College Vegan on a Budget: Last Stock-Up

The latest installment in a series of posts on sticking with a college-sized budget with expensive, vegan tastes and a love for cooking.

My last week of classes officially started today, and I am beyond excited to go home for Christmas break! I don’t wanna brag, but my college is giving us 5 whole weeks of break this year–usually we only get 4, so I feel really blessed. Thanksgiving break came and went too quickly so I’m planning on enjoying every moment of Christmas break.

This weekend is (hopefully) the last shopping trip of the semester while I’m at school. I bought a lot of stuff, but I can bring it back with me when I go home so I’m not too worried about it. As usual, I picked up a couple new-t0-me things because, well, why the heck not? Some of the things I bought are specifically for recipes I’m planning on making so if they turn out amazing, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Sprouts

My Sprouts haul

My Sprouts haul

*=organic

What I Got: Silver Hills Bakery The Big 16 sprouted bread*, gold nugget squash (love finding new squashes), navel orange, cauliflower, buckwheat flour*, curry seasoning

What It Cost Me: $16. 43 (this is why I love Sprouts!)

Verdict: I’m excited to try the squash and the bread. I’ve been on the lookout for a really good sprouted bread without unnecessary ingredients (Ezekiel is okay, not my fave, and Alvarado Street is a little too processed) and I was excited to see that they sell Silver Hills bread in CO. I love their simple, whole ingredients so I’m super excited they sell it here. Now I need to look for their Little Big Bread and their gluten free breads!

Whole Foods

Whole Foods staples...

Whole Foods staples…

What I Got: almond flour, dried pineapple*, red enchilada sauce, Coconut Secret raw coconut nectar (not sure how I feel about this yet…), So Delicious no sugar added mint chip coconut milk ice cream (love the mint chip combo), Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter squeeze packet, dark chocolate raisins*, Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder (new favorite protein powder brand), spelt flour*, Vega One French vanilla protein powder packet, Theo toasted coconut dark chocolate bar, mini candy canes* (so excited for these), Rudi’s gluten free spinach tortillas, kale*, no oil tangerine dressing, baby carrots*, black figs* (I’ve been missing these like no other)

What I Spent: $86.73 (typical lately…)

Verdict: I wasn’t expecting to spend this much, but then again I spent under $50 last weekend and I was running low on protein powder, which is a major chunk of the total (even with a coupon). I bought the coconut nectar because I needed more maple syrup and it was the same price for a larger amount, but I’m not sure I love it yet. I think I’ll use it in recipes, but save my beloved maple syrup for waffles and almond butter. 

...and Whole Foods splurges

…and Whole Foods splurges

Do you like sprouted bread? What’s the best new food find you’ve discovered lately?

 

College Vegan on a Budget: Doubling Up

One in a series of posts about how I stay on a budget while getting my fill of healthy, vegan foods from higher-end stores.

As it is the week before Thanksgiving break (hollllllla!) I was in a bit of a pickle. I was running out of some things I need weekly (almond butter, kale, nuts, olives, almond milk) but I didn’t want to make a big stock-up trip and end up wasting money on things I won’t be able to use up in a week or be able to keep around until after break. I knew I couldn’t really live on what was left in my fridge unless I wanted to be totally restrictive and veggie-less for the week so I made the trip to Whole Foods…twice! Yeah, crazy, I know, but one of those times I went with my mom when she came up with the rest of my family for the weekend and the other time was a semi-emergency trip.

All this stuff should last me through this Thursday, and some of it I should be able to take home with me over Thanksgiving or just leave here without risking food poisoning. And I didn’t spend too much, which is a total win!

*=organic

New find, just in time for the holidays! And it’s fair trade!

