Trying New Things

Thanks for all the wonderful compliments and suggestions you all left on my last post! You sure do know how to make me smile.

I have some exciting news–another product review! Like I said in my Coach’s Oats review, I really love reading other people’s product reviews and getting to do my own. Trying out new things is always fun, and the worst that can happen is you don’t like a product.

This product review is kind of a continuation from NaNeFoMo that I did way back in December. I still have a few things on my original list that I have yet to try (kombucha and vegan marshmallows) but that doesn’t mean I’m not up for adding new things to the list. Since that post, I’ve tried tons of other new-to-me things, like kale chips and parsnips, and have liked them all. Now I want to tackle two more things that I’ve seen in the blog world many times (and have drooled over) and finally got the chance to try myself: nutritional yeast and flavored liquid stevia!

Nutritional yeast, or nooch, is something I’ve known about almost since I started reading blogs. At first, it kinda freaked me out–a cheesy powder that you can add to things to boost the protein, fiber and vitamin content? Most people seemed to like it, so I finally took the plunge and ordered it from Amazon, after passing it over in the Whole Foods bulk section because it was so flippin’ expensive. Luckily, I only spent about $4 pre-shipping online, and I got a pretty large container of it.

Why did I wait so long to try you?

The brand I ordered was Red Star. I honestly don’t know if there’s a difference between brands. I opened it up, and it didn’t really smell too strongly or anything, so I took a little taste of it. To me, it doesn’t so much taste cheesy as it does nutty, which is maybe a good thing. I’m actually super excited to try it out as a topping on plain popcorn, as well as in some kind of vegan cheeze sauce. Maybe I’ll even give it a whirl in some savory oats or in homemade nut butter cups (I’ve heard nooch adds a texture to the nut butter than makes it like the filling of Reese’s). Anyways, I think it’ll be a good staple in my diet, seeing as I’m mostly vegan and can always use a little protein/vitamin B boost.

I also ordered some flavored liquid stevia from Amazon. When I was restocking on peanut flour last week from iHerb, I was looking through the liquid stevia they sell and they’re pretty expensive–almost as much as what I’ve seen them sell for at WF. When I saw a trial 4-pack of flavors from SweetLeaf for only $12, I jumped on it. When they arrived, I wasn’t expecting them to be so tiny (each bottle is only 4 ml, or about the size of my thumb) but I guess you get what you pay for.

These bottles kinda look like eye drops...

The flavors it came with were vanilla creme, lemon drop, Valencia orange and chocolate raspberry. I sampled a drop of each one on their own, and was surprised by how bitter they were compared to powdered stevia. I’m thinking it’s something I’ll get used to though, especially when using them in things. I tried a few drops of the vanilla creme in my peach tea, and it tasted pretty good, though I probably could have used a few more drops to add some sweetness. I think these will be perfect to add flavor to plain oats and plain Greek yogurt.

So overall, I’m glad I invested in these new-to-me products and I can’t wait to really try them out in a bunch of different things! Oh and speaking of new products…has anyone seen this?

I'm already obsessed, and I haven't even tried one yet!

Yep, I’m a Pure Bar addict and I need to get my hands on this new dark chocolate berry flavor ASAP!

Do you like nooch or flavored liquid stevia? Any suggestions for how to use them?

WIAW: The One With the New Products

Happy Wednesday everyone! Or should I say, happy first day of February! I am so so so glad we are done with January, it’s always one of my least favorite months because it’s smack dab in the middle of winter (hate winter!) and just seems to drag on. February’s always a short month, even this year with an extra day, and always is a little more exciting. Especially because it’s one month closer to spring–can you tell I just want winter to be over?

So today is obviously the first WIAW of the new month, and to celebrate that, I have my reviews of some new-to-me products that I recently tried. I mentioned a few of them in my last WIAW, but since then, I’ve tried even more new products! I just love trying out new things and seeing what I like and don’t like. If I paid for my own groceries, I would definitely be at Whole Foods on a weekly basis scoping out new products…or maybe not, since that could get a little expensive! What can I say, I have expensive tastes 😉

Peas and Crayons

First up, Smart Bacon. Now, you all know how much I love my Morningstar spicy vegetarian sausage patties in the A.M. (or even at night, letsbehonest) but a girl needs to switch it up every once in a while. I like to have a protein source at breakfast to keep me going through long mornings spent in classes and walking around campus, so these give me a little protein boost (4 grams in 2 slices) and taste delicious. A little too salty, but I love them. I make them super-crispy in my microwave because I hate squishy soft bacon. I’m not sure if this tastes like real bacon, since I haven’t had that in years but it’s still pretty yummy.

