WIAW: The One With the New Products

Happy Wednesday everyone! Or should I say, happy first day of February! I am so so so glad we are done with January, it’s always one of my least favorite months because it’s smack dab in the middle of winter (hate winter!) and just seems to drag on. February’s always a short month, even this year with an extra day, and always is a little more exciting. Especially because it’s one month closer to spring–can you tell I just want winter to be over?

So today is obviously the first WIAW of the new month, and to celebrate that, I have my reviews of some new-to-me products that I recently tried. I mentioned a few of them in my last WIAW, but since then, I’ve tried even more new products! I just love trying out new things and seeing what I like and don’t like. If I paid for my own groceries, I would definitely be at Whole Foods on a weekly basis scoping out new products…or maybe not, since that could get a little expensive! What can I say, I have expensive tastes 😉

Peas and Crayons

First up, Smart Bacon. Now, you all know how much I love my Morningstar spicy vegetarian sausage patties in the A.M. (or even at night, letsbehonest) but a girl needs to switch it up every once in a while. I like to have a protein source at breakfast to keep me going through long mornings spent in classes and walking around campus, so these give me a little protein boost (4 grams in 2 slices) and taste delicious. A little too salty, but I love them. I make them super-crispy in my microwave because I hate squishy soft bacon. I’m not sure if this tastes like real bacon, since I haven’t had that in years but it’s still pretty yummy.

It really is smart!

This is the only product I tried that isn’t vegan, but it is vegetarian-friendly and amazing–Arctic Zero! I know it seems like a ‘diet-y’ thing, but I honestly loved this product more than froyo. I got the mint chocolate flavor, and it was the perfect consistency and taste after a quick zap in the microwave. Now, maybe I loved it because I actually like the taste of sorbet, but it was actually amazing for being only 150 calories in an entire pint. I was only able to eat half the pint in one sitting because it was pretty filling, but I would buy it again in a heartbeat–probably in the coffee flavor since I’m a coffee-holic. I liked that it had almost 8 grams of protein in the serving I had!

One of the best frozen desserts I've ever had!

I’m a dried fruit fiend, so when I saw these two products, I just had to have them. I really need to invest in a dehydrator ASAP because I’m spending an arm and a leg buying all this dried fruit. It’s so worth it though. First, Crunchies are my favorite freeze-dried fruit. I love their mixed fruit and cinnamon apple slices, so when I saw the tropical fruit mix at Sunflower Market, I snapped it up! It’s got freeze-dried bananas, strawberries, oranges, mangos and pineapples and is amazing. Anything tropical is, just saying. I also got some dried mango slices when my mom and I made our first trip to Sprouts and I love it! It’s so hard to find dried fruit that is just fruit, with no added sugars or oils, so when I found these I was super pumped. Oh, and I don’t know if all of you have heard of Sprouts before–it’s basically a smaller version of Whole Foods that just has stores in Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Definitely check them out if you have one near you–I thought it was a pretty cool store. Sunflower Market is basically the same, but it also has stores in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. I still can’t wait to get a Trader Joes here, though!

I'm basically obsessed with tropical fruits.

It was cheap, but that's only because there's not very much of it!

Actually, I kinda lied saying that the Arctic Zero was the only non-vegan product too. This KIND bar isn’t either, because it has honey in it, but I know that the honey debate is a big deal in the vegan community. Personally, I think it’s okay as long as the honey is raw and organic but that’s just me. Obviously I’m not a strict vegan because I still have dairy (in Greek yogurt form) maybe once or twice a week, but I’m working towards it because I think it’s a lifestyle that would work well for me, since it has so far. Anyways, I picked up the Peanut Butter & Strawberry on a whim, since I’ve never tried a KIND bar before. I like the simple ingredients and the fact that this variety has 7 grams of protein–not too shabby! And pretty much, it tasted exactly like a PB&J sandwich. I loved the crunch of the almonds and peanuts and it’s definitely another bar to add to my ever-expanding stash!

A high protein PB&J in bar form.

