Return to the Mountains+Blog Updates

Wow it’s been awhile since I last posted! Honestly the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, sometimes great and sometimes not so good.

First I want to (briefly) recap my long weekend trip to Salt Lake City. My best friend just moved there in August and though we now live even further apart than when she was still in Colorado, I knew I wanted to go see her. And bonus, I got to explore a new-to-me city. SLC is a lot more spread out than I was picturing it. My friend lives in a suburb that’s pretty far away from downtown so I didn’t get to see that area but we did drive all over town.

It was also my first time flying by myself, aka without my parents or in a group. I was nervous but mostly excited because I love airline travel. I don’t get to do it nearly enough (usually just once or twice a year) and I think that might be why I love it. Or I’m just crazy 😉 I did get to meet my mom at DIA where I had a 3 1/2 hour layover on the way out and that was nice to see her for a couple of hours. She was so great to drive an hour each way early in the morning to see me, but we hadn’t seen each other since late July so it was a nice surprise. My flights there and back were great and I got the hang of putting my carry-on suitcase up in the overhead compartments. That was legitimately my biggest concern…I thought I’d be that girl who couldn’t even lift her own bag over her head but it wasn’t that awkward. And my seatmates weren’t totally annoying so that was good too.

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No one's gonna confuse this bag for their own.

Salt Lake City reminds me a lot of my Colorado hometown, with lots of mountains but in SLC they surround the city instead of just being on the west side. And of course, the lake was unreal. My friend told me it was actually pretty dried out, but it was still huge and beautiful. I just have a love for mountains and water.

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I could get used to this view...

As far as what we did from Friday to Tuesday, it was basically eating (at Noodles & Co because we don’t have it in OK…and incredible sushi…and making tofu at her apartment), manicures, shopping, sleeping in, hiking, walking her dog, seeing a musical, more shopping, movie watching, a wine+painting class, even more shopping, Starbucks, seeing the lake (and me falling in…) and more eating. So basically all the best things.

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Bestie time is the best time.

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Random, but the sushi place had the best brussels sprouts ever!

Getting back into a normal routine after that was hardddddddd. Making it even harder was the fact that my workplace is now even more understaffed and its not even funny anymore. So basically I came back and had to work 9 days straight. Bleh. The first few days were a total struggle and I’ve seriously wondered if I’m going to even stay in the TV world for long. I don’t want to say bad things about my employer, but lets just say things are going downhill fast and everyone knows it but the management. The smart people leave ASAP and the rest of us are stuck there until we can do the same.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my job to be my life. I truly do enjoy working, but I think I’d actually like it more if I didn’t feel so overworked, stressed and taken advantage of. I also can say that I don’t really have enough of a passion for the news to want to keep doing it. I would much rather be involved in some kind of entertainment show or working for a fashion magazine or something. TV seems glamorous but behind the scenes, it really sucks sometimes.

So where am I going with this? Basically I’m kind of taking a step back from the blog. I enjoy doing this, but I just can’t promise the time that I used to spend on it. Work is all about writing, and at the end of the day I don’t really want to write anymore. Plus the time I spend away from work is either sleeping (I work overnights so I sleep until the early afternoon), running/working out or just chilling right before work. Plus I feel like talking all about food isn’t really me anymore. In case you haven’t noticed, my Instagram has turned into kind of a fashion space, and I really love that. It’s one of my biggest passions, and I don’t do enough of it on here.

I’m not saying goodbye to AlmostVegGirlie right now, just more like I can’t promise weekly posts anymore. Being an adult with a full-time job and other extracurricular priorities has to take precedence for now. And if you can’t get enough of me, I’m still active on Instagram so follow me on over there!

Have you had to take a blog break? What have you been up to lately….I miss catching up with y’all!

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New in Review: Nails & Noshes

Hey look, I didn’t totally give up on my new series! I’m going to try to get these up every other week so I hope y’all like them as much as I do!

This week features a couple nail-related beauty products as well as plenty of food items…

  • Veggie-Go’s (sweet potato pie)

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I’ve actually had these before but I never did a formal review on them. They’re anything but your basic fruit strip, because they include veggies (!) and have no added sugar. This flavor in particular tastes like a dessert, but it’s only got 2 grams of sugar, from the sweet potatoes and apples. They’re just fruit, veggies and spices — perfect if you’re like me and prefer your food to be as simple as possible.