It really is smart!

This is the only product I tried that isn’t vegan, but it is vegetarian-friendly and amazing–Arctic Zero! I know it seems like a ‘diet-y’ thing, but I honestly loved this product more than froyo. I got the mint chocolate flavor, and it was the perfect consistency and taste after a quick zap in the microwave. Now, maybe I loved it because I actually like the taste of sorbet, but it was actually amazing for being only 150 calories in an entire pint. I was only able to eat half the pint in one sitting because it was pretty filling, but I would buy it again in a heartbeat–probably in the coffee flavor since I’m a coffee-holic. I liked that it had almost 8 grams of protein in the serving I had!

One of the best frozen desserts I've ever had!

I’m a dried fruit fiend, so when I saw these two products, I just had to have them. I really need to invest in a dehydrator ASAP because I’m spending an arm and a leg buying all this dried fruit. It’s so worth it though. First, Crunchies are my favorite freeze-dried fruit. I love their mixed fruit and cinnamon apple slices, so when I saw the tropical fruit mix at Sunflower Market, I snapped it up! It’s got freeze-dried bananas, strawberries, oranges, mangos and pineapples and is amazing. Anything tropical is, just saying. I also got some dried mango slices when my mom and I made our first trip to Sprouts and I love it! It’s so hard to find dried fruit that is just fruit, with no added sugars or oils, so when I found these I was super pumped. Oh, and I don’t know if all of you have heard of Sprouts before–it’s basically a smaller version of Whole Foods that just has stores in Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Definitely check them out if you have one near you–I thought it was a pretty cool store. Sunflower Market is basically the same, but it also has stores in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. I still can’t wait to get a Trader Joes here, though!

I'm basically obsessed with tropical fruits.

It was cheap, but that's only because there's not very much of it!

Actually, I kinda lied saying that the Arctic Zero was the only non-vegan product too. This KIND bar isn’t either, because it has honey in it, but I know that the honey debate is a big deal in the vegan community. Personally, I think it’s okay as long as the honey is raw and organic but that’s just me. Obviously I’m not a strict vegan because I still have dairy (in Greek yogurt form) maybe once or twice a week, but I’m working towards it because I think it’s a lifestyle that would work well for me, since it has so far. Anyways, I picked up the Peanut Butter & Strawberry on a whim, since I’ve never tried a KIND bar before. I like the simple ingredients and the fact that this variety has 7 grams of protein–not too shabby! And pretty much, it tasted exactly like a PB&J sandwich. I loved the crunch of the almonds and peanuts and it’s definitely another bar to add to my ever-expanding stash!

A high protein PB&J in bar form.

So next week, I have a special WIAW in the works, so look for that! I know I’m excited about it, but I’m weird like that 😛

Can't forget the outfit of the week! Red/navy plaid shirt (Abercrombie), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), unpictured brown suede boots (DSW).

What is the best product you’ve recently tried? Do you like shopping at small health food stores?

Saturday Seven: Counting Down Already?

Hi guys! It’s my first weekend back at school and I can already say that I think I may be overwhelmed this semester! Not that I haven’t thought that pretty much every semester of my school career, but this one looks like it might kick my butt if I don’t stay on top of things.

The classes, while probably difficult, are at least hopefully interesting. I’ve got a broadcast news class–what I’m majoring in and want to do with my life (and apparently it’s a very popular class…there’s a gigantic waiting list)–a business reporting class, a studio production workshop class, an American environmental history class, a class on the history of U.S. national parks and a weather & climate class. So, all things I’m interested in (journalism, U.S. history and weather) but this is my first semester taking all 300 and 400 level classes, aka I’m one of the only sophomores in most of them! Which is fine, but I can definitely predict them being a challenge.

1. Colorado’s getting a Trader Joe’s!

These look like tasty veggie burgers!

