WIAW: Flooding, Fedoras and Fun

Sometimes, you can’t do much better than the classic alliterative title! And with that, here’s another WIAW…

Flash flood aftermath, day 2.

Flash flood aftermath, day 2.

My city is just getting hit hard with natural disasters, after last summer’s fire, this summer’s fire (which hit even closer to home for me and my family) and now flash flooding on the southwest side of town. We all knew it would happen eventually with the burn scar in the foothills meaning no vegetation to slow down rainfall, but no one imagined it would happen after just half an inch of rain fell in half an hour! Luckily, they were able to clean up the streets and businesses that were affected very quickly and by the time I made it over there on Tuesday, it looked normal, aside from tons of mud near the creek. The perks of being in TV news is that you’re always the first to know about things, and you can always get a close look at whatever happened, which is good for a nosy person like me!

I wanna be a localvore!

I wanna be a localvore!

I really love this new campaign Whole Foods has going about focusing on local food. I’ve become passionate about buying local, and even though it’s hard to get really good local produce in CO, Whole Foods does stock local produce when its available and a lot of the products I love to buy, like Larabars and raw kimchi, are produced in my state! Once I move to a better produce state (ahem, CA!) I hope to exclusively buy locally-grown produce.

Ah-mazing stuff.

Ah-mazing stuff.

And speaking of local, I happened across this gem on a random trip to the Whole Foods I rarely frequent. It’s smaller than the one I prefer and farther from where I live but I wanted to see if they had anything different. I’m so glad I did, because I have yet to see this new brand at the WF I usually go to. I spotted the “I’m a local” tag and the awesome flavor combos and was instantly intrigued. I mean, what other brand has cherry vanilla almond butter, or blueberry cinnamon walnut butter? I decided to get the dark chocolate coconut one since I knew I’d like it, but now I wish I’d gotten the espresso hazelnut one too! The best part is, there’s no added sugar aside from dates and the only added oil is organic coconut oil, which is the healthiest kind. I’ve never been a fan of the flavored nut butters that have added sugars and gross oils that some bloggers like, but now that I have a cleaner, more natural flavored nut butter option I don’t have to go without!

A good look for me?

A good look for me?

If you think this hat looks too small for me, that’s because it is. It was technically found in the little boys’ section at Target, but lets be honest, I rock it better than any little boy would ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ok, maybe not, but my sister and I had way too much fun at Target the other night. Insider’s tip: if you ever want to joke around in Target and generally just act immature, the best time to go is after 7 pm. Fewer people are there so you can be obnoxious and take silly photos without anyone caring.

The new Starbucks Refresher!

The new Starbucks Refresher!

I took advantage of the half off Refreshers deal at Starbucks last weekend and tried the new Valencia orange flavor. Not bad, it reminded me of Sunny D actually, but it wasn’t my favorite (I prefer the lime). I’d love to mix this with vodka or something for a citrus-y cocktail though ๐Ÿ˜€

WF salad bar for the millionth time.

WF salad bar for the millionth time.

After going without it for 3 weeks, I caved and got some Whole Foods salad bar…twice in one weekend. I know I have problems, but I wanted a break from it for awhile to see if they started rotating in new things and they did! I’m now in love with these homemade bread-and-butter pickles they have (they’re obviously fresh!) and their addictive curry roasted nut mix. Obviously, I got some greenage in the form of romaine lettuce, and I got my favorite curried tofu salad because Whole Foods does tofu right and I realized I’ll never be able to make it as good so I gave up on buying it. Oh, and get this: one of the nights I got the salad bar was with my sister (before said Target outing). The weird thing is, she loves the salad bar as much as I do, but for very different reasons–the macaroni and cheese, and the Caesar salad. Sometimes, I think we come from two different families ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just kidding, but we eat completely differently, which is funny that we both have a place we love.

Random taco salad for dinner.

Random taco salad for dinner.

