Keep It Simple

I feel like I haven’t posted a recipe on here forever! I could blame it on my crazy work schedule (which is true), or the hot temperatures which have kept me far from the oven, but really, it’s just because I’ve been embracing simple foods lately.

My work meals are easy to throw together — Sunwarrior chia puddings+toppings (raisins, stevia chocolate chips, raw nuts), Kit’s Organic bars, fresh fruit, flax crackers, carrots+homemade hummus. Basically anything I can eat at my desk while writing stories for 8 hours. When I get home, I get my workout in and then throw something together for ‘dinner’ (if you can count a meal eaten at 4 pm as dinner…that’s life when you work early mornings). No more elaborate recipes requiring special ingredients. It’s all about things I can make from my pantry staples and put together in 10 minutes or less.

Keepin' it simple at the farmer's market. Locally-grown mini zucchinis and local-made smoked hummus.

Keepin’ it simple at the farmer’s market. Locally-grown mini zucchinis and local-made smoked hummus.

So what have I been eating?

Sweet potato hash.

Sweet potato hash.

Sweet potato hash. Aka heaven in a bowl. Basically I take a sweet potato, peel it, and then chop it up into fine chunks in my Ninja, and blend it with spices (pink salt, nooch, garlic, cayenne). And then I dump it into a pan heated up with a a little coconut oil, add in some spinach and hemp ‘tofu’ when I have it and let it cook up til it’s crispy. And then I top with hummus (either local from the farmer’s market or homemade) and raw nuts and seeds.

Pan-roasted cole slaw (cabbage and carrots) with kelp noodles, spices, hemp seeds and smoked hummus.

Pan-roasted cole slaw (cabbage and carrots) with kelp noodles, spices, hemp seeds and smoked hummus.

Pan-roasted veggies. The spices are really what makes these so craveable. I’ve done it with both cauliflower and cabbage, and both are really good. My go-to spices are pink sea salt, garlic granules, cayenne powder and nutritional yeast. And I just cook the crap out of the veggies over a pan on the stove, because ovens are overrated and I love having a gas range that heats up in seconds.

It's gotta be greeeeeeen.

It’s gotta be greeeeeeen.

Banana softserve. Some days, I really wanted a cold dinner that was more on the sweet side. Enter banana softserve. I think you all know how this works, but I blend a frozen banana with greens (spinach or romaine), some Sunwarrior protein powder and a little almond milk. And then I serve with raw nuts and dried fruit on the side.

Snack plates. When all else fails, and I’m feeling like eating a bunch of random stuff, I go for the snack plates. While my combinations vary, I always include…A) a veggie (usually romaine hearts drizzled with spicy mustard or carrots), B) fruit (berries or watermelon), C) hummus or salsa, D) raw nuts or seeds, E) dried fruit/stevia chocolate chips.

I used to be so concerned about getting tons of variety in my diet, but now I honestly just go with the flow and eat what I crave. It’s so freeing, and it makes for easier grocery shopping trips. I literally buy about 20 or so of the same things every single week, with a few changes here and there. And of course, I still get plenty of variety in the produce I eat…and I’ve been a produce monster this summer so far! I spend about half of my grocery budget on fruits and veggies and I can’t get enough.

Giant produce haul (mostly organic) from Whole Foods.

Giant produce haul (mostly organic) from Whole Foods.

What have you been eating lately?

Advertisements

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? 

WIAW: On Repeat

I’ve been eating a lot of the same things lately. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying new things/recipes, but I’ve been really feeling a few favorites this week, and I’ve been repeating them…a lot.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Breakfasts have been of the banana softserve variety for…ummmm…2 to 3 weeks now? Yep, this is one of the longer breakfast ruts, and I’m hoping it’ll last awhile. I love having something cold and fruity in the morning, and this fits the bill. Toppings are necessary, at least in my world, and generally homemade protein balls+homemade coconut butter lately.

