Meal Prep Monday: Raw Week 4

My “fully raw February” challenge is almost over…but I’m not done with the raw vegan lifestyle by any means! In my introductory post I said I was planning on going raw til dinnertime, but that actually turned into eating raw all day, every day since February 3 (besides a cooked dinner on Valentine’s Day) and I’ve been loving the results. I feel so light and refreshed after my meals, without any desire for cooked foods or added oil, sugar or salt (aside from a little pink sea salt added into my guacamole and kraut). This is something I want to keep up as long as possible and though I may be experimenting in the next month with high raw dinners (cooked beans with raw veggies), I feel great eating mostly raw and it’s something I’ve found I enjoy more than I thought I would!

Meals for the Week

Breakfast: This is always my most simple meal. Plenty of chia puddings, flax pancakes and I do want to try fruit+buckwheat rawnola someday if I can get out of my breakfast rut.

Lunch: I’m planning on zucchini noodles with raw marinara sauce or pumpkin seed pesto, salads and possibly lettuce wraps, with some fruit on the side.

Pesto zoodles for lunch.

Pesto zoodles for lunch.

Dinner: This is where I like to get creative and actually meal plan. I’ve got raw falafel/hummus/cauliflower tabbouleh on the lineup one night based on these recipes, pumpkin seed & garlic zucchini pasta and maybe a kelp noodle thing if I get to the store to restock them. I also will probably have more jicama chili fries since I have some leftover.

Snacks: Same as usual–snack plates with veggies, fruit and a fat source; protein banana softserve for dessert; chia pudding if I didn’t have it for breakfast.

Lean, green banana softserve packed with raw protein powder and spinach.

Lean, green banana softserve packed with raw protein powder and spinach.

Recipes for the Week

Other than the dinner recipes linked above, I’m planning on making these raw cacao donuts, a raw take on pink lemonade, spicy hot zucchini chips from Going Raw, sweet potato ‘fries’ in the dehydrator and probably more raw brownie bites. I had the best batch of them last week, but I forgot exactly what I put in them, so I’ll have to try again!

These look almost too good to be raw!

These look almost too good to be raw!

Source

Groceries for the Week

I’m including some things my dad picked up for me at Sprouts; otherwise, the rest was from Whole Foods and as usual, the produce will last for part or all of the week while other stuff may last through next week or longer.

*= organic

Produce: strawberries, baby spinach*, watermelon, cauliflower*, fry-cut yams, zucchini*, carrots*, avocados, garlic, mint*, bananas, papaya (excited to try this!), blueberries (on sale), lemons, cilantro, parsley, romaine hearts*

A little early for watermelon, but still tasty.

A little early for watermelon, but still tasty.

Bulk Bins: Medjool dates, raw mixed nuts, sprouted walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almond flour, raw cashews, nutritional yeast

Miscellaneous: raisins*, coconut aminos, pitted dates, no-salt-added tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, frozen cherries*, hemp hearts, chia seeds, xylitol mints

As usual, lotsa produce and bulk bin seeds and nuts. My Whole Foods trip cost me about $70, which is a great deal for tons of fresh fruits and veggies. My biggest tip for keeping grocery costs low is shop from the bulk bins. I always get my nuts, seeds and dried fruit from there because I get only what I need and it saves a ton over buying them prepackaged. And I can always try a little bit of something new without worrying about wasting my money!

Have you ever tried papaya? What’s your best tip for saving money at the store?

There’s Kale in My Pesto and Coffee in My Banana Bread (Recipes!)

Long time, no recipe post, huh? Sure, I’ve been including recipes here and there in my posts lately, but sometimes it’s nice to devote an entire post to them. I haven’t had one of these since June 10th–almost a month, yikes! But I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and it’s paid off with two recipes I think you might love.

First up, something you might want to whip up as a quick dinner. Usually when I have pasta, I use some kind of red sauce or sometimes my spicy nacho cheez sauce for a vegan take on mac ‘n cheese. I rarely even think about pesto, the popular green cousin of tomato sauce. But when I saw a recipe for pumpkin seed pesto on the Whole Foods website, I knew I had to make some for myself…with some changes, of course, to make it my own recipe.

Cheezy pumpkin seed kale pesto over quinoa pasta and Rising Moon artichoke and olive ravioli, watermelon slices.

