WIAW: Eat Yo Veggies

“Sooooo…what exactly do raw vegans eat?” While I personally haven’t been posed that question just yet, I know it’s a commonly asked question just from my experience as a vegan and from browsing raw vegan forums. But really, anybody who eats different from the ‘norm’ is probably asked this question and you know it can get annoying.

It probably comes as no surprise, but I’m eating a LOT of veggies as a raw vegan. And I mean a lot. Most days I eat veggies at lunch, snack and dinner and on Tuesday, I happened to cram veggie servings into each meal. Currently, I’m feeling great eating this way and I’m excited to continue my adventures into the raw foods world, but more on that in Friday’s post. For now, let me share some of what I’ve been eating lately!

Carrot cake-inspired protein chia pudding. No better way to start the day than with a serving of veggies!

Carrot cake-inspired protein chia pudding. No better way to start the day than with a serving of veggies!

This is one of my favorite breakfasts at the moment. Sadly, my vanilla Sunwarrior is almost out and I have to wait til I can afford it again to reorder more from Amazon. It pairs so well with carrots (I used one full-size carrot here)+raisins and coconut manna. Speaking of which, Nutiva’s  raw coconut manna is amazing and cheaper than Artisana’s coconut butter!

Cilantro lime cauliflower rice in the making. Better than Chipotle's.

Cilantro lime cauliflower rice in the making. Better than Chipotle’s.

I’ve never been a huge fan of rice, brown or white. It’s just a filling carb and I haven’t eaten it in a couple years (other than in sushi occasionally) because it does nothing for me. Cauliflower rice, on the other hand, is incredible. I prefer the texture to rice and when seasoned with fresh-squeezed lime juice and cilantro, plus a little nooch and onion powder, you won’t miss regular rice at all.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar or salt)

1/2 head raw cauliflower, rinsed

handful fresh cilantro leaves

lime juice, to taste

1 tsp nutritional yeast

pinch onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until cauliflower is about the consistency of rice. Serves 1-2.

Superfood salad for lunch featuring cilantro lime cauliflower rice. Base of spinach+arugula, with cauliflower rice, hemp hearts, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds, Farmhouse Culture raw jalapeno kraut and a little raw taco filling.

Superfood salad for lunch featuring cilantro lime cauliflower rice. Base of spinach+arugula, with cauliflower rice, hemp hearts, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds, Farmhouse Culture raw jalapeno kraut and a little raw taco filling.

This salad was completely random, and as per usual, was amazing. Funny how the most random combos turn out the best. I’m sad that I’m out of my favorite sauerkraut (Farmhouse Culture brand, smoked jalapeno flavor) but that just means a trip to Whole Foods is in order, amiright? Sauerkraut is my weird obsession–I can’t get enough of the sour, spicy tang and the fact that it’s a natural probiotic is even better. This stuff is expensive, but it lasts me about a month, so it’s worth it.

No veggies in this, but still good!

No veggies in this, but still good!

I made the superfood cups from the Sweetly Raw blog, only these were basically just triple coconut cups. EV coconut oil, coconut manna, a little lucuma powder and flaked coconut on top. Perfect for people who are as obsessed with coconut as I am. Can’t believe it used to be one of my major fear foods…plant-based saturated fats no longer scare me!

Crazy for Coconut Cups (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

2 1/2 tbsp melted coconut oil (use extra virgin for best taste)

1 tbsp melted coconut manna

1/2 tsp lucuma powder (optional)

1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil, manna and lucuma powder until smooth. Pour into cupcake liners and top with coconut flakes. Makes 3 small cups.

Taco Tuesday! Lettuce wrap tacos for lunch with homemade guac, more kraut, hemp seeds and raw taco filling.

Taco Tuesday Monday! Lettuce wrap tacos for lunch with homemade guac, more kraut, hemp seeds and raw taco filling.

I finally got some good avocados at Whole Foods this weekend! I’d given up on making guac at home because the avocados I was getting were mealy and too brown, even when they weren’t quite ripe. Maybe they’re coming back into season now or I picked well, because at least one of the avocados I got turned out perfectly creamy and ripe. Mexican food to me is alllllll about the guac, and going raw hasn’t changed that for me. I definitely prefer the fresh crunch of romaine hearts to traditional taco shells and I love loading them up with my favorite raw healthy fats, like hemp and sunflower seeds and guacamole, of course.

Lots of good stuff on my snackplates.

Lots of good stuff on my snackplates.

More snackplate action.

More snackplate action.

