WIAW: Makin’ Changes

No matter how much you may love your life–your daily routine, your meals, your workouts, etc.–there’s always a time for change. I’ve been making some changes lately and loving them…so let’s get to it, WIAW-style! (P.S. These are all my meals from Monday)

Breakfast: grain free almond joy pancakes (almond flour, raw cacao powder, unsweetened coconut shreds, cacao nibs, raw cacao protein powder 'frosting'), roasted kabocha.

Breakfast: grain free almond joy pancakes (almond flour, raw cacao powder, unsweetened coconut shreds, cacao nibs, raw cacao protein powder ‘frosting’), roasted kabocha.

I’ve been moving away from my beloved homemade buckwheat waffles to grain free pancakes. I change my breakfasts up every few months and now I’m on a pancake kick, especially almond or peanut flour based pancakes. They’re not pretty but they’re tasty and easy to whip up and change around. The almond joy inspired combo is a real winner…I can’t believe I hated coconut for so long!

My new hair (and new-ish dress).

My new hair (and new-ish dress).

I had a long overdue hair appointment on Friday. Seriously, I hadn’t gotten it done since August, yikes. I got more blonde highlights added and took the plunge and got full bangs, rather than my usual sideswept. I gotta say, I love my new bangs. I feel more adult and fashion-y, if that makes any sense.

Lunch part 1: green smoothie (made with unsweetened almond milk, spinach and Sunwarrior vanilla).

Lunch part 1: green smoothie (made with unsweetened almond milk, spinach and Sunwarrior vanilla).

I don’t do smoothies a lot (they’re too filling for me, and I’d rather eat my calories) but I wasn’t feeling a salad today so I went for my greens in smoothie form. I actually didn’t finish this because it was getting too filling, but it was pretty delish. I think I’ll be doing more green smoothies for lunch this semester on busy days.

Lunch part 2: Whole Foods salad bar leftovers.

Lunch part 2: Whole Foods salad bar leftovers.

Sorry for the millions of Instagrammed WF salad bar photos–can you tell I’m obsessed?! I’ve just been trying to get my fill of the salad bar while I’m still home on break because as I’ve said before, the WF near me at school has a subpar salad bar. Though, I haven’t been there in over 5 weeks, so maybe they’ve improved it…? I celebrated the Golden Globes on Sunday with half of this box, and saved the rest for Monday’s lunch. Leftovers have never tasted better!

Snack (reused photo, minus the bok choy): half garnet yam with peanut flour 'frosting', sunflower seed butter, mini dark chocolate chips and chopped dried fig.

Snack (reused photo, minus the bok choy): half garnet yam with peanut flour ‘frosting’, sunflower seed butter, mini dark chocolate chips and chopped dried fig.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been eating too many grains lately. Not necessarily on purpose (oh and BTW, I am NOT going paleo, I could never eat all that meat/eggs), just because I’ve found that other things are more appealing to me, plus I just like to switch things up and I’m actually doing a lot more experimenting now without relying on grains for most of my meals. Anyways, my favorite snack at the moment is a sweet potato/yam topped with SSB, peanut flour paste, dried fruit and chocolate chips. Sweet potatoes are a great filling snack option, and they’re just amazing topped with nut butters and chocolate. Trust me, it sounds weird but when the chocolate gets all melty, you’ll understand my obsession.

Dinner: peanut coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry with kale, pineapple, peanut flour and edamame.

Dinner: peanut coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry with kale, pineapple, peanut flour and edamame.

I’m so glad I discovered kelp noodles, because they’re my favorite easy go-to dinner lately. They don’t add any weird taste and soak up other flavors easily so they’re perfect in stirfrys. I know a lot of people like using spaghetti squash as a pasta replacement and as much as I love squash, the spaghetti variety isn’t my fave. Kelp noodles are also a veggie-based pasta replacement (a sea veggie, so they have a lot of minerals!) but I just like them better, and there’s minimal prep work involved with them.

Dessert: PB chocolate protein microwave cake topped with sunflower seed butter, mint chocolate almond milk ice cream, Alter Eco dark mint chocolate square.

Dessert: PB chocolate protein microwave cake topped with sunflower seed butter, mint chocolate almond milk ice cream, Alter Eco dark mint chocolate square.

