Friday Five: Foodie Edition

Thanks for all the helpful words on my last post! It’s hard to deal with well-meaning but unhelpful advice from family and friends, but it’s a good reminder that we have to take those words with a grain of salt and do what’s best for our health.

I wanted to bring back the Friday Five posts again and this week, I’m focusing on some fun food things for all my fellow foodies out there!

1. I found some new Larabar flavors…at Target!

You all know my love for Target and Larabars…so put the two together and it’s a perfect match! I actually generally don’t buy my Larabars from Target since they don’t usually have a huge selection like Whole Foods and Sprouts do. But since they have a lot of New Years resolution health stuff right now, they had some Uber bars on sale for $1 each, including 2 new-to-me flavors! You definitely can’t beat that–and they sound downright delicious too.

Ummmm, yum!

Ummmm, yum!

2. I’m obsessed with making grain-free flatbreads. 

First, it was this flatbread made into grain free stuffing. Then it was my staple socca. Now it’s this focaccia, which happens to be egg-free also! If you think grain free baking is hard, try it without eggs. It’s really fun to experiment with grain-free flours and when something turns out delicious, it’s even better.

3. I’m really craving the produce of spring and summer. 

Winter is hard enough as it is, with plenty of cold days, snow and the general feeling of blah-ness once the holidays are over. At least I didn’t get hit with the crazy cold weather here in Colorado (we’ve been in the 40s and 50s, which I can’t complain too much about) and we get over 300 days of sunshine each year, so my mood stays the same. The one thing I crave (other than warmer weather) is spring and summer produce. I miss all the berries, the watermelon, the peaches and cherries, the asparagus and the artichokes. Winter produce just isn’t cutting it–I’m already sick of squashes and citrus. At least I still have my beloved pomegranate…only 68 days until spring arrives!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

4. I haven’t had peanut flour in over 6 months…and I kinda want it again.

Remember when I was addicted to ordering food from iHerb? Yeah, me neither since the last time I ordered from them was last May! I don’t know what happened, but I guess I got more budget-conscious and my monthly orders stopped happening. I used to eat peanut flour AT LEAST once per day, and I haven’t had it since June. I just miiiiight end up ordering some more with some of my graduation money, but then again, it might all go towards clothes #sorrynotsorry

5. I’m debating going back on the raw foods train.

I actually did this for quite a while last summer and then I stopped once school started back up and fall came and there was less good produce around. I’m not planning on going 100% raw anytime soon, but I’d like to reincorporate more raw foods into my diet. I’m a big fan of eating whole, minimally-processed foods and this just takes it an extra step. This might be more realistic once spring happens, because there will be more produce, and I love loading up my plate with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, but in the meantime, I’m going to be buying more raw things, like nuts/seeds and making my own almond milk and stuff like that. I have a lot more time on my hands now that I’m just looking for a job, so I have tons of time to experiment in the kitchen!

I'm going to be making more recipes from this book.

I’m going to be making more recipes from this book.

Anyone else missing the warm weather produce? What’s a food you haven’t eaten in awhile that you want to start eating again more often?

Friday Five: T Minus 2 Weeks

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who commented on and emailed me about my last post. I really appreciate all the feedback you gave me about my “no added sugar” plan, and I’m working towards being more flexible with my eating and not letting food become an obsessive thing in my life. Especially around the holidays, when I’m already stressed as it is, and sometimes a girl just needs a Hail Merry miracle tart (which I’ll be treating myself to at the end of finals week).

1. There are just over 2 weeks left til the big day…graduation!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day for forever. Okay, maybe not, but it’s been a source of excitement and fear in my life since at least last year. I think getting the opportunity to graduate a semester early, and start my ‘real’ life will be the best Christmas present I get this year–and it just so happens to be right around Christmas. I’ve just got to get through one more week of classes, 2 real finals, 1 take home test and an online final and then I’m there! I know the next two weeks are going to fly by, but I hope I can enjoy them to the fullest. My time in college has been so much more than I could have ever imagined, so in a way, I’m going to miss it. At the same time, I’m ready to be done with school!

2. I’m obsessed with balls.

Nope, not those ones 😉 I’ve been whipping up some Larabar knock-offs in ball form and eating them for snacks, at breakfast/lunch, you name it. My latest creations are PB&J (my favorites, and literally just raisins+no salt/sugar PB), protein peppermint mocha (recipe below!) and cookie dough (almond meal+dates+stevia chocolate chips+vanilla extract). Let’s just say that my Ninja has been getting a lot of love lately!

Some of my 'balls'.

Some of my ‘balls’.