I never skimp on the veggies when it comes to snack time! This is when I like to get creative with my veggies, like romaine+dates or dried figs or dehydrated sweet potato ‘chips’. Plain raw veggies get the job done too. And I’ve been loving blackberries lately since I got some on sale for $2 this weekend at WF. Is that a steal, or what? I never used to like blackberries, but blame it on my changing palate since going raw–I love them now!

The raw sweet potato fries, courtesy of Rawmazing.

The raw sweet potato fries, courtesy of Rawmazing.

I made some incredible sweet potato ‘fries’ in the dehydrator yesterday, so I will be making this raw poutine once I get some mushrooms for the gravy. I know poutine is big in Canada, and I’ve actually never tried it (nor want to) but this raw version looks incredible! I’m becoming more and more creative while eating raw and I love it. It’s the perfect way to get me out of my food ruts, and I’m learning to love all kinds of different veggies. Of course, I still have my favorites (ahem romaine, spinach, carrots, cauliflower and sweet potatoes) but I’m up for trying new things all the time and adding new favorites to my rotation.

Other than that, my dinners have mostly been raw macro bowls on top of greens or kelp/carrot/zucchini noodles with some kind of sauce. I like how easy it is to make dinner now, but that I can go more creative if I want to.

From way back in December, but just pretend this was recently.

From way back in December, but just pretend this was recently.

Dessert has often been protein banana softserve, usually with spinach blended in for an extra serving of greens. I’m not a crazy 30 bananas a day raw vegan, but I usually eat 1 or 2 bananas a day at the moment, always in softserve form. Something about an unfrozen banana freaks me out now, I just prefer the taste and texture of frozen!

So that’s what this raw vegan’s been eating lately! I’ll be back with a post on Friday with some of my current raw food staples and how anyone can incorporate more raw foods into their diet…even omnivores!

What are some of your favorite veggies?

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WIAW: Raw Til 6

One of my resolutions for this year, and also one of my goals last summer was to eat more raw. I love so many raw foods, and I prefer most of my produce raw too, but there are some cooked things I still love and don’t really want to give them up just yet. Maybe someday I’ll be fully raw but for now, I’m trying the popular Raw Til 4 plan, where you basically eat all raw until dinner time. Since I eat my afternoon snack around 4, I’m changing the name to Raw Til 6 to fit my schedule better 😉

Basically how I’m going about it is eating all raw until dinner, and then for dinner/dessert I’ll eat something cooked or something that’s not necessarily raw if I’m feeling like it. See, I love my roasted sweet potatoes/peanut flour/grain free pizza and since I usually eat these for dinner, it makes sense to keep them in my food rotation. My other meals will stay pretty similar to how they are now —> breakfast will be Sunwarrior/Garden of Life raw protein or chia seed pudding or a green smoothie or raw flax cakes, lunch will be a salad or lettuce wraps or a protein smoothie made with raw protein powder, and my snacks will be banana softserve or snackplates with plenty of fresh produce or homemade raw desserts. What I won’t be doing is restricting my fats or carbs. I personally don’t believe that 80/10/10 is the most balanced way to eat (I love my fruit but I can’t survive on just carbs) and I don’t want to go raw gourmet either because I don’t want to rely so heavily on nuts and avocados for every meal. Instead, I’ll be sticking pretty close to my normal macros (45% carbs, 25% protein, 30% fat) and just incorporating more raw foods. I’m also planning on making plenty of raw dinners as well because I’ve been bookmarking a TON of amazing-looking raw entrees and I’m really excited to try them out. I’m also going to start sprouting legumes and making my own almond milk and I can’t wait to try all these new things!

Enough of the wordiness, let’s get to the food. I’ve also got 2 recipes for you today, and another one linked up from my other blog, so I’m going pretty recipe-crazy over here!

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

Homemade [cheaters] almond milk.

I’ve been meaning to start doing this for a loooooong time, since there have been a lot of posts and articles out there lately discussing the potential harmful effects of carrageenan and other things added to packaged almond milk. It’s easier than you’d think to whip up your own almond milk at home, especially when you take the cheater’s route like I did. I had some fresh ground raw almond butter on hand and within a few seconds of blending with water, I had homemade almond milk, raw and completely free of unnecessary ingredients!

3 Ingredient 3 Second Almond Milk (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1 tbsp raw almond butter
  • 4 cups water (can use filtered, or just plain tap water)
  • pinch stevia extract (optional)

In a large food processor or blender (I used my Ninja processor), add all the ingredients and blend or pulse for a few seconds or until it turns white-ish and creamy. Makes 4 1-cup servings. 

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

Superbowl snacks, gone raw.