After being busy at my internship, I haven’t felt much like throwing anything together that takes more than 5 minutes. I’ve also been craving salads, because all I have time to scarf at my internship is a Larabar, some berries/grapes and baby carrots. I’ve still been sticking to mostly raw, but I threw in some navy beans mixed with nooch and garlic gomasio (basically garlic, sea salt and sesame seeds–soooooo addictive!) and called it a well-balanced dinner…with some water and watermelon on the side.

My favorite right now. I could eat this. all. day. long.

My favorite right now. I could eat this. all. day. long.

Speaking of watermelon, it’s my favorite fruit at the moment. It’s just the best when it’s straight from the fridge, especially on a hot day. I hope summer never ends, so I can eat watermelon forever.

Silly seesta time at Target.

Silly seesta time at Target.

Sometimes, it’s good to be spontaneous and just enjoy life. I love spending time with my sister because she brings out the best in me. We always have fun together and I’m gonna miss her to pieces when I graduate in the fall. Only we could have fun wearing kids hats and taking embarrassing pics of us wearing bras over our clothes (don’t ask)!

For those of you who live in Canada, I hope you had a nice Canada Day on Monday and for my fellow American readers, I hope you enjoy Independence Day tomorrow! My plans for the day are going to a parade and having water balloon fights with my family…fun stuff!

What have you been up to lately? What have you been eating?

 

College Vegan on a Budget: “Nuttzo” for New Finds

A series of posts on my adventures in buying vegan health foods as a college student.

I know I said last timeย that I wasn’t going to be buying anything else before the end of the semester. Welllllll…that was before I ran out of nut butter and had to go without it for about a week. And I came back to no fruit other than some pomegranate seeds and frozen banana slices. Not acceptable. So I had to make a quick trip today which worked out perfectly because I had one final around noon and I headed to Whole Foods right after that. Let me just say that shopping at WF on a weekday afternoon is a lot better than going on a Saturday afternoon. Other than a shrieking baby, my trip was pretty pleasant and quick. But most importantly, I left with everything I needed…and more.

Just a few WF staples to tide me over for a couple days.

Just a few WF staples to tide me over for a couple days.

What I Got: Mother’s plain salted rice cakes, Nuttzo mixed nut/seed butter (new to me!), Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds (always a winner), brown figs (I can only get these at the WF near me at school, needed my fix before break!), small superfoods kale salad, Heavenly Organics dark chocolate ginger honey patties (can’t believe these only have three ingredients!), Theo dark chocolate orange bar

What I Spent: $28.32 (mostly because of that Nuttzo…)

Verdict: I don’t really want to talk about how much I spent on the Nuttzo but it really is hard to find cheap nut butter that doesn’t have added oil or sugar (but does have a little sea salt, because it brings out the nut flavor) but everything else was pretty cheap. And the chocolate bar, rice cakes and nut butter will last a while so I’m not too worried.

Do you like mixed nut/seed butters? Do you make special trips to the store if you’re running out of something you love?

Facing the Fats

Fats tend to get a bad rap. Not quite as much in the blog world, where almost everyone enjoys nut butters and avocado on the daily but they’re still viewed as somewhat scary. And I’m one of those people who used to be scared to death of fats. Because I thought they’d make me fat. I mean, duh, that’s their name, why wouldn’t they do that? Boy was I wrong!

My eating disorder days were when I feared fats the most. Can you blame me–I was a kid of the 90s, when low-fat was everything, and I was brainwashed by school nutrition programs to seek out lower fat options. Just before I was at my worst ED-wise, I replaced my old favorite snacks with fat-free pudding and those Snackwell cookies. What I didn’t realize was that low-fat is another name for more sugar, or more sodium. Without some fats, food doesn’t have much flavors (besides fruits and veggies, of course!) But I didn’t care, I felt like I was superior because I was eating little to no fat, unlike most people my age. In my worst days, I subsisted on black beans and rice, “light” toast, sugar-free Jell-O and fruit. The only real fat I was eating was maybe 1 teaspoon of almond butter per day. What a sad, flavorless life! At that point, I was not only afraid of fat but also carbs and my health and appearance were really suffering because of it. I took a nap almost every day after school because I had no energy–not something a normal 16 year old does. My skin was dry, my hair had tons of split ends and was falling out, I was super pale and just didn’t look happy and healthy. Little did I know that it was due to the lack of nutrients.