Snackplates for snacks...and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates for snacks…and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates have just been super easy to throw together, and I’m loving them for lunch now too. Luckily, my snack plates have evolved from a lot of crackers and chips (I thought they were healthy because they were organic/vegan, but not so!) to mostly fresh fruits and veggies with a few ‘fun’ things that still have plenty of nutritional value. Take the flax crackers–packed with omega 3s, raw and made with lots of veggies. And the PB&J bites were a random thing I threw together in the food processor and basically made from dates, raisins and peanut flour. So good…too bad I ran out of peanut flour!

My mom's hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

My mom’s hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

As much as I loved our old house, I like our new yard because we’ve planted so many flowers, veggies and herbs. I love this hibiscus especially because it’s so tropical and smells amazing. And I’m excited because my Japanese eggplant is flowering, and my hot pepper plants are growing baby peppers!

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes...stupid allergies.

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes…stupid allergies.

I’m starting to feel okay with my body, at least some days. Yesterday was a bit hard, because I chose to wear a bodycon-style dress. I love it, and think it looks cute, but I always feel so self-conscious about how my stomach looks in it, especially after meals. I’ve gotta remind myself that everyone’s stomach expands after eating (duh!) and no one else notices or cares but me. Same with my arms. For some reason, they tend to be my most hated body part, and some days I think they look toned and lean, while others they look huge to me. Working through these feelings and telling myself they’re just temporary helps me avoid getting stuck in a bad body image rut.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I'm obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I’m obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack time snack plates are about the same as lunchtime ones, only with different veggies and fruit. I’ve been trying to get in veggies at lunch, snack and dinner and have been going strong with that for a couple of weeks. Gotta love fueling up with produce!

Raw vegan goat 'cheese'.

Raw vegan goat ‘cheese’.

I love making raw vegan cheeses. I was never a huge fan of cheese pre-veganism, but now I love homemade vegan cheeses.

Raw Goat Cheez (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour (I recommend longer)

1-4 tbsp water (less for thicker cheez)

1/2 tsp olive oil (optional, adds Mediterranean flavor)

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a food processor, blend soaked and drained cashews until they begin to resemble cashew butter. Add in remaining ingredients until combined. Spoon into cheesecloth or coffee filter (this helps thicken and strain the cheez) and place in a small bowl in the fridge. Serve with flax crackers, veggies or on salads. Makes 1/4 cup.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

I’ve been getting my daily dose of greens with dinner, in the form of salads. My greens of choice have been baby spinach and chopped romaine lettuce. I’ve been loving chickpeas on salads, guac and nooch (for taco salads), strawberries and balsamic, my raw goat cheez. Anything goes on my salads…well, almost.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

I’ve either been doing Sunwarrior protein mixed with coconut water as a base for fruit+coconut butter, or mini snack plates with berries, raw cacao powder+coconut oil+a little raw local honey mixed to make a raw chocolate dip, dates and homemade protein bites. Half a Larabar with some fruit has been happening too. I haven’t been 100% raw every day, but I’m trying to stay high raw at every meal, while incorporating some non-raw sources of protein like beans. So far, it’s working for me and I like not having to be so strict with my macros. I feel like I’m eating healthier than ever, and as a result, my mindset around food and my body has been healthier as well.

 

What foods/meals have you been repeating lately?

WIAW: Almost Summer (Or Not)

It’s finally May! Can you believe it? This year has already flown by, and I’ll be packing up to go home for the summer in just about 2 weeks. I’m not sure if you’re as much of a weather nerd as I am (actually, pretty sure you’re not since I’m pretty obsessed, but hey, it is my job!) but if you’ve been keeping up with the national forecast, good old Colorado is getting yet another snowstorm today. Yep, May 1st. Snow isn’t totally unusual here, but since we’re supposed to get around 6 or more inches (writing this on Tuesday when it’s still raining, not snowing yet and hopefully won’t), that’s way more than normal. Can you believe we were at 80 degrees on Monday? This is just insane, and really not fair.

Anyways, I’ll stop my weather complaints and move on to better things…namely WIAW! This one will be fairly wordless other than captions, but full of recent food photos so enjoy!

