Best of…April!

Once again, it’s time for another Best of… post! Seriously, 2012 has flown by like crazy. I can’t believe I’m already totally done with my sophomore year of college (minus one final). But I am so ready to get my summer on!

Best Mouthwatering Post: Savoring Summer

This will be getting made sometime this summer, I (almost) guarantee it!

Who doesn’t love recipe inspiration posts, especially when they feature summery recipes? Summer is by far my favorite food ‘season’–from the amazing fruits and veggies to grilling everything to frozen desserts, it’s all so good. There are sooooo many things I want to make and I hope I have the time to make them all!

Best WIAW: The Finish Line

Smoothies in a bowl are the best breakfast ever.

Okay, don’t get all technical on me. Yeah, my latest WIAW post was posted on Tuesday night, which was May 1st, but all the photos were taken over the last few days of April, so it still counts. I love this WIAW because it includes a nice mix of my ‘staple’ foods as well as some new finds and twists on old favorites.

Best New Find: Larabars

One of my two fave flavas so far!

I am a total Larabar newbie, having turned my nose up at them for far too long. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe it was because I felt they were too much of a ‘trend’ in the blog world to be good (since I generally don’t like the trendy brands that everyone else seems to), or maybe because I was scared of how many calories/how little protein they have. I’m glad I got over my fears and worries though, because they’re so good, well at least the cappuccino and chocolate chip brownie flavors. I’ve yet to try any others (besides the peanut butter and jelly…not a fan) but I’m excited to.

Best Response: Weekend Food and Fitness Thoughts

I’m ready for more summery salads in my life.

Once again, you guys all blew me away with how much you care! It is really hard for me to open up and write posts regarding my eating disorder, but I really appreciate all your insights, whether they are super supportive or constructive criticism. You all are the best 😀

Best Recipe: Garlicky Kale

The kale makes a perfect side dish for basically every meal.

I had a hard time choosing between my only two recipes of the month–ironically both kale recipes. What can I say, I am obsessed with it! The garlicky kale one is really delicious though because it’s so simple yet flavorful and crispy, just like kale chips, except it cooks up really quickly on the stove.

Do you have any good kale recipes to share? What’s the best new product (food or otherwise) you discovered last month?

 

WIAW: The Finish Line

So who else had an awesome weekend? I finished two papers this weekend (not exciting, but it always feels great to get those done with, plus it means I’m just that much closer to being done-zo) and also saw Wicked at the Denver Center on Sunday. My sister is a huge musical fan, and Wicked is probably her favorite show, but this was my first time seeing it and I was blown away. Such an amazing score, costumes, actors and story. If Wicked comes to a city near you, I definitely recommend seeing it.

As I’ve mentioned probably a bazillion times, it’s my last week living in a dorm, and I only have 3 more days left as a sophomore. It’s kinda bittersweet, since I really enjoyed this year, but I definitely have some bigger and better things ahead of me, both this summer and in the fall, so I’m just ready to be done with this school year. So this WIAW is my final compilation of dorm room eats. I will NOT miss only having a microwave to do my cooking in!

A recent breakfast obsession: banana 'pudding' topped with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

I’ve been having smoothies-in-a-bowl almost every morning since I bought xanthan gum. I am so glad I made that purchase, because now my smoothies are so thick and creamy, almost like pudding. This one tasted like banana pudding, and it was amazing topped with Puffins.

Return of the snack plate: raw broccoli, spicy avocado Hope hummus, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, kettle corn, mixed dried fruit, kalamata olives.

I know most of the blogworld is obsessed with certain brands, like Chobani for Greek yogurt, Love Grown for granola and Sabra for hummus. Let’s just say I’ve never been one to go with the trends 😉 My favorite hummus brand is Hope Hummus, which is a Colorado company. They only make 3 flavors right now, but the spicy avocado flavor is the best hummus I’ve ever tasted.

Just like the diet cream soda I used to live, only more natural!

Diet cream soda used to be my favorite soda flavor. I never drank soda  a lot, but when I did it was usually that. Now that I avoid fake sweeteners, I love that there’s a more natural alternative to diet cream soda. And it tastes so good!

A very summery outfit: navy lace tank with pinstripe belt (Abercrombie Kids), red/navy/white plaid twill shorts (Abercrombie and Fitch), silver bangles (American Eagle), unpictured red flip-flops (Hollister).

It's crop top time! Dark grey Navajo-style cropped tee (American Eagle), fish necklace (American Eagle), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle).

Time for an outfit break! I’ve been loving the super warm weather (can anyone say 70s and 80s in April?) and wearing all my springy and summery clothes again. Summer is my favorite season for clothes–I could just live in dresses, cute twill shorts, pretty tanks and tees and leather sandals.

