Friday Faves (August 24)

Well, I can’t believe I finally (almost) made it through my first week of my junior year of college! I can already tell this semester will be busy and challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been getting used to a lot of big changes, like the daily commute to classes (which usually takes way longer than it should) and keeping my apartment clean but I’m starting to feel like an adult and it feels so good!

After my first day of classes on Monday, I treated myself to a passion iced tea from Starbucks (much needed, that’s for sure!) and I promised myself last weekend that if I made it through a whole week of classes and extracurriculars, I could treat myself to some Whole Foods salad bar goodies. So you better believe I’m doing that tonight for dinner 😀

Favorite Recipe Redux: Peppermint Super Brownie Bites

Not the most appetizing picture, but I can guarantee it tastes amazing!

I’ve been doing some recipe experimenting here and there when I’ve had time after classes. I made a few things that turned out delicious but not quite perfect. Then I stumbled upon an idea, combining both my raw brownie recipe and Angela’s no bake peppermint patty bars (which are fab, BTW). I wanted something small, cute, chocolate-y and minty without being too overwhelming. That’s where the super brownie bites come in! They’re almond and walnut based, like my raw brownies, so they add a protein and healthy fat punch and are grain-free. I added in a packet of chocolate Amazing Grass, which adds 10 grams of protein, along with tons of greens.  They’re sweetened with a few dates and just a little real maple syrup, so they’re perfectly sweet. The chocolate icing on top is made from dark chocolate chips and coconut oil, both healthy fats. But the result is a delicious, minty brownie bite that tastes almost unhealthy!

Peppermint Super Brownie Bites (vegan, gluten-free)

2 packages 100 calorie almonds and walnuts

1 packet chocolate-flavored Amazing Grass protein powder

3 small Medjool dates

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

1/2 tsp coconut oil

In a food processor, process nuts, Amazing Grass, dates and cocoa powder until crumbly. Add in maple syrup and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract until mixture sticks together. Roll brownie batter into small balls and place in mini muffin tin or on foil. Meanwhile, in a small pot over low heat, stir together remaining peppermint extract, chocolate chips and coconut oil until chocolate gets melty. Spoon icing over each bite and stick muffin tin or foil in freezer to set. Makes 8 bites. 

Favorite Moment: First time as a weather anchor

The local female weather anchor I look up to…maybe I’ll be like her one day?!

I hate to brag and pretend like I’m super awesome, because that’s just not who I am, but I’ve been working on owning my accomplishments and being more confident, so being complimented for how I handled my first night as a weather anchor at my campus TV station was thrilling for me. It was a practice run through, so it wasn’t aired, but I completely ad-libbed for about a minute, not even knowing much about the weather forecast, and my producer and fellow anchors congratulated me afterwards for how well I did and how they couldn’t imagine ad-libbing for an entire segment. It gave me so much confidence for the semester to come!

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Whole Foods salad bar

One of my favorite Whole Foods hot/cold bar boxes to date!

It’s a little lame, but I get really excited for grocery shopping, particularly at Whole Foods. I could live there and be totally happy! When I first discovered the salad bars a year ago, I became hooked and even though I didn’t get it again for another 6 months, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. This summer, I went a little more frequently and tried to switch it up every time. The Whole Foods in my hometown (well, one of them) has a great selection of items at the hot and cold bars and I’m hoping the one in my college town does too!

Favorite Time of Day: Driving to class

Disclaimer: I did NOT take this while driving!

Don’t get me wrong, it is stressful trying to get to class on time while also avoiding cyclists, pedestrians and other cars that are going wayyyyyy too fast and also trying to find parking that isn’t miles away. But it also makes me happy, because I haven’t driven regularly since senior year of high school. In fact, before this summer and my internship, I barely ever drove in the past 2 1/2 years. I actually really love driving alone, because I can blast my music, sing along and just get ready for the day ahead. I feel so much more independent and responsible–Alejandro is my baby and I want to keep him safe 😉

Do you like to ‘healthify’ your desserts (whatever that means to you)? Do you prefer city driving or freeway driving?

