Meal Prep Monday: Raw Week 4

My “fully raw February” challenge is almost over…but I’m not done with the raw vegan lifestyle by any means! In my introductory post I said I was planning on going raw til dinnertime, but that actually turned into eating raw all day, every day since February 3 (besides a cooked dinner on Valentine’s Day) and I’ve been loving the results. I feel so light and refreshed after my meals, without any desire for cooked foods or added oil, sugar or salt (aside from a little pink sea salt added into my guacamole and kraut). This is something I want to keep up as long as possible and though I may be experimenting in the next month with high raw dinners (cooked beans with raw veggies), I feel great eating mostly raw and it’s something I’ve found I enjoy more than I thought I would!

Meals for the Week

Breakfast: This is always my most simple meal. Plenty of chia puddings, flax pancakes and I do want to try fruit+buckwheat rawnola someday if I can get out of my breakfast rut.

Lunch: I’m planning on zucchini noodles with raw marinara sauce or pumpkin seed pesto, salads and possibly lettuce wraps, with some fruit on the side.

Pesto zoodles for lunch.

Pesto zoodles for lunch.

Dinner: This is where I like to get creative and actually meal plan. I’ve got raw falafel/hummus/cauliflower tabbouleh on the lineup one night based on these recipes, pumpkin seed & garlic zucchini pasta and maybe a kelp noodle thing if I get to the store to restock them. I also will probably have more jicama chili fries since I have some leftover.

Snacks: Same as usual–snack plates with veggies, fruit and a fat source; protein banana softserve for dessert; chia pudding if I didn’t have it for breakfast.

Lean, green banana softserve packed with raw protein powder and spinach.

Lean, green banana softserve packed with raw protein powder and spinach.

Recipes for the Week

Other than the dinner recipes linked above, I’m planning on making these raw cacao donuts, a raw take on pink lemonade, spicy hot zucchini chips from Going Raw, sweet potato ‘fries’ in the dehydrator and probably more raw brownie bites. I had the best batch of them last week, but I forgot exactly what I put in them, so I’ll have to try again!

These look almost too good to be raw!

These look almost too good to be raw!

Source

Groceries for the Week

I’m including some things my dad picked up for me at Sprouts; otherwise, the rest was from Whole Foods and as usual, the produce will last for part or all of the week while other stuff may last through next week or longer.

*= organic

Produce: strawberries, baby spinach*, watermelon, cauliflower*, fry-cut yams, zucchini*, carrots*, avocados, garlic, mint*, bananas, papaya (excited to try this!), blueberries (on sale), lemons, cilantro, parsley, romaine hearts*

A little early for watermelon, but still tasty.

A little early for watermelon, but still tasty.

Bulk Bins: Medjool dates, raw mixed nuts, sprouted walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almond flour, raw cashews, nutritional yeast

Miscellaneous: raisins*, coconut aminos, pitted dates, no-salt-added tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, frozen cherries*, hemp hearts, chia seeds, xylitol mints

As usual, lotsa produce and bulk bin seeds and nuts. My Whole Foods trip cost me about $70, which is a great deal for tons of fresh fruits and veggies. My biggest tip for keeping grocery costs low is shop from the bulk bins. I always get my nuts, seeds and dried fruit from there because I get only what I need and it saves a ton over buying them prepackaged. And I can always try a little bit of something new without worrying about wasting my money!

Have you ever tried papaya? What’s your best tip for saving money at the store?

WIAW: Monday’s Meals

Now that you’ve seen my meal prep, let’s see what I’ve done with all that food! These are all my meals from Monday, minus an afternoon snack of a pink lady apple and some homemade raw bites that I forgot to take a picture of because I ate them in my night class.