Cheezy Pumpkin Seed Kale Pesto (vegan, gluten free)

1/2 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup water

1/2 tbsp olive oil

lemon juice, to taste

two handfuls kale, roughly chopped

nooch, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until combined and creamy. Add more nooch if desired, and serve over pasta, veggies or quinoa. Makes about 1 cup.

The pesto paired perfectly with chilled quinoa pasta and soy ricotta ravioli but I also want to try it as a sandwich spread! It’s more nutritious than the typical pesto, because it’s cheese-free (but uses nooch to get that cheezy taste) and uses kale which is packed with Vitamins A & C and has some calcium and fiber. And the pumpkin seeds add an interesting taste and creamy texture to the sauce!

And what’s dinner without some dessert afterwards? I usually space my dinner and nighttime snack so there’s about 2 hours in between, just enough time to digest and work up some hunger for dessert! I haven’t baked something in pretty much forever (probably close to two months) so it was definitely time. I made banana bread for the second time ever–the first time was about 3 years ago. I like banana bread, but I just rarely think to make it. But I didn’t want to just make plain ‘ol banana bread, no, I had to try incorporating some unusual ingredients. It turned out great and even better than normal banana bread.

Nothin’ better than warm banana bread crumbled in almond milk topped with almond peanut cashew butter and mini chocolate chips!

Mocha Chip Banana Bread (vegan)

3/4 cup oat flour (can sub whole wheat, or gluten free flour)

3/4 cup oats [adds some texture]

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 squares dark chocolate with coffee pieces, chopped (can use normal dark chocolate, or chocolate chips)

1/4 cup cold coffee (I made mine with 1/3 packet Starbucks VIA instant mocha powder and 1/4 cup water)

2 ripe bananas

2 tbsp maple syrup or agave

1/2 tbsp chia or flax seed, for “egg”

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and chocolate until combined. In a blender or food processor, blend the coffee, bananas and maple syrup until smooth and mixed thoroughly. Pour wet mixture into dry and add in chia or flax egg. Pour batter into baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Makes 8 slices.

Mine didn’t rise a lot (stupid high altitude baking!) but it was still tasty and very dense. It’s a lot healthier than the typical banana bread and isn’t quite as sweet but for around 110 calories per slice, it makes the perfect snack crumbled in almond milk or spread with almond butter. And I love the slight coffee taste it has! Next time I would add even more coffee to it. Oh, and my junk food-loving little sister loved it, so that’s saying a lot!

This recipe is being submitted for this week’s (September 7) Healthy Vegan Friday

What’s your favorite kind of bread to eat? Do you like red sauce, white sauce or pesto?

WIAW: Secret Nutrition Edition

I like eating healthy, but I also like to enjoy what I’m eating. If I’m not liking what I’m putting in my mouth, then what’s the point? Luckily, I’ve trained my taste buds to love nutritious things, like kale salads and raw seeds, but I still like to have fun with my food. That  being said, this week’s WIAW features a few of the meals I’ve been enjoying lately, with the ‘secret’ (or not so secret) nutrition aspect of the food too!

Breakfast: banana softserve ‘sundae’ topped with peanut flour paste, cacao nibs and PB Puffins.

Secret: Cacao nibs. These tiny dark brown bits are raw and packed with magnesium, which helps with muscle function and bone strength. They also have more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea and red wine! Cacao nibs pack a powerful healthy fat punch and can boost your energy.

Lunch: Qdoba naked taco salad with romaine, black beans, habanero salsa and guacamole.

Secret: habanero peppers and guacamole. Habaneros are one of the spiciest peppers (between 100,000-500,000 Scoville units) because of their high concentration of capsaicin. Capsaicin can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and can even increase the body’s metabolism while consuming it. Guacamole is made from avocados, which can increase absorption of lycopene and beta carotene when combined with lettuce or spinach. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, and their oleic acid can increase absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.

Snackplate: organic kettle corn, Way Better Snacks Simply So Sweet Chili multigrain chips, fresh pineapple, baby carrots, tamari pumpkin seeds, Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate.

Secret: pumpkin seeds and multigrain chips. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and protein. Their phytosterols can help lower cholesterol, and the seeds have anti-inflammatory benefits. This brand of multigrain chips is probably the healthiest I’ve found. All of the ingredients are real foods, and the chips are full of healthy fats in the form of sprouted flax seeds and sprouted chia seeds. The chips are also made with sprouted quinoa, stone ground corn and sprouted broccoli seeds, and are low in sodium.

