WIAW: Raw Til 6

One of my resolutions for this year, and also one of my goals last summer was to eat more raw. I love so many raw foods, and I prefer most of my produce raw too, but there are some cooked things I still love and don’t really want to give them up just yet. Maybe someday I’ll be fully raw but for now, I’m trying the popular Raw Til 4 plan, where you basically eat all raw until dinner time. Since I eat my afternoon snack around 4, I’m changing the name to Raw Til 6 to fit my schedule better 😉

Basically how I’m going about it is eating all raw until dinner, and then for dinner/dessert I’ll eat something cooked or something that’s not necessarily raw if I’m feeling like it. See, I love my roasted sweet potatoes/peanut flour/grain free pizza and since I usually eat these for dinner, it makes sense to keep them in my food rotation. My other meals will stay pretty similar to how they are now —> breakfast will be Sunwarrior/Garden of Life raw protein or chia seed pudding or a green smoothie or raw flax cakes, lunch will be a salad or lettuce wraps or a protein smoothie made with raw protein powder, and my snacks will be banana softserve or snackplates with plenty of fresh produce or homemade raw desserts. What I won’t be doing is restricting my fats or carbs. I personally don’t believe that 80/10/10 is the most balanced way to eat (I love my fruit but I can’t survive on just carbs) and I don’t want to go raw gourmet either because I don’t want to rely so heavily on nuts and avocados for every meal. Instead, I’ll be sticking pretty close to my normal macros (45% carbs, 25% protein, 30% fat) and just incorporating more raw foods. I’m also planning on making plenty of raw dinners as well because I’ve been bookmarking a TON of amazing-looking raw entrees and I’m really excited to try them out. I’m also going to start sprouting legumes and making my own almond milk and I can’t wait to try all these new things!

Enough of the wordiness, let’s get to the food. I’ve also got 2 recipes for you today, and another one linked up from my other blog, so I’m going pretty recipe-crazy over here!

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

I’ve been meaning to start doing this for a loooooong time, since there have been a lot of posts and articles out there lately discussing the potential harmful effects of carrageenan and other things added to packaged almond milk. It’s easier than you’d think to whip up your own almond milk at home, especially when you take the cheater’s route like I did. I had some fresh ground raw almond butter on hand and within a few seconds of blending with water, I had homemade almond milk, raw and completely free of unnecessary ingredients!

3 Ingredient 3 Second Almond Milk (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1 tbsp raw almond butter
  • 4 cups water (can use filtered, or just plain tap water)
  • pinch stevia extract (optional)

In a large food processor or blender (I used my Ninja processor), add all the ingredients and blend or pulse for a few seconds or until it turns white-ish and creamy. Makes 4 1-cup servings. 

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

By now, we all know the outcome of the Superbowl. Even though I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos, being raised in Colorado, I’m not a diehard fan by any means and I honestly didn’t even watch the game so I’m not really upset by their loss. Besides, the Superbowl is just an excuse for snacks, am I right? This year, I made my raw jalapeno poppers (if you haven’t made them and love spicy things, I suggest you do!) and I had one alongside some raw cauliflower, local salsa, spicy guac made fresh at my Whole Foods, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds and a dried fig. This was the perfect snack plate for a spicy food lover like me and I didn’t even care who won the game!

A typical raw breakfast.

A typical raw breakfast.

My breakfasts have been pretty simple lately, though I’m planning on trying some new things soon. I’ve mostly been making raw protein puddings–Sunwarrior or Garden of Life raw protein powder mixed with water/homemade almond milk and sometimes raw coconut flour to thicken, and topped with pomegranate and raw nuts or seeds. It covers all the macros, tastes great and is beyond easy to whip up in just a minute.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein-packed chia puddings have been happening for breakfasts and snacks, too. I forgot how much I adore the thick and creamy texture that chia seeds make when they gel up. Honestly, I could eat these all day but it really is all about the toppings and mix ins. The one above was Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+homemade almond milk+1/2 tbsp chia seeds and topped in the morning with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Lunches have been a little bit less predictable. On Monday I had a green protein smoothie with some raw trail mix (just raisins & raw nuts) on the side. Really quick and easy to make and pretty filling, too. I love how eating raw makes food prep so much easier. Sure, I’ve been using my dehydrator and food processor a lot but it’s so hands-off and meals come together so quickly.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut 'bacon' and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut ‘bacon’ and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

Tuesday’s lunch was a little more creative. I made a batch of raw coconut ‘bacon’ in the morning and since I’m basically addicted to it, I decided to incorporate it into my lunch in a creative way. Enter the BLA wraps. The BLA is a spin on the classic BLT, only without the tomato…and avocado in its place. This raw version was incredibly good and I miiiiight have it for lunch again today.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Going mostly raw has made me more creative in the kitchen! I love that I have so much time to experiment with recipes right now (truth time–I’m still itching to get my first post-grad job!) and I’ve been making a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t normally if I was still eating mostly cooked foods. Like these raw protein bars. I’ve stopped buying Larabars for the time being to save some money and also so I can try making my own raw bars. These are NOT the same consistency as Larabars but I still love ’em…and who says being raw means no protein? I’ve actually been keeping my protein levels up (about 25-30% of my daily macros) during this raw challenge with raw protein powders/nuts/seeds and I’m planning on sprouting lentils soon so stay tuned for that!