Whole Foods (trip 1)

What I Got: dark chocolate covered raisins* (a fear food of mine I wanted to challenge–they had pretty clean ingredients so I went for it), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze pack (ran out of AB, needed a quick fix for a couple of days), Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (OMG, so good, look for a review of it soon), Theo peppermint dark chocolate bar (splurge, but it’s worth it for good chocolate)

What It Cost Me: $32.15 (I had a $5 off coupon for the protein powder, score!)

Verdict: I could have maybe skipped the chocolate and the raisins, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could go outside my comfort zone and buy a couple items I’ve been wanting for awhile but haven’t been brave enough to try. The protein powder was a total leap of faith (I’ve had the brand before, but a different flavor) but it was worth the money–great taste, good nutritional profile, awesome ingredients. 

My bigger Whole Foods haul, with plenty of produce and staples.

Whole Foods (trip 2)

What I Got: Pacific Naturals vanilla unsweetened almond milk*, Rising Moon garlic merlot pasta sauce (my favorite brand for sauce)*, Made in Nature dried pineapple and apple* (on sale!), Truvia, Farmer’s Market boxed pumpkin*, Maranatha maple almond butter (new favorite AB), maple covered almonds, Nada Moo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, Celestial Seasonings vanilla red rooibos tea, green kale* (also on sale), 2 small bananas, green figs*, bulk olives

What It Cost Me: $47.23 (not bad!)

Verdict: I am so happy I stayed just under $80 for this week’s groceries (this is a new goal of mine for every week) and I got a lot of good stuff I was out of so this was a much-needed trip. Even better, we went at night so the store was not crowded at all!

Like I said above, I want to try to stick to a budget of $80 a week on groceries (I think I can do it!) and this week showed that I can do it, even buying more expensive items like the protein powder and vegan ice cream. I know there are certain things I don’t want to give up, because the higher price is worth the health benefits and taste, but I also know there are ways I can keep whittling down my budget to consistently stay around the $80 mark each week.

If you use protein powder, do you buy it online or from a store? What are some things you can’t live without every week?

College Vegan on a Budget: The Newbie

This is a new series I’m testing out and it’s all about shopping on a college girl budget, as a vegan who has healthy (and expensive) tastes. Enjoy!

I’ve never really grocery shopped for myself before. Yes, I’m a college junior and have been “on my own” (with my parents help) the past 2 years, but until now I never had the means to go grocery shopping. Sure, sometimes when I was home and had access to a car I’d pick up a couple splurges for myself at Whole Foods, but I never had to pay for staples and such. Now that I have a car and am living off campus with a full kitchen, grocery shopping is a necessity. I can’t always rely on my mom to get me what I need every two weeks, so I’m having to start grocery shopping for myself. Call me a nerd, but I’ve always had fun doing it! But now, it’s serious business–I have a budget I have to stick to. This week, it was $50 (plus $20 in cash that my mom gave me). Could I do it? Let’s see how my weekend shopping trips turned out!

So excited about the chiles, the coconut flour and the coconut Greek yogurts!

Sprouts

Can I just say that I love this place? Seriously, I can’t wait til the Sunflower Market back home turns into a Sprouts because it’s such a great alternative to WF. Now that I’m back at school, though, I have access to Sprouts which is great for my tastes and my budget.

I looked up their weekly deals and sales before I headed out so I knew what I should stock up on based on my not-so set-in-stone shopping list. And I tried to tell myself to stick to that list, but being the first time I’ve ever bought a lot of stuff on my own, I was like a kid in a candy store. I kept seeing all these things I wanted to try and I ended up getting a few things not on the list, but it didn’t turn out too expensive.

What I Got: fresh roasted Hatch chiles (made in store that morning!),  2 red mangoes , whole raw cashews in bulk, coconut flour in bulk (excited to try it), dried mango slices (nothing added!), 2 So Delicious coconut milk Greek yogurts (yay!) and a Luna Fiber bar. 

What It Cost Me: $15.43 (I used cash)

Verdict: I will try to shop here more often (even though it’s a little out of the way) because I got a lot of great stuff pretty cheaply. And they have a lot of products Whole Foods doesn’t stock, like the fiber bars, coconut flour and vegan Greek yogurts.

