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?

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My First Resolutions

Happy New Year! It feels so weird that the holidays are already over, and even weirder that I won’t be heading back to school in a couple of weeks, so I’m not really getting back into any sort of routine. I really want to enjoy the time I have off though, because even though I’m beyond excited to get my first real job, I know I won’t have much free time once I start. So I’m excited to have some down time at home…but I’m hoping it doesn’t last more than a few months!

I’m not one to make resolutions. I do like to set goals for myself, but they’re rarely something I put into words. I really want to set some goals for myself this year, because my life will be changing a LOT, and I want to set some clear resolutions for myself. I’m not saying I’ll be perfect at all of these goals, but having them written down keeps me accountable to them, and I think choosing more realistic goals will help me achieve them.

1. Apply to at least 3 jobs per week. Ideally, I’d like to apply to one (on average) each week day, so 5 per week. But if I get at least 3 applications done, I’ll be happy.

2. Drink more water! Having a reusable water bottle handy in the fridge has helped me drink more water over the past 6 months, but I would like to go through at least 2 full water bottles each day. That’s 2 pints of water, and I think that’s a doable goal.

3. Eat more raw foods. This is a little harder to do in the winter months, when fresh produce isn’t as good and I want warming foods more often. But I know I feel my best when my diet is at least 50% raw, so I’m planning on incorporating at least one big salad per day (I usually do this anyway), fresh fruit at every meal and trying my hand at sprouting beans/grains.

I will definitely keep eating banana softserve for breakfast as often as possible.

I will definitely keep eating banana softserve for breakfast as often as possible.

4. Take control of my health. I mentioned in this post that I haven’t had my period in now (almost) 8 months. Obviously, that isn’t healthy and I know I need to see my doctor about this issue. I think there are some other underlying issues, since I’m dealing with acne and I’m not as lean as I think I should be for how clean I eat and how much I exercise. On that last topic, I really think I need to change my routine drastically–I don’t incorporate rest days as much as I should (I take one once or twice a month on average, and they’re very hard for me to take mentally), I have some digestive problems (even after cutting out most gluten) and I’m not sure I’m eating enough for my workouts. I will definitely discuss these issues with my doctor and hopefully I can get an answer as to why my body isn’t functioning the way it should.

5. Do something out of my comfort zone. I tend to be kinda cautious and not totally adventurous, but I’m really considering doing something that scares me, like cutting my hair shorter or telling somebody I love them or going skydiving or something. Okay, probably not that last one, but I need to challenge myself in some way. I think that maybe if I end up moving out of state for my first job, it’ll be a big step out of my comfort zone since I’ve never lived farther than 2 hours away from my family. We’ll see what happens with this one!

6. Stop comparing myself to other people. This is one of my biggest bad habits. I constantly compare my body, my workouts, my lifestyle choices, my success to other people’s and all it does is make me miserable. I need to take more pride in myself, and realize that there’s no point in comparing myself to other people because I’m unique and I need to respect that.

I can see more selfies in my future as a way to reassure myself that I'm awesome just the way I am!

I can see more selfies in my future as a way to reassure myself that I’m awesome just the way I am!

Do you make resolutions or goals? What are some of yours for 2014?

Homemade > Store-bought

I have a dilemma. See, I love making things from scratch, but sometimes there’s just not enough time to make all the recipes I bookmark, or sometimes they require way too many ingredients that I’ll end up using once. I’m all about convenience, but at the same time, there are things that are wayyyy better homemade than from the store…and vice versa!