So next week, I have a special WIAW in the works, so look for that! I know I’m excited about it, but I’m weird like that 😛

Can't forget the outfit of the week! Red/navy plaid shirt (Abercrombie), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), unpictured brown suede boots (DSW).

What is the best product you’ve recently tried? Do you like shopping at small health food stores?

WIAW: I Can Almost Taste Thanksgiving!

Purple cauliflower fans unite! Oh, hi guys, sorry I was just excited about all the great responses to my last post! I love seeing that you could relate to my stressage about signing up for classes and all the foodie-type things I included in the post.

Anyways, on with this week’s WIAW. I was lucky enough to get to go home this weekend sorta unexpectedly, because I have a humongo stats test on Friday that I’m pretty sure I’ll fail without getting some help, so I recruited my math-whiz dad. But the weekend wasn’t all studying, because how blah would that be? Basically though, it was just like a mini tease of Thanksgiving break, which is making me really anxious for break to start. Unlike a lot of weekends at home, it was pretty chill, which was exactly what I needed before this crazy week hit. Why do professors/teachers assign so much the week before a break? It makes me nuts! But, let’s just move on to the WIAW and weekend recap and talk about school craziness latah!

Peas and Crayons

Friday afternoon started out with me taking a stats quiz (ick) and then finally getting picked up by my mom and sissy. We headed straight for the campus bookstore, to pick up some Christmas gifts for my g-parents. Since we were already at the student center, my mom suggested we eat at the food court and use my RamCash, which is basically money the school gives you to spend on laundry, food at the food court, etc. I barely use it, besides every once in awhile for laundry, so I have a buttload on my card, since they add more every semester. My mom first told me that only Panda Express was open on Friday evenings, and I wasn’t too excited about that. They apparently have nothing that’s certified vegetarian, since things get mixed around and veggies may touch meat, plus their food is just greasy and ugh.  But luckily, the soup and salad place was still open, so I got a cup of winter squash soup. It was pretty decent, not the best I’ve had from there (their vegetarian chili is BOMB!) but I definitely prefered it to Panda. My mom and sister got it though, and it ended up costing $16! Call me crazy, but that’s a lot for two people’s dinners at a fast food-type place. But we enjoyed our dinners in the awkwardness that was the empty food court. Usually it’s packed with people, but who wants to eat there on a Friday night when almost everything else is closed?

Not soup (obviously) but my hodgepodge dinner from last week: plain Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon, Pink Lady, chocolate PB2 sauce, baby carrots, pumpkin protein frosting. So weird but really hit the spot.

Back at home, it wasn’t too late so I had dinner part 2, since I didn’t finish the soup and I was starving. I had my first sweet potato in probably 3 weeks (it was a happy reunion, that’s for sure 😀 ) topped with some PB2 that I brought home. Okay, is this sad or what–I’ve gone through most of the jar in basically 5 days! 2 tablespoons of it is supposed to be 15 servings, what a lie! I’ve mostly been having 1 or maybe 2 tablespoons of it per day, and it’s almost gone! What?

A seasonal variation on the banana whip--banana pumpkin whip. Enjoyed straight outta the blender, how classy am I?

Saturday I could barely make myself sleep in til 8. I think my schedule this semester has been screwing me up, I used to be able to sleep in til 9 easily if I stayed up past 11 or so. Well, I’m not complaining, 8 is fine with me! I hate sleeping in so late that I feel like the day is wasted, so I totally don’t get people that sleep in past noon or whatever. I had a nice breakfast of leftover pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes and my usual veggie sausage, alongside a homemade Starbucks peppermint mocha! I’ve been totally craving Starbucks, and since I rarely go (that’s gonna change in less than a week 😉 ) I wanted to make a drink that’s almost as good. My mom got some Silk Mint Chocolate soy milk (best stuff ever!) so I steamed it and added it to some Starbucks VIA.

Almost as good as Starbucks, for way less, and in a cute snowman mug!

For lunch, I ended up burning the last 2 pieces of tempeh bacon (whoops) while I was cooking my second sweet potato in two days. Obviously, they have been very missed. I topped it with more PB2 (addicted much?), and plated it and the burned bacon with some frozen raspberries. Oh so good.