Oh peanut flour, how I’ve missed you!

Whole Foods

Ah yes, my favorite store! Unfortunately, it doesn’t always love me back. When my parents take me there, a typical stock-up trip can cost $60 or more. Since I was just planning on getting a few fill-in items, I figured I wouldn’t have to worry. Just to be safe, I kept my cell phone’s calculator handy so I could add up totals as I went along (and I’ll be doing this from now on).

Again, though, I went a little too crazy and bought several things not on my list. Good for my foodie curiosity, bad for my budget. But you live and learn.

What I Got: fresh black figs, raw agave nectar, maple almonds (got a little too many of these…), nooch (always necessary), kelp noodles, dark chocolate chunks (ran out and couldn’t live without ’em for a week!), frozen edamame (running low), frozen pineapple, PB2 (impulse buy…I was missing peanut flour, which I haven’t had in a couple months), vegan cookie, coconut milk caramel from checkout counter.

What It Cost Me: $39.32 (yikes!)

Verdict: I will definitely be sticking to the list in the future at WF! Too many impulse buys add up, especially the PB2 which was $6! I also need to be careful with the bulk stuff, since it can be expensive. I ended up with a bunch of almonds, and while I’ll definitely eat them, they weren’t cheap. Also, the figs were supposed to be $3.99 for a pound, but somehow ended up costing me almost $6  even though they weighed a little over half a pound (maybe they were priced wrong?). Definitely need to read labels more closely and avoid buying multiple things that cost $5 or more. The other items were really cheap, so if I had been more careful, I could have stayed under $30.

Obviously, I am such a beginner here when it comes to budget shopping. I wasn’t able to use any coupons, which could have saved me, and while I did try to avoid buying all the things I’ve been dying to have or try, I need to make more of an effort to do that. I will definitely use up all the items, but in the future I need to be more conscious of cost and if I really need it or if I can wait a couple weeks. However, I am excited to try all the new-to-me items!

Do you have experience budget shopping? What is your biggest grocery shopping splurge?

Saturday Survey

Thanks for all the good thoughts and well wishes on my last post! A quick update on the fire–it’s now 15% contained, which is a lot better than the 5% it’s been since last weekend and some people have been allowed to return home and to work (including my dad–his office was in the evacuation area and he had off of work since Wednesday) but unfortunately, over 300 homes have been destroyed. Keep thinking of us out here and pray for rain!

On another note, sorry there wasn’t a Friday Faves post this week! I was pretty busy this week–I was at my internship on Tuesday between 2 and 10 pm answering phone calls about the fires and running little errands for the anchors, reporters and producers; I went grocery shopping (more on that later!), to the post office, played tennis with my dad (one perk to him having a few days off) and some other stuff and it kinda just slipped my mind. But I didn’t want to forget about posting this weekend altogether so here’s a survey I filled out awhile ago. I found it on a vegan blog, so a lot of the questions are vegan-related but I hope you still enjoy it anyway!

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan but you don’t?

Greek yogurt. My mom was still buying it for me a month or so ago and I just can’t do it anymore, it’s not as appealing to me.

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?

Pretty much most veggies. I liked carrots and lettuce and bell peppers, but that was about it. Now I love a lot of them, like kale, eggplant, portobellos, sweet potatoes and spicy peppers.

Kale is my favorite veggie ever!

What vegan food or dish do you feel like you should like, but don’t?

Almost all tofu. I like it from the Whole Foods hot/cold bars, but that’s about it. It’s also okay if it’s sliced really thin, but otherwise it’s just gross to me. Luckily I like tempeh a lot, so it’s no loss.

Spice/herb you would die without?

Nooch…I put that s**t on everything! When I first bought it (because everyone else was doing it), I thought it was bizarre but now I just can’t get enough.