Homemade > Store-bought

  • Coconut butter: Ask me this a week ago, and it would have been the exact opposite. I’m a relatively new convert to coconut butter’s magic, and I was partial to the Artisana brand, which unfortunately comes with a hefty price tag. My previous attempts to make coconut butter at home were complete disasters because I used reduced fat shredded coconut (all I had on hand) and that basically just makes coconut flour. I heard that using unsweetened coconut flakes worked well, so I bought the Let’s Do Organic brand for about $3 or $4 and ended up using a little more than half the bag to make coconut butter. I wish I had saved the entire bag before making it, because it turned out great–just a lot less than I wanted! The key is to use a large food processor, flaked full-fat coconut and at least 3 cups (I used 2, and it was fine, but I ended up with maybe 1/2 cup of coconut butter). I heard horror stories about food processors overheating, or the coconut never butterizing (is this a word?) and since I had to use my mom’s processor since mine’s a tiny one, I worried that I’d owe her a new one. Luckily, it whipped up the coconut butter in probably 10 minutes tops and it was perfectly drippy and creamy, just like Artisana’s.
Just like Artisana's but cheaper!

Just like Artisana’s but cheaper!

  • Guacamole: I don’t think I’ve eaten store-bought guac in a few months and I’m not sure I can ever go back. I used to love the Wholly Guacamole brand but now it tasted less than fresh to me. Guac is one of the easiest things to make at home (you technically don’t even need a food processor) and is so easy to customize. My go-to blend is one avocado (or sometimes half for a single serve batch), chopped fresh jalapeno pepper, cilantro, squeeze of lime juice and sea salt to taste. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy, I just mash the avocado in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and call it a day. Nothing beats fresh-made guac!
  • Sprouted tortilla chips: To be fair, I’ve never come across truly sprouted and raw tortilla chips in a store, but I used to be a huge fan of the Way Better Snacks brand of sprouted tortilla chips and they’re still great in a pinch. But when I have more time on my hands, I like to cut a few Food for Life sprouted corn tortillas into triangles, place them on dehydrator sheets and let them dehydrate for a few hours. It takes a little more time than making chips in the oven, but it’s mostly hands-off and you get the added benefit of preserved nutrients. I love the Food for Life tortillas because they’re organic which is important for corn, and sprouted, which is a lot healthier than most corn tortillas on the market. I’ve always made my chips plain, but you can definitely dress them up with spices or lime juice.

Store-bought > Homemade

  • Raw nut mixes and flax crackers: I love the Living Intentions Gone Nuts! line of sprouted and flavored nuts despite their high price ($5 for a tiny 3 oz bag) and the Food on Purpose brand of flax crackers, both available at Whole Foods and Sprouts. Though I could probably make similar things at home, they wouldn’t turn out as tasty or as portable.
  • Veggie burgers: I’ve attempted cooked veggie burgers a few times (with only one success) and I want to try a raw dehydrated version, but they are so hard to perfect! I had similar issues in finding the perfect packaged veggie burger–some were tasteless, most had sketchy ingredients. When I found Sunshine burgers, I knew I’d found a winner. They’re made of whole foods like beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds and they’re hearty and delicious. They’re not the cheapest brand, but quality foods aren’t always cheap and it’s worth it to have a clean veggie burger I can eat when I don’t feel like cooking.
Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

  • Raw chocolate: Last week, I experimented with making my own version of this chocolate. I used raw honey instead of agave for the lucuma filling and it was stickier than I’d like and I couldn’t form the cacao+coconut oil into a bar form. It still tasted fine, but I’d rather buy a bar of raw chocolate once a week and save my cacao powder and coconut oil for other things.

Are there things you prefer to make rather than buy, or the other way around? 

WIAW: Food Fails & Fashion Talk

I like trying out new recipes, and just new things in general, but unfortunately, they don’t always work out in my favor. I bookmark recipes with high hopes that they’ll be amazing and sometimes they’re not but that’s okay! That’s why I like to throw some new things into the mix but keep some old favorites so I’m never totally disappointed.

Breakfast: cacao banana softserve with Sunwarrior, cacao and lucuma powders, topped with buckwheat rawnola and raw pumpkin seeds.

Breakfast: cacao banana softserve with Sunwarrior, cacao and lucuma powders, topped with buckwheat rawnola and raw pumpkin seeds.

This isn’t really a fail, but more like a weird thing I’ve been doing lately. I used to be able to blend my banana softserve with just bananas, and it would turn out smooth and creamy every time. Now that I’ve been doing add-ins everyday, I’ve needed to add in a splash of coconut milk to get things moving. Not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes the softserve turns out more like a thick soup than ice cream. Trial and error!