I actually mentioned this in one of my most recent Saturday Seven posts and just the other day on my Twitter. I was sooooo upset that TJs had no future plans for a store in Colorado, but then a few nights ago on the news and two days ago on the Coloradoans for Trader Joe’s Facebook page, it’s apparently official that they’re coming to good old CO sometime soon. Of course, the first location will be in Boulder, but I don’t care that it’s 2 hours from home (or an hour from my college campus)–I am dragging my parents there as soon as it opens! I can’t wait to try all the amazing products that everyone in the blog world raves about!

2. I’m already counting down to spring break

This is where I spent my spring break 2 years ago--any guesses where I was?

Yes, I’m fully aware that school just started, but can you blame me for wanting a break already? The weather here, despite being fairly warm for winter, still isn’t as great as spring (or summer) weather and I’m longing for the days when I can wear skirts with bare legs again, and reunite with my flip-flop collection. Until then, I’ll just be inside, bundled up, counting down the days til spring break (only 35 school days left!)

3. I need this puppy in my life…stat!

Who could resist this little face?

I got a daily calendar of cute animals for Christmas, and this is by far the cutest thing I’ve seen in it! I just want to keep this little guy forever and ever. I used to think I hated little dogs, but this is one of the most adorable dogs ever! If I can’t have a greyhound (dream dog), I’ll settle for a cute Chihuahua!

4. I have a new drink obsession

Mmmmm, Country Peach Passion tea!

I used to be a hardcore hot tea hater. I could only stand iced tea, which is ironically my drink of choice during the summer (preferably flavored and sweetened only with Truvia). Once I tried the Celestial Seasonings candy cane lane and sugar cookie sleigh ride teas, however, I was hooked! Before heading back up to school, I grabbed the fruit variety pack sampler and hoped these teas would be just as amazing. And…they are! I especially love the peach one, since it reminds me of summer, but the true blueberry and wild berry zinger ones are also winners. The acai mango zinger flavor is on my list of flavors to try!

5. I’m really loving this song right now

I don’t know why, but this song just makes me super happy! It doesn’t hurt that Enrique is a super-sexy beast 😉 I just bought it the other day, and every time I listen to it, I pretend that I’m the star of a movie and this song is the soundtrack. Anyone else ever do that with songs? It’s just me then?

6. Trying out new products is the highlight of my life

Just a few of the new products in my life!

Ever since NaNeFoMo, I’ve been more motivated than ever to try out new foods! On my back-to-school shopping trips, I bought a bunch of new-to-me things, including blood oranges, Amy’s bistro burgers and vegan soups, organic refried pinto beans with chile and lime, Lightlife vegan smart bacon, Ezekiel sprouted corn tortillas and Archer Farms frozen grilled peppers. What I’ve tried so far has been amazing, and I can’t wait to sample the rest. The only way you can find out if you like something is to try it!

7. The only two things on my wishlist: an apartment and a car

The Mini Cooper: (one of my) dream cars.

Even though I signed the lease for my apartment next year a month or so ago, I’m still nervous that something will fall through and I’ll have to do the dorm thing again, which is NOT okay with me. I did it for a year and a half, and I’m already so done with it. I need a kitchen and more independence, ya know? And a car…well, that’s also a big one. I could live without it if I had an apartment, but I’d prefer to have one so I could actually go places on my own without relying on other people. Of course, I have a few cars on my dream list, but I’d be perfectly okay with any safe, working car!

What is the best new product you’ve tried lately? What is your ‘dream’ car?

Who New?

Heeeeeeey there! Glad to see there was a lot of Whole Foods lovin’ going on around here. I will hopefully be getting my cook/bake on in less than 2 weeks and making some or all of those things.

So lately in my life there’s been a lot of new stuff, which is always fun and exciting. So obviously, I had to make a little play on words (get it–who knew…who new…new things?) because that’s how I roll. So lets run down the list of new-ish things, shall we?

Who new…voluminous oats could change my life?

Dark chocolate java raspberry almond voluminous oats. Probably the best combo I've ever created, just sayin'.

Ignore the crapalicious quality of the pic, it was taken at like 9 pm. Cinnamon raisin voluminous oats. See how much they fill up the bowl?

