Friday Faves (August 24)

Well, I can’t believe I finally (almost) made it through my first week of my junior year of college! I can already tell this semester will be busy and challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been getting used to a lot of big changes, like the daily commute to classes (which usually takes way longer than it should) and keeping my apartment clean but I’m starting to feel like an adult and it feels so good!

After my first day of classes on Monday, I treated myself to a passion iced tea from Starbucks (much needed, that’s for sure!) and I promised myself last weekend that if I made it through a whole week of classes and extracurriculars, I could treat myself to some Whole Foods salad bar goodies. So you better believe I’m doing that tonight for dinner 😀

Favorite Recipe Redux: Peppermint Super Brownie Bites

Not the most appetizing picture, but I can guarantee it tastes amazing!

I’ve been doing some recipe experimenting here and there when I’ve had time after classes. I made a few things that turned out delicious but not quite perfect. Then I stumbled upon an idea, combining both my raw brownie recipe and Angela’s no bake peppermint patty bars (which are fab, BTW). I wanted something small, cute, chocolate-y and minty without being too overwhelming. That’s where the super brownie bites come in! They’re almond and walnut based, like my raw brownies, so they add a protein and healthy fat punch and are grain-free. I added in a packet of chocolate Amazing Grass, which adds 10 grams of protein, along with tons of greens.  They’re sweetened with a few dates and just a little real maple syrup, so they’re perfectly sweet. The chocolate icing on top is made from dark chocolate chips and coconut oil, both healthy fats. But the result is a delicious, minty brownie bite that tastes almost unhealthy!

Peppermint Super Brownie Bites (vegan, gluten-free)

2 packages 100 calorie almonds and walnuts

1 packet chocolate-flavored Amazing Grass protein powder

3 small Medjool dates

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

1/2 tsp coconut oil

In a food processor, process nuts, Amazing Grass, dates and cocoa powder until crumbly. Add in maple syrup and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract until mixture sticks together. Roll brownie batter into small balls and place in mini muffin tin or on foil. Meanwhile, in a small pot over low heat, stir together remaining peppermint extract, chocolate chips and coconut oil until chocolate gets melty. Spoon icing over each bite and stick muffin tin or foil in freezer to set. Makes 8 bites. 

Favorite Moment: First time as a weather anchor

The local female weather anchor I look up to…maybe I’ll be like her one day?!

I hate to brag and pretend like I’m super awesome, because that’s just not who I am, but I’ve been working on owning my accomplishments and being more confident, so being complimented for how I handled my first night as a weather anchor at my campus TV station was thrilling for me. It was a practice run through, so it wasn’t aired, but I completely ad-libbed for about a minute, not even knowing much about the weather forecast, and my producer and fellow anchors congratulated me afterwards for how well I did and how they couldn’t imagine ad-libbing for an entire segment. It gave me so much confidence for the semester to come!

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Whole Foods salad bar

One of my favorite Whole Foods hot/cold bar boxes to date!

It’s a little lame, but I get really excited for grocery shopping, particularly at Whole Foods. I could live there and be totally happy! When I first discovered the salad bars a year ago, I became hooked and even though I didn’t get it again for another 6 months, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. This summer, I went a little more frequently and tried to switch it up every time. The Whole Foods in my hometown (well, one of them) has a great selection of items at the hot and cold bars and I’m hoping the one in my college town does too!

Favorite Time of Day: Driving to class

Disclaimer: I did NOT take this while driving!

Don’t get me wrong, it is stressful trying to get to class on time while also avoiding cyclists, pedestrians and other cars that are going wayyyyyy too fast and also trying to find parking that isn’t miles away. But it also makes me happy, because I haven’t driven regularly since senior year of high school. In fact, before this summer and my internship, I barely ever drove in the past 2 1/2 years. I actually really love driving alone, because I can blast my music, sing along and just get ready for the day ahead. I feel so much more independent and responsible–Alejandro is my baby and I want to keep him safe 😉

Do you like to ‘healthify’ your desserts (whatever that means to you)? Do you prefer city driving or freeway driving?