Lunch: raw taco salad. Base of romaine, dressed with lime juice and cracked pepper, topped with homemade guac, homemade sprouted and dehydrated corn chips. Side of canary melon and water.

Lunch: raw taco salad. Base of romaine, dressed with lime juice and cracked pepper, topped with homemade guac, homemade sprouted and dehydrated corn chips. Side of canary melon and water.

I’ve been trying to perfect the homemade salad dressing. I love cashew based dressings, but they are sometimes chunkier than I’d like them to be. I just can’t get the smooth consistency down, even though I soak the raw cashews beforehand. At least they taste good, right?

Raw snackplate: homemade buckwheat rawnola in coconut milk, half a chocolate coconut Kit's Organic bar, frozen watermelon. carrot, flax crackers, Thai coconut curry cashews.

Raw snackplate: homemade buckwheat rawnola in coconut milk, half a chocolate coconut Kit’s Organic bar, frozen watermelon. carrot, flax crackers, Thai coconut curry cashews.

Snack plates are never a fail! You just can’t go wrong combining different tastes, textures and macros all in one plate. Like I’ve said before, I’m indecisive when it comes to snacks, and I like having a little bit of everything.

Dinner:: raw teriyaki portobello burger (marinated in coconut aminos+liquid smoke and prepped in dehydrator for 30 minutes) on romaine 'bun' topped with homemade cashew pumpkin seed 'pesto' and fresh pineapple.

Dinner:: raw teriyaki portobello burger (marinated in coconut aminos+liquid smoke and prepped in dehydrator for 30 minutes) on romaine ‘bun’ topped with homemade cashew pumpkin seed ‘pesto’ and fresh pineapple.

I had high hopes for my first raw veggie burger, but sadly it wasn’t that great. I think I just don’t like the consistency of portobello mushrooms if they aren’t cooked well enough or at least drained of their excess water. I found a few recipes for raw portobello burgers but they all called for the portobello to be in the dehydrator for at least an hour. I was running short on time and wanted to eat NOW so I set it in there for only half and hour and it wasn’t so tasty. The toppings definitely made up for it though! I’ll definitely try it again when I have more time to let it sit in the dehydrator.

Dessert: chocolate Sunwarrior protein 'pudding' topped with cacao+coconut oil 'magic shell', raspberries and coconut flakes.

Dessert: chocolate Sunwarrior protein ‘pudding’ topped with cacao+coconut oil ‘magic shell’, raspberries and coconut flakes.

The only fail about this was that I ran out of Sunwarrior a week or so ago and had to wait for my order to come in from Amazon before I could start whipping up raw protein-packed desserts. I used to like the Garden of Life RAW protein powders but they’re really chalky and only taste ok in some things, like banana softserve. Lesson learned: Sunwarrior is the best raw protein powder I’ve found so far!

The BEST raw chocolate I've found!

The BEST raw chocolate I’ve found!

I raved about this bar on Instagram the other day. Such a delicious raw treat, but at $5 per bar (and these bars are about half the size of a normal chocolate bar), it’s a once-a-week purchase that I make last for a whole week. I could easily demolish the whole small bar in one day, but that would be a total wallet fail. Maybe I’ll try to make a version of it at home with the lucuma powder I have, coconut oil, cacao and dates. I gotta say though, as much as I like making things from scratch, some things are better storebought. Like this chocolate. And the Living Intentions raw flavored nut mixes I love.

OOTD June 25: black studded tank (Forever 21), light pink high-waisted shorts (Abercrombie & Fitch), unpictured pink heart pendant and white rose ring (F21), white watch (American Eagle), black sparkly flats (Target).

OOTD June 25: black studded tank (Forever 21), light pink high-waisted shorts (Abercrombie & Fitch), unpictured pink heart pendant and white rose ring (F21), white watch (American Eagle), black sparkly flats (Target).

