WIAW: What I Ate (& Made) Monday

Most of my WIAW posts are a random assortment of food pics I happened to take through the week. But not this week, no, I was actually on top of things and managed to take a picture of everything (well, basically everything) that entered my mouth on Monday. Plus I’ve got a recipe to share with you so it should be one of my better WIAWs in awhile. Let’s do it to it!

[from left] Leftover pumpkin”water”. Pumpkin chip buckwheat waffle topped with real maple syrup, Vega chocolate protein frosting and pumpkin spice latte quinoa granola.

Most people are either “pancake people” or “waffle people”. I am most definitely a waffle person. Not frozen waffles, of course, but I love whipping up a homemade waffle for breakfast. I like pancakes, but I am horrible at making them turn out perfectly fluffy and circular. So I’m sticking with waffles, which are more foolproof. Except that one time I tried making a coconut flour-based waffle and it got majorly stuck to the waffle iron. Let’s just say that vegan pancakes and waffles don’t work so well made with coconut flour. This waffle was amazing though and it didn’t get stuck to the iron at all. Win win. Yes, I am obsessed with all things pumpkin. But it’s even better combined with chocolate.

[from left] Kelp noodles. Spicy peanut sauce. Shredded carrots. Steamed edamame. Alter Eco dark chocolate with quinoa crisps. Black Mission figs. Justin’s vanilla almond butter.

Lunch was faux stir fry with a side of figs dipped in AB and a square of chocolate.  The stir fry was faux because it wasn’t really stir-fried but it tasted like a peanutty stir fry. Kelp noodles are amazing, because they totally soak up the flavors of whatever sauce you pour on them, and they are pretty similar to noodles, without the calories and carbs but with all the nutrients of sea vegetables. The chocolate, well, I swear, I can’t not eat chocolate in some form for most of my meals or snacks. It’s kind of a problem.  Oh, and BTW, if you have access to fresh figs and Justin’s vanilla AB, please try them together. It’s a magical combo.

[clockwise from left] Chocolove raspberry dark chocolate square. Apple nachos topped with Udi’s g-free cranberry granola, almond peanut cashew butter, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds. Cookie dough inspired protein microwave muffin.

Those apple ‘nachos’ are my favorite snack discovery. They are a million times better than regular nachos, obviously health wise, but they also taste great for being so simple. Basically you slice an apple (I used a Pink Lady, my fave) really thin, microwave it for 30 seconds and then top it with whatever you like. I went with drippy almond butter, chocolate chips, granola and pumpkin seeds. So. Good. And then there are the usual suspects, a microwave protein muffin (easy to make and a great way to get in some extra protein) and a square of one of my favorite chocolates. Missing from the pictures is a little bit of some dry roasted edamame I ate during my late class.

Almost raw granola inspired by a classic Starbucks drink.

I was obsessed with making rawnola (raw granola) over the summer when I got my dehydrator. But since being at school, I’ve only lugged it out once to make some kale chips. That obviously had to change, since I missed homemade granola. Like everyone else, I’ve been loving pumpkin lately (which is weird ’cause I didn’t like it much last year) so I decided to make a pumpkin-y rawnola. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can totally make this in an oven, set to a low temperature.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Quinoa Rawnola (vegan, gluten-free, raw)

1/2 cup dry Alter Eco organic royal rainbow quinoa, soaked for a few hours

1/2 cup rolled oats (can sub buckwheat groats to make raw)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 tbsp raw agave or maple syrup

1 tbsp ground coffee (I used Archer Farms caramel apple coffee)

2 tbsp raisins

2 tbsp chopped nuts and seeds

In a large bowl, mix oats and soaked quinoa until combined. Add in coffee, raisins, nuts and any other mix-ins you’d like. Stir in agave and pumpkin until mixture is a little sticky and thick. Spoon granola mixture onto wax paper lined dehydrator trays (or use reusable dehydrator liners, if you have them) and dehydrate for 4-6 hours. Turn off dehydrator and let rawnola sit uncovered for several hours or overnight. Serve with almond milk or on top of fruit. Makes about 1 cup.

[clockwise from top left] navy striped sweater (Hollister), navy lace pencil skirt (Gilly Hicks). Mom-made veggie chili. Spiced yellow squash, red grapes, giant corn coconut microwave muffin. Celestial Seasonings tropical iced tea.