This is how the food pyramid should look!

During my early recovery, I started to eat more fats again, like larger servings of almond butter and guacamole, but I still shied away from them, especially saturated fats. I wasn’t so afraid of the total fat count, but I always looked at the saturated fat content on every food I bought. I tried my hardest to stay under 2 grams of sat fat total per day, which is damn hard to do. I looked longingly at Clif and Luna bars but always passed them up because most of them had just a little over my total saturated fat “allowance” for the day.

The Luna Bar I always wanted to try (but didn’t) because of the 2.5 grams of sat fat.

Unfortunately, this fear of saturated fat continued for almost three more years. I rejected foods I used to love, like dark chocolate, because they had too much of this scary fat. It didn’t help that most nutrition articles I read supported my fear. I continued to keep my saturated fat levels low…that is, until I transitioned to veganism almost one year ago.

As I embraced vegan foods and tried new things, I realized a lot of them had saturated fat–some more than the measly 2 grams I’d been allowing myself per day. Things like tempeh, nuts and dark chocolate all looked so good, but they were chock-full of fats, mostly the supposed healthy kind (aka unsaturated fats) but they also had a decent amount of saturated. Wanting to be a healthy, fats-embracing vegan, I decided to dip my toe into the world of plant-based saturated fats. And now I can proudly say that I’m never going back to the low-fat lifestyle again!

I would have never let myself eat this much guacamole a year ago!

I eat plant based fats on a daily basis and I love them. Nuts, seeds, tempeh, avocado, olives, dark chocolate and nut butters are my favorite sources and I don’t even want to try living without them. But coconut…that was a different story. I’ve feared coconut for at least 5 years, because it’s extremely high in fat, especially saturated. I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole, even though I kinda liked it pre-ED. Until a week or so ago, I hadn’t eaten it in any form since I was probably 13 or 14. Turns out, it’s not as scary as I thought, and I actually like it. Coconut milk ice cream is so much creamier than other vegan ice creams, and maybe even more than regular ice cream (from what I can remember). Coconut milk adds a really nice taste to curry sauces, and it works really well in Larabars. I’m even considering investing in some coconut oil for baking and cooking, since so many people love it and it’s a healthy fat. Yep, I said it, it’s healthy! Now I know that pretty much all plant-based fats are totally healthy, and offer so many benefits. And they taste so amazing!

How did I ever live without this deliciousness?

Basically what I’m saying here is if you’re like me and you are wary of fats, don’t be. Don’t fear the fats–they taste awesome and they’ll give you so much health and energy. I eat about 30 to 35% of my daily calories from fat, and I’ve never felt better! Stick with the plant based fats–nuts and seeds, avocado, coconut–and I think you’ll see the benefits too.

Have you ever feared fats? What’s your favorite fat source?

WIAW: The Finish Line

So who else had an awesome weekend? I finished two papers this weekend (not exciting, but it always feels great to get those done with, plus it means I’m just that much closer to being done-zo) and also saw Wicked at the Denver Center on Sunday. My sister is a huge musical fan, and Wicked is probably her favorite show, but this was my first time seeing it and I was blown away. Such an amazing score, costumes, actors and story. If Wicked comes to a city near you, I definitely recommend seeing it.

As I’ve mentioned probably a bazillion times, it’s my last week living in a dorm, and I only have 3 more days left as a sophomore. It’s kinda bittersweet, since I really enjoyed this year, but I definitely have some bigger and better things ahead of me, both this summer and in the fall, so I’m just ready to be done with this school year. So this WIAW is my final compilation of dorm room eats. I will NOT miss only having a microwave to do my cooking in!

A recent breakfast obsession: banana 'pudding' topped with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

I’ve been having smoothies-in-a-bowl almost every morning since I bought xanthan gum. I am so glad I made that purchase, because now my smoothies are so thick and creamy, almost like pudding. This one tasted like banana pudding, and it was amazing topped with Puffins.

