College Vegan on a Budget: Stocking Up

A look into my adventures of learning how to budget shop for healthy vegan groceries.

After my refrigerator fiasco of last week (BTW: I got a new fridge out of the deal, score!) I had to throw out a bunch of my food. Normally I don’t mind tossing things that I didn’t love or whatever, but now that I’m buying almost all of my own groceries, it kinda hurts to have to waste so much, especially not by choice. I just didn’t want to risk getting sick! However, I was excited to do a big restock of my fridge and freezer. Yeah, I get excited over grocery trips. Lame, maybe, but I don’t care! Anyways, I went on a couple shopping trips this weekend while I was at home and my dad was nice enough to buy a few things for me so I won’t be counting those things in my budget list, but I am pumped to try them. I got my first ever kabocha squash and after hearing so many amazing things about them I am roasting mine ASAP, and I also got a chocolate raspberry Raw Revolution bar that sounds so good.

Pantry staples.

Whole Foods

This is all the stuff I bought for myself to restock my fridge, freezer and pantry. I missed a few things, but I’ll be making a trip back next weekend for some extras. (*=organic)

What I Got: kale*, garnet yams*, black grapes*, black figs*, brussel sprouts, baby carrots*, Jazz apples, bulk nutritional yeast (nooooooch!), raisins*, unsweetened vanilla almond milk*, sprouted tofu*, bulk maple almonds (ob-sessed), garbanzo beans*, virgin unrefined coconut oil*, harissa hummus, pineapple upside down Larabar, frozen sweet potato puffs, kelp noodles, NadaMoo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, dry roasted edamame, pumpkin puree in a box*, Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, olive bar olives, black bean dip, fresh guacamole, hot sauce dressing (ummm, yes please), Truvia

Fridge and freezer stuff.

What It Cost Me: $81.84 (pretty good for having some higher priced items in there)

Verdict: So glad it came in under $100. I had to do a bunch of restocking since my fridge was basically empty, but I got a bunch of things that will last me a while like the nooch, coconut oil, hummus and sweet potato puffs. I only spent over $5 on 3 items, which is a great way to save money. Those more expensive items add up!

Produce (minus apples and yams).

Now I’m all restocked and ready to go for another week here at my apartment! I’ll be doing some meal prep throughout the week and will hopefully come back sometime with some recipes for you to try out. Tonight I’m making socca pizza for the first time…with a twist!

How much produce do you buy every week? What’s your favorite dip/dressing?

Alter Eco (Review+Giveaway)

I can’t tell you how excited I am to do my first official review and giveaway on my blog! I’ve always loved entering giveaways on other blogs so now’s my chance to give back…and one of you gets the chance to win some really delicious stuff. Let’s get to it!

Alter Eco is a company that works with small-scale farmers all over the world to produce the products they sell. All their products are responsible–socially, environmentally and health-wise, and they’re organic, fair trade and minimally processed. I love supporting a company that does the right thing for people and the environment, no matter the cost. October is actually Fair Trade Month, so what better way to celebrate than with a fair trade product?

Of course, the food has to taste good if I’m going to buy it. I actually have bought Alter Eco products before I was contacted by them to do a review and giveaway, so I knew ahead of time that I like what they have to offer. However, I had no idea that they had so many products, including grains and sugar.

In my review box, I was sent royal rainbow quinoa, Hom Mali jasmine rice, mascobado cane sugar; dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark blackout and dark almond chocolate. Can you say yum?! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get my favorite dark mint chocolate bar but I was excited to try their new-to-me products.

The goods. Thanks, Alter Eco!

I started with the chocolates, being the chocolate lover that I am. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try the coconut toffee chocolate bar because it’s not vegan (it has butter and whole milk powder) but it sounded delicious and I’m sure my family will enjoy it! As far as the other bars go, they were all great. I’ve had the quinoa bar before but it never gets old, with its little crispy bites of quinoa mixed throughout. The almond bar was good with a hint of sweetness, and I think it would have been even better with a touch of sea salt. And the blackout bar was really rich and fruity, and not too bitter for an 85% cocoa content bar.

The quinoa was really delicious and nutty, but my favorite part was the color. I’ve only ever had pearl quinoa before (the beige kind) so it was cool to try quinoa with shades of red and brown. So far, I’ve used it to make breakfast quinoa bowls (mixed with almond milk and protein powder and topped with nut butter and fruit) and also the pumpkin spice latte quinoa granola I shared with you last week. I’m planning on buying this quinoa from now on because it’s so colorful and I like that it’s organic.