Seitan, tofu or tempeh?

Tempeh allllllll the way! I can even eat it raw, is that weird? I just love its nutty flavor! Tofu is my second favorite. Generally, it’s a meh for me though. And I’ve only tried seitan once but it was just not my thing at all.

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?

Dried fruit, or just fruit in general. It’s so addicting grabbing a handful of fresh pineapple, or making a Medjool date stuffed with nut butter. I always choose dried fruit without anything added so I know it’s not unhealthy, but sometimes I fill up on fruit before the meal even starts!

The dried pineapple is especially addicting!

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?

Desserts. I love healthier prepackaged desserts, but it’s so much more satisfying eating something you made yourself.

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?

Nut butter, maple syrup, flavored dark chocolate, stevia-sweetened soda…yeah, I have expensive tastes 😉

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?

Kalamata olives are a must, as are artichoke hearts. I love kale, jalapenos and tempeh bacon too. Nooch is almost always dumped on top.

Some of my all-time favorite pizza toppings.

What’s on your grocery list this week?

I just went to the store on Thursday, but this was some of what was on my list: kale (weekly purchase), Medjool dates, oat flour, chia seeds (first time buying them!), maple almonds, protein powder samples, brown rice Pad Thai noodles, vegan curry sauce, Larabars (still can’t find the chocolate chip cookie dough or Jocalat flavors, grrrr…), coconut milk ice cream (another first time purchase) and multigrain pizza dough.

What is the best salad dressing?

The Ginger People hot jalapeno ginger. It’s technically a sauce, but it’s so good.

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?

Peanut flour with cacao nibs, or mango jam with a crackle of sea salt. Don’t knock it til you try it.

“Dressed up” sprouted toast (topped with mango jam, maple macadamias and sunny “raw”nola).

Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

Alvarado Street sprouted sourdough (new fave bread), Field Roast Mexican chipotle sausages, NadaMoo! maple pecan coconut milk ice cream.

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?

I still have yet to have a vegan cupcake, but I so want to. I would love a carrot cake kind with vegan cream cheese frosting, or maybe a s’mores kind.

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?

Kale and tempeh tacos.

Simple but oh so good.

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?

Most of my dessert things, surprisingly. My family’s used to super sweet, super rich desserts I guess (and crappy packaged stuff) so more natural, lower sugar stuff isn’t appealing to them. Oh well, more for me!

Favorite vegan chocolate/candy?

I love Chocolove’s dark chocolate in different flavors, especially raspberry, orange and peppermint. The peppermint kind tastes like a peppermint patty!

Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

Coconut milk ice cream from NadaMoo!. It’s like 5 bucks a pint, but totally worth it.

 

 

What’s the most extravagant purchase you’ve made in the last week? Name three items in your freezer!

 

WIAW: What I Ate (Monday)

I haven’t done a legit WIAW in awhile, you know, like posting all my eats from one specific day. Really, it’s just more fun to highlight some of my favorite meals from the past week instead of doing it all from one day, plus I always forget to take enough photos! But I thought I’d try to do a real WIAW this week since I actually remembered to take pictures.

Breakfast: peanut butter banana smoothie-in-a-bowl made with So Delicious unsweetened Almond Plus almond milk, peanut flour, xanthan gum, Truvia, mini banana and topped with peanut butter Puffins.

I’ve been experimenting with almond milks lately. So far, I’ve tried Pacific Naturals u/s vanilla, Almond Breeze u/s vanilla & chocolate, Silk u/s plain and So Delicious Almond Plus u/s plain. I’ve liked all of them, Almond Breeze and Silk are the creamiest and have the most calcium, not to mention I prefer the vanilla to plain, so I think I’ll be sticking to those to those two brands. The So Delicious one is good if you want  a little extra protein (5 grams versus 1 gram per cup in most almond milks) but I wish they would come out with an unsweetened vanilla.