Pros: extremely tasty, perfect for a quick 1/2 serving each of fruit & veggies

Cons: a little expensive for the size (~$1.25 per strip)

Where to buy: Whole Foods, their site

  • Sally Hansen Kwik Off Moisturizing Nail Polish Remover

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Has anyone else ever been intrigued by those little containers you dip your fingers in to get nail polish off? My friend had one and it worked magic, so I thought I’d buy one instead of the usual messy nail polish remover liquid. This stuff works like a charm, and it doesn’t smell all chemical-y or get all over the place. I will never buy acetone remover again!

Pros: inexpensive, easy to use, no lingering smell

Cons: honestly, none!

Where to Buy: Target, Sephora, drug stores (CVS and Walgreens probably have them)

  • Dr. in the Kitchen Flackers raw flax crackers

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Another cheat (I first started buying them like 2 years ago), but I started recently buying them more often now that the Whole Foods nearest me carries them. I’ve tried the dill, rosemary, sun dried tomato & basil and cinnamon & currants flavors (basically all of them but the savory flavor) and I love them all except the cinnamon and currants. That one gets a bit too chewy from the currants and the flavor is weirdly sour. But all the others are tasty, not too salty and have stellar nutritionals. 6-7 grams of fiber, raw, gluten free and 4-5 grams of protein per serving. Freakin’ delicious on a snack plate with some olives or raw cashew cheez.

Pros: really healthy, good flavors

Cons: a bit expensive, hard to find

Where to Buy: Whole Foods (not all carry them), natural foods stores, Amazon

  • Honest Fizz (root beer)

Y’all know Zevia has my heart. I mean, sure it costs a lot more than your typical diet soda but it’s so much better for you. If you drink soda, you really need to switch to Zevia.

But Honest Fizz is another great alternative that is a little cheaper. Currently, they only have 4 flavors but I’m hoping they’re successful so maybe they’ll add more. Fingers crossed they (or Zevia) make a watermelon soda. Obsessed. Anyways, the root beer is pretty spot on. I actually prefer the Zevia root beer only because it has a kick from the ginger, but the Honest Fizz was less filling (I don’t drink Zevias too often because I hate being filled up with soda, even if it’s zero calorie) which I like. And I think it would make a pretty good healthy root beer float!

Pros: cheaper than Zevia, less filling

Cons: not many flavor options

Where to Buy: Whole Foods, possibly Sprouts

  •  Broadway Nails imPress press-on manicure

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I’ve gotten into the habit of constantly having my nails painted. The problem is I hate constantly touching up and redoing my nails every few days after they inevitably chip. Enter the fake nails! This is my first time using them, and I can honestly say I am imPressed 😉

These go on really quickly and easily. You press them down for a few minutes and after an hour they’re completely good to go. My nails were fairly short at the time I applied these, so even the ‘short’ length had to be trimmed down a bit, but they look natural. Best of all, no chipping!

Pros: easier than nail polish, look natural

Cons: more expensive per use than nail polish, only get 1-2 uses out of each pack

Where to Buy: Target, CVS, Walgreens

  • Living Intentions superfood cereal (hemp & greens)

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I first discovered this granola at the Whole Foods in my college town. They started stocking it in the bulk bins last spring and once I saw it, I had to give it a try. Of course, being a sprouted, superfood-y type thing, it’s expensive. About $12 per pound! But if you only get a little bit at a time like I do, it’s a lot less expensive. Some stores only sell it prepackaged so you can’t buy only what you need, but if your Whole Foods sells it in the bulk area, BUY IT!

I’ve tried a few of the flavors, but my favorite by far is the hemp & greens. This one isn’t sweetened with agave like some of the others, which I like. It’s got a bit of a ‘green’ flavor from the added spirulina, chlorella, spinach, alfalfa and dandelion — what other cereal can boast those ingredients? It’s grain free (made from buckwheat), low sugar, high protein…basically the healthiest granola ever. It’s perfectly crunchy and just a bit sweet and pairs well with almond milk. I also love it as a topping for my protein puddings.

Pros: one of the healthiest cereals ever, great ingredients

Cons: expensive, I love it so much I keep buying it 😉

Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Sprouts, Nuts.com

What new products have you tried lately? 

Ditch the Diet Debates

Note: In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I created a page on my blog dedicated to my own struggles with an eating disorder and some of my most helpful posts on the topic. Check it out here and visit nedawareness.org for even more information. 