Like how I threw in a random outfit shot there? Yeah, it looks so dark ’cause I forgot to take one until it was already nighttime. Oops. Dinner on Monday was a winner, though. I reheated some spicy veggie chili my mom made a couple weeks ago and sent with me to freeze for future dinners. So if I can’t make it to the grocery store, I guess I’ll be set for a few days! Lately I’ve been loving yellow squash–I bought it randomly at Target and I can’t get enough of it sauteed with a little coconut oil and seasoned with chili powder and cinnamon. But the giant corn muffin was the best part of the dinner, obviously. I don’t know how it turned out so giant, I just made it with 2 tbsp of corn meal, 2 tbsp of coconut flour, some water, salt, stevia, baking powder and flax. Whatever, I’m not complaining. It was so good, especially for being thrown together, and it actually wasn’t too crumbly for a grain-free vegan microwave cake.

Are you a pumpkin fan or not so much? Are you a waffle person or a pancake person?

This post was submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #10.

College Vegan on a Budget: Bulk Bonanza

Part of an ongoing series of my adventures in learning how to grocery shop on a budget, almost exclusively at health food type stores.

I’m back with another budgeting post after a weekend grocery haul and I can proudly say that I spent a lot less than last time. Like, I spent less than half the amount I did last time! This girl is definitely learning how to budget. Or maybe it’s just because I was extremely limited in funds this time around, with just over $50 to spend. Luckily I didn’t have to make any major purchases since my lovely mom was nice enough to buy me some much-needed items last weekend so this was mostly a fill-in type trip for things I am about to run out of or needed for recipes.

This week, I happened to do a lot of bulk buying. This is a great thing for budgets–you can just stock up on what you need, and generally things in bulk cost less ounce for ounce than things that are prepackaged. The bulk bins at Whole Foods and Sprouts have saved me a ton of money on must-try items like coconut flour, flavored nuts and nutritional yeast. Now let’s check out the goods!

Check out all the bulk bin bags!

Sprouts

I just stopped in for a few items I was hoping they’d have for less than Whole Foods, and they delivered. Well, kinda. The unsweetened coconut shreds I bought actually turned out to be a bit cheaper at WF, which kinda made me mad but I’ll know next time!

What I Got: Let’s Do Organic reduced fat unsweetened coconut shreds, So Delicious Greek-style vanilla coconut yogurt (finally they had this flavor!)

What It Cost Me: $4.99 (I paid with a 5 dollar bill, woo for having cash for little purchases)

Verdict: If only every shopping trip could be this cheap!

Whole Foods

I whittled down my original list to just a handful of must-have items and I did really well with sticking with my budget. I actually ended up with just under $10 left, which is awesome. I got 15 items here pretty cheaply, because I bought a bunch of bulk stuff and did some price comparisons for similar items.

What I Got: bulk almond flour, bulk raw macadamia nuts (I only bought about 1/8 of a pound, so they were super cheap), bulk nooch, bulk spelt flour (I was going to buy packaged buckwheat flour but it was $5 and this was just $2 per pound and pretty comparable, nutrition wise), vegan semisweet chocolate chips, Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder (a splurge at $10, but worth it), 2 Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, 2 Vega One protein powder samples (running low on protein powder but didn’t have enough money to buy a full container), Hail Merry raw vanilla almonds (super cheap at just $3 for a raw product!), bulk loose spinach, Hannah yams (these look like regular potatoes but they’re apparently sweet potato-like), vegan cookie from bakery area, black figs (on sale for $3.99/pound, I got half a pound!). 

What I Spent: $36.87 (under budget…yay!)

Verdict: I was really smart about my Whole Foods trip this time around. I bought in bulk to save some money, weighed my bulk items to estimate how much they’d cost me and didn’t buy anything not on the list. Yes, there were some things I took note of that I wanted to buy another time–like, ahem, raw macaroons!–but I didn’t feel like I needed to get them since I know they’ll be there when I have more money to spend. 

I am definitely getting better at this budgeting thing. It feels fun to me now, instead of like a chore. I love doing comparison shopping and balancing out my purchases so they don’t end up surprising me at the register. And I’m learning the difference between splurges and staples, which is something that used to get me all the time. Some weeks, there’ll be more room for splurges and other times I’ve gotta stick with the list. And I feel like this week, I struck the perfect balance between getting the basics that I need and getting to try new-to-me items, like the almond flour and yams and almonds.

Do you like to buy things from the bulk section? What tips do you have for budget shopping?

College Vegan on a Budget: The Big 1-0-0

This is part 2 in an ongoing series about shopping on a college girl budget, trying to keep my expensive vegan tastes in check. 