Shopping & Sledding

Soooooo guys, I kinda lied to you last time at the end of my post when I said we were going sledding. We actually ended up going sledding yesterday since the state park we were going to didn’t have any facilities open on Monday or Tuesday and we didn’t want to be stuck up there without a bathroom–ummmm TMI!

What we did end up doing on Tuesday was even better–shopping! Obviously I am such a shopaholic, I will almost never turn down a shopping trip, clothes or grocery or otherwise. It’s just so much fun. We headed up to our favorite Denver mall for a day of shopping and eating out.

One major disappointment of the day was driving to Gelazzi (aka the best gelato place ever) and realizing that it was closed for remodeling! Yeah, uh, what is that all about? But no worries, we ended up checking out a new-to-us froyo place called Peach Wave and the disappointment ended when I realized they had several seasonal flavors to choose from. Me and seasonal flavors are BFFs, of course, so I ended up getting peppermint stick and chocolate froyos with raspberries on top. Boy was it delicious! I also sampled a few other flavors, including peanut butter, which was outta this world! But then again nut butters rock my world 😉

Shopping was hella fun, as expected. My sister and I headed out on our own, only to be surprised by how crazy the crowds were! I don’t think we’ve ever gone shopping that soon after Christmas so it was quite a shock. We even had to wait in a line outside of Hollister for about 5 minutes before they’d let us in since so many people were in the store 😯 It was hectic to say the least, but we got a ton of good deals and we both scored a ton of things! I seriously don’t think I’ve ever bought that many things at once!

I'm starting to really love stripes--especially in my favorite color (A&F Audrey pullover sweater)

 

I can always use another cute tank top...especially when it has the same name as me 😉 (A&F Ashley tank)

Abercrombie & Fitch, usually the calmest store at the mall, was packed with so many people that my sister and I got really frustrated! We did end up leaving the store with two purchases each in hand (for 40% off, too)–a pair of flare jeans and a lacy top for her, a pink striped sweater and ruffly grey cami for me.

I'm obsessed with lace...and bows! (Abercrombie Kids Dessa tank)

Abercrombie Kids was also a zoo, but practically everyone in the store was much shorter than me–that’s what I get for shopping in a kids store, I guess. I did score this adorable lacy tank with a pinstripe bow ‘belt’ for less than $20 though!

As if I really need more necklaces in my life... (AE)

How cute is this ring? (AE XO Ring)

 

American Eagle is the best place to get good jewelry cheap (okay, Forever 21 is too). I had a gift card to here that I spent completely on a necklace and a ring. I am basically jewelry obsessed and rarely go a day without wearing at least a necklace or some bangles. Apparently this Christmas I was really blessed with jewelry, since I also got another necklace and another ring as presents…

You can never have too much plaid (Hollister Manhattan Beach shirt)

 

Still in love with jeggings (Hollister Cord Jegging)

At Hollister, I continued my recent obsession with plaid shirts and jeggings. I’ve been eyeing these corduroy jeggings for the longest time, and once I took the plunge and bought my first pair the other day I decided to get these too. Since they’re tan, they’ll look good with anything and will fit well with my brown suede boots and the new boots I got for Christmas!

I also did a little online shopping back at home, where I ended up buying grey lace shorts from Abercrombie Kids and a pinstriped oxford-type shirt from Gilly Hicks.

We ended our day in Denver with dinner at On the Border, courtesy of a gift card my mom got. I haven’t been there in years, not since I’ve gone vegetarian, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious veg-friendly meal of grilled veggie fajitas. Fajitas are always good and this one did not disappoint–it was mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, squash, zucchini and topped with super-hot fresh jalapeno slices. You can bet I was downing a ton of water throughout the meal, but it was delish! The fresh guac on the side was also amazingly good. I’m also pretty sure that the fajitas are vegan-friendly, as long as you don’t eat the side of sour cream that it came with–so I was able to find a yummy vegan meal in a regular restaurant..wooooo!

