Keep It Simple

I feel like I haven’t posted a recipe on here forever! I could blame it on my crazy work schedule (which is true), or the hot temperatures which have kept me far from the oven, but really, it’s just because I’ve been embracing simple foods lately.

My work meals are easy to throw together — Sunwarrior chia puddings+toppings (raisins, stevia chocolate chips, raw nuts), Kit’s Organic bars, fresh fruit, flax crackers, carrots+homemade hummus. Basically anything I can eat at my desk while writing stories for 8 hours. When I get home, I get my workout in and then throw something together for ‘dinner’ (if you can count a meal eaten at 4 pm as dinner…that’s life when you work early mornings). No more elaborate recipes requiring special ingredients. It’s all about things I can make from my pantry staples and put together in 10 minutes or less.

Keepin' it simple at the farmer's market. Locally-grown mini zucchinis and local-made smoked hummus.

Keepin’ it simple at the farmer’s market. Locally-grown mini zucchinis and local-made smoked hummus.

So what have I been eating?

Sweet potato hash.

Sweet potato hash.

Sweet potato hash. Aka heaven in a bowl. Basically I take a sweet potato, peel it, and then chop it up into fine chunks in my Ninja, and blend it with spices (pink salt, nooch, garlic, cayenne). And then I dump it into a pan heated up with a a little coconut oil, add in some spinach and hemp ‘tofu’ when I have it and let it cook up til it’s crispy. And then I top with hummus (either local from the farmer’s market or homemade) and raw nuts and seeds.

Pan-roasted cole slaw (cabbage and carrots) with kelp noodles, spices, hemp seeds and smoked hummus.

Pan-roasted cole slaw (cabbage and carrots) with kelp noodles, spices, hemp seeds and smoked hummus.

Pan-roasted veggies. The spices are really what makes these so craveable. I’ve done it with both cauliflower and cabbage, and both are really good. My go-to spices are pink sea salt, garlic granules, cayenne powder and nutritional yeast. And I just cook the crap out of the veggies over a pan on the stove, because ovens are overrated and I love having a gas range that heats up in seconds.

It's gotta be greeeeeeen.

It’s gotta be greeeeeeen.

Banana softserve. Some days, I really wanted a cold dinner that was more on the sweet side. Enter banana softserve. I think you all know how this works, but I blend a frozen banana with greens (spinach or romaine), some Sunwarrior protein powder and a little almond milk. And then I serve with raw nuts and dried fruit on the side.

Snack plates. When all else fails, and I’m feeling like eating a bunch of random stuff, I go for the snack plates. While my combinations vary, I always include…A) a veggie (usually romaine hearts drizzled with spicy mustard or carrots), B) fruit (berries or watermelon), C) hummus or salsa, D) raw nuts or seeds, E) dried fruit/stevia chocolate chips.

I used to be so concerned about getting tons of variety in my diet, but now I honestly just go with the flow and eat what I crave. It’s so freeing, and it makes for easier grocery shopping trips. I literally buy about 20 or so of the same things every single week, with a few changes here and there. And of course, I still get plenty of variety in the produce I eat…and I’ve been a produce monster this summer so far! I spend about half of my grocery budget on fruits and veggies and I can’t get enough.

Giant produce haul (mostly organic) from Whole Foods.

Giant produce haul (mostly organic) from Whole Foods.

What have you been eating lately?

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Perfectly Imperfect

This weekend was one of those weekends that I never wanted to end. Don’t get me wrong–it wasn’t the perfect weekend in every way. But perfection is boring! My weekend was perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I finally got my hair re-done.

It was time for a change and I’m so glad I made one. I got about 5-6 inches off the length (big for me since my hair’s been this long since 9th grade!) and got it colored darker. I’m in love with the results though–but of course, hair is never as amazing as it is right after getting it done.

I'm a brunette again!

I’m a brunette again!

I was a little worried when I went out with my mom later on Friday on a few errands because it was raining & snowing and I didn’t want my new hair getting ruined. Fortunately, it stayed pretty dry and I was able to score a new bikini from Target thanks to my lovely mom. Trying on swimsuits is still an anxiety-provoking thing for me but I was able to get over my body hang-ups and find a cute suit that I love!

View from my room on Friday afternoon. Looks more like December than March!

View from my room on Friday afternoon. Looks more like December than March!

I can't wait to wear this...hopefully soon!

I can’t wait to wear this…hopefully soon!

  • I went hiking with my parents. 

After crappy weather on Friday and some cold (in the 40s) sunshine on Saturday, I was more than ready for some springlike weather like we had on Thursday. Sunday delivered on that, so my parents and I laced up our hiking boots (okay, I just wore some tennis shoes) and hit the trails at a state park in the foothills on the south side of town. The weather was perfect–in the 70s with gorgeous blue skies. I was excited to fit in some exercise out in the fresh air. Everything was great…until we ran into some mud on the trails. And by mud, I mean several inches of sloppy, gooey fresh mud. Not so ideal, especially with the shoes I was wearing but with a little help from my dad, I was able to survive the muddy trails. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re hiking, and that’s what I love. Sure, it wasn’t quite the perfect conditions but we made the best of it and now we have a great story to tell 😉

I was finally reunited with the Whole Foods salad bar!

I was finally reunited with the Whole Foods salad bar for an almost-perfect picnic lunch.

Isn't this view just gorgeous? I'm so lucky to be able to call Colorado my home (for now)!

Isn’t this view just gorgeous? I’m so lucky to be able to call Colorado my home (for now)!