 Ever since I discovered the joy of oats, I’ve been hooked. I’ve been whipping up overnight oats almost every day since this May, and I haven’t gotten sick of them yet. But…no more. I found CCK’s Voluminous Oatmeal Trick and I’ve abandoned my beloved overnighters in favor of thick, fluffy, volume-filled oats. Sure, I still eat them cold (for some reason, they are just SO good that way) but now they actually take a little prep work, which I don’t mind at all. Sure, they tend to spill in the micro which is annoying, but who wouldn’t want double the oats for the same amount of calories? I was shocked at the amount of oats my usual 1/4 cup made when I used this method. And the texture is pure awesomeness. Do I miss my overnighters? Well, yeah, but not enough to quit my addiction to voluminous oats!

Who new…Iron Chef America would do a challenge with oatmeal?

Okay, okay, so this episode isn’t exactly new (I found out it was from the 2010 season) but I just saw it for the first time on the Food Network a week or so ago. Usually, they do things like exotic veggies or something, but oatmeal? So cool to see for a self-proclaimed oats lover like me.

Who new…I’d have issues signing up for next semester’s classes?

My schedule so far. I'm still waiting on one class...

 Honestly, making your class schedule in college is way less stressful than in high school, at least at my university. But this year, I was freaking out because I need this one class to get an internship at a TV station this summer, and it’s a class mostly for juniors and seniors. I’m a sophomore. So I had to sign up for classes later, because of my class standing. A few days before my sign up date, there were only 4 slots out of 18 left. The day before, there were 2. And when I finally signed up for it, there was exactly one left. Yep, I got the last spot! I was so ecstatic to get it that I texted my dad about it. But signing up for other ones was more of a hassle. I need an additional comp class, and it’s a 300 level, so I thought I’d be able to get in no problem. Well…it wouldn’t let me, since I’m not a junior or senior. Urgh, what classes do they expect me to take then? I’ve already got most of my graduation requirements done or currently being finished. A lot of upper level journalism classes were already filled or didn’t work with the class I already signed up for. In the end, I’m taking two American history classes (for my option area, which is like a minor but less official), broadcast news and a weather and climate class (I’m considering being a TV meteorologist!). I also finally got into a TV studio production class that I needed an override for and I’m waiting on a business reporting workshop class to open up. If I get that, my spring semester looks pretty decent, no real math or science classes and a lot of journalism and history, which I love.

Who new…you can make a healthified sopapilla with just two ingredients?

Vintage-ized "sopapilla" picture.

 I can’t remember if I’ve ever actually had a sopapilla (maybe in a Spanish class fiesta a long time ago), but it wasn’t on my agenda to recreate one…but I did. A few nights ago, I was having a brown rice tortilla and on the side I had a little bit of honey. I was planning on making a wrap with the tortilla, honey, almond butter and butternut squash, but then I remembered how easily the tortillas fall apart. So I just ended up putting the honey in the tortilla, folding it over and well, it reminded me of a sopapilla for some reason! I mean, it actually does seem pretty similar to one, only way more healthy. Brown rice tortillas are pretty chewy like fried dough and putting honey on it sweetens it up just like with a real sopapilla. But you can feel good about eating this 2 ingredient “sopapilla” because it’s gluten-free, not fried and sweetened with just a little raw honey (well, if you use the ingredients I did). It makes a perfect little sweet snack.

Who new…cauliflower could be purple?

Purple overload! Purple cauliflower in a purple mini colander.

 I gotta admit, I was pretty weirded out myself when I first saw it at Whole Foods. But they were giving out samples of raw colored cauli and I just had to try it. It’s actually the same as regular cauliflower, just prettier. I always eat my cauli raw because it’s delish that way, especially dipped in spicy salsa!

Who new…I’d actually order something from iHerb?

My iHerb goodies. I Picnik'd this photo, in case you were wondering why it looks weird!

I’ve been dying to try ordering something from iHerb, but never got up the nerve until I saw a $5 off code I could use on my first order. Well, I knew right away what my first purchase would be–PB2! I have always wanted to try it, but didn’t really want to pay a lot for shipping and stuff on Amazon. With the $5 off, the chocolate PB2 was basically free, except for a measly $2 for shipping. Not half bad! And the verdict: so yummy! I think it’s fairly similar to peanut flour (probably my next purchase) and the chocolate doesn’t overpower the peanutty taste. And I love that it was so cheap. Overall, I really had a good experience with iHerb…and they included a little freebie in my package–some weird mushroom-infused coffee. Ermmmm, what? I guess I’ll try it, but I’m expecting to gag 😛

Oh, and P.S. for any of you who want to check out iHerb for the first time, you can use the code NOQ779. You can thank me later 😉 Just kidding, but iHerb is my new go-to for foodie finds.

