The End is Near+Kelp Noodle Stirfry

Well guys, here we are again, at the end of another year. I hate being cliche, but where the heck did 2012 go? I feel like as I get older, the years fly by so much faster than when I was a kid. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s crazy to me that I’m practically done with college!

I’m really excited for 2013. I have no idea exactly what will happen, which scares the type-A planner in me, but it’s exciting to think about all the things that could happen this year. For one, I’m finally turning the big 21 in July. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not big into drinking or anything but it’ll be nice to be able to order a good drink in a restaurant sometimes, or enjoy a cool cocktail at home. Also, I might possibly be graduating in December–crazy talk! I really want to get all my credits done in time so I can graduate a semester early and get started on my first big girl job. I know a lot of people would rather stay in school as long as possible but I’m so excited about my future career (hopefully as a meteorologist) that I want to get a head start!

I don’t want to drag this post on forever, so I’ll just share some brief highlights from the year with you and then give you a delicious, quick recipe at the end.

January

I finally got a Twitter, I experimented more with raw recipes and I overcame my hatred for hot tea. 

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

February

I tried a bunch of new-to-me products, did a raw food challenge and went to a father daughter dance with my sister and dad. 

Dressed up for the dance.

Dressed up for the dance.

March

I reevaluated my recovery journey and eating habits, got an internship at a local TV station and made a bunch of recipes over spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

April

I celebrated Easter with the fam, tried Zevia for the first time and got ready for summer food & fun

Coloring Easter eggs.

Coloring Easter eggs.

May

I finished up my sophomore year of college, made my first pancakes from scratch and celebrated my blog’s first birthday

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam.

June

I talked about why I eat healthy, made a goal to stop counting calories and moved to a new house

Eating applesauce on the go.

Eating applesauce on the go.

July

I embraced my love of healthy fats, made my go-to meal for the first time and celebrated my 20th birthday

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

August

I tried vegan sushi, almost saw the President and started budgeting my grocery shopping. 

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

September

I overcame my fear of coconut, had jury duty and embraced fall

I also did my first giveaway!

I also did my first giveaway!

October

I participated in Vegan MoFo, started my addiction to kabocha and broke some fashion rules.

My first Fashion Friday post.

My first Fashion Friday post.

November

I shared my Christmas wishlist a month early, proved that vegans can get protein too and spent Thanksgiving break writing papers

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

December

I proclaimed my love for the Whole Foods salad bar, stressed out about finals and had an enjoyable (while sick) Christmas.

It was a white Christmas after all!

It was a white Christmas after all!

 And now for the recipe! I don’t know about you, but after Christmas, some nights I’m feeling lazy and I just want a quick dinner to throw together so I have more time for family game and movie nights. This stirfry recipe comes together in 10 minutes and is easy to customize to your tastes. I used kelp noodles as the base because I love their texture and how they can bulk up a meal without adding any calories but you can use rice or soba noodles if you prefer.

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry in bowl

Coconut Curry Kelp Noodle Stirfry (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1/4 cup light canned coconut milk (can use full fat)

1 tsp curry powder

red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tbsp peanut flour (or peanut butter)

1 tsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1/2 cup kelp noodles, rinsed and dried

fresh or frozen veggies (I used shredded carrot slaw and fresh green kale)

1/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (or chopped fresh orange)

1/2 cup shelled edamame

In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk, curry powder, red pepper, peanut flour and aminos until thickened and combined. In a medium pan over medium heat, cook edamame, veggies and pineapple in a small amount of coconut oil. Add in kelp noodles and stir sauce over noodles. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is hot and sauce thickens up a bit. Serve topped with shredded coconut, chopped peanuts, pumpkin seeds or a drizzle of sriracha. Serves 1. 

What are some of your favorite memories from 2012? What’s one new thing you tried this last year?

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #23.

An Unconventional Christmas

Hey there 😀 Hope you all had a very lovely Christmas (if you celebrate)! As usual, it went by wayyyyy too fast but at least there’s still New Years and post-Christmas shopping to look forward to.

You might be wondering why I titled this post ‘An Unconventional Christmas’. While it was definitely enjoyable and memorable, there were a few unexpected things that happened, some good and some bad. Let me explain…

The huge, beautiful Christmas tree at church!

The huge, beautiful Christmas tree at church!