Fully loaded kelp noodle stirfry: kelp noodles, peanut flour/curry/coconut aminos sauce, pineapple/mango, spinach, red cabbage, pan fried tofu, coconut flakes and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Fully loaded kelp noodle stirfry: kelp noodles, peanut flour/curry/coconut aminos sauce, pineapple/mango, spinach, red cabbage, pan fried tofu, coconut flakes and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Homemade blueberry infused, watermelon stevia sweetened water.

Homemade blueberry infused, watermelon stevia sweetened water.

Horestooth Reservoir and the mountains. One of the biggest lakes in Colorado is in my backyard. Nothing better than mountains+water!

Horestooth Reservoir and the mountains. One of the biggest lakes in Colorado is in my backyard. Nothing better than mountains+water!

'Guacachoc' PB protein mousse, aka avocado mousse. Recipe to come!

‘Guacachoc’ PB protein mousse, aka avocado mousse. Recipe to come!

More clean nachos! Sprouted sweet potato chips, red cabbage, homemade guac, sweet potato, black beans and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

More clean nachos! Sprouted sweet potato chips, red cabbage, homemade guac, sweet potato, black beans and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Grain free protein pancakes. Mix of chocolate Sunwarrior and garbanzo flour. Topped with PB, homemade pumpkin grainless granola and dark chocolate chips.

Grain free protein pancakes. Mix of chocolate Sunwarrior and garbanzo flour. Topped with PB, homemade pumpkin grainless granola and dark chocolate chips.

Beautiful weekend weather in the 70s.

Beautiful weekend weather in the 70s.

Raw snackplate. Cacao nib Cocoroon, organic strawberries, southwestern ranch kale chips, orange rosemary pecans, Thai lemon curry cashews, currant flacker with homemade blueberry vanilla chia jam.

Raw snackplate. Cacao nib macaroon, organic strawberries, southwestern ranch kale chips, orange rosemary pecans, Thai lemon curry cashews, currant flacker with homemade blueberry vanilla chia jam.

Green-ish grass and sunny skies.

Green-ish grass and sunny skies (and my Alejandro behind the power box).

Socca-style taco filled with raw red cabbage, black beans, sweet potato, homemade guac and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Socca-style taco filled with raw red cabbage, black beans, sweet potato, homemade guac and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Is is almost summer where you are (school wise, or weather wise)? What’s the best thing you ate this weekend?

WIAW: Then & Now

Before I start, let me just say a big thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post! You all had such insightful advice and I really appreciated each and every comment.

Now onto the best party of the week…WIAW! I’ve seen a theme going around lately about then & now type WIAW posts. Mine’s a little different–I’ll be focusing on what I ate when I first started this blog in 2011, and what I’m eating now. It’s crazy how much my eating style has changed in just two years!

Breakfast

Then

Yogi blueberry granola crisps over Greek yogurt, half a homemade blueberry waffle, veggie breakfast sausage.

Yogi blueberry granola crisps over Greek yogurt, half a homemade blueberry waffle, veggie breakfast sausage.

Basically, some variation on whole grain carbs+processed protein. For some reason, I ate a Morningstar spicy veggie pattie or veggie sausage pretty much every day with breakfast for a year. It was a decent source of protein, but I shudder at the mile-long ingredient list now.

Now

Tiramisu chia pudding.

Tiramisu chia protein pudding.

I don’t have a chia pudding every day, but they’re one of my favorite breakfasts now. I focus a lot more on healthy fats (nut butters, raw bars, coconut cream) and cleaner carbs and proteins. Some other favorites are protein frosting-topped homemade buckwheat waffles, almond flour pancakes and protein microwave muffins.

Lunch

Then

Spinach salad with frozen mango and Gardein chick'n nuggets.

Spinach salad with frozen mango and Gardein chick’n nuggets.

I still did salads for lunch (not as often as I do now) but they were a lot more plain and usually protein-ed up with Gardein products. I think their products are good for newbie vegans and vegetarians or when you want some vegan junk food, but I prefer whole foods sources of protein now like beans, edamame and tempeh.