The color makes this quinoa granola even better!

I really love Alter Eco and their mission to be fair and sustainable while still making tasty products. The best part is, their stuff is fairly inexpensive and can be found at Whole Foods and other health food stores. If you want to know more, you can check out their Facebook and Twitter pages!

The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 8th at 12 pm using a random number generator so you have until then to enter! All you need to to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me what Alter Eco product you’d like to try most (check out their website to see all they have to offer). For extra entries, you can follow me on Twitter @fashion_ash or follow my blog on WordPress and just leave a comment saying you did that. Good luck!

WIAW: A Day of Red & Pink

Hey everyone! I hope you all had fabulous weekends! Mine was really good, since I spent it at home, and actually a little longer than usual, because of a snowstorm that kept me here for another day. But I’m not complaining 😉

Anyways, I really wanted to thank every single one of you who commented on my last post. I loved that you guys spoke your mind in a very respectful way and I really liked the conversation that the post sparked. I really do believe that every person is totally different and as such, they have completely different nutritional needs and we should all be respectful and understanding of that, which you all did. So thanks again!

Peas and Crayons

Moving on to WIAW for this week! I decided to do mine a little early, since I wanted to do a special Valentine’s Day edition and V-Day is today! Basically, my meals were pretty pink and red (and chocolate-y) today in honor of the holiday. I’m not a huge fan of V-Day, but I also don’t hate it. I mean, my parents are basically the best Valentines ever, since they got me the sweetest card, a pink carnation plant and a cute American Eagle scarf. And after all, the day’s a good excuse to wear pink which is exactly I did. But more on that later!

Breakfast: raspberry mocha smoothie in a bowl topped with Kashi GoLean, peanut flour paste, gummy vitamins and a couple vegan chocolate chips.

This was my first attempt at a smoothie in a bowl and while it was super tasty, it wasn’t thick. At all. More like cold soup, which is alright but I want a super thick smoothie. Looks like I have to invest in some xanthan gum…Anyways, the smoothie was just a mix of some frozen raspberries, cocoa powder, u/s vanilla almond milk (my personal fave brand is Pacific Naturals) and a little Starbucks instant coffee powder. I love the little caffeine burst+coffee flava in the morning without shelling out $4 for some ‘bucks. Speaking of which…

Tall skinny soy caramel macchiato (love!) in a special Starbucks Valentine's cup.

My dad and I hit up the ‘bucks on Sunday for some afternoon coffee and I was soooooo excited, because I’d heard about the special V-Day cups. I am such a sucker for all things seasonal so this did not disappoint. I also tried out a new-to-me drink, the skinny caramel macchiato with soy and it was delicious and caramel-y without being too rich. Definitely a repeat order.

Outfit of the day: hot pink cropped cardi (A&F), pink ruffled tank (A&F Kids), tan corduroy jeggings (Hollister), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), pink polka dot headband (American Eagle).

I was honestly surprised by how few people were wearing red or pink on campus. I guess I just like to be festive 😉 The pants look like a nasty color in the photo, but trust me, they’re actually a caramel color, not a gross mustard yellow. The lighting in my dorm is pretty pathetic!

Lunch: butternut squash cubes with cinnamon, chocolate brownie Pure bar, raisins.

Who says you can’t eat a brownie for lunch? It is Valentine’s Day, after all! And of course, the chocolate brownie Pure bar is super-healthy, so it’s alright. I enjoyed this lunch on-the-go between classes as per usual.

Snack: raspberry zinger tea, superfruits Oikos.

My favorite Oikos flavor, hands down, would have to be the superfruits. It’s an amazing mix of pomegranate, raspberry and acai and I just love it. I haven’t had it in literally months, though, because the stores me never seem to stock it. When my lovely mom picked up groceries for me last week, she found it and knowing how much I love it, got it for me. Now I get to enjoy it three more times!

Dinner: dark chocolate raspberry "cheesecake" oats, smart bacon.

I love love LOVE having oats for dinner…with some protein and a fruit or veggie to balance it out, of course. Tonight I went for a really sweet oats combo of dark cocoa powder and frozen raspberries with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt stirred in. The yogurt made the oats really creamy and reminded me a little bit of cheesecake. A healthy cheesecake, of course!

Snack: bunny pretzels, organic strawberry jam, almond peanut cashew butter, peanut flour paste.