It all started out on the morning of Christmas Eve. I woke up feeling out of it, sick and nauseated. Not the best way to start any day, but especially not Christmas Eve. I hoped it would pass but it didn’t. I spent most of the morning trying to fall asleep so I wouldn’t have to focus on feeling sick. My mom was prepping food downstairs and literally every smell made my stomach churn, even the smell of fresh-baked cookies. Yep, it was that bad. I attempted some toast but couldn’t stomach it and spent the afternoon watching Friends with my mom and sister. I still wasn’t feeling great, but I was determined to go to our church’s annual evening Christmas Eve service so I stuck it out and got ready for church. By this time I had started to feel achy and had chills. But the church service itself was beautiful, as usual. We sang lots of traditional Christmas hymns and the best part, as usual, was singing ‘Silent Night’ by candlelight. I always feel so emotional after the Christmas Eve service, and I was glad I didn’t let my sickness get in the way of soaking up the experience.

My present for my mom. She loved it :)

My present for my mom. She loved it 🙂

Back at home, we started watching ‘A Christmas Story’. It’s a tradition for us to watch bits and pieces of the 24 hour marathon they play every year–I love that movie! But I still wasn’t really feeling that great and I was kinda upset that I wasn’t going to be able to make my planned dinner for Christmas Eve–coconut curry tofu. This year marks my second Christmas as a vegan, and I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to be eating anything special…or much of anything really. I was able to have a bunch of water and some applesauce but that’s about it. The worst thing is, I had been telling myself for days prior to Christmas that I was going to relax my food rules over Christmas–I was still going to be eating vegan, but I wasn’t going to count calories, or worry too much about fitting in all my usual exercise and I was going to eat things that I wanted, when I wanted. So I was upset that I couldn’t eat the things I wanted, let alone most foods.

Waking up to snow on Christmas morning is always magical!

Waking up to snow on Christmas morning is always magical!

But I don’t want to go all Debbie Downer on you guys. I most definitely enjoyed my Christmas, sick or not. One ‘unconventional’ surprise that was good was getting snow on Christmas. I’ve lived in CO for most of my life, and one of the misconceptions a lot of non-Coloradans have about the state is that we get a LOT of snow. Not true, unless you live in the mountains. Living just east of the Rockies and being at a higher elevation, we do tend to see some snow throughout the winter and early spring, but CO rarely gets a white Christmas, especially a real white Christmas where it snows on Christmas. Even though I knew that snow was in the forecast, I was still thrilled to see a few inches of snow on the ground on Christmas day.

Stocking...

Stocking…

...and stocking stuffers!

…and stocking stuffers!

My family does things a little differently on Christmas. We’re only allowed to open our stockings before breakfast and getting ready for the day. This year I got lots of beauty related things in my stocking, and of course, a bar of my favorite dark chocolate!

My family's Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

My family’s Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

After getting all ready for the day it was finally time…for presents! As I’ve gotten older, I still love getting Christmas presents but I appreciate all the other parts of Christmas–the family traditions, the story of Jesus’ birth, the lights and the music and all the excitement that the holiday season brings. However, I did receive many wonderful gifts this year. Some of my favorites include a pair of dark brown riding boots (I’ve been wanting these forever!), a pink blingy cell phone case (my old blue one was falling apart), a heart-shaped donut pan, a couple of vegan cookbooks (Veganomicon and Practically Raw) and some clothes/gift card to Hollister. Honestly, I really love all the presents I got, no matter how small, because I know my family took a lot of time picking out things they knew I’d like.

So excited to try out some vegan donut recipes with this bad boy!

So excited to try out some vegan donut recipes with this bad boy!

The rest of the day was pretty chill. We just spent it relaxing inside, since it was below freezing outside! My dad got a Google tablet for Christmas so he spent most of the day playing around with that, and the rest of us listened to Christmas CDs and watched the rest of the ‘A Christmas Story’ marathon. Even though I started feeling sick again later in the day, I still thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas.

Me and my little sissy. Some people think we look alike...can you tell us apart?!

Me and my little sissy. Some people think we look alike?

Christmas wasn’t what I was expecting at all, between getting sick, the snow and cold weather and of course the presents I got, but it was still a wonderful day, filled with love and appreciation. I’m glad I didn’t let my sickness ruin Christmas for me–after all, it only comes around once a year, and even though it isn’t always ever perfect, it can still be an amazing day if you spend it with those you love.

P.S. I’m feeling better now…so you better believe I’m trying out some of the recipes in my new cookbooks!

Did you have a normal or unconventional Christmas this year? What’s one of the best gifts you got?

WIAW: Free At Last (Almost!)

Well girlies, I am so close to being completely done with my first two years of college! I’ve just got one final bright and early tomorrow night and then I am done done DONE! I’ve already been home since Friday afternoon, but getting this over with means that summer can officially begin.