You know me…never afraid to take on a touchy subject 😉 I’ve discussed Instagram disordered behavior, figure competitions, rest days and intuitive eating and orthorexia in my personal life.

But what I haven’t talked much about is the crazy debates out there about the ‘perfect’ diet. There have been a lot of posts lately touching on the pros and cons of paleo, the Whole 30 and the primal-based lifestyles that are gaining in popularity. And of course, Instagram is full of #IIFYM hashtagged photos of ‘proyo’ and Quest bars and Walden Farms condiments. And if you’ve spent any time on my blog or Instagram, you’ll see all the raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds that make up my newly adopted raw vegan lifestyle. With all these conflicting dietary views out there, which one is best?

Honestly…none of them are! Let me explain. The ‘best’ diet for all humans doesn’t exist–we’re all so unique in our needs that eating a egg salad sandwich on Ezekiel bread for lunch may work for you, but it will make your gluten-free vegetarian friend feel like crap. The ‘best’ diet is the one that works for YOU and your body, period. It doesn’t matter what’s trendy, or what everyone at your gym is eating or what the latest episode of Dr. Oz tells you not to eat. If something works for you, eat it. If not, don’t…and don’t feel guilty for not eating a certain way.

This approach doesn't exactly work for everyone.

This approach doesn’t exactly work for everyone.

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The thing that gets me the most about these diet debates is how people trash each other’s eating style. The paleo people cut down vegans for not eating enough protein, high carb low fat vegans are militant about shunning fats and omnivores criticize many diets for being too restrictive. Where’s the appreciation for the benefits of each diet? Other than the Standard American Diet, there are benefits to every eating style, which is why people choose to follow them. Each diet gets some things right–veganism emphasizes the benefits of consuming mostly plants, primal eating promotes real food over processed crap and healthy diets that don’t exclude any food groups show the benefits of moderation.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

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I wish people would be more respectful of everyone’s chosen eating style. I came across a blog post the other day where the blogger shared her experiences as being a vegetarian for a week and how she couldn’t do it because she’s an athlete. Nothing wrong with not being a vegetarian, but don’t claim you couldn’t cut out meat because you’re an athlete. If that were true, then Brendan Brazier, Venus Williams and Scott Jurek (all plant-based athletes) wouldn’t be among the best in their sports. Sure, you may have to be better at planning your meals as a plant-based athlete but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid animal products and still be athletic. I know I’m guilty of questioning the paleo diet from time to time but I recognize that it works for some people and that’s great. Just because something is restrictive for you personally doesn’t mean it’s restrictive to someone else and we need to respect that.

Who says vegans can't be strong and fit?

Who says vegans can’t be strong and fit?

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Personally, I advocate for a plant-based diet because it’s healthier to fill up your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies and of course it’s cruelty-free, but I understand that everyone has their own beliefs and needs that determine what they eat. I try to come from a place of understanding and respect and I wish there was more of that in the blog world and life in general!

What’s your take on the ‘diet debates’?

What I Ate (and wore) Wednesday

I haven’t participated in WIAW in awhile! This week’s post is not all about the food, because let’s be real, I forgot to take a lot of food pics recently, but I also wanted to share some of my outfits as well.

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I usually make protein banana softserve for breakfast, but who doesn’t like to switch things up sometimes? Now that I have more time in the mornings, I made some almond flour-based pancakes the other morning. They were cookie-dough inspired, filled with stevia chocolate chips, and topped with warmed frozen cherries and a side of about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I’ve been subconsciously avoiding most added sugars lately and it’s changed my tastebuds. Now even a little maple syrup is too sweet!
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I like to play the part of a broadcast journalist, even if I’m not one quite yet! I’ve been really into blazers lately and I kinda want one in every color…
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I finally ordered some more peanut flour and I’ve missed it a ton! I’m glad I took a break though because I know you can develop allergic reactions to things you eat too ofen…and I definitely used to OD on peanut flour. It was good to have it back in my life, though, in this shirataki noodle stir fry topped with spinach, pineapple, homemade roasted chickpeas and the most addicting spicy raw sunflower seeds from the bulk section at Whole Foods.
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As much as I love some booty-hugging yoga shorts (especially these from VS Pink), I don’t wear them unless I’m working out. I actually was able to wear this outfit outside on Sunday to play tennis with my dad! It was a glorious 60 degrees, sunny and my definition of a perfect winter day 😉 And getting in almost an hour of tennis with my dad was even better.