Who can beat a nut butter topped sweet potato? Especially with tempeh bacon and frozen raspberries?

After lunch, my dad and I headed out to the store. Well…stores! I was only planning on getting some apples and grapes to tide me over for the 5 days I’d be on campus before break, but knowing me, I got a lot more. Well, not a lot more, but definitely some. But it was all needed, so it’s justified. I did get the apples and grapes I needed, plus some Silk Pumpkin Spice (haven’t tried it yet), Whole Foods fresh-grind crunchy almond butter, butternut squash cubes, my crack Late July green mojo chips, peanut butter pows cereal (apparently renamed peanut butter balls?), full moon brownie kid Clifs, dates, rolled oats, vegan chorizo taquitos and my personal favorite, Oikos frozen Greek yogurt! I’ve been dying to try it since I saw it on Tara’s blog awhile back. I got it in chocolate, and it is heavenly. Better than their original chocolate froyo, since it’s a little tangy just like Greek yogurt. Plus it’s got a little more protein, which is always a win. I can’t wait to try the blueberry and honey…and I hope they come out with superfruits, because that is my favorite flavor of their yogurt! Whole Foods was pretty lame this time as far as samples go, but I think I found a good vegan alternative to the Thanksgiving turkey–Field Roast Grain Meat loaves. They’re made from vital wheat gluten and veggies and they look pretty decent. I hope I can convince my mom to buy it for me, since my dad seemed to think it looked good.

I dressed up my first bowl of Oikos froyo with frozen raspberries and PB balls cereal. Love the mix of textures and flavors.

Then my wonderful daddy surprised me with some Pinkberry. I was so excited when it first came to my city, and I loved the watermelon froyo I got the first time around, all the way back in June! Unfortunately, I hadn’t been back there since but I got my fix this weekend. If you’ve never been to a Pinkberry, they only have 6 flavors at a time, but they rotate based on season, and their yogurt is better quality than most froyos. I’m such a sucker for all things seasonal, as you probably know by now, and peppermint is by far my favorite seasonal flavor–especially paired with dark chocolate! So when I saw the peppermint froyo on the front door, I knew exactly what I wanted to get. I also decided to branch out (and piss off my ED a bit) and topped it with some peppermint bark, which was the perfect pairing. Usually, I only stick with fruit as a topping, but I have no regrets getting the bark instead. And I don’t care what ED says about it, it was crazy good and I didn’t get fat overnight by eating it. So there!

Perfection in a cup. I love that they swirl it so perfectly, and that it's light pink!

The rest of the night was devoted to church, eating Amy’s cheeseless pizza with a side of Silk Mint Chocolate (can’t get enough of the mint/chocolate combo obvi!), showering, studying up on stats with the padre and watching some SNL. Emma Stone was the host, she’s so funny and I love her voice. It makes me less self-conscious for having a deeper voice than most girls 😛

Sunday's (very orange) lunch of Gardein chickenless nuggets, sweet potato tots (ob-sessed), more raspberries and spicy three pepper mustard. Like fast food but...not!

Sunday was pretty leisurely. Breakfast and lunch were had over the Sunday pap-ah, I went for a nice walk with my dad and sister and then it was sadly time to head back. Most times when I have to go back, I’m a little sad, since I won’t get to see my family for 2 weeks, but this time I wasn’t because I knew I’d be seeing my madre’s lovely face again on Friday–for a whole 9 days, in fact! I was just annoyed with the fact that I had a full 5 days of school to deal with 😦 Before dropping me off, we had a delicious dinner at Garbanzo, my favorite fast-casual place. I think I’ve mentioned it about a bazillion times already, but it’s just that good. Mediterranean food is my all-time fave.

Ninja shot of my dinner. The best falafel ever, red cabbage, vegetable salad, lettuc, grilled eggplant, hummus and tabbouleh, with a side of cilantro and curry sauces. Can I live in the bowl? Kthx.

