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?

Meal Prep Monday

Remember my ‘vegan on a budget’ posts from last year and earlier this year? I was planning on bringing them back once school started back up in the fall but it’s been…3 months since school started and I haven’t done one of those posts yet. Oops. Anyways, it’s a little late to do them again now since I only have 4 more weeks left, including finals! Crazy talk.

I’ve still been keeping up with my grocery budgeting and meal prepping, though, and I wanted to showcase a little of that, especially because I did a LOT of it this weekend. I managed to spend under $70 total for the week at 3 different grocery stores, which is way better than I was doing last semester, and I’ve been loving my long weekends (I only have classes Monday through Thursday, so 3 days weekends every week for this girl…enjoying them while they last!) because they give me plenty of time to go shopping and get my food prep done for the week. Taking an almost full course load means that I don’t have a ton of time during the week to do this, so it’s a blessing to have 3 days to catch up on stuff, including prepping my meals.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen lately!

Groceries

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

I wasn’t planning on going to Sprouts this weekend, but when my friend said she needed to swing by there for a few things, I decided to tag along. I ended up getting some cheap organic Pink Lady apples (my favorite kind), Ataulfo mangoes (also my favorite) and Medjool dates. All for under $10. Afterwards I stopped at Natural Grocers, mostly because they’re the only store in my area that carries black bean pasta, which is a new high-protein staple for me. Unfortunately, they were all out but I still ended up buying a few things I needed wanted, like my favorite Hail Merry miracle tart, xylitol-sweetened gum, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seed butter–for under $15.

Whole Foods produce...

Whole Foods produce…

...and pantry staples.

…and pantry staples.

Whole Foods is a given, but luckily it hasn’t been a budget breaker lately. I’ve been able to spend under $50 there consistently if I also shop at another store, and I only spend around $60 if that’s the only place I shop for the week. I can’t complain! This week I bought two more expensive items (the stevia-sweetened chocolate chips and Skinnycrisps) but the chocolate chips were on sale and the Skinnycrisps I hadn’t had in months and I wanted to bring them home to have over Thanksgiving break. I was planning on buying Tessemae’s BBQ sauce (sweetened only with dates!) so I could make this ‘pulled’ BBQ cauliflower but they were all out so I just had to nix that recipe for this week. As usual, I got a ton of produce (bananas, pomegranates and persimmons on sale, romaine hearts, lime, cilantro, Hannah yams) and some other things I needed for recipes like organic peanuts from the bulk section (on sale!), raisins and yeast. And of course, a few Larabars for quick snacks during the week. This was all just under $45, score!

Meals

Some of these things I made before I did my grocery shopping, so I was kinda using up some things and getting creative. I ran out of nut butter on Wednesday I think so that was fun trying to find other fat sources in my pantry. It was nice to finally restock and have more fruit and snack-y stuff again.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut 'bacon', pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut ‘bacon’, pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

I already plowed through one of the Garden of Life protein powder tubs my dad bought me late last month and I’m onto the second. I definitely recommend this brand, especially their new coffee flavor (it’s only available at Whole Foods right now, though)–decent consistency, especially mixed with coconut flour, and great stats for a raw protein powder.

Lettuce wraps...for breakfast?

Lettuce wraps…for breakfast?

This was another recent breakfast, when I ran out of bananas so I couldn’t have my usual banana ‘softserve’, which is what I have like 90% of the time. Instead, I took some romaine hearts and filled them with dates, raisins and the last of my PB. The date/lettuce combo is seriously killer! I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good. I also had some Garden of Life protein powder mixed with almond milk on the side.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Before my grocery trips this weekend, my lunches were getting pretty random. I was basically throwing together some leftovers, like the black bean noodles and pumpkin curry sauce, with some add-ins like pomegranate seeds and sauerkraut. These lunches were actually really tasty and filling–I just love the sweet and salty combos!

Oh She Glows' Thai veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Oh She Glows’ Thai sweet potato veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+coconut aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Finally a more put-together meal! This was my take on Angela’s Thai-style veggie burger. I made a few changes to it though–I nixed the oats in favor of almond flour to make it grain free, I didn’t really measure anything, I only added in the spices/veggies that I had on hand like curry powder and cilantro and I topped mine with a sunflower seed butter sauce. These were pretty crumbly, but the flavor was spot-on and definitely the best homemade veggie burger I’ve ever had! I’m looking forward to leftovers all week..