Friday Faves (June 15th)

Moving in the summer is no joke! It’s been at least 85 degrees here the past three days we’ve been moving stuff back and forth between our old house and our new one but it’s felt more like a million degrees in the house, especially carrying boxes and moving furniture around. I’m just glad I don’t live somewhere humid, so it’s sticky on top of being hot! I’m also glad we got our internet hooked up on our first full day of being moved in. It kinda sucks having to live without internet at your own house!

Favorite Workout: Walking to Starbucks with my sister

Tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy…worth the $4!

Like I mentioned in my WIAW post, we moved closer into town so now we’re nearby all the good things a city has to offer–like movie theatres, grocery stores, gas stations and…Starbucks! In fact, our new house is within walking distance of the ‘bucks! Okay, well if you consider walking distance a 20-25 minute walk in the blazing hot sun. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad though and going with my sister made it even more fun. And the drink was even more worth it since we had to work for it–win win! I love this Frapp flavor because it’s got a hint of caramely-ness (not a word but whatevs) that makes it perfect, and since it’s a light version with soy, it’s not a calorie bomb and I feel a little bit better about enjoying it!

Favorite Discovery: I love to drive…by myself

I have a liiiiiiiiittle bit too much fun while driving (no worries, this was taken in a parking lot!)

I don’t have a car of my own (yet…) but I’ve been doing a lot of solo driving lately and I’m loving it. It feels so freeing to sing at the top of my lungs to “Call Me Maybe”, go where I want when I want and cuss out other drivers for being stupid. Hey, it happens sometimes, and as long as I’m not actually engaging in road rage, I think a few choice words here and there are okay 😉 Anyways, it’s been a lot of fun realizing the independence that comes from having a car.

Favorite Thing That Cost Me $7: Whole Foods salad bar stuff

No boring salad bar for this girl! It was totally worth the money!

I always get super jealous when I see people’s pics of Whole Foods salad bar boxes on their blogs. The last time I went (before Tuesday and Wednesday) was February. Lame! So I used the opportunity of us moving and being too busy and tired to cook to pick up some of their salad bar goodies. Both days, I got basically the same things because I loved them all–chipotle orange tofu, chilled sweet potato chunks with currants and some yummy sweet dressing, salted pistachios, acai kale salad, Mediterranean crunch salad and California quinoa salad. Ah-mazing to all of the above, especially the sweet potatoes and quinoa salad. I also picked myself up a dessert on the side both days, one time it was a giant vegan chocolate chip cookie that I split up for two nights and the other time it was a vegan chocolate donut that I split with my sister. Actually, she ate most of it and loved it, which was fine by me. She’s usually wary of vegan items but she’s been loving the vegan desserts I’ve been giving to her lately! To anybody who thinks vegan means boring, it most certainly does not, as evidenced by this salad bar box and every vegan dessert I’ve ever tried 😀

Favorite Thing to Eat When I’m Not Feeling So Hot: Whole Foods Caribbean popsicles

Not quite the same, but you get the idea!

I generally don’t eat popsicles–like smoothies, they don’t usually do much for my hunger because I can eat them so quickly. But sometimes, you just gotta have a naturally-sweetened, giant popsicle. Yesterday, I was getting over some nasty stomach issue that left me leaving kinda queasy all day plus it was hot and I was moving stuff around. So a popsicle from Whole Foods was in order! I liked it a lot because it was pretty big so it took me longer to eat, it was tropical-flavored which is always my favorite and it only had a couple ingredients besides the fruit in it. It quenched my thirst, cooled me down and left my stomach feeling a little better.

What’s something you’re willing to spend a (relatively) large amount on? What do you eat or drink when you’re not feeling so great?

WIAW: Spring Break Bonanza!

Let me start off by saying…thank you all SO much for your comments on my last post! It seriously means the world to me that you all care so much about me and want to see me live my life to the fullest–without ED in it, of course.

BTW to all who asked, the doctor appointment was not what I expected. My weight was a little higher than it was when I weighed myself at home, because the appointment was soon after breakfast and I was wearing jeans with a belt, but both weights were low and I was expecting the doctor to say something about it but she really didn’t. I guess she didn’t think losing about 5-7 pounds was a big deal, which obviously I think is, considering my BMI is now between 15.5 and 16. It’s kind of discouraging to not have the support of the doctor is my efforts to eat more, but I will just have to rely on my own strength (and your comments) to take the plunge and fuel myself properly. It’ll be hard, but I know it’ll be worth it.