Sledding yesterday was also oodles of fun! We drove up to a state park up in the mountains and spent a couple of hours racing down the hills on our sleds. On one really fast run, I ended up tearing our inner tube on a stick and it deflated 😩 But it was fun while it lasted, and we still had two other sleds to have fun on. I was surprised by how fast and far we could go, and also by how bumpy the runs were. It was also reeeeeeally hard to walk up the hills, but it was an awesome workout without really feeling like one! On our way back home, we hit up Starbucks and I bet you can guess what I got–my usual holiday drink, a tall skinny soy peppermint mocha. Definitely a day to remember!

What fun things have you been up to lately? Have you gotten any good after-Christmas deals yet?

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Hi peeps! Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Black Friday (if you live in the U.S.)! I am so sad that it’s over, mostly because I’m headed back up to campus tomorrow 😩 I’ve had such an amazing time this past week that I can’t believe break’s almost over. However, in less than 3 weeks, I’ll be back home for a whole MONTH! I ❀ college 😀

I decorated my little Christmas tree, even though I won't get to see it again for a couple of weeks. Ignore the toilet in the background, I am so classy 😉

Let’s back up to the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday before–I love shopping, but can’t handle the crowds and possibility of being attacked viciously by desperate shoppers 😯 My family decided to head up to Denver’s 16th Street Mall the day before Thanksgiving to try to avoid the crowds. We hit up the brand new H&M store first…where apparently a million other people also decided to go! So yeah, we did not end up avoiding the crowds. And unfortunately, the store was underwhelming. I mean, it looked cool inside, but it was packed and the clothes were kinda eh. I was definitely expecting more. I was considering buying a cute gold clutch, but I didn’t really think it was practical, so I passed. The only things I really wanted, a pair of cream knit legwarmers and a sequin skirt weren’t there or in my size so I left empty-handed. My sister and I also left Forever 21 without buying anything. They had more cute things than H&M, but I wasn’t really feeling it.

The lovely boots I was telling you about in my last post. I've already worn them out a few times!

What didn’t end up being a disappointment was Pinkberry. But then again, is froyo ever disappointing? Especially peppermint froyo? My mom and sister really wanted to try their seasonal peppermint flavor, so both of them got a cup topped with peppermint bark. I also got peppermint, but topped mine with just pomegranate seeds. Weird? Yes. But also really good. Don’t knock it til ya try it 😉

Another way I've been avoiding my homework--reading my fave magazine, People StyleWatch.

After walking around the pedestrian mall to kill some time, we drove across town to our favorite mall. We seriously go there quite a few times throughout the year, even though it’s probably 60 miles from our house. Dedicated shoppers right thurrrr 😛 But it is such a nice mall, and pretty huge. I just realized that it has an Anthropologie store–I may have to check that out next time we go there! Anyways, my sister and I were on a mission so we ditched our parents and headed straight for Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. As I’ve said before, those are two of our favorite stores. I know they’re totally clichĂ© or whatever, but we truly love them and don’t just shop there because it’s the ‘cool kid’ thing to do. We both ended up getting one thing at each store and with all the discounts we used, we ended up saving a ton of money. Love when that happens! Afterwards, we met up with our parents at the T-Mobile store. Our cell phone contract expires soon with them, so we wanted to play around with the phones and see what we might end up buying. A lot of them were really neat, but my mom ended up deciding later that we’re probably going to switch to AT&T. Fine with me, as long as they have awesome phones!

Navy striped pullover sweater from Hollister, red/navy plaid shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, both for less than $50 total!

Can I have this sexy man for Christmas? Kthx.

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. The food of T-Day is never my favorite part–I just love being with my family. The Macy’s parade was fun to watch and it was so nice to just spend the morning and afternoon relaxing while my mom slaved away in the kitchen. One of our traditions is to have snacks in the early afternoon instead of lunch and I was looking forward to that. I filled up a turkey-decorated paper plate with some of my fave snacks and then just chilled out on the deck with my madre and padre. It was so weird that it was warm enough to sit outside on Thanksgiving–usually it’s pretty cold and sometimes snows. But Colorado is so random weather-wise, I love it. After snacks, my dad and I went on a long walk and then came back and started prepping the brussels sprouts we were going to grill for dinner.