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I posted about these on Instagram the other day, but you didn’t get to see the actual boots! I was in need of some black riding boots, and these sale-priced ones from ALDO fit the bill perfectly. Plus they were 50% off, what’s not to love? I’ve been doing some really smart shopping lately and I love that I’ve learned to be budget conscious, at least with clothes…
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Banana softserve is still consumed at least once per day. FYI, frozen bananas taste incredible blended with PlantFusion cookies ‘n cream protein powder, dark cocoa powder, spinach (gotta get those greens in!) and topped with PB+coconut oil and stevia chocolate chips. It’s like a decadent dessert, but healthy enough for breakfast!
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Sometimes, you gotta throw on the leggings and the chambray shirt. I like my girly clothes, so even my casual wear is cutened up a bit. I’m obsessed with this shirt…and the scarf! Love those infinity scarves.
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And then of course, the girly side of me wins out most of the time. I wore this outfit (from Christmas) out to see Frozen with my mom (a really good movie) and then some outlet shopping. I think I could probably live in tights/dresses+skirts!

As an aside, I weighed myself the other day. NEVER a good idea, and it certainly wasn’t this time. I just knew I had gained some weight, but I wasn’t expecting to be so close to 100 pounds. That number scares me so much, because I’ve never been in the triple digit club. I know something is off with my body, though–no period in almost 9 months, not-so-great skin and some digestive issues have been plaguing me for awhile and I’m anxious for my doctor’s appointment next month to (hopefully) clear things up. Honestly, though, if I hadn’t weighed myself, I wouldn’t have guessed I weighed that much. I still look about the same, I fit in all my clothes, so I’m hoping some of the weight is muscle (I think some of it is, because I can feel the hardness of my abs, arms and legs) and hopefully, if my body is out of whack, I can get back to the right weight for me. Right now, I’m just trying hard not to let this derail my progress…

What have you been eating/wearing this week?

WIAW: Finals Week Food

Today I have my last final EVER (well, besides when/if I get my meteorology certificate…but we’ll pretend like that doesn’t count) and I’m beyond excited to be done with this semester. It’s been long (but it’s gone by so fast), it’s been hard, it’s been busy (taking 6 classes on top of working at the TV station every week is no joke) so I’m ready to enjoy some time off at home. It’s still crazy to think I’ll be a college graduate in a few days…

Before my emotions get the better of me, let’s get on with WIAW! As I’m typing this, I’m kinda procrastinating on studying for my Wednesday final so this is gonna be a mostly wordless post of some of the things I’ve been eating to fuel my studying (and to be honest, my procrastinating too).

Monday lunch. Miracle noodles dry-sauteed with some peanut butter/cayenne pepper/almond milk for a spicy peanut sauce, with spinach and sauerkraut added in. Organic honeycrisp on the side.

Monday lunch. Miracle noodles dry-sauteed with some peanut butter/cayenne pepper/almond milk for a spicy peanut sauce, with spinach and sauerkraut added in. Organic honeycrisp on the side.

Monday's dinner. Supposed to be a curried cauliflower soup, but really thick so it was more like a sauce. Still good, especially topped with sauerkraut and these addicting raw spicy sunflower seeds from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

Monday’s dinner. Supposed to be a curried cauliflower soup, but really thick so it was more like a sauce. Still good, especially topped with sauerkraut and these addicting raw spicy sunflower seeds from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

A quick selfie in the car before my history final on Monday morning. So glad to have my car back!

A quick selfie in the car before my history final on Monday morning. So glad to have my car back!

Monday's snackplate. Satsuma, stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, some Food Should Taste Good sweet potato kettle chips, energy bites from the bulk bin (I don't really like these), some homemade PB&J bites.

Monday’s snackplate. Satsuma, stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, some Food Should Taste Good sweet potato kettle chips, energy bites from the bulk bin (I don’t really like these), some homemade PB&J bites.

Big salad for lunch on Tuesday. One head of romaine lettuce, with some cauliflower soup/sauce as the dressing, garbanzo beans, more sauerkraut and spicy sunflower seeds.

Big salad for lunch on Tuesday. One head of romaine lettuce, with some cauliflower soup/sauce as the dressing, 1 leftover falafel, chickpeas, more sauerkraut and spicy sunflower seeds.

A very orange snackplate from Tuesday. Satsuma, sweet potato chips, carrots, and leftover pan-roasted chickpeas.