Of course I had to use my heart-shaped bowl at least once today. I’m not really sure how this snack is related to Valentine’s Day, except that it’s in the bowl and it has strawberry jam. It’s just one of my favorite snack combos at the moment!

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What’s your favorite berry?

WIAW: Goals for the New Year

Hi everyone, and welcome to 2012! I know it’s been a few days already, but it still feels so weird to me that we’re in a brand new year. 2011, especially the second half, just flew by! I can’t believe I only have 2 1/2 years left in college–part of me is excited though, because I can’t wait to get out in the ‘real world’ and be even more independent!

Peas and Crayons

Sadly I missed out on WIAW last week and I did not want that to happen again this week (which is why I’m a little early to the par-tay)! I haven’t been so great with taking food photos, but honestly I’d rather just be having fun at home than trying to document every meal. But I do have a few pics from throughout the week so I’ll roll with that 😀 I also wanted to share a few of my goals for 2012. They’re not exactly resolutions, since I don’t really believe in them, but just things I’d like to make happen in the new year.

My last skinny soy peppermint mocha of the season? Say it isn't so!

  • Try out more raw foods/recipes. I’m not going to go completely raw, but I really love how whole, fresh, raw foods make me feel. I’ve made a couple of raw recipes in the past year (check them out here) and I actually loved them more than ‘traditional’ desserts so I’d love to make more. I’d also like to try out some raw main dish recipes (like raw tacos made out of walnuts!) and maybe even a raw dish at a restaurant!

Sweet potatoes make the best lunch! With fresh pineapple and mango and topped with peanut flour paste.

  • Improve my GPA in spring semester. Because of my (horrendous, horrible, awful, insert-word-here) stats class last semester, my GPA slipped a little bit. I will admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so getting a C+ as a final grade for the first time ever was somewhat devastating. I’m hoping I can pull my GPA back up in the coming semester, and maybe even make it better than before, since I’m taking all classes that interest me.

Switching up my breakfast has never tasted so good! 1/3 cup PB Puffins, plain Oikos mixed with a little organic raspberry jam, peanut flour paste sandwiched in half a banana.

  • Get a Twitter? I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but I’ve always been interested in it. However, I already waste enough time as it is on Facebook, so maybe not. But it seems like a good way to stay connected and stalk my fave celebs.

Organic kettle corn and a peanut flour-ed banana make a delicious nighttime snack!

  • Get an internship. I’m taking a class this next semester that I need to get an internship at a TV station over the summer, so I’m crossing my fingers that I land one. I honestly don’t care if I have to run Starbucks errands or make copies, as long as I can get my foot in the door in the TV news industry, I will be very happy!

Guys, seriously try this right now if you haven't--Medjool date stuffed with a couple dark chocolate chips. It legit tastes like a cookie!

  • Learn how to budget. Now that I have my first job and am getting paid on a somewhat regular basis, I’d like to work on my budgeting skills. I know I still rely mostly on my parents to provide me groceries and such, but I do need to learn in advance so I’m not completely lost when I’m out in the adult world. Oh, and I need to stop impulse buying clothes! I don’t really regret my purchases ever, but I should at least try to wait til they’re on clearance 😉

Cheeseless pizza makes my world go 'round! 2 slices Amy's vegan roasted veggie pizza, side of roasted brussels and a simple almond milk/banana/peanut flour smoothie.

  • Have more fun. I will admit that I’m naturally an introvert, and I actually like quiet nights at home vs. going out most of the time, but I’d like to take more risks and hang out with friends outside of class. I do tend to get bored spending a whole day at home, so I do like to go out for some shopping or whatever, but I usually don’t feel comfortable enough doing stuff like that with friends and I’d really like to do more of that this semester.

What is one of your ‘goals’ for the new year? What is the best thing you’ve eaten so far in 2012?

WIAW: With a Side of Survey

Hiya guys! I can’t tell you how glad I am that I’m not the only one who seems to be stressed out around this time of year! For any of you currently in the same boat as me (finals, packing, etc.)–hang in there! We will make it through, and today is one day closer to freedom break.

I decided to interrupt my studying (ummmm who am I kidding, I haven’t started yet!) and bring you this week’s edition of WIAW, aka the best part-ay ever! I mean who wouldn’t want to party it up in the midst of finals and projects? I know I do so let’s get to it! This week’s version includes a fun little survey brought to you by Tessa at Amazing Asset.

