Birthday Week is a Thing

Can’t believe it’s been almost one year since I wrote this post. I was looking forward to my 21st birthday even more than usual, and no, it’s not because I couldn’t wait to drink legally. To be honest, I could probably count on both hands the number of drinks I’ve had since then! I have nothing against drinking, I’m just picky about my drinks (love sangria and white wine and mojitos my mom makes) and I just don’t care to do it often…it’s more of a special occasion thing for me.

Anyways, a year has come and gone and again it’s time for my birthday. The big 2-2. I might be even more excited for this one, because I will finally feel like more of an adult. I’m literally the youngest person at work, and being 22 will mean I at least seem as old as some of my similar age co-workers. And also because it’s my first birthday being away from home. I’ve always loved having a summer birthday, because it meant never having to go to school on my special day and usually getting to do something fun (and outside!) with my family. This year, my family is making the 10+ hour drive to come visit me for my birthday weekend so it feels really special.

Artsy selfies by the pool...totally necessary.

Artsy selfies by the pool…totally necessary.

So it’s officially birthday week, and how am I celebrating? I plan on doing a little something for myself every day this week. Tomorrow I’m probably going to try this new-to-me cafe and get a gluten free vegan crepe. Wednesday and Thursday I have work but after I get off on Thursday I’m going to my favorite juice cafe to get an overpriced fresh-pressed juice.  I want to get the Whole Foods salad bar sometime this week. Of course, I’m hoping to get a couple runs in there because a good run makes everything feel better. And pool time will be necessary. My fam gets here Thursday night and from there birthday week really gets going.

An early little treat.  Mostly because it cost $5.

An early little treat. Mostly because it cost $5.

So that’s life for me right now. I will hopefully be back with a birthday weekend recap next week but in the meantime, I’m stepping away from blogging and social media to just soak in the next few days. See ya later!

Do you celebrate your birthday week? 

 

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Currently: July

Wow. That’s all I can say about the responses I got to my last post. I was touched by every single word you guys shared with me and I’m seriously blown away by just how many views it got. It reminds me that being open and honest really pays off, so thanks for every comment, tweet and repost!

Now onto something a little more fun. I haven’t done a ‘Currently’ post very much in the last few months so I thought it was time for an insight into my life at the moment.

Current Book: Does People StyleWatch count? I’m not much of a book reader, but I can pore over fashion magazines. This one’s especially fun because it features celebs and is a little more reasonable than, say, Vogue.

I'm excited to read the latest issue.

I’m excited to read the latest issue.

Current Music: I’ve been loving this brand new song by a new-to-me group, The Griswolds. It’s a fun, summer-y tune.

Current Guilty Pleasure: Spending so much damn $$$ on groceries. Gah. I thought I was getting good at budgeting. The past three weeks, I’ve spent around $100 for a week of groceries. Even this week, when I thought I didn’t have any big purchases (like protein powder) I still spent a ton. I guess those organic figs, stevia chocolate chips and raw cashew clusters add up! I’d like to keep my bill around $80 next week though.

I'm not giving up my produce to save some $$$.

I’m not giving up my produce to save some $$$.

Current Nail Color: Still Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Hot Tamale. I did just score a fun blue sparkly polish from Target for under $2…I live by the cheap-o Sally Hansen polishes because they work just as well as OPI but for a fraction of the price.

Current Needs: I need to find a restaurant for my birthday dinner. It’s a week from this coming Sunday (!!!) and I just happened to stumble upon some menus for some very veg-friendly places here, but for whatever reason, none of them are open on Sundays for dinner. And I’m not sure I can convince my family to make an almost 2 hour drive to OKC for some vegan Mexican food (there’s apparently a very good all-veg Mexican place there).

Current Drink: Other than the usual ice cold water, I finally caved and invested in Chameleon cold brew concentrate. Holy yum, this stuff is good and it should actually save me money on Starbucks trips. I only ever get iced coffees, so this stuff is perfect.

Sorry Starbies, you've been replaced!

Sorry Starbies, you’ve been replaced!

Current Food: I finally got my fix of the Whole Foods salad bar after going at least a month without it. I went to the WF a little farther from home and they had the most killer selection of stuff. It was one of my favorite salad bar boxes to date. And actually cheap — only $6!

The key to having a cheap WF salad bar box is using lettuce from home and loading the box with only the best.

The key to having a cheap WF salad bar box is using lettuce from home and loading the box with only the best.