Okay, as you might be able to tell from the title, I spent $100 on groceries over the weekend. Well, $100.59 to be exact, but who’s counting? Oh right, my wallet is. To be fair, though, I had a few items on my list that were ‘necessaries’ but sadly, on the pricier side. But, I’m willing to pay the price for healthy foods.

Take maple syrup, for instance. I ran out of it over a week ago, so I had to stock up soon. At Sprouts, I saw some lower calorie, sugar free maple syrup. Curious, I checked out the label. It was made from xylitol, caramel coloring, maple flavoring and a few other ingredients. So, not as bad as normal fake sugar-free syrups, but no where near real maple syrup. By real, of course, I mean 100% maple syrup, either grade A or grade B. The good stuff. This xylitol syrup was $4, a relative steal for a maple replacement. But I decided against it, because lately I’ve been trying to go for the real thing, and not worry as much about the calorie count. As long as it’s natural, it’s good. So at Whole Foods, I grimaced a little paying $7.99 for a bottle of grade A maple, but it’ll be worth it for the rich taste and natural sugar source. And a little goes a long way, so it’ll last me (hopefully) 3 weeks.

This week, I’ll be splitting up my purchases not just by store, but by splurge vs. staple. The staples are things that I kinda needed, or that will last me for awhile and are therefore worth their price. The splurges might be inexpensive, but I tried to keep them to a minimum this week and I think I was fairly successful.

All this, for just under $20. This is why I love Sprouts!

I consider Sprouts to be like TJs for Colorado. Okay, so I’ve never been to a TJs (and I’m incredibly jealous of all of you who have regular access to one) but Sprouts is probably a similar concept. They have their in-house brand along with similar products to what Whole Foods has, but generally a lot cheaper. Their produce and bulk sections are a real steal. I got strawberries for $2.50, a plantain for 99 cents and some organic coconut sugar for under $5. Good deal, considering those things can go for much more in other stores.

Splurges: Larabars (I do need ’em for busy days, but they’re a bit pricey), vegan Greek yogurt, Nature’s Path maple cereal (I already had some cereal at my apartment, but I wanted to try this kind)

Staples: strawberries, dried mango, plantain (time for homemade plantain chips!), coconut sugar (perfect for baking)

What It Cost Me: $19.95. 

Verdict: Definitely a money-saver. The cereal was kind of expensive, but I think I’ll enjoy it and it’ll last a while since I mix cereals.

Whole Foods

My bulk and produce stuff. This time the figs were cheap!

I actually did okay at Whole Foods, despite spending $80. Trust me, it could have been more. Luckily, they were having a sale on all bulk items (score!) and a lot of their produce was cheap. I got kale for $1.99, figs for $3 (unlike the $6 they were last time) and 3 sweet potatoes for under $3. However, where I got in trouble was buying protein powder. I’m not someone who’s content with generic, cheap soy-based protein powder. I like my protein powder to be more natural, and plant-based. I had a $5 off coupon for some raw protein powder, so I decided to suck it up and buy some. It ended up only costing me $20 with the coupon, which is a steal for a high-quality protein powder!

Some of this week’s more fun stuff!

Splurges: maple flavoring (I was going to go for vanilla extract, but that was over $1 more), maple syrup (a necessity, but also very expensive), grawnola (totally have been wanting to try this for awhile), bulk maple almonds, organic ketchup (I could have gone for the cheaper store brand, but this one had less sugar), canned coconut milk (I want to try making my own coconut whipped cream), Theo mint chocolate bar (can’t live without chocolate, and this will last me a week and a half), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs (they were only 80 cents each this week!), Garden of Life RAW protein powder (expensive but worth it)

My staples, for baking, cooking and just eating!

Staples: u/s vanilla almond milk (I bought the cheapest brand, which happened to be Almond Breeze this week), pumpkin seeds in bulk (they literally cost me 67 cents!), organic canned pumpkin (I scored the last can!), semisweet chocolate chips, Earth Balance coconut spread (I wanted to get extra virgin coconut oil, but they were out and I had a coupon), bulk olives, black figs (so much cheaper this time), kale (duh!), garnet yams

What it Cost Me: $80.64 (ouch!)

Verdict: I will be watching my spending more closely next time, but I also won’t have as many big purchases, like the maple syrup and protein powder. Everything else was under $5 each. 

I know that I can’t and won’t be spending this much every week, but sometimes it’s just worth it to get a few really good, healthy, high quality items. Luckily, a lot of the stuff I bought today will last awhile, so they won’t be weekly purchases.