Dinner: spicy mac ‘n cheez (quinoa pasta, Field Roast Mexican chipotle vegan grain meat sausage, spicy nacho cheez sauce, nooch).

Secret: nooch, spicy cheez sauce, quinoa pasta. Nooch, aka nutritional yeast, is a vegan staple for a reason. It’s a complete protein source (the brand I used has 8 grams per serving) and is full of necessary vitamins including B12. The spicy cheez sauce recipe can be found here and it’s made with simple, whole ingredients including raw cashews. Cashews provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and magnesium which helps with bone health. They also can prevent gallstones. Quinoa pasta is made from two simple ingredients, quinoa and corn, so it’s perfect for a gluten-free diet. It’s full of fiber and protein, so it can fill you up faster than traditional white pasta, plus it has all the benefits of quinoa.

Unsweetened brewed iced coffee from Panera.

Secret: coffee. This tropical bean is full of antioxidants, helps prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and protects against some forms of cancer. Without any milk/cream or sugar added, it’s a very low calorie drink. To boost your iced coffee, add in unsweetened almond milk and stevia for minimal calories.

What’s something you enjoy eating that also has a ‘secret’ benefit? Do you like iced coffee?

WIAW: Halloween (Weekend) Edition

Hey guys, how were all of your Halloweens? Mine was basically like any other school day: classes at 10 and 1, then an editorial meeting with staffers at 3. Oh yeah, not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I’m the editor for my campus’ faculty & staff newsletter! I’m so stoked because it’s a paid job and it’s in journalism, which is my field. I was dreading trying to look for some lame minimum wage job but I’m so glad I got hired for this. It was a long process of interviewing and paperwork, but it’s finally coming together. Me and another girl (the other editor) get along really well, and even though we’re pretty confused and overwhelmed at this point since we have a deadline this week and only just hired our writers, we’re still loving the position. So yeah, I officially have my first ever job 😀 But anyways, yeah, my Halloween was pretty boring…but Halloween weekend is a totally different story!

Peas and Crayons

Mi madre picked me up around 2 on Friday and we were off! Unlike most weekends that I go home, she was able to get me earlier which meant I got to eat a home cooked meal. Score! Sure, I like going out to fast casual places, but they can get repetitive and expensive after a while, and I’ve missed being able to use the oven. So that’s exactly what I did–I made Gardein meatless ‘chicken’ nuggets and Alexia sweet potato tots (best thing ever!) alongside some green beans (ick, but decent with some spicy three-pepper mustard) for dinner. It was basic but gourmet compared to my dorm meals. Though I can get pretty creative with those… 😉

Look how much snow was still at our house 4 days after the storm!

Friday night was so much fun, because we all carved pumpkins and watched some reallllllly old (from the early 90s!) Disney Halloween cartoons. Those 2 things are basically a Halloween tradition in our house, and I love it. I ended up carving a pumpkin in my pumpkin because I thought a face was too cliché haha. It was so much easier than carving a face too, and the only part that sucked was digging out all the seeds. The insides of all the pumpkins were freezing cold so it hurt our hands after a while to get all the seeds out. But trust me, it was worth it–you’ll see why soon!

My pumpkin in a pumpkin!

My mom's and dad's pumpkins. My dad always likes to do something--erm--creative!

Saturday morning I woke up a little early (like 8:15, which is totally not early but it is for the weekend) because I wanted to make pancakes for my lovely familia. But not just any pancakes–oh no!–I made pumpkin pancakes with dark chocolate chips! OMG, pumpkin and chocolate are a match made in heaven for sure. I love the Archer Farms pancake/waffle mixes because they have the best flavors, especially seasonal kinds. My personal fave is the double chocolate peppermint (I’ll be making those over Thanksgiving break!) but pumpkin is awesome-sauce too. I also added a scoop of vanilla protein powder, to up the protein a little and use up the powder. They turned out really good but sadly, there weren’t that many of them. The amount I used only made 15 mini pancakes, so everyone got 3 (and I froze 3 for myself for later…shhhhh!)

Pancake batttttttah 😉

Just 3 ingredients: pumpkin pancake mix, mini chocolate chips and vanilla protein powder. Oh, and water of course!