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

As for the rest of meal prep, I cut up and stored the 2 organic pomegranates I scored at Whole Foods for just $2.50 (they were on sale 4 for $5)–always messy work but I’m obsessed with pomegranates so it’s all good–made another batch of homemade sweet potato fries out of one of the Hannah yams I bought, made some more PB&J bites and some healthy ‘rice krispies’ (cacao brown rice cereal made with coconut sugar+sunflower seed butter+1 tbsp maple syrup+1 scoop protein powder+some almond milk made into bars) to use up some brown rice cereal I had and I also made the chocolate-covered fruit and nut clusters above. It’s so simple it doesn’t even really need a recipe, and I have no idea where I came up with it, but it’s basically raw mixed nuts (mine were from Whole Foods) and raisins topped with the Lily’s stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips and set in the freezer to harden. I used the stevia chocolate so these would be sugar free, but feel free to use whatever dark chocolate you have on hand. These are really good, and they’d be the perfect simple holiday dessert, maybe made more festive with dried cranberries instead of raisins and peppermint-flavored dark chocolate?

Do you like to do meal prep on the weekends? What are some of your recent favorite food finds?

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Healthier Vegan Baking Tips

‘Tis the season for desserts, right? I don’t know about you but I’ve got a major sweet tooth. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (and I hate savory breakfasts), I can’t live without dark chocolate and I could eat fruit all day every day.

It might seem like vegan baking is always healthier than traditional baking that incorporates eggs, butter, etc. That’s partly true, but not always the case. Some vegan dessert recipes call for tons of white flour, dairy replacements and lots of sugar and oil. Not exactly the healthiest thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more indulgent desserts but I’d rather save those for special occasions when I happen to find an amazing vegan baked good at Whole Foods or a restaurant that might not match up to my normal nutritional standards but it looks/sounds so good that I’ve just gotta try it once. Even those are a little more healthified, but when I make desserts at home, I like to make sure I’ll feel good eating them. With that being said, I’ve got a few tips just in time for the holiday baking rush. This is all about vegan baking, because that’s what I have the most experience with, but I think even non-vegans can appreciate these!

1. Coconut oil > vegan “butter”

I used to be deathly afraid of coconut products. Why? Because they’re loaded with saturated fats! Of course, now I’ve learned a lot more about coconut nutrition, and they are really good for you. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils you can use for cooking and baking and if you buy the refined kind, it doesn’t add any coconut flavor. I prefer unrefined for a little extra taste but even unrefined isn’t too coconutty. Vegan “butter”, on the other hand, is filled with lots of unnatural oils and other unnecessary ingredients. It may be lower in fat than coconut oil, but a bit of natural fats are healthy!

2. Go for whole food subs

If you are a vegan, you’ve likely tried or at least seen some popular subs for meat-and-dairy filled products. Things like vegan cream cheese, soy yogurt and egg replacer powder aren’t hard to find anymore, but they aren’t as good for you as whole food-based options. If you want to make vegan cheesecake, try cashew cream instead of vegan cream cheese. If the fudge recipe you found calls for soy creamer, try using full-fat canned coconut milk instead. Again, whole food subs may have a bit more fat but at least you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

A raw vegan cheesecake made with whole foods: cashews, dates and almonds!

A raw vegan cheesecake made with whole foods: cashews, dates and almonds!

3. Try out gluten free flours

I’m not strictly gluten free, but I like to use gluten free flours instead of whole wheat because they can add an interesting taste and texture and I feel better when I limit wheat. My personal favorites are almond flour and buckwheat flour. Both are higher in protein and fiber than whole wheat and all purpose flour and they’re great to use in recipes that call for a bit more chew and a stronger flavor. I used almond flour in my Pumpkin Chip Muffins and I used buckwheat flour in my Festive Garland Bars Take Two. I would suggest searching for vegan gluten free recipes so you know they’ll work without eggs (GF flours sometimes work better with an egg but they can be made into vegan treats).

