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?

Friday Five: Foodie Edition

Thanks for all the helpful words on my last post! It’s hard to deal with well-meaning but unhelpful advice from family and friends, but it’s a good reminder that we have to take those words with a grain of salt and do what’s best for our health.

I wanted to bring back the Friday Five posts again and this week, I’m focusing on some fun food things for all my fellow foodies out there!

1. I found some new Larabar flavors…at Target!

You all know my love for Target and Larabars…so put the two together and it’s a perfect match! I actually generally don’t buy my Larabars from Target since they don’t usually have a huge selection like Whole Foods and Sprouts do. But since they have a lot of New Years resolution health stuff right now, they had some Uber bars on sale for $1 each, including 2 new-to-me flavors! You definitely can’t beat that–and they sound downright delicious too.

Ummmm, yum!

Ummmm, yum!

2. I’m obsessed with making grain-free flatbreads. 

First, it was this flatbread made into grain free stuffing. Then it was my staple socca. Now it’s this focaccia, which happens to be egg-free also! If you think grain free baking is hard, try it without eggs. It’s really fun to experiment with grain-free flours and when something turns out delicious, it’s even better.

3. I’m really craving the produce of spring and summer. 

Winter is hard enough as it is, with plenty of cold days, snow and the general feeling of blah-ness once the holidays are over. At least I didn’t get hit with the crazy cold weather here in Colorado (we’ve been in the 40s and 50s, which I can’t complain too much about) and we get over 300 days of sunshine each year, so my mood stays the same. The one thing I crave (other than warmer weather) is spring and summer produce. I miss all the berries, the watermelon, the peaches and cherries, the asparagus and the artichokes. Winter produce just isn’t cutting it–I’m already sick of squashes and citrus. At least I still have my beloved pomegranate…only 68 days until spring arrives!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

I miss having fresh berries for my breakfast!

4. I haven’t had peanut flour in over 6 months…and I kinda want it again.

Remember when I was addicted to ordering food from iHerb? Yeah, me neither since the last time I ordered from them was last May! I don’t know what happened, but I guess I got more budget-conscious and my monthly orders stopped happening. I used to eat peanut flour AT LEAST once per day, and I haven’t had it since June. I just miiiiight end up ordering some more with some of my graduation money, but then again, it might all go towards clothes #sorrynotsorry

5. I’m debating going back on the raw foods train.

I actually did this for quite a while last summer and then I stopped once school started back up and fall came and there was less good produce around. I’m not planning on going 100% raw anytime soon, but I’d like to reincorporate more raw foods into my diet. I’m a big fan of eating whole, minimally-processed foods and this just takes it an extra step. This might be more realistic once spring happens, because there will be more produce, and I love loading up my plate with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, but in the meantime, I’m going to be buying more raw things, like nuts/seeds and making my own almond milk and stuff like that. I have a lot more time on my hands now that I’m just looking for a job, so I have tons of time to experiment in the kitchen!

I'm going to be making more recipes from this book.

I’m going to be making more recipes from this book.

Anyone else missing the warm weather produce? What’s a food you haven’t eaten in awhile that you want to start eating again more often?

College Vegan on a Budget: Looking Ahead

A healthy food-loving girl’s adventures in the world of grocery budgeting.

If you’ve been sticking with me since I started the CVB series then you’ve seen how I’ve had my ups and downs with budgeting. I think I’ve learned a lot since August though, and I want to keep what I’ve learned in mind every time I go grocery shopping, even if it’s on my parents’ dime. Which it will be verrrrry soon, aka in like 4 days!

But CVB will not be back until school starts up again in the fall, so if you still want to read about budgeting, just check out my previous posts on the topics. And just a note, this produce will all be finished this week, but some of the non-perishable or frozen items will be returning home with me when I move back.

Whole Foods produce purchases this week.

Whole Foods produce purchases this week.

