What I Ate (and wore) Wednesday

I haven’t participated in WIAW in awhile! This week’s post is not all about the food, because let’s be real, I forgot to take a lot of food pics recently, but I also wanted to share some of my outfits as well.

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I usually make protein banana softserve for breakfast, but who doesn’t like to switch things up sometimes? Now that I have more time in the mornings, I made some almond flour-based pancakes the other morning. They were cookie-dough inspired, filled with stevia chocolate chips, and topped with warmed frozen cherries and a side of about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I’ve been subconsciously avoiding most added sugars lately and it’s changed my tastebuds. Now even a little maple syrup is too sweet!
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I like to play the part of a broadcast journalist, even if I’m not one quite yet! I’ve been really into blazers lately and I kinda want one in every color…
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I finally ordered some more peanut flour and I’ve missed it a ton! I’m glad I took a break though because I know you can develop allergic reactions to things you eat too ofen…and I definitely used to OD on peanut flour. It was good to have it back in my life, though, in this shirataki noodle stir fry topped with spinach, pineapple, homemade roasted chickpeas and the most addicting spicy raw sunflower seeds from the bulk section at Whole Foods.
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As much as I love some booty-hugging yoga shorts (especially these from VS Pink), I don’t wear them unless I’m working out. I actually was able to wear this outfit outside on Sunday to play tennis with my dad! It was a glorious 60 degrees, sunny and my definition of a perfect winter day 😉 And getting in almost an hour of tennis with my dad was even better.

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I posted about these on Instagram the other day, but you didn’t get to see the actual boots! I was in need of some black riding boots, and these sale-priced ones from ALDO fit the bill perfectly. Plus they were 50% off, what’s not to love? I’ve been doing some really smart shopping lately and I love that I’ve learned to be budget conscious, at least with clothes…
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Banana softserve is still consumed at least once per day. FYI, frozen bananas taste incredible blended with PlantFusion cookies ‘n cream protein powder, dark cocoa powder, spinach (gotta get those greens in!) and topped with PB+coconut oil and stevia chocolate chips. It’s like a decadent dessert, but healthy enough for breakfast!
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Sometimes, you gotta throw on the leggings and the chambray shirt. I like my girly clothes, so even my casual wear is cutened up a bit. I’m obsessed with this shirt…and the scarf! Love those infinity scarves.
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And then of course, the girly side of me wins out most of the time. I wore this outfit (from Christmas) out to see Frozen with my mom (a really good movie) and then some outlet shopping. I think I could probably live in tights/dresses+skirts!

As an aside, I weighed myself the other day. NEVER a good idea, and it certainly wasn’t this time. I just knew I had gained some weight, but I wasn’t expecting to be so close to 100 pounds. That number scares me so much, because I’ve never been in the triple digit club. I know something is off with my body, though–no period in almost 9 months, not-so-great skin and some digestive issues have been plaguing me for awhile and I’m anxious for my doctor’s appointment next month to (hopefully) clear things up. Honestly, though, if I hadn’t weighed myself, I wouldn’t have guessed I weighed that much. I still look about the same, I fit in all my clothes, so I’m hoping some of the weight is muscle (I think some of it is, because I can feel the hardness of my abs, arms and legs) and hopefully, if my body is out of whack, I can get back to the right weight for me. Right now, I’m just trying hard not to let this derail my progress…

What have you been eating/wearing this week?

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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?

Food & Fitness Friday

Well, apparently I’m a sucker for alliteration. And themed posts. Hey, whatever works right? And it’s Friday, by this point in the week I’m just happy it’s the weekend and I’m looking forward to my 3 day break from thinking. Joking, of course, because I still (always) have homework to do but it’s still nice to have a few days off from classes and the daily grind.

I hate when I get excited about a new food find…and it’s disappointing

All the way from the U.K. and not even that great.

All the way from the U.K. and not even that great.