Protein Peppermint Mocha Balls (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw, no added sugar)

1 scoop Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder (can sub any coffee-flavored protein powder, or just chocolate and add a little instant coffee)

1 tbsp cacao powder or dark cocoa powder

8-10 pitted dates, soaked 2 hours

3-4 tbsp pumpkin seeds, soaked 2 hours

dash peppermint extract, to taste

In a food processor/high speed blender, process all ingredients until they start to come together. Roll into balls or flatten into bars and enjoy.

3. I am seriously looking into moving to California. Or somewhere else warm.

Not that I wasn’t already, but after this week, I’m considering it even more. Not only did we get 6 inches of snow (not too unusual, and it made it feel more like Christmas, but it made the roads horrible) but we’ve been having Arctic-like temperatures since Tuesday, and they will be continuing until this coming Tuesday. I’m talking daytime highs of 10 degrees at the most, and overnight lows in the negatives. That just doesn’t happen here more than a random day or two, usually in February. The strange thing about Colorado is that we still get plenty of sunshine on these frigid days, so it’s like the weather is taunting us by looking warm but feeling beyond cold. This awful weather has made me just want to stay in and watch Christmas movies #noshame.

This sums it up, basically.

This sums it up, basically.

As does this tweet.

As does this tweet.

4. Some random search terms for your enjoyment.

I haven’t looked at my search terms in awhile, so I knew there was bound to be some, erm, interesting ones. Here are some of the weirdest!

  • drinking olive oil with salt to jump start my period: I would suggest putting that olive oil and salt to better use as a dip for some fancy bread…
  • cappuccino float: I’m not even sure how that would work, but coffee+ice cream is always a winner.
  • how did i spend my thanksgiving holiday for middle school: I haven’t been in middle school for 8 years, so I can’t remember that far back what I was doing for Thanksgiving!
  • selfies gone wrong: If they’re referring to my car selfies, they couldn’t be more wrong!
  • slang saying yaaasss: I personally love slang words, so go for it.

5. My apartment is sufficiently Christmas-ified.

2013-12-05 17.41.082013-12-05 18.23.02

It’s hard being away from home during the holidays. I really struggled with this during my freshman year of college–it was my first time away from home, and I was dealing with all the typical finals-time stress, along with a not-so-great roommate. What’s made my holiday seasons since then a little better (besides living in an apartment on my own!) is having Christmas decorations up and listening to Christmas music as much as possible. My lovely mom was nice enough to decorate my place while I was at class when she dropped me off after break on Monday, and now my apartment is looking pretty festive. Having all that snow helps too (though, lets be honest, I’m sick of it already) and even though I won’t be going home for good (aka until I find a job) until the 23rd because that’s when I’m moving out of my apartment, I can still enjoy this holiday season, while looking forward to the time that I’ll get to be home with my family again. T-minus 17 days until I’m home for Christmas 😀

Do you like to decorate your home/apartment/dorm for the holidays? What’s the weather like where you are–I need some hope that warmer temps will return soon!

Friday Five: Online Shopping Addict

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately–the semester’s starting to get busy and I literally have next to no time during the middle of the week for anything but sleeping and getting homework done. But I’m more thankful than ever to have three day weekends every week–it’s seriously my lifesaver.

Anyways, I didn’t want to let a whole week go by without another post so I’m throwing a little Friday Five fun in here!

Five Things I’ve Eaten Recently

  •  The best vegan restaurant pizza I’ve ever had. It’s hard to find vegan pizza in restaurants. It’s even harder to find amazing vegan pizza. I’m not one for fake cheese (don’t get the Daiya appeal) so I always go cheeseless. The other toppings are the best part anyways, especially in this case. My mom and I tried out a new-to-us restaurant in my college town called Restaurant 415. They aren’t specifically vegan, but they have plenty of gluten free and vegan options and focus on locally-sourced and organic ingredients. My kinda place for sure! I ordered The Woodland pizza sans the cheese and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The crust was not too thin or too thick, and it came topped with garlic & olive oil, mushrooms, deliciously salty & crunchy kale (when do you ever see kale on a pizza?!), dried figs (ditto), caramelized onions and a balsamic glaze. The sweet and salty flavors worked together perfectly and I was in vegan pizza heaven. 
My delicious leftovers!

My delicious leftovers!

  • Banana softserve…with a twist. Who doesn’t love banana softserve, aka frozen bananas all blended up until they look like ice cream? Seriously, one of my favorite blog food finds ever. Well, I also discovered a little trick recently: mix almond butter (or nut butter of choice) with a little  coconut oil and drizzle over banana softserve…homemade magic shell! You can even add cacao powder or whatever you want to make it even better. I like topping my softserve and shell with cacao nibs for the perfect healthified dessert.
Who needs ice cream when you can have banana softserve?

