Fireworks, Food and Farmers Markets

I love long weekends! Especially in the summer — since I work full-time, it’s nice to have an extended break to enjoy the incredible weather and everything else the season has to offer.

My weekend is still going strong, but I thought I’d pop in with a few of my favorite moments from the July 4th weekend. After I got off work on Thursday morning, I didn’t really have any solid plans for my time off, other than to get in my weekly trip to Whole Foods, spend some time by the pool and go for some runs. And I ended up doing all that and more…

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Lots of cold water is necessary after these hot runs I’ve been going on. One perk of having time off is I can go for a run earlier (like around 10 or 11) so it’s not quite as hot.

This is freaking adorable.

This is freaking adorable.

I love how Snapchat celebrates holidays — this was really cute and brightened up my morning (not that it was bad…how can it be when you have the day off?)

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

I haven’t been to the main mall here since Memorial Day weekend (who am I?) so I knew it was time to return. And I scored some pretty great deals. A cute top from Abercrombie & Fitch for $10? Unheard of, except for during holiday weekends. I’m a sucker for giant purses, so I went to ALDO for my fix. And I got a push-up bandeau bra from Victoria’s Secret because I love strapless styles but this girl needs some padding #ACupProblems. I spent around $50 for all this, which is cheaper than both the top and the purse alone were originally!

My patriotic outfit.

My patriotic outfit.

I’ve seriously worn these shorts every July 4th since I got them a few years ago. I love them, and I had to take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t going to work, so I could wear weather-appropriate clothes.

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

My breakfast wasn’t totally patriotic, but the cherries made up for it. By Friday, I was seriously running low on food, especially produce, but I made it work. These were the last of some super cheap cherries I found at Sprouts 2 weeks ago and they were incredible!

As for my July 4th evening plans? No photo evidence because it was dark, but I drove to one of my coworkers’ homes to watch the fireworks from his place. He invited a few other people I knew from work, as well as more crazy TV people from other stations in town. It was fun to hang out for a couple hours, but the parking situation and traffic coming home was insane. It would have been an easy commute about 15 minutes up the street from me, but most of that road was blocked off and even when I was leaving around 10:45 (an hour after the fireworks wrapped up), I got caught in traffic jams on another street. Also, I had to park a couple blocks away from his house, which was fine, but walking back in the dark had me a little on edge, especially after some recent assaults across the city. But I made it safe, and my car wasn’t towed, so yay!

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

My July 4th dinner was totally ‘Merican, but with a healthier twist. I had a weird craving for potato salad (which I don’t even like), so I decided to whip up my own version using a sweet potato, coconut ‘bacon’ and a homemade mayo made with hemp seeds/water/olive oil/spices. It turned out incredible, so I’m sharing it!

Hemp Mayo Potato Salad (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

  • 1 sweet potato, cut into small wedges (can use white potato if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sea salt, to taste
  • garlic granules, to taste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum, to thicken
  • 2 tbsp coconut bacon (optional, but really good!)

Place cubed sweet potato in medium pot and pour water about an inch above them. Bring to a low boil; cover pot and lower heat and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until potato is fork tender (but not too soft). Drain water and set aside to cool. In a food processor, blend hemp hearts, water, salt, garlic and ACV. Add in xanthan gum if you want to thicken the mayo. Once potatoes are cool, pour mayo over them and stir in coconut bacon. Makes 1 serving. 

I'm obsessed with the farmers market.

I’m obsessed with the farmers market.

Saturday morning started early (well, if you think 8 am is early). But for good reason — I had plans to go to the farmers market! I usually only get to swing by after I get done with work, and by that time, most things are sold out. Getting to the market an hour earlier meant fewer crowds AND better selection. I got some organic potatoes, blackberries (!) and an incredible gluten free vegan cookie. I love supporting local farmers and restaurants and I hope to keep doing so throughout the season. And I WILL be back for more of those cookies 😉

Saturdays are for selfies.

Saturdays are for selfies.

No description needed…

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

And after the farmers market, it was on to Whole Foods! I made my weekly restock trip, and yes, it was more expensive than I planned on, but only because I needed to buy protein powder. I actually got a good deal on that — 2 pounds for $25, when it’s normally over $40! So my grocery trips for the rest of the month should be cheaper. Doesn’t it just feel so good to have a full pantry and fridge again though?

Picnic-style leftovers.

Picnic-style leftovers.

After restocking my kitchen, Saturday’s dinner was a repeat of Friday’s but this time with some watermelon and avocado oil potato chips. If you haven’t tried these, you may not want to…because they’re addicting. I usually prefer sweet potato chips, but these are still healthy because they’re cooked in avocado oil instead of unhealthy canola or sunflower oil and the only ingredients are potatoes, avocado oil and sea salt. And paired with some picnic-style sides (the above homemade potato salad and vegan firecracker coleslaw from Whole Foods) I totally fit in with all the other people enjoying traditional July 4th meals. Except, you know, vegan and gluten free!