I’ve seen these bars on several, mostly U.K.-based blogs and totally drooled over it. What’s not to love about a vegan, gluten free, no added sugar, maple peanut protein bar? Apparently, a lot. First of all, it’s a light grey-colored bar. Totally unappetizing, but I took a bite anyway. Aaaaand…not the best bar I’ve ever had. It didn’t really taste like maple or peanut, more just sweet and it had a texture different than the Larabars I’m used to. The only thing great about it was the 12 grams of protein. Not a repeat purchase for me. (P.S. I did love the raw chocolate brownie Pulsin’ bar I bought though…)

I took my first “progress” pics…and I’m actually posting them!

Definitely not where I want to be, but hopefully I'll make some gains soon!

Definitely not where I want to be, but hopefully I’ll make some gains soon!

I started lifting at the beginning of February (light weights, nothing too crazy at first) and I wanted to take some progress pics to establish a baseline. I have noticed a few changes, mostly that my biceps are a bit more defined than they were, and my triceps are tighter when I flex. I really want to start seeing some changes in my stomach (I have a few ab like lines when I flex but they’re not as defined as I’d like) and my legs are still one of the spots I don’t like on my body. I always feel like they’re huge, flabby, etc. even though I know they’re muscular and (hopefully) not huge. I just need to start accepting my thighs for what they are!

I’m having sushi twice in one week #getatme

I love having leftover sushi as a salad topper.

I love having leftover sushi as a salad topper.

After coming back up to campus on Monday evening and having to make a grocery run, I decided to just do a lazy dinner and get some veggie brown rice sushi from Whole Foods. I split the box into two servings, and enjoyed one of them the other day for dinner on top of a peanut flour and coconut aminos-massaged kale salad. And tonight, I’m planning on getting sushi from an actual sushi place with a friend. Nothing beats a Friday night sushi date!

I just can’t get enough…of chia puddings for breakfast!

A tiramisu inspired pudding. Made with Sunwarrior vanilla, ground coffee, chia seeds and topped with  1/4 raw chocolate brownie Pulsin' bar and the last of the coconut whipped 'cream'.

A tiramisu inspired pudding. Made with Sunwarrior vanilla, ground coffee, chia seeds and topped with 1/4 raw chocolate brownie Pulsin’ bar and the last of the coconut whipped ‘cream’.

These are becoming my new breakfast obsession. Actually, I could eat these for any and all meals, they’re just that good. The version I had yesterday morning was one of my favorites, nothing beats the coffee/chocolate/coconut combo.

Tiramisu Chia Pudding (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1 scoop Sunwarrior Warrior Blend vanilla protein powder (or other vanilla protein powder)

1-2 tsp chia seeds

1 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 tbsp ground coffee (I used Archer Farms candy cane blend)

1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, to mix

In a small bowl, mix together protein powder, chia seeds, coconut flour and ground coffee. Add enough almond milk to make a creamy and thick consistency with no dry spots. Add a little extra if you want your chia pudding to be more liquid-y. Refrigerate overnight and serve in the morning topped with coconut whipped cream (just the thickened part of a can of coconut milk that’s been  refrigerated overnight or a few days), more ground coffee and a chocolate Larabar-type bar. Makes 1 serving. 

iHerb is my addiction #sorryimnotsorry

The latest iHerb order...including new-to-me lucuma powder and a free watermelon lollipop!

The latest iHerb order…including new-to-me lucuma powder and a free watermelon lollipop!

So I should have known when I first ordered from iHerb (November 2011…wow how time flies!) that I’d become addicted! I only buy from them once a month, mostly for my peanut flour fix, but they have great selection, decent prices and they always ship out pretty quickly. My latest order shipped out on Monday and I got it Thursday morning…free shipping rocks! I got my beloved peanut flour, my favorite chocolate brand in the two flavors I can never find (and love the most), a big thing of coconut sugar, my favorite Larabar flavor in a 5 pack and new-to-me lucuma powder that I’m already loving! If you’ve never shopped on iHerb…do it now! Oh, and use my code NOQ779 for $5 off orders under $40 and $10 off orders over $40!

What’s going on in your world food and fitness wise this Friday? What hashtag sums up your life right now?

Recipe submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #32

WIAW: Working With Almond Flour

The blogging world has introduced me to so many things–overnight oats (which I haven’t had in months…just got burned out on them), chia seeds, green monsters, Larabars, socca…and now, almond flour.