4. Stick with natural sweeteners

I typically use pure maple syrup in most of my dessert recipes because I love the subtle taste it adds and it’s also one of the most healthful sugar sources. Stevia is a good option if you want to cut down on sugar and calories, but I usually use it combined with maple syrup to make the texture of the baked good more like a typical dessert. Coconut nectar/sugar is another healthier option, as is raw honey (if you aren’t a strict vegan). Dates and bananas are a great way to sweeten desserts without any added (non-fruit) sugars but remember that they have a stronger taste than other sweeteners.

5. Experiment and have fun

I’ve veganized my fair share of dessert recipes and that can be a lot more fun than following a vegan recipe ingredient-for-ingredient. When I want to make a dessert, I usually search for a vegan (and gluten free) option first and sometimes combine multiple recipes into one to make my own. And don’t let these guidelines make you feel like you can’t enjoy dessert. If you want to enjoy a more indulgent vegan dessert, go ahead. But you may be surprised by how tasty a healthified vegan dessert can be too!

A less healthy (but still delicious) vegan ice cream pie.

A less healthy (but still delicious) vegan ice cream pie.

Do you like to healthify the desserts you make yourself? Have you ever enjoyed a healthy vegan dessert?

I’ll be back after the 25th to share some recipes and all the Christmas festivities I’ve been enjoying! If you celebrate, I hope you have a very merry Christmas 😀

Countdown to Christmas Recipes: Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins

My Friday post was scheduled ahead of time, so I was unable to acknowledge the horrible tragedy that occurred in CT. Please keep everyone affected by the event in your thoughts and prayers.

This may seem like more of a Thanksgiving recipe than a Christmas one, but I think pumpkin is still fitting this time of year. If you’re in need of a quick dessert to take to your holiday parties, this might fit the bill. It’s healthier than most muffin recipes–it’s grain free, packs in almost 5 grams of protein (if you go by the serving size, has only 2 tbsp of added sugar in the entire recipe and is packed with Vitamin A in the form of pumpkin, but I think most people will just be focusing on the incredible taste 😉

This is a very crumbly recipe, so you should probably keep it refrigerated ahead of time if you want it to hold up at a Christmas party. But if you make it just for yourself, I’d suggest crumbling one on top of some chocolate chia pudding, a bowl of fruit or whatever you want. Messy food is fun!

almond flour pumpkin chip muffin

 

Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins (vegan, grain free, gluten free)

1/3 cup almond flour or meal

2 scoops Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder (or any ‘clean’ vegan protein powder of choice)

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

1/2 tbsp baking powder

cinnamon, to taste

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp ground flax (made into flax ‘egg’ with 2 tbsp water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin or baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients through salt. In a food processor or blender, mix pumpkin, maple syrup and almond milk until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir in flax egg until batter forms. Pour batter into muffin tins (or 1 baking dish) and bake for 20 minutes. Makes 10 small muffins. 

Each muffin is around 70 calories, so it’s a good smaller-size option for parties, but if you’re making them for yourself, you can make 5 or 6 bigger muffins and still be enjoying a much healthier treat.

Do you still eat pumpkin around Christmas time? Have you ever baked with almond flour before?

 

 

WIAW: Tricks & Treats

I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween (can it just be Christmas already?) but I had to tie in this week’s WIAW with it. Well, at least a little bit. I’m not going to be dressing up, other than for my campus TV station’s special Halloween live show (I’m reporting on the weather!), or indulging in any candy, but I do have some product reviews for you this week. How’s that for a treat 😉 Plus I’ve been kinda burned out on food lately–some of my favorites haven’t been sounding so appealing sometimes so it’s been kind of boring on the eating front so I decided to do this instead of a usual WIAW.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Whole Foods canned pumpkin.

I usually buy the Farmer’s Market brand of canned pumpkin, because it’s organic and the cans are BPA-free, plus they now come in boxes which is even better than cans. But I spotted the 365 brand of canned pumpkin and couldn’t pass it up since it was a dollar cheaper than my usual brand. When I opened the can, the pumpkin was more orange and a bit runnier than the Farmer’s Market pumpkin, but it tastes about the same. I might just stick with my favorite brand though because I like the fact that there’s no BPA.