Return of the snack plate: raw broccoli, spicy avocado Hope hummus, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, kettle corn, mixed dried fruit, kalamata olives.

I know most of the blogworld is obsessed with certain brands, like Chobani for Greek yogurt, Love Grown for granola and Sabra for hummus. Let’s just say I’ve never been one to go with the trends ๐Ÿ˜‰ My favorite hummus brand is Hope Hummus, which is a Colorado company. They only make 3 flavors right now, but the spicy avocado flavor is the best hummus I’ve ever tasted.

Just like the diet cream soda I used to live, only more natural!

Diet cream soda used to be my favorite soda flavor. I never drank soda ย a lot, but when I did it was usually that. Now that I avoid fake sweeteners, I love that there’s a more natural alternative to diet cream soda. And it tastes so good!

A very summery outfit: navy lace tank with pinstripe belt (Abercrombie Kids), red/navy/white plaid twill shorts (Abercrombie and Fitch), silver bangles (American Eagle), unpictured red flip-flops (Hollister).

It's crop top time! Dark grey Navajo-style cropped tee (American Eagle), fish necklace (American Eagle), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle).

Time for an outfit break! I’ve been loving the super warm weather (can anyone say 70s and 80s in April?) and wearing all my springy and summery clothes again. Summer is my favorite season for clothes–I could just live in dresses, cute twill shorts, pretty tanks and tees and leather sandals.

Sweet potatoes are back! Sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and pecan pieces, raisins/dried apples/Mission fig dipped in almond peanut cashew butter, cheezy lemon pepper kale.

Sweet potatoes don’t go away just because it’s almost summer. Oh no! I enjoy them year-round, with a variety of toppings. I especially love nut butters/peanut flour/actual nuts on top.

Stuffed dates are my favorite little treat!

If you’ve never stuffed a Medjool date with some kind of nut butter, you’re crazy! My recent favorite is honey walnut butter–basically I took some Artisana raw walnut butter and stirred in a little raw honey. I normally don’t like raw nut butters because they’re blander, but the touch of honey made it perfect.

A random dinner: frozen pineapple and mango, spicy guacamole, crushed Late July sweet potato chips, cheezy lemon pepper kale, edamame with nooch.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking, “This girl is obsessed with cheezy lemon pepper kale.” And you’d be right! But it’s a good obsession…I’ll even share the super-simple recipe I came up with with you. It doesn’t even have real measurements, which is always the sign of a good recipe ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheezy Lemon Pepper Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

handful kale, about 1 cup (I prefer shredding mine into smaller pieces)

squeeze of lemon juice

pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

nutritional yeast, to cover the kale

Squeeze lemon juice over kale in a bowl or measuring cup and massage into leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste, and nooch to coat the kale. Stick in the fridge for at least an hour, and enjoy as a salad base or a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Chocolate banana smoothie in a bowl with crushed PB & chocolate Puffins.

The chocolate version is just as good as the banana pudding version, but it’s even better with the Puffins on top. I love the contrast between the thick, smooth ‘pudding’ and the crunchy cereal.

Another iHerb order: peanut flour (duh), cacao sweet nibs, tiny jar of kumquat jam, sunflower seed butter, Chocolove dark chocolate bar with sea salt and almonds.

iHerb is officially my favorite online store ever! I can get so many foodie items that I either can’t find around me (cough cough peanut flour) or that are actually cheaper online. I finally realized that if you order at least $20 worth of stuff, you get free shipping. Score! So I stocked up on more peanut flour (can’t live without it), as well as three new-to-me products: cacao sweet nibs, sunflower seed butter and dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. And they sent me a little freebie, a tiny and super-cute jar of kumquat jam, which I can’t wait to try! So exotic. The sweet nibs aren’t exactly like dark chocolate, but I like that they’re a raw product and only have 3 ingredients. The sunflower seed butter is my new second-favorite nut butter after almond peanut cashew butter; it’s perfectly salty and seedy. And the chocolate is heavenly and probably my favorite Chocolove flavor. Dark chocolate+almonds+salt=perfection.

