WIAW: New & News

Before I get to the best party of every week, I wanted to share a little news with you guys. I’ll be doing a couple reviews (with a possible giveaway) within the next week so look forward to that! I love entering giveaways and reading reviews so I’m really happy that companies have started to reach out to me to share their products with my readers.

Now onto the eats! I’ve been eating a lot of “new-to-me” stuff lately which I always love. I’m not really a creature of habit, I do know what I love and stick with that but I really like switching things up and trying out new food. I did some of that over spring break and apparently that trend is continuing this week.

Breakfast: chocolate coconut chia protein pudding topped with cacao nibs, shredded coconut and chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.

Breakfast: chocolate coconut chia protein pudding topped with cacao nibs, shredded coconut and chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.

The chia seed pudding obsession is going strong, but what’s new is the addition of (half of) this new-ish to me Larabar flavor. I tried the chocolate chip cherry torte flavor last summer and didn’t love it. But after having it a second time, I kinda like it. I pretty much hate anything cherry or cherry-flavored, so this is huge for me. Probably the chocolate chips are what make it ok ūüėČ

Lunch: spinach salad with green garbanzos and balsamic.

Lunch: spinach salad with green garbanzos and balsamic.

The salad-for-lunch thing isn’t new (I’ve been eating one almost every day for three months!) but the green garbanzos sort of are! I bought some frozen ones from Whole Foods on a whim about a month ago and haven’t been using them a lot, but they’re really good in salads drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I’d love to try making falafel from them too!

Lunch side: half a pumpkin pie ALT Larabar.

Lunch side: half a pumpkin pie ALT Larabar.

If you have the new ALT bars near you, please try them! Especially this flavor. It reminds me of spice cake, and is really good and filling! Half of one made the perfect lunch dessert, and it had 5 grams of pea protein to boot (the entire bar has 10 grams). I love finding all-natural vegan protein bars that actually taste good!

Snack: snackplate of yellow carrot, maple mesquite sprouted walnuts, baked apple chips, Kaia buckwheat rawnola and Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig GF granola, southwest ranch kale chips, peanut flour paste with mini dark chocolate chips.

Snack: snackplate of yellow carrot, maple mesquite sprouted walnuts, baked apple chips, Kaia buckwheat rawnola and Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig GF granola, southwest ranch kale chips, peanut flour paste with mini dark chocolate chips.

The kale chips are semi-new (the southwest ranch flavor of Kale Krunch chips is unreal) and so are the apple chips and the cashew butter (the WF brand reminds me of cookie dough, but it’s just made from cashews and a little safflower oil!) but the real newbie is the yellow carrot. Can you believe I’d never had a whole carrot before a week ago? I spotted a bunch of tri-colored carrots at Whole Foods and just had to snag them. I don’t think I’m gonna rely on baby carrots so much anymore, I love the crunch of these full size carrots! And the fun color is just an added bonus.

This doesn't look awkward at all...

This doesn’t look awkward at all…

‘Nuff said!

Grape Zevia.

Grape Zevia.

I’ve been wanting to try this flavor for awhile, but I didn’t want to pay $5 for a 6 pack, in case I didn’t like it. Verdict: while it’s not my favorite flavor (that would be the cream soda) , it actually grew on me and I do like it. At first it reminded me of children’s Tylenol, but it’s actually pretty tasty!

Dinner: sauteed kale, sweet potato socca pizza.

Dinner: sauteed kale, sweet potato socca pizza.

Socca pizzas are a staple around here, but this was a first for me–a sweet socca pizza. I made my usual socca base (1/4 cup chickpea flour, salt, enough water to thin) and topped it with 1/4 of a mashed sweet potato mixed with almond milk and cinnamon, crumbled maple mesquite walnuts, shredded coconut and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was like dessert pizza for dinner, and it was oh so good!


These were actually all my meals for Monday, minus my nighttime snack (unpictured because it was eaten too late for a good photo to be taken), which was coconut flour mixed with a little baking powder, chocolate chips and almond milk and microwaved to make a coconut flour muffin, a square of Alter Eco dark mint chocolate, peanut flour paste and a date stuffed with cashew butter and cacao nibs. Nothing exciting, but I love it.