Raw Banana Bread Protein Bars (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 2 ripe bananas (best when spotty)
  • 2 scoops Garden of Life RAW protein powder (or any raw plant-based protein powder)
  • 3 tbsp raw coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

In a food processor or high-powered blender, pulse bananas until smooth and liquefied. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Divide into 6 large balls and flatten into bar shapes. Makes 6 bars, ~100 calories and 8 grams protein per bar.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

So far, my dinners have been raw because that’s what I’ve been craving, even though it’s been snowing here and below freezing! I’ve been making raw pastas with zucchini, carrots and kelp noodles and tossing them in a nut or seed based sauce, pairing it with fruit and calling it dinner. Raw dinners are the simplest things ever, but I’m learning to appreciate simplicity!

Do you prefer homemade or store-bought when it comes to bars? Do you like your produce cooked or raw? 

Adventures in Raw: 80-10-10 or Gourmet?

I want to preface this post by saying I don’t believe there’s one right way of eating for everyone. Not only is it a matter of personal preference, but it’s also a matter of what works for YOU and your body and lifestyle. I do think that the SAD (standard American diet) way of eating isn’t good for anyone, but within the spectrum of healthy eating, there are millions of variations and one way doesn’t work for everyone.

If you do any research into the world of raw foodism, you’ll most likely stumble upon two different ways of thinking and eating. The most-discussed one is the 80-10-10 diet, which is based primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, with the addition of some overt fats (things like avocados, coconut and raw nuts) very occasionally. The name ’80-10-10′ refers to the macro breakdown: 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat. 80-10-10ers believe that it isn’t fruit or the sugars in them that make us fat, but the combination of sugars (primarily processed ones) and fats. They consume mostly fruit in order to get enough calories (and they generally recommend at least 2500 calories per day) and eat greens and other veggies to get more vitamins and nutrients.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

On the other end of the raw spectrum is gourmet raw foodists. They also shun processed foods but focus their diets on raw, plant-based sources of fat–coconut, nuts and seeds, avocados. They generally get upwards of 50% fat in their diet, with relatively low carbs and moderate protein from the more protein-rich fat sources. They still eat plenty of fresh produce, but veggies and especially fruit are rarely the base of their diet.

Even though I’m not strictly 100% raw right now, I’ve still been considering both of these forms of raw foodism. Where do I fall, and which one is better? For me, I believe a balance between the two is optimal. I think fresh produce should be the base of everyone’s diet, but I’m not about to eat 15+ bananas in a day and nothing else. I also think greens are very healthful, but there’s honestly no point in eating them if they aren’t consumed with a fat. The nutrients found in fresh veggies can’t make it to the bloodstream as easily if they aren’t eaten with a fat–numerous articles and studies are coming out saying that having some fat with your salad is actually a good thing, and better than having a salad with fat-free dressing, for many reasons. I’m not a fan of most salad dressings from the store, but I love topping my salads with raw seeds or guacamole or a homemade cashew-based dressing. Am I freaking out because I’m eating more than 10% fat? Heck no! I definitely don’t want to go back to my eating disordered days where I was scared of fat. I’ve come to love my healthy plant-based sources of fat and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying these whole foods. However, I don’t plan on going to the other extreme and consuming most of my calories from fat–there is a limit to how beneficial fats can be and I wouldn’t want to crowd out other nutritious foods just to eat more fats.

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation--still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation–still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I’m also probably eating more than 10% protein, from the nuts and seeds and Sunwarrior powder and sprouted legumes I eat, and that’s okay too! I don’t buy into the hype that we need so much protein (because we actually don’t), and 10% seems to be the magic number or at least the minimum for even active people, but I do like to have a little more than that to fuel my lifting workouts. Protein is in so many things, even vegetables, that it isn’t hard to hit 10-15% or more eating just plant-based sources.

A lot of things, especially eating, always seem to be so black-and-white, like one way is wrong and the other’s right, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You can eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and still enjoy plant-based fats and protein on a raw diet–it doesn’t have to be high carb low fat or high fat low carb. Moderation is always best, and when it comes to diets that are already pretty dang healthy as it is, there’s no need to nitpick over the logistics. Just eat whole foods from the earth, raw if you roll that way and don’t stress if it isn’t ‘perfect’.