Current Obsession: My love for running (outside) is still going strong. I generally run 2 miles three to five days per week, but on Sunday, I managed to run 3 full miles! I still take walk breaks at the halfway point, but it really helps keep up my stamina on these days when it feels like 100 degrees out.

How can you not love running when you have this view? These colors are all-natural!

How can you not love running when you have this view? These colors are all-natural!

Current Triumph: Just having a much better body image. I guess writing my last post was really therapeutic for me, because I’m really seeing my body in a very different light than I used to…which is a good thing!

Current Bane of my Existence: This fly that’s been in my apartment for several days and somehow refuses to die. It’s also too quick to swat, so I’ve been just waiting for it to give up.

Current Indulgence: This amazing strawberry snow cone I picked up from Whole Foods on Friday. I haven’t had a snow cone in years, but when I heard WF was making some with locally-made syrups (also free of any processed crap) I knew I had to get one. And it was $2 and perfect for a super hot afternoon.

This was incredible!

This was incredible!

Current Excitement: My family is driving out to visit me for my birthday weekend! I haven’t seen them since April, which is the longest I’ve ever gone without being with my fam. It hasn’t been as hard of a transition as I thought it would be, but I still miss them, and my birthday would be weird without them. So thankfully, I have four days off around the big day in which to show them around my new city, drag them to all the veg-friendly restaurants I’ve been dying to try, go to a concert I’m extremely pumped for and just enjoy their presence. But…that also means getting my apartment ready for their arrival in just over a week. Not sure when that’s gonna happen!

Current Mood: So ready for my birthday!

Current Outfit: I’ve also been buying a lot of clothes lately (but trying to stay within my budget) and my outfit on Saturday incorporated a skirt I just bought from VS Pink. Yes, they have actual clothes there that are pretty cute!

I love mint and tribal, but they're even better together!

I love mint and tribal, but they’re even better together!

Current Link: What is Femme Anyway? This post actually ties in quite well with my last one — basically it’s how I personally define myself as a woman. Some might describe me as high-maintenance, but part of my personality is about caring very much about my appearance and I’m proud of that. And it really spoke to me when it talks about loving yourself, because that’s something I’m always working towards.

What are some of your currentlies? 

Fireworks, Food and Farmers Markets

I love long weekends! Especially in the summer — since I work full-time, it’s nice to have an extended break to enjoy the incredible weather and everything else the season has to offer.

My weekend is still going strong, but I thought I’d pop in with a few of my favorite moments from the July 4th weekend. After I got off work on Thursday morning, I didn’t really have any solid plans for my time off, other than to get in my weekly trip to Whole Foods, spend some time by the pool and go for some runs. And I ended up doing all that and more…

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Lots of cold water is necessary after these hot runs I’ve been going on. One perk of having time off is I can go for a run earlier (like around 10 or 11) so it’s not quite as hot.

This is freaking adorable.

This is freaking adorable.

I love how Snapchat celebrates holidays — this was really cute and brightened up my morning (not that it was bad…how can it be when you have the day off?)

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

I haven’t been to the main mall here since Memorial Day weekend (who am I?) so I knew it was time to return. And I scored some pretty great deals. A cute top from Abercrombie & Fitch for $10? Unheard of, except for during holiday weekends. I’m a sucker for giant purses, so I went to ALDO for my fix. And I got a push-up bandeau bra from Victoria’s Secret because I love strapless styles but this girl needs some padding #ACupProblems. I spent around $50 for all this, which is cheaper than both the top and the purse alone were originally!

My patriotic outfit.

My patriotic outfit.

I’ve seriously worn these shorts every July 4th since I got them a few years ago. I love them, and I had to take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t going to work, so I could wear weather-appropriate clothes.

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

My breakfast wasn’t totally patriotic, but the cherries made up for it. By Friday, I was seriously running low on food, especially produce, but I made it work. These were the last of some super cheap cherries I found at Sprouts 2 weeks ago and they were incredible!

As for my July 4th evening plans? No photo evidence because it was dark, but I drove to one of my coworkers’ homes to watch the fireworks from his place. He invited a few other people I knew from work, as well as more crazy TV people from other stations in town. It was fun to hang out for a couple hours, but the parking situation and traffic coming home was insane. It would have been an easy commute about 15 minutes up the street from me, but most of that road was blocked off and even when I was leaving around 10:45 (an hour after the fireworks wrapped up), I got caught in traffic jams on another street. Also, I had to park a couple blocks away from his house, which was fine, but walking back in the dark had me a little on edge, especially after some recent assaults across the city. But I made it safe, and my car wasn’t towed, so yay!