If you’ve tried Zevia, what’s your favorite flavor? Have you ever eaten a weird colored veggie?

Why I’m Not the Typical HLB

As a self-proclaimed healthy living blogger, I like reading other HLBs and seeing what food and fitness trends everyone’s getting into. I have to admit, I sometimes act like a sheep and follow these trends but that’s really only because I end up loving the food/workout so much. But there are many, many ways that I’m not at all like the stereotypical HLB…

I hate eggs. 

Yep, always have, (probably) always will. It’s a combination of the texture, taste and smell for me. Ick. I could never do any form of eggs for breakfast–I blame my dad, because he’s never been a big fan of eggs. So that aspect of going vegan was super easy for me! While I think things like veggie-filled omelettes and 2 ingredient pancakes are cool ideas, I’d never be able to stomach them. Just no.

This is as close as I get to an omelette--a chickpea socca-style 'omelette'.

This is as close as I get to an omelette–a chickpea socca-style ‘omelette’.

I’m not a Chobani/Love Grown/ Luna Bar/ PB&Co. whore.

There’s quite a few brands that seem to be really popular in the HLB world…and I’ve never understood them. To each their own, of course, but I’ve tended to go my own way with brands and I love what I love. I do like a few of the popular brands, like Larabar and Almond Breeze, but some of them just don’t do it for me. For instance, I prefer unflavored almond butters to flavored PBs (other than Justin’s vanilla AB) and I really love Purely Elizabeth granolas because they’re made from ancient grains and is the only granola brand I know of that’s made with coconut sugar.

I don't feel bad for being a Zevia whore because it's so good!

I don’t feel bad for being a Zevia whore because it’s so good!

I’ve never stepped foot in a Lululemon or a Trader Joes.¬†

It’s not that I¬†don’t¬†want to shop in these places, it’s just that I’m semi-deprived out here in CO and neither of those stores are near me (okay, that’s a lie, there’s a few Lulus in Denver, but I’ve never been). I’m actually waiting on a couple of TJs locations that are set to open soonish, but since I’ve never been, I feel a little left out. Maybe it’s for the best–I can’t afford anything from Lulu and I’d probably blow my budget if I had a TJs in my city!

A drawing of the TJs that will be closest to me...still about an hour's drive away.

A drawing of the TJs that will be closest to me…still about an hour’s drive away.

I’m not a runner, or a Crossfitter, or a heavy lifter.

I have started lifting recently, and I really love it, but I’m nowhere near lifting heavy yet. As for running and Crossfit, I just don’t feel like they fit my lifestyle. I like doing cardio like tennis or circuits (or window shopping ūüėČ ) and I also love yoga. There’s definitely a workout style out there for everyone, you’ve just gotta find what works for you.

Lifting green weights makes it even more fun.

Lifting green weights makes it even more fun.

I don’t eat the typical HLB breakfast.

I’m a huge breakfast lover, but (obviously) I don’t do eggs, I don’t really like oats anymore and yogurt messes are out because vegan yogurts are beyond nasty. I tend to mix things up a little bit, but right now I’m loving homemade buckwheat waffles with protein frosting, and chia seed protein puddings. I really try to get a great balance of carbs, fat and protein in at breakfast while still satisfying my sweet tooth.

Another one of my fave breakfasts: almond flour pancakes.

Another one of my fave breakfasts: almond flour pancakes.

I’m vegan.

Vegans seem to be a rare breed these days in the HLB world. And honestly, I kinda like it this way but also not. I like it because then I feel more unique, like that’s the niche my blog fits into. But I also don’t like it because there’s not as much food inspiration…so I just end up borrowing from the boys omnis!

A (non-vegan) dessert I still need to veganize.

A (non-vegan) dessert I still need to veganize.

How are you not like the ‘typical’ HLB?¬†

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: New in Review

Who else loves finding new products at the grocery store? I know I can’t be alone…well, maybe I’m the only one who almost squeals when I see something I’ve been searching for forever or something that just looks too good to pass up ūüėČ Lately, on all my Whole Foods trips, I’ve been buying at least one new-to-me product so I thought I’d share some of them with you in case you’ve been seeing them too and wanted to know if they’re worth the splurge. Spoiler alert: most of them are!