I originally took the coffee maker my dad used when I moved into my apartment 2 months ago because he said he wasn’t using it very much. I didn’t mind that one, but it made way more coffee than I needed at one time. So when my dad said he wanted his coffee maker back, I was more than happy to return it in exchange for a brand new one. I got this baby for under $20 at Kohls…isn’t it adorable?  It only makes one serving’s worth of coffee which is great for a single lady like me. And it works perfectly, so I’m happy. Plus I like that it’s green, and not black like the other one. What can I say, I’m a sucker for bright colors!

Saturday’s shopping outfit: grey lace tee (Hollister), fish necklace (American Eagle), burgundy jeggings (Hollister).

I bought these jeggings last weekend because I was in desperate need of some more jeans. I paid more than I would have liked for them, but they fit great and the dark red color goes with a lot. I can’t complain!

Maranatha raw maple almond butter.

My go-to brand of nut butter has been Archer Farms for quite awhile. I love their almond peanut cashew butter, it’s so creamy and nutty. But–surprise–it was one of the recalled nut butters under the salmonella scare. So I’ve been APCB-less for a month or so, and it’s been sad. I especially loved it because it was pretty cheap for an all-natural, nothing-added nut butter. I finally decided to try this Maranatha variety after seeing it on a few blogs. And while it’s no almond peanut cashew butter, it’s really good! It’s not overly sweet, but I prefer it over the Justin’s maple almond butter. And it’s only a couple bucks more than my favorite, so I guess that’s not too bad.

Tessemae’s vegan hot wing sauce.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a buffalo wings fan, not even when I was omni. However, you all know my love for all things spicy. I was in the market for a new dressing, and when I saw this one on the shelf at Whole Foods, I knew I’d love it. It has very simple ingredients, basically just lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and spices. You know it’s good stuff because it separates and hardens up…gotta love all-natural foods with all their quirks! P.S. This stuff is amazing massaged on kale!

Letting my nerdy side show!

I have been dying to get a pair of reader’s glasses since they first came into vogue. I don’t know if you think they’re cute or not, but I sure do! I bought my pair for 15 bucks at American Eagle and it is the best 15 bucks I’ve ever spent. I love the tortoiseshell print and how they add a hipster touch to any outfit. Best part is, I can wear them with my contacts since they’re not real glasses, just a fashion accessory!

So Delicious no sugar added chocolate coconut milk ice cream.

My usual coconut milk ice cream brand is Nadamoo, and I love all their flavors and pronounceable ingredients, and they’re much cheaper than most coconut milk ice creams. But when I saw the So Delicious no sugar added variety for the same price, I had to give it a try. This stuff is a little less creamy than Nadamoo, but it’s only 100 calories for 1/2 cup and has just 1 gram of sugar–the rest is all erythritol, which is a natural no calorie sweetener. It tastes basically like a Fudgesicle, which I loved, but I wish they had had one of their other NSA flavors available for me to try since I usually go for more exciting flavors. Guess I can always jazz it up with toppings though!

Feather print jeggings from American Eagle.

Two new pairs of jeggings within a week?! A year ago, this never would have happened. I was scared to death of tight-fitting jeans because I hated my legs (still kinda do) and I didn’t want them to look big in skinny jeans. But around Christmas last year, I finally caved and bought a pair of dark wash jeggings from American Eagle…and finally fell in love with them. I now have 4 pairs and am definitely embracing the trend. I prefer the pairs with more structure, like pockets and zippers and actually made from denim or a thicker material so they look more like jeans. I love this new pair because it’s very unique but it’ll still go with everything because it’s in a dark color, I think feathers are cool and these fit perfectly. American Eagle is definitely my favorite store for jeggings, they always fit me just right. And they were $15 on clearance, you can’t pass that up!

So Delicious mint chocolate coconut milk.

Too soon for the holiday-inspired drinks? Never! I’d been dreaming of Silk’s mint chocolate soy milk since last Christmas, but now that I don’t do soy milk (too processed) I was excited for a different nondairy version. And So Delicious definitely delivered! I’d never had refrigerated coconut milk before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but this was pretty thick without being overwhelming. The flavor was perfectly sweet and partly sweetened with stevia so that lowered the sugar content a lot! There’s only 50 calories in half a cup which makes it a perfect lower calorie sub for Starbucks peppermint mochas! And as a huge mint chocolate lover, I totally approve of this drink!