Being home has been awesome so far! Of course, I went on a huge grocery haul my first full day back–does anyone else love grocery shopping? I could literally do it every day and not get bored, especially at Whole Foods. There’s always some new product and I’ve always gotta try it! So this week’s WIAW will be featuring a few of those new finds, and a couple of recipes.

The ginger root beer variety is almost as good as the cream soda.

The 6-packs of Zevia were on sale at my WF, so I had to try out a new-to-me flavor. It was really good, but I was expecting a little more ginger flavor. I love ginger anything so it was a little disappointing, but I’m sure it’ll make the perfect healthy root beer float! I’ve been on the lookout for Zevia’s newer flavors (lime cola and strawberry) but no luck yet. I think I’ll be hitting up all the Whole Foods in CO… 😉

Whole Foods guacamole (aka the best guac ever) and amazing locally-made mango salsa, in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo wasn’t too exciting for me or my family (my dad was more excited about the Kentucky Derby) but we did ‘celebrate’ with salsa and guacamole. WF has the  best guac, but unfortunately it’s super expensive. We got a tiny container of it for $4.99, a total rip-off but so worth it. The mango salsa was a much better buy, and also delicioso (had to get some Spanish in there somewhere!). I am in love with fruity salsas and really want to make my own this summer. I made a strawberry jalapeno pico de gallo last summer but the recipe never made it to the blog–I’ll be making it again soon and sharing the recipe this time!

What season is this?!

So Monday morning, I woke up to snow. Yes, snow in May. Crazy Colorado! We’ve had warm, dry weather for 2 months straight and now this. At least it was only a dusting, and didn’t stick around for long.

A Cinco de Mayo snack plate: crushed sweet potato and blue corn Late July chips, kettle corn, stuffed Medjool date, chili and jalapeno olives, guacamole and mango salsa.

I don’t think I will ever get sick of snack plates. They are perfect for indecisive people like me who don’t like to commit to one huge thing. I’d rather sample a bunch of small things and please all my cravings. Plus each snack plate is completely different, so I never get bored.

I’m always down for seasonal flavors!

You know you’re a foodie when you practically pee your pants upon seeing brand new Larabar flavors. Especially ones that you haven’t even heard about, and that sound as amazingly delicious as these. I am so glad I am no longer a Larabar snob because I will be hoarding these seasonal flavors like nobody’s business. I love anything and everything limited edition, especially summery things. I’ve only tried the pineapple upside down cake one and it’s so pineapple-y! I can’t believe it’s only made of almonds, dates and pineapple. If you see these near you, buy the whole box some! You won’t regret it.

[Pancake] breakfast of champions: peanut flour pancakes topped with homemade strawberry vanilla stevia jam and drizzle sunflower seed butter.

I couldn’t come home and not make pancakes, right? I haven’t had any in months, and this was my first time making them completely from scratch–no boxed mixes for this girl anymore! These pancakes are super easy to make, taste just like a gooey PB&J sandwich and have 15 grams of protein in the entire batch! P.S. Both recipes are adapted from here.

Peanut Flour Pancakes (vegan, gluten-free, high protein)

3 T peanut flour (or PB2)

1 T ground flax seed (I used golden flax) or mashed banana/unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 T water

1/2 t baking powder

2 packets Truvia or stevia (can use liquid stevia drops)

4 T unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze)+ water, to thin

Stir together ground flax and water to make a flax “egg”. Set aside for a few minutes. In a bowl, mix together peanut flour, baking powder and Truvia. Add in flax egg, almond milk and any additional water needed to thin the batter. On a skillet or small pan heated to medium, scoop batter in small spoonfuls (I used a melon baller) or form into a larger pancake, cooking two at a time. Flip pancakes once the batter bubbles up. Serve pancakes topped with nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter), caramelized bananas, real maple syrup or homemade jam (see recipe below). Makes 5 small or 2 large pancakes.

Homemade Microwave Strawberry Vanilla Jam (vegan, gluten-free)

strawberries, sliced (I used 3 large berries)

4-8 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to taste (you can use any flavor)

Stir berries and stevia together until combined. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 min. Can serve warm or chilled. Spoon over pancakes, on toast or on top of nondairy ice cream. Makes 1 serving.

So spicy, so good.

Continuing with my love for all things hot, I picked up this gem at WF this past weekend. Like a lot of new-t0-me products, I hoped that it would live up to the hype that I put on it. Well, this definitely delivered! Spicy with just a hint of ginger, it’s perfect as a marinade, sauce and dip.

Having Mexican food a few days after Cinco de Mayo still counts, right? Black beans with mango salsa, crispy kale tempeh taco on sprouted Ezekiel tortilla topped with guacamole.