Now

Spinach salad with nooch dressing and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

Spinach salad with nooch dressing and sprouted pumpkin seeds.

I love salads with homemade dressings, seeds/nuts, dry roasted edamame, dried fruit, olives, leftover brown rice sushi…basically, anything goes! I also pretty much always have a side of fresh fruit…and sometimes maybe a square of dark chocolate.

Snack

Then

Golden corn Vitatop, Crystal Light pink lemonade.

Golden corn Vitatop with almond butter, Crystal Light pink lemonade.

Sensing a theme here? I was definitely eating a lot of ‘healthy’ (aka low fat, lower calorie) processed foods. I used to LOVE Vitatops, especially the corn ones, but I haven’t had one in over a year. And I don’t miss all the preservatives and weird ingredients at all.

Now

A typical snackplate.

A typical snackplate.

My snacks are often a snack plate-style assortment of protein (peanut flour paste or dry roasted edamame), fats (nuts, seeds, guacamole) and produce (dried fruit, kale chips, carrots). Oh, and chocolate is necessary!

Dinner

Then

OMG fish on a plant-based blog?! Mahi mahi topped with homemade strawberry salsa, watermelon gazpacho.

OMG fish on a plant-based blog?! Mahi mahi topped with homemade strawberry salsa, watermelon gazpacho.

Most of my meals were vegetarian back in 2011, but I did enjoy the occasional fish or seafood dinner. I think if I ever decide to eat meat again, I’ll only eat fish/seafood because it’s really healthy and it was the one meat I actually enjoyed.

Now

Whole Foods salad bar leftovers.

Whole Foods salad bar leftovers.

I don’t eat Whole Foods salad bar every night (I wish!) but I definitely eat completely plant-based and get in plenty of veggies and different sources of protein. I like to mix things up though: breakfast-for-dinner, eggplant muffulettas on coconut flour bread, homemade veggie burgers (or Sunshine burgers), nooch-y nachos…the list goes on!

Dessert

Then

Raw brownie with coffee froyo and raspberries.

Raw brownie with coffee froyo and raspberries.

Actually, this still looks pretty good! I haven’t had a raw brownie in way too long…Anyways, I loved Stonyfield froyos (especially the coffee flavor), cereal and Whole Foods brand Oreos as desserts–not horrible, but way too sugary for me now!

Now

Raw vegan chocolate ganache.

Raw vegan chocolate ganache.

Still loving the raw desserts, but now they’re more often store-bought (that needs to change though–too bad my tiny food processor sucks!). I generally eat protein microwave muffins or banana softserve most nights, but sometimes have no-sugar-added coconut milk ice cream or raw desserts or Larabars.

How have your meals changed in the past 2 years? Were you ever obsessed with a food/brand that you can’t stand now?

WIAW: I’m Baaaaack!

When I posted a few weeks back that I was done with WIAWs for awhile, I wasn’t sure how long of a break I’d be taking. Well, it’s only been 2 Wednesdays since then and I’ve caved…but only because I have a lot of food I wanted to share with you guys! I probably won’t be doing WIAW on a weekly basis, as I’m still trying to overcome my orthorexia and I’ve been making strides in eating intuitively, at least amount-wise and not counting calories, but the urges to ‘eat clean’ are still strong and I feel more pressure to eat as cleanly as possible for WIAW posts. So I’m thinking it’s best for me to not do them as often.

Anyways, this week’s WIAW is basically just a bunch of random meals I’ve been eating lately, mostly over this past weekend. I’m sensing a few trends in my recent eats: my salad-a-day goal is still going strong, I love homemade waffles for weekend breakfasts and a few old favorites have made their way back into the rotation. Oh, and an obsession with Instagram and seasonal PicMonkey effects #noshame.

Obviously, still loving the Whole Foods hot/cold bars.

Obviously, still loving the Whole Foods hot/cold bars.