Almond flour is wayyyyy different than other flours, even gluten free flours. It’s basically made from ground up almonds so it packs plenty of healthy plant fats, fiber and protein. Even though I tend to eat gluten free 90% of the time, I haven’t done any experimenting with the typical GF flours like brown rice, sorghum, etc. When I make GF baked goods, I usually use buckwheat, quinoa or peanut flours but since I discovered almond flour a couple months ago, I’ve been loving it! It’s definitely harder to work with than other GF flours but it adds a great texture to things and unlike coconut flour, you don’t always need eggs to make it work, which I love as a vegan.

This week, I’ve had the house to myself for the mornings and early afternoons so I’ve been taking advantage and whipping up some new recipes in the kitchen. And because of my recent addiction to almond flour, a lot of those experiments have included almond flour in them!

Homemade summer rolls with sunflower seed butter/lite coconut milk/red curry paste dipping sauce. Filled with fresh cucumber slices, pan-fried almond flour-coated tofu and roasted peanuts.

Homemade summer rolls with sunflower seed butter/light coconut milk/red curry paste dipping sauce. Filled with fresh cucumber slices, pan-fried almond flour-coated tofu and roasted peanuts.

Almond flour works really well as a GF and grain free breadcrumb-like coating. I’ve been loving sprouted tofu again lately so for my first time making summer rolls at home, I decided to pan-fry the tofu in a little coconut oil. I coated it in some light coconut milk mixed with red curry paste, rolled the tofu slices in some almond flour and threw it in the pan. Even though the filling fell out of some of the rolls, it was still a delicious dinner.

My first morning ACV 'cocktail'. Made with 1 tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 10 drops English toffee liquid stevia, vanilla extract and water.

My first morning ACV ‘cocktail’. Made with 1 tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 10 drops English toffee liquid stevia, vanilla extract and water.

Another thing the blog world has introduced me to is ACV cocktails. Apple cider vinegar is apparently a wonder food that’s rich in potassium, can regulate blood pressure, improve skin appearance and removes toxins from the body, among other things. I finally invested in a bottle of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar from Spectrum Organics (it’s important to use this kind, otherwise you don’t reap the benefits) and I made my first ACV cocktail the other day. It was really sour at first, but I got used to it quickly and I’m planning on using it daily from now on!

Lunch: vegan socca-style 'omelette', stuffed with chopped baby carrots, jalapeno pepper and kale.

Lunch: vegan socca-style ‘omelette’, stuffed with chopped baby carrots, jalapeno pepper and kale.

This is also unrelated to almond flour, but it’s a new lunch I’ve been loving lately: the vegan omelette. Even as an omni, I HATED eggs and I never ate omelettes so it’s kinda ironic that now I’m vegan I’m craving omelettes. Whatever. Since I’ve never had an omelette, I can’t really tell you if the texture of this is similar to a real one, but it’s a simple protein and veggie packed lunch that’s also totally customizable to your tastes. I really love adding a tablespoon of nooch to the batter and filling it with carrots, jalapenos and spicy nacho cheez sauce.

Vegan Omelette (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1/4 cup garbanzo/fava bean flour

sea salt, to taste

nutritional yeast, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, etc.

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh veggies (carrots, spinach, peppers, etc.)

Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. In a bowl, mix garbanzo flour, salt and spices until combined. Add in just enough water to make a batter (should be drippy but not too thin). Pour batter into pan and wait for both sides to cook through (can flip over if you want). Once both sides are cooked, add in veggies and whatever other fillings you want to half of the omelette, and then with a spatula, flip over the uncovered half onto the veggie-covered half. Continue cooking for about a minute or until veggies start to soften. Serves 1.

This was submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #27

Breakfast: pumpkin chocolate chip almond flour pancakes topped with peanut flour paste and pomegranate arils.

Breakfast: pumpkin chocolate chip almond flour pancakes topped with peanut flour paste and pomegranate arils.

I’ve been switching up my breakfasts lately and loving it because then I’m not getting burned out too quickly. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect vegan pancake that isn’t full of gluten but is still delicious and I think I’ve got a winner. It took me a few tries to get the consistency right but these almond flour-based pancakes are really good. They’re definitely not the fluffy, Bisquick-like pancakes of your childhood but they’re great as a healthier every day breakfast and they’re perfect for all kinds of toppings, which are the best part anyway!