My T-Day outfit: grey wool duster cardi (A&F), grey floral tank (HCo.), coral culotte shorts (A&F), grey polka dot tights (Target). Sorry about my weird stance, I was trying unsuccessfully to show off the tights.

Snack plate lunch: Whole Foods kettle corn, jalapeno-stuffed green olives, local salsa, Whole Foods guac, bell pepper strips, green mojo multigrain chips, artichoke hummus. I went back for more kettle corn and chips latah!

Thanksgiving dinner was pretty quiet with just the four of us, but it was nice. My dinner ended up being all vegan, but it was kinda disappointing. I tried this field grain celebration roast that tastes exactly like stuffing. Unfortunately, I hate stuffing, but the roast wasn’t awful. The best part of my dinner by far was the baked sweet potato topped with a little maple syrup and some peanut flour sauce. Mmmmm, so darn tasty! What is it about sweet potatoes that’s so addicting? The sprouts turned out way too hard and dry, which was sad because I usually love ’em. You win some, you lose some. I tried a little of my mom’s stuffing, which she made vegan, but honestly, I still hate it. Sorry stuffing lovers! I might like a cornbread stuffing though so that may be tested out at next year’s feast. However, dessert is always the best part, hands-down. I had another piece of the festive garland bars I made (I’ve seriously had a piece of it every night since I made it on Monday–can you say obsessed?) and a slice of the pumpkin pie bars my mommy made. She also made these vegan especially for me, and they were super delicious, even better than a pumpkin pie. They were a little cakey and pretty sweet but so good.

My breakfast on T-Day: banana softserve topped with chocolate & PB Puffins and peanut flour sauce.

Friday I woke up later than I have in awhile (9 am!), had breakfast and just hung out for awhile. Lunch was a strange but yummy creation I’ve been enjoying this week. I cook up some butternut squash cubes, top them with black beans and some plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little guacamole. Then I pour on some really good salsa and crush some Late July mild green mojo chips on top. It seems so weird, but it’s actually good and kinda Mexican-y. I made something similar to it over summer break, but it was on top of lettuce instead. We ran out of lettuce this week, so I decided to use squash as the veggie base and it turns out just as good. Plus I’m obviously obsessed with anything orange.

I'm not even sure what to call this, except amazingly delicious!

Later on, my sister and I drove out to brave the Black Friday crowds get our Starbucks fix. The ‘bucks we went to was crowded as usual, but we actually ended up getting to sit in the leather chairs in the corner, so that was a win. I got the tall skinny peppermint mocha with soy, and it was even better with the soy versus the skim. A lot creamier without being sickening. I think this will be my holiday drink go-to. Afterwards, we walked over to Ulta to goof around and try on sunglasses and smell all the lotions and stuff. I love that girl; we always have so much fun together, especially when it’s just the two of us. Surprisingly, most of the stores weren’t that crowded (except the Apple store) but then again it was almost 5 at night. I guess most Black Friday shoppers head out early.

I'm a sucker for the red cups!

Friday night my dad had another performance of his play, so the rest of us just stayed home and had a nice dinner of leftovers (I had a slice of the celebration roast topped with yellow mustard, which made it so much better, and some sweet tater fries) and then spent the rest of the night watching The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie ever!) and playing games.

How sad is this--packing up to go back to school 😩 The countdown til Christmas break officially begins Monday!

What have you been up to the last few days? Have you ever shopped at H&M?

WIAW: I Can Almost Taste Thanksgiving!

Purple cauliflower fans unite! Oh, hi guys, sorry I was just excited about all the great responses to my last post! I love seeing that you could relate to my stressage about signing up for classes and all the foodie-type things I included in the post.