So there you have it, my weekend-before-Thanksgiving-break in a (big) nutshell. I always make these recap things way too long, guess it shows how excited I am about the weekends I get at home. Now I’ve just gotta focus on studying for my Friday stats test and…PACKING! I love packing, so I can’t wait!

What was the best part of your weekend? Mine was probably Whole Foods shopping, ’cause I’mma nerd like that! What is your favorite seasonal flavor? I luuuuuurrrrrvvvve peppermint, especially paired with dark chocolate and coffee. Starbucks Skinny Peppermint Mocha, here I come!

WIAW: Halloween (Weekend) Edition

Hey guys, how were all of your Halloweens? Mine was basically like any other school day: classes at 10 and 1, then an editorial meeting with staffers at 3. Oh yeah, not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I’m the editor for my campus’ faculty & staff newsletter! I’m so stoked because it’s a paid job and it’s in journalism, which is my field. I was dreading trying to look for some lame minimum wage job but I’m so glad I got hired for this. It was a long process of interviewing and paperwork, but it’s finally coming together. Me and another girl (the other editor) get along really well, and even though we’re pretty confused and overwhelmed at this point since we have a deadline this week and only just hired our writers, we’re still loving the position. So yeah, I officially have my first ever job 😀 But anyways, yeah, my Halloween was pretty boring…but Halloween weekend is a totally different story!

Peas and Crayons

Mi madre picked me up around 2 on Friday and we were off! Unlike most weekends that I go home, she was able to get me earlier which meant I got to eat a home cooked meal. Score! Sure, I like going out to fast casual places, but they can get repetitive and expensive after a while, and I’ve missed being able to use the oven. So that’s exactly what I did–I made Gardein meatless ‘chicken’ nuggets and Alexia sweet potato tots (best thing ever!) alongside some green beans (ick, but decent with some spicy three-pepper mustard) for dinner. It was basic but gourmet compared to my dorm meals. Though I can get pretty creative with those… 😉

Look how much snow was still at our house 4 days after the storm!

Friday night was so much fun, because we all carved pumpkins and watched some reallllllly old (from the early 90s!) Disney Halloween cartoons. Those 2 things are basically a Halloween tradition in our house, and I love it. I ended up carving a pumpkin in my pumpkin because I thought a face was too cliché haha. It was so much easier than carving a face too, and the only part that sucked was digging out all the seeds. The insides of all the pumpkins were freezing cold so it hurt our hands after a while to get all the seeds out. But trust me, it was worth it–you’ll see why soon!

My pumpkin in a pumpkin!

My mom's and dad's pumpkins. My dad always likes to do something--erm--creative!

Saturday morning I woke up a little early (like 8:15, which is totally not early but it is for the weekend) because I wanted to make pancakes for my lovely familia. But not just any pancakes–oh no!–I made pumpkin pancakes with dark chocolate chips! OMG, pumpkin and chocolate are a match made in heaven for sure. I love the Archer Farms pancake/waffle mixes because they have the best flavors, especially seasonal kinds. My personal fave is the double chocolate peppermint (I’ll be making those over Thanksgiving break!) but pumpkin is awesome-sauce too. I also added a scoop of vanilla protein powder, to up the protein a little and use up the powder. They turned out really good but sadly, there weren’t that many of them. The amount I used only made 15 mini pancakes, so everyone got 3 (and I froze 3 for myself for later…shhhhh!)

Pancake batttttttah 😉

Just 3 ingredients: pumpkin pancake mix, mini chocolate chips and vanilla protein powder. Oh, and water of course!

My dad and I ventured out to (where else?) Whole Foods. Knowing us, we also made stops at Sunflower Market and Albertson’s. Gotta stock up on food, ya know? I got bunches of yummy stuff from WF, including some new things you’ll hopefully be seeing on this bloggie soon, like purple cauliflower and dried figs. Love that store. At Sunflower, I basically took their entire bar selection 😉 Just kidding, but I got soooooo many bars, like my newly beloved Clif Mojo white chocolate macadamia, Clif Kid Z-Bar full moon brownie and Pure orange cranberry. That is literally the only store near me that has that flavor of Pure bars and Clif Mojo bars, so I gotta get ’em where I can.