1. Four TV Shows I Watch

  • The Office—OMG, so funny! I started watching this show religiously a couple of seasons ago and haven’t stopped since. It isn’t quite the same with Steve Carell (aka Michael Scott) around, but it’s still hilarious
  • What Not to Wear—probably my favorite show. Stacy and Clinton aren’t afraid to tell people that their style is horrendous, and I love seeing the before & after, and their shopping trips.
  • Saturday Night Live—okay, maybe this is my favorite show? This show makes me crack up every time, and I love watching it with my family. Looking forward to some hilarious fam time over winter break catching up on SNL. Seriously, we are so obsessed that we constantly quote the sketches.
  • The news—haha I watch the local news on a pretty much daily basis, whether I’m at home or at school. What can I say, I’m a broadcast journalism major and I pretty much have anchors who are my idols on the local news!

Breakfast of champions: (last) Clif Kids full moon brownie bar, spicy veggie sausage, gummy dinosaur vitamins, frozen pineapple/banana chunks.

2. Four Things I’m Passionate About

  • Healthy living. One positive thing that’s stemmed from my eating disorder is my passion for eating healthy. I am now vegetarian/semi-vegan and it just feels right for me. I also like to stay active in fun ways like playing tennis with my dad and sister, going for a long bike ride or a major shopping trip  😉
  • My faith. I don’t mention it a lot on here, but I have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, and it really fuels everything I do. I’ve been  Christian my whole life but my faith has grown even more as I’ve struggled with things during the past few years.
  • Fashion. I really need to do another  Style Phile post on here soon, because I’m missing having a fashion outlet through blogging. I am not the kind of girl who goes to class in sweats or jeans and a t-shirt. That being said, I do think comfort and style can go together and that’s how I strive to dress.
  • Staying true to myself. Sometimes, yeah, I do feel out of place for not going out and partying every weekend (or ever…) but I remind myself that that’s just not who I am and I know personally that that’s not what I consider fun. I prefer hanging out with people on a closer basis and just doing low-key things and that’s perfectly okay.

Seems like a bizarre lunch, but I promise you it was delicious! 1/2 cup organic kettle corn (my new addiction), tablespoon peanut flour sauce, plain Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon and Truvia.

3. Four Words/Phrases I Use A Lot

  • Like, especially when I’m nervous!
  • Definitely. It’s pretty much my go-to phrase.
  • Haha. That one is definitely overused in my text messaging!
  • That sucks! So creative, I know!

Apples and peanut flour sauce are a match made in my mouth 😉

4. Four Things I’ve Learned in the Past

  • Don’t take things too personally. Honestly, I am still so bad at this. I get emotional really easily and I read too much into people’s words and reactions. But really, most of the time, people don’t care that much about me, so I should just move on.
  • Comparisons suck. I am so done with comparing myself to others, it’s just completely pointless and has it ever made anyone feel better about themselves?
  • Making excuses all the time can really bite you in the butt. I make excuses a lot and while they sometimes work to my advantage, sometimes I just need to suck it up and do the work.
  • I am so glad I’m not majoring in a math-related field. Pretty self-explanatory, but I am so over math and science. I definitely wasn’t expecting to have to take some classes in it in college…

And this is why I've stopped taking pictures of my dinner! The sun sets basically at like 5 pm, so lighting at a quarter to 7 is awfulness. But it honestly was good--volume oats topped with peanut flour sauce (I'm on a roll with this, obvs) and organic raspberry jam, with a side of cinnamon-spiked butternut squash.

5. Four Places I’d Like to Go

  • Somewhere in the Caribbean. I love that whole tropical atmosphere, plus the water there is gorgeous!
  • Mall of America. Shopaholic over hurrrrr! Haha but seriously, this mall has everything (or so I’ve heard). I just need a ton of cash to spend first!
  • Australia. I’d actually love to go there this time of year (when it’s summer there) and spend Christmas on the beach or something. It would probably blow my mind.
  • A vegan/raw restaurant. They have these in a few places across the U.S. but they just sound so yummy whenever someone posts about going there. The food seems so creative and I’d love to try a raw recreation of some of my fave foods.

This banana looks suspiciously vibrant...with some almond peanut cashew butter and a couple of vegan dark chocolate chips.

