New in Review: Nails & Noshes

Hey look, I didn’t totally give up on my new series! I’m going to try to get these up every other week so I hope y’all like them as much as I do!

This week features a couple nail-related beauty products as well as plenty of food items…

  • Veggie-Go’s (sweet potato pie)

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I’ve actually had these before but I never did a formal review on them. They’re anything but your basic fruit strip, because they include veggies (!) and have no added sugar. This flavor in particular tastes like a dessert, but it’s only got 2 grams of sugar, from the sweet potatoes and apples. They’re just fruit, veggies and spices — perfect if you’re like me and prefer your food to be as simple as possible.

Pros: extremely tasty, perfect for a quick 1/2 serving each of fruit & veggies

Cons: a little expensive for the size (~$1.25 per strip)

Where to buy: Whole Foods, their site

  • Sally Hansen Kwik Off Moisturizing Nail Polish Remover

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Has anyone else ever been intrigued by those little containers you dip your fingers in to get nail polish off? My friend had one and it worked magic, so I thought I’d buy one instead of the usual messy nail polish remover liquid. This stuff works like a charm, and it doesn’t smell all chemical-y or get all over the place. I will never buy acetone remover again!

Pros: inexpensive, easy to use, no lingering smell

Cons: honestly, none!

Where to Buy: Target, Sephora, drug stores (CVS and Walgreens probably have them)

  • Dr. in the Kitchen Flackers raw flax crackers

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Another cheat (I first started buying them like 2 years ago), but I started recently buying them more often now that the Whole Foods nearest me carries them. I’ve tried the dill, rosemary, sun dried tomato & basil and cinnamon & currants flavors (basically all of them but the savory flavor) and I love them all except the cinnamon and currants. That one gets a bit too chewy from the currants and the flavor is weirdly sour. But all the others are tasty, not too salty and have stellar nutritionals. 6-7 grams of fiber, raw, gluten free and 4-5 grams of protein per serving. Freakin’ delicious on a snack plate with some olives or raw cashew cheez.

Pros: really healthy, good flavors

Cons: a bit expensive, hard to find

Where to Buy: Whole Foods (not all carry them), natural foods stores, Amazon

  • Honest Fizz (root beer)

Y’all know Zevia has my heart. I mean, sure it costs a lot more than your typical diet soda but it’s so much better for you. If you drink soda, you really need to switch to Zevia.

But Honest Fizz is another great alternative that is a little cheaper. Currently, they only have 4 flavors but I’m hoping they’re successful so maybe they’ll add more. Fingers crossed they (or Zevia) make a watermelon soda. Obsessed. Anyways, the root beer is pretty spot on. I actually prefer the Zevia root beer only because it has a kick from the ginger, but the Honest Fizz was less filling (I don’t drink Zevias too often because I hate being filled up with soda, even if it’s zero calorie) which I like. And I think it would make a pretty good healthy root beer float!

Pros: cheaper than Zevia, less filling

Cons: not many flavor options

Where to Buy: Whole Foods, possibly Sprouts

  •  Broadway Nails imPress press-on manicure

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I’ve gotten into the habit of constantly having my nails painted. The problem is I hate constantly touching up and redoing my nails every few days after they inevitably chip. Enter the fake nails! This is my first time using them, and I can honestly say I am imPressed 😉

These go on really quickly and easily. You press them down for a few minutes and after an hour they’re completely good to go. My nails were fairly short at the time I applied these, so even the ‘short’ length had to be trimmed down a bit, but they look natural. Best of all, no chipping!

Pros: easier than nail polish, look natural

Cons: more expensive per use than nail polish, only get 1-2 uses out of each pack

Where to Buy: Target, CVS, Walgreens

  • Living Intentions superfood cereal (hemp & greens)

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I first discovered this granola at the Whole Foods in my college town. They started stocking it in the bulk bins last spring and once I saw it, I had to give it a try. Of course, being a sprouted, superfood-y type thing, it’s expensive. About $12 per pound! But if you only get a little bit at a time like I do, it’s a lot less expensive. Some stores only sell it prepackaged so you can’t buy only what you need, but if your Whole Foods sells it in the bulk area, BUY IT!