*=organic

Whole Foods 

What I Got: watermelon half, baby spinach*, limes, avocados x3*, red mango*, strawberries*, Medjool dates, raw strawberry cheesecakes x2 (on sale and a treat for post finals!), Truvia, bulk whole almonds, Hail Merry vanilla maple almonds, Gone Raw sprouted Thai lemon curry cashews (I’m seriously obsessed, I buy these every week), gluten free frozen pizza dough, Incan berries* (not sure if I like these yet), raw mint chocolate squares, raw southwestern kale chips (also on sale and my fave), Vega One bar, Kit’s Organic chocolate coconut bar*

What I Spent: $67.57 (pretty typical lately)

Verdict: As usual, I spent about 1/3 of my total bill on produce (it came out to about $22 this time, totally worth it for organic  or good quality produce), and I also bought some ‘fun’ things that will probably only last through Wednesday when I move back home. Some things I’m planning on bringing back with me because I don’t think I can get them at the Whole Foods stores in my hometown.

The rest of the purchases.

The rest of the purchases.

When you’ve moved or traveled, do you try to eat everything before or do you bring leftover stuff with you? How much do you spend on produce?

 

College Vegan on a Budget: Makin’ Changes

An occasional series on my trials and successes in grocery shopping for myself for the first time while on a college budget.

It’s getting to be that time of year ago–finals week. Okay, technically it’s not for another 4 weeks, but close enough, right? With that being said, these CVB posts will probably be on hiatus soon for the next few months, as I move back home for the summer and hopefully go back to my parents paying for most of my groceries. I’m excited for that, but truth be told, I’ve been having fun and learning a lot doing this budgeting thing and I don’t plan on going crazy with the groceries once my parents are doing the purchasing.

So I’ve been doing a great job at keeping my weekly Whole Foods trips at around $60 or under, but I’ve failed at keeping my whole weekly grocery budget at around $80. I shop at Sprouts on a weekly or every other week basis and keep my costs to around $30 or under, but I get into trouble when I go crazy over their Larabar selection, or when I hit up yet another natural foods store in the same week (as I did last week, going to Natural Grocers and spending $20 on some super-expensive coconut flour bread, dark chocolate and cappuccino Larabars that were on sale) or when I buy food online from iHerb or Amazon (as I did two weeks ago). So for the rest of the semester, I’m going to be limiting those purchases as much as possible, probably only making one more purchase from iHerb to restock my peanut flour. And since I’ll be moving out of my apartment in a month, I need to get rid of some of the pantry staples I have, like beans and flours, so I’ll really be watching my grocery list and eliminating unnecessary purchases.

Sprouts buys.

Sprouts buys.

*=organic

Sprouts

What I Got: ALT  and Uber Larabars, Kit’s bar*, chocolate Kale Krunch* (not planned, but I’d never seen it before and was intrigued), cherry cola Zevia (on sale for only $2.99!), pineapple, Gone Nuts chipotle pistachios, unsweetened applesauce*, avocados x3*, serrano peppers

What I Spent: $32.70

Verdict: The raw nuts and kale chips were the only things not on my list (and the two most expensive by far) but I bought them because I’ve never seen them anywhere else and wanted to try them. I stocked up on the Zevia (a new-to-me flavor) even though I have some others in my pantry because they were a steal at just $3, compared to the usual $5 or $6. The avocados were bought organic because they were the same price as conventional and buying organic whenever possible is always best.

Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Gone Raw Thai curry cashews (it’s a problem, I’m obsessed), raw cashew butter (this stuff is AMAZING, and only getting a little bit from the bulk aisle saved me tons of money), bulk unsweetened coconut shreds, bulk white Turkish figs*, Medjool dates*, Veggie-Gos fruit and veggie strips*, canned green olives, Tom’s kids toothpaste (I had a coupon, and have been looking for a more natural toothpaste), cherry chocolate Vega One bar, plain Skinny Crisps (for an upcoming recipe), eggplant*, watermelon (yes!), 1 lb. strawberries (finally we’re getting into berry season), Ataulfo mangos X2 (tastiest mangos ever!), baby spinach*, fair trade vanilla extract (on sale and one of the only clean extracts I could find), Hail Merry raw chocolate tart (another thing I need to stop buying, I love it too much!), bulk fair trade 65% dark chocolate chips*

What I Spent: 60.76

Verdict: I have gotten SO much better at spending less at Whole Foods while still getting a lot. Produce is usually about 1/3 of my total purchase, which is really decent, especially for such great quality and sometimes organic produce. I still got a few fun purchases, but I’ve been better about not buying all my favorite splurges all the time. 

What fruit are you most excited to eat this summer? What’s the best grocery store deal you’ve encountered lately (for me, it’s either the Zevia, or the Larabars I found for under $1 each)?