What kind of jeans or pants do you like to wear? Do you drink holiday-type beverages?

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Hi peeps! Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Black Friday (if you live in the U.S.)! I am so sad that it’s over, mostly because I’m headed back up to campus tomorrow 😦 I’ve had such an amazing time this past week that I can’t believe break’s almost over. However, in less than 3 weeks, I’ll be back home for a whole MONTH! I ❤ college 😀

I decorated my little Christmas tree, even though I won't get to see it again for a couple of weeks. Ignore the toilet in the background, I am so classy 😉

Let’s back up to the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday before–I love shopping, but can’t handle the crowds and possibility of being attacked viciously by desperate shoppers 😯 My family decided to head up to Denver’s 16th Street Mall the day before Thanksgiving to try to avoid the crowds. We hit up the brand new H&M store first…where apparently a million other people also decided to go! So yeah, we did not end up avoiding the crowds. And unfortunately, the store was underwhelming. I mean, it looked cool inside, but it was packed and the clothes were kinda eh. I was definitely expecting more. I was considering buying a cute gold clutch, but I didn’t really think it was practical, so I passed. The only things I really wanted, a pair of cream knit legwarmers and a sequin skirt weren’t there or in my size so I left empty-handed. My sister and I also left Forever 21 without buying anything. They had more cute things than H&M, but I wasn’t really feeling it.

The lovely boots I was telling you about in my last post. I've already worn them out a few times!

What didn’t end up being a disappointment was Pinkberry. But then again, is froyo ever disappointing? Especially peppermint froyo? My mom and sister really wanted to try their seasonal peppermint flavor, so both of them got a cup topped with peppermint bark. I also got peppermint, but topped mine with just pomegranate seeds. Weird? Yes. But also really good. Don’t knock it til ya try it 😉

Another way I've been avoiding my homework--reading my fave magazine, People StyleWatch.

After walking around the pedestrian mall to kill some time, we drove across town to our favorite mall. We seriously go there quite a few times throughout the year, even though it’s probably 60 miles from our house. Dedicated shoppers right thurrrr 😛 But it is such a nice mall, and pretty huge. I just realized that it has an Anthropologie store–I may have to check that out next time we go there! Anyways, my sister and I were on a mission so we ditched our parents and headed straight for Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. As I’ve said before, those are two of our favorite stores. I know they’re totally cliché or whatever, but we truly love them and don’t just shop there because it’s the ‘cool kid’ thing to do. We both ended up getting one thing at each store and with all the discounts we used, we ended up saving a ton of money. Love when that happens! Afterwards, we met up with our parents at the T-Mobile store. Our cell phone contract expires soon with them, so we wanted to play around with the phones and see what we might end up buying. A lot of them were really neat, but my mom ended up deciding later that we’re probably going to switch to AT&T. Fine with me, as long as they have awesome phones!

Navy striped pullover sweater from Hollister, red/navy plaid shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, both for less than $50 total!

Can I have this sexy man for Christmas? Kthx.

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. The food of T-Day is never my favorite part–I just love being with my family. The Macy’s parade was fun to watch and it was so nice to just spend the morning and afternoon relaxing while my mom slaved away in the kitchen. One of our traditions is to have snacks in the early afternoon instead of lunch and I was looking forward to that. I filled up a turkey-decorated paper plate with some of my fave snacks and then just chilled out on the deck with my madre and padre. It was so weird that it was warm enough to sit outside on Thanksgiving–usually it’s pretty cold and sometimes snows. But Colorado is so random weather-wise, I love it. After snacks, my dad and I went on a long walk and then came back and started prepping the brussels sprouts we were going to grill for dinner.

My T-Day outfit: grey wool duster cardi (A&F), grey floral tank (HCo.), coral culotte shorts (A&F), grey polka dot tights (Target). Sorry about my weird stance, I was trying unsuccessfully to show off the tights.

Snack plate lunch: Whole Foods kettle corn, jalapeno-stuffed green olives, local salsa, Whole Foods guac, bell pepper strips, green mojo multigrain chips, artichoke hummus. I went back for more kettle corn and chips latah!