6. Four Things I Did Yesterday (I’m writing this on Tuesday, so it’s what I did Monday)

  • Gave a presentation in my PR class. My group did pretty well I think, but I just can’t wait to be done with the project altogether. Just some issues I’m having with the group…
  • Did NOT slip on random ice patches in my new heeled boots. We had to dress professional for the presentation (I was basically the only one who really did) so I decided to wear my boots with tights and a dress. Luckily, I didn’t slip on the stupid random patches of ice all around campus.
  • Took an hour-long nap around 5:30. I try not to nap so late in the day, so it doesn’t wreck my sleep schedule, but I was honestly so exhausted yesterday that it felt good to just rest. I didn’t really sleep much, but it was still a nice break.
  • Continued to count down to Christmas break. Yeah, it’s down to only 8 days total, as of Wednesday!

And finally, for a pin of the day--how women see color vs. how men see color. So. True.

7. Four Things I Love About Winter

  • Starbucks holiday drinks and red cups. You could say I’m obsessed.
  • The holidays. Christmas and New Year’s, it doesn’t get any better than that!
  • Wearing tights and boots together. It’s one of my favorite outfit combos—sometimes I wear (different) tights and boots every day of the week!
  • How pretty snow is when it’s falling. Once it’s on the ground and frozen over so you slip every few seconds, not so much…

What is one thing you love about winter? Do you have a peanut flour obsession?

My Foodie Staples

Aren’t there a few many things you can’t live without? I’m sure we all have them, I know I do! They tend to change every once in a while, but I definitely have some items I’d prefer to not go without. With that being said, here’s my current list of foodie staples!

Cereal: Right now, I’m loving on the PB Puffins (hope I never get sick of those!), Kashi Honey Sunshine, 365 Organic Honey Crunch & Oats and Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch. I also really like Bear Naked Fit granola (especially triple berry crunch–what’s with all these cereals and having crunch in their name?) and Udi’s cranberry granola. I generally don’t have cereal at breakfast (I used to everyday, though) but it makes an amazing snack…or small dinner?

PB & Chocolate Puffins, Bear Naked Fit granola

Fruit: Gosh, no way could I ever live without this! I love almost all fruits I’ve tried, except for plums and pears. In my dorm, it’s hard to have some of my favorite fruits, like pineapple and berries, so I’m sticking with some tried-and-true varieties, like bananas, black grapes and apples. They’re all pretty versatile and easy to take with me to classes.

Red grapes, giant Honeycrisp apple, bunch 'o bananas

Veggies: I also love veggies, but I don’t really have a way to cook it, so raw it is. Luckily, I love raw cauliflower, and it’s pretty easy to eat. I also discovered butternut squash, which is amazing and simple to heat up in the micro. Plus it comes pre-cut (thanks, Whole Foods!) so it’s perfect for someone without a sharp knife handy. Baby carrots are also a good option.

Cubed b-nut squash, baby carrots, cauliflower

Dried fruit: Mmmmmm, yes! Dried fruit is the bomb.com and even less of a hassle to bring to classes. I love Medjool dates, raisins (golden and regular), dried pineapple, freeze-dried fruit…the list goes on and on. I just look for dried fruit without any added sugar or chemicals and I’m good to go!

Organic Medjool dates, raisins, organic dried pineapple

Mini frozen burritos: I have 2 small fridges with tiny freezer compartments, so I need all the space I can get. EVOL makes mini burritos, which are perfect as a snack or part of dinner/lunch. I love the veggie fajita kind, since it’s vegan and yummy. Score!

2 mini EVOL veggie fajita frozen burritos

Sweet potatoes: I’ve been missing these guys like crazy lately, but luckily, they’re back in my life again. They heat up quick in the micro and taste so so good topped with almost anything–nut butter, trail mix, honey, guacamole, chili powder…

Cinnamon and almond butter topped sweet potato

Spices: Speaking of chili powder, girl’s gotta have her spices. All I got right now is curry powder, ground cinnamon and hot Mexican chili pepper, but it’s good enough for me! Those are probably my 3 fave, and they can ‘spice’ up anything from coffee (the cinnamon, of course) to veggies.

Ground cinnamon and hot Mexican-style chili powder

Truvia: I like things sweet, but I don’t want to add real sugar to some things, ya know? That’s where Truvia packets come in. They’re easy to carry around in case I get an unsweetened iced tea on-the-go and I always add a packet to my oats to sweeten them up. I love that they’re a natural sub for fake sugar.