Sorry this is super cheesy, but I had to put a heart around one of my fave meals ever–the WF hot/cold bar! I know I’ve said that the WF up here at school blows, at least as far as their salad bar selection goes. Well, it’s more like hit-or-miss. This box, consumed last Friday, was a hit–tofu ratatouille (a little too salty, but decent), Asian cous-cous, kale topped with maple pecans, grilled asparagus, edamame and my favorite, the in-store made vegan tortilla chips. I also added some homemade guac and it was a delicious box that was totally worth the $7 or whatever it cost. I like never go out to eat, so I think a couple of WF hot/cold bar runs a month is justified 😉

Vanilla blueberry chia pudding made with Sunwarrior protein powder, frozen blueberries, almond milk and shredded coconut.

Vanilla blueberry chia pudding made with Sunwarrior protein powder, frozen blueberries, almond milk and shredded coconut.

This was one of the few successful chia puddings I’ve made–most of them turn out to be runny, no matter how long I let them set. I think this one worked because Sunwarrior is incredibly drying, as in it soaks up liquid easily. Anyways, I love the vanilla+blueberry+coconut combo, so this will be a repeat breakfast/snack.

Southwestern-inspired salad. Spinach, green olives, pinto beans, homemade cashew cilantro dressing, hot sauce.

Southwestern-inspired salad. Spinach, green olives, pinto beans, homemade cashew cilantro dressing, hot sauce.

My salad-a-days have mostly been eaten at lunch, but on my busiest day (Wednesday) I have to eat while typing up a weather forecast in the newsroom–aka, I want something I can eat with one hand, and pack easily into my bag and not have to lug around all day. Salads are semi-portable, but they can get messy, so I usually eat a Larabar with some carrots, and then have my salad-a-day for dinner. Oh, and the salad-a-day goal was just something I decided I’d try out at the beginning of the year, and I think it’s been going strong for a month now. It’s been fun experimenting with different add-ins, greens and dressings but I have a few favorites I like to come back to often.

Return of the snack plate! PB and cacao nib stuffed date (aka best healthy dessert ever), sprouted buckwheat and ancient grains granolas, kale chip crumbs, dried apple slices, salted pistachios, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate and peanut flour paste.

Return of the snack plate! PB and cacao nib stuffed date (aka best healthy dessert ever), sprouted buckwheat and ancient grains granolas, kale chip crumbs, dried apple slices, salted pistachios, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate and peanut flour paste.

Yep, snack plates are back in my life and better than ever. I love having balanced meals (complex carbs/fruit/veggies, protein and healthy fat) so these cover all the bases, and taste delicious. Plus it gives my indecisive tastebuds a lot of different flavors at once…but I’m weird and only eat one part at a time!

Sweet potato chocolate chip buckwheat & almond flour waffle. Topped with chocolate Nuttzo and Sunwarrior 'frosting'.

Sweet potato chocolate chip buckwheat & almond flour waffle. Topped with chocolate Nuttzo and Sunwarrior ‘frosting’.

It’s official–waffles have become my weekend breakfast. I might still have them as an occasional breakfast during the week, but I’m sticking with quicker meals to maximize the time I can spend in bed before getting up 😉 Kidding, it’s really so I have more time to get ready and work out without feeling rushed. But I won’t give up my waffles. I’ve found the best flour combo is an equal ratio of buckwheat to almond, with a little tapioca starch thrown in there to keep them together. They always turn out thick and fluffy!

Nachos for dinner. Raw jalapeno popper on the side. GF multigrain sweet potato chips, sauteed spinach, green olvies, pinto beans, sprouted sunflower seeds, homemade guac and homemade nacho sauce.

Nachos for dinner. Raw jalapeno popper on the side. GF multigrain sweet potato chips, sauteed spinach, green olvies, pinto beans, sprouted sunflower seeds, homemade guac and homemade nacho sauce.