I feel like my style is really evolving lately, and I like it. Both the tank and shorts are recent purchases (bought within the last 3 months) and prior to this year, I would have never bought either. The tank is the first black thing I’ve ever owned as casual wear and though I’m still not a huge fan of black, I think it works well in small doses and paired with pink or white/black patterned things. The shorts are high-waisted, which I never thought I could pull off–they generally work well on curvier girls and I am…not curvy. They may not be as fitted as they’re supposed to be but I really like them and I think they look great with tucked in shirts or cropped tops.

As I’m getting closer to college graduation, I’m reevaluating my closet. As much as I still like most of it (and the rest I gave away to charity–one good thing that came out of the fires was that I was able to donate some of my summer clothes to fire victims!), some of it screams high school, or at least college. I may or may not donate those things, but I know that they’ll probably be more casual and weekend wear for me. I would like to focus on building a more adult casual wardrobe, but especially focus on finding career wear. I have a few things that I got last year when I started with the campus TV station that are definitely work-appropriate, but I need a LOT more (or maybe just want a lot more…). Before this year, I didn’t have a need for a ton of dressy clothes, and while I never wore the typical college kid yoga pants and sweatshirts, my school clothes are a bit too trendy for the workplace. On-air dress code is generally business casual to business (blazers with pencil skirts, solid sheath dresses, etc.) and I’ve never really had a need for those clothes before, so it’ll definitely be a learning experience for me. Luckily, I don’t mind dressing up as long as I can make my outfits fun with a pop of color and such, so I’m excited for what’s ahead fashion-wise.

Do you ever have food or recipe ‘fails’? If you have a job, what’s your dress code? 

Adventures in Raw: Products I Love

As I’ve been transitioning into and experimenting with a raw foods based diet, I’ve been discovering new products I never knew existed even when I became vegan almost 2 years ago. I’m even finding new-to-me fruits and veggies at the store and it’s making me realize that veganism and even raw foodism isn’t limiting at all–there are millions of possibilities when it comes to food, without relying on animal products.

I’m definitely not a LFRV, so I still include some raw fat and protein sources and I want to share some of those here, as well as produce and seasonings I’ve found to be helpful in transitioning to raw.

Fats

  • Avocados: I can’t believe I used to only eat these in guacamole! Fresh-made guac is still a favorite of mine (my recipe: 1 avocado, juice of half a lime, sprinkle of sea salt, half of a chopped jalapeno, optional cilantro) but I also love taking half of an avocado and drizzling it with raw honey, cinnamon and sea salt. I also want to try out Veggie Nook’s raw coconut-crusted avocado ‘fries’! Avocado is a concentrated source of unsaturated fats, and when added to a salad, can boost the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene. Even though LFRVs eat overt fats (like avocadoes) rarely, I try to eat a fat or fat-based raw dressing with my salads to boost the vitamin absorption.
  • Cashews: Cashews, though labeled raw, are never truly raw because raw cashews can be poisonous, but I always buy my cashews with the raw label because they are less processed and closer to being raw. Cashews are lower in fat than most nuts, but still provide plenty of monounsaturated fats, and add a creamy texture to raw desserts and dressings. I soak them before using them, and then blend them to make raw cheesecakes or raw dressings and sauces.
Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

Raw key lime cheesecake with a soaked cashews base.

  • Almonds: Almonds are also a good source of heart-healthy fats, but they also provide trace minerals such as manganese and copper, which are beneficial to a raw diet. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein. I use them in making raw brownies, raw granola and raw almond butter.
  • Coconut: Possibly my favorite raw source of fat, other than cashews. I used to be scared of coconut’s high concentration of saturated fats, but the fat in coconuts is a lot different than animal fats. It’s also much healthier than vegetable-based oils like canola and soy and is very versatile. I use coconut oil in some raw desserts and it makes a quick dressing, coconut butter is great with dates and other fruit, coconut flour is high in fiber and makes a good thickener in smoothies and coconut flakes are amazing for raw coconut bacon!
  • Flax crackers: These are a really great alternative to wheat-based crackers and since they come in a variety of flavors (plus you can make them at home with a dehydrator or oven turned low), they can be paired with almost any dip or sauce. I love the Food on Purpose brand sold at Whole Foods (they’re made in NM, so they may only be sold in nearby states) and the Flackers brand which are on Amazon. They’ve got way more fiber and protein than traditional crackers and are a good source of omega-3s.

