WIAW: (Almost) Wordless

Heeeeey guys, I loved hearing what you think about Larabars! I always like to know what other people’s preferences are and try out new things based on a good review.

Today’s WIAW will be basically wordless, besides the captions, and just a mishmash of foods I ate throughout the weekend and early part of this week. Obviously this is not all I ate, nor was it all eaten in one day, it’s just some of the highlights of what I’ve been noshing on.

Baby carrots and (shiny) red grapes.

I love Whole Foods' no salt no oil popcorn, especially sprinkled with nooch!

Peanut butter Puffins in unsweetened vanilla almond milk are my crack.

My first time trying kale in a smoothie--and it's actually delicious, mixed with u/s vanilla almond milk, frozen banana and Truvia.

My latest Larabar find--peanut butter and jelly. It was just okay, not bad, but I wouldn't buy it again. Bring on the cappuccino and chocolate chip brownie flavors instead!

Carrot cake overnight oats (topped with raisins, almond peanut cashew butter and peanut flour) with a side of fashion magazine reading and a stuffed Medjool date.

Frozen grapes > fresh grapes.

Raw massaged lemon pepper kale topped with nooch and crumbled hempfast Sunshine burger. I have been obsessed with nooch on everything lately!

Another of my typical snack plates, with nooch-ified edamame, Late July sweet potato multigrain chips, mini sweet pepper, plain popcorn and kettle corn, kalamata olives, Medjool date and dark chocolate espresso bean.

What is the best thing you ate this past weekend? Have you ever tried kale in a smoothie?

Easter Weekend in Pictures

Hi bloggy friends! I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend (if you celebrate). Mine was really really good, but as usual, it went by super fast and it’s back to the daily grind. The only good thing about that is that the countdown is officially on–4 weeks til I’m no longer a sophomore! Wooooooo 😀 I am beyond excited for summer and everything I have planned for it, plus all the little things that are sure to pop up. Just gotta get through these next few weeks.

I took a bunch (well, not really) of pictures this weekend so I wanted to do a mostly wordless recap of my Easter weekend. So here goes!

Small sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and almond peanut cashew butter, garlicky kale, fresh strawberries, chocolate and peanut butter Puffins in unsweetened almond milk.

Look how bright those strawberries are! My mom bought a huge box of them at Whole Foods for only $5 and even though they started to go bad by the end of the weekend, I got to enjoy them several times over the weekend. They’re my first of the season and were really juicy and fresh. Definitely a sign that summer is on its way! The garlicky kale is a super simple dish that I whipped up three times this weekend–oh yeah, it’s that good!

Garlicky Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

large handful curly kale, washed and patted dry

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2-1 tsp minced garlic (or freshly grated garlic clove)

sea salt, nutritional yeast and black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add kale and salt and pepper, until the kale starts to shrink and gets crispy edges. Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and browned. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and serve as a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Saturday's outfit: navy striped cropped tee (Hollister), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), necklace and bracelet (American Eagle).

Saturday was fairly busy but pretty fun. My sister and I went for a walk, then my dad and I popped in at my pastor’s house for his birthday open house and later my whole family went out to eat to celebrate my dad’s birthday a few days late. The restaurant wasn’t too vegan friendly, but I did get a yummy homemade-style black bean burger with a side of avocado and black bean salsa. Yum!

The lovely Easter eggs, post-dyeing.

Coloring Easter eggs is one of our family traditions. My sister didn’t join in on the fun this year because of homework, but I had fun dyeing the eggs. Do I have a future as an artist? Ummmm, probably not!

Easter outfit: yellow floral dress (Abercrombie and Fitch), bracelets and necklace (American Eagle), unpictured silver wedge sandals (Target).

Besides going to church on Easter (I always love the holiday services!), we also went to Starbucks where I got my new favorite unsweetened iced coffee, played tennis for 45 minutes, snacked outside in the gorgeous weather (sunny and in the low 70s), colored eggs, made a special dinner and Skyped with my grandma and grandpa.

This year's Easter basket!

My mom still hides Easter baskets for me and my sister…yes, we are still 5 years old! Haha, just kidding, but I still think it’s fun to go find the basket and see what’s in it. This year, I got some Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail strips (super excited about these!), some sparkly green nail polish, guava-scented body wash from Ulta, mini Sweet Tart bunnies/ducks/chicks and two new-to-me Chocolove dark chocolate bars. My mom knows me so well 😀

My Easter dinner: grilled chili lime tofu and mini sweet peppers, broiled lemon pepper asparagus (tops only, the best part) and cheezy quinoa (sprinkled with nooch).

While the rest of my family enjoyed their carnivorous dinner (flank steak, asparagus and cheesy mashed potatoes, in case you were wondering), I had a very vegan and very yummy dinner. It was my first time grilling tofu and I was a fan. I think next time I’d get extra firm, rather than super firm sprouted tofu, since it was kinda bitter, and I’d try out a marinade, rather than a seasoning on the outside. But still a really nice Easter dinner.

My new favorite 'ice cream': So Delicious mini Neapolitan nondairy ice cream sandwich.