Let me start this post by talking a little more about Instagram. I know I’ve ranted about it in the past, but for me, it’s something I easily get sucked into even if I’m trying not to let it dictate my choices. A lot of the users I follow are raw vegans–even though the lifestyle is a little extreme (I don’t think all fats are bad, and I would like to try being more raw but not necessarily super low fat like most raw vegans), I find their viewpoint on food to be refreshing. They aren’t afraid of the carbs or sugar in fruit, and promote flexibility within the diet, but overall they’re committed to real, whole foods. So those users are positive influences on me. But then there are other users, who I stumble upon from the comments section of another user I follow, and I’m kinda pissed at what these people post. Every other picture is a Quest bar, and some even talk about how they don’t eat fruit after 2 pm because they don’t want the sugar in it to turn to fat. Disordered much? It just makes me so mad, and makes me question my own diet. Seriously, though, fruit is NOT bad and you shouldn’t feel afraid to eat it in the afternoon. And don’t preach ‘clean eating’ and ‘whole foods’ when all you eat is Quest bars and Walden Farms syrup. End rant.

Breakfast: frozen banana blended with romaine lettuce+Garden of Life raw protein powder for banana softserve, side of trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, homemade coconut bacon and raisins.

Breakfast: frozen banana blended with romaine lettuce+Garden of Life raw protein powder for banana softserve, side of trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, homemade coconut bacon and raisins.

Not an unusual breakfast for me. Actually, any breakfast not involving banana softserve is unusual. Yes, I still enjoy my cold breakfasts even into the winter. I just turn up the heat 😉

Lunch: random mix of kelp noodles, black beans, cauliflower, kraut and homemade spicy pumpkin sauce. Side of ataulfo mango and leftover homemade hannah yam fries.

Lunch: random mix of kelp noodles, black beans, cauliflower, kraut and homemade spicy pumpkin sauce. Side of ataulfo mango and leftover homemade hannah yam fries.

I love my lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because I can come home to my apartment and whip up something that I don’t have to scarf down in between classes or make the night before to take on campus. So I can have leisurely lunches like this random one above. Seriously, it sounds like a gross combo but somehow it all tasted good together.

Monday's outfit: black blazer (Charlotte Russe), black/pink patterned dress (Target), black tights (Target), black heeled suede booties (Target).

Monday’s outfit: black blazer (Charlotte Russe), black/pink patterned dress (Target), black tights (Target), black heeled suede booties (Target).

Monday’s outfit, brought to you by Target. But really, like most of this outfit came from Target. I honestly don’t buy clothes from there that much, but I love their cheap (and colorful) tights collection and adorable shoes. My mom happened to buy the dress for me, mostly to wear to work, but I love it as a dressier outfit for school too. I’m obsessed with the boots+tights+dress combo. I need more winter-appropriate dresses. The shoes were new, on clearance, and super cute but not the best for wearing on campus. I only had two classes on Monday, and I walked about 10 minutes from my car to class each way, but these were killing my feet. I just need to get better about walking in heels.

Dinner: salad of romaine lettuce, leftover Thai sweet potato veggie burger crumbles, raisins, pumpkin seeds, kraut and more homemade spicy pumpkin sauce.

Dinner: salad of romaine lettuce, leftover Thai sweet potato veggie burger crumbles, raisins, pumpkin seeds, kraut and more homemade spicy pumpkin sauce.

I’ve been on a roll with the random meals lately. Why do the most random combos always taste the best? I hate it because I can never remember exactly what was in the mix, so I can’t recreate it 100%. Like the pumpkin sauce in lunch and dinner. I remember pumpkin puree, almond milk, nooch, sea salt and some spices going into it. Maybe some sunflower butter too. It was so rich and creamy and just yum though. And it worked perfectly with the veggie burger crumbles and other toppings in this salad.

Dessert: successful take on the mug cake. Almond flour+coconut flour+stevia+a little baking soda+almond milk+stevia chocolate chips.

Dessert: successful take on the mug cake. Almond flour+coconut flour+stevia+a little baking soda+almond milk+stevia chocolate chips.

I’ve been seeing a lot of mug cake creations around lately and I wanted to make one again. I’ve whipped up a few in the past and they’ve always been an easy dessert option. This version was my attempt at a cookie cake. It was lighter and fluffier than a traditional cookie cake, and no where near as sweet (just sweetened with stevia) but still incredible. And definitely a more realistic dessert option for this baking-averse girl.

What’s the most random but delicious combo you’ve come up with? How do you feel about the ‘no fruit after 2 pm’ thing (or Instagram disordered eating in general)?