Sweet potatoes are back! Sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and pecan pieces, raisins/dried apples/Mission fig dipped in almond peanut cashew butter, cheezy lemon pepper kale.

Sweet potatoes don’t go away just because it’s almost summer. Oh no! I enjoy them year-round, with a variety of toppings. I especially love nut butters/peanut flour/actual nuts on top.

Stuffed dates are my favorite little treat!

If you’ve never stuffed a Medjool date with some kind of nut butter, you’re crazy! My recent favorite is honey walnut butter–basically I took some Artisana raw walnut butter and stirred in a little raw honey. I normally don’t like raw nut butters because they’re blander, but the touch of honey made it perfect.

A random dinner: frozen pineapple and mango, spicy guacamole, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, cheezy lemon pepper kale, edamame with nooch.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking, “This girl is obsessed with cheezy lemon pepper kale.” And you’d be right! But it’s a good obsession…I’ll even share the super-simple recipe I came up with with you. It doesn’t even have real measurements, which is always the sign of a good recipe 😉

Cheezy Lemon Pepper Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

handful kale, about 1 cup (I prefer shredding mine into smaller pieces)

squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

nutritional yeast, to cover the kale

Squeeze lemon juice over kale in a bowl or measuring cup and massage into leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste, and nooch to coat the kale. Stick in the fridge for at least an hour, and enjoy as a salad base or a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Chocolate banana smoothie in a bowl with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

The chocolate version is just as good as the banana pudding version, but it’s even better with the Puffins on top. I love the contrast between the thick, smooth ‘pudding’ and the crunchy cereal.

Another iHerb order: peanut flour (duh), cacao sweet nibs, tiny jar of kumquat jam, sunflower seed butter, Chocolove dark chocolate bar with sea salt and almonds.

iHerb is officially my favorite online store ever! I can get so many foodie items that I either can’t find around me (cough cough peanut flour) or that are actually cheaper online. I finally realized that if you order at least $20 worth of stuff, you get free shipping. Score! So I stocked up on more peanut flour (can’t live without it), as well as three new-to-me products: cacao sweet nibs, sunflower seed butter and dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. And they sent me a little freebie, a tiny and super-cute jar of kumquat jam, which I can’t wait to try! So exotic. The sweet nibs aren’t exactly like dark chocolate, but I like that they’re a raw product and only have 3 ingredients. The sunflower seed butter is my new second-favorite nut butter after almond peanut cashew butter; it’s perfectly salty and seedy. And the chocolate is heavenly and probably my favorite Chocolove flavor. Dark chocolate+almonds+salt=perfection.

What’s the most exotic jam or jelly flavor you’ve ever had? Do you like smoothies in a bowl?

Top Ten Tuesday

So in case you haven’t noticed, it’s already almost May. Ummmm, what the heck?! Seriously, I feel like just the other day it was Christmas. Like many other college kids, I’m feeling pretty burned out on school at this point. But my summer unofficially begins in 10 days, so obviously I am beyond psyched for that! I say unofficially because I have only one final exam this time around, so I’m starting my summer a little early, heading home next Friday and popping back up here to take my final the following Thursday…then my summer will officially begin!

Because of this burnout, which extends to many aspects of my life (oh summer, please come faster!) I’ve decided to do a little Top Ten list type post for today, as a little recap of my weekend, and also because I can’t really think about posting an actual post 😀 Hopefully you enjoy this for the time being though!

Ten Foods I Can’t Live Without

1. FruitOkay, technically this is cheating, but there are a billion fruits I can’t live without, from grapes to pineapple to watermelon to bananas to raspberries to kiwi to…you get the picture!

2. Almond milk. I love the unsweetened vanilla kind, but the plain unsweetened is kinda growing on me.

3. Oats. 

My favorite oats combo at the moment--topped with kettle corn, pretzel sticks, raisins and peanut flour/almond peanut cashew butter.


4. Kale. It’s great in chip form, cooked up with some salt/pepper/garlic on the stove and even raw and massaged with some kind of dressing.

5. Tempeh. My vegan “meat” of choice. I love it’s nutty flavor!

6. Peanut flour. 

I prefer peanut flour to PB2, I just store mine in an old PB2 jar so it's less messy!

7. Kalamata olives. Some people can’t stand olives–I don’t understand those people!

8. Medjool dates. So gooey, so caramel-y, so addictingly good.

9. PB Puffins. Do I really even have to explain this one? It’s basically my crack (besides peanut flour).

10. Sweet potatoes. 

Saturday's simple but yummy dinner: sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste, baby carrots, garden herb Sunshine veggie burger topped with mustard.