(Some) of the new-to-me flavors: lemon bar, key lime pie, peanut butter cookies, chocolate coconut chew.

First up, Larabars. Not exactly new, but lately I’ve been branching out and buying some flavors I’ve never tried before. Sure, I love the pineapple upside down cake and cappuccino, but I need to try new ones so I can find new favorites! And some of them were. The peanut butter chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie ones were awesome, the chocolate cherry torte not so much, but that can be expected because I hate most cherry flavored things. It was decent though, but mostly because of the chocolate chips! I haven’t tried the other flavors in this pic, but it’s only a matter of time ūüėČ

From the freezer/fridge: Spicy Nothings curry sauce, NadaMoo! java crunch coconut milk ice cream, Amande peach almond milk yogurt, Nayonaise.

Okay, I can’t say enough good things about the curry sauce and coconut milk ice cream! The curry sauce is perfectly spicy (which, coming from me, is saying something, because I love all things spicy, and most things aren’t spicy enough) and so good over veggies and the ice cream is so dreamy and creamy, all without dairy. Love it. I kinda like the Amande yogurts, since they’re made from almond milk, but they have the weirdest texture. I can’t wait to find the So Delicious Greek style almond milk yogurts because I’m guessing they’ll be so creamy and thick, not jelly-like like Amande. I do love that it’s got vegan probiotics and plenty of calcium though. I haven’t tried the Nayonaise yet, but I really want to use it in curried tofu salad and tofu crab cakes!

Told you I love the LabelBox app!

Like I mentioned in my latest Friday Faves¬†post, I love LabelBox app. It’s probably not new, but it still is to me, and it’s just so fun to use. Get it now if you still haven’t (bonus–it’s free)!

Annie Chun pad Thai style brown rice noodles, Alter Eco dark mint chocolate, veggie spirals quinoa pasta.

The quinoa pasta isn’t new to me, but this particularly shape is! Who else loves getting cool shaped pasta just because? Plus this one is made with veggies, in addition to corn and quinoa flour. Yum. I also really love the brown rice noodles. They just have two ingredients, brown rice flour and water. It doesn’t get more simple than that, and they’re also really tasty with Asian dishes! But the real winner in this line-up is the chocolate. I used to think Chocolove was my favorite chocolate brand, but Alter Eco basically takes the cake. 7 of their 10 flavors are vegan, they’re totally organic and fair trade certified, which I think is awesome. The company is really focused on sustainability and being fair to the coffee growers, which is so much more than most companies can say. Plus they have a chocolate bar with quinoa puffs in it, which just sounds delicious!

A yummy, nutritious Pan-Asian dinner: brown rice noodles stir-fried with Spicy Nothings curry sauce, steamed kale and spicy orange-glazed chickpeas.

And finally, another recipe for you! I kinda made up this dinner on the spot but it turned out so good that I couldn’t not share. You can use whatever curry sauce you love or have on hand, but I definitely recommend the Spicy Nothings brand.

Spicy Curry Stirfry with Orange-Glazed Chickpeas (vegan, gluten-free)

For Chickpeas

1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 large navel orange

maple syrup, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tsp cornstarch

For Stirfry

1 oz brown rice noodles

3 tbsp curry sauce

handful kale

In a small bowl, mix together orange juice, maple syrup and red pepper flakes. Toss in chickpeas and let marinate for 15-30 minutes.  In a pot, boil water and add in brown rice noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. In a wok or sauce pan, cook chickpeas and kale until orange glaze starts to bubble. Stir in cornstarch until glaze thickens and add in noodles and curry sauce. Mix until combined and serve garnished with cashews, cilantro or sesame seeds. Serves 1. 

Do you like buying fair trade products? What’s your favorite noodle/pasta shape?

WIAW: Red, White & New

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow U.S. bloggers! Unlike most years, I won’t be watching fireworks…well maybe on TV, but due to all the fires, most fireworks shows were cancelled around here. I will be wearing some red, white and blue and enjoying some festive eats, though–maybe with a recipe to come!