Lunch: curried sweet potato pinto burger, carrots, ginger peanut sauce, fresh pineapple.

Being home has meant cooking for myself (for reals!) pretty much every day. For me, this isn’t a bad thing at all. Basically, because the rest of my family are omnis, I have to make my own dinner which has inspired me to get creative. Somewhat. I remade these awesome veggie burgers from spring break and they’ve been making an appearance at both lunch and dinner lately. The problem with cooking for one is you end up with a lot of leftovers…which maybe isn’t a bad thing at all!

Monday’s outfit: navy cardigan (American Eagle), dark grey lace tank (Hollister), navy/dark grey abstract floral skirt (Hollister), bangles (American Eagle).

The weather has been so effing bipolar here! Since I’ve been home, the weekends have pretty much sucked (temps. in the 60s at best, lots of clouds and wind, maybe some rain) and the weekdays are hit and miss. Monday was pretty warm, but cloudy for most of the day so I missed out on tanning. Boo 😦 Tuesday was super-warm, but I spent some of the day inside for my first day of my internship. What I did spend outside was extremely hot, even early in the morning. I’m just hoping this weekend is better because I want to do a lot of stuff outside.

Snackplate: freeze-dried fruit, raisins, square of dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt, stuffed date, kettle corn, blue and sweet potato Late July chips, peanut flour paste. Side of (half a can of) cream soda Zevia.

Snackplates are officially never going away…at least I hope not! The above assortment has been my go-to combo lately and I’m not getting sick of it. I’m just running out of almost everything on it! Time to make a trip to Whole Foods 😀

Dinner: Hugh Jass sweet potato topped with black beans/guac/nooch on one side, peanut flour paste on the other, side of mini sweet peppers and ginger jalapeno sauce.

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but this was one monstrous sweet potato! I enjoyed every last bite of it though, and of course had to please both my savory side (with the Mexican-inspired toppings) and my sweet side (with the peanut flour paste). The mini peppers are my new favorite veggie for summer, especially dipped in this spicy sauce. I can’t say enough good stuff about the Ginger People line of sauces. I love both kinds that I’ve tried and now I wanna try them all, well at least the ones without eggs or dairy in them!

Nighttime snack: PB Puffins in u/s almond milk, frozen grapes, peanut flour paste and almond peanut cashew butter.

See why I almost never post my meals from the same day? It’s because I repeat the same things throughout the day often. Like peanut flour, which I had 4 times on Monday, and Puffins which I had twice. I sometimes get really hung up on one thing and I eat it every single day or multiple times per day til I’m sick of it for awhile. I hope that never happens with my beloved Puffins and peanut flour…

Do you tend to eat the same things every day or multiple times per day? What’s your favorite thing to cook for just yourself? 

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?

WIAW: A Day of Raw Challenge

Hey ladies, how is February treating you so far? I’m just glad we’re that much closer to March–I can’t wait to bust out the dresses and flip-flops again!

Peas and Crayons

 

As I promised in last week’s WIAW, I have a special edition of the weekly foodie party for you this week. As you might know, I’ve recently become interested in raw foodism. Let me just clarify that I am not considering eating 100% raw–I like the principles behind it and its health benefits, but I feel good right now with my current ‘almost vegan’ lifestyle and I feel like at this point in my ED recovery, I shouldn’t be excluding all cooked foods, because they are nutritious (not to mention delicious)! However, I do like making raw treats from time to time and I also love things like raw fruits and veggies (I actually prefer my veggies raw!) and nuts so I thought I’d try eating totally raw for one day and share my experience on here for a WIAW post. So here goes!

Breakfast: raw carrot cake bite topped with raw walnut butter, red grapes, dried mango slice.

Normally, I love my oat-filled breakfasts, usually with a side of veggie bacon or veggie sausage, or sometimes just a bowl of plain Greek yogurt and fruit, but this was a good way of switching things up. However, this meal didn’t have quite enough staying power (aka protein), so it’s not an ideal breakfast but still tasty.