This is a normal dessert for me, but I’m planning on switching it up. I like having some protein before bed to keep me from getting hungry, but I’m going to forgo my usual almond or coconut milk ice cream for awhile. It’s kinda expensive to buy (even just twice a month like I was doing) and has a lot of sugar. I’ve been cleaning up my eats a bit lately and am trying to go for more natural sugars. Even though the ice creams aren’t unhealthy or as sugary as normal ice cream, I just need to take a break from them for awhile and try out different desserts like banana softserve, nuts and dried fruit, etc. But the daily dark chocolate habit won’t be changing anytime soon ūüėČ

Have you been making any changes in your life lately? What’s your go-to breakfast?

The End is Near+Kelp Noodle Stirfry

Well guys, here we are again, at the end of another year. I hate being cliche, but where the heck did 2012 go? I feel like as I get older, the years fly by so much faster than when I was a kid. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s crazy to me that I’m practically done with college!

I’m really excited for 2013. I have no idea exactly what will happen, which scares the type-A planner in me, but it’s exciting to think about all the things that could happen this year. For one, I’m finally turning the big 21 in July. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not big into drinking or anything but it’ll be nice to be able to order a good drink in a restaurant sometimes, or enjoy a cool cocktail at home. Also, I might possibly be graduating in December–crazy talk! I really want to get all my credits done in time so I can graduate a semester early and get started on my first big girl job. I know a lot of people would rather stay in school as long as possible but I’m so excited about my future career (hopefully as a meteorologist) that I want to get a¬†head start!

I don’t want to drag this post on forever, so I’ll just share some brief highlights from the year with you and then give you a delicious, quick recipe at the end.

January

I finally got a Twitter, I experimented more with raw recipes and I overcame my hatred for hot tea. 

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

February

I tried a bunch of new-to-me products, did a raw food challenge and went to a father daughter dance with my sister and dad. 

Dressed up for the dance.

Dressed up for the dance.

March

I reevaluated my recovery journey and eating habits, got an internship at a local TV station and made a bunch of recipes over spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

April

I celebrated Easter with the fam, tried Zevia for the first time and got ready for summer food & fun. 

Coloring Easter eggs.

Coloring Easter eggs.

May

I finished up my sophomore year of college, made my first pancakes from scratch¬†and celebrated my blog’s first birthday.¬†

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam.

June

I talked about why I eat healthy, made a goal to stop counting calories and moved to a new house. 

Eating applesauce on the go.

Eating applesauce on the go.

July

I embraced my love of healthy fats, made my go-to meal for the first time and celebrated my 20th birthday. 

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

August

I tried vegan sushi, almost saw the President and started budgeting my grocery shopping. 

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

September

I overcame my fear of coconut, had jury duty and embraced fall. 

I also did my first giveaway!

I also did my first giveaway!

October

I participated in Vegan MoFo, started my addiction to kabocha and broke some fashion rules.

My first Fashion Friday post.

My first Fashion Friday post.

November

I shared my Christmas wishlist a month early, proved that vegans can get protein too and spent Thanksgiving break writing papers. 

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

December

I proclaimed my love for the Whole Foods salad bar, stressed out about finals and had an enjoyable (while sick) Christmas.

It was a white Christmas after all!

It was a white Christmas after all!

¬†And now for the recipe! I don’t know about you, but after Christmas, some nights I’m feeling lazy and I just want a quick dinner to throw together so I have more time for family game and movie nights. This stirfry recipe comes together in 10 minutes and is easy to customize to your tastes. I used kelp noodles as the base because I love their texture and how they can bulk up a meal without adding any calories but you can use rice or soba noodles if you prefer.

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry in bowl

Coconut Curry Kelp Noodle Stirfry (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1/4 cup light canned coconut milk (can use full fat)

1 tsp curry powder

red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tbsp peanut flour (or peanut butter)

1 tsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1/2 cup kelp noodles, rinsed and dried

fresh or frozen veggies (I used shredded carrot slaw and fresh green kale)

1/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (or chopped fresh orange)

1/2 cup shelled edamame

In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk, curry powder, red pepper, peanut flour and aminos until thickened and combined. In a medium pan over medium heat, cook edamame, veggies and pineapple in a small amount of coconut oil. Add in kelp noodles and stir sauce over noodles. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is hot and sauce thickens up a bit. Serve topped with shredded coconut, chopped peanuts, pumpkin seeds or a drizzle of sriracha. Serves 1. 

What are some of your favorite memories from 2012? What’s one new thing you tried this last year?

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #23.

The Best Products (I’ve Tried) of 2012

Can you guys believe we’re just a little over two weeks away from a new year? Craziness. When it gets to be this time of year, all I’m thinking about is how excited I am for Christmas, enjoying my time off from school and all the things I accomplished over the past year.