Anyways, for this week’s WIAW I wanted to highlight some new things I’ve been enjoying lately and share a couple recipes. Note: This was not all eaten in one day!

Red, white and blue fruit bowl: fresh strawberries, frozen banana, double blueberry chia jam.

I’ve been wanting to make my own jam forever so when I stumbled upon Angela’s blueberry chia jam, I knew I had to make it. I bought chia seeds for the first time ever and adapted the recipe to what I had on hand. Turns out, homemade jam is 1000 times better than storebought. And it’s not that hard to make!

Double Blueberry Chia Jam (vegan, gluten free)

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed

1-2 tbsp blueberry flavored agave (can use regular agave)

1 tbsp chia seeds

In a small pot, bring blueberries and agave to a low boil, stirring often. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes. Lightly smash the berries with a fork, if desired. Stir in chia seeds, stirring often to prevent from sticking to the pot. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until jam is at your desired consistency. Remove from heat and store in a glass tupperware container or jar in the fridge. Makes about 1/2 cup. 

This flavor is now in my top 5!

I still can’t believe I used to hate Larabars a couple months ago. Correction: I was scared of them, because of their calorie and fat content. Truth is, I love ’em now and all their calories and fat come from healthy, simple sources. Nothing but real foods in these! I was finally able to track down a couple new-to-me flavors, peanut butter chocolate chip and key lime pie. I’ve yet to try the key lime but the PB chocolate chip is amazing, especially when the chocolate chips melt, which is inevitable in this heat wave. Now I’m dying to try the chocolate chip cookie dough one!

Homemade vegan nachos: Late July sweet potato multigrain chips, black beans, spicy nacho cheez, crispy kale, guac, pumpkin seeds and nooch.

I think I have a problem. I put nooch on almost everything I eat now! It’s just so addicting, and I love knowing I’m getting a little protein and B vitamin boost from it. These nachos are my favorite thing to whip up for a quick and easy dinner. The cashew cheez sauce is what makes it!

Cookie the size of a salad plate…dominated!

If you haven’t tried Whole Foods’ vegan chocolate chip cookie and you have a store near you…go buy one now! I promise it’ll be the best 99 cents you’ve ever spent, especially if you pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. I’m always shocked that this gigantic cookie has only 170 calories in it–the magic of vegan baking!

This $6 salad bar box was worth every penny.

I’m obsessed with the Whole Foods salad bars. The one near me always has a great selection and a lot of their options are vegan. I load up on a little bit of everything and it always turns out perfect. I can’t even remember everything in this box but there was some emerald sesame kale, marinated artichoke hearts, fruit salad, a warm bok choy salad, Asian cous cous, Mediterranean crunch salad, curry tofu and a falafel ball. It was worth all the stares I got for eating it at my internship–some people just don’t appreciate healthy eating!

Double chocolate protein waffle topped with NadaMoo! maple pecan coconut milk ice cream.

I’ve really been into making protein waffles lately. First I made them with peanut flour but then I tried some protein powder samples I got from Whole Foods. This one was made with Vega One and it was soooooooo good. For a snack, I topped it with some coconut milk ice cream. The ice cream melted all over the warm waffle which made it even better.

Double Chocolate Protein Waffle (vegan, high protein)

1 sample packet Vega One chocolate protein powder

2 tbsp oat flour (can sub whole wheat or gluten-free flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dairy free chips)

1 tbsp flax or chia seed, mixed with water to make flax or chia “egg”

unsweetened almond milk, to thin

stevia, to taste (I used one packet)

Heat up waffle iron (or skillet, if making into pancakes) and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Mix together all dry ingredients until combined. Add in flax egg and almond milk until batter is smooth and thick, but can  be easily scooped up. Spoon batter (in two batches) onto waffle iron and cook until outside is crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Makes 2 waffles (the entire batch has about 18 grams of protein and around 300 calories!).

I love homemade pizza!