Lunch: chocolate brownie Pure bar, baby carrots, freeze-dried mixed fruit.

However, I did get a little more protein at lunch with the delicious Pure bar! I love Pure bars, because they are basically bigger Larabars with a little bit fewer calories and more protein (7 grams in this flavor). I almost can’t believe they’re raw, they’re so good! The chocolate brownie is my favorite flavor, hands-down, plus I really needed my chocolate fix for the day since I couldn’t have my usual daily dose of  a handful of dark chocolate chips. I think I should invest in cacao nibs because they’re raw–I’ve heard they take some getting used to, though. The carrots and dried fruit were good for crunch and overall, this was a pretty balanced meal.

Post-lunch dessert: Medjool date stuffed with raw pecan halves.

I also had some unpictured frozen pineapple chunks during my weather and climate lab. The date and nut combo is amazing, it tastes exactly like a turtle sundae. Well, without the ice cream, of course, but it’s a good raw substitute.

Afternoon snack: Pink Lady apple, handful raw pecan pieces.

Having just fruit and nuts for a snack isn’t something I usually do, but it was actually really tasty. I drizzled the pecans with a little raw honey and they were even tastier. I think pecans are my new favorite nut–sorry, almonds.

Dinner: sprouted quinoa bowl with raisins, shredded carrots and raw walnut butter, blood orange.

Sorry about the awful photo quality–I eat dinner around 7 pm so it’s pretty dark, aka no natural lighting so I just wing it. Instagramming the photos usually helps somewhat though! Anyway, this was my first time trying sprouted quinoa and I gotta say, it was a little weird at first, since I’m used to fluffy cooked quinoa but the crunchiness was interesting. I mixed it up with some raw walnut butter, carrots and raisins, making a carrot cake sprouted quinoa bowl of sorts, and I had some water and a blood orange on the side. The quinoa was pretty bland, but I’d like to try using sprouted quinoa in some kind of salad with a good dressing.

Dessert: frozen banana slices drizzled with raw honey.

No day would be complete without a nighttime snack! Of course, I love the combo of frozen bananas and raw honey, so I definitely enjoyed this dessert. Sweet, simple and cold. It was worth shivering the rest of the night–yes, I eat frozen stuff in the middle of winter!

Overall–I had plenty of energy to get through the day, and it made me feel refreshed and ‘clean’. However, there were definitely some foods I missed (namely peanut flour, sweet potatoes and oats), so obviously this raw food thing is not going to become a daily occurrence. I think cooked foods have a place in a healthy diet, and I don’t want to deprive myself of foods I love just to be completely raw. I do like that the challenge helped me get out of food ruts and try out some new combos, and it also challenged me to overcome my fear of fats (most raw foodism is based on using nuts, which have lots of healthy fats). I didn’t like that I wasn’t able to get as much protein as I usually can, and I don’t even normally eat a ton of protein, usually between 35-50 grams per day, and on my raw day, I only got 18 grams. Yeah, not so good but it was just one day so I’m not sweating it. So basically, there are some aspects I liked about the challenge and others weren’t my favorites but I feel good about mixing it up and trying something new. I would consider doing another ‘day of raw’ challenge in the future if I had more options, since being in a dorm I was mostly limited to fruits and nuts. In the future, I’m going to stick with my usual mix of raw and cooked foods, and also try out new raw food recipes occasionally.

Would you eat raw for a whole day? What’s your favorite nut?

WIAW: The One With the New Products

Happy Wednesday everyone! Or should I say, happy first day of February! I am so so so glad we are done with January, it’s always one of my least favorite months because it’s smack dab in the middle of winter (hate winter!) and just seems to drag on. February’s always a short month, even this year with an extra day, and always is a little more exciting. Especially because it’s one month closer to spring–can you tell I just want winter to be over?

