Homemade > Store-bought

I have a dilemma. See, I love making things from scratch, but sometimes there’s just not enough time to make all the recipes I bookmark, or sometimes they require way too many ingredients that I’ll end up using once. I’m all about convenience, but at the same time, there are things that are wayyyy better homemade than from the store…and vice versa!

Homemade > Store-bought

  • Coconut butter: Ask me this a week ago, and it would have been the exact opposite. I’m a relatively new convert to coconut butter’s magic, and I was partial to the Artisana brand, which unfortunately comes with a hefty price tag. My previous attempts to make coconut butter at home were complete disasters because I used reduced fat shredded coconut (all I had on hand) and that basically just makes coconut flour. I heard that using unsweetened coconut flakes worked well, so I bought the Let’s Do Organic brand for about $3 or $4 and ended up using a little more than half the bag to make coconut butter. I wish I had saved the entire bag before making it, because it turned out great–just a lot less than I wanted! The key is to use a large food processor, flaked full-fat coconut and at least 3 cups (I used 2, and it was fine, but I ended up with maybe 1/2 cup of coconut butter). I heard horror stories about food processors overheating, or the coconut never butterizing (is this a word?) and since I had to use my mom’s processor since mine’s a tiny one, I worried that I’d owe her a new one. Luckily, it whipped up the coconut butter in probably 10 minutes tops and it was perfectly drippy and creamy, just like Artisana’s.
Just like Artisana's but cheaper!

Just like Artisana’s but cheaper!

  • Guacamole: I don’t think I’ve eaten store-bought guac in a few months and I’m not sure I can ever go back. I used to love the Wholly Guacamole brand but now it tasted less than fresh to me. Guac is one of the easiest things to make at home (you technically don’t even need a food processor) and is so easy to customize. My go-to blend is one avocado (or sometimes half for a single serve batch), chopped fresh jalapeno pepper, cilantro, squeeze of lime juice and sea salt to taste. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy, I just mash the avocado in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and call it a day. Nothing beats fresh-made guac!
  • Sprouted tortilla chips: To be fair, I’ve never come across truly sprouted and raw tortilla chips in a store, but I used to be a huge fan of the Way Better Snacks brand of sprouted tortilla chips and they’re still great in a pinch. But when I have more time on my hands, I like to cut a few Food for Life sprouted corn tortillas into triangles, place them on dehydrator sheets and let them dehydrate for a few hours. It takes a little more time than making chips in the oven, but it’s mostly hands-off and you get the added benefit of preserved nutrients. I love the Food for Life tortillas because they’re organic which is important for corn, and sprouted, which is a lot healthier than most corn tortillas on the market. I’ve always made my chips plain, but you can definitely dress them up with spices or lime juice.

Store-bought > Homemade

  • Raw nut mixes and flax crackers: I love the Living Intentions Gone Nuts! line of sprouted and flavored nuts despite their high price ($5 for a tiny 3 oz bag) and the Food on Purpose brand of flax crackers, both available at Whole Foods and Sprouts. Though I could probably make similar things at home, they wouldn’t turn out as tasty or as portable.
  • Veggie burgers: I’ve attempted cooked veggie burgers a few times (with only one success) and I want to try a raw dehydrated version, but they are so hard to perfect! I had similar issues in finding the perfect packaged veggie burger–some were tasteless, most had sketchy ingredients. When I found Sunshine burgers, I knew I’d found a winner. They’re made of whole foods like beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds and they’re hearty and delicious. They’re not the cheapest brand, but quality foods aren’t always cheap and it’s worth it to have a clean veggie burger I can eat when I don’t feel like cooking.
Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

  • Raw chocolate: Last week, I experimented with making my own version of this chocolate. I used raw honey instead of agave for the lucuma filling and it was stickier than I’d like and I couldn’t form the cacao+coconut oil into a bar form. It still tasted fine, but I’d rather buy a bar of raw chocolate once a week and save my cacao powder and coconut oil for other things.

Are there things you prefer to make rather than buy, or the other way around? 

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WIAW: Food Fails & Fashion Talk

I like trying out new recipes, and just new things in general, but unfortunately, they don’t always work out in my favor. I bookmark recipes with high hopes that they’ll be amazing and sometimes they’re not but that’s okay! That’s why I like to throw some new things into the mix but keep some old favorites so I’m never totally disappointed.

Breakfast: cacao banana softserve with Sunwarrior, cacao and lucuma powders, topped with buckwheat rawnola and raw pumpkin seeds.

Breakfast: cacao banana softserve with Sunwarrior, cacao and lucuma powders, topped with buckwheat rawnola and raw pumpkin seeds.