Since I became vegan, I’ve become much more creative with pizza toppings. I rarely even use vegan cheeses anymore but pizzas don’t really need cheese if you have amazing toppings. The one on the left is an Indian-inspired pizza topped with curry sauce, raisins (weird, I know, but it was actually good), cauliflower, carrots and chickpeas. The one on the right was a spicy Italian version with Field Roast Mexican chipotle grain sausage, garlic basil sauce, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. The crust was amazing too, even though it turned out super thick. I used the fresh multigrain pizza dough that Whole Foods sells in their refrigerated section and I love the taste and doughiness of it, but it tends to rise a little bit too much!

Recent lunch: strawberries topped with double blueberry chia jam; peanut flour granola in almond milk with raisins, sunflower seeds and mini chocolate chips; spicy curry sauce with edamame, broccoli slaw and kale.

I’ve been loving whipping up a simple curry and veggie bowl for lunch lately. The sauce I use is the spicy & tangy curry sauce by Spicy Nothings and it’s one of the best curries I’ve ever had. It’s not even honestly that spicy, but then again I’m kinda obsessed with spicy things. It goes so well with kale and edamame but I want to try it soon with some tempeh!

How do you get in protein in the mornings? Do you like things spicy or mild?

I’m Done…

I’m done…with focusing on calories, rather than nutrients

Larabars might have a ‘lot’ of calories, but they’re healthy and simple!

I want to be a healthy vegan, so what does that mean? Getting enough fats and protein. Instead of seeking out the lowest calorie faux meat products (which do have protein, but aren’t that healthy), I want to buy nutrient-dense things that will fuel my body and help me feel my best, like Larabars and Sunshine Burgers (made from seeds, beans and veggies). I want to stop shying away from coconut products just because of their high saturated fat content. I’m done with being scared of plant-based fats, period.

I’m done…with having tiny portions of everything

Four mini pancakes are NOT enough for breakfast alone!

I know I will always likely have a smaller appetite than a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I have to eat like a hummingbird! I’m sick of eating small amounts at every meal and feeling hungry and unsatisfied an hour or two later. If I want to feel more comfortable with eating more, I can choose to snack more between my mini meals or even just increase the size of my meals a little bit over time. I’m tired of only having 1/4 cup of oats at breakfast (even with toppings it’s not enough) and only allowing myself a teaspoon of nut butter per day.

I’m done…with restricting my calories and my life

Why can’t I feel okay eating an entire (170 calorie) vegan chocolate chip cookie at one sitting and more than a tiny bowl of almond milk ice cream?

I’ve wasted way too much of my life semi-starving myself and listening to ED’s stupid demands. I want to be okay eating the calories I need to live a healthy life. I want to sometimes order something other than a salad at a restaurant. I want to cook vegan things that even my omni family will love, because it’s full of nutrients and flavor. I’m sick of freaking out every day that I exercise a little bit less than I wanted to. I’m done with constantly tallying up my calories and¬†macro nutrients¬†and¬†over analyzing¬†them.

I’m done…with second-guessing my cooking skills

My first attempt at a homemade vegan ice cream pie for Father’s Day…everyone loved it!

I hate worrying about cooking things for my family and wondering if they’ll even like it, just because it’s something they’re not used to. I want to do even more experimenting with cooking for myself. I want to make even more vegan desserts to show my family that vegan things can be just as tasty as normal desserts.

Vegan Ice Cream Pie (vegan)

8 sandwich cookies, any flavor (I used Whole Foods’ store brand, which are all-natural, but Oreos and Newman O’s are also vegan)

1/2 pint vegan ice cream, any flavor or variety like almond/coconut/soy (I used Almond Dream’s cappuccino swirl)

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder or cacao powder

1/2 tbsp agave or maple syrup

splash almond milk (or water)

fresh berries/bananas, shaved dark chocolate, vegan whipped cream, etc. for garnish

Separate the sandwich cookies and set aside the filling. Crumble cookies by hand or in a food processor until finely crushed. Mix in filling until mostly combined and starting to stick together. Press cookie crust into bottom of medium-sized glass bowl or cake pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Let ice cream soften and spread 1/4 of a pint over the crust, smoothing down with a rubber spatula or flat wooden spoon. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes, or until ice cream layer is hardened. In a small bowl, stir together cocoa powder and agave until mostly mixed, and add in a splash of almond milk or water until it becomes a thick fudge-like paste. Spoon over ice cream layer and place in freezer for another 30 minutes. Let ice cream soften again and spread the remaining 1/4 pint over the fudge layer and freeze entire pie for 1-3 hours. Serve topped with berries, shaved/melted chocolate or whatever toppings you’d like. Makes 4 slices.¬†

What are you “done with”? How do you feel about cooking for others?