I really wanted to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice cream sandwiches, but my Whole Foods didn’t have them. I did find these, which are soy ice cream, and actually really good, if really small. I haven’t had an ice cream sandwich in years, but these are better than regular dairy ice cream sandwiches. They also have coconut milk ice cream versions, if you like coconut milk.

Just what I needed on a Monday morning--Starbucks tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy.

Monday came early–at 6 am, to be exact. I wanted to stay all of Sunday so I could spend more time with my family, so my dad had to take me back up to school on Monday morning and we had to leave at 7. Luckily, we made a stop at Starbucks and I got my first Frapp in about six months. It was the perfect little pick-me-up!

How did you spend your weekend? What’s your go-to weekend lunch? 

WIAW: Spring Break Bonanza!

Let me start off by saying…thank you all SO much for your comments on my last post! It seriously means the world to me that you all care so much about me and want to see me live my life to the fullest–without ED in it, of course.

BTW to all who asked, the doctor appointment was not what I expected. My weight was a little higher than it was when I weighed myself at home, because the appointment was soon after breakfast and I was wearing jeans with a belt, but both weights were low and I was expecting the doctor to say something about it but she really didn’t. I guess she didn’t think losing about 5-7 pounds was a big deal, which obviously I think is, considering my BMI is now between 15.5 and 16. It’s kind of discouraging to not have the support of the doctor is my efforts to eat more, but I will just have to rely on my own strength (and your comments) to take the plunge and fuel myself properly. It’ll be hard, but I know it’ll be worth it.

Anyway, on to more exciting things–like this week’s WIAW! I have tried a ridiculous amount of new-to-me things in the past couple of days and I’ve loved being home because I can actually cook things. I only have a couple of recipes for you so far, but I will be sharing more in the next few days as I continue to cook up a storm! Today, I want to share the recipes and also my reviews on some products I just tried. Let’s get to it!

Probably the best nondairy 'ice cream' I've ever tried!

I love almond milk, especially Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but I had never tried (or even seen) almond milk ice cream. I’ve had a couple of flavors of soy ice cream before and they were okay but nothing too great. Luckily, this Almond Dream ‘ice cream’ was way more amazing! It was super creamy, and tasted exactly like an iced latte from Starbucks. The swirl of chocolate was a nice surprise too. I would definitely buy this again, but I also want to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice creams.

Orange and dark chocolate is almost as good as raspberry and dark chocolate.

And to think just a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t go anywhere near chocolate! Yes, it is still somewhat scary for me to eat, but I still eat a little bit of some dark chocolate every day, because it makes me happy. When I discovered this mini Chocolove bar at Whole Foods, my dad encouraged me to get it so I did. The moment I tried my first square, I fell in love. Orange and dark chocolate are a match made in foodie heaven, for reals! Now I really want to try all of their other dark chocolate bars–I love that they’re dairy-free, and local-ish (they’re made in Boulder).

Quinoa pasta with vegan spinach 'cheese' sauce, smart bacon strips.

Since I bought nutritional yeast a few weeks back, I’ve been really wanting to try a vegan mac and cheese recipe. I kind of improvised my own and it actually turned out pretty tasty. The quinoa pasta I served it on was new and really yummy. I loved that it’s just made out of corn and quinoa flours (so it’s gluten-free for all of you out there who are gluten-intolerant or just want to switch it up from wheat pasta) and this variety also incorporated some spinach and beets. Extra veggies = win!

Spinach ‘Cheese’ Sauce (vegan, high protein)

1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or other nondairy milk)

1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour (or cornstarch)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

cracked pepper, to taste

handful spinach

Mix almond milk and flour in a pot over medium heat until combined and thickened. Add in rest of the ingredients and stir until spinach is wilted. Serve over pasta, quinoa or as a spinach ‘cheese’ dip (makes 1 serving). 

Red cabbage with vegan Caesar dressing, Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast topped with almond peanut cashew butter and peanut flour, frozen pineapple, orange seitan.

Westsoy seitan strips and Follow Your Heart vegan Caesar dressing are two of my many new Whole Foods finds. It was my first time trying seitan and I wasn’t really a fan. I love that it has tons of protein (21 grams per serving) but the texture just sketched me out. I made it orange chicken style, and it was decent but I wouldn’t buy it again. Maybe it was just the brand, but I didn’t really like it. The dressing on the other hand, was perfection in a bottle! It reminds me of regular Caesar dressing, only less rich. I love dipping carrots in it and topping fresh cabbage with it. I even made kale chips with the dressing that turned out pretty yummy.

This is my "Gotta go take a drug test so I have to drink up" face.