What are your weekly shopping staples? Are you willing to pay more for certain things (like good chocolate, protein powder, etc.)?

Best of…May! (and an award)

Uh, yeah, so how crazy is it that it’s already June? Where has this year gone? I can’t believe that last month at this time, I was stressing about finals and projects. Now I’m stressing (sorta) about my internship and packing. More on those later though!

Best New Find: Justin’s vanilla almond butter and So Delicious almond milk ice cream

Probably the best dollar I’ve ever spent!

Last month I discovered sooooooo many new-to-me products, it was a little crazy. Not that I’m complaining, though–one of my favorite things to do is buy new products and try them out. Sure, sometimes they disappoint but in other cases (like with the nut butter and ice cream), they were beyond amazing.

Best Discussion: Eating Comes at a Cost

I know I’ve said this before, but you guys are the best! Seriously, I’ve been loving all the responses I’ve gotten so far. I am very passionate about issues like this but these kinds of posts are always hard for me to publish because I worry about the backlash. You guys are always really respectful and thoughtful in your comments, though, which is great!

Best Recipe: Peanut Flour Pancakes

How delicious do these look?

Not gonna lie, this was muy dificil to decide on! Considering I had a record number of recipes in May (12 of them!) I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just one. But these protein-packed, peanutty pancakes are something I’ve been coming back to over and over. They’re simple to make but taste almost gourmet.

Best Non-Food Post: Work It Out

Hiking in snow…in the summer?!

Even though my blog is usually about food, I definitely have other interests, like fashion and fitness! I really liked sharing my favorite ways to workout and even though none of them involve the gym, I’ve come to realize that no one way to exercise is better than another.

Best Photo

I don’t know why, but this is just a gorgeous photo!

A lot of you commented on this photo and said you liked it. Well, I do too! Instagram is my favorite app, hands down, and this photo just speaks to me somehow.

And now for the award ceremony 😉 Hahaha, just kidding, but both Aja and Kat nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award. Thanks, ladies!

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
2. Answer these 10 questions, below, for fun if you want to.
3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs 
(I was too slow.) you enjoy. Or you pick the number.
4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.
5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.

1. What is your favorite color?

Pink, for sure! I love hot pink, light pink, whatever shade. I also love orange, especially paired with pink.

2. What is your favorite animal?

This is really hard, but I’m gonna go with rabbits. I think bunnies are the cutest thing ever, especially the lop-eared kind. I really want to get a bunny for a pet someday.

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Iced coffee, no milk and sweetened with flavored stevia. I just discovered that Panera has this as a drink option by the soda machines…score!

4. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter! I love reading really short updates (I have a short attention span) and funny tweets (like by Condescending Wonka).

5. What is your favorite pattern?

Is lace a pattern? If it is, that’s what I choose. I have a few lacy pieces that I really love–they’re girly and cute but still elegant.

6. Do you prefer giving or getting presents? 

Not gonna lie, getting presents is better. I do love giving presents, but getting them is just so exciting!

7. What is your favorite number?

7 or 11. I like 7 because I was born on July 27th, and I like 11 because it rhymes with 7 😀

8. What is your favorite day of the week? 

I probably would have said Saturday a month ago, but now that I intern on that day, I’ll go with Friday. It’s not quite as special during the summer, but it’s still great.

9. What is your favorite flower? 

I like those huge, brightly-colored daisies!

10. What is your passion?

Clothes and grocery shopping, being outside and yoga.

Now it’s time for some nominations!

Alexandra She just started a new blog all about lifting and life in general. I loved her old blog and I have a feeling I’m gonna love this one even more!

Tessa I can always relate to her ED posts and she always has the best insights! I love her honesty and she really takes the time to respond to her reader’s comments, which I think is awesome.

Chloe I am super jealous of her cooking skills! Her food photography always makes me drool, too.

Amy Lauren I wish I could be an amazing runner like she is! She’s also a really great writer, and her race recaps are fun to read.

Lena I love that she’s from Colorado too, and I’m jealous that she gets to go to all these cool Denver-area restaurants! She’s also an awesome runner.

What was the best workout you did in May? What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

So Many Products, So Little Time

It’s probably no secret that I absolutely love product reviews. I’ve done them a few times on my blog and I also like reading them on other blogs so I know what’s worth trying out and what’s not. It’s so much fun trying out new things and since I know a lot of you like product reviews too, I like to be able to share my unbiased opinions.