I may love the chocolate and PB Puffins even more than the PB!

Back at home I had a super late lunch and then got to work roasting my pumpkin seeds. You know the seeds are the best part, right? Of course they are. I decided to stray from the usual spice combinations and make a spicy-sweet kind. I found the recipe from here and they turned out better than I thought. I made a few tweaks though based on what I had on hand: I used Eggbeaters egg sub in place of the egg white, I used raw sugar instead of cane sugar and I used crushed red pepper flakes instead of cayenne pepper. They still ended up amazing, with just enough sweetness and heat.

So. Flippin'. Addicting.

Dinner turned out to be an (almost) family affair. My dad and I really wanted to try grilling eggplant and brussels sprouts so we fired up the grill for those. Meanwhile, my mom made dinner for the rest of the fam (minus me) while I cooked up a couple of Gardein meatless nuggets at the last minute. My sister, the only non-cook in the house, was of course the only one who didn’t participate but it was still fun. I miss being in the kitchen with everyone. It’s just such a fun, lively atmosphere. Anyways, dinner turned out great, especially the grilled veggies. I’ve had grilled eggplant before, but I’ve never done it myself and it turned out amazing. Same with the brussels sprouts. The outsides got nice and crispy and the insides were warm and smooth. So. Darn. Delicious.

Would you like a little fake chicken with your veggies?

I love how pink this raspberry cappuccino smoothie is!

The rest of the night was spent watching-slash-making-fun-of a really lame infomercial on 70s music, my dad helping me with stats (beeteedubs, I absolutely HATE stats with a passion, so this sucked but was also super helpful), me learning to enjoy hot tea (my mom got some Celestial Seasonings candy cane and sugar cookie tea bags, and they totally transformed me into being a hot tea lover) and watching reruns of SNL. I ended up staying up pretty late but it was so worth it.

Mmmmmmm, I'm such a sucker for all things seasonal!

I love this mug (please ignore all the random crap in the background).

Sunday, as usual, was pretty chill. Enjoying breakfast with the fam, reading the Sunday newspaper, packing up my stuff, lunch, hanging out with my sister and finally having to drive back up to school. I always hate Sundays on weekends I’m at home because it means I have to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I like school and my dorm and all, but I just really cherish the weekends I spend at home and it sucks when they’re over. They always seem to go by way too fast 😦 Back up in good old FoCo, my mom and I stopped for more groceries (I couldn’t live with nut butter, of course!) but sadly, I’ll have to be sweet potato-less for the next two weeks ’cause we couldn’t find them anywhere. We also stopped for dinner at a new-to-us place, HuHot Express. We went to HuHot once for my dad’s birthday, but this one was slightly different because it’s not all-you-can-eat. But I ended up loving what I got here better than at the regular place. I got rice noodles topped with shrimp, fresh jalapeno (spicy is where it’s at), edamame, spinach and what was called a Mongol mustard sauce. It was really delish, a little spicy, and not too overwhelming. I ended up mostly just eating the shrimp and veggies, but I would totally get it again. But the real star was the super-cool, high-tech soda machine. It had a touch screen menu so you could mix and match between all kinds of sodas and juices. Normally, I don’t drink soda but I had to try this. I got diet orange Coke mixed with diet vanilla Coke–it was like an orange creamsicle! Have you guys ever seen one of these machines? They are le-git!

Overnight oats in a jar! I basically just saved this jar and keep reusing it. Cookies 'n cream overnighters, frozen raspbs, spicy veggie sausage. Breakfast of champions right thurrrr!

I love tempeh bacon. And apples. And sriracha. Oh, and cold brussels sprouts. Don't judge me 😀

Of course, it was sad to say goodbye to such a fun-filled weekend, but Thanksgiving break is in less than 3 weeks–wooooohooooo 😀 You know I’m looking forward to 9 days away from school!

What was the best thing you did or ate this weekend? Do you like roasted pumpkin seeds?