These are basically like my salads, only with less greens. I haven’t had nachos for dinner in awhile, because of my silly fear of grains, but I can’t deny that I love me some Late July multigrain sweet potato chips and honestly, they’re pretty healthy: gluten-free, made with simple ingredients like chia seeds and quinoa and nothing weird in them, and baked. So nachos will be back in the rotation, at least on the nights where I don’t feel like making dinner but have all the ingredients ready to go. I also really want to experiment with Asian and Greek inspired nachos…so stay tuned!

Cinna-mini rolls. Gluten free, vegan, and oh-so-easy.

Cinna-mini rolls. Gluten free, vegan, and oh-so-easy.

I’ve been trying to perfect the cinnamon roll for awhile. For me, it has to be vegan (duh), healthy, gluten free if possible and foolproof. I don’t do well with making my own rolls from scratch, sadly. I’ve made some tasty almond flour based cinnamon ‘rolls’ that, while delicious and simple, were super crumbly and not much like cinnamon rolls at all. Not that that’s bad, but I was still unsatisfied. Until I discovered the perfect gluten free AND vegan frozen pizza dough ball at Whole Foods. Yeah, it’s really rare to find a whole grain based pizza dough that’s GF and vegan so I was thrilled. I’ve made some great cinnamon rolls before using premade pizza dough so I knew this had to work. And luckily for me, it did! I thawed the dough, rolled it out, filled it with just cinnamon, raw honey and chopped dates, rolled it up and cut it into 8 mini rolls and baked it. They turned out a little too chewy, but delicious and pretty darn close to perfect. Finally!

Another salad...yes I'm obsessed with nooch, spinach and olives in my salads.

Another salad…yes I’m obsessed with nooch, spinach and olives in my salads.

And to end on a veggie-filled note (to go with this month’s WIAW theme, of course), yet another salad creation. At this point, I don’t necessarily make my salads based on a theme, like Mexican or Asian or whatever, but I kinda just throw things in a bowl, shake it up and see what works. I generally love a combo of sweet and salty, so I like a lot of olives, dried fruit and something spicy in there.

Do you eat salads a lot? Have you ever tried to perfect a dessert recipe? 

WIAW: Ringing in the New Year

After missing out on WIAW last week (being sick for a few days=no delicious food photos, or food period) I was itching to join in on the foodie party this week!

New Year’s Day is always a bit depressing for me–it marks the official end of the holiday season and it’s back to the daily grind and blah-ness of the winter season. Not that I’m complaining about getting back into a routine (I’m also not technically back into my normal routine for another 3 weeks when spring semester starts up again) but January is a bit of a letdown after the holidays. This year I want to be more excited about January so I’m soaking in my last few weeks of Christmas break and just enjoying the month for what it can be–a fresh start.

Pretty Christmas lights still up in Denver.

Pretty Christmas lights still up in Denver.

The usual post-Christmas shopping spree was on Sunday. The fam and I headed up to Denver for the day and my dad checked out the Van Gogh exhibit at the art museum while us girls shopped the afternoon away. Other than the clothes shopping (I’ll be sharing some of my purchases later this week!), I also convinced my mom to stop at Nooch Vegan Market, a fairly new addition to the city. It’s a small, all-vegan grocery store that stocks a lot of products that not even Whole Foods offers. I could have bought so many things, but I just left with some garlic Parma (a nut-based ‘cheese’ sprinkle), pico de gallo bean chips and a super-delicious dark chocolate chipotle caramel bar. The combo of coconut milk caramel, chipotle powder, dark chocolate and pecan/peanut pieces is incredible–I wish I had gotten more than one!

Maybe the last red cup of the season...

Maybe the last red cup of the season…

While shopping I sipped a short soy skinny peppermint mocha. I’ve never gotten a short at Starbucks before but it’s a good size option for when I don’t want to be too filled up by the drink. I’m sad about this picture though because I’m thinking that might be the last time I drink out of a red cup until November 😦

Recent lunch: leftover sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste, chopped dried fig, sunflower butter and mini chocolate chips, spicy orange bok choy.

Recent lunch: leftover sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste, chopped dried fig, sunflower butter and mini chocolate chips, spicy orange bok choy.