Meal Prep Monday

Remember my ‘vegan on a budget’ posts from last year and earlier this year? I was planning on bringing them back once school started back up in the fall but it’s been…3 months since school started and I haven’t done one of those posts yet. Oops. Anyways, it’s a little late to do them again now since I only have 4 more weeks left, including finals! Crazy talk.

I’ve still been keeping up with my grocery budgeting and meal prepping, though, and I wanted to showcase a little of that, especially because I did a LOT of it this weekend. I managed to spend under $70 total for the week at 3 different grocery stores, which is way better than I was doing last semester, and I’ve been loving my long weekends (I only have classes Monday through Thursday, so 3 days weekends every week for this girl…enjoying them while they last!) because they give me plenty of time to go shopping and get my food prep done for the week. Taking an almost full course load means that I don’t have a ton of time during the week to do this, so it’s a blessing to have 3 days to catch up on stuff, including prepping my meals.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen lately!

Groceries

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

I wasn’t planning on going to Sprouts this weekend, but when my friend said she needed to swing by there for a few things, I decided to tag along. I ended up getting some cheap organic Pink Lady apples (my favorite kind), Ataulfo mangoes (also my favorite) and Medjool dates. All for under $10. Afterwards I stopped at Natural Grocers, mostly because they’re the only store in my area that carries black bean pasta, which is a new high-protein staple for me. Unfortunately, they were all out but I still ended up buying a few things I needed wanted, like my favorite Hail Merry miracle tart, xylitol-sweetened gum, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seed butter–for under $15.

Whole Foods produce...

Whole Foods produce…

...and pantry staples.

…and pantry staples.

Whole Foods is a given, but luckily it hasn’t been a budget breaker lately. I’ve been able to spend under $50 there consistently if I also shop at another store, and I only spend around $60 if that’s the only place I shop for the week. I can’t complain! This week I bought two more expensive items (the stevia-sweetened chocolate chips and Skinnycrisps) but the chocolate chips were on sale and the Skinnycrisps I hadn’t had in months and I wanted to bring them home to have over Thanksgiving break. I was planning on buying Tessemae’s BBQ sauce (sweetened only with dates!) so I could make this ‘pulled’ BBQ cauliflower but they were all out so I just had to nix that recipe for this week. As usual, I got a ton of produce (bananas, pomegranates and persimmons on sale, romaine hearts, lime, cilantro, Hannah yams) and some other things I needed for recipes like organic peanuts from the bulk section (on sale!), raisins and yeast. And of course, a few Larabars for quick snacks during the week. This was all just under $45, score!

Meals

Some of these things I made before I did my grocery shopping, so I was kinda using up some things and getting creative. I ran out of nut butter on Wednesday I think so that was fun trying to find other fat sources in my pantry. It was nice to finally restock and have more fruit and snack-y stuff again.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut 'bacon', pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut ‘bacon’, pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

I already plowed through one of the Garden of Life protein powder tubs my dad bought me late last month and I’m onto the second. I definitely recommend this brand, especially their new coffee flavor (it’s only available at Whole Foods right now, though)–decent consistency, especially mixed with coconut flour, and great stats for a raw protein powder.

Lettuce wraps...for breakfast?

Lettuce wraps…for breakfast?

This was another recent breakfast, when I ran out of bananas so I couldn’t have my usual banana ‘softserve’, which is what I have like 90% of the time. Instead, I took some romaine hearts and filled them with dates, raisins and the last of my PB. The date/lettuce combo is seriously killer! I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good. I also had some Garden of Life protein powder mixed with almond milk on the side.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Before my grocery trips this weekend, my lunches were getting pretty random. I was basically throwing together some leftovers, like the black bean noodles and pumpkin curry sauce, with some add-ins like pomegranate seeds and sauerkraut. These lunches were actually really tasty and filling–I just love the sweet and salty combos!

Oh She Glows' Thai veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Oh She Glows’ Thai sweet potato veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+coconut aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Finally a more put-together meal! This was my take on Angela’s Thai-style veggie burger. I made a few changes to it though–I nixed the oats in favor of almond flour to make it grain free, I didn’t really measure anything, I only added in the spices/veggies that I had on hand like curry powder and cilantro and I topped mine with a sunflower seed butter sauce. These were pretty crumbly, but the flavor was spot-on and definitely the best homemade veggie burger I’ve ever had! I’m looking forward to leftovers all week..