Big box o' Truvia packets

Almond/nut butter: Where would we be without nut butter? As I’ve said several times before, PB is not my fave (sorry!). But I absolutely adore almond, and lately, almond peanut cashew. Nut butters are soooooo good on sweet taters, as an oats topper, on wraps/sandwiches, with fruit (especially dates) or even off your finger 😉

Archer Farms almond peanut cashew butter

Morningstar spicy veggie sausages: I have one of these almost every morning, and have for probably the last year. Somehow, I’m not getting bored of them. I’m definitely not a savory person, especially at breakfast, but they’re a great source of vegetarian protein, they’re easy to make (except when your micro burns them…) and they taste so darn good. I like anything spicy, like I’ve said millions of times before.

Spicy veggie breakfast sausage, fudgie-topped millet bread

Organic jelly: It’s kinda upsetting how many jellies have high fructose corn syrup in them. I mean, come on, why can’t they just have simple, natural ingredients? When I found Smucker’s Organic line of jellies, I fell in love. Sure, there’s still sugar in them, but it’s real sugar, and it’s natural and organic. There aren’t any weird ingredients in it either. Is it weird that I like it with nut butter and crackers????? It’s also delish as an oats topper.

Smucker's Organic concord grape jelly

Starbucks VIA instant coffee: I can’t live without my ‘bucks fix every once in awhile. But when you’re a college student with no car, it’s kinda hard to get. Lucky for me, they came out with instant coffee packs that are almost as good as their brewed stuff. Not only do I love it in homemade skinny lattes, but it’s amazing mixed in with overnight oats. Talk about an energizing breakfast 😛

Date with almond butter, homemade Starbucks VIA latte, Greek yogurt with raw organic honey

Protein bars: I’m no athlete, but I still eat these like it’s my job. Kidding, but I do love ’em. I don’t get the huge ones, like regular Clifs (I usually cut them in half to have as a snack), I prefer the Mojo kind which are like trail mix bars, and Pure and Halo bars. They make a perfect on-the-go lunch alongside some fruit and they come in so many varieties. My faves at the moment are Mojo white chocolate macadamia and mountain mix, Pure chocolate brownie and Halo s’mores and nutty marshmallow. I try to get bars that have at least 6 grams of protein (the Halo ones don’t, but they’re good for a snack) and only natural sugar.

Clif Mojo Mountain Mix & White Chocolate Macadamia, Clif Z-Bar Chocolate Chip and Full Moon Brownie, Pure Cherry Cashew and Chocolate Brownie, Halo Nutty Marshmallow and Clif C Blueberry

Almond milk: I switched to soy last May, and I liked it for a while, but now I prefer almond. I still have soy milk every so often (the Silk seasonal kinds are SO good) but now I’m trying to buy almond more often. I really love the Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but the plain Whole Foods brand is also good. It lasts longer in the fridge than soy and has a nice, light nutty taste.

Pacific Naturals organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Rolled oats: Of course I have these! I probably have oats in some form every single day…well actually, I pretty much just eat them in overnight oats 😀 Unlike a lot of people, I prefer overnighters to cooked oats. But anyways, oats are incredibly versatile, easy to prepare and so healthy. I don’t even want to start to explain my overnight oats, so just check out my page devoted to them!

Carrot cake overnight oats

 Greek yogurt: Another “duh” if you read my bloggy regularly! Oikos is my one true Greek yo’ love, but sometimes I go off and have an affair with Fage mango guanabana or blueberry acai. Shhhhhh, don’t tell 😉

Oikos organic plain, Fage Total 0% blueberry acai, Oikos organic caramel

 Of course, there are many many more products I’ve (sadly) had to leave out ’cause I didn’t wanna bore y’all with it, but these are what I have most often and love the most!

What are your foodie staples?

WIAW: Weekend of (Many!) Firsts

First off…thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for your responses to my story. It means so much to me that I’ve gotten so many amazing comments and that you’ve taken the time to read it. You ladies are the best 😀 I’ll be posting part 2 (my recovery journey so far) hopefully on Friday or Saturday.

Peas and Crayons

Now let’s get on to WIAW! I promised y’all some weekend update-age, so here it is! Instead of posting my eats from this week, they’re all from this weekend and best of all, there’s 3 recipes, plus mini product reviews! You guys are so lucky this week 😉

My Saturday morning started out with one of these little suckers. My throat's been bugging me lately, and I hate cherry/honey lemon cough drops so I was pumped to find these when I got home--tropical cough drops!