This isn’t really a fail, but more like a weird thing I’ve been doing lately. I used to be able to blend my banana softserve with just bananas, and it would turn out smooth and creamy every time. Now that I’ve been doing add-ins everyday, I’ve needed to add in a splash of coconut milk to get things moving. Not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes the softserve turns out more like a thick soup than ice cream. Trial and error!

Lunch: raw taco salad. Base of romaine, dressed with lime juice and cracked pepper, topped with homemade guac, homemade sprouted and dehydrated corn chips. Side of canary melon and water.

Lunch: raw taco salad. Base of romaine, dressed with lime juice and cracked pepper, topped with homemade guac, homemade sprouted and dehydrated corn chips. Side of canary melon and water.

I’ve been trying to perfect the homemade salad dressing. I love cashew based dressings, but they are sometimes chunkier than I’d like them to be. I just can’t get the smooth consistency down, even though I soak the raw cashews beforehand. At least they taste good, right?

Raw snackplate: homemade buckwheat rawnola in coconut milk, half a chocolate coconut Kit's Organic bar, frozen watermelon. carrot, flax crackers, Thai coconut curry cashews.

Raw snackplate: homemade buckwheat rawnola in coconut milk, half a chocolate coconut Kit’s Organic bar, frozen watermelon. carrot, flax crackers, Thai coconut curry cashews.

Snack plates are never a fail! You just can’t go wrong combining different tastes, textures and macros all in one plate. Like I’ve said before, I’m indecisive when it comes to snacks, and I like having a little bit of everything.

Dinner:: raw teriyaki portobello burger (marinated in coconut aminos+liquid smoke and prepped in dehydrator for 30 minutes) on romaine 'bun' topped with homemade cashew pumpkin seed 'pesto' and fresh pineapple.

Dinner:: raw teriyaki portobello burger (marinated in coconut aminos+liquid smoke and prepped in dehydrator for 30 minutes) on romaine ‘bun’ topped with homemade cashew pumpkin seed ‘pesto’ and fresh pineapple.

I had high hopes for my first raw veggie burger, but sadly it wasn’t that great. I think I just don’t like the consistency of portobello mushrooms if they aren’t cooked well enough or at least drained of their excess water. I found a few recipes for raw portobello burgers but they all called for the portobello to be in the dehydrator for at least an hour. I was running short on time and wanted to eat NOW so I set it in there for only half and hour and it wasn’t so tasty. The toppings definitely made up for it though! I’ll definitely try it again when I have more time to let it sit in the dehydrator.

Dessert: chocolate Sunwarrior protein 'pudding' topped with cacao+coconut oil 'magic shell', raspberries and coconut flakes.

Dessert: chocolate Sunwarrior protein ‘pudding’ topped with cacao+coconut oil ‘magic shell’, raspberries and coconut flakes.

The only fail about this was that I ran out of Sunwarrior a week or so ago and had to wait for my order to come in from Amazon before I could start whipping up raw protein-packed desserts. I used to like the Garden of Life RAW protein powders but they’re really chalky and only taste ok in some things, like banana softserve. Lesson learned: Sunwarrior is the best raw protein powder I’ve found so far!

The BEST raw chocolate I've found!

The BEST raw chocolate I’ve found!

I raved about this bar on Instagram the other day. Such a delicious raw treat, but at $5 per bar (and these bars are about half the size of a normal chocolate bar), it’s a once-a-week purchase that I make last for a whole week. I could easily demolish the whole small bar in one day, but that would be a total wallet fail. Maybe I’ll try to make a version of it at home with the lucuma powder I have, coconut oil, cacao and dates. I gotta say though, as much as I like making things from scratch, some things are better storebought. Like this chocolate. And the Living Intentions raw flavored nut mixes I love.

OOTD June 25: black studded tank (Forever 21), light pink high-waisted shorts (Abercrombie & Fitch), unpictured pink heart pendant and white rose ring (F21), white watch (American Eagle), black sparkly flats (Target).

OOTD June 25: black studded tank (Forever 21), light pink high-waisted shorts (Abercrombie & Fitch), unpictured pink heart pendant and white rose ring (F21), white watch (American Eagle), black sparkly flats (Target).

I feel like my style is really evolving lately, and I like it. Both the tank and shorts are recent purchases (bought within the last 3 months) and prior to this year, I would have never bought either. The tank is the first black thing I’ve ever owned as casual wear and though I’m still not a huge fan of black, I think it works well in small doses and paired with pink or white/black patterned things. The shorts are high-waisted, which I never thought I could pull off–they generally work well on curvier girls and I am…not curvy. They may not be as fitted as they’re supposed to be but I really like them and I think they look great with tucked in shirts or cropped tops.