I am usually a fan of tacos. Just because I don’t eat meat doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a taco every once in awhile. In the past, I’ve used beans as a filler but this time I went for ground tempeh and it was a winner. In fact, it was probably the best taco I’ve ever had.

Crispy Kale Tempeh Tacos (vegan)

1 oz crumbled tempeh (I used Lightlife organic flax tempeh)

marinade of choice (I used the Ginger People Hot Ginger Jalapeno sauce above)

handful kale

salt and pepper, to taste

nooch, to taste

tortilla (I used a small Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla)

taco toppings (guacamole, vegan sour cream, Daiya cheese or cashew cheese, salsa)

Marinade tempeh in sauce for 5-10 minutes. Place tempeh in a pan on the stove over medium high heat and let cook until browned and somewhat crunchy. Add in kale, salt, pepper and nooch and cook until crispy. Spoon kale and tempeh onto tortilla and top with more sauce and whatever toppings you love. Makes 1 taco.

PB&J smoothie in a bowl (unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, peanut flour, Truvia) topped with fresh strawberries and crushed PB Puffins.

Apparently I’m on a PB&J for breakfast kick right now! I’m just loving the combo of peanut flour and fresh strawberries right now–I may have to make a wrap or open-faced sandwich with these two ingredients soon.

Did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Have you spotted the new Larabar flavors yet?

Saturday Seven: Good Things Come in Threes

Hi everyone! So here we are again at the end of another week…and it’s almost halfway through April! I feel like I’ve said this a million times before, but time is really flying by! It’s almost kinda scary, considering how much stuff I still have to finish before I can say adios to this semester. Oh well, that’s pretty much the status quo for the end of any semester.

I haven’t done a Saturday Seven in…um, 2 months?! Yeah, let’s fix that right now!

1. The countdown is SO on!

I'm hoping this doesn't happen (photo from here).

As the title of this post suggests, there are only 3 weeks left in my semester. Technically, there are 4, but I only have one real final (the rest are papers or projects, which I kinda prefer) so I’m planning on peacing out the weekend before finals and just popping back up here on that Thursday to take that final. This is the first time I’ve ever had only one final in my college career so I am definitely going to appreciate it! Plus going home a few days early is always a plus.

2. I have a shopping addiction…

Obviously I suck at being creative!

Online shopping, that is. It’s where I get all these new-to-me food products that I never seen in stores or that are a little too expensive when I do see them. The latest purchases are from Amazon, where I got some Vega vanilla almondilla shake and go protein powder, xanthan gum and liquid vanilla stevia, all for under $40 and free shipping! I’m really excited to try the Vega powder because I’ve been on the hunt for some good, fairly inexpensive vegan protein powder that is free of soy protein, and this fits the bill! The xanthan gum is something I’ve been wanting for awhile, after seeing everyone post amazing-looking, super thick smoothies. And the stevia I’ve had before, but now it’s in a bigger bottle so I’ll get to use it more.

3. I’m actually being creative with my hair

I'm lovin' the side ponytail lately!

I almost never, I repeat NEVER put my hair up. But three times in the past week, I’ve put it in a side ponytail. Who am I? Twice this last week, it was curly (and in a side pony one of those days), then it was wavy for two days and finally straight for two days (once as a side pony). It’s actually been fun switching up my hairstyles, because I used to only have it wavy or straight, and down. I’m going to experiment with a side braid next.

4. It’s supposed to SNOW this weekend

I'm not looking forward to this again!

I already know that Colorado is a bizarre state, after living here for 17 years of my life. But this unusually warm spring has thrown me for a loop, and now I’m expecting it to continue to stay warm until October. Yeah, too bad it’s still April, one of the snowiest months here. We don’t get spring showers, we get spring blizzards. Luckily they are usually short-lived, and warmer temps return the next day, but snow is still no fun.

5. I’m becoming a Larabar lover

My second-ever Larabar...almost as good as the first.

I used to say I wasn’t a fan of Larabars–not sure why, as I’d never tried them before a couple of weeks ago. But I actually do love ’em…a lot! So far, I’ve tried the cappuccino (mmmm!) and the chocolate chip brownie, which reminded me of a chocolate brownie Pure bar, except with the addition of fair trade chocolate chips. It was good, but I think I’d stick with the Pure bar version in the future, since it has more protein. That’s my only complaint–most Larabar flavors have barely any protein. But I think some of the more unique flavors might be worth the lack of protein, and a few actually do have 5-7 grams, so it’s not too big of an issue. I just love how simple they are, yet really tasty!

