WIAW: Adios, Junior Year

First things first–yes, I did change my blog design after at least a year and a half with the previous one. I just needed something new, plus I like the sidebar ‘about me’ things everybody has and the old design wouldn’t let me do that! 

I’ve been waiting for this day all year. Well, maybe not, but I’ve definitely been for at least the past month or so! The last day of my junior year of college is TODAY…and how crazy is that? I remember when college felt sooooo far away, and now I’m really close to graduation. Scary stuff.

I know my blogging’s been pretty sporadic anyways for the past few weeks but it’s gonna get even more infrequent in the next week or so. First of all, I’m moving back a lot of my stuff this afternoon and moving home for the summer. Then my family’s driving back up here this weekend to load everything else up and my mom will be doing some epic cleaning (maybe not that dramatic) so I can turn in my keys to my complex for the summer and end my lease. It’s a pain to have to move everything out, only to move it back in again in August, but I’d rather not pay the extra rent just to keep my stuff here for the summer. And then next week is when I hopefully start my internship, so it’ll be a whirl of paperwork, a drug test and plenty of excitement. And there’s a doctor’s appointment thrown in there as well, so it all makes for quite a crazy several days. So I’m really sorry if I don’t post here too much or comment on all of your blogs but I will be back as soon as the craziness dies down.

What wasn’t too crazy was the meals I enjoyed over the past week. Well, unless you consider a lot of random experimenting to be crazy, but all I know is it was delicious. And I had plenty of fun, despite finals week and moving out looming. Hey, I only had one actual final exam this semester, so paper writing and projects were the name of the  game, and a little less stressful than studying.

Bringing back an old favorite from last summer: pineapple 'fried' quinoa.

Bringing back an old favorite from last summer: pineapple ‘fried’ quinoa.

I’m doing my best to embrace the healthy grains again. I have to say I prefer the ‘ancient’, gluten free, psuedo-grains such as quinoa and buckwheat, for their stellar nutritional profile and higher protein, not to mention their deliciousness. I had some leftover quinoa in my fridge from a couple of weeks ago, and I remembered how much I used to love this random stirfry I threw together for the first time last year around my birthday. The best part about it is it’s totally customizable, so I threw in the last of my frozen edamame (I’m trying to finish up or toss things that aren’t as easily transportable before I move home), orange cauliflower, spinach, curry powder, coconut aminos (way better than soy sauce!) and fresh pineapple was a given. Not too far off from the original, and topped with sprouted pumpkin seeds and cashew butter, it was a total winner dinner.

Pineapple fried quinoa leftovers in a nori wrap, side of Thai lemon curry cashews.

Pineapple fried quinoa leftovers in a nori wrap, side of Thai lemon curry cashews.

And the little bit I had leftover made the perfect nori filling for lunch one day. I think I’ve been loving on the Asian and Mexican flavors a lot lately, between my homemade guac obsession to constantly resupplying my pantry with those addicting Thai lemon curry cashews. Maybe I could combine the two and create a Mexican stirfry or an Asian taco…

Poooool time. Pool > studying. Sorryimnotsorry.

Poooool time. Pool > studying. Sorryimnotsorry.

My apartment complex does have a pool, but they’ve been slacking on opening it up (uh, kinda late there, management. Almost everyone’s moving out this week…) so when my friend invited me to her complex’s pool on Monday, I jumped on the chance to lay out. Honestly, I usually just lay out by the pool versus actually swimming, but I did go in it a few times just to cool off. Guys, I’m so happy. We finally have my dream weather, aka 80s and sunny. With afternoon thunderstorms. Basically, it’s finally summertime in Colorado.

A not-so-pretty carrot cake protein pancake (mix of garbanzo flour+peanut flour with shredded carrot and cinnamon in the batter) topped with chopped dried fig and coconut butter crumbles.

A not-so-pretty carrot cake protein pancake (mix of garbanzo flour+peanut flour with shredded carrot and cinnamon in the batter) topped with chopped dried fig and coconut butter crumbles.

I don’t get how some people make their protein pancakes look so perfect. I do okay with multiple, small-sized pancakes but a full size one is just asking for trouble. I thought I waited long enough to flip, but part of the top crumbled off so I cooked it in two pieces. It luckily didn’t burn, but it certainly wasn’t round or anything, and parts of the inside were still undercooked. It tasted great, but my pancakes skills need some work…

Quinoa flour+chocolate Sunwarrior protein waffle. Topped with strawberries, cacao nibs and coconut butter.

Quinoa flour+chocolate Sunwarrior protein waffle. Topped with strawberries, cacao nibs and coconut butter.

…which is why I stick to waffles. Sometimes they don’t quite hold up, but if I get the ratios just right, they turn out pretty perfect and intact. This one was a bit crumbly, but it mostly stayed together, and it tasted great, which is what really counts. Protein waffles are hard to make vegan, so I’m proud that most of mine aren’t complete disasters.

I love the sun.

I love the sun.

I’m glad I stuck through the crappy weather we got in April (and foot of snow on May 1st…thanks but no thanks, Mother Nature!) because it is absolutely gorgeous now! Like I said, 80 degree temperatures, lots of sun, minimal wind (but enough of a breeze to keep you cool) and the trees are blooming after being freaked by weird cold weather. And the grass, at least here in my college town, is nice and green after getting enough precipitation last month. If you’ve ever been to Colorado, you know that the grass here is generally brown because it’s basically a high altitude desert. I’ll be going back to brown lawns today (my hometown wasn’t blessed with as much snow) but I’m hoping we get some nice afternoon rains to keep the fire danger low and makes the grass nice.