That's hot!

That’s hot!

My run on Sunday felt hot, and now I know why! I went around noon, and while the breeze helped, I was still a sweaty mess afterwards. When I checked my phone later, I saw the heat index was 104 degrees! Luckily it wasn’t super humid, so I spent some time poolside both Saturday and Sunday. But check it — today is supposed to be 100 degrees, so who knows what the heat index will be!

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

I have my dad to thank for getting me into Dave Barry probably a good 10 years ago (that makes me feel old). If you’ve never read him, he’s freaking hilarious and you’re missing out. I enjoyed some of his work while chillin’ on my porch waiting to Skype my parents. Best way to end my Sunday!

Is it any wonder July is my favorite month? The 4th is one of my favorite holidays (#historynerd), it feels like the essence of summer and my birthday is at the end of the month. And this year, I’m really looking forward to that. My family is driving out here for a few days and I can’t wait to be with them again after nearly 4 months without seeing them and to show them around! T-minus 20 days til the big day…

How did you enjoy your weekend? 

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Weekend of Family, Food and Fathoming

Again with the alliteration! Sorry guys, just can’t help myself sometimes…even when it is a little cheesy.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I love that it was basically an extended weekend for me–I went to my internship Monday and Tuesday, and I had Wednesday through Sunday off to do as I pleased. Some grocery shopping, workouts and the typical daily stuff happened but it was definitely a weekend to remember!

Family

Fox Run Park was perfect for picnicking on the 4th.

Fox Run Park was perfect for picnicking on the 4th.

My family had originally planned on heading to a nearby town for their annual 4th of July parade. Apparently it’s one of the longest parades in the country (lasting over 2 hours) and we’ve gone a few times in the past and enjoyed it. However, after the nearby fire from earlier in the summer, a lot of people planned to go to this parade to show support for the local firefighters…so basically, parking was nonexistent, and we couldn’t even take the shuttle buses going to the parade because the line waiting for the bus was like a mile long. We ended up driving to the south side of town to see if there was anything going on down there for the 4th (there wasn’t), made a quick stop at home for some picnic supplies, the fam stopped at Subway for sandwiches (I munched on cold watermelon and a whole champagne mango) and then we headed back up to one of our favorite parks. Luckily, not many people were there so we had our pick of tables and after lunch, we played a bunch of outdoor games.

My patriotic outfit.

My patriotic outfit.

I love spending time with my family, and I appreciate it more now that I’m so close to being a real adult (aka out on my own, with a job and without their financial support). Even though things didn’t go as planned (and it rained later when we wanted to eat dinner outside, boo!) we still had a great 4th of July. Oh, and we also didn’t get to see the fireworks because we didn’t feel like braving the crowds downtown at the park, so we tried watching them from the hill near our house but they were blocked by another hill. You win some, you lose some!

I forgot how much I love swings!

I forgot how much I love swings!

My sister and I took the opportunity to play around on the playground like we were 5 again. I’ve been realizing more and more that being spontaneous and just having fun (even if you look silly while doing it) makes life that much more enjoyable.

Speaking of spontaneity...

Speaking of spontaneity…

The whole fam partook in our almost annual water balloon/water gun fights. Filling up and tying those water balloons wasn’t so easy, but getting to enjoy some simple fun with the people I love most was worth it. Unfortunately, no photographic evidence of how soaked we got, but let’s just say we didn’t need to shower the next day 😉

Food

July 4th breakfast: banana softserve blended with frozen cherries and chocolate Sunwarrior. Topped with homemade raw cacao nut clusters and raw brownie bite.

July 4th breakfast: banana softserve blended with frozen cherries and chocolate Sunwarrior. Topped with homemade raw cacao nut clusters and raw brownie bite.

Snackplate. Mostly watermelon and raw zucchini slices topped with garlic gomasio.

Snackplate. Mostly watermelon and raw zucchini slices topped with garlic gomasio.

Friday's lunch. Snackplate of carrots, homemade bean dip, homemade raw 'goat cheese' dip, zuke with garlic gomasio. Side of leftover berries.

Friday’s lunch. Snackplate of carrots, homemade bean dip, homemade raw ‘goat cheese’ dip, zuke with garlic gomasio. Side of leftover berries.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with fruit. And raw zucchini slices. And garlic gomasio (basically a seasoning blend of sesame seeds, garlic and sea salt…super addictive). And banana softserve for breakfast, errryday. I’m becoming more of a creature of habit when it comes to my food, and that’s ok. My weekly Whole Foods trips have been looking similar lately: lots of fresh produce, flax crackers, raw chocolate, raw nuts, beans, olives. Makes things easier for sure!