I’ve tried a few of the flavors, but my favorite by far is the hemp & greens. This one isn’t sweetened with agave like some of the others, which I like. It’s got a bit of a ‘green’ flavor from the added spirulina, chlorella, spinach, alfalfa and dandelion — what other cereal can boast those ingredients? It’s grain free (made from buckwheat), low sugar, high protein…basically the healthiest granola ever. It’s perfectly crunchy and just a bit sweet and pairs well with almond milk. I also love it as a topping for my protein puddings.

Pros: one of the healthiest cereals ever, great ingredients

Cons: expensive, I love it so much I keep buying it 😉

Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Sprouts, Nuts.com

What new products have you tried lately? 

New in Review: Chai & Chocolate

I have a problem. A problem with starting too many post series that I never stick to. I did keep my College Vegan on a Budget series going for several months and obviously I can’t go back to it now as a post-grad. But several other series I had big plans for died an early death.

I’m hoping I can keep this one going for awhile. See, I like product review posts a lot. I read them when I spot a new product on the shelves and I’m wondering if it’s worth a purchase, or if I just bought something and want to see what other people think. Either way, I think they’re informative and fun, so I wanted to bring something like that to AlmostVegGirlie.

I’m calling this new series New in Review, and it will be my honest thoughts about products (not just food!) that I’ve recently tried. Everything I post will be products I bought myself, so no sponsored posts here. And I hope you find them to be interesting!

  • Quinn Kale & Sea Salt popcorn

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I spotted this at Whole Foods, and even though I eat grain free a lot of the time by default, I’ve been craving popcorn lately. Plus it’s gluten free and sounded interesting, so I bought it. When I opened the bag, I was surprised to see that the popcorn was green. Like spinach green. I love all things green, though, so it didn’t scare me away, though some picky people might be thrown off by it. But then, it is made with dried organic kale (and carrot), so it’s basically like salad 😉 

The ingredients list is stellar–non-gmo popcorn kernels (corn is a heavily GM product so non-gmo is important), sunflower oil (healthier than most veggie oils, though coconut oil is best), dried organic kale and carrot (seriously, veggies in popcorn is incredible), sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. That’s it…just popcorn and spices and a little oil. The best part is how tasty this popcorn is. It’s got a slight veggie flavor but not overpowering, with the perfect amount of saltiness and tang from the spices. And it’s a little addicting, but in a good way, because one serving of popcorn (4 cups) is 150 calories.

Pros: organic/non-gmo, clean ingredients, good flavor

Cons: I wish there was more popcorn!

  • Maybelline Volum’ Express Mega Plush mascara

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I’ve been partial to Maybelline mascaras since I discovered their Illegal Length mascara. My lashes are fairly voluminous, so I’m mostly looking to add length and darkness. I like Maybelline’s mascaras because they last a long time (I use it daily) and are fairly inexpensive and available at regular stores like Target.

This mascara is gel mousse, so the texture is a bit different, but it doesn’t clump at all. It also has a flexible brush, which makes it easier to apply. I prefer washable mascaras so I haven’t tried the waterproof kind, but the washable one is easily removable with soap+water or makeup wipes but it doesn’t smudge either.

Pros: inexpensive ($7 ish for a tube), goes on smoothly, feels light

Cons: I wish it added length as well as volume

  • Fearless Chocolate

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This is officially my go-to chocolate brand now! So far, I’ve tried 4 flavors: Superfruit, Green Tea Mint, Exploding Coconuts, and Super Seeds Crunch. All of them are good, but the Exploding Coconuts is my favorite so far. It’s got great little chunks of coconut in it! Though I can’t wait to find their new coffee flavor–I love coffee+chocolate!

Fearless Chocolate has one of the simplest ingredients list of any chocolate brand. They’re soy free (no soy lecithin, which is hard to find in chocolate), gluten free, vegan and certified organic & fair trade. Best of all, they’re made with raw cacao instead of cocoa butter, making them purely chocolate, and organic cane sugar is the last ingredient, so the bars aren’t too sweet.

Pros: Basically everything I’m looking for in dark chocolate

Cons: I didn’t love the mint flavor as much as I thought I would, a little pricey

  •  Trader Joes Spiced Chai Tea

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I went to Trader Joes for the first time about a month ago, and while I’ve already finished off most of the things I’ve bought, I’ve still got plenty of pink sea salt and this chai tea left.