A photobombed selfie on the trail.

A photobombed selfie on the trail. I love my mom!

  • I got my grocery shopping done for the week. 

I’m being serious when I say that grocery shopping is one of my highlights of the week. I love browsing the aisles for new products and being able to pick out my produce and other food for the week. I get a little upset, though, when I have to push back my grocery trip because of my mom or dad’s schedule. Mostly because I go through my groceries by the time the weekend rolls around, and being low on my favorite foods is a little annoying. But I’m learning to be patient, and just to appreciate the fact that right now, my parents are paying for my (slightly expensive) groceries.

My dad and I didn’t get to the store until 5 pm on Sunday because of our hiking escapades earlier in the day, but I really enjoyed the time I spent with him at Sprouts and Whole Foods. We ran into my internship supervisor from last summer–he’s always been so nice and funny and supportive, so we talked a little about my possible upcoming job. My dad and I share a love for fruit, so we went a little crazy in the Sprouts produce area. At Whole Foods, I wasn’t able to buy everything I had on my list (no spinach, boo!) because things weren’t stocked or they were a bit too expensive but I’m just so grateful that my dad spent the time and money to take me to my favorite store. And now I’m all stocked up for the week and ready to try out some new recipes!

Homemade grain free pizza with homemade kale pesto made from the remnants of my last grocery haul.

Homemade grain free pizza with homemade kale pesto made from the remnants of my last grocery haul.

So yeah, my weekend wasn’t perfect. My nail polish chipped right after I painted them, I had some anxieties over my workouts, I ate too many Larabars (I’ve had 1 per day since Thursday even though I meant to save them…oops!), I was disappointed by this week’s SNL, I didn’t drink enough water, I got a not-so-great voice mail from my doctor’s office and I struggled with some lingering cold symptoms. But you know what? My weekend was perfectly imperfect. I enjoyed plenty of family time, I ate some amazing pizza (of the homemade, grain free variety), I helped my sister with a baking project, I slept in and stayed up late and I just lived. Not every weekend or every day will be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, the imperfect days are the best!

What were some highlights of your weekend?

 

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?

Confessions

Confession #1: I haven’t posted on here in…ummmm…almost a month. The time has just gotten away from me, between waiting for my computer to get fixed (the one downfall of having a tablet without a bluetooth keyboard is that writing blog posts was torture), getting through the first 3 weeks of my last semester of school and all the craziness that’s ensued since that. But I’ll discuss that below! Point is, I’ve missed blogging regularly BUT I can’t promise I’ll be back to it anytime soon.

Confession #2: I’ve been doing a LOT of online shopping lately. It’s my weakness, but as long as I don’t let it get out of control (and try to keep it to the ‘necessities’) then I don’t see anything wrong with a little retail therapy.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

Confession #3: I think I may be (almost) ready for fall weather. Since early last week, it’s been a little cooler and a lot rainier than average for this time of the year, and it’s been nice to not be sweating in my apartment when the A/C hasn’t kicked in yet. I still love summer, but I want to start wearing boots and scarves! The cold weather and snow can stay far away though, I’m happy with sunny skies and 70 degrees.

Confession #4: I feel so so guilty for the floods in my state. If you haven’t heard, Colorado has been dealing with extreme flooding since late last week. It’s hit most of the state, including my hometown and where I’m living for school, but I’m incredibly lucky to not have experienced any loss or damage from the floods. It just makes me so sad to hear about the hundreds of people still unaccounted for, the people who have unfortunately died in the aftermath and the damage caused to some of my favorite places in this beautiful state I call home. I’ve been blessed enough to have escaped three natural disasters in my area in the past 2 years, and seeing all this destruction and loss really hits home for me how precious life is. Please keep Colorado in your thoughts and remember to tell your family and friends how loved they are, because you never know what could happen at a moment’s notice.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

Confession #5: Senioritis has been hitting me HARD. I didn’t really have it much my senior year of high school, but now that I’m on my last semester of school ever, I’m so unmotivated, yet more inspired at the same time. Like I’m getting more frustrated in group projects when people don’t do their part, because I need to graduate in December, yet I really dread doing readings and taking notes. Just 3 more months…I can do this!

Confession #6: I’ve technically been a vegetarian for the past 2 weeks. I announced via Twitter a few weeks back that I wanted to reintroduce eggs into my diet. I’ve never liked eggs, like ever, but I know that they’re basically a nutrient powerhouse, and I was sick of missing out on certain recipes because they contained eggs. However, after these 2 weeks, I think I’ll probably go back to veganism. I’ve tried egg whites in a few recipes that ended up as total flops (coconut flour waffles = epic fail) and even the one that did work tasted really eggy to me. Ehhh, you win some, you lose some. However, I have yet to try eggs straight up, but I plan on buying some local, free range eggs this weekend from Whole Foods and I’ll let you know the verdict! (P.S. Julian Bakery paleo bread will probably be my one exception to the veganism thing–it’s so good, fiber-full and packed with protein and simple ingredients).

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

Confession #6: I love my hipster glasses. Best $15 investment. Ever.

I'm guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

I’m guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

Confession #7: I still haven’t gotten around to transitioning this blog over to my new one. Whoops. I also have several recipes I want to post (and I don’t want to miss out on Vegan MoFo completely) but I’ve just been too busy. I never want to promise posts or recipes because I know I might not deliver on that promise, but I need something to motivate me to actually do it!

What are your confessions?