So today is obviously the first WIAW of the new month, and to celebrate that, I have my reviews of some new-to-me products that I recently tried. I mentioned a few of them in my last WIAW, but since then, I’ve tried even more new products! I just love trying out new things and seeing what I like and don’t like. If I paid for my own groceries, I would definitely be at Whole Foods on a weekly basis scoping out new products…or maybe not, since that could get a little expensive! What can I say, I have expensive tastes 😉

Peas and Crayons

First up, Smart Bacon. Now, you all know how much I love my Morningstar spicy vegetarian sausage patties in the A.M. (or even at night, letsbehonest) but a girl needs to switch it up every once in a while. I like to have a protein source at breakfast to keep me going through long mornings spent in classes and walking around campus, so these give me a little protein boost (4 grams in 2 slices) and taste delicious. A little too salty, but I love them. I make them super-crispy in my microwave because I hate squishy soft bacon. I’m not sure if this tastes like real bacon, since I haven’t had that in years but it’s still pretty yummy.

It really is smart!

This is the only product I tried that isn’t vegan, but it is vegetarian-friendly and amazing–Arctic Zero! I know it seems like a ‘diet-y’ thing, but I honestly loved this product more than froyo. I got the mint chocolate flavor, and it was the perfect consistency and taste after a quick zap in the microwave. Now, maybe I loved it because I actually like the taste of sorbet, but it was actually amazing for being only 150 calories in an entire pint. I was only able to eat half the pint in one sitting because it was pretty filling, but I would buy it again in a heartbeat–probably in the coffee flavor since I’m a coffee-holic. I liked that it had almost 8 grams of protein in the serving I had!

One of the best frozen desserts I've ever had!

I’m a dried fruit fiend, so when I saw these two products, I just had to have them. I really need to invest in a dehydrator ASAP because I’m spending an arm and a leg buying all this dried fruit. It’s so worth it though. First, Crunchies are my favorite freeze-dried fruit. I love their mixed fruit and cinnamon apple slices, so when I saw the tropical fruit mix at Sunflower Market, I snapped it up! It’s got freeze-dried bananas, strawberries, oranges, mangos and pineapples and is amazing. Anything tropical is, just saying. I also got some dried mango slices when my mom and I made our first trip to Sprouts and I love it! It’s so hard to find dried fruit that is just fruit, with no added sugars or oils, so when I found these I was super pumped. Oh, and I don’t know if all of you have heard of Sprouts before–it’s basically a smaller version of Whole Foods that just has stores in Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Definitely check them out if you have one near you–I thought it was a pretty cool store. Sunflower Market is basically the same, but it also has stores in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. I still can’t wait to get a Trader Joes here, though!

I'm basically obsessed with tropical fruits.

It was cheap, but that's only because there's not very much of it!

Actually, I kinda lied saying that the Arctic Zero was the only non-vegan product too. This KIND bar isn’t either, because it has honey in it, but I know that the honey debate is a big deal in the vegan community. Personally, I think it’s okay as long as the honey is raw and organic but that’s just me. Obviously I’m not a strict vegan because I still have dairy (in Greek yogurt form) maybe once or twice a week, but I’m working towards it because I think it’s a lifestyle that would work well for me, since it has so far. Anyways, I picked up the Peanut Butter & Strawberry on a whim, since I’ve never tried a KIND bar before. I like the simple ingredients and the fact that this variety has 7 grams of protein–not too shabby! And pretty much, it tasted exactly like a PB&J sandwich. I loved the crunch of the almonds and peanuts and it’s definitely another bar to add to my ever-expanding stash!

A high protein PB&J in bar form.

So next week, I have a special WIAW in the works, so look for that! I know I’m excited about it, but I’m weird like that 😛

Can't forget the outfit of the week! Red/navy plaid shirt (Abercrombie), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), unpictured brown suede boots (DSW).

What is the best product you’ve recently tried? Do you like shopping at small health food stores?