Thanksgiving dinner was pretty quiet with just the four of us, but it was nice. My dinner ended up being all vegan, but it was kinda disappointing. I tried this field grain celebration roast that tastes exactly like stuffing. Unfortunately, I hate stuffing, but the roast wasn’t awful. The best part of my dinner by far was the baked sweet potato topped with a little maple syrup and some peanut flour sauce. Mmmmm, so darn tasty! What is it about sweet potatoes that’s so addicting? The sprouts turned out way too hard and dry, which was sad because I usually love ’em. You win some, you lose some. I tried a little of my mom’s stuffing, which she made vegan, but honestly, I still hate it. Sorry stuffing lovers! I might like a cornbread stuffing though so that may be tested out at next year’s feast. However, dessert is always the best part, hands-down. I had another piece of the festive garland bars I made (I’ve seriously had a piece of it every night since I made it on Monday–can you say obsessed?) and a slice of the pumpkin pie bars my mommy made. She also made these vegan especially for me, and they were super delicious, even better than a pumpkin pie. They were a little cakey and pretty sweet but so good.

My breakfast on T-Day: banana softserve topped with chocolate & PB Puffins and peanut flour sauce.

Friday I woke up later than I have in awhile (9 am!), had breakfast and just hung out for awhile. Lunch was a strange but yummy creation I’ve been enjoying this week. I cook up some butternut squash cubes, top them with black beans and some plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little guacamole. Then I pour on some really good salsa and crush some Late July mild green mojo chips on top. It seems so weird, but it’s actually good and kinda Mexican-y. I made something similar to it over summer break, but it was on top of lettuce instead. We ran out of lettuce this week, so I decided to use squash as the veggie base and it turns out just as good. Plus I’m obviously obsessed with anything orange.

I'm not even sure what to call this, except amazingly delicious!

Later on, my sister and I drove out to brave the Black Friday crowds get our Starbucks fix. The ‘bucks we went to was crowded as usual, but we actually ended up getting to sit in the leather chairs in the corner, so that was a win. I got the tall skinny peppermint mocha with soy, and it was even better with the soy versus the skim. A lot creamier without being sickening. I think this will be my holiday drink go-to. Afterwards, we walked over to Ulta to goof around and try on sunglasses and smell all the lotions and stuff. I love that girl; we always have so much fun together, especially when it’s just the two of us. Surprisingly, most of the stores weren’t that crowded (except the Apple store) but then again it was almost 5 at night. I guess most Black Friday shoppers head out early.

I'm a sucker for the red cups!

Friday night my dad had another performance of his play, so the rest of us just stayed home and had a nice dinner of leftovers (I had a slice of the celebration roast topped with yellow mustard, which made it so much better, and some sweet tater fries) and then spent the rest of the night watching The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie ever!) and playing games.

How sad is this--packing up to go back to school 😦 The countdown til Christmas break officially begins Monday!

What have you been up to the last few days? Have you ever shopped at H&M?

Simply Having a Wonderful Weekend Time!

Heya everyone, thanks for all the input on my fruit and sugar post. Of course, I know fruit is good for me, but with all my eating disordered tendencies, it can be really hard to push all these silly “diet tips” out of my brain and do what’s right for my body. I really love what you all had to say on the subject though!

Now onto more fun 😀 Sorry about my really lame title, can you tell I’m in the Christmas spirit? I’ve officially been home for Thanksgiving break for 63 hours as I’m writing this (yes, I really did count!) and it’s been the best two days so far!

Friday was a crazy-busy day as I got ready to leave campus for break while also having classes and a test to go to 😦 I was running back and forth between class and my dorm and then I finally met my mom back in the parking lot after my last class. I was so excited to see her, even though I had just been home the weekend before. But I haven’t been home for more than 2 days since summer break back in August so it’s definitely been awhile since I could just take some time to relax at home. We headed straight for this nearby apartment complex that I recently applied to for next year. I am so ready to get out of the dorms after almost a year and a half so I was super pumped when I found out that they accepted my application. So we went on a little tour of the place, and it seems pretty cool. I’m planning on moving into a one-bedroom (because of my horrible roommate fiasco of last year) and the one bedrooms actually are pretty large. My mom seemed to like the place too, and it’s not too expensive, plus it’s on the bus line to campus which is awesome as I might not have a car next year. Oh, and it has an outdoor pool–holllllla! I’m crossing my fingers that we can sign a lease soon. An apartment with a real kitchen, here I come!