Pumpkin Almond Pancakes (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

2-4 tbsp almond flour (depending on how many pancakes you want or if you want a lot of toppings)

1/2 tbsp tapioca or arrowroot starch (don’t leave this out!)

1 tsp dark chocolate chips (optional)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 packet stevia, to taste

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp pumpkin puree (can use applesauce or banana if you don’t want pumpkin pancakes)

2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat nonstick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or use coconut oil to cook. In a bowl, whisk dry ingredients (through sea salt) until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining ingredients until combined.  Pour dry ingredients into wet and if needed, add a little more almond milk to thin out (you want the batter to be somewhat thick so it can stick together in the pan). Spoon half of the batter into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Only cook one pancake at a time so they don’t stick. Serve with fresh berries, real maple syrup or nut butter. Serves 1 or 2. 

Snack: garnet yam with sunflower seed butter and raisins/fig, unpictured peanut flour paste.

Snack: garnet yam with sunflower seed butter and raisins/fig, unpictured peanut flour paste.

My latest order of peanut flour came in at the right time, just as I was starting to go through withdrawals 😉 Kidding, but I loooooooove that stuff! My favorite way to eat it is to mix it up with stevia and water so it’s like a peanut frosting and then top a garnet yam with it and sprinkle on some dried fruit. Um, yum!

Orange creamsicle protein donut, made with almond flour.

Orange creamsicle protein donut, made with almond flour.

And now I finally have a delicious gluten free (and technically grain free too, since buckwheat is a seed) vegan donut recipe! And I took Heather’s donut advice to heart and remembered to flip the pan onto the baking rack…now my donuts are prettier! This time around, I was inspired by the citrus season and my year-round love for summer and made some orange creamsicle donuts. Because who wouldn’t want a summery treat when it’s all blah outside?

Orange Creamsicle Donuts (vegan, gluten free)

1 tbsp ground flax+ 3 tbsp warm water, for flax ‘egg’

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup (2 scoops) Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder (or other vegan vanilla protein powder)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp coconut sugar (or other natural granulated sugar)

1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

juice and zest of one large tangerine (I used a Minneola)

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray donut pan with nonstick cooking spray (I used a 6 cavity). In a small bowl, mix flax with water to gel into ‘egg’ and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients (through coconut sugar). In the bowl with the flax ‘egg’, stir in almond milk, vanilla, juice & zest, coconut oil and applesauce until combined. Pour wet into dry–the batter should be lumpy and thick. Add a bit more almond milk if needed. Spoon or pipe batter into donut pan (it will make a little more than can fit in a normal-sized 6 cavity pan) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Makes 6 donuts. 

And if you’re not overwhelmed by all the recipes yet, here’s one more (it’s the last one, I promise!) It’s a recipe for almond flour-based biscotti…but don’t be intimidated by the name! I had never made biscotti before this, let alone grain free vegan biscotti, but it actually turned out exactly like I hoped it would and my non-vegan cookie-loving dad told me I should sell them! So that’s a good sign, right 😛 I based my recipe off the one found here, just making a couple of changes to make it my own. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures but you can check out the original recipe for some great pics.

Almond Flour Biscotti (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1 cup almond flour

1 tbsp raw cacao powder (you can use regular cocoa or carob powder)

2 tsp tapioca or arrowroot starch

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp maple syrup (can sub honey, coconut or agave nectar)

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 dried Calimyrna fig, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend together almond flour, starch, sea salt and baking soda just until combined. Add the maple syrup until mixture comes together into a sticky ball. Run hands under water and place ball of dough onto parchment-lined sheet and press dough together. Add in sunflower seeds and fig and form dough into a long, narrow log. Bake for 20 minutes, or just until it starts to harden. Remove from oven for 10-15 minutes, cut the dough into about 1o or 12 pieces (cut along the diagonal) and then place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to finish hardening. 