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

My July 4th dinner was totally ‘Merican, but with a healthier twist. I had a weird craving for potato salad (which I don’t even like), so I decided to whip up my own version using a sweet potato, coconut ‘bacon’ and a homemade mayo made with hemp seeds/water/olive oil/spices. It turned out incredible, so I’m sharing it!

Hemp Mayo Potato Salad (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

  • 1 sweet potato, cut into small wedges (can use white potato if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sea salt, to taste
  • garlic granules, to taste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum, to thicken
  • 2 tbsp coconut bacon (optional, but really good!)

Place cubed sweet potato in medium pot and pour water about an inch above them. Bring to a low boil; cover pot and lower heat and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until potato is fork tender (but not too soft). Drain water and set aside to cool. In a food processor, blend hemp hearts, water, salt, garlic and ACV. Add in xanthan gum if you want to thicken the mayo. Once potatoes are cool, pour mayo over them and stir in coconut bacon. Makes 1 serving. 

I'm obsessed with the farmers market.

I’m obsessed with the farmers market.

Saturday morning started early (well, if you think 8 am is early). But for good reason — I had plans to go to the farmers market! I usually only get to swing by after I get done with work, and by that time, most things are sold out. Getting to the market an hour earlier meant fewer crowds AND better selection. I got some organic potatoes, blackberries (!) and an incredible gluten free vegan cookie. I love supporting local farmers and restaurants and I hope to keep doing so throughout the season. And I WILL be back for more of those cookies 😉

Saturdays are for selfies.

Saturdays are for selfies.

No description needed…

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

And after the farmers market, it was on to Whole Foods! I made my weekly restock trip, and yes, it was more expensive than I planned on, but only because I needed to buy protein powder. I actually got a good deal on that — 2 pounds for $25, when it’s normally over $40! So my grocery trips for the rest of the month should be cheaper. Doesn’t it just feel so good to have a full pantry and fridge again though?

Picnic-style leftovers.

Picnic-style leftovers.

After restocking my kitchen, Saturday’s dinner was a repeat of Friday’s but this time with some watermelon and avocado oil potato chips. If you haven’t tried these, you may not want to…because they’re addicting. I usually prefer sweet potato chips, but these are still healthy because they’re cooked in avocado oil instead of unhealthy canola or sunflower oil and the only ingredients are potatoes, avocado oil and sea salt. And paired with some picnic-style sides (the above homemade potato salad and vegan firecracker coleslaw from Whole Foods) I totally fit in with all the other people enjoying traditional July 4th meals. Except, you know, vegan and gluten free!

That's hot!

That’s hot!

My run on Sunday felt hot, and now I know why! I went around noon, and while the breeze helped, I was still a sweaty mess afterwards. When I checked my phone later, I saw the heat index was 104 degrees! Luckily it wasn’t super humid, so I spent some time poolside both Saturday and Sunday. But check it — today is supposed to be 100 degrees, so who knows what the heat index will be!

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

I have my dad to thank for getting me into Dave Barry probably a good 10 years ago (that makes me feel old). If you’ve never read him, he’s freaking hilarious and you’re missing out. I enjoyed some of his work while chillin’ on my porch waiting to Skype my parents. Best way to end my Sunday!

Is it any wonder July is my favorite month? The 4th is one of my favorite holidays (#historynerd), it feels like the essence of summer and my birthday is at the end of the month. And this year, I’m really looking forward to that. My family is driving out here for a few days and I can’t wait to be with them again after nearly 4 months without seeing them and to show them around! T-minus 20 days til the big day…

How did you enjoy your weekend? 

Week through my iPhone: Part II

Well, it’s been almost a week since I last posted, whoops! I have some time off coming up so maybe another post will make it in there somewhere. I can’t make any promises though. I love being busy though — it makes time fly (which is sometimes good, sometimes bad…like when my weekend ends too soon).

I freaking love the heat. But the humidity, not so much.

I freaking love the heat. But the humidity, not so much.

It hasn’t technically hit 100 degrees here yet, but the heat index has been in the 100s on some days. I only hate it when I’m trying to push through a run or when it messes up my hair. Humidity+me = super sweaty hot mess. Is it any wonder I want to move to the desert?

Aforementioned sweaty selfie.

Aforementioned sweaty selfie.