As I’m getting closer to college graduation, I’m reevaluating my closet. As much as I still like most of it (and the rest I gave away to charity–one good thing that came out of the fires was that I was able to donate some of my summer clothes to fire victims!), some of it screams high school, or at least college. I may or may not donate those things, but I know that they’ll probably be more casual and weekend wear for me. I would like to focus on building a more adult casual wardrobe, but especially focus on finding career wear. I have a few things that I got last year when I started with the campus TV station that are definitely work-appropriate, but I need a LOT more (or maybe just want a lot more…). Before this year, I didn’t have a need for a ton of dressy clothes, and while I never wore the typical college kid yoga pants and sweatshirts, my school clothes are a bit too trendy for the workplace. On-air dress code is generally business casual to business (blazers with pencil skirts, solid sheath dresses, etc.) and I’ve never really had a need for those clothes before, so it’ll definitely be a learning experience for me. Luckily, I don’t mind dressing up as long as I can make my outfits fun with a pop of color and such, so I’m excited for what’s ahead fashion-wise.

Do you ever have food or recipe ‘fails’? If you have a job, what’s your dress code? 

WIAW: No Filter

No, this title isn’t leading into a post where I just say what I feel without thinking it through. Not that kind of no filter. I’m talking about no Instagram or PicMonkey filter. I’m a sucker for prettying up my photos (which, lets be honest, are 99% of the time taken on my smartphone) but I’m trying to avoid the over-filtering of my photos. So I’m gonna share my original version of photos for this week’s WIAW…well, minus one or two filtered pics that slipped in there!

Breakfast: samoas-inspired chia pudding.

Breakfast: samoas-inspired chia pudding.

Sorry for the chia seed pudding overload lately–I’m not kidding when I say I get into breakfast ruts. First (almost 2 years ago at this point) it was overnight oats, then hot oats, then smoothie bowls, then pancakes, then waffles, now it’s the chia pudding. This version was inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookie (which I don’t think I’ve ever actually had) and made with Sunwarrior vanilla and Vega chocolate protein powders, lucuma powder for a caramel-y accent (my new love!) and topped with coconut, cashew butter (love this stuff) and a crumbled raw chocolate macaroon. This was good stuff.

Friday night sushi with friends. Cucumber maki and sweet potato tempura roll. Demolished.

Friday night sushi with friends. Cucumber maki and sweet potato tempura roll. Demolished.

I actually went out to eat twice this weekend. Both times with friends. This is big for me. I always feel super guilty when I have to eat out twice in a week/weekend, and I still have some anxiety about eating out with friends. But I had so much fun that it was worth it! The food wasn’t too bad either!

Failed recipe: healthy vegan Nutella.

Failed recipe: healthy vegan Nutella.

I’ve honestly never been a fan of Nutella (though Justin’s vegan version is pretty good) but I wanted to try making a healthier, vegan version to see if I’d like it better. It was pretty easy (other than attempting to remove the skins from the hazelnuts, which I eventually gave up on) but didn’t turn out delicious. I blame it on only adding 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Definitely needed more sweetness.

Lunch: spinach salad with homemade cashew cilantro dressing and avocado verde salsa, dry roasted edamame, eggplant 'bacon' and kalamata olives.

Lunch: spinach salad with homemade cashew cilantro dressing and avocado verde salsa, dry roasted edamame, eggplant ‘bacon’ and kalamata olives.

My salad-a-day is still going strong and I’ve been especially loving my latest dressing combo–homemade cashew cilantro dressing and the Wholly Guacamole brand avocado verde salsa I picked up over the weekend. So good, and better than regular old dressing.

Eggplant 'bacon' wrapped date stuffed with cashew 'cream cheese'.

Eggplant ‘bacon’ wrapped date stuffed with cashew ‘cream cheese’.

Speaking of eggplant bacon, this was one of my successful recipe experiments over the weekend. Seriously, so simple but so damn tasty. I wish I had had more than half an eggplant (I used the other half for something else) so I could make a bigger batch. It was especially delicious wrapped around a Medjool date stuffed with homemade cashew cream cheese. Mmmm, I could eat this all day!

Outfit of the day (March 4): pink cropped cardigan (Abercrombie & Fitch), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), pink ruffle tank (Abercrombie Kids), burgundy jeggings (Hollister), unpictured brown riding boots (Macy's).

Outfit of the day (March 4): pink cropped cardigan (Abercrombie & Fitch), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), pink ruffle tank (Abercrombie Kids), burgundy jeggings (Hollister), unpictured brown riding boots (Macy’s).

I felt like a Valentine when I wore this on Monday, but who cares, I love pink! I’m really excited though for when I can finally wear dresses and skirts without tights–hopefully soon! Spring, come sooner.

Dinner: eggplant muffuletta on grain free bread, unsweetened applesauce, cheezy chipotle kale chips.