WIAW: Salads and…Snow?

Happy WIAW…and happy birthday to my lovely madre! She is one lucky lady, having both her birthday and Mother’s Day in the same week. I’m so glad school ended just in time for me to be home to enjoy both days with her.

I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of an entire day’s worth of eats (bad blogger, I know, but it’s just slipped my mind most of the time) so this week’s WIAW is just a random compilation of the best of what I’ve been eating this past week along with a recipe and some new grocery store finds.

Breakfast: overnight oats topped with peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, mashed strawberries and maple macadamias.

This is my new favorite overnight oats combo. Peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, fresh strawberries and maple macadamia nuts are surprisingly yummy together, and taste like summer. The maple macadamia nuts are a new obsession of mine from the Whole Foods bulk section. They are expensive (18 bucks per pounds, yikes) but they’re so worth it.

Lunch: kale wraps with cold grilled tofu strips, sauteed bell peppers and Ginger People hot ginger jalapeno sauce.

Move over, lettuce wraps! Kale wraps are heartier, more nutritious and delicious. One day for lunch I decided I didn’t want a salad but I still wanted to get my greens in. So I took a few heads of kale, partially destemmed them and filled them with leftover fajitas filling, aka grilled tofu strips and sauteed peppers. I drizzled them with my new favorite sauce, and they turned out perfectly spicy and crunchy.

Lunch: chopped kale, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sprinkle of nooch and vegan Caesar dressing thinned with almond milk.

I’ve also been loving raw kale salads for lunch lately. The key is to let the greens soak up the dressing or sauce overnight and marinade with the other ingredients. Oh, and nooch is a necessity for me. This was a Mediterranean inspired salad that I’m definitely repeating. It would be great for dinner bulked up with some chickpeas and kalamata olives.

Lime green striped oversize tee (American Eagle), denim cuffed shorts (Abercrombie Kids).

Can you believe I wore this outfit on a day it snowed? Okay, so I definitely changed into something more weather-appropriate when I had to go out that night to see a performance of Hairspray (really good, BTW) but it’s crazy to think that it didn’t snow at all here in March or April, and then we get dumped on practically in May. What?!

White cardigan (Target), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), navy plaid shorts (Hollister).

I’m not complaining though because after a weekend of rain, light snow and thunder (yeah, Colorado’s weird!) it was back to shorts weather by Monday. I enjoyed a little time outside and did a stairs workout that left me tired (in a good way) and hungry. Running up and down the stairs of my deck was no joke, but it was a fun, heart-pumping workout that I like to do every once in a while to change things up.

My new-to-me Whole Foods finds.

I’m pretty sure I can’t go to Whole Foods without trying out at least one new thing. When I went over the weekend, I hit the¬†mother lode and got mostly all new-to-me things. So far, I’ve tried the quinoa pasta (better than whole wheat or regular), ginger peanut sauce (perfect for Asian dishes), maple macadamias (0b-sessed!), rice cakes¬†(pretty plain but good with toppings), honey vanilla agave (great sub for pancake syrup) and artichoke hearts (basically like any other artichokes, which I love) so I’m excited to try the lemon Larabar, vegan ravioli and pasta sauce.

First Frapp of the summer: tall mocha light with soy and 1 pump raspberry. So effing delicious!

You know me, can’t pass up Starbucks, especially when it’s half price. Sadly, I only got to take advantage of their happy hour once, but I’m glad I did for the deliciousness above. Mocha light Frappuccinos are my absolute favorite, and they get even better with the addition of a pump of raspberry syrup. If you love the chocolate and raspberry combo, order this. Now.

I’m growing my own cilantro!

Get ready for a whole lotta pico de gallo recipes around here…because I officially have my own cilantro plant! My dad’s growing a mint plant so we are definitely stocked up on two of the best herbs. Last summer I grew strawberries and while there weren’t many and they were tiny, it was cool to grow my own stuff. The cilantro already looks pretty healthy and vibrant, so I’m excited.