Ten Things I Did This Weekend

1. Went to an independent film fest with my dad. We’ve gone to it since it started 5 years ago–we both love seeing random short indy films.

2. Went to church on Saturday night. Pretty self-explanatory!

3. Went out to eat…4 times! Normally, we barely ever eat out, except for when my mom drops me off back at school after a weekend at home. Due to our busyness this weekend, we had to eat out a lot. Definitely a struggle for me with my ED thoughts, but I mostly succeeded. Yes, I did order ‘safe’ things, like salads and veggie/hummus plates, but I truly enjoyed all of them. My favorites of this weekend were the salad I ordered at Mad Greens on Friday afternoon (baby spinach topped with Kalamata olives, dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and garbanzo beans with a fat free balsamic dressing) and the salad I got on Sunday night at Noodles (the Med salad with no dressing or feta, topped with grilled tofu). I kinda learned that I’m really not a tofu girl–it’s not necessarily the texture, but the taste for me. I’m not the hugest fan.

4. Played tennis with mi padre. Usually we play singles and a half (because we play with my sister) but she was unavailable so the two of us just played singles. It was so warm out and I was running around more than usual, so it was a great workout!

5. Grocery shopping. When my mom and sister picked me up on Friday afternoon, we hit up the Whole Foods and Super Target up here, then back at home we picked up a couple more things at the Super Target by us. And on Sunday, my dad and I ventured to Walmart where I stocked up on Truvia.

6. Bought my first-ever Zevia! I got the cream soda variety, and while I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to enjoy it, I have a feeling it’ll be incredible. Hopefully not so incredible that I feel the need to buy it on a regular basis since it’s pretty expensive…

So excited to try this!

7. Rode my bike for the first time since last fall. I never get the chance to ride it during the winter because of snow (duh) and there was even some lingering snow when I came home for spring break. I got in two quickie miles that were super hard because my tires were flat. Oops!

8. Worked on my final papers. Not fun, but they have to get done at some point!

9. Starbucks trip! I ordered a tall unsweetened iced coffee with 3 pumps of sugar-free hazelnut. Even better than the plain unsweetened with Truvia. I loved the nutty taste.

10. Repainted my nails silver and pink. I love this color combo and I actually haven’t had it since the beginning of school back in August!

My (slightly chipped) nails, and my lovely snake ring from American Eagle.

Ten Things to Do Before School’s Out

1. Finish my papers/essays. I’m definitely on track, just gotta keep my motivation up.

2. Clean my room. Vacuuming, dusting and all that should probably be done before I peace out.

3. Laundry. I don’t want to burden my mom too much, so I’m planning on washing my sheets and towels.

4. Finish up my last two weeks of classes. Even though I’m so done, I still have to get through 8 more days of classes. I can do this!

5. Make a (huge) list of recipes to make this summer. Some of this list will be coming ‘atcha tomorrow or Thursday for WIAW.

6. Turn in the last page of my internship stuff. The adviser in charge of organizing internships for students has such limited office hours that every time I stop by her office she isn’t there. I need to get this in though!

7. Move everything out of my room. Most of this will be done next Friday, and the rest the day of my only final. Not exciting or fun, but it’s gotta be done.

8. Sell my textbooks? Since I won’t be here during finals week, I’m not sure if this will get done, but I hope it will so I won’t have to have all these books laying around until the next buyback.

9. Study outside. It’s been incredibly nice here lately (I’m talking 80 degrees in April!) so I want to do this at least once.

10. Move out of the dorms…forever! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. I love my dorm this year, since it’s all my own and it’s new and has air conditioning, but I am so ready for my own place next year.

What’s on your top ten foods list? What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

WIAW: (Almost) Wordless

Heeeeey guys, I loved hearing what you think about Larabars! I always like to know what other people’s preferences are and try out new things based on a good review.

Today’s WIAW will be basically wordless, besides the captions, and just a mishmash of foods I ate throughout the weekend and early part of this week. Obviously this is not all I ate, nor was it all eaten in one day, it’s just some of the highlights of what I’ve been noshing on.

Baby carrots and (shiny) red grapes.

I love Whole Foods' no salt no oil popcorn, especially sprinkled with nooch!

Peanut butter Puffins in unsweetened vanilla almond milk are my crack.

My first time trying kale in a smoothie--and it's actually delicious, mixed with u/s vanilla almond milk, frozen banana and Truvia.

My latest Larabar find--peanut butter and jelly. It was just okay, not bad, but I wouldn't buy it again. Bring on the cappuccino and chocolate chip brownie flavors instead!

Carrot cake overnight oats (topped with raisins, almond peanut cashew butter and peanut flour) with a side of fashion magazine reading and a stuffed Medjool date.

Frozen grapes > fresh grapes.