By now, we all know the outcome of the Superbowl. Even though I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos, being raised in Colorado, I’m not a diehard fan by any means and I honestly didn’t even watch the game so I’m not really upset by their loss. Besides, the Superbowl is just an excuse for snacks, am I right? This year, I made my raw jalapeno poppers (if you haven’t made them and love spicy things, I suggest you do!) and I had one alongside some raw cauliflower, local salsa, spicy guac made fresh at my Whole Foods, spicy sprouted sunflower seeds and a dried fig. This was the perfect snack plate for a spicy food lover like me and I didn’t even care who won the game!

A typical raw breakfast.

A typical raw breakfast.

My breakfasts have been pretty simple lately, though I’m planning on trying some new things soon. I’ve mostly been making raw protein puddings–Sunwarrior or Garden of Life raw protein powder mixed with water/homemade almond milk and sometimes raw coconut flour to thicken, and topped with pomegranate and raw nuts or seeds. It covers all the macros, tastes great and is beyond easy to whip up in just a minute.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein chia pudding topped with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Protein-packed chia puddings have been happening for breakfasts and snacks, too. I forgot how much I adore the thick and creamy texture that chia seeds make when they gel up. Honestly, I could eat these all day but it really is all about the toppings and mix ins. The one above was Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+homemade almond milk+1/2 tbsp chia seeds and topped in the morning with pom seeds and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Sunwarrior vanilla+frozen cherries+homemade almond milk+baby kale+coconut flour smoothie, with a side of raisins and raw mixed nuts.

Lunches have been a little bit less predictable. On Monday I had a green protein smoothie with some raw trail mix (just raisins & raw nuts) on the side. Really quick and easy to make and pretty filling, too. I love how eating raw makes food prep so much easier. Sure, I’ve been using my dehydrator and food processor a lot but it’s so hands-off and meals come together so quickly.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut 'bacon' and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

BLA lettuce wraps and pineapple. Romaine hearts+homemade coconut ‘bacon’ and Whole Foods fresh guacamole.

Tuesday’s lunch was a little more creative. I made a batch of raw coconut ‘bacon’ in the morning and since I’m basically addicted to it, I decided to incorporate it into my lunch in a creative way. Enter the BLA wraps. The BLA is a spin on the classic BLT, only without the tomato…and avocado in its place. This raw version was incredibly good and I miiiiight have it for lunch again today.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Homemade raw banana protein bars.

Going mostly raw has made me more creative in the kitchen! I love that I have so much time to experiment with recipes right now (truth time–I’m still itching to get my first post-grad job!) and I’ve been making a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t normally if I was still eating mostly cooked foods. Like these raw protein bars. I’ve stopped buying Larabars for the time being to save some money and also so I can try making my own raw bars. These are NOT the same consistency as Larabars but I still love ’em…and who says being raw means no protein? I’ve actually been keeping my protein levels up (about 25-30% of my daily macros) during this raw challenge with raw protein powders/nuts/seeds and I’m planning on sprouting lentils soon so stay tuned for that!

Raw Banana Bread Protein Bars (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 2 ripe bananas (best when spotty)
  • 2 scoops Garden of Life RAW protein powder (or any raw plant-based protein powder)
  • 3 tbsp raw coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

In a food processor or high-powered blender, pulse bananas until smooth and liquefied. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Divide into 6 large balls and flatten into bar shapes. Makes 6 bars, ~100 calories and 8 grams protein per bar.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

Zucchini pasta and raw pumpkin seed pesto for dinner.

So far, my dinners have been raw because that’s what I’ve been craving, even though it’s been snowing here and below freezing! I’ve been making raw pastas with zucchini, carrots and kelp noodles and tossing them in a nut or seed based sauce, pairing it with fruit and calling it dinner. Raw dinners are the simplest things ever, but I’m learning to appreciate simplicity!

Do you prefer homemade or store-bought when it comes to bars? Do you like your produce cooked or raw? 

Meal Prep Monday

Remember my ‘vegan on a budget’ posts from last year and earlier this year? I was planning on bringing them back once school started back up in the fall but it’s been…3 months since school started and I haven’t done one of those posts yet. Oops. Anyways, it’s a little late to do them again now since I only have 4 more weeks left, including finals! Crazy talk.

I’ve still been keeping up with my grocery budgeting and meal prepping, though, and I wanted to showcase a little of that, especially because I did a LOT of it this weekend. I managed to spend under $70 total for the week at 3 different grocery stores, which is way better than I was doing last semester, and I’ve been loving my long weekends (I only have classes Monday through Thursday, so 3 days weekends every week for this girl…enjoying them while they last!) because they give me plenty of time to go shopping and get my food prep done for the week. Taking an almost full course load means that I don’t have a ton of time during the week to do this, so it’s a blessing to have 3 days to catch up on stuff, including prepping my meals.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen lately!