California Pizza Kitchen’s half Thai Crunch salad without chicken, dressing or wontons…so basically Napa cabbage, carrots, avocado, edamame, peanuts and Ginger People ginger peanut sauce.

I love me some giant salads. I had one on Thursday post-final at Mad Greens with my dad (no picture, but it was spinach/artichoke hearts/kalamata olives/garbanzo beans/sunflower seeds with fat free balsamic) and I had one on Sunday night to celebrate Mother’s Day. We got CPK to-go and I was debating between a veggie pizza without cheese and this salad. Glad I went with the salad, even though there aren’t any leftovers (boo!) We hadn’t eaten at CPK in well over a year and I almost forgot how much I love them and their giant salads. Plus now I know that they’re totally¬†accommodating¬†to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free people and also if you’re picky like me and don’t like wontons or restaurant dressings. I totally demolished this salad and for the record, it took up my entire regular-sized dinner plate. No shame!

Definitely freeze these if you want to be able to eat them whole!

I made raw blondies for the first time last summer¬†and they were definitely a hit…well at least with me, since my family’s wary of trying raw desserts. I made a new and improved version the other day and while they’re crumbly and messy, they’re simple and healthy, with just 4 ingredients.

Raw Amaretto Blondies (vegan, gluten-free, raw)

3 100 calorie pack cinnamon almonds (can use plain almonds)

6 pitted dates (I used California pitted)

1/2 tbsp raw agave nectar (can sub raw honey or real maple syrup)

1 tbsp Vega Vanilla Almondilla protein powder (can use other protein powder but this gives it the amaretto flavor)

Blend almonds and dates in food processor or high powered blender until mostly combined and crumbly. Add in agave and protein powder until mixed in. Pack blondie mixture into a square glass dish and keep frozen (so the blondies don’t crumble). Makes 4 blondies.

Have you ever tried quinoa pasta? What’s your favorite “special” nut?

WIAW: Free At Last (Almost!)

Well girlies, I am so close to being completely done with my first two years of college! I’ve just got one final bright and early tomorrow night and then I am done done DONE! I’ve already been home since Friday afternoon, but getting this over with means that summer can officially begin.

Being home has been awesome so far! Of course, I went on a huge grocery haul my first full day back–does anyone else love grocery shopping? I could literally do it every day and not get bored, especially at Whole Foods. There’s always some new product and I’ve always gotta try it! So this week’s WIAW will be featuring a few of those new finds, and a couple of recipes.

The ginger root beer variety is almost as good as the cream soda.

The 6-packs of Zevia were on sale at my WF, so I had to try out a new-to-me flavor. It was really good, but I was expecting a little more ginger flavor. I love ginger anything so it was a little disappointing, but I’m sure it’ll make the perfect healthy root beer float! I’ve been on the lookout for Zevia’s newer flavors (lime cola and strawberry) but no luck yet. I think I’ll be hitting up all the Whole Foods in CO… ūüėČ

Whole Foods guacamole (aka the best guac ever) and amazing locally-made mango salsa, in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo wasn’t too exciting for me or my family (my dad was more excited about the Kentucky Derby) but we did ‘celebrate’ with salsa and guacamole. WF has the¬†¬†best¬†guac, but unfortunately it’s super expensive. We got a tiny container of it for $4.99, a total rip-off but so worth it. The mango salsa was a much better buy, and also delicioso (had to get some Spanish in there somewhere!). I am in love with fruity salsas and really want to make my own this summer. I made a strawberry jalapeno pico de gallo last summer but the recipe never made it to the blog–I’ll be making it again soon and sharing the recipe this time!

What season is this?!

So Monday morning, I woke up to snow. Yes, snow in May. Crazy Colorado! We’ve had warm, dry weather for 2 months straight and now this. At least it was only a dusting, and didn’t stick around for long.

A Cinco de Mayo snack plate: crushed sweet potato and blue corn Late July chips, kettle corn, stuffed Medjool date, chili and jalapeno olives, guacamole and mango salsa.