 Mi madre picked me up after classes on Friday and we hit the road…and a bunch of traffic. We planned on going to urgent care when we got back so we could get it over with, but first we stopped at Panera. I love their salads so much, and I ended up getting a new-ish favorite, the Thai Chopped salad without wontons or chicken. The dressing on this is actually delish especially compared to most restaurants and not too overpowering, plus I love the edamame and little cashew clusters.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find these in my drawer. Well...I did order them a week or so ago, but I'd had them shipped home instead of to my dorm. In case you can't tell what they are, they're coral culotte shorts (from A&F). They'll be great for pairing with tights when it gets cold!

 We got to urgent care and basically sat around for 15 minutes until the receptionist directed us to the check-in desk for x-rays. We checked in, waited another 5 minutes and then I got x-rayed (for like the millionth fourth or fifth time ever, not counting tooth x-rays). Luckily there wasn’t anyone else in line for the x-ray (who would at like 7:30 at night?) so I got it over with. But of course, if you’ve ever gotten an x-ray, you know you have to wait around for awhile for it to be developed. So my mom and I were stuck in the pediatrics area, watching incredibly lame Disney Channel shows. Never have I been more glad that I am too old to watch these shows. I mean, Disney used to be awesome back in the day, but now? Not so much. Anyway, the x-ray came back and the doctor said there was no fracture or anything, but that I have plantar fasciitis. Apparently, you can’t do a lot to treat it, but it can become a chronic problem that I might have to get injections for. So fun 😦 I actually kinda wanted it to be fractured so it could be fixed, but oh well.

Long name, delicious taste. Can I just say I've fallen in love with Target's nut butters? They are so simple (this one's just almonds, peanuts, cashews and sea salt) but so good.

Apple pie...gum?! I saw this when we were checking out and I had to try it. I honestly wasn't expecting much, but it's so yummy! It doesn't last long, but while it does, it's amazing.

I really wanted a more natural alternative to agave and a cheaper one to maple syrup, so when I found this, I snapped it up. Raw is goooooood!

Ugh, the lighting in my room is legit the worst. I need a lightbox or something. But this was delish nonetheless.

OMG, my new favorite vegetable!

 On Saturday, my wonderful daddy and I ran a bunch of errands, which is honestly one of my favorite things to do, especially when it involves Target/Whole Foods. Don’t judge me 😉 At Target, I found SO many new-to-me products that–ahem–weren’t on my list, but I couldn’t pass them up, now could I? Especially this seasonal stuff–I’m such a sucker for them. So here’s my honest reviews on them (disclaimer: I bought my dad bought these, I wasn’t given these to review and the opinions are my own).

Archer Farms Almond Peanut Cashew Butter: I’ve had the Archer Farms almond butter before, and it’s really really good. This was also yummy, almost as good as the AB. That’s probably because I’m partial to the AB, but this was very yummy. It’s pretty smooth and drippy, which is perfect for sandwiches/wraps and oats. It’s pretty peanutty, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but there’s also a hint of almond in there which balances it out nicely. I just wish there was more cashew taste.

Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie gum: I can’t believe this is a sugar-free gum! It’s so sweet, but in a good way. Oh and yes, it does taste and smell exactly like an apple pie. I know, I was shocked too! I thought it’d just be apple, but there is definitely a pie element to it. I don’t know how Extra does it, but this is a winner in my book!

Archer Farms Organic Raw Wildflower Honey: If you’ve gotta have sugar (which I do!), organic and raw is the way to go. I love feeling like I’m treating my body right, while also getting my sugar fix. This will be so good on frozen nanner slices, with nut butter and as an oats topper.

Vitatops Pumpkin Spice: I love Vitatops! My favorite include banana nut, golden corn and bluebran, but there are so many I really want to try. When I saw this, and realized it was already October, I knew I couldn’t leave the store without em. I heated up my first one on Monday night, and I could smell the pumpkin coming from the micro. It was love at first bite. I loved the little pumpkin seeds on top (even though they weren’t well-distributed) but I was surprised to find chunks of candied ginger in the Vitatop. It seemed weird at first but it’s not a bad thing.

Brussels Sprouts: How have I never tried these before? I think it’s probably because they have such a bad rep for being gross. My dad decided to buy them, I said I’d try them and at home, we sprinkled a little olive oil, kosher salt and ground pepper on them and then roasted them in the oven. As soon as I took my first bite, I was in lurrrrve 😀 The outside was crispy and salty and the inside was tender and so good. I had a bowl full of them at dinner, and then at lunch on Sunday, I polished off the leftovers. You could say I’ve discovered my new favorite veggie!