Sorry about the recipe overload! Obviously I am way too excited about my almond flour successes but trust me when I say that they’re all really good substitutes for the typical gluten-filled desserts and breakfasts. Almond flour isn’t the lowest calorie flour per serving out there, plus it’s a lot higher in fat (healthy fat, of course) than most others but that’s why I like it–it’s a way to challenge my former ED fear of fats and it’s fun experimenting with ways to make vegan baked goods without the gluten or grains!

Have you ever tried almond flour in any recipe? Do you drink anything ‘weird’ in the morning? 

WIAW: The Home Stretch

Well, this is (almost) it. Just two more finals, a day and a half and some packing before I don’t have to think about school for 5 weeks! I’ve been excited about Christmas break since at least Thanksgiving break and it’s finally here. This weekend was a little tease though–I went home on Friday and came back last night, mostly so I wouldn’t have to take back a crap ton of things when I drive home on Thursday night but also to be in a better study environment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my one bedroom apartment all to myself but things can get a little cray-cray around the complex on the weekends so I thought it would be better to try to study at home.

Today’s WIAW features my eats from Tuesday–side note, I wasn’t able to snap a picture of dinner, so I’m reusing a similar-looking pic from this summer.

Breakfast: peanut chocolate chia 'pudding' topped with homemade almond flour banana bread and unsweetened coconut shreds.

Breakfast: peanut chocolate chia ‘pudding’ topped with homemade almond flour banana bread and unsweetened coconut shreds.

The pantry has been a little slack-a-lackin’ as of late (wow, did I really just say that?) so I’ve been whipping meals and snacks out of my butt. The microwave at home also just broke (how convenient) so instead of being able to make my usual protein microwave cake, I had to settle for a cold breakfast. Luckily I had some chia seeds on hand so I made a chia pudding overnight made with peanut flour, almond milk and raw chocolate protein powder. In the morning, I topped it with crumbles of an almond flour-based banana bread I made over the weekend (so good, BTW!) and unsweetened shredded coconut. This was actually really good, definite repeat breakfast. I can’t believe I used to hate coconut, it’s such a good topper!

Lunch: homemade sweet potato wedges with organic ketchup for dipping, raw cauliflower, homemade maple cinnamon cashews, peanut flour paste with Theo coconut dark chocolate square.

Lunch: homemade sweet potato wedges with organic ketchup for dipping, raw cauliflower, homemade maple cinnamon cashews, peanut flour paste with Theo coconut dark chocolate square.

The snackplate lunch returns! This was a very random one, but I like random. The sweet potato wedges were made on Monday night and I’ve gotta say, homemade is way better than store bought when it comes to sweet potato fries–I’m baking them myself from now on! The cauliflower is my latest veggie obsession, I always eat it raw and plain, which is totally weird but whatever. It’s good. I made the cashews over the weekend and again, never going back to store bought flavored nuts (ok, I probably will when I’m feeling lazy). I just mixed a tablespoon of maple syrup with a shake of cinnamon and a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan until it started to boil and then stirred in the cashews. This will totally work with all nuts, in case you hate cashews. I don’t love them, but they were all I had on hand and they were good with the maple and cinnamon.

Snack: dried pineapple eaten in the car.

Snack: dried pineapple eaten in the car.

I didn’t eat this entire bag, but I love it so much I could have! This stuff isn’t cheap (~$3.50 per bag) but it’s a pretty good deal for dried fruit with nothing added, and I always make it last almost a week. I only eat dried fruit that doesn’t have added sugars or oils or other crap, and let me tell you, it is beyond amazing! I’m calling it my crack in a bag, it is literally that good.

Dinner: Panera chopped Thai salad, without the chicken or wontons.

Dinner: Panera chopped Thai salad, without the chicken or wontons.

My mom and I grabbed Panera for dinner before she dropped me off. Panera is always a good, quick, healthy option and I pretty much always order the same thing: the Thai chopped salad minus the chicken and the wontons. I love it because A) it’s a huge bowl of fresh veggies and B) it has an addicting spicy-tangy peanut dressing and edamame. I almost went with the black bean soup because it was so cold on Tuesday, but I had to go with my favorite. Never disappoints.

Dessert (left to right clockwise): peanut flour/raw chocolate protein powder microwave cake topped with Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter; raw lemon pie macaroon; a few Vega cocoa-covered saviseeds.