And finally, thanks to the beautiful Brittany who awarded me with the Liebster award! How nice of her 😀

 

Liebster’ is German for ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite.’ The idea behind this award is to bring attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers and show some support.
The rules of winning this award are as follows:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Post the award on your blog.

4. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!

So I’m gonna give it to… Chloe at LightOnMyFeet, Aja at Writing and Recovering, Michelle at Oats ‘n Bows, Kat at A Dash of Fairydust and Ragnhild at Vegan Aphrodite.

What’s new with you? Have you ever bought anything from iHerb?

WNTITOW (What New Things I Tried Out Wednesday)

It’s time for another addition of… WIAW!!!!!!! Except this time, I’m not going to be showing what I ate today or yesterday (mostly because I forgot to take pictures 😉 ). Instead, I’ll be reviewing new products I recently bought and let you know what I think about them. So here we go!

Peas and Crayons

BEAUTY/HOME

Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Mascara (Target)

No, the computer was not included!

Verdict: It was okay, I thought it would actually give my eyelashes a false lash effect but I’m starting to realize that it’s probably physically impossible for a mascara to do that. I think I’m gonna stick with my Maybelline XXL Pro Extensions mascara in the future.

Jewelry Tree (Target)

Ignore the random stuff in the background haha

 
Verdict: Perfect! I used to store all my jewelry in the cute little cloth bags they give you at American Eagle when you buy jewelry and it all got tangled up. Now I have a pretty decoration that keeps my jewelry organized. Plus it was only $10!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rimmel London Eye Crayon (Target)

I love pink, but I'd like a silver crayon better...

 Verdict: I love how easy it is to apply and that it’s so versatile (it works as eyeliner and eyeshadow!) It’s less messy and sticky than cream shadows but it does smear a little in the creases. Now I really want to find a silver one…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray (Walmart)
 

Haha love the shower curtain in the background

 Verdict: I love this stuff! I’ve been looking all over for a sea salt spray to enhance my natural waves and give me a beachy look. This smells great, works great and is a lot cheaper than most other sea salt sprays.

FOOD/RECIPES

EVOL Mini Veggie Fajita Burrito (Whole Foods)

It's such a cute vegan lunch!

Verdict: It’s so little, so it makes a perfect snack or part of a small lunch (like I did). I love that it’s vegan and the tortilla is soooooo good! I just wish it was easier to find in other stores.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kashi TLC Zesty Salsa Pita Crisps (Target)

Kashi makes pita chips? Say whaaaaaat?!

 Verdict: I love almost anything Kashi, so when I saw these at Target, I had to snap them up. I tried one yesterday and I loved the flavor. The texture wasn’t quite as crispy as a pita chip but it was still good. 

Freeze-Dried Mango Crunchies

Crunchy mango? Yes please!

 Verdict: Ummmm, can I marry these? Lol, just kidding but these are SO good and I love that they are just made of freeze-dried mangos with no added sugar or anything. I’ve probably eaten half the bag already and I just got them yesterday. They are crunchy, so if you aren’t used to that, it might seem weird but they’re so good.

Raw Brownie Recipe (adapted from here)

Note: I cut the recipe in half and then in half again since I didn’t have enough almonds on hand (sad!) so it didn’t make a lot. Next time I would just halve it once and see how it turns out. Plus I found another raw brownie recipe with a banana chocolate ‘frosting’ I’m planning on trying! I didn’t take a picture, but the verdict on this is that it’s extremely yummy! I licked the spatula and it was sooooooo good. I haven’t had a full one yet but I’m sure it’ll happen sometime tonight… 😉

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup chopped dates (I used California pitted dates)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (if you love dark chocolate like me, PLEASE use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder!)

1/2 tablespoon rel maple syrup

Pulse almonds, walnuts and dates in a food processor until mostly combined (add 1/4 cup water if needed). Mix in cocoa powder, maple syrup and sprinkle salt until mixed. Spread raw brownie batter (don’t worry, it’s safe to lick the bowl 😛 ) into a foil-lined pan and refrigerate a few hours. Slice into 5 slices and enjoy!

Q: What’s the best new thing you’ve tried lately?