A very orange snackplate from Tuesday. Satsuma, sweet potato chips, carrots, and leftover pan-roasted chickpeas.

Strawberry Zevia makes the perfect study drink. Can't wait til I go out for some adult beverages with my friends on Thursday ;)

Strawberry Zevia makes the perfect study drink. Can’t wait til I go out for some adult beverages with my friends on Thursday 😉

Tuesday dinner. Mung bean pasta (so high in protein, and grain free), mixed with cauliflower soup/sauce, more sauerkraut and raw spicy sunflower seeds, side of homemade sweet potato fries and pomegranate seeds.

Tuesday dinner. Mung bean pasta (so high in protein, and grain free), mixed with cauliflower soup/sauce, more sauerkraut and raw spicy sunflower seeds, side of homemade sweet potato fries and pomegranate seeds.

Not quite the same as the typical college student’s mac and cheese and fast food dinners during finals 😛 Really, though, it’s been all about convenience for me as I’ve been keeping busy with studying for finals, taking a few finals and finding ways to avoid thinking about finals. Most of my meals have been quick, no fuss, and made while doing something else. Multitasking at its finest! I have no desire to cook right now, and that’s okay. My food processor has been getting a lot of use though–I’ve been whipping up homemade Larabar-like bites lately for quick study snacks. I’m more than ready to go out for sushi tonight, drinks/appetizers tomorrow and then my favorite vegan restaurant on Saturday as a grad celebration dinner!

What have you been eating lately?

Post-Thanksgiving (No) Blues

Do you ever feel let down after a holiday is over? I almost always do, especially after Christmas. It’s always a little sad to have to take everything down, and move on to real life again. I’m usually a little upset after Thanksgiving is over, usually because it means that I have to go back to school in a few days. This year, though, I’m kind of ready for Thanksgiving break to be over. Not that break was bad–I really needed the time off from school–but I’m more than ready for the semester, and my time in college, to be over. Senioritis, much?!

Even though break is almost over, and I’m itching to go back to school and finish up the semester strong (just 8 more days of classes, then finals) I’ve definitely enjoyed Thanksgiving break while it lasted. It was pretty low-key, mostly just plenty of time spent with my parents and sister and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I also had some pretty delicious food (on Thanksgiving Day and otherwise), did some retail therapy pre-Black Friday (it was way less crazy to shop on Wednesday) and even got some school stuff done.

Snow on campus to kick off Thanksgiving break.

Snow on campus to kick off Thanksgiving break.

I love the Mexican-inspired dishes at Native Foods!

I love the Mexican-inspired dishes at Native Foods!

Caught up on a few episodes of my new favorite show--The Newsroom.

Caught up on a few episodes of my new favorite show–The Newsroom.

Native Foods leftovers. Ensalada Azteca salad+sweet potato fries and some black beans, sauerkraut and pomegranate seeds.

Native Foods leftovers. Ensalada Azteca salad+sweet potato fries and some black beans, sauerkraut and pomegranate seeds.

I was feeling the navy blue on Black Friday. Cardigan: American Eagle. Strapless checked peplum top: Abercrombie & Fitch (hand-me-down from my younger sister). Dark wash jeggings: American Eagle. Necklace: American Eagle.

I was feeling the navy blue on Black Friday. Cardigan: American Eagle. Strapless checked peplum top: Abercrombie & Fitch (hand-me-down from my younger sister). Dark wash jeggings: American Eagle. Necklace: American Eagle.

Pumpkin nog banana softserve. Made with pumpkin puree+Califia Farms almond milk nog+frozen bananas and topped with cinnamon and pecans.

Pumpkin nog banana softserve. Made with pumpkin puree+Califia Farms almond milk nog+frozen bananas and topped with cinnamon and pecans.

Desert-like field near my house.

Desert-like field near my house.

Thanksgiving snack plate in lieu of lunch. Date+romaine wraps, sweet potato chips, olives, homemade guac, Skinny Crisps.

Thanksgiving snack plate in lieu of lunch. Date+romaine wraps, sweet potato chips, olives, homemade guac, Skinny Crisps.

The cutest car ever, spotted on a walk through the neighborhood.

The cutest car ever, spotted on a walk through the neighborhood.

Parnsip mash, with olive oil, sea salt and garlic.

Parnsip mash, with olive oil, sea salt and garlic.

Maple orange shredded brussels sprout salad.

