Dreamin’

Thank you for all the heartfelt responses on my last post! I’m glad I’m not alone 🙂

But let’s focus on something a little more positive today. Like dreams. We all have them…here are some of mine that always manage to lift my mood and inspire me to work a little harder!

Move to California

Save me, San Francisco.

Save me, San Francisco.

Get my meteorology certificate and become a weather anchor on TV

Open a raw vegan cafe

Live near the beach

Buy a Prius (preferably in habanero!)

Eco-friendly AND cute.

Eco-friendly AND cute.

Adopt a cat or dog from a shelter

Visit every state in the U.S.

Go to Coachella

See Saturday Night Live in person

Try paddleboard yoga

I might fall into the water trying this...

I might fall into the water trying this…

What are some of your dreams? 

 

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Ditch the Diet Debates

Note: In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I created a page on my blog dedicated to my own struggles with an eating disorder and some of my most helpful posts on the topic. Check it out here and visit nedawareness.org for even more information. 

You know me…never afraid to take on a touchy subject 😉 I’ve discussed Instagram disordered behavior, figure competitions, rest days and intuitive eating and orthorexia in my personal life.

But what I haven’t talked much about is the crazy debates out there about the ‘perfect’ diet. There have been a lot of posts lately touching on the pros and cons of paleo, the Whole 30 and the primal-based lifestyles that are gaining in popularity. And of course, Instagram is full of #IIFYM hashtagged photos of ‘proyo’ and Quest bars and Walden Farms condiments. And if you’ve spent any time on my blog or Instagram, you’ll see all the raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds that make up my newly adopted raw vegan lifestyle. With all these conflicting dietary views out there, which one is best?

Honestly…none of them are! Let me explain. The ‘best’ diet for all humans doesn’t exist–we’re all so unique in our needs that eating a egg salad sandwich on Ezekiel bread for lunch may work for you, but it will make your gluten-free vegetarian friend feel like crap. The ‘best’ diet is the one that works for YOU and your body, period. It doesn’t matter what’s trendy, or what everyone at your gym is eating or what the latest episode of Dr. Oz tells you not to eat. If something works for you, eat it. If not, don’t…and don’t feel guilty for not eating a certain way.

This approach doesn't exactly work for everyone.

This approach doesn’t exactly work for everyone.

Source

The thing that gets me the most about these diet debates is how people trash each other’s eating style. The paleo people cut down vegans for not eating enough protein, high carb low fat vegans are militant about shunning fats and omnivores criticize many diets for being too restrictive. Where’s the appreciation for the benefits of each diet? Other than the Standard American Diet, there are benefits to every eating style, which is why people choose to follow them. Each diet gets some things right–veganism emphasizes the benefits of consuming mostly plants, primal eating promotes real food over processed crap and healthy diets that don’t exclude any food groups show the benefits of moderation.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

Source

I wish people would be more respectful of everyone’s chosen eating style. I came across a blog post the other day where the blogger shared her experiences as being a vegetarian for a week and how she couldn’t do it because she’s an athlete. Nothing wrong with not being a vegetarian, but don’t claim you couldn’t cut out meat because you’re an athlete. If that were true, then Brendan Brazier, Venus Williams and Scott Jurek (all plant-based athletes) wouldn’t be among the best in their sports. Sure, you may have to be better at planning your meals as a plant-based athlete but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid animal products and still be athletic. I know I’m guilty of questioning the paleo diet from time to time but I recognize that it works for some people and that’s great. Just because something is restrictive for you personally doesn’t mean it’s restrictive to someone else and we need to respect that.

Who says vegans can't be strong and fit?

Who says vegans can’t be strong and fit?

Source

Personally, I advocate for a plant-based diet because it’s healthier to fill up your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies and of course it’s cruelty-free, but I understand that everyone has their own beliefs and needs that determine what they eat. I try to come from a place of understanding and respect and I wish there was more of that in the blog world and life in general!

What’s your take on the ‘diet debates’?

WIAW: Foods of the Moment

I like trying new things. It’s the best way to figure out what you like, right? But sometimes, you just gotta come back to old–or new–favorites.

Doing the whole raw foodism thing for the past 2+ weeks has given me plenty of time for experimenting, and it’s helped me figure out what foods are my favorite. So lemme share them with you this WIAW!

Cauliflower ‘Rice’

Random dinner of romaine hearts, homemade guac, cilantro lime cauliflower 'rice' and dehydrated sweet potato fries.

Random dinner of romaine hearts, homemade guac, cilantro lime cauliflower ‘rice’ and dehydrated sweet potato fries.

Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes

Almost like baked fries but even better.

Almost like baked fries but even better.

Carrot Cake Anything

Banana softserve+carrot cake (added in a carrot+raisins+coconut manna) = best dessert ever.

Banana softserve+carrot cake (added in a carrot+raisins+coconut manna) = best dessert breakfast ever.

Fruits and Veggies (of ALL kinds)

Whole Foods produce haul. This makes up at least HALF of my grocery bill.

Whole Foods produce haul. This makes up at least HALF of my grocery bill.

More veggies in the produce drawer. Cauliflower, rainbow carrots, jicama, kale, bell peppers.

More veggies in the produce drawer. Cauliflower, asparagus, rainbow carrots, jicama, kale, bell peppers.

Strawberries, blackberries, spinach and romaine.

Strawberries, blackberries, spinach and romaine.

Fruit bowl. Bananas waiting to ripen, mango, blood oranges, lemon, lime.

Fruit bowl. Bananas waiting to ripen, mango, blood oranges, lemon, lime.

Beautiful blood oranges.

Beautiful blood oranges.

Zucchini ‘Pasta’

Zucchini fettuccine with easy marinaraw sauce (tomato paste+spices+date), olives, homemade pumpkin seed pesto and hemp seeds.

Zucchini fettuccine with easy marinaraw sauce (tomato paste+spices+date), olives, homemade pumpkin seed pesto and hemp seeds.

And zucchini rawsagsna. Layered with homemade marinaraw sauce, raw cashew cheez, kalamata olives and hemp seeds.

And zucchini rawsagsna. Layered with homemade marinaraw sauce, raw cashew cheez, kalamata olives and hemp seeds.

Chia Puddings

Valentine's Day breakfast of cherry vanilla Sunwarrior chia pudding topped with coconut manna and homemade raw brownie bites.

Valentine’s Day breakfast of cherry vanilla Sunwarrior chia pudding topped with coconut manna and homemade raw brownie bites.

Garden of Life mocha brownie batter chia pudding topped with fresh strawberries, coconut manna and raw brownie bites.

Garden of Life mocha brownie batter chia pudding topped with fresh strawberries, coconut manna and raw brownie bites.

Sprouted Mung Beans

Just soak and marinate for a great raw protein source.

Just soak and marinate for a great raw protein source.

Kelp Noodles

Kelp noodle 'stirfry' (adapted from Going Raw book) with rainbow carrots, spinach/arugula and orange bell pepper.

Kelp noodle ‘stirfry’ (adapted from Going Raw book) with rainbow carrots, spinach/arugula and orange bell pepper.

Avocado (in sweet things)

Avocado+Garden of Life+cacao mousse topped with coconut flakes and raisins.

Avocado+Garden of Life+cacao mousse topped with coconut flakes and raisins.

Flax Pancakes

Flax 'pancakes' topped with Garden of Life protein sauce, coconut flakes and frozen blueberries.

Flax ‘pancakes’ topped with Garden of Life protein sauce, coconut flakes and frozen blueberries.

Even though I have a lot of favorites, one thing I love about being raw is getting such a variety of foods in every day. Instead of getting stuck in a food rut, I’m always excited about trying something new and mixing things up so I get in a variety of nutrients!

What are some of your ‘foods of the moment’?

Adventures In Raw: How Anyone Can Eat More Raw

As I’ve been mentioning in my posts all week, I’ve been wanting to talk about how easy eating raw is and how anyone can do it. Now, eating high raw or 100% raw is quite an undertaking and involves a lot of planning and dietary changes for the average person, but you don’t have to eat fully raw to reap the benefits of raw food!

  • Add in more fresh fruits and veggies

I know some people can’t handle certain veggies raw, and that’s okay. But many veggies are more nutritious when eaten in their raw state, and personally, I think most taste better raw. I’m obsessed with raw cauliflower and I prefer eating my greens and carrots fresh. Even things like sweet potatoes can be eaten raw (if dehydrated) and you’ll definitely be getting more nutrients out of them when they’re fresh. As for fruits, it’s even easier to go raw! And while you’re at it, why not try some new fruits and veggies when you’re making a grocery list? You’ll never know what you may love if you don’t try it.

This should be the basis of everyone's diet--fresh produce!

This should be the basis of everyone’s diet–fresh produce!