6. I’m really missing the food at home

One of my favorite lunches over spring break: curried sweet potato pinto burger, kale chips, fresh mango.

Yeah, dorm room food isn’t cutting it anymore. Every time I go home for the weekend, I remember how much I love being able to cook for myself. And no, the microwave and blender don’t count. This is another big reason why I’m so ready for it to be summer–I can finally cook again. Plus I love summery foods, like berries, asparagus (okay, this is more springy but whatevs) and grilled veggie burgers so that makes cooking even more exciting.

7. I’m all ready for next semester

Registering for classes is always really stressful, but it wasn't too awful this time around.

Next semester is going to be SO different than my past 4 semesters have been. Mostly because I’ll be living off-campus for the first time, and I’ll be taking the bus everyday to classes. So I’ve gotta learn the bus routes and schedules. I also tried to schedule my classes in a way that would either give me big breaks (so I can catch a bus back to my apartment) or really small breaks so I can stay on campus in between them. I’ll definitely have to do more meal planning, even more than I already do with my current schedule, but I’m excited for a change. I think I’ll feel even more independent than I currently do.

Do you like to change up your hairstyles? What’s your favorite or least favorite Larabar flavor?

Saturday Seven: Do the Kale Hail

Heeeeeeeeeeeey guys! So did you make it through the week? Honestly, I almost thought I wouldn’t! I had a 4-day week because I played hooky from classes on Monday since I was still at home, so that was nice, but it was kind of hard diving right into things on Tuesday. Especially because I had two tests this week, a huge essay to write and all the usual assignments, plus a random floor meeting and a meeting for work both on the same day. Needless to say, I was super happy for this week to finally be over. Next week isn’t looking too crazy, which will be great, plus I’m headed home again next weekend and it’ll be busy busy but fun. I’ll let you all know what’s going down latah!

For now, let’s get right into another edition of Saturday Seven. I’m on a roll with these lately–I’ve done one every weekend I’ve been on campus since December!

1. Homemade is better than store-bought

You were delicious, but too expensive!

At least when it comes to kale chips. I mentioned that I ordered some Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale chips a couple of weeks back, and I finally got them a week ago. I also happened to make my first batch of baked kale chips that same day. Verdict? I loved my homemade ones more (even though they still need some tweaking). I’m blaming in on the particular flavor I got of the chips–they’re natural nacho, and they’re a little too strongly “cheezy” for me, especially since I haven’t had real cheese in a few years. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t bad, just not quite what I was expecting. I love their crunch though. I would like to try another variety, like the Vampire Killer or Nasty Hot, but for now, I’ll be sticking with homemade. They’re so addicting!

2. T-minus 3 weeks…

I met Dory last year on my spring break...

Til spring break, of course! I don’t have any huge plans, but getting a 9 day break from school will be ah-mazing! Last year, I did end up doing a few fun things, like playing tennis, going to the aquarium, shopping and recipe experimentation (like a delicious vegan Philly “cheesesteak” sandwich) so hopefully I can do some of those things and more this time around. Actually, I really want to make at least one new recipe every day of break, so we’ll see how that goes down!

3. Small things are the cutest

These are brand new, and they look delicious!

I’m a huge fan of Gardein products because they’re quick and easy, pretty healthy for faux meat, yummy and vegan! When I saw these little guys on their website, I was sold. I’m not even that big on products that imitate beef, but their beefless veggie burgers are one of my favorites. Plus sliders are just adorable, and each one has 9 grams of protein–score!

4. Apparently I like to recycle…

More than just a holder for delicious coffee.

I liked my Starbucks Valentine’s cup so much that I washed it out and decided to use it as a pencil holder on my desk. Way to get creative while being green, right? Plus it just looks cute.

5. I’m still learning how to text on my new phone

I absolutely love the case though!

I got my new phone at the beginning of January (a T-Mobile MyTouch, in case you were wondering) and I’m still struggling with the texting. I had a touch screen before this one and I also have an iPod Touch, so I thought it would be easy to learn, but not so much. I guess I’m trying to text as fast as I used to so I end up hitting the wrong keys. I’ll get it eventually though, and besides, I really love the phone. It’s an Android so it has web service, so I can check my email/the weather/Twitter during class. Oops, did I just say that? 😉

6. A hair waver can work as a straightener

Wavy one day, straight the next...all with one tool!

I usually either straighten my hair or use my hair waver to enhance my natural waves. The other day I discovered that I can do both with the hair waver. Who knew? Now I don’t have to lug home both appliances on the weekend!

7. I’m so done with winter

It may look pretty, but I'm sick of it!