Dessert (left to right clockwise): peanut flour/raw chocolate protein powder microwave cake topped with Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter; raw lemon pie macaroon; a few Vega cocoa-covered saviseeds.

I was feeling indecisive when snack time rolled around (but when am I not?) so I went with a mix of my favorite protein-packed snack of a protein microwave cake and healthy, delicious fats in the form of a raw macaroon and some dark chocolate-covered saviseeds. Those last two items were part of my most recent iHerb purchase, and they were both worth the price. The raw macaroons taste exactly like a lemon pie and are perfectly dense with just a hint of coconut. I love that they’re raw and basically made from coconut, almond flour, maple syrup and lemon juice. My kinda snack. The saviseeds have definitely grown on me–the first time I bit into one, I thought it had the oddest taste, but now they taste almost like what I remember peanut M&Ms tasting like. I’m glad I got the cocoa saviseeds because I have an obsession with all things dark chocolate. It’s a problem.

Have you ever tried a raw macaroon or saviseeds? What’s your favorite dried fruit? 

Recipe Redux: Festive Garland Bars

Do you have any recipes that you return to again and again? Maybe you make it every year for a certain holiday, or just on a laidback weekend for a quick meal or snack. I think most of us have at least one tried-and-true recipe we make often, whether it’s one we came up on our own or one from a blog or cookbook.

For me, this would be my festive garland bars. I first saw the recipe on the Whole Foods site about a year ago, and I knew right away that I wanted to veganize them. I did, and I made quite a few changes to the original to make it my own and a much healthier option. I know some people like their treats to be totally indulgent, and that’s completely fine, but I’ve got a huge sweet tooth so I always healthify my treats to make them a better option for a more regular dessert.

I first made the bars over Thanksgiving break last year and loved them. It was my first foray into reintroducing chocolate back into my life after starting recovery from my ED, and it was a big step forward for me. Now if you read my blog like, ever, you’d know that I love dark chocolate and almost never go a day without it in some form. So it was definitely time to return to these bars.

But since last year, I’ve made even more changes to my diet. I usually stick with gluten free grains because they make me feel better and I love the different tastes and textures they provide to baked goods. So I replaced the oat flour I originally used (oat flour can be gluten free, you just have to check to make sure it is certified g-free) with Garden of Life RAW chai protein powder and buckwheat flour, which give it a bit more protein power. I also cut back on the maple syrup and chocolate chips, and cut out the dried cranberries because I didn’t have them on hand. I also scaled down the recipe to make fewer bars because Thanksgiving break is just around the corner and I didn’t want to pack too much extra food when I go home. It turned out to be a delicious experiment–just as yummy as I remember them, and a little bit healthier to boot!

This year’s version of my fave dessert recipe.

Festive Garland Bars Take Two (vegan, gluten-free)

3 tbsp buckwheat flour (can sub other gluten free flours)

1 scoop Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (can use other protein powders, but this gives it a festive taste)

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp cacao nibs (can use more, this was all I had!)

1 tbsp dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)

2 tbsp grade B maple syrup

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

handful Whole Foods kettle corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, protein powder, baking powder and salt. Stir in cacao nibs until combined. In another bowl, stir together maple syrup and pumpkin until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet and add in a splash of almond milk if needed. Pour batter into a 7X5 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until springy to touch. In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips until melted. Pour chocolate over cooled bars and press kettle corn into chocolate. Let the melted chocolate set and then cut into 6 bars.

Have you ever reinvented an old favorite recipe? How do you feel about healthifying desserts?

WIAW: Protein-Packed, Plant Style

Any current or former vegetarians and vegans out there know this question all too well: “So where do you get your protein?” To most omnis, protein is only found in meat, eggs and dairy products. But as we all know, protein is found in pretty much everything, from kale to cacao nibs. Yes, there are actually 3 grams of protein in a one ounce serving of cacao nibs, which is all the more reason to enjoy chocolate 😉 Anyways, the point is, even strict vegans don’t need to worry much about adequate protein consumption as long as they’re consuming enough calories as well. However, I do love a lot of plant-based protein sources–I love me some healthy carbs, but I can’t survive on those alone. Last year, when I was just starting out on my vegan journey, I gravitated more towards carbs, which is okay, but nowadays I have a much better balance of fats, protein and carbs and I feel a lot more energized. If I had to categorize my macros, I’d say I’m usually around 45% carbs, 20-25% protein and 30-35% fats. That’s a big change, especially in the fats department, but I’m definitely embracing protein a lot more today too.