  • Sprout and soak your grains and legumes

Beans and grains can be hard for some people to digest, and for good reason. They contain lectins and other anti-nutrients which can cause lots of problems in your body. No wonder the paleo people are so against grains and legumes! But you don’t need to give them up…just follow in the footsteps of traditional cultures who always soak and sprout their grains and beans. Soaking and fermenting not only eliminate the issues with these foods, but they also unlock the nutritional properties of them, so you get more bang for your buck. Take some time to prepare these foods properly, and your body will thank you…and so will your wallet, because buying dried beans and grains is cheaper than buying them canned or pre-packaged.

If you eat wheat, and love bread, make the switch to sprouted grain products like Ezekiel. Their breads are different than most, since they’re made from whole sprouted grains instead of nutrient-poor flour. I don’t eat this anymore since it’s not raw, but it’s a good transitional product!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds...so good!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds…so good!

  • Buy from the bulk section.

I love getting my dried fruit and nuts from the bulk section at Whole Foods because then I can buy only what I need. Whole Foods in particular has a great selection of raw nuts, sun-dried fruits and even things like raw granola so it’s perfect for the raw foodie. Some of my favorites from this section include Medjool dates, hemp hearts, Living Intentions sprouted sunflower seeds and greens, raw mixed nuts, rawpumpkin seeds and Turkish figs.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you’re striving to be high raw, like I am, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be ‘perfect’. The thing is, it’s okay to eat cooked foods if that’s what your body (or mind) wants. If you stick to plant-based meals, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Just remind yourself that you chose this lifestyle for a reason, because it’s so nourishing and healthful, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat ‘perfectly’ all the time. In fact, I’m going out to eat with my parents tonight for Valentine’s Day (hot date, right 😉 ), and while I would rather stay in and make one of my delicious raw meals, I’m going to enjoy a cooked meal tonight and then get back on track with my regular lifestyle!

I might be eating a cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I'd rather eat a raw dinner, I'll still enjoy myself.

I might be eating an artisan, organic cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I’d rather eat a raw dinner, I’ll still enjoy myself.

What’s something you prefer to eat raw instead of cooked?

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?

Meal Prep Monday: Raw Week 1

Eating raw doesn’t seem feasible to most people (I’ll be discussing that in a post later this week) but I gotta say, a lot of people are interested in seeing what raw foodies eat. After all, on the surface, raw foodism seems restrictive, boring and complicated…but honestly, it’s NONE of those things! With that being said, here’s my plans for my upcoming week eating raw.

Meals for the Week

Breakfast: I plan on rotating between chia pudding, flax pancakes and possibly fruit+buckwheat granola in homemade almond milk. I like to keep things simple for breakfast, with plenty of fruit and healthy fats, usually in the form of almond butter or coconut manna.

Raw flax pancakes topped with Sunwarrior protein sauce, pomegranate and date syrup.

Raw flax pancakes topped with Sunwarrior protein sauce, pomegranate and date syrup.

Lunch: I want to switch this up every single day this week and try at least a few new things. I have a feeling BLT wraps will be back this week, as well as raw macro bowls, giant salads and protein smoothies.

Raw take on the classic macro bowl.

Raw take on the classic macro bowl.

Dinner: This is where my creativity and plenty of bookmarked raw recipes come in. I plan on making the Asian noodle “stir-fry” from my Going Raw book, this fettuccine alfredo, lettuce taco wraps with my raw taco filling and possibly this raw vegan poutine if I can figure out how to make sweet potato ‘fries’ in the dehydrator. I’ve got a full week of meals lined up, and since I went fully raw last week, I think I can do it again this week…though I am giving myself the freedom to eat a plant-based cooked dinner if I’m feeling it.

Snacks: Snack plates, chia pudding, banana softserve…all the usual suspects.

I love my random, nutrient-packed snack plates!

I love my random, nutrient-packed snack plates!

Recipes for the Week

Other than the ones linked above, I’m planning on making more coconut bacon, these superfood cups, these sprouted raw buckwheat bars (like rice krispies but better!) and another batch of date syrup.

Groceries for the Week

No pictures this time, but here’s some of what I stocked up on for this week. Note: most of what I bought this week will last for just this week, but a lot of raw food staples (like coconut aminos, raw nut butters, superfood powders, etc.) will last a lot longer, and even though they may be expensive upfront, they’re worth it to keep around in your pantry for future use.

Produce: blackberries (on sale), yams, romaine hearts, spinach/arugula mix, bananas (always bananas!), orange bell pepper, avocados, ginger, cilantro, pineapple (on sale), zucchinis, rainbow carrots

Bulk Bins: dates, dried Turkish figs, raw mixed nuts, raw cashew pieces, hemp seeds, Himalayan pink sea salt, coconut flour

Miscellaneous: nothing this week

What’s always on your grocery list? Do you like to stick with the same things for a certain meal or switch it up? 