And if you’re a foodie like I am, you might also be reminiscing about the new food you’ve tried over the past 12 months…I know I am! With that said, here are a few of the best things I’ve tried since January 2012!

Zevia

zevia ginger root beer

Before I sucked it up and finally bought my first (overpriced) can of this amazing stuff in May, I’d heard lots of good things about it. I’ve never been a big soda fan, but I used to enjoy diet sodas on occasion. So having an all-natural diet soda was a definite treat! Since then, I’ve tried the ginger root beer, cream soda, cola, orange and lime cola (the orange is the only gross one) and I can’t wait to try more. Like a lot of things I love, these are very pricey so I buy a 6 pack when they’re on sale or maybe once a month at most and make them last.

Kabocha squash

kabocha, peanut flour sauce, coconut flour micro muffin crumbles, frozen grapes, dark mint chocolate, justins vanilla AB

This was another blogger-hyped product that I was on the lookout for since last fall. I didn’t find one until this October and haven’t found it very often since (but I stocked up on two last weekend!), but it’s my favorite squash by far (other than delicata). I prefer the texture and taste over any other and it’s delicious with peanut flour paste, almond butter or ketchup.

Larabars

pineapple upside down cake larabar, fresh pineapple, baby carrots

I’ve seen these around for awhile, but because of my previous fear of fat, I never gave them a try until March but they’ve become my bar of choice since then. I love the flavor variety and the fact that they’re made from whole foods, like dates and nuts. My favorite flavors are cappuccino, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chip brownie and the Uber banana bread.

Vega products

vega cocoa kissed saviseed

Can you believe I never tried Vega products until earlier this year? Vegan blasphemy, for sure. They have good quality (though expensive) protein powders, simple protein bars and I’m obsessed with their latest product, the dark chocolate-covered saviseed which is packed with protein and Omega-3s.

Cashew cream

raw key lime 'cheesecake'

This stuff is incredibly versatile, and easy to make. Basically you just soak raw cashews overnight or for several hours, and then it’s ready for blending. I’ve made a raw cheesecake (see above), nacho ‘cheez’ dip, mascarpone ‘cream’ and savory cashew cream filling–it really is good for anything!

Coconut milk ice cream

so delicious nsa chocolate

Even if you eat dairy, you need to try this vegan ice cream, it is out-of-this-world good! The healthy coconut fat makes it incredibly rich but not overly indulgent, and stores like Whole Foods carry a million and one flavors so you don’t have to feel limited to chocolate and vanilla. So Delicious and NadaMoo are my favorite brands, but there are definitely more out there–there’s a variety for everyone!

Kale

kale wraps

I think I actually tried kale for the first time last year (it was when I first tried the Whole Foods salad bars) but I didn’t fall in love with it until this year. I know a lot of people say it’s bitter, and it can be, but I’ve found lots of ways to make it tasty and craveable. Homemade kale chips (they’re best made in the dehydrator), crispy sauteed kale, ‘pizza’ kale (kale cooked with pasta sauce and olives), raw massaged kale salads, kale/almond milk smoothies…I’ll eat it almost any way, and I try to eat it at least once a day! Bonus: it’s an amazing superfood.

Coconut flour (or really, coconut everything)

coconut flour carrot cake

I used to say I hated coconut, partly because I didn’t like the texture of shredded coconut but also because I was deathly afraid of the fat in it. I avoided saturated fats like the plague but once I became pretty much 100% vegan, I realized that plant-based saturated fats were totally healthy and necessary. One of the first coconut products I bought was coconut flour–I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I do! I really love it mixed with baking powder and almond milk and microwaved for a minute to make a crumbly coconut flour muffin but I also want to experiment more with it in baked goods. It’s hard to bake it into things without using eggs but I want to try it out.

Kelp noodles

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry

If you’ve ever seen these before, they’ve probably grossed you out just a little. They weirded me out too the first time I bought them but I really wanted to try a raw noodle substitute and I’d heard good things. Unlike shirataki noodles, these are made from a seaweed so they’re more of a whole food, they don’t smell weird and they soak up the flavors in anything. They make the perfect low-cal sub for pasta and I especially love them mixed with pasta sauce, nooch, a crumbled veggie burger, kale and olives. I also included them in a stirfry the other night and they were amazing–recipe coming soon!