What’s your take on the ongoing diet battles? 

WIAW: Protein-Packed, Plant Style

Any current or former vegetarians and vegans out there know this question all too well: “So where do you get your protein?” To most omnis, protein is only found in meat, eggs and dairy products. But as we all know, protein is found in pretty much everything, from kale to cacao nibs. Yes, there are actually 3 grams of protein in a one ounce serving of cacao nibs, which is all the more reason to enjoy chocolate 😉 Anyways, the point is, even strict vegans don’t need to worry much about adequate protein consumption as long as they’re consuming enough calories as well. However, I do love a lot of plant-based protein sources–I love me some healthy carbs, but I can’t survive on those alone. Last year, when I was just starting out on my vegan journey, I gravitated more towards carbs, which is okay, but nowadays I have a much better balance of fats, protein and carbs and I feel a lot more energized. If I had to categorize my macros, I’d say I’m usually around 45% carbs, 20-25% protein and 30-35% fats. That’s a big change, especially in the fats department, but I’m definitely embracing protein a lot more today too.

That being said, here are Monday’s protein-packed, plant-based eats. Note: I am a big fan of plant protein powders (not soy-based ones, but ones made from sprouted quinoa/rice, pea and cranberry proteins, like Vega and Sunwarrior) and I use them frequently, but I don’t think they’re a necessity in a plant-based diet. I use them (along with peanut flour, which isn’t really a protein powder but just concentrated peanut protein that tastes AMAZING) because I like how they taste and that they give me a protein boost for relatively fewer calories. Yes, I will admit that I still have a fear of eating ‘enough’, mostly because I don’t know what ‘enough’ is for me and it’s scary to change our habits. I do like whole food sources of protein, but protein powders are fun and tasty and I always choose the less processed versions.

Breakfast: banana bread in a bowl. Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder, half of a mashed banana, almond milk, mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, topped with Maranatha maple almond butter.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with banana bread. I’ve been fulfilling that craving with making my protein microwave cakes with a banana mashed in and adding chocolate chips. Maybe you won’t believe me, but this legit reminds me of banana bread. The best part is the gooey banana and chocolate, and the melty nut butter on top. Swoooon…

Protein: 19 grams

Lunch: pumpkin curry socca pizza topped with kale and red cabbage, side of black grapes and Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate square.

Socca is a great way to have pizza while still getting in some great protein. I love loading up my pizzas with veggies, and since I don’t eat cheese, most traditional pizzas don’t have much in the way of protein. But socca does, and I love it! Today’s version had a pumpkin curry sauce (made by mixing pumpkin puree and a premade coconut curry sauce) and was topped with sauteed kale and crunchy red cabbage. Perfect combo!

Protein: 8 grams

Afternoon snack: peanut and buckwheat flour waffle, topped with maple almond butter and vegan chocolate mousse.

You guys already know I have an insane obsession with homemade waffles. I love everything about them–the toppings, the texture, the endless flavor options, the flour choices. This one was made with a mix of (mostly) peanut flour and a little buckwheat flour and then topped with my new favorite almond butter and some mousse from the Whole Foods dessert section (it has a really great ingredients list of just dark chocolate, tofu and maple syrup). I added in a bit of banana and some more chocolate chips into the batter and it was just too good.

Protein: 14 grams

Dinner: pineapple fried quinoa, with edamame and (unpictured) Kaia raw sprouted “party mix” pumpkin seeds, unpictured side of kabocha squash dipped in organic ketchup.

Guys, this may be my new favorite dinner (other than waffles). I made it for the first time around my birthday back in July and made it a few times shortly after, but then forgot about it as I was moving into my apartment and starting school again. I randomly decided I wanted to make it again and I am so glad I rediscovered it. It is really so simple, but tastes crazy good. The best part is, it’s packed with protein from whole foods sources–edamame, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.

Protein: 11 grams

Dessert: PB Puffins mixed with peanut flour, almond milk, raisins and mini chocolate chips, unpictured side of peppermint dark chocolate square and Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds.

I don’t have cereal as much anymore, but I still have a soft spot for PB Puffins. They’re just so…addictingly good. Now when I have cereal, I like to add in some protein powder or peanut flour in with the almond milk to make it more substantial. This particular bowl was very peanutty, but good, even for a girl who hates peanut butter (but loves peanut otherwise).

Protein: 11 grams

The total protein count for the day was 63 grams! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s right in line (actually a little higher) than Fitsugar’s chart on protein needs based on weight and activity levels. And for me, it’s about double the protein that I was eating a year ago so I consider that a major success! And it just goes to show that vegans can get enough protein, without having to eat a ton of soy (I only had half a serving on Monday) or even a lot of supplements (I only used one full scoop of protein powder the entire day).

Do you ever track your protein consumption? What’s your favorite plant-based protein source? 

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)?