Produce

  • Greens: Leafy greens should be an essential part of anyone’s diet, but especially a raw foodie’s. It’s great to get a variety of greens to load up on certain vitamins and minerals, but if you prefer some over others, that’s okay! I personally love spinach, romaine lettuce, kale and bok choy. They make great bases for salads and also work well in green smoothies blended with fruit.
  • Bananas: The staple of many raw foodies, these are often eaten in abundance on a raw food diet, but don’t have to be. They provide a lot of potassium and a feeling of fullness, which helps on a lower fat raw diet where you don’t have many fats to fill you up. I prefer freezing my bananas and then blending them into banana ‘ice cream’.
cacao banana softserve with raw mocha brownie bites and coconut flakes

Cacao banana ‘ice cream’ (made with frozen banana, cacao powder, lucuma powder, 1/2 packet raw vanilla protein powder) topped with homemade mocha raw brownie bites and coconut flakes.

  • Berries: These are the superfoods of the fruit world, and for good reason! Blueberries are especially full of antioxidants and having anti-aging benefits, raspberries are very high in fiber, strawberries provide 150% DV for vitamin C and blackberries are high in folic acid and manganese. Other berries, like acai and goji, are also nutritional powerhouses and generally come in powdered or dried form, but all berries are amazing little fruits!
  • Zucchini: Zucchini has a lot of uses in the raw food world, from ‘noodles’ to hummus. I’ve even made a raw cheesecake with zucchini in it (recipe below–and trust me, you couldn’t taste it). Its neutral flavor lends itself to working well in many dishes, and it pairs well with bolder flavors.
  • Kelp: Kelp and other sea veggies are usually a hidden treasure of Asian cuisine that many raw foodists rely on to get enough trace minerals. Kelp in particular is a great source of iodine, and since many health-conscious people choose sea salts over table salt, they may be missing out on iodine without sea veggies in their diet. Kelp flakes are a great way to season without using salt, and kelp noodles are a rice-noodle like substitute that I personally love!
Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Raw kelp noodle pad Thai at Tasty Harmony.

Protein

  • Sunwarrior (warrior blend) protein powder: Raw vegan protein powder isn’t just a dream–it’s a reality with Sunwarrior’s warrior blend. Their protein blend is made up of raw pea, hemp and cranberry proteins (so it’s grain free too!) and is sweetened only with stevia, making it a lot healthier than a lot of other protein powders out there. I love that one scoop is just 80 calories but provides 15 grams of protein, which really boosts my protein intake on raw days. It’s a bit high in sodium but that comes from some sea salt and the raw proteins. I prefer the chocolate flavor and love it in smoothies, chia puddings and blended with frozen bananas for a higher protein raw ice cream.
  • Sprouted beans and lentils: On a truly raw, 80-10-10 style vegan diet, protein is only consumed through fruits and greens, but a lot of raw vegans and other vegans like to sprout legumes to make them easier to digest. I have yet to sprout my own beans, but I really want to make some sprouted lentil burgers soon!
  • Sprouted quinoa/buckwheat/wild rice: These pseudograins are way more nutrient packed than wheat, and provide more protein than many other gluten free grains. They’re all technically seeds, making them okay for a grain free diet and when sprouted, are even easier to digest. I like sprouted quinoa for salads, and I usually soak raw buckwheat groats before I make them into granola in the dehydrator.

And now onto the raw cheesecake recipe! I don’t have a picture for it right now, but mine looks a lot like this picture I found on Tastespace. I’ve already made a raw key lime pie cheesecake and I wanted to do a take on a classic chocolate cheesecake, but with a nutrient boost from the zucchini. It adds no flavor but a great creamy texture and secret nutrition!

Raw chocolate cheesecake from Tastespace.