What’s the most exotic jam or jelly flavor you’ve ever had? Do you like smoothies in a bowl?

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Hi lovelies, how were all your weekends? I am beyond excited that it’s less than a week til Christmas, but I’ll save that excitement for later!

After having read a lot about NaNeFoMo (or National New Food Month) around the bloggy world, I decided to finally join in! Yes, I know it’s kinda late, but I have already made some progress and created a “bucket list” of things I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

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1. Peanut flour. I finally sucked it up and ordered some online a couple of weeks back. This has changed my life, for real! I’ve had it practically on a daily basis since it first arrived in the mail (which is why I just had to order more!) and I’m definitely not sick of it yet. It makes an amazing paste, peanut sauce for stir-frys and salads, as flavoring for Greek yogurt and as a source of protein in smoothies. I even used it in place of flour in my festive garland bars. Definitely a new staple in my pantry!

The perfect topper for banana softserve and Puffins!

2. Chocolate chips. These were (and still are) a fear food of mine, so I thought they’d be perfect to include in my list. I bought some vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods, used them in a few recipes and now I love them! Yes, they’re still scary, so I only eat maybe a teaspoon or so per day, but I don’t want to deprive myself of dark chocolate ever again!

Chocolate chips make an appearance in nutty cherry chocolate chunk cookies...recipe to come!

3. Making my own nut butter. Being home alone a week ago gave me the perfect opportunity to whip up a batch of homemade nut butter. But what kind to make? I had a bag of chopped pecans, so I mixed those up with some instant coffee powder, a little maple syrup and coffee maple pecan butter was born. You’re welcome ๐Ÿ˜‰

Simple combination, but oh so tasty!

4. Vegan marshmallows. Erm, well, not quite yet! I haven’t been able to find any in stores near me, so I decided to settle for some pescetarian marshmallows. Ummmm, say what? Yeah, marshmallows have gelatin in them, which is made from animals, but I was able to find some kosher ones, which means the gelatin is made from fish. Since I am basically a pescetarian right now, these are fine by me til I can find some truly vegan marshmallows.

5. Kombucha.ย This one is very scary to me. Not a fear food, in the eating disorder sense, but scary because A) they’re expensive and B) what if they taste horrible? I’ve still yet to take the plunge on this, but I’m hoping maybe I’ll get to sample it at Whole Foods or something and see if it’s worth the price.

6. More raw/vegan desserts.ย Every one I’ve attempted so far has turned out amazingly well (even if I am the only one who ends up eating them…oh well, more for me!) and I’d love to do more experimenting in the kitchen over the next month. Raw desserts can be kinda “scary” since they include lots of calorically-dense foods such as dates and nuts, but they taste so good and are so healthy for you compared to regular desserts. A few things I have in the works include raw salted caramel sauce, vegan peppermint bark and another variation on my raw brownies with chocolate peppermint avocado “buttercream” frosting. This month sure is looking delicious 8)

One of my favorite desserts ever--raw brownie pie with frozen raspberries and nonfat coffee froyo.

So that’s my bucket list so far–three things down, three to go! I’m proud of myself for conquering one fear food so far and I’m looking forward to trying out new things, especially the recipes. While I like to make “tried and true” type things, it’s always rewarding making something brand new and having it turn out amazing. And if it doesn’t, it’s not a huge deal!

Are you participating in NaNeFoMo? Have you ever made a raw dessert?

WIAW: Early to the Party

Hi all, what is up? I’m glad you appreciated my random ramblings in my last post–finals just really make you lazy and scrambling for any blog content no matter how lame. At this point, I have 2 finals left (one today and one on Thursday) and then I’m headed home on Thursday afternoon for a month of glorious freedom! I can almost taste it ๐Ÿ˜›

My weekend was super-fun in a low-key way and definitely a preview of winter break, because I went home for an extended weekend–from Friday afternoon til Monday afternoon. Despite having to work on a stats take-home exam, I had a good time with my family and it only made me even more excited to come back home for a much longer time. I haven’t been home for more than a week since this summer so it should be amazing! A few random highlights from my weekend include hearing my church’s choir sing Christmas songs at a special service, signing my lease for an apartment next year ( ๐Ÿ˜€ ) and actually getting to cook. But you’ll get to see that part in the rest of the post!