I have been loving being able to drive myself places over the past few days. At school, I don’t have my own car but being at home and having three cars at my disposal has been so nice! This may sound weird, but I love driving all by myself because I can sing along to “Starships” (one of my new fave songs) and go wherever I want. The reason I’ve been driving myself so much is that I’ve had tons of appointments this week and since both my parents have to work, I had to go to them on my own, which was fine by me. That means more singing 😉 Plus I’ve always wanted to take one of those pictures when you’re in the front seat so yesterday before my internship meeting, I did just that. No worries, I was parked–otherwise I would have had no hands on the wheel! And I was just drinking some iced water sweetened with some vanilla stevia so I could take a required drug test for my summer internship. If you’ve never put liquid stevia in your water, dooooo it now! The vanilla reminds me of a non-carbonated cream soda.

There's no shame in going to Whole Foods three times in five days!

Speaking of going wherever I want, I made a pit stop after my meeting on Tuesday at Whole Foods. It was weird shopping on my own, mostly because I think other people thought I was just a kid and not an almost-20-year-old because of my size, but I didn’t get too many weird stares because the store was pretty dead compared to most times I go. At first I was going to grab myself a lunch thing from the hot/cold bars but I decided to play it cheap and just buy a bunch of random stuff I’ve wanted to try. I’ve had the unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze before, but not in a while and it’s just so good (plus it was on sale). I grabbed a couple of fruit strips, some vegan sprinkles because sprinkles are just fun, another mini Chocolove bar (this time raspberries in dark chocolate) and a Two Moms in the Raw cacao chia bar. I really wanted to get their almond butter cacao truffles, but they were a little bit too expensive. I love raw bars in general (especially Pure bars) so I can’t wait to try this one. I also snagged a couple cappuccino Larabars when I hit up WF on Saturday–this is my first time getting a Larabar and I’m so excited to try out their new flavor!

The perfect dessert for spring.

I finally got around to making raw cashew ‘cheesecake’. I mentioned in my last WIAW that I wanted to make a key lime version so I did! I tweaked the recipe I’m posting a little because I had to basically scrape the crust together out of a few things I had and it didn’t make enough to be the base for a whole cheesecake. But it’s pretty tasty and really simple.


Raw Key Lime ‘Cheesecake’ (vegan, raw, gluten-free)

1 cup cashews, soaked for 6-12 hours

1 tbsp sweetener (I used a mix of maple syrup and vanilla stevia drops)

1/2 lime, squeezed

1/2 cup raw almonds

4-6 Medjool dates, pitted

2 tbsp raw rolled oats

Mix cashews, sweetener and lime juice in a food processor until thick, creamy and combined. Add water as needed. Set aside and blend almonds, dates and oats in a blender or food processor until combined. Spread crust in a small dish and top with cashew cream. Top with key lime slices (makes 4 slices).

The newest overnight oats flavor--chocolate covered orange!

I haven’t come up with a new overnight oats combo in a while–obviously that had to change. Taking inspiration from my newest obsession, the Chocolove orange peel in dark chocolate bar, I whipped up chocolate covered orange oats. I sweetened the oats base with some Valencia orange stevia drops and then in the morning, topped them with Sumo tangerine slices and a square of the orange peel chocolate. Mmmmmm! Next time, I’d make a parfait, layering chocolate oats and orange oats with orange slices and keeping the chocolate on top.

This vegan meat sub is a definite winner!

So you know how I said above that I’m not a fan of seitan? That doesn’t mean I don’t like any vegan whole food meat substitutes. I think I’m a tempeh girl at heart! The first time I tried Lightlife’s tempeh bacon last summer, I fell in love. I finally decided to try their flax tempeh, even though I’ve heard people say that the plain varieties can be bitter. Not to me! I even tried a little piece uncooked and I loved the nutty flavor. I cooked some up fry-style (sliced thin and sautéed until browned) and served it on top of a spinach salad with spicy avocado hummus and a side of a yam topped with nut butter and raisins. I loved this tempeh even more when it was cooked–I’m thinking it’s definitely a new staple. It’s actually got pretty stellar nutritionals–20 grams of protein in 4 ounces, plus 11 grams of fiber!

Curried sweet potato pinto burger (under the red cabbage and jalapeno), grilled asparagus, sweet potato tots, mustard.

For dinner last night, I made some veggie burgers for my fam–first time ever making them for someone besides just me! These were a winner, which is always exciting for me to hear because I love seeing my family choose healthier options. These are totally healthy, but hearty enough for any meat lover…and they’re perfect for sweet potato lovers like me! They’re based off Mama Pea’s recipe, but I made some tweaks to make them my own.

Curried Sweet Potato Pinto Burgers (vegan, gluten-free)

1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 small sweet potato, cooked and peeled

1 1/2 tbsp nut butter (I used almond peanut cashew)

spices, to taste (I used cumin, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, garlic salt and black pepper)

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Flatten bean mix and make into four even-sized patties, and place patties in pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and slightly crunchy. Serve on buns, in a wrap, on top of a salad, however you like your veggie burgers!

Wow, this was a crazy-long post! Sorry about that, obviously I am just so excited about all my new finds and recipes I’ve tried out. Of course, there’s still more to come, but I will save that for a later post. I don’t want to bore all of you 😀

Have you ever tried tempeh or seitan? What’s your new favorite Whole Foods find (or from another store if you don’t have one near you)?

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?