My dad and I ventured out to (where else?) Whole Foods. Knowing us, we also made stops at Sunflower Market and Albertson’s. Gotta stock up on food, ya know? I got bunches of yummy stuff from WF, including some new things you’ll hopefully be seeing on this bloggie soon, like purple cauliflower and dried figs. Love that store. At Sunflower, I basically took their entire bar selection 😉 Just kidding, but I got soooooo many bars, like my newly beloved Clif Mojo white chocolate macadamia, Clif Kid Z-Bar full moon brownie and Pure orange cranberry. That is literally the only store near me that has that flavor of Pure bars and Clif Mojo bars, so I gotta get ’em where I can.

I may love the chocolate and PB Puffins even more than the PB!

Back at home I had a super late lunch and then got to work roasting my pumpkin seeds. You know the seeds are the best part, right? Of course they are. I decided to stray from the usual spice combinations and make a spicy-sweet kind. I found the recipe from here and they turned out better than I thought. I made a few tweaks though based on what I had on hand: I used Eggbeaters egg sub in place of the egg white, I used raw sugar instead of cane sugar and I used crushed red pepper flakes instead of cayenne pepper. They still ended up amazing, with just enough sweetness and heat.

So. Flippin'. Addicting.

Dinner turned out to be an (almost) family affair. My dad and I really wanted to try grilling eggplant and brussels sprouts so we fired up the grill for those. Meanwhile, my mom made dinner for the rest of the fam (minus me) while I cooked up a couple of Gardein meatless nuggets at the last minute. My sister, the only non-cook in the house, was of course the only one who didn’t participate but it was still fun. I miss being in the kitchen with everyone. It’s just such a fun, lively atmosphere. Anyways, dinner turned out great, especially the grilled veggies. I’ve had grilled eggplant before, but I’ve never done it myself and it turned out amazing. Same with the brussels sprouts. The outsides got nice and crispy and the insides were warm and smooth. So. Darn. Delicious.

Would you like a little fake chicken with your veggies?

I love how pink this raspberry cappuccino smoothie is!

The rest of the night was spent watching-slash-making-fun-of a really lame infomercial on 70s music, my dad helping me with stats (beeteedubs, I absolutely HATE stats with a passion, so this sucked but was also super helpful), me learning to enjoy hot tea (my mom got some Celestial Seasonings candy cane and sugar cookie tea bags, and they totally transformed me into being a hot tea lover) and watching reruns of SNL. I ended up staying up pretty late but it was so worth it.

Mmmmmmm, I'm such a sucker for all things seasonal!

I love this mug (please ignore all the random crap in the background).

Sunday, as usual, was pretty chill. Enjoying breakfast with the fam, reading the Sunday newspaper, packing up my stuff, lunch, hanging out with my sister and finally having to drive back up to school. I always hate Sundays on weekends I’m at home because it means I have to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I like school and my dorm and all, but I just really cherish the weekends I spend at home and it sucks when they’re over. They always seem to go by way too fast 😦 Back up in good old FoCo, my mom and I stopped for more groceries (I couldn’t live with nut butter, of course!) but sadly, I’ll have to be sweet potato-less for the next two weeks ’cause we couldn’t find them anywhere. We also stopped for dinner at a new-to-us place, HuHot Express. We went to HuHot once for my dad’s birthday, but this one was slightly different because it’s not all-you-can-eat. But I ended up loving what I got here better than at the regular place. I got rice noodles topped with shrimp, fresh jalapeno (spicy is where it’s at), edamame, spinach and what was called a Mongol mustard sauce. It was really delish, a little spicy, and not too overwhelming. I ended up mostly just eating the shrimp and veggies, but I would totally get it again. But the real star was the super-cool, high-tech soda machine. It had a touch screen menu so you could mix and match between all kinds of sodas and juices. Normally, I don’t drink soda but I had to try this. I got diet orange Coke mixed with diet vanilla Coke–it was like an orange creamsicle! Have you guys ever seen one of these machines? They are le-git!

Overnight oats in a jar! I basically just saved this jar and keep reusing it. Cookies 'n cream overnighters, frozen raspbs, spicy veggie sausage. Breakfast of champions right thurrrr!

I love tempeh bacon. And apples. And sriracha. Oh, and cold brussels sprouts. Don't judge me 😀

Of course, it was sad to say goodbye to such a fun-filled weekend, but Thanksgiving break is in less than 3 weeks–wooooohooooo 😀 You know I’m looking forward to 9 days away from school!

What was the best thing you did or ate this weekend? Do you like roasted pumpkin seeds?