Maple orange shredded brussels sprout salad.

Sweet potato fritters coated in pumpkin seeds+pistachios.

Sweet potato fritters coated in pumpkin seeds+pistachios.

Raw caramel pecan pie topped with cacao sauce and more pecans and raisins.

Raw caramel pecan pie topped with cacao sauce and more pecans and raisins.

I have some exciting (well, for me) plans for my time post-Thanksgiving. It might seem a little cliché to be hyperfocused on clean eating after the holidays, but that isn’t what I’m intending my plan to be about. I’m going to be avoiding all added sugars for the next two to three weeks and trying to get back to eating more whole foods. I generally do pretty well with this, but I also sometimes buy some cleaner packaged foods that happen to have added sugars. Things like store-bought buckwheat rawnola or the Larabars with chocolate chips aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but all those added sugars do add up, and I know I feel my best when eating foods without added sugars. So what will I be eating the next few weeks? I’m not going to be drastically changing anything, just focusing more on fruits, veggies, nuts and nut butters (with nothing added), beans and lentils and some raw stevia-sweetened protein powder. I will not be avoiding stevia during this mini-challenge because I feel like it’s a healthier alternative to sugar and I don’t tend to go overboard with it, so it’ll be nice to still allow it in my diet in things like stevia chocolate chips, black coffee and homemade desserts. I don’t think this challenge is coming from a disordered place–I just want to be more mindful of what I’m eating because added sugars are in EVERYTHING, and even the sweeteners I feel comfortable with (maple syrup, coconut sugar and raw honey) are much better in small amounts. So hopefully this challenge will help me realize that I can live without added sugars in my life. And I will definitely keep you all up to date on how this goes for me!

Do you ever feel sad when the holidays are over? How do you feel about post-holiday eating plans?

WIAW: Fall Favorites

I’d like to get back into a more regular WIAW groove, but for now, doing it every once in awhile is working best for me! Check out the rest of the weekly party and let’s get into some of my latest favorites…

Homemade vegan chili fries...aka healthy vegan comfort food at its finest! Base of hannah yam 'fries' (baked with pink sea salt and cayenne), topped with homemade chocolate chili (made with black beans), homemade guac, pumpkin seeds and jalapeno.

Homemade vegan chili fries…aka healthy vegan comfort food at its finest! Base of hannah yam ‘fries’ (baked with pink sea salt and cayenne), topped with homemade chocolate chili (made with black beans), homemade guac, pumpkin seeds and jalapeno.

What’s fall without some chili? Unfortunately, the one pictured above wasn’t so great–I had dreams of making a chocolate chili like my favorite restaurant offers but my recipe skills (aka throwing things together and hoping it’ll work) didn’t work in my favor this time. It was edible, but not super flavorful. You win some, you lose some. It was pretty good as part of this chili fry creation–I’ve been loving on the homemade root veggie fries lately!

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work.

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work.

I’ve still been mourning the loss of my beloved summer fruits (and figs, which for some reason have been absent at my Whole Foods since early October…why?) but I’ve been drowning my sorrows in the jewel of the fruit world, also known as the pomegranate. These have still been a bit pricey as the season is just beginning, but I managed to score 4 organic poms at Sprouts the other week for $2.99 total! Quite a deal, considering one pomegranate is going for $2.99 at Whole Foods. These juicy little gems are definitely worth the work and the mess it requires to prepare them and they’re definitely my favorite fall/winter fruit.

Apple daiquiri at Luscious Nectar.

Apple daiquiri at Luscious Nectar.

Despite what I might portray on here, I am not a frequent drinker by any means. I have an adult beverage once or twice a month, and I always stick to one drink because this petite girl can’t handle any more than that! When my parents were up visiting this weekend, they took me to Luscious Nectar, this cool juice bar in Old Town that offers vegan tapas and cool alcoholic drinks all made in-house. I love that because then there’s no weird additives. I got an apple daiquiri, which was a frozen blended drink made with green apple liqueur, lime and rum. It was good but super strong–I got a ‘short’ which was apparently 10 ounces, and I was only able to drink half before I started feeling it. I would definitely come back to try some of their other drinks though–they had an awesome sounding pumpkin cocktail–and their vegan tapas sounded incredible (we had the chips and guac to share, which were decent).

Grain free pumpkin raisin bagels right from the oven.

Grain free pumpkin raisin bagels right from the oven.