Running has been going well. Still running between 2 and 3 miles, but trying to run almost every single day, even if it’s just a mile on the treadmill mixed with walking. I ran in the drizzle one day last week, and it was the best. I was basically alone out on the trail, and it wasn’t too hot. The above picture was from a very sunny, 90+ degree run.

Figs+coconut butter. Just do it.

Figs+coconut butter. Just do it.

I’ve been shelling over $5 for figs on the reg at Whole Foods and I’m not mad about it. Especially not since I discovered the best flavor combo ever — figs and coconut butter. The coconut butter formed a little shell on this fresh-from-the-fridge-fig and it was so creamy. Why do I have such expensive tastes? At least I never eat out!

 

A sense of my immature humor at work.

A sense of my immature humor at work.

Work is…work. Some days I wake up at 2 am ready to hit it and other times I think “I wish I could lay in bed forever”. But having little moments like this makes it better. Some videos on the NBC feed are really…weird? Yeah, I think I’ll pass on running a package about overactive bladders in my newscast, thanks.

Nautical AND nerdy.

Nautical AND nerdy.

And I’m trying to find work-appropriate things that work in the summer. The station is air-conditioned, so that means cardigans are a must (and I can’t get away with tanks anyway). I also got called out for wearing a dress that was ‘too short’ so I’ve been more cautious ever since. The dress code is casual, but apparently a dress that is more than an inch or two above the knees is not okay (but basketball shorts and a T-shirt are?).

My baby is almost at 100K.

My baby is almost at 100K.

It’s official — Alejandro is getting old. Okay, he’s only 5 years old, but he’s almost 100 K miles. Whattttt? He’s seen me through two years of college and now my new adventure in Tulsa…maybe another move on the horizon in a year? I just hope he holds out that long — Hyundais are pretty reliable!

 

The best chocolate in the world.

The best chocolate in the world.

On my last trip to Whole Foods, I was upset when I walked through the baking aisle and my beloved stevia-sweetened chocolate chips were nowhere to be found (aka sold out). I basically live off those things, so I was devastated. But when I finally spotted the new flavor of my favorite chocolate bar brand I decided to buy two bars. Well, I should have bought more because this stuff is incredible. It tastes exactly like chocolate-covered espresso beans but it just has three ingredients — cacao, fair trade coffee, and cane sugar.

 

I can't tell you how much I love these new glasses.

I can’t tell you how much I love these new glasses.

I generally wear contacts because it’s just easier (especially when I’m running) and I’m lucky that my eyes can tolerate them, but sometimes you just gotta wear glasses. Or in my case, you use them as a fashion statement. I’ve been lusting after hipster glasses for years, and finally got some (real ones) of my own. These were $50, lenses and all, because I took advantage of a first pair free deal on Coastal.com. They arrived in my mailbox within just a couple days and they’re basically perfect. No, I promise I wasn’t asked to write a glowing review (or any review, period), I just really loved my first experience with Coastal.

Random bowl of deliciousness, coming right up!

Random bowl of deliciousness, coming right up!

More randomness thrown in a bowl and called a meal. This was my favorite homemade sweet potato hash with added in spinach, hemp tofu, cauliflower and topped with homemade hummus, coconut ‘bacon’, sprouted salted nut mix and spicy peppers. Colorful, balanced and oh so tasty. And easy. I haven’t been in the mood (or had the time) to make anything complicated and that’s fine with me.

What’s been going on in your life lately? 

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?

Liebster.

Happy Friday! I honestly feel obligated to start out a post like that, but let’s be real — I now hate it when people get all hyped up about Friday. Because Friday isn’t my Friday. It’s generally my Wednesday, so nothing to get too excited about! But I realize most people have a normal work/school schedule, so happy Friday to all of you 🙂

liebster

What is happy about today is that I was nominated by the lovely Kaila from Healthy Helper to fill out the Liebster survey. You know I love surveys, so I’m alllllll over this. Thanks Kaila!

The Rules

1) You must link back to the person who nominated you

2) You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you

3) You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following)

4) You must create 10 questions for your nominees

5) You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

Kaila’s Questions

1. What was your favorite show as a middle schooler?

Is it totally embarrassing that I still watched Arthur at that age? It was a really good show though…and in my defense, my little sister was still 7 or 8 at the time, so completely acceptable 😉

2. What season were you born in?

Summer! I’m absolutely obsessed with my birthday. I’ve never had to go to school (or work now) on my birthday and I’ve spent many birthdays at a waterpark or on vacation. Summer has always been my favorite season, and it’s partly because it’s my birthday season. Just a month and two weeks until the big day!