Groceries

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

I wasn’t planning on going to Sprouts this weekend, but when my friend said she needed to swing by there for a few things, I decided to tag along. I ended up getting some cheap organic Pink Lady apples (my favorite kind), Ataulfo mangoes (also my favorite) and Medjool dates. All for under $10. Afterwards I stopped at Natural Grocers, mostly because they’re the only store in my area that carries black bean pasta, which is a new high-protein staple for me. Unfortunately, they were all out but I still ended up buying a few things I needed wanted, like my favorite Hail Merry miracle tart, xylitol-sweetened gum, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seed butter–for under $15.

Whole Foods produce...

Whole Foods produce…

...and pantry staples.

…and pantry staples.

Whole Foods is a given, but luckily it hasn’t been a budget breaker lately. I’ve been able to spend under $50 there consistently if I also shop at another store, and I only spend around $60 if that’s the only place I shop for the week. I can’t complain! This week I bought two more expensive items (the stevia-sweetened chocolate chips and Skinnycrisps) but the chocolate chips were on sale and the Skinnycrisps I hadn’t had in months and I wanted to bring them home to have over Thanksgiving break. I was planning on buying Tessemae’s BBQ sauce (sweetened only with dates!) so I could make this ‘pulled’ BBQ cauliflower but they were all out so I just had to nix that recipe for this week. As usual, I got a ton of produce (bananas, pomegranates and persimmons on sale, romaine hearts, lime, cilantro, Hannah yams) and some other things I needed for recipes like organic peanuts from the bulk section (on sale!), raisins and yeast. And of course, a few Larabars for quick snacks during the week. This was all just under $45, score!

Meals

Some of these things I made before I did my grocery shopping, so I was kinda using up some things and getting creative. I ran out of nut butter on Wednesday I think so that was fun trying to find other fat sources in my pantry. It was nice to finally restock and have more fruit and snack-y stuff again.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut 'bacon', pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut ‘bacon’, pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

I already plowed through one of the Garden of Life protein powder tubs my dad bought me late last month and I’m onto the second. I definitely recommend this brand, especially their new coffee flavor (it’s only available at Whole Foods right now, though)–decent consistency, especially mixed with coconut flour, and great stats for a raw protein powder.

Lettuce wraps...for breakfast?

Lettuce wraps…for breakfast?

This was another recent breakfast, when I ran out of bananas so I couldn’t have my usual banana ‘softserve’, which is what I have like 90% of the time. Instead, I took some romaine hearts and filled them with dates, raisins and the last of my PB. The date/lettuce combo is seriously killer! I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good. I also had some Garden of Life protein powder mixed with almond milk on the side.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Before my grocery trips this weekend, my lunches were getting pretty random. I was basically throwing together some leftovers, like the black bean noodles and pumpkin curry sauce, with some add-ins like pomegranate seeds and sauerkraut. These lunches were actually really tasty and filling–I just love the sweet and salty combos!

Oh She Glows' Thai veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Oh She Glows’ Thai sweet potato veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+coconut aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Finally a more put-together meal! This was my take on Angela’s Thai-style veggie burger. I made a few changes to it though–I nixed the oats in favor of almond flour to make it grain free, I didn’t really measure anything, I only added in the spices/veggies that I had on hand like curry powder and cilantro and I topped mine with a sunflower seed butter sauce. These were pretty crumbly, but the flavor was spot-on and definitely the best homemade veggie burger I’ve ever had! I’m looking forward to leftovers all week..

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

As for the rest of meal prep, I cut up and stored the 2 organic pomegranates I scored at Whole Foods for just $2.50 (they were on sale 4 for $5)–always messy work but I’m obsessed with pomegranates so it’s all good–made another batch of homemade sweet potato fries out of one of the Hannah yams I bought, made some more PB&J bites and some healthy ‘rice krispies’ (cacao brown rice cereal made with coconut sugar+sunflower seed butter+1 tbsp maple syrup+1 scoop protein powder+some almond milk made into bars) to use up some brown rice cereal I had and I also made the chocolate-covered fruit and nut clusters above. It’s so simple it doesn’t even really need a recipe, and I have no idea where I came up with it, but it’s basically raw mixed nuts (mine were from Whole Foods) and raisins topped with the Lily’s stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips and set in the freezer to harden. I used the stevia chocolate so these would be sugar free, but feel free to use whatever dark chocolate you have on hand. These are really good, and they’d be the perfect simple holiday dessert, maybe made more festive with dried cranberries instead of raisins and peppermint-flavored dark chocolate?

Do you like to do meal prep on the weekends? What are some of your recent favorite food finds?