Anyway, on to more exciting things–like this week’s WIAW! I have tried a ridiculous amount of new-to-me things in the past couple of days and I’ve loved being home because I can actually cook things. I only have a couple of recipes for you so far, but I will be sharing more in the next few days as I continue to cook up a storm! Today, I want to share the recipes and also my reviews on some products I just tried. Let’s get to it!

Probably the best nondairy 'ice cream' I've ever tried!

I love almond milk, especially Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but I had never tried (or even seen) almond milk ice cream. I’ve had a couple of flavors of soy ice cream before and they were okay but nothing too great. Luckily, this Almond Dream ‘ice cream’ was way more amazing! It was super creamy, and tasted exactly like an iced latte from Starbucks. The swirl of chocolate was a nice surprise too. I would definitely buy this again, but I also want to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice creams.

Orange and dark chocolate is almost as good as raspberry and dark chocolate.

And to think just a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t go anywhere near chocolate! Yes, it is still somewhat scary for me to eat, but I still eat a little bit of some dark chocolate every day, because it makes me happy. When I discovered this mini Chocolove bar at Whole Foods, my dad encouraged me to get it so I did. The moment I tried my first square, I fell in love. Orange and dark chocolate are a match made in foodie heaven, for reals! Now I really want to try all of their other dark chocolate bars–I love that they’re dairy-free, and local-ish (they’re made in Boulder).

Quinoa pasta with vegan spinach 'cheese' sauce, smart bacon strips.

Since I bought nutritional yeast a few weeks back, I’ve been really wanting to try a vegan mac and cheese recipe. I kind of improvised my own and it actually turned out pretty tasty. The quinoa pasta I served it on was new and really yummy. I loved that it’s just made out of corn and quinoa flours (so it’s gluten-free for all of you out there who are gluten-intolerant or just want to switch it up from wheat pasta) and this variety also incorporated some spinach and beets. Extra veggies = win!

Spinach ‘Cheese’ Sauce (vegan, high protein)

1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or other nondairy milk)

1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour (or cornstarch)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

cracked pepper, to taste

handful spinach

Mix almond milk and flour in a pot over medium heat until combined and thickened. Add in rest of the ingredients and stir until spinach is wilted. Serve over pasta, quinoa or as a spinach ‘cheese’ dip (makes 1 serving). 

Red cabbage with vegan Caesar dressing, Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast topped with almond peanut cashew butter and peanut flour, frozen pineapple, orange seitan.

Westsoy seitan strips and Follow Your Heart vegan Caesar dressing are two of my many new Whole Foods finds. It was my first time trying seitan and I wasn’t really a fan. I love that it has tons of protein (21 grams per serving) but the texture just sketched me out. I made it orange chicken style, and it was decent but I wouldn’t buy it again. Maybe it was just the brand, but I didn’t really like it. The dressing on the other hand, was perfection in a bottle! It reminds me of regular Caesar dressing, only less rich. I love dipping carrots in it and topping fresh cabbage with it. I even made kale chips with the dressing that turned out pretty yummy.

This is my "Gotta go take a drug test so I have to drink up" face.

I have been loving being able to drive myself places over the past few days. At school, I don’t have my own car but being at home and having three cars at my disposal has been so nice! This may sound weird, but I love driving all by myself because I can sing along to “Starships” (one of my new fave songs) and go wherever I want. The reason I’ve been driving myself so much is that I’ve had tons of appointments this week and since both my parents have to work, I had to go to them on my own, which was fine by me. That means more singing 😉 Plus I’ve always wanted to take one of those pictures when you’re in the front seat so yesterday before my internship meeting, I did just that. No worries, I was parked–otherwise I would have had no hands on the wheel! And I was just drinking some iced water sweetened with some vanilla stevia so I could take a required drug test for my summer internship. If you’ve never put liquid stevia in your water, dooooo it now! The vanilla reminds me of a non-carbonated cream soda.

There's no shame in going to Whole Foods three times in five days!