Friday Five: T Minus 2 Weeks

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who commented on and emailed me about my last post. I really appreciate all the feedback you gave me about my “no added sugar” plan, and I’m working towards being more flexible with my eating and not letting food become an obsessive thing in my life. Especially around the holidays, when I’m already stressed as it is, and sometimes a girl just needs a Hail Merry miracle tart (which I’ll be treating myself to at the end of finals week).

1. There are just over 2 weeks left til the big day…graduation!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day for forever. Okay, maybe not, but it’s been a source of excitement and fear in my life since at least last year. I think getting the opportunity to graduate a semester early, and start my ‘real’ life will be the best Christmas present I get this year–and it just so happens to be right around Christmas. I’ve just got to get through one more week of classes, 2 real finals, 1 take home test and an online final and then I’m there! I know the next two weeks are going to fly by, but I hope I can enjoy them to the fullest. My time in college has been so much more than I could have ever imagined, so in a way, I’m going to miss it. At the same time, I’m ready to be done with school!

2. I’m obsessed with balls.

Nope, not those ones 😉 I’ve been whipping up some Larabar knock-offs in ball form and eating them for snacks, at breakfast/lunch, you name it. My latest creations are PB&J (my favorites, and literally just raisins+no salt/sugar PB), protein peppermint mocha (recipe below!) and cookie dough (almond meal+dates+stevia chocolate chips+vanilla extract). Let’s just say that my Ninja has been getting a lot of love lately!

Some of my 'balls'.

Some of my ‘balls’.

Protein Peppermint Mocha Balls (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw, no added sugar)

1 scoop Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder (can sub any coffee-flavored protein powder, or just chocolate and add a little instant coffee)

1 tbsp cacao powder or dark cocoa powder

8-10 pitted dates, soaked 2 hours

3-4 tbsp pumpkin seeds, soaked 2 hours

dash peppermint extract, to taste

In a food processor/high speed blender, process all ingredients until they start to come together. Roll into balls or flatten into bars and enjoy.

3. I am seriously looking into moving to California. Or somewhere else warm.

Not that I wasn’t already, but after this week, I’m considering it even more. Not only did we get 6 inches of snow (not too unusual, and it made it feel more like Christmas, but it made the roads horrible) but we’ve been having Arctic-like temperatures since Tuesday, and they will be continuing until this coming Tuesday. I’m talking daytime highs of 10 degrees at the most, and overnight lows in the negatives. That just doesn’t happen here more than a random day or two, usually in February. The strange thing about Colorado is that we still get plenty of sunshine on these frigid days, so it’s like the weather is taunting us by looking warm but feeling beyond cold. This awful weather has made me just want to stay in and watch Christmas movies #noshame.

This sums it up, basically.

This sums it up, basically.

As does this tweet.

As does this tweet.

4. Some random search terms for your enjoyment.

I haven’t looked at my search terms in awhile, so I knew there was bound to be some, erm, interesting ones. Here are some of the weirdest!

  • drinking olive oil with salt to jump start my period: I would suggest putting that olive oil and salt to better use as a dip for some fancy bread…
  • cappuccino float: I’m not even sure how that would work, but coffee+ice cream is always a winner.
  • how did i spend my thanksgiving holiday for middle school: I haven’t been in middle school for 8 years, so I can’t remember that far back what I was doing for Thanksgiving!
  • selfies gone wrong: If they’re referring to my car selfies, they couldn’t be more wrong!
  • slang saying yaaasss: I personally love slang words, so go for it.

5. My apartment is sufficiently Christmas-ified.

2013-12-05 17.41.082013-12-05 18.23.02

It’s hard being away from home during the holidays. I really struggled with this during my freshman year of college–it was my first time away from home, and I was dealing with all the typical finals-time stress, along with a not-so-great roommate. What’s made my holiday seasons since then a little better (besides living in an apartment on my own!) is having Christmas decorations up and listening to Christmas music as much as possible. My lovely mom was nice enough to decorate my place while I was at class when she dropped me off after break on Monday, and now my apartment is looking pretty festive. Having all that snow helps too (though, lets be honest, I’m sick of it already) and even though I won’t be going home for good (aka until I find a job) until the 23rd because that’s when I’m moving out of my apartment, I can still enjoy this holiday season, while looking forward to the time that I’ll get to be home with my family again. T-minus 17 days until I’m home for Christmas 😀

Do you like to decorate your home/apartment/dorm for the holidays? What’s the weather like where you are–I need some hope that warmer temps will return soon!