This winter has been pretty sucky here. At least compared to recent winters. January was actually alright and unseasonably warm for most of the month, but February hit and well, it’s been awful. For one thing, it’s been cloudy a lot, and that is really not normal for Colorado. I’m so used to sunshine year-round that it’s been kinda depressing. The cold and snow are another story altogether. February is usually in the 40s and sometimes 50s, but it’s been in the 30s and 20s most of the month, which is freaking freezing! I know some parts of the country have it worse, but I feel like we’ve just gotten the worst of the winter weather this year. I cannot wait until March and I’m hoping it comes in like a lamb, aka warm weather and sunshine! I miss my sandals, shorts and dresses!

What’s something you prefer homemade over store-bought? Are you looking forward to spring?

Saturday Seven: Oh, Fudge!

Let me just say that I loved all your responses to my WIAW post–you guys are the best, seriously, so thanks! I’ve been getting some…erm, weird, creepy and downright mean comments in my spam box but seeing all the supportive and nice comments from you all has really helped me brush off the anonymous negativity.

Anyway, I’m spending another weekend on campus, this one filled with tons of studying and homework, but at least I have a weekend at home to look forward to a week from now! I thought I’d do yet another Saturday Seven post because they’re just fun so here we go!

1. You can make fudge in a dorm room

Oats topped with peanut flour paste and frozen PB fudge cubes.

I know I complain a lot about not having the best food living in a dorm, but honestly, I’ve been making do and it’s not that horrible. I actually eat pretty similarly here and at home, just minus the extra cooking appliances like an oven, stove and food processor. However, I think this is my first real recipe that I’ve ever created in my room–and it rocks! I made two variations and I really love both. So simple, so tasty…make it now!

Frozen PB Fudge (vegan)

1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk (I used Almond Breeze)

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder

1/2 tbsp peanut flour

sweetener, to taste (I used 2 packets of Truvia)

Stir all ingredients in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute; take out and stir til mostly mixed. Microwave for another 3o seconds and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze for a few hours (makes 1 small tray of fudge cubes or half a tray if you have a bigger tray)

I was surprised how delicious these little fudgy cubes are. They’re a bit icy, but I don’t mind that. They’ve got a rich chocolate flavor from the combo of the chocolate almond milk and dark cocoa powder. And they’re a lot healthier than traditional fudge–low cal (about 40 for the entire batch!) and sugar-free (if you use a natural no-calorie sweetener like stevia or Truvia).

Frozen Vanilla PB Fudge (vegan)

1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Pacific Naturals)

1/4 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Soytein)

1 tbsp peanut flour 

sweetener, to taste

Stir all ingredients in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute; take out and stir til mostly mixed. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze for a few hours (makes 1 small tray of fudge cubes or half a tray if you have a bigger tray). 

This combo is also super yummy and has about 8 grams of protein in the entire batch–not too shabby for ‘fudge’!

2. Snow is really pretty…as long as you don’t have to be out in it

The view from my room on Thursday night. Isn't it gorgeous out there?

I’ve lived most of my life in Colorado, so it’s safe to say I’ve been through my fair share of real winters. Almost 17, to be exact. Okay, okay, maybe they’re not as brutal as Midwestern or even Northeastern winters, but they can still be pretty rough. I used to love snow as a kid, because it meant sledding, hot cocoa and snow days. Now, it means cussing under my breath while trekking to class. Even last winter, when we had sub-zero temps (which never happen here!) my college was basically the only school in the state that didn’t close. Yeah, didn’t appreciate that. Anyway, this Thursday and Friday was supposed to be the mother of all winter storms. As far as I know, it snowed a ton in Denver and at my house, but not so much in my college town. It probably snowed 5 inches, which isn’t horrible, and the sidewalks were just a little slushy. But still, I hate having to be out in snow! Can it just be summer already?

3. I really love quick cardio circuits

Looks easy, but it's a really effective workout!

I am not the kind of girl who likes to hit the gym for a workout–I prefer fitting exercise into my day, like walking to classes (I walk for 30-60 minutes 5 days a week!), outdoor sports like tennis and biking or my personal favorite, shopping! What, it totally counts as cardio 😉 Because it’s winter, doing stuff outside is usually not an option, so I turn to cardio circuits I can do in my room. I love that they’re quick but they do give you a really good workout. I’m definitely sweating and my heart’s pumping after 15 minutes of these circuits. I typically do two different ones per day, as well as some yoga and walking to class. The one above is a new personal favorite, and I also love this free workouts app I have on my iPod that gives me a good full-body workout.