After that, I had to take a stats test (so ready to be done with that awfulness) and then my mom treated me to some gelato! I haven’t had some in months and I’ve been craving it, even though it’s been cold out, so it was a nice little snack. I got my usual soy chocolate, and some pumpkin. Seriously, the combo of pumpkin and chocolate is up there with peppermint and chocolate. Just so darn tasty!

I could seriously live at Gelazzi, it's the best gelato place ever!

After grabbing all my stuff from my room, we headed home, what we thought would be a 2 and half hour drive as usual. Well…it actually turned out to be a 3 hour and 15 minute drive, because of all the horrible traffic. Seriously, drivers in northern CO are the worst–they slam on their brakes for almost anything. Cars pulled off on the shoulder cause major pile-ups and end up making the relatively short drive home way too long. Luckily, we did get home safely and we listened to Christmas music the whole way down, so it wasn’t too awful 😛

On Saturday morning, I totally savored the family time at breakfast. On the weekends, we almost always all have breakfast together, and it is the best, with the newspaper all over the table! We are big newspaper readers fo sho, even though I usually only read the lifestyle section and the comics 😉 Then I dragged my dad outside so we could get the mail…because I was expecting something big! Well, not really, but I was excited. I ordered……….peanut flour! Heck ya, you better believe I was chomping at the bit to try it! I’ve seen it on like a billion blogs, and never got to try it, since I have no Trader Joe’s in my state 😦 Come on TJs, come to Colorado, pretty please? I ordered mine off iHerb and I couldn’t wait to dig in. For lunch, I was really feeling some veggie chili, so I heated up some Amy’s black bean chili and I really wanted cornbread on the side. Of course, I didn’t want to make a huge batch of it in the oven, so I thought why not make a microwave corn muffin? And add peanut flour to the mix–genius! It was soooooo good, you’d think it was actually cooked in the oven, but it only took a minute in the micro to puff up nicely.

Veggie chili + corn muffin = best cold day lunch.

Peanut Corn Muffin for One (vegan if Greek yogurt omitted, high protein)

1 tbsp yellow corn meal

1 tbsp peanut flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

water, enough to make smooth

1/2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt (can use pumpkin or applesauce to make vegan)

sweetener, to taste (I used a packet of Truvia)

Mix dry ingredients together in a small microwave-safe ramekin or nonstick cooking sprayed coffee mug. Add wet ingredients and stir til smooth and blended. Place in microwave on high for one minute; add additional time if necessary. Serve with veggie chili or topped with nut butter.

I am definitely making more microwave mug cakes with peanut flour–it adds a nice light peanutty taste, not to mention lots of protein!

After this delicious lunch, we were off–to Starbucks! They were having a deal this weekend between 2 and 5 pm where you could buy one holiday drink and get another one free. I love their holiday stuff, and couldn’t wait to try their new skinny peppermint mocha so I dragged my dad and sister along. Just kidding, they love Starbucks as much as I do! First, we made a stop at the mall nearby. It was cool to see it all decked out for Christmas–the crowds on the other hand were not so cool. I guess they’re normal around this time of year though. After a brief swing through Hollister (mine and my sister’s favorite clothing store), we hit up Bath and Body Works. I ran out of the vanilla bean noel lotion awhile back, and since I love their holiday lotions, I wanted to stock up. I got a mini vanilla bean noel lotion, a mini pink sugarplum lotion (one of their new ones, and SO good) and another pink sugarplum lotion for my sister since they were 3 for 10. I love Bath and Body Works–lotion is one of my addictions for sure and theirs are the best.

How cute are these?