Peas and Crayons

I decided to post my WIAW a little early this week because I’m super excited to show you all some things I made this weekend. Not recipes, per se, because they’re almost all so simple a 10 year old could make them, but I’m proud that I created and enjoyed them.

Maybe my favorite voluminous overnight oats combo to date--trail mix oats!

First up, my favorite part of the day…breakfast! You know me, can’t go a day without oats so I started my Sunday morning (and Saturday night…) off with a new oats combo–trail mix. Basically, I made my usual 1/4 cup of voluminous oats (so it really makes a fluffy 1/2 cup) and in the morning I heated it up and topped it with a pinch of chopped pecans (maybe my new fave nut?), a little bit of Whole Foods kettle corn, a couple of vegan chocolate chips and a bunch of raisins. The chocolate melted a little which made the combo even yummier. This is a definite keeper–simple, yet really tasty! And you can customize the trail mix topper any way you like, I personally love the chocolate/nut/dried fruit combo and the sweet-saltiness of the kettle corn added a little something extra.

I'm really in the Christmas mood, obviously.

This is obviously not food, but a picture I took of our big kitchen window that I wrote on. We just got a new dryer and it filled the house with steam, so the windows fogged up. I am definitely a 5 year old, so I couldn’t resist writing on the window. My mom came and wiped it off of course, but I had to snap a pic first!

Fancy pumpkin pecan pie s'mores.

My creativity really got away from me making s’mores this weekend. I can’t wait to find vegan marshmallows to really take this over the top, as the marshmallows I had were too hard and I ended up scraping them off the graham and eating the s’mores sans marshmallow. But basically, I took the pumpkin s’more recipe and added chopped pecans to it. It turned out amazing and really amped up the basic s’more to a whole new level. Try it, you won’t regret it. And I will be coming up with even more crazy s’mores ideas, so stay tuned!

Staying home alone makes me resort to lame photo shoots with myself. No shame.

I stayed home alone on Monday, since my sister had school and my parents had work so what did I do? Besides whip up a batch of homemade nut butter (hold on, it’s coming right up!), I also had an impromptu iPod touch photo shoot with my lovely self. I love my iPod because it has the dual camera, so I can see what I look like before I snap the picture. Basically, I am obsessed with weird random selfies that I sometimes edit with Instagram. I obviously have no life ๐Ÿ˜‰

Coffee maple pecan volume oats...try saying that three times fast!

The new oats combos continued with this baby, which wasn’t quiteย as good as the trail mix kind, but it’s a work in progress. I need to find some way to keep the drizzled maple syrup from getting mixed in with the oats before I mix it in. But it’s a delicious combo anyways.

The coffee maple pecan trend continues with...homemade coffee maple pecan butter!

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for…the homemade nut butter recipe! I’ve always wanted to make a nut butter at home, but I never got the opportunity until now! I used up the chopped pecans to create this deliciousness, which is nice and sweet with a touch of bitterness from the coffee. But trust me, it’s good…I almost can’t wait until Thursday night to enjoy it again!

Coffee Maple Pecan Butter (vegan, makes 1/3 cup)

3/4 cup chopped pecans, raw or toasted

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp instant coffee powder (I used Starbucks VIA mocha)

Pulse pecans in a food processor for 5-1o minutes, until smooth and buttery. Add in maple and pulse til combined. Add in coffee powder until all ingredients are mixed. Serve on fruit (apples or bananas would go well) or right off the spoonย ๐Ÿ˜€

Each tablespoon of the pecan butter has about 115 calories, which is pretty comparable to most flavored nut butters. Best of all, it’s really yummy, unique and super simple to make!

What kind of nut butter combo would you make? What kind of flavor combo would make a perfect s’more?