Anyways, on with this week’s WIAW. I was lucky enough to get to go home this weekend sorta unexpectedly, because I have a humongo stats test on Friday that I’m pretty sure I’ll fail without getting some help, so I recruited my math-whiz dad. But the weekend wasn’t all studying, because how blah would that be? Basically though, it was just like a mini tease of Thanksgiving break, which is making me really anxious for break to start. Unlike a lot of weekends at home, it was pretty chill, which was exactly what I needed before this crazy week hit. Why do professors/teachers assign so much the week before a break? It makes me nuts! But, let’s just move on to the WIAW and weekend recap and talk about school craziness latah!

Peas and Crayons

Friday afternoon started out with me taking a stats quiz (ick) and then finally getting picked up by my mom and sissy. We headed straight for the campus bookstore, to pick up some Christmas gifts for my g-parents. Since we were already at the student center, my mom suggested we eat at the food court and use my RamCash, which is basically money the school gives you to spend on laundry, food at the food court, etc. I barely use it, besides every once in awhile for laundry, so I have a buttload on my card, since they add more every semester. My mom first told me that only Panda Express was open on Friday evenings, and I wasn’t too excited about that. They apparently have nothing that’s certified vegetarian, since things get mixed around and veggies may touch meat, plus their food is just greasy and ugh.  But luckily, the soup and salad place was still open, so I got a cup of winter squash soup. It was pretty decent, not the best I’ve had from there (their vegetarian chili is BOMB!) but I definitely prefered it to Panda. My mom and sister got it though, and it ended up costing $16! Call me crazy, but that’s a lot for two people’s dinners at a fast food-type place. But we enjoyed our dinners in the awkwardness that was the empty food court. Usually it’s packed with people, but who wants to eat there on a Friday night when almost everything else is closed?

Not soup (obviously) but my hodgepodge dinner from last week: plain Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon, Pink Lady, chocolate PB2 sauce, baby carrots, pumpkin protein frosting. So weird but really hit the spot.

Back at home, it wasn’t too late so I had dinner part 2, since I didn’t finish the soup and I was starving. I had my first sweet potato in probably 3 weeks (it was a happy reunion, that’s for sure 😀 ) topped with some PB2 that I brought home. Okay, is this sad or what–I’ve gone through most of the jar in basically 5 days! 2 tablespoons of it is supposed to be 15 servings, what a lie! I’ve mostly been having 1 or maybe 2 tablespoons of it per day, and it’s almost gone! What?

A seasonal variation on the banana whip--banana pumpkin whip. Enjoyed straight outta the blender, how classy am I?

Saturday I could barely make myself sleep in til 8. I think my schedule this semester has been screwing me up, I used to be able to sleep in til 9 easily if I stayed up past 11 or so. Well, I’m not complaining, 8 is fine with me! I hate sleeping in so late that I feel like the day is wasted, so I totally don’t get people that sleep in past noon or whatever. I had a nice breakfast of leftover pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and my usual veggie sausage, alongside a homemade Starbucks peppermint mocha! I’ve been totally craving Starbucks, and since I rarely go (that’s gonna change in less than a week 😉 ) I wanted to make a drink that’s almost as good. My mom got some Silk Mint Chocolate soy milk (best stuff ever!) so I steamed it and added it to some Starbucks VIA.

Almost as good as Starbucks, for way less, and in a cute snowman mug!

For lunch, I ended up burning the last 2 pieces of tempeh bacon (whoops) while I was cooking my second sweet potato in two days. Obviously, they have been very missed. I topped it with more PB2 (addicted much?), and plated it and the burned bacon with some frozen raspberries. Oh so good.

Who can beat a nut butter topped sweet potato? Especially with tempeh bacon and frozen raspberries?