Starbucks was also crowded, but it was worth the wait to get my tall skinny peppermint mocha latte–in a red cup, my first of the season! The red cups always make me feel so cozy and excited for the holidays. I was really glad I got a hot drink yesterday, too. It was so windy and cold out that the drink definitely warmed me up. The verdict? I loved the drink. I’ve mentioned before that I always get the skinny versions of their drinks, and this one did not disappoint. Peppermint and chocolate (plus coffee!) is my favorite seasonal flavor combo, and this drink might become my go-to this season. Plus I didn’t get a headache or feel sick afterwards, so that was a win. I’ve found that if I get anything larger than a tall, I get all queasy and feel crappy the rest of the day, which is no bueno. So tall it is for me!

Oh yes, Starbucks, you are my best friend 😉

Saturday night, we saw my wonderful daddy in a play. Seems like every time I come home, I’m seeing someone in a play. I guess my family is very theatrical 😛 Actually, it’s usually only my sister, though I used to be really into acting in middle school and high school, and my parents used to run kids acting classes. Now my dad mostly just writes plays in his free time, but he got corralled into acting in one of the short plays. The one he was in was pretty funny, as was another one of the plays. The other two were…well, bad, but luckily they were short!

A random lunch that was actually great: vegan quesadilla (jalapeno almond cheese on brown rice tortilla), dark chocolate peanut mug cake, cinnamon-spiked butternut squash.

Sunday was grocery shopping part uno. You all know how much I love grocery shopping, and shopping in general. My mom and I went to Bath & Body Works (again!) to find some lotions that we ended up having to order online, but we did get hand massages in the store! Then we went to Super Target, aka my favorite grocery store after Whole Foods. Since Thanksgiving is only a few days away, it was busier than usual, and we ended up spending almost 2 hours walking all over the store. Shopping is my favorite form of cardio for sure 😉 By the time we got out of there, our cart was filled to the brim, and I ended up getting some ingredients I need for some things I’m planning on making (recipes to come very soon), as well as a dress, pair of heels and tights for an audition/interview I have with my school’s TV station (I want to be a weather anchor!) and also some Christmas window clings for my window at school. Definitely a successful shopping trip!

A very orange and yellow dinner: Gardein veggie nuggets, chipotle sweet potato fries, sweet tater tots, butternut squash and yellow mustard.

I really wanted some oats this morning, and since I’ve been really into volumized oats lately, I had to plan in advance, so I whipped up a batch of dark chocolate peppermint oats! I think I ended up adding a little bit too much peppermint extract, but they were still nice and minty and refreshing.

Dark chocolate peppermint oats topped with half a homemade dark chocolate peppermint waffle. Peppermint overload? No way!

Today seemed to be the day of making new, simple recipes. At dinner, I made a smoothie with Silk Nog, organic pumpkin puree and peanut flour (yes, I’m already obsessed) and it actually turned out awesome. Peanut flour really does go with almost everything, it was definitely a smart purchase. Then I made pumpkin s’mores. Oh yeah, get excited! Pumpkin and chocolate is an amazing combo, I love s’mores in general so I thought it would be awesome. And I was not disappointed!

Check out that oozing pumpkin goodness and an Instagram'd photo.

Pumpkin S’mores (can be made vegan, makes 1)

1 graham cracker square, halved

vegan chocolate chips (I used a teaspoon)

vegan or regular mini marshmallows (I used a tablespoon)

1 tbsp pumpkin puree

Place chocolate chips on one side of a graham square and microwave for 15-20 seconds on high until the chips start to melt. Add marshmallows on top and microwave for 10 more seconds. Spoon pumpkin onto other graham square and place on top of chocolate and marshmallow side. Don’t forget the napkins!

Besides my random experiments in the kitchen, I also did some more grocery shopping (this time at Whole Foods–yay!) as well as boot shopping and a hair cut. I always love how my hair looks right afterward until I shower, but then I can never style it the exact same way again. And the boot shopping was also a huge success–I’ll show you guys my new boots in action sometime soon, but for now, here’s a photo from the DSW website, where I got them from. There were a little bit more expensive than I would have liked, but they’re very cute and comfortable, even with a 2 inch heel. I think they’ll get a lot of use and I can’t wait to show them off on campus.

Mine are brown, but they are exactly like this!

I love my new hair, too!

So my weekend was definitely action-packed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had so much fun and I can’t wait for the rest of Thanksgiving break. And no worries, I’ll be getting back to you all with a few recipes very soon!

What was something fun that you did this weekend? Do you like tall boots?