Dinner: eggplant muffuletta on grain free bread, unsweetened applesauce, cheezy chipotle kale chips.

Ummm…grain free bread? What is this madness? I will admit that, yes, I need to get over my fear of grains other than buckwheat and quinoa, but on the other hand, I can’t deny my love for coconut flour. And surprise, surprise, it actually makes a decent grain free and vegan bread when combined with a few other ingredients. Yes, it actually held together pretty well even when soaked with kalamata olive relish and baked eggplant, and it tasted a lot like naan after sitting for a few days. Look for a super simple recipe soon!

Another dinner: Thai stuffed sweet potato. Half a large sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and raisins/coconut shreds on one side, coconut cream and raw Thai curry cashews on the other.

Another dinner: Thai stuffed sweet potato. Half a large sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and raisins/coconut shreds on one side, coconut cream and raw Thai curry cashews on the other.

I’m definitely doing a stuffed sweet potato for dinner more often…thanks for the inspiration, Sara! This one was Thai-like, with a peanutty sauce on one side, and curry+coconut on the other. I think I could do a different combo of this every day.

How do you like your sweet potatoes? Did you have a recipe success or failure over the weekend? 

 

Gettin’ My Schweat On!

I. Love. Sweat. Okay, just kidding, I’m usually completely grossed out by it (and no worries, I use deodorant daily!) But if the sweat comes from working out, then I love it. It makes me feel like I’ve been working hard and I’m getting stronger.

Pre-bike ride. Maybe too much navy blue?

One of my favorite ways to “get my schweat on” (and yes, you must say it that way. okay, just kidding, but it sounds a million times better like that) is biking. I’m not quite a hardcore cyclist yet but I love hittin’ the trails for some pedal pushin’. Honestly, I can pronounce my “g’s”, it just sounds cooler without them. But I’ve been kinda slacking on the bike riding this summer. Okay, so I did do a 7-miler bike event at the beginning of June and I also did a 4-miler in the middle of June, but things have been pretty dead as far as biking goes. It’s not like I’ve been lazy all summer–I’ve just been mostly playing tennis, which I’ve been loving, but I missed biking.

My "just did 4 or 5 miles" face. Please ignore the messy hair.

Today, my dad and I hit a new greenway trail.It started out fairly normal, some small hills, but nothing too bad. It was pretty quiet too–not many others were on the trail. Then we got to a major street and had to cross it in order to keep riding. No biggie. So we crossed and then kept riding…until we got to an even more major street. Silly us, we thought it would be the same deal–we’d cross at the nearest stoplight and continue on our way. Wellllllll…that’s not quite how it worked out. The sign directed us up the hill to cross at a different light, because apparently the closer light didn’t have a sidewalk so we couldn’t get to it. So we went up the hill–me pushing my bike because I was freaked out by all the cars whizzing by a couple of feet away. We finally make it up the hill (after passing by some super sketchcar repair shops), wait to cross and then make our way back down the hill on the other side of the street. At the bottom of the hill, we see the trail sign again and try to follow it. Fail. We end up walking behind a creepy closed-down building trying to find where the trail starts up again but there is my trail. Then my genius dad (sense the sarcasm there? sorry, Daddy, you’re usually very smart, but in this case, not so much) takes a closer look at the sign and realizes that the rest of the trail will be built in the future. Yep, we’re so smart for not reading that earlier. So, long story short, we walk back up and down the hill and finally head back to the trailhead.

Oh yeah, and we also went to a local parade this morning, and this is what I wore. Abercrombie Kids plaid tunic top, Hollister navy cami, Hollister navy twill shorts, American Eagle chain-and-diamond necklace. Forever 21 love ring.

Well, I didn’t notice it on the way there, but it was definitely downhill heading out. So what does that mean? Uphill heading back. Awesome. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, but I had blisters on the back of my heels from walking up and down the hill, it was super hot and my head was killing me. But I made it up each and every one of those hills. So proud of myself. Needless to say, I definitely got my schweat on this afternoon. But it was totally worth it to feel amazing and sweaty–not to mention grabbing some froyo afterwards! We checked out yet another brand new frozen yogurt shop and they were offering a 2-for-the-price-of-1 deal today, so it was cheap-o! Unfortch, I didn’t have a camera with me but I got marshmallow and Irish mint froyos topped with kiwi and raspberries. Hit. The. Spot.

Okay, so def not froyo, but I had to get a foodie pic in here somewhere, right? This was an amazing Whole Foods salad I had last weekend when I picnicked and hiked. Baby spinach, red onions, craisins, maple-glazed pecans and mandarin oranges. The dressing was nast so it went uneaten, but the salad was so good, it didn't need it!

How do you like to “get your schweat on”?