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WIAW and New Series

It feels like forever since I’ve done a WIAW (okay, so it’s only been 2 weeks) so I’m back again with some random things I’ve been eating throughout the past few days. And…I’ve been wanting to start another post series like my grocery budgeting one and with my new found interest in raw foodism, I figured, why not do posts on my adventures in going raw?

I’ll start off with a few non-raw pics for WIAW, and then move into the first Adventures in Raw topic, which will be obsessiveness. I know a lot of non-raw-foodies think that a raw food diet, whether LFRV (aka the 80-10-10 fruitarian diet) or HFRV (including some higher fat raw foods) or somewhere in between, can become obsessive and restrictive, but so far, I’ve found that to be the opposite. More on that below!

WIAW

A non-raw breakfast for once: GF buckwheat+coconut flour based pancakes, topped with vanilla Sunwarrior 'frosting', Justin's vanilla almond butter, blueberries and coconut flakes.

A non-raw breakfast for once: GF buckwheat+coconut flour based pancakes, topped with vanilla Sunwarrior ‘frosting’, Justin’s vanilla almond butter, blueberries and coconut flakes.

Besides when I was on vacation, and even then I was still trying to eat somewhat raw when I could, I’ve been eating at least one raw meal a day, and it’s usually been breakfast. But one day I was craving a cooked breakfast so I opted for some quick GF pancakes made from a mix of coconut and buckwheat flours. They turned out fine, but I realized while eating them that I missed my raw breakfasts. Nothing like prepping raw flax pancakes or chia puddings the night before and just having to plate and top them in the morning!

Dinner from the grill: portobello mushroom (marinated in coconut aminos, liquid smoke and a little maple syrup) topped with fresh-made guac, side of grilled sweet potato fries.

Dinner from the grill: portobello mushroom (marinated in coconut aminos, liquid smoke and a little maple syrup) topped with fresh-made guac, side of grilled sweet potato fries.

If I haven’t been eating mostly raw at dinner, I’ve been wanting things grilled. Grilled veggies, grilled fruit, grilled tempeh. I finally decided to grill a portobello for the first time. It was good, but it could have been grilled a little longer–I like my foods dry! The sweet potato fries were pretty good though. I thought you had to always precook sweet potatoes before you grill, but I just sliced up this one, spiced it with Old Bay and almond oil, and tossed it in a grill basket. Some pieces were too firm, and some too burned, but they were tasty!

Work snacks: half a Vega One double chocolate bar (the cleanest and tastiest protein bar out there!), organic blueberries, leftover grilled sp fries, date.

Work snacks: half a Vega One double chocolate bar (the cleanest and tastiest protein bar out there!), organic blueberries, leftover grilled sp fries, date.

On Mondays and Thursdays I work a 5 hour shift from 2 to 7 pm at my weather internship. That’s basically my ideal snack time, and I want to make sure I’m not too starving to make the half hour drive home from work unbearable (or make my wallet unhappy by stopping at Whole Foods every time) so I pack a lot of little snacks that I eat whenever I get the time. My favorite combo is half of a Vega or Larabar, with fresh veggies and fruit.

If only alcohol was raw, amiright?

If only alcohol was raw, amiright?

Now that I’m legal almost 21 (in just a month and 8 days!), and it’s summer, I’ve been in the mood to sometimes (read: once or twice a month) enjoy a little adult drink. And by little, I really mean little, because my body does NOT have a high tolerance for alcohol. I can’t even handle one drink without feeling a little weird. Guess that means I’ll be a cheap date in the future 😉 However, I was able to handle this watermelon frosty because it was just 1 shot of vodka and basically, it was like a watermelon in frozen form! My mom added some lime juice and a bit of honey with the watermelon, along with the vodka and a little water to the blender and it was the perfect summertime drink. It would be awesome too in nonalcoholic form, and made more raw-friendly with raw honey instead of regular.

Adventures in Raw

Now, onto what I was saying about raw foodism and obsessiveness. I know it can seem, and can actually become, overwhelming to eat all raw, all the time. Right now, I’m not at that point. I still eat cooked foods once or twice a day, and some things I eat aren’t strictly raw, but I keep it clean and healthy within the limits I’ve given. Going out to eat while raw can be hard, unless the restaurant you go to has some raw options, so that’s why I’m keeping my diet mostly raw at home, and just healthy and vegan if I’m out (unless there is a raw option, then I’ll probably go for it!)