Fathoming

Free stuff is always nice!

Free stuff is always nice!

I’ve been thinking more about budgeting lately, and how I’m going to handle a much stricter budget when I’m on my own. I’ve recognized that I have a love for going shopping, whether it be for food, clothes or beauty stuff. I don’t buy something every time I go, but it’s hard for me to say no when I have the funds necessary. I want to save up for things that really matter, and not go hog wild on little purchases here and there, and I also know that I might not be able to afford only shopping at Whole Foods when I have my first job. I have a few other health food stores I like that are cheaper, I just have to make it more of a habit to shop there instead of always Whole Foods. Gotta say though, getting free stuff from coupons/gift cards (like the Bath & Body Works stuff above) is always a bonus.

I'm kicking myself for not ordering anything from here!

I’m kicking myself for not ordering anything from here!

My mom and I went to VegFest Colorado on Saturday. I love how supportive my mom is, despite her being an omnivore who has no intentions of giving up animal products. I’m glad she went, though, because I hope it opened up her eyes to some of the needless suffering animals go through to be on her plate. She did buy some free range, organic chicken the other day, so that’s a step in the right direction. I hate to get all preachy, because that’s not who I am, but going to VegFest made me realize that I’m vegan not just for the health benefits, but for the animals. It made me realize that I’m very much against animal suffering, and that I need to do something else to show that I am. I already avoid all animal products when it comes to food…why don’t I try to start buying only cruelty-free beauty products? One of the speakers we saw said something that struck me–he said all creatures deserve to feel loved. That is so true. We all seek out love in our lives, why wouldn’t animals do (and deserve) the same? I’m certainly not saying everyone needs to go vegan, but just making small differences in the animal products you choose to buy and consume can show the animals that they are loved.

Other than the amazing message, the food was great too. I got to try several new-to-me products that I loved (namely locally-made raw chocolates and a chocolate coconut hot fudge sauce) and I got to see the Chef AJ do a cooking demo. A lot of what she said struck me as well. She’s really focused on unprocessed foods, which I am all for, but she mentioned that oil, salt and sugar are all unnecessary evils in our lives and we really don’t need them to cook delicious things. I have to say, I feel that’s a little extreme, especially as a recovering anorexic who’s still challenging old food fears, but I get what she’s saying. I try to use the most natural, unprocessed forms of all of those things, like coconut oil, sea salt and maple syrup/raw honey and I feel like that’s a good balance for me. But the desserts she made for us without sugar (a PB Larabar-esque bit, black bean brownies and muesli) were really delicious and inspired me to try to use just dates like she did as a sweetener in my desserts. I do agree that Americans tend to eat way too much sugar, salt and oil especially in their more processed forms, so any step in the direction of eliminating them is a good one.

Her cooking demo obviously got through to me, because when it was time for lunch, I ended up passing on the delicious-looking vegan waffle sandwiches from the Waffleganger food truck and just got a salad from Qdoba on the way home. As much as I’d like to say my eating is way more free now, it isn’t always. I worried about all the gluten and sugar in the waffle sandwich but now I’m mad that I didn’t just jump out of my comfort zone and at least split one with my mom. Luckily, the waffle truck is based in Denver so I’m planning a trip to visit it for brunch on my birthday in 3 weeks!

How was your weekend? How do you feel about cutting out all sugar, oils and salt?

Friday Faves (July 6)

The festivities of the 4th are over so now it’s back to real life. Who am I kidding, summer isn’t real life, at least if you’re still a student! I still have about a month left at my internship but the majority of my weeks are spent doing whatever I want. I’m definitely appreciating that I can still do that–in a couple years, that won’t be an option!

Favorite App: LabelBox

Labels make everything more fun!

I’ve been noticing cute little labels popping up on a lot of people’s Instagram photos so I had to do a little sleuthing to figure out how they were doing this. Turns out, it’s a simple and free app called LabelBox. It’s available for iPhones/iPods and Androids and it’s so easy to use. Basically all my Instagram photos will be labeled now. #Sorryimnotsorry

Favorite Obsession: Waffles

Told you I’d be using these labels a lot!

I almost can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a waffle for breakfast! And don’t be fooled, these homemade waffles are 100 times healthier and tastier than those pathetic frozen Eggo waffles. I’ve been loving on the protein waffles mostly but when I just want a simple, fruit-packed waffle like the one above, I just use some oat flour, which gives it a perfectly fluffy texture while also packing it with fiber. And toppings are necessary, of course. I topped my 4th of July waffle with fresh raspberries and protein frosting made with Vega vanilla almondilla protein powder and water. Mmmmmmm!