Spicy pumpkin pizza: brown rice tortilla crust, topped with organic canned pumpkin puree mixed with spices, green chiles, orange bell pepper and tempeh bacon.

Close up of my new fave pizza...holla!

 Alright, it’s recipe time! First up is my super-simple recipe for spicy pumpkin pizza. I know a lot of bloggers are ob-sessed with pumpkin and I am too. But I wanted to find a way to use it in a savory recipe. Then I thought–why not make a pizza sauce? So I bought a can of organic pumpkin puree and got to cookin’!

Spicy Pumpkin Pizza (vegan, makes 2)

2 brown rice tortillas, whole wheat naan bread or whatever crust you’d like to use

2/3 can organic pumpkin puree

veggies (I used spicy green chiles and grilled orange bell pepper)

spices (I used black pepper, a little kosher salt and chili powder)

tempeh bacon, precooked tofu cubes, whatever protein you’d like to use

Spoon pumpkin into a bowl and mix with spices to taste. Spread “sauce” on your crusts and top with veggies and protein source. Bake in a 400 degree oven (on a baking sheet) for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Dig in and enjoy!

I had a very orange dinner...can you blame me, it's October! I love getting in the Halloween spirit with my food.

 Creamy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (vegan, makes 1)

1/3 can pumpkin puree (use what’s left from the pizza!)

1/2 cup Silk soy eggnog (I love it ’cause it’s nondairy but so delish)

ground ginger, cinnamon to taste

Pour all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add xanthan gum if you want it to be really thick, or make it a Green Monster by adding in a handful of spinach.

Corn bread is good, but pumpkin corn bread is even better!

 I found this recipe for corn bread several years ago when I was first getting really into cooking. I haven’t baked anything in awhile, but I was really wanting to make cornbread to take back to school with me. But then I thought, why not keep this pumpkin trend going and make it pumpkin cornbread? Genius, no? 😛

Pumpkin Cornbread (makes 12 pieces)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup cornmeal

2 tbsp honey*

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup Silk soy eggnog

*This recipe is vegan if you replace the honey with agave or brown sugar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray loaf pan (or muffin tins, if you want to make muffins) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mix flour, corn meal, baking soda and salt in a bowl til combined. Add in honey, pumpkin and soy nog until blended. You may have to add up to 1/2 cup water to make batter wet enough to stick together. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until outside is golden brown. Let cool and slice; serve with honey, nut butter or in a yogurt mess.

My first encounter with butternut squash..and I didn't have to prepare it. Thank you, Whole Foods!

I've found a new tortilla love...move over sprouted grain tortillas!

 

Awh, it's all crumbly and broken!

Butternut Squash: I’m pretty new to the squash world. I’ve been hunting down kabocha with no success, but when I saw this package of pre-cut b-nut squash at Whole Foods, I decided to try it. Since I’m such a newbie, I had to guess what to do with it, and since my only heating apparatus thingie is a microwave, I used it to heat up the cubes, since they were kinda hard. After a minute and a half, they were nice and tender and I sprinkled some raw honey and cinnamon on it. OMG, so tasty! Maybe this is my new favorite veggie…?

Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas: I’m not gluten-free, but I don’t like regular tortillas, so when I discovered Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas, I bought them. I’ve had them all summer and liked them for the most part, but lately I haven’t really been that excited about them. I’ve seen a ton of bloggers have the brown rice tortillas by the same company, so I was on the lookout for them. I love that they’re huge but not so calorie-dense (I’m looking at you, Chipotle burritos!) plus they’re just darn good and make perfect pizza crusts. They remind me of the tortillas EVOL burritos have, and I love those, so these are also a winner.

Sunshine Falafel veggie burger: I love veggie burgers, specifically many of Amy’s, but I wanted to find a new one I could buy regularly. I had my first Sunshine burger on vacation this summer and it was so good and dense. I wanted to try another variety, and I thought falafel sounded interesting enough. And it actually does taste like baked falafel, and it even kinda looks like a giant falafel. I just hate that it’s so crumbly, but I can live with that.

Woo, you all made it through that monster of a post 😀 But I hope you enjoyed my mini-reviews and recipes (and will go out and buy the products I loved…basically all of them, and maybe got a lil recipe inspiration…a girl can dream, right 😉 ?)

What is something new you’ve tried lately and loved? Are you into seasonal food items (like pumpkin or apple-flavored things)?

P.S. Check out my Best Of… page for these recipes and all the others that I’ve posted on here–with more to come!