Anyways, my point is that raw foodism doesn’t seem obsessive to me. In my experiments with it so far, it’s made me less obsessed over macros especially. When I was still tracking my calories, and even after I stopped, I was so focused on my macro balance. Earlier this year, I think I was striving for a 50-20-30 balance (carbs/protein/fat) and it wasn’t just a loose goal–I tried to get that everyday, and if I didn’t, I was disappointed and beat myself up. With eating raw, I just focus on nutrients and getting in enough calories because you have to eat a LOT more when you’re raw. It’s helped me challenge my old bad habit of wanting to restrict and seeing raw foodies’ Instagrams inspires me to eat a lot more than I’m used to. I just don’t worry about getting the perfect balance of macros anymore. I’m not sure I believe that the 80-10-10 balance is the way to go, because I feel great with more fats, but I think I’m probably hitting more of a 60-15-25 balance right now, and it’s great. I don’t stress about getting enough protein or too many carbs like I used to, but I also don’t worry about getting too much fat from healthy sources like raw nuts, seeds and coconut.

Raw banana 'ice cream' mixed with a little chocolate Sunwarrior and a Medjool date, topped with raw pumpkin seeds and a raw chocolate bar. This meal had protein, carbs and fat but I wasn't stressing if I got enough or too much of any macro.

Raw banana ‘ice cream’ mixed with a little chocolate Sunwarrior and a Medjool date, topped with raw pumpkin seeds and a raw chocolate bar. This meal had protein, carbs and fat but I wasn’t stressing if I got enough or too much of any macro.

Raw foodism has also made meal prep a breeze. Like I mentioned above with the pancakes, I’m getting used to making meals that take almost no prep time, or can be made ahead of time. Even complicated raw desserts or sauces just need a few minutes in the food processor and they’re ready to be served. And making things in the dehydrator is actually less time-consuming, because I’m not constantly checking on the food and I can just let it run overnight. And if I’m starving and want to eat NOW, I can just throw veggies, spices and a fat together in a bowl and call it a meal.

Green goddess bowl--an easy raw dinner. Base of kelp noodles mixed with coconut aminos and lime juice, topped with spinach, mashed avocado mixed with sea salt and lime juice and raw pumpkin seeds.

Green goddess bowl–an easy raw dinner. Base of kelp noodles mixed with coconut aminos and lime juice, topped with spinach, mashed avocado mixed with sea salt and lime juice and raw pumpkin seeds.

And with raw foods, I don’t have to worry so much about the ingredient list. Looking at ingredients became such a compulsive and unhealthy thing for me. Whenever I wanted to buy a new food, I always had to check out the ingredients list in the store or research it online before to see if the ingredients were acceptable. With raw foods, pretty much all the ingredients have to be clean and vegan anyway, so I’m not so stressed out about buying new products.

I'm even trying out new-to-me fruits, like this canary melon. Kinda tastes like a sweeter honeydew.

I’m even trying out new-to-me fruits, like this canary melon. Kinda tastes like a sweeter honeydew.

Do you prefer quick and easy meals, or ones that require a lot of prep work? What’s your favorite thing to grill?

“But Where Do You Get Your Protein?” (Garden of Life Review)

If you are or have ever been a plant-based eater, you’ll know that the protein question is all too common…and annoying! Many omnivores believe that the only sources of protein are found in animals, and vegans especially are scrutinized for the presumed lack of protein in their diet. My parents, though both omnis, are luckily very open to my veganism (they’ve even tried and loved some vegan dishes) and don’t question my protein content, but I know that I’ve been making more of a conscious effort over the past year to increase my protein consumption without turning to animal-based sources.

When I first started AlmostVegGirlie, I was mostly vegetarian but had never heard of tempeh or peanut flour. As I transitioned into a vegan diet, I eschewed shrimp and Greek yogurt, only to find myself lacking in the protein department. A year ago, I was only getting about 15% of my calories from protein on a daily basis–I know some sources say you only need roughly 10-20% from protein, but I wasn’t feeling as energetic as I knew I could be. So I started incorporating more protein sources: sprouted tofu, nutritional yeast (2 tbsp has 8 grams of protein!), nuts/seeds, tempeh, peanut flour and plant-based protein powders all entered my rotation of food within the last year.

One of my favorite (secret) sources of protein--a 1 ounce serving has 9 grams of protein!

One of my favorite (secret) sources of protein–a 1 ounce serving has 9 grams of protein!

Now, I try to include a source of protein with every meal and snack, and I’m getting between 25 and 30% of my calories from protein–what a difference! I feel like I’m benefiting more from my workouts and I tend to feel less hungry when I get enough protein (though increasing my healthy fats in the last few months has helped too). I’m strongly considering starting a strength training routine soon and I know that having more protein will be beneficial for that.

So what does all this protein talk have to do with a review? Well, about a month ago the lovely people at Garden of Life sent me some samples to review. I’ve mentioned my love of their protein powders before and I’m so glad I discovered them because they’re my favorite plant-based protein powder.

