Meal Prep Monday

Remember my ‘vegan on a budget’ posts from last year and earlier this year? I was planning on bringing them back once school started back up in the fall but it’s been…3 months since school started and I haven’t done one of those posts yet. Oops. Anyways, it’s a little late to do them again now since I only have 4 more weeks left, including finals! Crazy talk.

I’ve still been keeping up with my grocery budgeting and meal prepping, though, and I wanted to showcase a little of that, especially because I did a LOT of it this weekend. I managed to spend under $70 total for the week at 3 different grocery stores, which is way better than I was doing last semester, and I’ve been loving my long weekends (I only have classes Monday through Thursday, so 3 days weekends every week for this girl…enjoying them while they last!) because they give me plenty of time to go shopping and get my food prep done for the week. Taking an almost full course load means that I don’t have a ton of time during the week to do this, so it’s a blessing to have 3 days to catch up on stuff, including prepping my meals.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen lately!

Groceries

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

Sprouts and Natural Grocers mini-haul.

I wasn’t planning on going to Sprouts this weekend, but when my friend said she needed to swing by there for a few things, I decided to tag along. I ended up getting some cheap organic Pink Lady apples (my favorite kind), Ataulfo mangoes (also my favorite) and Medjool dates. All for under $10. Afterwards I stopped at Natural Grocers, mostly because they’re the only store in my area that carries black bean pasta, which is a new high-protein staple for me. Unfortunately, they were all out but I still ended up buying a few things I needed wanted, like my favorite Hail Merry miracle tart, xylitol-sweetened gum, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seed butter–for under $15.

Whole Foods produce...

Whole Foods produce…

...and pantry staples.

…and pantry staples.

Whole Foods is a given, but luckily it hasn’t been a budget breaker lately. I’ve been able to spend under $50 there consistently if I also shop at another store, and I only spend around $60 if that’s the only place I shop for the week. I can’t complain! This week I bought two more expensive items (the stevia-sweetened chocolate chips and Skinnycrisps) but the chocolate chips were on sale and the Skinnycrisps I hadn’t had in months and I wanted to bring them home to have over Thanksgiving break. I was planning on buying Tessemae’s BBQ sauce (sweetened only with dates!) so I could make this ‘pulled’ BBQ cauliflower but they were all out so I just had to nix that recipe for this week. As usual, I got a ton of produce (bananas, pomegranates and persimmons on sale, romaine hearts, lime, cilantro, Hannah yams) and some other things I needed for recipes like organic peanuts from the bulk section (on sale!), raisins and yeast. And of course, a few Larabars for quick snacks during the week. This was all just under $45, score!

Meals

Some of these things I made before I did my grocery shopping, so I was kinda using up some things and getting creative. I ran out of nut butter on Wednesday I think so that was fun trying to find other fat sources in my pantry. It was nice to finally restock and have more fruit and snack-y stuff again.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut 'bacon', pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

Raw protein bowl for breakfast on Saturday. Garden of Life RAW Marley coffee protein powder+coconut flour+almond milk base, topped with homemade raw coconut ‘bacon’, pomegranate seeds and a little chia ginger rawnola.

I already plowed through one of the Garden of Life protein powder tubs my dad bought me late last month and I’m onto the second. I definitely recommend this brand, especially their new coffee flavor (it’s only available at Whole Foods right now, though)–decent consistency, especially mixed with coconut flour, and great stats for a raw protein powder.

Lettuce wraps...for breakfast?

Lettuce wraps…for breakfast?

This was another recent breakfast, when I ran out of bananas so I couldn’t have my usual banana ‘softserve’, which is what I have like 90% of the time. Instead, I took some romaine hearts and filled them with dates, raisins and the last of my PB. The date/lettuce combo is seriously killer! I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good. I also had some Garden of Life protein powder mixed with almond milk on the side.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Salad with romaine, leftover black bean spaghetti, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and sauerkraut.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Random black bean and kelp noodle bowl with cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade pumpkin curry sauce.

Before my grocery trips this weekend, my lunches were getting pretty random. I was basically throwing together some leftovers, like the black bean noodles and pumpkin curry sauce, with some add-ins like pomegranate seeds and sauerkraut. These lunches were actually really tasty and filling–I just love the sweet and salty combos!

Oh She Glows' Thai veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Oh She Glows’ Thai sweet potato veggie burger on top of spinach, topped with sunflower seed butter+coconut aminos, peanuts, cilantro and mango. Side of roasted cauliflower.

Finally a more put-together meal! This was my take on Angela’s Thai-style veggie burger. I made a few changes to it though–I nixed the oats in favor of almond flour to make it grain free, I didn’t really measure anything, I only added in the spices/veggies that I had on hand like curry powder and cilantro and I topped mine with a sunflower seed butter sauce. These were pretty crumbly, but the flavor was spot-on and definitely the best homemade veggie burger I’ve ever had! I’m looking forward to leftovers all week..

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Pomegranate seeds are well worth the work and the mess.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

Sometimes simple desserts are the best. Like these stevia-sweetened chocolate fruit & nut clusters.

As for the rest of meal prep, I cut up and stored the 2 organic pomegranates I scored at Whole Foods for just $2.50 (they were on sale 4 for $5)–always messy work but I’m obsessed with pomegranates so it’s all good–made another batch of homemade sweet potato fries out of one of the Hannah yams I bought, made some more PB&J bites and some healthy ‘rice krispies’ (cacao brown rice cereal made with coconut sugar+sunflower seed butter+1 tbsp maple syrup+1 scoop protein powder+some almond milk made into bars) to use up some brown rice cereal I had and I also made the chocolate-covered fruit and nut clusters above. It’s so simple it doesn’t even really need a recipe, and I have no idea where I came up with it, but it’s basically raw mixed nuts (mine were from Whole Foods) and raisins topped with the Lily’s stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips and set in the freezer to harden. I used the stevia chocolate so these would be sugar free, but feel free to use whatever dark chocolate you have on hand. These are really good, and they’d be the perfect simple holiday dessert, maybe made more festive with dried cranberries instead of raisins and peppermint-flavored dark chocolate?