Raw chocolate cheesecake ,photo from Tastespace. (my own recipe)

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1 cup almonds (can sub walnuts)

drizzle coconut oil

2 tbsp +4 tbsp raw cacao or carob powder

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours

3 tbsp maple syrup (can sub coconut nectar for truly raw version)

1/2 small zucchini, chopped

sea salt, to taste

In a food processor or high powered blender, process almonds until crumbly. Add in coconut oil, 2 tbsp cacao powder and raisins until mixture forms a sticky ball. You may need to add a bit (up to 2 tbsp) water or additional raisins. Place this crust mixture into a lined 8″ cake pan and set in freezer for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend cashews, maple syrup, zucchini, 4 tbsp cacao powder and sea salt in food processor. Blend or process until as smooth as possible.  Add additional sweetener or cacao as desired. Pour cheesecake mixture onto crust and return to freezer for a few hours or overnight. Remove from freezer for a few minutes before serving and top with fresh berries. Makes 8 small slices. 

What are your favorite sources of raw fats, produce and protein? 

College Vegan on a Budget: Lots O’ Newness

A series of posts highlighting my progress in budgeting my plant-based, clean-eating grocery trips.

Happy Sunday, guys! I know the East Coast is getting hit hard by Nemo, but we’re also (semi) buried in snow here in CO–so if you’re anywhere that’s gotten snow this weekend, hope you’re staying warm and safe.

So you all know how obsessed I am with trying new products, right? Yeah, it’s kind of a problem. Well, not really because I’m adding more foods into my rotation and figuring out what I really love, but it can be a problem for my budget. This week, I spent a little over $100 which I’m trying not to do (my goal is $80 or under) but I actually didn’t do too much damage at Whole Foods, which is good. However, I did buy a bunch of new-to-me items, all of which I’m loving so far. Not all of them will be regulars on my lists but they’re all winners for sure.

Sprouts

The haul.

The haul.

*=organic

What I Got: kabocha squash (0nly 88 cents/pound!), jalapenos, jewel yams*, avocados, Madhava raw honey*, shredded coconut*, Good Bean cinnamon roasted chickpeas, Vega One chocolate protein powder packet, dried apples*, Medjool dates, Larabars, Vega vibrancy bars, raw cashews

What I Spent: $49.88

Verdict: New-to-Me Items–raw honey, Vega bars (berry flavor). Usually I can spend $30 or less at Sprouts, but the dates and honey really put me over my usual amount. Not that I’m complaining though–the honey is really good and dates are a staple in my life, and cheaper here than anywhere else. The produce was where I definitely saved a lot though.

Whole Foods

New finds...

New finds…

*=organic

What I Got: Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig granola, bombay spice kale chips*, Kit’s Organic chocolate coconut bar*, Justin’s vanilla AB squeeze packs, Kaya sprouted pumpkin seeds*, So Delicious mint chip almond milk ice cream, 365 brand crunchy PB, raw coconut aminos*, canned green olives, dried white Turkish figs, crystallized ginger, nutritional yeast, raw mesquite maple walnuts, Theo vanilla nib dark chocolate barorange cinnamon Mexican-style dark chocolate, baby spinach*

What I Spent: $61. 27

Verdict: New-t0-Me Items–granola (love that it’s only sweetened with coconut sugar and made with ancient GF grains), kale chips (mmm, but expensive), Kit’s bar (haven’t tried yet), crystallized ginger (hopefully good for when I have stomach issues), raw walnuts (also good), dark chocolate bars (when is chocolate ever bad, and the ingredients are Ashley-approved). See, I didn’t do too badly at Whole Paycheck, and that’s even with a few higher-end purchases. The kale chips won’t be a regular purchase, as I can make them easily at home, but I was feeling lazy and really wanted an easy snack.

What’s something new that you’ve tried lately? Do you prefer kale chips from home or from the store?

WIAW: Fall Foodie Finds

I’m glad you’re all embracing fall as much as I am! Though to be honest, I kinda wish it were already Thanksgiving/Christmas time. Oh well, it’ll come around soon enough.