What I love about Garden of Life is that their protein powders are made from sprouted protein sources including quinoa, lentil, flax and chia seeds (instead of the usual soy-based powders), they’re sweetened only with stevia and they are a source of raw probiotics from chlorella. But the best part is, they don’t taste plant-y at all! The flavors are true to life and not overpowered by sweetness.

I was sent the RAW vanilla and RAW chocolate flavors to try. I had bought and tried the chocolate before myself so I knew I’d love it but it was nice that they sent individual serving size packets which are perfect for taking on-the-go. I had never tried the vanilla before but I was excited to see if it was better than other vanilla protein powders I’d tried. Usually, vanilla powders are hit or miss–some are delicious and not too sweet but others just taste fake. Garden of Life’s vanilla was very clean and a little bit ‘green’ tasting but I liked it. The consistency was great for making protein frosting and it works well in baked goods.

Chocolate peppermint buckwheat waffle with Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein frosting.

Chocolate peppermint buckwheat waffle with Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein frosting.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Garden of Life RAW protein powders. They’re well-priced (you can get them for $28 on iHerb, $25 on Amazon and Whole Foods has them for about $30 but they usually have a $5 off coupon for them in their monthly flyer), taste great, are made from plant-based clean ingredients and have great stats (90 calories, 17 grams of protein and 0 grams of sugar per scoop). I would recommend any of the flavors, but if you have a Whole Foods near you, be sure to check out the store’s exclusive vanilla chai flavor–it’s my favorite!

Disclaimer: I was given this product to review by Garden of Life. All opinions are my own. 

Have you ever tried Garden of Life protein powder? Do you prefer chocolate, vanilla or other flavors of protein powder? 

The Best Products (I’ve Tried) of 2012

Can you guys believe we’re just a little over two weeks away from a new year? Craziness. When it gets to be this time of year, all I’m thinking about is how excited I am for Christmas, enjoying my time off from school and all the things I accomplished over the past year.

And if you’re a foodie like I am, you might also be reminiscing about the new food you’ve tried over the past 12 months…I know I am! With that said, here are a few of the best things I’ve tried since January 2012!

Zevia

zevia ginger root beer

Before I sucked it up and finally bought my first (overpriced) can of this amazing stuff in May, I’d heard lots of good things about it. I’ve never been a big soda fan, but I used to enjoy diet sodas on occasion. So having an all-natural diet soda was a definite treat! Since then, I’ve tried the ginger root beer, cream soda, cola, orange and lime cola (the orange is the only gross one) and I can’t wait to try more. Like a lot of things I love, these are very pricey so I buy a 6 pack when they’re on sale or maybe once a month at most and make them last.

Kabocha squash

kabocha, peanut flour sauce, coconut flour micro muffin crumbles, frozen grapes, dark mint chocolate, justins vanilla AB

This was another blogger-hyped product that I was on the lookout for since last fall. I didn’t find one until this October and haven’t found it very often since (but I stocked up on two last weekend!), but it’s my favorite squash by far (other than delicata). I prefer the texture and taste over any other and it’s delicious with peanut flour paste, almond butter or ketchup.

Larabars

pineapple upside down cake larabar, fresh pineapple, baby carrots

I’ve seen these around for awhile, but because of my previous fear of fat, I never gave them a try until March but they’ve become my bar of choice since then. I love the flavor variety and the fact that they’re made from whole foods, like dates and nuts. My favorite flavors are cappuccino, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chip brownie and the Uber banana bread.

Vega products

vega cocoa kissed saviseed

Can you believe I never tried Vega products until earlier this year? Vegan blasphemy, for sure. They have good quality (though expensive) protein powders, simple protein bars and I’m obsessed with their latest product, the dark chocolate-covered saviseed which is packed with protein and Omega-3s.

Cashew cream

raw key lime 'cheesecake'

This stuff is incredibly versatile, and easy to make. Basically you just soak raw cashews overnight or for several hours, and then it’s ready for blending. I’ve made a raw cheesecake (see above), nacho ‘cheez’ dip, mascarpone ‘cream’ and savory cashew cream filling–it really is good for anything!

Coconut milk ice cream

so delicious nsa chocolate

Even if you eat dairy, you need to try this vegan ice cream, it is out-of-this-world good! The healthy coconut fat makes it incredibly rich but not overly indulgent, and stores like Whole Foods carry a million and one flavors so you don’t have to feel limited to chocolate and vanilla. So Delicious and NadaMoo are my favorite brands, but there are definitely more out there–there’s a variety for everyone!

