bought a plantain, put a little coconut oil in a pan and cooked up the slices. I also sprinkled cinnamon on them while they were cooking. They turned out really delicious, but not crispy at all. Next time I think I’ll cook them first and then dehydrate them.

Slice homemade white pizza, slice homemade sweet and salty pumpkin pizza, fresh blueberries.

Have any of you ever had “white” pizza? I think it’s usually an alfredo-based sauce topped with wilted spinach. I haven’t had it in years but I really wanted to recreate it, healthy vegan style, and I was totally successful. I topped some Whole Foods multigrain pizza dough with Follow Your Heart vegan creamy garlic dressing, shredded kale leaves and navy beans. Super simple, but it turned out great. The dressing kinda soaked into the crust and it tasted even better that way. The pumpkin pizza I made wasn’t quite as good, but I made an amazing pumpkin pizza last year, so I’ll just have to tweak this sauce next time.

This is basically the cleanest donut ever!

Have you ever seen a donut with these ingredients? I’ll admit, neither had I until the other day. I really think it’s awesome that Whole Foods made a healthier donut. Who could say no to garbanzo beans, coconut, almonds and pumpkin in their donut? Of course I had to buy it to try it out!

This gluten free and vegan donut was a winner!

And the verdict is….amazing! This donut was perfectly moist and fudgy, like the perfect chocolate cake. I’m not even a fan of cake and I liked this. I was only disappointed because it claimed to be a pumpkin donut, and it was basically all chocolate. But I don’t complain about chocolate, ever.

I’ll miss being able to wear strapless tops with no jacket…

I’ve been switching up my workouts lately with an app called Skimble Workouts. Most of the stuff on there is free, and they’ve got a ton of pre-made workout routines of different lengths and intensities. I’ve been getting great ab, leg and arm workouts lately and they’re lots of fun. Obviously I wanted to show off my hard work with a progress pic of sorts. Can you see that baby bicep?

So I was going to end this post with a video of my first weather forecast ever from last week but the video wouldn’t load. I should be able to get either this week or last week’s forecast up in the next few days though. I’d love any and all feedback you guys have for me!

What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve seen in a baked good? What’s your favorite “fall flavor”?

Five for Friday

I haven’t completely given up on Friday Faves posts, even though it probably seems like it! I just felt like going with a different approach this Friday so hopefully it’s just as fun as usual!

Five Things I Have to do This Week

1) Call in for jury duty. Ummmmm, yeah, I totally got assigned jury duty next Monday. No bueno, but luckily I don’t have any major assignments due then. I am really really hoping I don’t actually get called in because it’s super inconvenient, probably boring and I have to pay $1 an hour for parking. Uh, what?!

2) Write a 2100 word paper. I know I’m doing a liberal arts major and minor, and I don’t mind writing, but that’s a lot of words, plus it requires research. It’s a little dumb too because it’s for a journalism class and I know for a fact that as someone going into the broadcast field, I will never have to write anything even close to that many words. Try more like 50 words or less per story. Oh well…

3) Prepare my first weather forecast. I am really pumped for this one! Because of special programming the last two weeks, I wasn’t assigned to do weather on my news night. But this week is my first week going live, and I’m super excited. Hopefully I can write up a script that is at least somewhat decent…but honestly, I’d rather ad lib the weather like I did for our practice week.

4) Grocery shop. Is it lame that I’m excited about this too?! Whatever, I like to go grocery shopping. I have to finalize my list tonight and then tomorrow’s the big day. I’m hoping I won’t stray too far from the list…

5) Meal prep. Another exciting one, and my first time actually purposely prepping food for multiple meals. I don’t always have time during the week to whip up a single serving lunch or dinner, so making some things ahead of time will be a big time saver. A few things on my list to make: tofu nuggets, pumpkin maple bean cornbread casserole, pineapple coconut flour shortbread squares and dark chocolate-covered edamame. Yes, I realize two of those things on that list are desserts–gotta keep my priorities straight, right 😉

Don’t these look amazing? Photo courtesy of The Veggie Nook.

Five New Finds I’m Loving

1) Whole Foods vegan chocolate mousse. Okay, if you see a little cup of this in the prepared desserts section of your Whole Foods, buy it. Immediately. I’m not kidding. This stuff is straight-up, chocolate-y crack. It’s mind-blowingly creamy and rich, so you only need to eat a little at a time. And it’s only $2.99, so it’s fairly cheap. I’m thinking it’ll make the perfect frosting for my protein microwave cakes.

2) Mrs. Dash fiesta lime seasoning. This stuff is a great way to add Mexican flair to everything (I love it on black beans) without any salt.

3) Coconut flour. I got mine in bulk from Sprouts, so it was extremely cheap. It works great in protein cakes, smoothies and I want to try it in pancakes and waffles. I know it’s hard to use in vegan recipes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try to make it work.

A protein cake made with coconut flour, flax, vanilla protein powder, almond milk and topped with raisins and cacao nibs.

4) Almond Breeze unsweetened almond coconut milk. I’ve been on the lookout for this since I first heard about it and I finally found it at Target. It’s a little thicker than almond milk, with a hint of coconut taste. I really wish they’d come out with an unsweetened vanilla version in refrigerated though.

5) Kelp noodles. I’ve enjoyed these three ways: Italian (red sauce, nooch, olives and crumbled veggie burger), Asian (peanut flour sauce, peppers) and cheezy (nooch, cashews). The Italian was definitely my fave, but I really loved them all. The noodles really take on whatever flavors you mix them with, and they’ve got a slight crunch which is cool.

Five Frustrating Things

1) Bicyclists who run red lights. Seriously, guys, us drivers have to constantly be watching out for you, and it’s not cool when you ignore traffic rules.

2) Having random pains. Since Wednesday, my right ankle hurts when I go downstairs, and now my lower back aches, and there’s some pain behind my left knee sometimes when I walk or workout. Yeah, I’m kind of a mess right now. Luckily I can still do all my normal stuff but it’s just annoying.

3) So many assignments due next week. I get it, the semester’s already underway and all that, but I’d like a little break from all the homework, readings and papers.

4) Getting sucky parking spaces. I’ve actually been pretty lucky this week with parking. I parked in the garage most of the week for school and usually got a space on the third level, so it was nice and covered. But parking at the apartment complex can be hell. I lucked on out Wednesday night and got a decently close spot, even though I got back around 8:45 pm. But most days, if I get back anytime after 3 (which happens pretty much every day), I have to park kinda far away. Not a big deal, just annoying.

I don’t like having to park Alejandro far away from me…

5) Super hot classrooms. Seriously, I have class in this one room that feels like 110 degrees. No joke. It’s hot enough outside but even hotter inside. We should just have class outside. I always crank up my A/C once I get back to my apartment after that class.

What’s one thing that’s frustrated you this week? What’s your favorite alternative flour (like nut or gluten-free flours)?