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

As for the rest of meal prep, I cut up and stored the 2 organic pomegranates I scored at Whole Foods for just $2.50 (they were on sale 4 for $5)–always messy work but I’m obsessed with pomegranates so it’s all good–made another batch of homemade sweet potato fries out of one of the Hannah yams I bought, made some more PB&J bites and some healthy ‘rice krispies’ (cacao brown rice cereal made with coconut sugar+sunflower seed butter+1 tbsp maple syrup+1 scoop protein powder+some almond milk made into bars) to use up some brown rice cereal I had and I also made the chocolate-covered fruit and nut clusters above. It’s so simple it doesn’t even really need a recipe, and I have no idea where I came up with it, but it’s basically raw mixed nuts (mine were from Whole Foods) and raisins topped with the Lily’s stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips and set in the freezer to harden. I used the stevia chocolate so these would be sugar free, but feel free to use whatever dark chocolate you have on hand. These are really good, and they’d be the perfect simple holiday dessert, maybe made more festive with dried cranberries instead of raisins and peppermint-flavored dark chocolate?

Do you like to do meal prep on the weekends? What are some of your recent favorite food finds?

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What I’m Buying and What it’s For

So I know I just had a grocery shopping post the other day but this one isn’t so much about the budgeting (though I did stay under $60 for this weekend’s trips, which is a total win) as it is about what I bought and what it’s for. I love seeing people’s grocery shopping posts, especially if they’re sharing a meal plan or recipes to go along with that. So here’s what I bought this weekend, and what it’ll be used for.

Sprouts buys.

Sprouts buys.

Sprouts

What I Got

  • plantain: sauteeing in coconut oil for burrito filling
  • dates: stuffing with nut butter, some for recipes
  • unsweetened apple butter: healthier alternative to jam
  • almond flour: making grain free pancakes/waffles and using in homemade veggie burgers
  • raw cashews: cilantro cashew cream for burritos and raw jalapeno poppers (!)
  • jalapenos: raw jalapeno poppers
  • cilantro: cashew cream
  • baking soda: pantry staple
  • lite coconut milk: have on hand for quick curries, etc.
Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods

What I Got

  • frozen gluten free pizza dough: making easy GF cinnamon rolls
  • unsweetened ketchup: dipping sweet potato fries, tempeh, etc.
  • organic unrefined virgin coconut oil: baking, sauteeing, moisturizer (P.S. buy the Whole Foods brand, it’s way cheaper!)
  • Justin’s vanilla AB squeeze packs: bringing with me for weekends at home
  • organic dark chocolate chips: snacking, baking
  • canned black olives: burrito filling
  • organic lemon mints: I’m trying to stop my sugar free gum habit, and these are pretty natural (and tasty) mints to replace that with
  • Rudi’s gluten free spinach tortillas: burritos, vegan enchiladas, homemade tortilla chips?
  • romaine and green leaf lettuce: salads for the week
  • organic garnet yams: snacks during the week

Obviously a lot of this stuff (other than the produce) will last a lot longer than this week so I actually did really well on the budgeting front as well, especially spending under $40 at Whole Foods. And in case you couldn’t tell from the lists, smothered burritos are on my meal plan for a couple dinners this week (these look amazing!), as are salads for lunches and almond flour pancakes for a few breakfasts. Oh, and I’m trying out raw jalapeno poppers, so stay tuned for a recipe! I’m really liking having a set idea for what to make so I know exactly what I have to buy that week.

Do you like to plan out meals for the week ahead of time? What’s the most fun or delicious dinner you’ve had or will have soon?

Five for Friday

I haven’t completely given up on Friday Faves posts, even though it probably seems like it! I just felt like going with a different approach this Friday so hopefully it’s just as fun as usual!

Five Things I Have to do This Week

1) Call in for jury duty. Ummmmm, yeah, I totally got assigned jury duty next Monday. No bueno, but luckily I don’t have any major assignments due then. I am really really hoping I don’t actually get called in because it’s super inconvenient, probably boring and I have to pay $1 an hour for parking. Uh, what?!