Favorite New Find (that I haven’t found yet): So Delicious Greek-style almond milk yogurt

6 grams of protein and fiber ain’t too shabby for a nondairy yogurt!

The Amande almond milk yogurts are decent, but a little too jiggly and low in protein for my liking. When I popped on over to the So Delicious website and saw this gem, I knew I had to have it ASAP! The only thing I somewhat miss from my non-vegan days is Greek yogurt, and now I can get my fix in nondairy form, with more fiber and calcium than the dairy version! I just need to find it in stores first…

Favorite 4th of July Activity: Water balloon wars

I probably dropped more than I caught, but it was still fun!

What do you do on the 4th when it’s hotter than an oven outside and inside, the parade your family was planning on going to was cancelled and there are no fireworks shows within 100 miles? Have a water balloon war, of course! Filling up countless water balloons was worth the fun we had and it was actually great getting water in your face when you didn’t catch a balloon. Not that that happened to me though 😉

What’s something fun you did on the 4th (whether you’re from the U.S. or not!)? What’s your favorite app?

Estes Park Day 3

If you want to catch up on my previous vacation recaps, go here (day 1) and here (day 2). Thanks for reading!

Sorry for being so slow on these vacay recaps! I’ve just been pretty busy and it honestly has slipped my mind. I love all the comments I’ve been getting recently and all the new readers/commenters are great. I promise to be back with the last recap very soon. I can’t believe it’s already been exactly two weeks since this all happened. Summer sure flies by 😦

Monday was the Fourth of July (of course) so I knew it would be amazing. I even had a patriotic outfit all planned out! And I started the day out right by hitting up the pool first thing. I loved that we got it pretty much to ourselves (unlike Sunday) so there was a little swimming, a lot of splashing and some tanning involved. But, almost as soon as we got there, my sister and I realized that we completely forgot to paint our toenails (red, silver and blue for the holiday, obvs) so we sprinted walked back to the condo and painted them quick. You can’t go without patriotic toenails 😀

Pool time+me=the best

 

Patriotic toenails oh yeah!

After some swim and sun, we went back inside for lunch. I was originally going to have a red white and blue wrap (Ezekiel tortilla with organic strawberry jam, bloobs and banana slices) but I opted for a snack plate instead. Definitely a good lunch option for an indecisive girl like me.

Banana, carrots, Kashi crackers, multigrain chips, guac, salsa, dried berries and Whole Foods sandwich cookie

 

Insert a quick shower here, and then my mom, sis and I went for a little hike on the trail behind the condo. It was great…except that I was totally wearing the wrong shoes. Don’t blame me for only packing sandals on my trip 😛 Of course, the trail was slippery and steep. On the way back, we decided to go up an even steeper incline. Big mistake. Luckily, I made it up alive and without too many scrapes from close plant encounters! Definitely enough adventure for one day 😉

My shorts are red, white & blue!

 

Sis and mom hit the trail

We went into town to check out the make-your-own cereal bar that I mentioned in the last post. This time (luckily) it was open! I ended up getting some Kashi Go Lean mixed with Silk Dark Chocolate almond milk. I’d never had it before, and it was really good. A little too sweet, but if there’s an unsweetened version out there, I’ll def get it!

A restaurant with cereal? My kinda place 🙂

Surprisingly, the cereal really filled me up–so much that even after a quick walk around some stores and a detour at another winery, I still wasn’t in the mood for dinner. We ended up at a Tex-Mex place by the river and despite how busy it was, we got an outside table pretty quickly. None of us were really hungry (but we had to eat then because we were going to the fireworks later) so we tried to stall our waiter in taking our order 🙂 I got corn tortillas with mango salsa, and the salsa was actually muy bueno (notice my lame-o Spanish skills there). I would have normally not ordered that, but I wasn’t hungry and nothing else on the menu was really appealing at the time. But it was yummy, so I didn’t mind ordering something weird.

Afterwards, we went to this cool boutique place that we’ve walked by millions of times but never actually went in. The store had some blingy purses I liked (but didn’t buy, unfortch) and a lot of other random stuff. My personal favorite was the legit purses made from real license plates!

I. Want.

We hit up the condo briefly. I was finally starving, so I had another bowl of cereal (no dark chocolate almond milk this time, sadly) and then we headed back to town for the fireworks show. We staked out a place on a hill overlooking the lake (where the fireworks were set off) and even though we were surrounded by tons of people and a bright gas station below us, we were able to enjoy the show. It was funny because a smaller show nearby was trying to compete with the main event, but obvs they couldn’t. But we got twice the fireworks!

Just one of the many fireworks

The show ended around 10:30 and almost as soon as we got back, we all fell asleep. Guess being out and about all day really took it out of us!

What did you do for the 4th (if you’re from the U.S.)? Favorite cereal/milk combo?

Look for the last vacay recap post soon!