That being said, here are Monday’s protein-packed, plant-based eats. Note: I am a big fan of plant protein powders (not soy-based ones, but ones made from sprouted quinoa/rice, pea and cranberry proteins, like Vega and Sunwarrior) and I use them frequently, but I don’t think they’re a necessity in a plant-based diet. I use them (along with peanut flour, which isn’t really a protein powder but just concentrated peanut protein that tastes AMAZING) because I like how they taste and that they give me a protein boost for relatively fewer calories. Yes, I will admit that I still have a fear of eating ‘enough’, mostly because I don’t know what ‘enough’ is for me and it’s scary to change our habits. I do like whole food sources of protein, but protein powders are fun and tasty and I always choose the less processed versions.

Breakfast: banana bread in a bowl. Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder, half of a mashed banana, almond milk, mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, topped with Maranatha maple almond butter.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with banana bread. I’ve been fulfilling that craving with making my protein microwave cakes with a banana mashed in and adding chocolate chips. Maybe you won’t believe me, but this legit reminds me of banana bread. The best part is the gooey banana and chocolate, and the melty nut butter on top. Swoooon…

Protein: 19 grams

Lunch: pumpkin curry socca pizza topped with kale and red cabbage, side of black grapes and Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate square.

Socca is a great way to have pizza while still getting in some great protein. I love loading up my pizzas with veggies, and since I don’t eat cheese, most traditional pizzas don’t have much in the way of protein. But socca does, and I love it! Today’s version had a pumpkin curry sauce (made by mixing pumpkin puree and a premade coconut curry sauce) and was topped with sauteed kale and crunchy red cabbage. Perfect combo!

Protein: 8 grams

Afternoon snack: peanut and buckwheat flour waffle, topped with maple almond butter and vegan chocolate mousse.

You guys already know I have an insane obsession with homemade waffles. I love everything about them–the toppings, the texture, the endless flavor options, the flour choices. This one was made with a mix of (mostly) peanut flour and a little buckwheat flour and then topped with my new favorite almond butter and some mousse from the Whole Foods dessert section (it has a really great ingredients list of just dark chocolate, tofu and maple syrup). I added in a bit of banana and some more chocolate chips into the batter and it was just too good.

Protein: 14 grams

Dinner: pineapple fried quinoa, with edamame and (unpictured) Kaia raw sprouted “party mix” pumpkin seeds, unpictured side of kabocha squash dipped in organic ketchup.

Guys, this may be my new favorite dinner (other than waffles). I made it for the first time around my birthday back in July and made it a few times shortly after, but then forgot about it as I was moving into my apartment and starting school again. I randomly decided I wanted to make it again and I am so glad I rediscovered it. It is really so simple, but tastes crazy good. The best part is, it’s packed with protein from whole foods sources–edamame, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.

Protein: 11 grams

Dessert: PB Puffins mixed with peanut flour, almond milk, raisins and mini chocolate chips, unpictured side of peppermint dark chocolate square and Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds.

I don’t have cereal as much anymore, but I still have a soft spot for PB Puffins. They’re just so…addictingly good. Now when I have cereal, I like to add in some protein powder or peanut flour in with the almond milk to make it more substantial. This particular bowl was very peanutty, but good, even for a girl who hates peanut butter (but loves peanut otherwise).

Protein: 11 grams

The total protein count for the day was 63 grams! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s right in line (actually a little higher) than Fitsugar’s chart on protein needs based on weight and activity levels. And for me, it’s about double the protein that I was eating a year ago so I consider that a major success! And it just goes to show that vegans can get enough protein, without having to eat a ton of soy (I only had half a serving on Monday) or even a lot of supplements (I only used one full scoop of protein powder the entire day).

Do you ever track your protein consumption? What’s your favorite plant-based protein source?