I don’t think I will ever get sick of snack plates. They are perfect for indecisive people like me who don’t like to commit to one huge thing. I’d rather sample a bunch of small things and please all my cravings. Plus each snack plate is completely different, so I never get bored.

I’m always down for seasonal flavors!

You know you’re a foodie when you practically pee your pants upon seeing brand new Larabar flavors. Especially ones that you haven’t even heard about, and that sound as amazingly delicious as these. I am so glad I am no longer a Larabar snob because I will be hoarding these seasonal flavors like nobody’s business. I love anything and everything limited edition, especially summery things. I’ve only tried the pineapple upside down cake one and it’s so pineapple-y! I can’t believe it’s only made of almonds, dates and pineapple. If you see these near you, buy the whole box some! You won’t regret it.

[Pancake] breakfast of champions: peanut flour pancakes topped with homemade strawberry vanilla stevia jam and drizzle sunflower seed butter.

I couldn’t come home and not make pancakes, right? I haven’t had any in months, and this was my first time making them completely from scratch–no boxed mixes for this girl anymore! These pancakes are super easy to make, taste just like a gooey PB&J sandwich and have 15 grams of protein in the entire batch! P.S. Both recipes are adapted from here.

Peanut Flour Pancakes (vegan, gluten-free, high protein)

3 T peanut flour (or PB2)

1 T ground flax seed (I used golden flax) or mashed banana/unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 T water

1/2 t baking powder

2 packets Truvia or stevia (can use liquid stevia drops)

4 T unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze)+ water, to thin

Stir together ground flax and water to make a flax “egg”. Set aside for a few minutes. In a bowl, mix together peanut flour, baking powder and Truvia. Add in flax egg, almond milk and any additional water needed to thin the batter. On a skillet or small pan heated to medium, scoop batter in small spoonfuls (I used a melon baller) or form into a larger pancake, cooking two at a time. Flip pancakes once the batter bubbles up. Serve pancakes topped with nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter), caramelized bananas, real maple syrup or homemade jam (see recipe below). Makes 5 small or 2 large pancakes.

Homemade Microwave Strawberry Vanilla Jam (vegan, gluten-free)

strawberries, sliced (I used 3 large berries)

4-8 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to taste (you can use any flavor)

Stir berries and stevia together until combined. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 min. Can serve warm or chilled. Spoon over pancakes, on toast or on top of nondairy ice cream. Makes 1 serving.

So spicy, so good.

Continuing with my love for all things hot, I picked up this gem at WF this past weekend. Like a lot of new-t0-me products, I hoped that it would live up to the hype that I put on it. Well, this definitely delivered! Spicy with just a hint of ginger, it’s perfect as a marinade, sauce and dip.

Having Mexican food a few days after Cinco de Mayo still counts, right? Black beans with mango salsa, crispy kale tempeh taco on sprouted Ezekiel tortilla topped with guacamole.

I am usually a fan of tacos. Just because I don’t eat meat doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a taco every once in awhile. In the past, I’ve used beans as a filler but this time I went for ground tempeh and it was a winner. In fact, it was probably the best taco I’ve ever had.

Crispy Kale Tempeh Tacos (vegan)

1 oz crumbled tempeh (I used Lightlife organic flax tempeh)

marinade of choice (I used the Ginger People Hot Ginger Jalapeno sauce above)

handful kale

salt and pepper, to taste

nooch, to taste

tortilla (I used a small Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla)

taco toppings (guacamole, vegan sour cream, Daiya cheese or cashew cheese, salsa)

Marinade tempeh in sauce for 5-10 minutes. Place tempeh in a pan on the stove over medium high heat and let cook until browned and somewhat crunchy. Add in kale, salt, pepper and nooch and cook until crispy. Spoon kale and tempeh onto tortilla and top with more sauce and whatever toppings you love. Makes 1 taco.

PB&J smoothie in a bowl (unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, peanut flour, Truvia) topped with fresh strawberries and crushed PB Puffins.

Apparently I’m on a PB&J for breakfast kick right now! I’m just loving the combo of peanut flour and fresh strawberries right now–I may have to make a wrap or open-faced sandwich with these two ingredients soon.

Did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Have you spotted the new Larabar flavors yet?