I just love summer!

I just love summer!

3. What Disney princess did you want to be when you were little?

I always identified with Belle, because I used to love reading (I was always in advanced reading classes as a kid and got to read all the exciting books) and I have long brown hair.

4. If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in another language, which would you choose?

Spanish. I know that sounds boring, but I took Spanish classes from second grade through my senior year of high school, and still didn’t pick up much of the language. I also want to live somewhere in the southwestern U.S., where Spanish really comes in handy!

5. If you could wear only one color or pattern for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Can you tell I love pink?

Can you tell I love pink?

Color: pink! Pattern: floral.

6. What’s your least favorite fictional couple? 

This is hard — I can’t even really think of any off hand! I guess I’ll say Chandler and Janice from Friends (still love that show!). Even though they didn’t end up together, they were totally not meant to be.

7. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

This is going to sound weird, but I’ve had a few people tell me I have a really good voice. Not singing-wise, but for talking. It makes me feel good, since I’m still chasing after my goal of becoming a TV anchor someday and having a good speaking voice is key!

8. What is the most unusual food you’ve ever eaten?

A raw enchilada at my favorite vegan spot. I don’t even know how to describe it — it was different than a regular enchi, but sooooooo much better. And the side of ‘rawfried’ beans was spot on like refried beans, but made with nuts and zucchini!

Not my picture, but they looked a lot like these!

Not my picture, but they looked a lot like these!

9. If you had to choose to lose one of the five senses, which would you choose and why?

would choose smell, but since smell and taste are connected (and I don’t wanna lose my sense of taste), I’m going to go with touch. Yeah, it’d be a little weird not to feel things, and I’d have to be careful not to get burned, but it would probably be the easiest to go without.

10. Name 3 blogs you read on a daily basis.

Hungry Hungry Hippie (even though she’s not vegan anymore, her food always looks so good and her little guy is so cute), Happy.Healthy.Life. (the most drool-worthy vegan food ever), Extra Petite (not necessarily on a daily basis, but I love getting fashion inspiration from a fellow petite lady).

Since I don’t know 10 people to tag who haven’t done this yet, I’m going to cheat and tag anyone who wants to do this…and you can just answer the same 10 questions I did!

Answer any of the above!

My Food Biography

The credit for this post goes to the lovely Kaila, who always has the most creative post ideas! She shared her food biography recently, and it inspired me to think back about what meals have become memorable over the years. I’m going to be sharing 10, but I thought of a lot more!

You can read more about the idea behind a food biography here, but I think it’s a really cool idea. Food is such an important part of our lives, from the social aspect of it to the fact that it’s necessary to sustain life. For me, my food biography isn’t necessarily my favorite foods, since those change all the time, but rather is the foods I most associate with certain memories.

  • Einstein Bros. bagels with cream cheese (specifically the asiago and chocolate chip flavors)

Growing up, on some Saturday mornings my dad would wake up early and grab us bagels from Einstein Bros. Getting to eat a bagel for breakfast instead of the usual cold cereal was such a treat. I remember leisurely mornings around the table with my family, newspaper spread out (we’re big newspaper readers!) and enjoying either a chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese or an asiago bagel with jalapeno cream cheese. They had the best ‘shmear’ flavors and paired with the doughy bagel, it was just bliss. I haven’t had a bagel in years (major fear food) but I remember this special childhood treat.

  • Soy chocolate gelato at Gelazzi
One of my favorite flavor combos at Gelazzi--the soy chocolate and birthday cake.

One of my favorite flavor combos at Gelazzi–the soy chocolate and birthday cake.

When I first tried gelato (sometime in early HS) I was hooked. Even when froyo became a big thing a few years later, I stuck with gelato. We had one or two local places, but when I went on a college tour of the college I ended up going to, my dad and I just had to try Gelazzi, the gelato place in that town. I remember ordering the soy chocolate gelato and absolutely falling in love. That moment is significant for me because at the time of my college visit, I had recently started recovering from anorexia. I still feared most foods, and going out to eat was really hard for me. The fact that I could order gelato, a dessert, and enjoy it was huge. Since that first experience, me and my family have returned many times to Gelazzi and I’m sad that I can’t go there anymore since I moved away. P.S. Gelato is the reason why I’m only 99% vegan!