Who needs ice cream when you can have banana softserve?

  • Raw jalapeno poppers.  I’ve been eating them whole, putting them in salads…basically just loving them. I should have made more but I’ll definitely be stocking up on jalapenos this weekend!
So spicy, so clean, so good!

So spicy, so clean, so good!

  • Brown rice sushi from Whole Foods. I’ve mentioned before how disappointed I am in the salad bar at the WF in my college town. However, when I discovered their brown rice sushi, I just couldn’t resist. I’ve never had brown rice sushi before, let alone vegan-friendly brown rice sushi. I got the avocado carrot cucumber roll and it was great dipped in coconut aminos and as a salad topping.
An easy dinner at it's finest.

An easy dinner at it’s finest.

  • Salads…on salads on salads. I’ve had a salad-a-day streak for at least the last three weeks, and I don’t want it to end anytime soon. I’ve discovered what makes a really great homemade salad–chopping the greens, shaking everything up to mix it around and letting it sit for at least half an hour in the fridge. It all makes for a very tasty salad. The toppings and dressings are what makes them, though.
Latest obsession: taco-inspired salads.

Latest obsession: taco-inspired salads.

Five Things I’ve Bought This Week

  • A set of weights. Yep, finally jumped on the strength training trend, and I gotta say, I really love it! I’m definitely not lifting heavy yet, but it’s good to start out light. And besides, I’m not so much wanting to build muscle as I am wanting to lean out. So lighter weights+more reps=(hopefully) a leaner body!
And they're green, what could be better than that (besides pink)?

And they’re green, what could be better than that (besides pink)?

  • A geology textbook and cacao nibs from Amazon. Random, yes, but I needed to get the super saver shipping so the cacao nibs were a much-wanted add-on item. The textbook is obviously for the geology class I’m in–I took it because it’s supposedly a prereq to the meteorology program I want to get into after graduation and I don’t really love it so far (mostly because of the professor) but I have a friend in it so that helps a lot!
  • A massive iHerb order. They used to offer free shipping in the U.S. for any order over $20 or $25 I think, but now it’s for orders over $40. I hate paying for shipping so I just stocked up my online cart more than usual. I got a few new-to-me items (raw buckwheat granola, a new brand of coconut flour) and some other things I can’t get in store (namely, peanut flour). I think I’ll be set with new products for awhile…
Love getting packages in the mail!

Love getting packages in the mail!

  • Some new-to-me Whole Foods finds. Yes, I love shopping online for things I can’t get near me, but there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned shopping trip to the grocery store. On my last trip to Whole Foods, I got a bunch of new-to-me items and I’m loving them all so far. The best is the Thai coconut curry hummus by Hope Hummus–it’s a local brand, but they might have it in WFs across the country so definitely check them out if you ever see them near you. This is the best hummus flavor I’ve ever tried, period. I also got a couple new Larabar flavors, unsweetened ketchup, coconut oil spray, dark chocolate Nuttzo (it was on sale!) and WF brand pickles (because other brands have not-so-good ingredients).
There's always something new to try at Whole Foods.

There’s always something new to try at Whole Foods.

Five Sites I’m Loving This Week

  • Chicnova. It’s an online store I just discovered that has a ton of cute, affordable clothes in all kinds of styles. I haven’t ordered anything (yet) but there’s quite a few things I’m drooling over.
  • Warby Parker. Notice the online shopping trend? Okay, so I haven’t bought from here either but I love the concept: you get to choose prescription glasses to try on at home, and you send back the ones you don’t like. I’m a sucker for hipster style glasses, so the next time I need a new pair, I’ll definitely be hitting up this store.
  • DAMY Health. I don’t follow their nutrition plan by any means, but the recipe section has all sorts of amazing-looking vegan, gluten free and raw desserts. I kinda want to make them all…
  • PicMonkey. The best free editing site I’ve come across. I just wish I could use all the upgraded features.
  • Weather Channel. Yep, I’m a weather nerd and proud of it (that’s why I’m going into meteorology!) Besides just the forecasts, they also have weather stories and articles that are really interesting. For example, I found out the other day that Denver is in the top 6 cities for most snowfall. I actually don’t believe it, because for the past few years we haven’t gotten much snow at all!

Do you do any strength training? What’s one of your favorite sites at the moment? 

Five for Friday

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

Five Things I Have to do This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five New Finds I’m Loving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Frustrating Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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