Random but surprisingly good snack: half an avocado sprinkled with stevia, topped with organic crunchy PB, cacao nibs and coconut shreds.

Random but surprisingly good snack: half an avocado sprinkled with stevia, topped with organic crunchy PB, cacao nibs and coconut shreds.

I can’t remember where I first saw the idea for a sweet avocado, but I was really intrigued by it. I’ve really only used avos in guac, and had them raw in salads, but topping my avo with something other than lime juice or salt seemed weird. But I decided to try it with one of my favorite flavor combos (PB+cacao nibs+coconut) and it was actually really amazing. The key is a perfectly ripe avocado, so the flavor isn’t too overpowering. I still don’t like avocados plain (to me, they either need salt or something sweet to taste like anything) but now I have a new way of enjoying them!

Peanutty kelp noodles with romaine and carrots.

Peanutty kelp noodles with romaine and carrots.

Kelp noodles are still a favorite of mine, but especially now that it’s so warm and I prefer to do as little cooking as possible. I love that kelp noodles are raw, and they work out perfectly in salads, like this one. I used up some of my PB2 for the dressing (I finally finished the jar, and I’m glad it’s over because I did not like it, especially compared to real peanut flour), and added in carrots and romaine lettuce, aka the last of the produce I had until I went grocery shopping later that day.

Always need to have an awkward selfie.

Always need to have an awkward selfie.

The problem with poolside selfies is that A) I’m wearing a bikini which is super awks in a photo (and already sporting a sunburn) and B) I can’t really see my phone screen in the sun, so I end up taking them from a weird angle and usually have a weird face in them. #firstworldproblems

The best dessert/breakfast ever. Coconut cream (scooped off top of full fat coconut milk from fridge) blended with chocolate Sunwarrior protein powder and frozen banana chunks, topped with fresh strawberries and half a crumbled chocolate coconut Kit's Organic bar.

The best dessert/breakfast ever. Coconut cream (scooped off top of full fat coconut milk from fridge) blended with chocolate Sunwarrior protein powder and frozen banana chunks, topped with fresh strawberries and half a crumbled chocolate coconut Kit’s Organic bar.

This is like a super-rich mousse, but the best part is that it’s perfectly acceptable for breakfast, because it’s protein-packed. There was 16 grams alone in just the Sunwarrior, plus a few extra grams from the other ingredients and toppings. It’s also no added sugar, just the natural sugars from the fruits (the Kit’s bars are just date sweetened, like Larabars) and the stevia in the Sunwarrior, so it makes for a healthy dessert option that isn’t too sweet. And it’s so easy to make if you have a food processor, just add in the protein powder, coconut cream and frozen bananas (optional, but add a little sweetness and coldness) to the processor, blend, and top away! I’ve enjoyed this twice this week, once as a dessert and once as breakfast and it was perfect for either occasion. I only wish I had more coconut cream to make it again!

Any new breakfasts you’ve been trying out? What’s your ideal weather conditions?

Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Thank you guys again for all your amazing, thoughtful comments on my clean eating post! I feel like it’s a well-intentioned goal of a lot of bloggers out there, especially former ED sufferers, but it can get out of hand way too easily and a life of balance is a lot easier and healthier to manage!

It’s kind of ironic, then, that I’m posting a very ‘clean’ recipe today. I really do think that eating ‘clean’ or healthy will be something I’ll want to do most of the time, obviously not the point of obsession, but just enough to feel healthy, happy and balanced. And actually, this recipe is challenging one of my old ED fears–fats. I used to be terrified of them to the point that I’d meticulously measure out a teaspoon of almond butter, and that was the bulk of my fats for the day. Luckily, I’ve come around and started to embrace all the wonderful and healthy plant-based fats, most recently coconut. Now I love sauteing my veggies in coconut oil and sprinkling coconut shreds over everything and anything.

But raw desserts in general still challenge me, which is why I’m making it a goal of mine to incorporate more raw recipes into my life. That sounds like it’s restrictive, and it could be, but for me it won’t be because I need to see that nuts and seeds and coconut won’t make me blow up like a balloon. Raw desserts are much less processed than typical desserts, and preserve more of the nutrients in the ingredients than healthified desserts, but they don’t shy away from plant-based fats. However, I really adore raw desserts, whether homemade, store-bought or from a restaurant, so I really want to experiment with them more often. I do have a few raw desserts I’ve made before, as you can see from my recipes tab but I want to try all new flavor combos.

So pumpkin is generally thought of as a fall food, and seeing as it’s winter (and nearly spring, yay!) it may not be as fitting but it’s still just as delicious. And pumpkin puree is usually available in grocery stores year round, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find any of these ingredients. If you’d rather, you can use other squash purees but just make this mousse…you won’t regret it!

This tastes like real pumpkin pie...but it's all raw!

This tastes like real pumpkin pie…but it’s all raw!

Pumpkin Pie Mousse (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free)

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 12 hours (I soaked mine for 2 days)

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp raw honey (not technically vegan, but I use it because it’s raw and healthier than other sugar sources)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and vanilla extract, to taste

In a food processor/high powered blender, process soaked and rinsed cashews for at least a minute, or until they become creamy and smooth. You may need to add up to 1 tbsp of water to smooth out. Add in melted coconut oil, honey, pumpkin and spices and blend until combined. Serve chilled topped with shredded coconut, raisins, raw crushed pecans or coconut milk whipped cream. Makes 2 large servings. 

Do you enjoy raw desserts? Is pumpkin a fall food or a year-round food for you? 

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #42. 

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)?