I have a new obsession with bok choy. It is sooooo good sauteed in a little coconut oil and topped with a thin sauce made from red curry paste, citrus juice and coconut aminos. It gets all wilty and delicious in the pan. New favorite veggie over here!

Recent snack: leftover sweet potato fries dipped in Nuttzo, organic ketchup and peanut flour paste.

Recent snack: leftover sweet potato fries dipped in Nuttzo, organic ketchup and peanut flour paste.

This was a weird (but good) snack. I love cutting up sweet potatoes into fry shapes and then baking them with some spices and then dipping them in everything and anything. Organic ketchup and peanut flour paste are the best options, of course.

The cookbooks I got for Christmas...I love them!

The cookbooks I got for Christmas…I love them!

I generally don’t make things from cookbooks, but that’s only because I never had a vegan cookbook before this year. I was lucky enough to get two great vegan cookbooks for Christmas and I’ve already tried a couple recipes from them. Last night I made eggplant muffaletta sandwiches from Veganomicon for my family and they loved them.  It was literally one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, probably because I love the combo of olives, spinach and really good bread. I haven’t had bakery bread in at least a year (it’s a huge fear food of mine) but I got some ciabatta bread from Whole Foods specifically for this recipe and it did not disappoint. I guess eating bread, especially quality bread, every once in awhile won’t kill me!

Recent snack: sweet potato tortilla chips with fresh salsa and hatch chili guac, roasted kabocha squash, dried figs and peanut flour paste.

Recent snack: sweet potato tortilla chips with fresh salsa and hatch chili guac, roasted kabocha squash, dried figs and peanut flour paste.

Another random snack plate. Roasted kabocha tastes amazing dipped in salsa and guac, don’t knock it til ya try it!

Ringing in the new year with Kahlua+almond milk+amaretto.

Ringing in the new year with Kahlua+almond milk+amaretto.

This was a coffee-lover’s dream cocktail. It tasted like a hazelnut latte! Like I’ve said before, I’m not a huge drinker (and I’m not planning on becoming one when I turn 21) but it’s great to enjoy a nice cocktail every once in awhile, especially for special occasions.

My last meal of 2012: Whole Foods salad bar goodies including Indian coleslaw, homemade tortilla chips, coconut curry tofu, chipotle orange sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts and lentil dal.

My last meal of 2012: Whole Foods salad bar goodies including Indian coleslaw, homemade tortilla chips, coconut curry tofu, chipotle orange sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts and lentil dal.

My dad and I made a quick stop at WF for some NYE snacks and I just couldn’t pass up the salad bar–they had a bunch of vegan Indian food options. I got some of my usual items, and then loaded up on the Indian coleslaw (not at all like traditional coleslaw but way better), green garbanzo curry, lentil dal and some battered veggies. It was an amazing last meal!

My first successful donut experiment.

My first successful donut experiment.

You knew I couldn’t go more than a week without trying out my new donut pan! I made some so-so pumpkin protein donuts over the weekend but I finally made some delicious (and healthier) donuts that I just had to share. They are pretty much like banana bread in donut form…

Banana Bread Donuts (vegan)

1 tbsp ground flax+3 tbsp warm water, for flax “egg”

1/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 banana, mashed

1 packet stevia (optional)

2 tbsp coconut sugar (or other natural sugar)

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/4 cup vanilla Sunwarrior protein powder (or other protein powder, or more spelt flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

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

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Spray a donut pan (I used a 6-cavity pan) with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, mix flax and water; stir and set aside to gel into an “egg”. Stir in all ingredients through coconut sugar. Add in spelt flour, protein powder, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips until a batter forms. Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each to the top, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set. Remove from pan and set out on wire rack to cool. Makes 6 donuts.

These donuts are a healthier morning option, made with whole grains and about 6 grams of protein per donut, and they’re made with natural sugars and not overpoweringly sweet. I’m still trying to experiment with gluten free and vegan donut recipes so hopefully I can have one up soon for all you GFrs.

What have you been eating so far in 2013? Do you like to cook from cookbooks?