4. I’m obsessed with ordering food online

Still waiting impatiently for my kale chip order!

I ordered a Hugh Jass thing of peanut flour as soon as I got back from winter break (hey, I was running out!) and earlier this week I ordered some Natural Nacho Brad’s Raw Kale Chips. I’m really nervous that my order isn’t going through, since I got the confirmation email and it said that there’s a lot of demand for the chips at the moment…and then the other day, the charge was canceled on my credit card. I’m holding off on reordering for a few days so I don’t spend money that I don’t need to in case the shipping is just delayed. I can’t wait to get my hands on the kale though–I’ve heard good things about it!

5. I have 4 tests coming up in the next 2 weeks

So. True.

They’re not even midterms–I’ve only ever had two midterms in my year and a half in college, so I don’t know the awfulness that is midterm week. I’ve got a weather & climate test on Tuesday, a broadcast writing test on Valentine’s Day, an American environmental history essay exam on that Thursday, and a national parks history test the next day. Yikes, I hate having three tests in a week! It makes me think it’s finals week, which sadly it isn’t. Luckily, this semester I only have ONE final exam, so I guess it’s not too bad having so many tests back-to-back.

6. I don’t get Recipage

I just don't understand how it works!

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers using Recipage, and I think it looks really professional, so I set up an account and followed all the directions, but it didn’t create a Recipage on my blog! WTH? I don’t get what I did wrong, so for now, I’m still storing my recipes in a somewhat disorganized way on my Eats & More page. I really want to set up a Recipage at some point, so does anyone have any advice for me on how to make it work?

7. Naps are my new BFF

I can only hope to look this cute when I take a nap!

I don’t know what’s been up with me but lately, an afternoon nap has sounded so good to me. It’s not like I’m not sleeping enough at night–I get about 8 to 9 hours per night (I’m one of those people who needs that much to function) but I think it’s because my Tuesdays and Thursdays are crazy-busy. I have classes straight from 9:30-2 and by the time I get back, I just want to take an hour-long power nap. I’ve napped 3 times in the past week, and that’s just something I never do. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing right now since I’m getting used to having a crazier schedule, plus I feel so refreshed when I wake up.

Do you take naps? What do you think about snow?

Shopping & Sledding

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

How cute is this ring? (AE XO Ring)

 

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

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

 

Still in love with jeggings (Hollister Cord Jegging)

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Apparently I’m on a roll with these cheesy Christmas song titles 😉 What can I say, I’m in love with Christmas music and I’m so sad that most radio stations (besides Sirius XM) have stopped playing the stuff.

Anyways, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a wonderful weekend. It was really nice just getting a couple of days to relax, have fun and not feeling the need to be ‘plugged in’. I love getting a break from technology every once in awhile, and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But now I think it’s about time for a recap of the past few days, so here we go!

Friday

My mom and I headed out for last-minute gift shopping. Because we got a lot of snow on Thursday, we weren’t able to get out and get presents earlier, so unfortunately we had to face the crowds. But I was able to get some of my favorite things at Whole Foods, a game for my dad at Barnes and Noble and a cute necklace for my sister at American Eagle. I also bought myself my first-ever pair of jeggings at AE and surprisingly, I love them. I have a lot of issues with my body image, my legs and arms in particular, so I usually stick with looser fitting, boy fit type jeans. But I really needed some jeans that can fit in my new boots without looking baggy, so the jeggings fit the bill perfectly. They’re actually a lot more comfortable than I thought they would be, and not too tight at all. I think I might start actually buying jeggings and skinny jeans on a more regular basis, which is a total body image win!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Saturday

Christmas Eve! I love this day so much, maybe even more so than Christmas Day, because of the anticipation. The morning and early afternoon were pretty chill, and then we all got ready to go to church. I got to debut my new booties which was awesome! I also really loved the Christmas Eve church service. The end part is definitely the best, because the lights are turned off and everyone lights their candles and sings Silent Night. It’s just so beautiful and reminds me what the real reason for the season is. Afterwards, we drove around and checked out a few light displays and then went home to start on dinner. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable around this time because dinner was going to be at least an hour later than I feel comfortable with. I hate eating so late because I’m afraid of weight gain, which is so stupid. Our bodies don’t know what time we’re eating, but it’s just a fear I cling to. But once I dug into the dinner I made, I didn’t feel so guilty. I made some vegan butternut squash ravioli, with peanut flour sauce and roasted asparagus spears on the side. It was an amazing Christmas Eve dinner, and I loved enjoying it with my family surrounded by candlelight. After dinner, we watched some of A Christmas Story on TV (best Christmas movie EVER!) and then went to bed…but not before my dad read me a few Christmas stories. It’s one of our traditions, and I always love hearing these classic stories year after year.