Lately I’ve been able to buy more new products and test them out, so I’m gonna share a bunch of them right now!

So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Plus

Like I mentioned in my last WIAW post, I’ve been trying out different almond milks lately. I’ve had my eye on this one since I first heard about it, but had yet to see it anywhere until my mom made a stop at Walmart and I noticed it there. Yep, Walmart of all places has a pretty decent selection of almond milks. Who knew? I opted for this one instead of the Silk unsweetened vanilla I was planning on getting since this one seems to be pretty rare. I like that it’s unsweetened, has some vitamins (not enough calcium though, boo!) and even has 5 grams of protein per cup. I always need a little extra protein and since I don’t do soy milk much anymore, it’s great to find an almond milk that has some. It’s fairly thick for almond milk, and makes a great addition to smoothies or with cereal. I just wish they’d come out with an unsweetened vanilla kind.

Carrot cake smoothie made with So Delicious Almond Plus.

Ohgave! Honey Vanilla Agave Syrup

If you’re vegan and miss honey (I still have raw honey from time to time, as I don’t believe it harms the bees) this agave is perfect for you! I honestly wish it had more of a vanilla taste, but that’s just me. It’s the perfect drippy syrup consistency, so it works great on pancakes. I bought it because I wanted a cheaper alternative to real maple syrup and it’s great for recipes too that call for maple syrup. The company has several other flavored agaves, including blueberry, but I passed on that because it’s not as versatile as honey vanilla. I would love to try it when I run out of this one though.

Peanut flour chocolate chip pancakes drizzles with Ohgave! honey vanilla agave.

Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter

Even though it’s a local-ish company (from Boulder) I’ve never tried Justin’s nut butters. I know, I know, I’m crazy. They just never appealed to me because I prefer nut butters without added sugar or oil. However, when I saw the mini squeeze-pack of the vanilla almond butter in the Whole Foods aisle when I was checking out, I couldn’t pass it up (especially since it was just 99 cents). It tastes basically like frosting in nut butter form so it’s a definite repeat buy!

Rising Moon Organics Artichoke & Olive Ravioli

I first tried their butternut squash ravioli for Christmas Eve dinner and fell in love. I was never a huge ravioli lover as a kid, but the vegan kinds are actually super delish. I am obsessed with artichokes and olives so I knew this kind would be perfect for me. They cooked up fast and were yummy, if not strongly flavored. The insides were soft and purple, which was a little weird, but still good. I want to try their gnocchi next, since I’ve never had gnocchi before.

Rising Moon Organics vegan ravioli (not the artichoke olive one) with peanut sauce and roasted asparagus.

So Delicious Cookies ‘N Cream Almond Milk ice cream

I’ve also been on the lookout for this since So Delicious introduced almond milk ice creams a few months ago. I love Almond Dream’s cappuccino swirl almond milk ice cream but the So Delicious flavors sounded even better. I will admit I’ve been drooling over their line of coconut milk ice creams (you can’t tell me turtle trails and pomegranate chip don’t sound heavenly) but I’m scared to death of anything with coconut because of the high saturated fat content. It’s a fear I want to conquer, though, because a lot of vegan items contain coconut and from what I remember, it’s delicious. Anyways, I finally found the So Delicious almond milk ice creams at the Whole Foods I rarely go to since it’s on the other side of town. It was well worth the trip (and the 4 bucks) for this pint of deliciousness. I’ve always preferred cookies ‘n cream to cookie dough flavored things, and this version was totally creamy and cookie-packed without being overwhelming. In half a cup it only has 7 grams of sugar plus 5 grams of fiber. Try finding that in dairy ice cream! I’m excited to try the mint chip and mocha almond fudge flavors next. Who am I kidding, I want to try them all!

Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookie

I’ve always wanted to try Whole Foods vegan baked goods but since I usually shop there with my parents, I was never able to convince them to shell over a few bucks for a cookie or muffin. I like baking things myself, but when I can find relatively healthy vegan treats for a pretty low price, I’m there. When I made a quick solo stop at Whole Foods last week (when I got the vanilla almond butter and almond milk ice cream) I also bought one of their vegan chocolate chip cookies for just 99 cents. For just 170 calories, this cookie is thick, huge and delicious. Mine wasn’t as soft as I would have liked, but a quick spin in the microwave took care of that. You wouldn’t even know it’s vegan, because it’s just that good.

Do you prefer cookies ‘n cream or cookie dough? What’s the best new product you’ve bought lately?