2) Write a 2100 word paper. I know I’m doing a liberal arts major and minor, and I don’t mind writing, but that’s a lot of words, plus it requires research. It’s a little dumb too because it’s for a journalism class and I know for a fact that as someone going into the broadcast field, I will never have to write anything even close to that many words. Try more like 50 words or less per story. Oh well…

3) Prepare my first weather forecast. I am really pumped for this one! Because of special programming the last two weeks, I wasn’t assigned to do weather on my news night. But this week is my first week going live, and I’m super excited. Hopefully I can write up a script that is at least somewhat decent…but honestly, I’d rather ad lib the weather like I did for our practice week.

4) Grocery shop. Is it lame that I’m excited about this too?! Whatever, I like to go grocery shopping. I have to finalize my list tonight and then tomorrow’s the big day. I’m hoping I won’t stray too far from the list…

5) Meal prep. Another exciting one, and my first time actually purposely prepping food for multiple meals. I don’t always have time during the week to whip up a single serving lunch or dinner, so making some things ahead of time will be a big time saver. A few things on my list to make: tofu nuggets, pumpkin maple bean cornbread casserole, pineapple coconut flour shortbread squares and dark chocolate-covered edamame. Yes, I realize two of those things on that list are desserts–gotta keep my priorities straight, right 😉

Don’t these look amazing? Photo courtesy of The Veggie Nook.

Five New Finds I’m Loving

1) Whole Foods vegan chocolate mousse. Okay, if you see a little cup of this in the prepared desserts section of your Whole Foods, buy it. Immediately. I’m not kidding. This stuff is straight-up, chocolate-y crack. It’s mind-blowingly creamy and rich, so you only need to eat a little at a time. And it’s only $2.99, so it’s fairly cheap. I’m thinking it’ll make the perfect frosting for my protein microwave cakes.

2) Mrs. Dash fiesta lime seasoning. This stuff is a great way to add Mexican flair to everything (I love it on black beans) without any salt.

3) Coconut flour. I got mine in bulk from Sprouts, so it was extremely cheap. It works great in protein cakes, smoothies and I want to try it in pancakes and waffles. I know it’s hard to use in vegan recipes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try to make it work.

A protein cake made with coconut flour, flax, vanilla protein powder, almond milk and topped with raisins and cacao nibs.

4) Almond Breeze unsweetened almond coconut milk. I’ve been on the lookout for this since I first heard about it and I finally found it at Target. It’s a little thicker than almond milk, with a hint of coconut taste. I really wish they’d come out with an unsweetened vanilla version in refrigerated though.

5) Kelp noodles. I’ve enjoyed these three ways: Italian (red sauce, nooch, olives and crumbled veggie burger), Asian (peanut flour sauce, peppers) and cheezy (nooch, cashews). The Italian was definitely my fave, but I really loved them all. The noodles really take on whatever flavors you mix them with, and they’ve got a slight crunch which is cool.

Five Frustrating Things

1) Bicyclists who run red lights. Seriously, guys, us drivers have to constantly be watching out for you, and it’s not cool when you ignore traffic rules.

2) Having random pains. Since Wednesday, my right ankle hurts when I go downstairs, and now my lower back aches, and there’s some pain behind my left knee sometimes when I walk or workout. Yeah, I’m kind of a mess right now. Luckily I can still do all my normal stuff but it’s just annoying.

3) So many assignments due next week. I get it, the semester’s already underway and all that, but I’d like a little break from all the homework, readings and papers.

4) Getting sucky parking spaces. I’ve actually been pretty lucky this week with parking. I parked in the garage most of the week for school and usually got a space on the third level, so it was nice and covered. But parking at the apartment complex can be hell. I lucked on out Wednesday night and got a decently close spot, even though I got back around 8:45 pm. But most days, if I get back anytime after 3 (which happens pretty much every day), I have to park kinda far away. Not a big deal, just annoying.

I don’t like having to park Alejandro far away from me…

5) Super hot classrooms. Seriously, I have class in this one room that feels like 110 degrees. No joke. It’s hot enough outside but even hotter inside. We should just have class outside. I always crank up my A/C once I get back to my apartment after that class.

What’s one thing that’s frustrated you this week? What’s your favorite alternative flour (like nut or gluten-free flours)?