Raw massaged lemon pepper kale topped with nooch and crumbled hempfast Sunshine burger. I have been obsessed with nooch on everything lately!

Another of my typical snack plates, with nooch-ified edamame, Late July sweet potato multigrain chips, mini sweet pepper, plain popcorn and kettle corn, kalamata olives, Medjool date and dark chocolate espresso bean.

What is the best thing you ate this past weekend? Have you ever tried kale in a smoothie?

Easter Weekend in Pictures

Hi bloggy friends! I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend (if you celebrate). Mine was really really good, but as usual, it went by super fast and it’s back to the daily grind. The only good thing about that is that the countdown is officially on–4 weeks til I’m no longer a sophomore! Wooooooo 😀 I am beyond excited for summer and everything I have planned for it, plus all the little things that are sure to pop up. Just gotta get through these next few weeks.

I took a bunch (well, not really) of pictures this weekend so I wanted to do a mostly wordless recap of my Easter weekend. So here goes!

Small sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and almond peanut cashew butter, garlicky kale, fresh strawberries, chocolate and peanut butter Puffins in unsweetened almond milk.

Look how bright those strawberries are! My mom bought a huge box of them at Whole Foods for only $5 and even though they started to go bad by the end of the weekend, I got to enjoy them several times over the weekend. They’re my first of the season and were really juicy and fresh. Definitely a sign that summer is on its way! The garlicky kale is a super simple dish that I whipped up three times this weekend–oh yeah, it’s that good!

Garlicky Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

large handful curly kale, washed and patted dry

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2-1 tsp minced garlic (or freshly grated garlic clove)

sea salt, nutritional yeast and black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add kale and salt and pepper, until the kale starts to shrink and gets crispy edges. Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and browned. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and serve as a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Saturday's outfit: navy striped cropped tee (Hollister), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), necklace and bracelet (American Eagle).

Saturday was fairly busy but pretty fun. My sister and I went for a walk, then my dad and I popped in at my pastor’s house for his birthday open house and later my whole family went out to eat to celebrate my dad’s birthday a few days late. The restaurant wasn’t too vegan friendly, but I did get a yummy homemade-style black bean burger with a side of avocado and black bean salsa. Yum!

The lovely Easter eggs, post-dyeing.

Coloring Easter eggs is one of our family traditions. My sister didn’t join in on the fun this year because of homework, but I had fun dyeing the eggs. Do I have a future as an artist? Ummmm, probably not!

Easter outfit: yellow floral dress (Abercrombie and Fitch), bracelets and necklace (American Eagle), unpictured silver wedge sandals (Target).

Besides going to church on Easter (I always love the holiday services!), we also went to Starbucks where I got my new favorite unsweetened iced coffee, played tennis for 45 minutes, snacked outside in the gorgeous weather (sunny and in the low 70s), colored eggs, made a special dinner and Skyped with my grandma and grandpa.

This year's Easter basket!

My mom still hides Easter baskets for me and my sister…yes, we are still 5 years old! Haha, just kidding, but I still think it’s fun to go find the basket and see what’s in it. This year, I got some Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail strips (super excited about these!), some sparkly green nail polish, guava-scented body wash from Ulta, mini Sweet Tart bunnies/ducks/chicks and two new-to-me Chocolove dark chocolate bars. My mom knows me so well 😀

My Easter dinner: grilled chili lime tofu and mini sweet peppers, broiled lemon pepper asparagus (tops only, the best part) and cheezy quinoa (sprinkled with nooch).

While the rest of my family enjoyed their carnivorous dinner (flank steak, asparagus and cheesy mashed potatoes, in case you were wondering), I had a very vegan and very yummy dinner. It was my first time grilling tofu and I was a fan. I think next time I’d get extra firm, rather than super firm sprouted tofu, since it was kinda bitter, and I’d try out a marinade, rather than a seasoning on the outside. But still a really nice Easter dinner.

My new favorite 'ice cream': So Delicious mini Neapolitan nondairy ice cream sandwich.

I really wanted to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice cream sandwiches, but my Whole Foods didn’t have them. I did find these, which are soy ice cream, and actually really good, if really small. I haven’t had an ice cream sandwich in years, but these are better than regular dairy ice cream sandwiches. They also have coconut milk ice cream versions, if you like coconut milk.

Just what I needed on a Monday morning--Starbucks tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy.

Monday came early–at 6 am, to be exact. I wanted to stay all of Sunday so I could spend more time with my family, so my dad had to take me back up to school on Monday morning and we had to leave at 7. Luckily, we made a stop at Starbucks and I got my first Frapp in about six months. It was the perfect little pick-me-up!

How did you spend your weekend? What’s your go-to weekend lunch?