  • Teriyaki steak on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, my mom made teriyaki steak for dinner. Basically it was flank steak marinated in a teriyaki sauce with lots of green onions. There was a brief time during my childhood that I was obsessed with steak (as long as it was well-done) and I always looked forward to this dinner. Even though I don’t eat steak anymore and I don’t plan on it ever, this meal just reminds me of Christmas Eve–going to church with my family, coming home and enjoying this meal, and then reading Christmas stories before going to bed early.

I’m so thankful my dad took the time to cook meals with me when I started getting interested in cooking. We’ve cooked together many times, but this one sticks out to me in particular. I’ve actually since made vegan eggplant muffulettas with him as well! I remember going to the store and picking out fancy olives and good bread and then coming home and making the sandwiches on the panini press. I enjoyed picking out a recipe with him, getting a little cooking lesson and then getting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

  • Chili lime pasta

Another mom-made meal that I became obsessed with. When a Williams-Sonoma came to our city, my mom would always take me there to browse all the cool kitchen stuff. One time she found this chili-lime seasoning, thought it sounded good, and bought it. She used it on grilled chicken I think, but what I remember most was her chili-lime pasta. Basically it was a sauce made of olive oil and the seasoning with grilled shrimp, grilled peppers and pasta all tossed together. It was really simple but totally delicious and satisfying.

  • Snack plates
So much good stuff.

So much good stuff.

I still enjoy these to this day, but I was first introduced to them when my family would go camping. We camped a lot during the summers (something I really miss) and on Saturday (and Sunday if it was a 3 day weekend) we would always have snack plates for lunch. I always called it ‘feast’ because it really was–we would have stuff like crackers, veggies, cheese, summer sausage and fruit–and just enjoy a random sampling of it for lunch. Now I always crave a bunch of different flavors, so I still love snack plates for snacks and meals.

  • Root beer popsicles 

Popsicles were my jam in the summers growing up! I always ate the Popsicle brand, since it had the best flavors. Anybody else remember those firecracker pops? Now they have a whole bunch of crazy varieties like Jolly Rancher and Yosicles but when I was a kid, there were just the classics. And my favorite was by far the root beer one that came in the variety pack with banana and lemon lime. I remember the jokes written on the popsicle stick and eating them out on the porch with my little sister on hot days.

  • Jelly Bellies on Christmas

Another Christmas tradition in my family was Jelly Bellies. So random! But one year for whatever reason, we bought Jelly Bellies as a stocking stuffer and the idea stuck. I remember going to Target with my dad and sister a week before Christmas and filling our bags from the different flavored bins. And then my sister and I would tear into our bags on Christmas morning and eat Jelly Bellies before breakfast 😛 They were one of my favorite candies, and I was obsessed with certain flavors, like the strawberry cheesecake and orange creamsicle.

  • Mini cereal boxes

This was another camping staple. My family has always been a cold-cereal-for-breakfast bunch, and when we went camping, that didn’t change. But my mom would give in and let us have those fun, sugary kids cereals (we normally ate healthier cereals like Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats). My sister and I would fight over the Lucky Charms and the Cocoa Puffs and the Trix and leave the boring Honey Smacks and Corn Pops to our parents 😉

  • Hummus pizza at Poppy’s
So. Good.

So. Good.

After our camping days came to an end, we made an annual trip to Estes Park for a week spent in a cabin–by a pool, in the mountains, hiking and of course, enjoying the local restaurants. Estes Park is one of my favorite places in the entire world–I’m going to miss going there every summer but I hope I can eventually make it back there more regularly. Anyways, on our first night, we’d always go out to eat at Poppy’s, a pizza place by the river. We always sat outside, listening to the sounds of the river and live music. When I was younger, I’d get weird pizzas with shrimp and green olives (seriously, they had so many topping options) and then for a year or two during the height of my ED, I ordered a plain grilled chicken sandwich because I was scared of pizza, but after that time, my go-to order was the hummus pizza, which happened to be vegan (even before I was vegan). The dough was perfectly soft and chewy and the right thickness. The hummus was homemade and super creamy. The olives and the sundried tomatoes and the artichoke hearts and the spinach were matched perfectly and made it the best pizza I’ve ever had. Last summer when we were in Estes, I tried to order it and they said they’d gotten rid of it 😦 So unfortunately, the pizza legend does not live on. But I still remember how good it was, and how much I enjoyed just being in that beautiful place.

What foods would be in your ‘food biography’?