Kale

kale wraps

I think I actually tried kale for the first time last year (it was when I first tried the Whole Foods salad bars) but I didn’t fall in love with it until this year. I know a lot of people say it’s bitter, and it can be, but I’ve found lots of ways to make it tasty and craveable. Homemade kale chips (they’re best made in the dehydrator), crispy sauteed kale, ‘pizza’ kale (kale cooked with pasta sauce and olives), raw massaged kale salads, kale/almond milk smoothies…I’ll eat it almost any way, and I try to eat it at least once a day! Bonus: it’s an amazing superfood.

Coconut flour (or really, coconut everything)

coconut flour carrot cake

I used to say I hated coconut, partly because I didn’t like the texture of shredded coconut but also because I was deathly afraid of the fat in it. I avoided saturated fats like the plague but once I became pretty much 100% vegan, I realized that plant-based saturated fats were totally healthy and necessary. One of the first coconut products I bought was coconut flour–I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I do! I really love it mixed with baking powder and almond milk and microwaved for a minute to make a crumbly coconut flour muffin but I also want to experiment more with it in baked goods. It’s hard to bake it into things without using eggs but I want to try it out.

Kelp noodles

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry

If you’ve ever seen these before, they’ve probably grossed you out just a little. They weirded me out too the first time I bought them but I really wanted to try a raw noodle substitute and I’d heard good things. Unlike shirataki noodles, these are made from a seaweed so they’re more of a whole food, they don’t smell weird and they soak up the flavors in anything. They make the perfect low-cal sub for pasta and I especially love them mixed with pasta sauce, nooch, a crumbled veggie burger, kale and olives. I also included them in a stirfry the other night and they were amazing–recipe coming soon!

Garden of Life RAW protein powder

pumpkin chip cinnamon roll with vanilla chai protein frosting

I’ve tried a lot of vegan protein powders, from the (not-so-good) cheapo soy-based powders to the delicious but expensive Vega and Sunwarrior. But I think Garden of Life is my fave. First, it’s made from a blend of raw sprouted plant-based proteins, like quinoa and sunflower seed. It’s also pretty high in protein (17 grams per serving) and is a bit cheaper than some other higher-quality brands, it’s sweetened only with stevia but best of all, it’s delicious. I love both the chocolate and vanilla chai (only available at Whole Foods) flavors and the lovely team at Garden of Life was nice enough to send me some samples of the regular vanilla too so I can’t wait to try that one! Look for a review soon and possibly a giveaway in early 2013!

Figs

A delicious new breakfast: sprouted grain French toast topped with fresh fig and raw vanilla chai protein powder.

It actually makes me really sad that fig season is over–it became my new favorite fruit over the past few months. It pairs so well with both sweet and savory things and though they are a bit expensive, they’re worth every dollar. They’re out of season now but at least I can settle for dried figs!

What are some new foods you’ve tried (and loved) in 2012)? What’s your favorite squash variety?

Countdown to Christmas Recipes: Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins

My Friday post was scheduled ahead of time, so I was unable to acknowledge the horrible tragedy that occurred in CT. Please keep everyone affected by the event in your thoughts and prayers.

This may seem like more of a Thanksgiving recipe than a Christmas one, but I think pumpkin is still fitting this time of year. If you’re in need of a quick dessert to take to your holiday parties, this might fit the bill. It’s healthier than most muffin recipes–it’s grain free, packs in almost 5 grams of protein (if you go by the serving size, has only 2 tbsp of added sugar in the entire recipe and is packed with Vitamin A in the form of pumpkin, but I think most people will just be focusing on the incredible taste 😉

This is a very crumbly recipe, so you should probably keep it refrigerated ahead of time if you want it to hold up at a Christmas party. But if you make it just for yourself, I’d suggest crumbling one on top of some chocolate chia pudding, a bowl of fruit or whatever you want. Messy food is fun!

almond flour pumpkin chip muffin

 

Almond Flour Pumpkin Chip Muffins (vegan, grain free, gluten free)

1/3 cup almond flour or meal

2 scoops Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder (or any ‘clean’ vegan protein powder of choice)

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

1/2 tbsp baking powder

cinnamon, to taste

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp ground flax (made into flax ‘egg’ with 2 tbsp water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin or baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients through salt. In a food processor or blender, mix pumpkin, maple syrup and almond milk until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir in flax egg until batter forms. Pour batter into muffin tins (or 1 baking dish) and bake for 20 minutes. Makes 10 small muffins. 

Each muffin is around 70 calories, so it’s a good smaller-size option for parties, but if you’re making them for yourself, you can make 5 or 6 bigger muffins and still be enjoying a much healthier treat.

Do you still eat pumpkin around Christmas time? Have you ever baked with almond flour before?