I like experimenting with grain free recipes because I love the nutritional benefits of almond flour and coconut flour. Grain free recipes without eggs don’t always work though–but these bagels are an exception. They’re definitely not quite the same as regular doughy bagels but they have a similar chew and they’re a lot healthier. I adapted the recipe from here and they’re pretty straightforward and one of the few baked goods that actually turns out right for me. I have the worst luck with baking, because I usually make a ton of changes to recipes and I’m at a high altitude so everything’s different and nothing ever rises. These are definitely a recipe I recommend if you want to try making some healthier bagels. Oh, and they’re definitely a lot smaller than regular bagels–they’re more like mini bagels, but mini things are always cuter!

Pre-cut yams make life so much easier.

Pre-cut yams make life so much easier.

When I was home a few weekends ago, I went to the Whole Foods near my house and found these pre-packaged fry cut yams in the produce section. I love making homemade sweet potato fries, but cutting the sweet potatoes can be a pain, so I just had to get these to make fry-making a little easier. These worked so well for making fries and I wish the Whole Foods near school would stock these!

Natural Grocers mini haul.

Natural Grocers mini haul.

I’ve been doing so well lately with grocery budgeting. It’s been kind of a necessity, since I’ve been running low on funds and I’m gonna need a little help from my parents as the semester wraps up, but I’ve been consistently spending around $60 or less at Whole Foods each week. Who says it’s called Whole Paycheck? This week, I actually spent just over $66 for my entire week’s worth of groceries and that was shopping at 2 stores and buying a couple splurge-y items. I got a few things at Natural Grocers I’ve been dying to find, like the Silver Hills gluten free bread (the slices are small, but it’s the best GF bread I’ve ever had) and the black bean spaghetti (literally tastes like regular pasta, but grain free and 25 grams of protein PER serving!) and I also got a great deal on some persimmons that were actually ripe. I also have 2 persimmons chilling in my produce bowl that have been there for almost 2 weeks now and they’re still not ripe…what’s up with that?

Vegan pizza from a restaurant? Too good to be true? Yep.

Vegan pizza from a restaurant? Too good to be true? Yep.

When I was last home, my mom and I stopped at Live Basil when she was taking me back home. We’ve been there I think 3 or 4 times and it’s definitely our favorite pizza place–they have fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and make the pizza right in front of you. Nothing like that Pizza Hut crap at all! Anyways, I usually get a make-your-own option so I can get it with tons of veggies and no cheese, but this last time, I saw they had a vegan option right on the menu. It was topped with bell peppers, cherry tomatoes (ick, but I could deal), onions (which I swapped for Greek olives) and mushrooms…oh, and vegan cheese. I am NOT a fan of most vegan cheeses (other than cashew cheese) but I figured that since they had so many other quality ingredients, the cheese couldn’t be too bad, plus I was thrilled to finally be able to order straight off the menu so that’s what I got. Ummmm…big mistake! The rest of the pizza was great (even the tomatoes were alright) but the cheese was straight up nast. I’m not sure what kind they used, possibly Daiya since it was melty (and for the record, I’ve never had Daiya before) but it was tasteless and gooey and just gross. I tried to remove what I could, but it was so glue-y and goopy that I couldn’t really fix it. It definitely ruined the rest of the pizza for me, and reminded me that I just don’t like vegan cheese. Sorry not sorry, but cheeseless pizzas are where it’s at!

Recent dinner: homemade lentil flatbread with homemade pumpkin butter and maple syrup mixed with organic PB, side of homemade carrot fries and Whole Foods bread & butter pickles.

Recent dinner: homemade lentil flatbread with homemade pumpkin butter and maple syrup mixed with organic PB, side of homemade carrot fries and Whole Foods bread & butter pickles.

I’ve been embracing lentils lately…in the form of lentil flatbread! Basically what you do is blend dried lentils (I like red ones because they aren’t as strongly flavored) until the form a flour, and then add in water, ground flax, sea salt and spices. Then you pour it in a pan on the stove like you would with socca, and cook away. I love the nutty flavor and how it’s packed with protein and so easy to make. I made one for dinner the other night and topped it with some sweet toppings, and served it alongside some homemade carrot fries (not quite as good as sweet potato fries, but really tasty) and bread & butter pickles made fresh in my Whole Foods prepared section. It was the perfect quick dinner after my 3 hour evening class on Monday night!

What are some of your fall favorites?