Speaking of going wherever I want, I made a pit stop after my meeting on Tuesday at Whole Foods. It was weird shopping on my own, mostly because I think other people thought I was just a kid and not an almost-20-year-old because of my size, but I didn’t get too many weird stares because the store was pretty dead compared to most times I go. At first I was going to grab myself a lunch thing from the hot/cold bars but I decided to play it cheap and just buy a bunch of random stuff I’ve wanted to try. I’ve had the unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze before, but not in a while and it’s just so good (plus it was on sale). I grabbed a couple of fruit strips, some vegan sprinkles because sprinkles are just fun, another mini Chocolove bar (this time raspberries in dark chocolate) and a Two Moms in the Raw cacao chia bar. I really wanted to get their almond butter cacao truffles, but they were a little bit too expensive. I love raw bars in general (especially Pure bars) so I can’t wait to try this one. I also snagged a couple cappuccino Larabars when I hit up WF on Saturday–this is my first time getting a Larabar and I’m so excited to try out their new flavor!

The perfect dessert for spring.

I finally got around to making raw cashew ‘cheesecake’. I mentioned in my last WIAW that I wanted to make a key lime version so I did! I tweaked the recipe I’m posting a little because I had to basically scrape the crust together out of a few things I had and it didn’t make enough to be the base for a whole cheesecake. But it’s pretty tasty and really simple.


Raw Key Lime ‘Cheesecake’ (vegan, raw, gluten-free)

1 cup cashews, soaked for 6-12 hours

1 tbsp sweetener (I used a mix of maple syrup and vanilla stevia drops)

1/2 lime, squeezed

1/2 cup raw almonds

4-6 Medjool dates, pitted

2 tbsp raw rolled oats

Mix cashews, sweetener and lime juice in a food processor until thick, creamy and combined. Add water as needed. Set aside and blend almonds, dates and oats in a blender or food processor until combined. Spread crust in a small dish and top with cashew cream. Top with key lime slices (makes 4 slices).

The newest overnight oats flavor--chocolate covered orange!

I haven’t come up with a new overnight oats combo in a while–obviously that had to change. Taking inspiration from my newest obsession, the Chocolove orange peel in dark chocolate bar, I whipped up chocolate covered orange oats. I sweetened the oats base with some Valencia orange stevia drops and then in the morning, topped them with Sumo tangerine slices and a square of the orange peel chocolate. Mmmmmm! Next time, I’d make a parfait, layering chocolate oats and orange oats with orange slices and keeping the chocolate on top.

This vegan meat sub is a definite winner!

So you know how I said above that I’m not a fan of seitan? That doesn’t mean I don’t like any vegan whole food meat substitutes. I think I’m a tempeh girl at heart! The first time I tried Lightlife’s tempeh bacon last summer, I fell in love. I finally decided to try their flax tempeh, even though I’ve heard people say that the plain varieties can be bitter. Not to me! I even tried a little piece uncooked and I loved the nutty flavor. I cooked some up fry-style (sliced thin and sautéed until browned) and served it on top of a spinach salad with spicy avocado hummus and a side of a yam topped with nut butter and raisins. I loved this tempeh even more when it was cooked–I’m thinking it’s definitely a new staple. It’s actually got pretty stellar nutritionals–20 grams of protein in 4 ounces, plus 11 grams of fiber!

Curried sweet potato pinto burger (under the red cabbage and jalapeno), grilled asparagus, sweet potato tots, mustard.

For dinner last night, I made some veggie burgers for my fam–first time ever making them for someone besides just me! These were a winner, which is always exciting for me to hear because I love seeing my family choose healthier options. These are totally healthy, but hearty enough for any meat lover…and they’re perfect for sweet potato lovers like me! They’re based off Mama Pea’s recipe, but I made some tweaks to make them my own.

Curried Sweet Potato Pinto Burgers (vegan, gluten-free)

1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 small sweet potato, cooked and peeled

1 1/2 tbsp nut butter (I used almond peanut cashew)

spices, to taste (I used cumin, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, garlic salt and black pepper)

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Flatten bean mix and make into four even-sized patties, and place patties in pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and slightly crunchy. Serve on buns, in a wrap, on top of a salad, however you like your veggie burgers!

Wow, this was a crazy-long post! Sorry about that, obviously I am just so excited about all my new finds and recipes I’ve tried out. Of course, there’s still more to come, but I will save that for a later post. I don’t want to bore all of you 😀

Have you ever tried tempeh or seitan? What’s your new favorite Whole Foods find (or from another store if you don’t have one near you)?