Garden of Life RAW protein powder

pumpkin chip cinnamon roll with vanilla chai protein frosting

I’ve tried a lot of vegan protein powders, from the (not-so-good) cheapo soy-based powders to the delicious but expensive Vega and Sunwarrior. But I think Garden of Life is my fave. First, it’s made from a blend of raw sprouted plant-based proteins, like quinoa and sunflower seed. It’s also pretty high in protein (17 grams per serving) and is a bit cheaper than some other higher-quality brands, it’s sweetened only with stevia but best of all, it’s delicious. I love both the chocolate and vanilla chai (only available at Whole Foods) flavors and the lovely team at Garden of Life was nice enough to send me some samples of the regular vanilla too so I can’t wait to try that one! Look for a review soon and possibly a giveaway in early 2013!

Figs

A delicious new breakfast: sprouted grain French toast topped with fresh fig and raw vanilla chai protein powder.

It actually makes me really sad that fig season is over–it became my new favorite fruit over the past few months. It pairs so well with both sweet and savory things and though they are a bit expensive, they’re worth every dollar. They’re out of season now but at least I can settle for dried figs!

What are some new foods you’ve tried (and loved) in 2012)? What’s your favorite squash variety?

WIAW: Loving Lately

Happy WIAW! I swear, this year’s gonna be over before I know it. I can’t believe I’m already almost done with midterms, am about to sign up for classes for next semester and Christmas is almost 2 months away. I’m one of those crazy people who can’t wait for it to be the holiday season so I’m already counting down to Thanksgiving. But can you blame me, I need a break!

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Unlike my most recent WIAWs, this one isn’t documenting what I ate on a certain day. I used to like doing that but then I always ended up posting similar items each week. I don’t feel like I eat the same things all the time, but I almost always end up taking pictures of the same things. So this week is all about what I’ve been loving on lately.

Apple nachos. Half a sliced Jazz apple. Peanut flour drizzle. Mini chocolate chips. Raisins. Maple almonds.

Not much to say about these, except you’ve gotta try them. They take apples to a whole new level!

One minute coconut flour carrot cake. Coconut flour. Chopped carrots. Cinnamon. Chopped dates. Ground flax. Almond milk. Peanut flour paste.

This was a microwave cake, but I’m working on a vegan, grain free coconut flour based carrot cake for the oven. Stay tuned!

Coffee roasted squash seeds. Ground coffee. Kabocha seeds. Maple syrup. Coconut oil.

These were even better than the original squash seeds. But then again, anything coffee-flavored is.

Dirty chai waffle. Buckwheat and almond flours. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Ground coffee. Raw cacao powder. Topped with raw pumpkin chocolate protein frosting, mini chocolate chips, fresh figs and maple syrup.

What’s dirty chai? Apparently it’s chai tea mixed with espresso, and this waffle was inspired by that delicious combo. The best part of any waffle is the toppings though!

Roasted kabocha with peanut flour drizzle. Coconut flour microwave cake crumbles. Frozen grapes. Alter Eco dark mint chocolate. Justin’s vanilla almond butter.

This snackplate style lunch was perfect right before class. This week I roasted my first kabocha and I’ve gotta say that now I understand the addiction. The texture is a little weird but it’s so tasty!

Kale topped with nooch.

So simple, so good. Seriously, try this and you will be amazed how good kale can be when topped with plenty of nooch.

My macros. So proud of that 25% protein!

I don’t really talk macros on here much, but I really love tracking mine. Usually my carbs are around 45%, protein at 20% and fat at 35%, it’s just what works for me. But there are a few days that I definitely love my protein and fats more. Who says you can’t get enough protein as a vegan?!

Spicy Italian-style kelp noodles. Sauteed kale. Half a chopped Field Roast Mexican chipotle vegan sausage. Nooch. Olives. Spicy harissa hummus. Kelp noodles. Basil pasta sauce.

Who knew I’d end up loving kelp noodles even more than my beloved quinoa pasta? It’s really just so cool how kelp noodles are pasta-like but are made from a sea veggie instead of grains. I love having them any way, but the Italian way is my fave. Bring on the olives and the nooch!

Whole Foods salad bar box. Crushed homemade tortilla chips (the best!). Curried wild rice. Cold sweet potato salad. Coconut curry tofu. Orange chipotle tofu. Calabasitas (mixed grilled squash).

I wish this weren’t true, but the Whole Foods salad bar at my home WF is so much better than the one at the WF near school. I love the store near school, but the salad bar rarely has many tasty vegan options like the one at home has. As you can probably guess, this particular box was from a weekend trip home.

What foods have you been loving lately? What do your macros look like (if you track them)?

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.