After lunch, my dad and I headed out to the store. Well…stores! I was only planning on getting some apples and grapes to tide me over for the 5 days I’d be on campus before break, but knowing me, I got a lot more. Well, not a lot more, but definitely some. But it was all needed, so it’s justified. I did get the apples and grapes I needed, plus some Silk Pumpkin Spice (haven’t tried it yet), Whole Foods fresh-grind crunchy almond butter, butternut squash cubes, my crack Late July green mojo chips, peanut butter pows cereal (apparently renamed peanut butter balls?), full moon brownie kid Clifs, dates, rolled oats, vegan chorizo taquitos and my personal favorite, Oikos frozen Greek yogurt! I’ve been dying to try it since I saw it on Tara’s blog awhile back. I got it in chocolate, and it is heavenly. Better than their original chocolate froyo, since it’s a little tangy just like Greek yogurt. Plus it’s got a little more protein, which is always a win. I can’t wait to try the blueberry and honey…and I hope they come out with superfruits, because that is my favorite flavor of their yogurt! Whole Foods was pretty lame this time as far as samples go, but I think I found a good vegan alternative to the Thanksgiving turkey–Field Roast Grain Meat loaves. They’re made from vital wheat gluten and veggies and they look pretty decent. I hope I can convince my mom to buy it for me, since my dad seemed to think it looked good.

I dressed up my first bowl of Oikos froyo with frozen raspberries and PB balls cereal. Love the mix of textures and flavors.

Then my wonderful daddy surprised me with some Pinkberry. I was so excited when it first came to my city, and I loved the watermelon froyo I got the first time around, all the way back in June! Unfortunately, I hadn’t been back there since but I got my fix this weekend. If you’ve never been to a Pinkberry, they only have 6 flavors at a time, but they rotate based on season, and their yogurt is better quality than most froyos. I’m such a sucker for all things seasonal, as you probably know by now, and peppermint is by far my favorite seasonal flavor–especially paired with dark chocolate! So when I saw the peppermint froyo on the front door, I knew exactly what I wanted to get. I also decided to branch out (and piss off my ED a bit) and topped it with some peppermint bark, which was the perfect pairing. Usually, I only stick with fruit as a topping, but I have no regrets getting the bark instead. And I don’t care what ED says about it, it was crazy good and I didn’t get fat overnight by eating it. So there!

Perfection in a cup. I love that they swirl it so perfectly, and that it's light pink!

The rest of the night was devoted to church, eating Amy’s cheeseless pizza with a side of Silk Mint Chocolate (can’t get enough of the mint/chocolate combo obvi!), showering, studying up on stats with the padre and watching some SNL. Emma Stone was the host, she’s so funny and I love her voice. It makes me less self-conscious for having a deeper voice than most girls 😛

Sunday's (very orange) lunch of Gardein chickenless nuggets, sweet potato tots (ob-sessed), more raspberries and spicy three pepper mustard. Like fast food but...not!

Sunday was pretty leisurely. Breakfast and lunch were had over the Sunday pap-ah, I went for a nice walk with my dad and sister and then it was sadly time to head back. Most times when I have to go back, I’m a little sad, since I won’t get to see my family for 2 weeks, but this time I wasn’t because I knew I’d be seeing my madre’s lovely face again on Friday–for a whole 9 days, in fact! I was just annoyed with the fact that I had a full 5 days of school to deal with 😩 Before dropping me off, we had a delicious dinner at Garbanzo, my favorite fast-casual place. I think I’ve mentioned it about a bazillion times already, but it’s just that good. Mediterranean food is my all-time fave.

Ninja shot of my dinner. The best falafel ever, red cabbage, vegetable salad, lettuc, grilled eggplant, hummus and tabbouleh, with a side of cilantro and curry sauces. Can I live in the bowl? Kthx.

So there you have it, my weekend-before-Thanksgiving-break in a (big) nutshell. I always make these recap things way too long, guess it shows how excited I am about the weekends I get at home. Now I’ve just gotta focus on studying for my Friday stats test and…PACKING! I love packing, so I can’t wait!

What was the best part of your weekend? Mine was probably Whole Foods shopping, ’cause I’mma nerd like that! What is your favorite seasonal flavor? I luuuuuurrrrrvvvve peppermint, especially paired with dark chocolate and coffee. Starbucks Skinny Peppermint Mocha, here I come!