So it’s the first week of October which is crazy but what isn’t crazy is finding lots of fall-ish stuff in stores. The berries and peaches of the summer are on their way out and squash of all kinds are in. It’s still pretty warm here, but the weather will be cooling down pretty soon so I know I’ll be wanting warmer meals in a couple weeks. This weekend when I went home, I ended up buying a lot of new things and some old favorites that I forgot about and I’m loving having a stocked fridge and cabinets again. I hate when they’re empty because I’m so bad at putting meals together from nothing so it’s great to have tons of options.

Double the chocolate? Ummmm, yes!

This wasn’t one of the bars I got to review but I bought it myself because it was a kind I’d never seen before. And it’s really good too, I love the addition of the cacao nibs. I don’t think you can ever have too much chocolate 😉

This would make a perfect side for Thanksgiving.

I don’t know if you’ve seen these at your nearest Whole Foods but if you do, please buy one! They also have a spicy stuffed squash variety that I haven’t tried yet, but the sweet is so good when you roast it. I sliced mine after roasting and put the pieces in a container in the fridge for those times when I want something sweet but also need some veggie action.

Crunchy > creamy. No question.

Before this year, I’d never had sunflower seed butter. Crazy, yes, but now I know it’s delicious. I used to get the Maranatha brand but I love Sunbutter more because it’s a little more flavorful and they have a crunchy variety. I always prefer crunchy over creamy, I need that extra texture!

What’s more fall-like than maple pecan?

My (vegan) ice cream consumption doesn’t end when fall begins…oh no! I eat it well into winter, it’s just that good. I skipped getting my favorite mint chocolate flavor for the millionth time in favor of this more fall-appropriate flavor. If you’ve ever wanted to try coconut milk ice cream, I definitely recommend this brand. It’s so creamy and soft without being too rich. I just wish they had a few more flavor options.

Trying to figure out what to do with these…

I bought these randomly because I’ve always like dried cranberries. I know these aren’t quite the same but they have the bonus of no added sugar, plus they’re in a way bigger bag. Maybe I can make some kind of cranberry orange fruit butter with them?

A new bar to add to my rotation!

Like a lot of bloggers, I love bars. Not bars with alcohol, but protein type bars! My tastes have changed a lot since I had my first bars though–I used to love Clif bars and Kashi bars but now I prefer KIND, Lara and Pure bars since they have simpler ingredients and aren’t too overpowering. I also heard a lot of good things about the Vega bars and since I love their protein powders, I decided to try one out. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks good and it’s got great stats and clean ingredients. I’m not as big of a fan of the price (over $2, which is more than Larabars!) but if it tastes good, it’ll be worth it.

I can’t believe these are raw and sprouted…they’re so delish!

Kaia Foods has the best raw seeds out there! I loved their cocoa mole sunflower seed clusters and this garlic and sea salt kind is even better. I really want to try their pumpkin seed “party mix” because it sounds like a real party in my mouth 😉

Kale wraps make leftovers better.

My mom and I had dinner at Tokyo Joes (a Colorado-based Asian fusion fast casual restaurant) and now I’ve realized how much I love that place. We’d only eaten there once before and I liked it but after what I ordered on Sunday, I need to go back. Like now. I got their lettuce wraps, subbing organic grilled tofu for the chicken, and it came with little rice noodles, an awesome cucumber salad, avocado, raw veggies and these amazing dipping sauces. I could seriously drink them, they were that good! What I love at Tokyo Joes is that they all their food is either all-natural or organic and the only sweetener they have for drinks (other than sugar) is stevia. They even have a stevia-sweetened teriyaki sauce. My kinda place for sure!

Starbucks in the grass…nothin’ better!

My new official Bux drink (well, before it gets cold) is a tall iced Americano with three pumps sugar-free hazelnut. Simple, yep, but amazing. I bet this will taste great hot too so I guess I have a new go-to for all seasons! I do prefer iced coffees though since hot coffee tends to overheat me, which is no bueno.

Do you prefer iced or hot coffee drinks? What’s your favorite bar brand(s)?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Alter Eco goodies!