Check out my fierce booties!

The best Christmas Eve dinner I could ask for!

Sunday

The big day, of course! I woke up bright and early around 8 ‘o clock and made myself a delicious breakfast of peanutty raspberry chocolate oats and then my sister and I opened our stockings. We always open those in our pajamas, and then get ready for the day and then open presents together as a family. We always go around and open one at a time, so everybody can see what everyone else got and so the present-opening doesn’t go by way too quickly. I got a lot of amazing gifts, which I’m incredibly thankful for. A few highlights include metallic faux-snakeskin Bearpaw boots, a vegan dessert cookbook, a faux leather jacket, some gift cards to my favorite stores and dark chocolate covered espresso beans–a definite fear food of mine, but so so good that I’m not gonna let them go to waste, I’m just going to have a couple a day and enjoy them without any guilt 😀

Presents!

 

I love the dark chocolate+coffee combo!

The cute little countdown to Christmas app I have--I couldn't wait til it said 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes and 0 seconds!

Mi madre opening one of her gifts.

Bahaha I love how excited my sister is!

 

My dad is obviously in love with his new space heater.

 

After the present-opening, we continued to watch the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon while munching on snacks. But the best part of the day was getting to go sledding in our yard! We got probably about half a foot of snow, so the sledding was great. We live on a 5 acre property with tons of pine trees and some hills in the back part of the property, so it’s always fun to get a chance to go sledding. It was our first white Christmas in awhile, and probably one of the only times we got to sled on Christmas Day. My sister, who usually hates sledding, actually went with my dad and I and we had the best time! It was a great workout climbing back up the hill in all that snow, of course, but I was just thinking about how fun it was. I absolutely hate feeling like I’m forcing exercise (which I still unfortunately tend to do) so working out in a fun way is definitely preferred. Sledding definitely did not feel like a workout, but it was nice to be active and get fresh air while still having fun and being with my family.

I ❤ sledding!

 

My dad loves sledding too!

Dinner was an awesome pasta dish that my mom made up. It’s so simple but just really tasty. It’s basically just bell peppers and pasta sauteed with this chili lime seasoning from Williams Sonoma and then she adds in some kind of protein. My version was with whole wheat pasta and shrimp and it was sooooo amazing! I hate traditional Christmas-type dinners (because I’m mostly vegetarian/vegan besides the occasional seafood and because it’s so boring) so this was a really nice change. After dinner, we played two new board games that we got (my family loves board games!) while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Best way to end Christmas, in my opinion. Oh, but I can’t forget about dessert, of course! I enjoyed one of the raw pecan tartlets that I made–they were soooooo good! I’m not gonna lie that I didn’t feel guilty about eating it, because they’re fairly small but “high” in calories (not really, maybe around 120 per tartlet) but because they have such simple ingredients (basically just dates and nuts!) I didn’t feel too bad and they turned out delicious.

Raw Mini Pecan Pies (vegan, raw)

15 Medjool dates

2/3 cup raw nuts (I used a mix of almonds and pecans)

1 T raw nut butter (I used walnut)

sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt

Soak 12 of the dates for at least four hours and cover. Drain dates and add to food processor with nut butter and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in soaking water if necessary to thin out. Set aside. Pulse nuts and remaining 3 dates until a fine crumb is form. Pack nut mixture into muffin liners (makes about 5) and freeze for an hour. Remove and pour in date mixture and freeze again for at least another hour. Top with chopped or whole pecans and serve straight from the freezer. 

Cute little desserts are the best!

Monday

I watched Holiday Inn with my dad in the morning (a really cool Christmas/holidayish movie from the 1940s with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire), enjoyed a delicious sweet potato topped with peanut flour for lunch and then ran a few errands with my dad and sister. It was kinda crazy out there to be honest, since apparently a lot of people like to return stuff and go shopping the day after Christmas, but we made it out alive 😉 Then for the best part, we went to Starbucks! I had to get my skinny soy peppermint mocha fix, of course! It was nice enough that we were able to sit outside, and I also bought myself a cute holiday cold cup for $5! Before Christmas, it was twice that much so maybe the post-Christmas bargains aren’t so bad after all!

My Christmas Eve 'dessert': peanut flour sauce, freeze-dried apples and vegan chocolate chips.

Well, today we’re planning on going up into the mountains for more sledding and I can’t wait! I’ll be back later in the week for more updates!

What was the most fun thing you did on Christmas? What is your favorite winter ‘sport’?