With the warm days we’ve been having lately, I decided to use these tea bags to make iced tea over the weekend. I cold-brewed them in a pitcher for 10 minutes or so, and then taste-tested. This tea has a great, complex spiced flavor but it isn’t too bold. It also pairs well mixed with a bit of stevia and some coconut-almond milk over ice.

Pros: budget friendly, good flavor

Cons: No TJs near me anymore so I can’t buy more 😦

  • Kevita Probiotic Drinks

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I still haven’t gotten on the kombucha train, but I loooooove Kevita! It’s a little fizzy, sweetened with stevia and comes in a bunch of tasty flavors (I’ve tried the lemon cayenne, strawberry acai coconut, mango coconut & mojita lime mint).

This stuff is about the same price as GT Kombucha (though generally cheaper at Sprouts and Whole Foods when on sale) and it boasts the same probiotic qualities. But there’s no weird aftertaste or floaties that come with some kombuchas. Plus it’s organic and made with reverse osmosis water. It’s almost like a light, refreshing soda but so much better for you and won’t make you all bloated like diet soda does.

My new favorite flavor is the lemon cayenne cleanse–it tastes like lemonade!

Pros: tasty, health benefits, lots of flavors

Cons: a bit expensive when not on sale

What new products have you tried lately? 

Friday Five: Foodie Edition

Thanks for all the helpful words on my last post! It’s hard to deal with well-meaning but unhelpful advice from family and friends, but it’s a good reminder that we have to take those words with a grain of salt and do what’s best for our health.

I wanted to bring back the Friday Five posts again and this week, I’m focusing on some fun food things for all my fellow foodies out there!

1. I found some new Larabar flavors…at Target!

You all know my love for Target and Larabars…so put the two together and it’s a perfect match! I actually generally don’t buy my Larabars from Target since they don’t usually have a huge selection like Whole Foods and Sprouts do. But since they have a lot of New Years resolution health stuff right now, they had some Uber bars on sale for $1 each, including 2 new-to-me flavors! You definitely can’t beat that–and they sound downright delicious too.

Ummmm, yum!

Ummmm, yum!

2. I’m obsessed with making grain-free flatbreads. 

First, it was this flatbread made into grain free stuffing. Then it was my staple socca. Now it’s this focaccia, which happens to be egg-free also! If you think grain free baking is hard, try it without eggs. It’s really fun to experiment with grain-free flours and when something turns out delicious, it’s even better.

3. I’m really craving the produce of spring and summer. 

Winter is hard enough as it is, with plenty of cold days, snow and the general feeling of blah-ness once the holidays are over. At least I didn’t get hit with the crazy cold weather here in Colorado (we’ve been in the 40s and 50s, which I can’t complain too much about) and we get over 300 days of sunshine each year, so my mood stays the same. The one thing I crave (other than warmer weather) is spring and summer produce. I miss all the berries, the watermelon, the peaches and cherries, the asparagus and the artichokes. Winter produce just isn’t cutting it–I’m already sick of squashes and citrus. At least I still have my beloved pomegranate…only 68 days until spring arrives!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

4. I haven’t had peanut flour in over 6 months…and I kinda want it again.

Remember when I was addicted to ordering food from iHerb? Yeah, me neither since the last time I ordered from them was last May! I don’t know what happened, but I guess I got more budget-conscious and my monthly orders stopped happening. I used to eat peanut flour AT LEAST once per day, and I haven’t had it since June. I just miiiiight end up ordering some more with some of my graduation money, but then again, it might all go towards clothes #sorrynotsorry

5. I’m debating going back on the raw foods train.

I actually did this for quite a while last summer and then I stopped once school started back up and fall came and there was less good produce around. I’m not planning on going 100% raw anytime soon, but I’d like to reincorporate more raw foods into my diet. I’m a big fan of eating whole, minimally-processed foods and this just takes it an extra step. This might be more realistic once spring happens, because there will be more produce, and I love loading up my plate with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, but in the meantime, I’m going to be buying more raw things, like nuts/seeds and making my own almond milk and stuff like that. I have a lot more time on my hands now that I’m just looking for a job, so I have tons of time to experiment in the kitchen!

I'm going to be making more recipes from this book.

I’m going to be making more recipes from this book.

Anyone else missing the warm weather produce? What’s a food you haven’t eaten in awhile that you want to start eating again more often?

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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