Do you like to do meal prep on the weekends? What are some of your recent favorite food finds?

.

 

My Ode to the Whole Foods Salad Bar

If you’ve been reading AlmostVegGirlie for awhile, you’ll know that I have an unhealthy obsession with the Whole Foods salad bar. I first discovered it in July 2011–even though there’s been a Whole Foods in my city for years, I had never ventured to the salad bar side of the store. I fell in love at first bite, and the rest is history. Actually, after my first time trying it, I didn’t get it again for 7 months. But once this summer hit, I’ve been getting my salad bar fix on the reg (probably once or twice a month) and each box is totally worth it.

Some of my favorite salad bar creations, in collage form.

Some of my favorite salad bar creations, in collage form.

Dear Whole Foods Salad Bar, 

When I first met you, I had high expectations

I hoped you’d be delicious, and you were.

We didn’t meet again for many months

And I missed you every day

But now we’re reunited

And I won’t forget about you again.

I love your variety, your tasty flavors

You always have plenty of vegan options

You’re my favorite place to eat.

You have my old favorites

But there’s always something new to discover

And that’s why I love you…

Even though you cost 5 or 6 bucks

It’s a love affair that’s worth every cent 

 

Boy was that cheesy or what 😉 Obviously I have a scary addiction to it, but there are definitely worse things to be addicted to.

Other than that lame poem (that didn’t even rhyme), I wanted to share some of my tips for Whole Foods salad bar picking and some of my favorites.

Tips

  • If you want to save money, only put one or two heavier items in your box. They charge by pound (the bars by me charge $7.99 per pound) so you’ll want to load up on lighter weight items if you’re going for a cheaper meal.
  • Read the ingredients. If you have an allergy, intolerance or dietary preference, the salad bar will be your savior. They have cards out above each item listing all the ingredients in it, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
  • Try new things. I have a few favorites I always get, but when I see something new and interesting, I usually put a little of it in my box. That way, if it isn’t great, I won’t have wasted valuable box space. But if it is good, then you’ll have a new favorite!
  • Go to different Whole Foods. If you have more than one in your area, I would highly recommend trying out different stores to see which one has the best salad bar variety. The Whole Foods I shop the most at at home has the best salad bar options, while the one in my college town is more hit-or-miss. And go on different days, too, since they usually switch up items a lot from day to day or week to week.

Favorites

  • Maple glazed sweet potato chunks. I can’t remember the exact name of these, but it’s big chunks of sweet potatoes in a lightly sweet sauce with bell peppers and currants. It’s one of my “heavy item” splurges.
  • Homemade wheat tortilla chips. I generally don’t eat wheat products on a daily basis because I feel better without it, but these chips are definitely worth it. They’re so fresh and thick and salty and delicious.
  • Guacamole. Whole Foods makes the best guac, period.
  • Coconut curry tofu. They also make the best tofu. This version is great, creamy without the dairy and a bit spicy.
  • Superfood salad. This combines so many superfoods in one–kale, cashews, blueberries and acai dressing.
  • California quinoa salad. I have yet to recreate this one but I really need to. It’s red quinoa, edamame, flaked coconut, mango and bell pepper in a really good light dressing.
  • Marinated artichokes. I love artichoke hearts anyway, but these are totally craveable.

Have you ever eaten the Whole Foods salad bars? What’s your favorite item there?

Vegan MoFo: Sweet & Salty Squash Seeds

You know something’s good when you can’t stop eating it straight out of the oven!

If you’ve ever roasted your own pumpkin seeds before, you know how addictingly delicious they are. They’re almost impossible to screw up (seriously, even burned ones taste good) and they’re incredibly customizable. And they’re a fall tradition in my family. Every year around Halloween, we’d carve giant pumpkins and set them outside with candles inside. But before we could carve them, we had to gut them first. Kinda gross, but the reward was the tons of seeds we’d find inside. We’d set them out on plates overnight to dry and then the next day my mom would roast them in a secret blend of spices that tasted amazing together.

It’s not quite Halloween yet, but I was still in the mood for some roasted seeds…without all the pumpkin guts. When I bought a carnival squash the other day to roast, I realized it came with a bunch of seeds. Um, light bulb moment–I could try roasting squash seeds! Squash seeds are generally smaller than pumpkin seeds, but that means that they take less time to roast and are easier to remove from the squash. But they taste just as good, if not better, than pumpkin seeds. I decided to go with a sweet and salty take for this batch, and of course they’re vegan as all my recipes are. But they’re also much healthier than typical roasted seed recipes that call for lots of oil or butter and sugar. A little goes a long way in this recipe, but the end product is worth eating straight off the pan.

Told you I ate some of them straight off the pan!

Sweet & Salty Squash Seeds (vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)

seeds from 1 squash (or multiple squashes, if you want to make more)

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp coconut oil

sprinkle sea salt, to taste

In a bowl, mix the seeds, maple  syrup and coconut oil until seeds are sticky and coated. Sprinkle sea salt on top and taste to make sure it has the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, making sure the sugar doesn’t burn too much (full disclosure: mine did, but they still taste great). Remove from oven and let cool (or just eat right away!) and store in a plastic bag. Makes about 1/4 to 1/3 cup seeds.

This is another small batch recipe, just because squashes don’t produce many seeds but you can always use seeds from more squashes and just up the amount of maple syrup and coconut oil you use. These seeds have just enough natural sugar and salt to taste amazing but aren’t loaded down with unhealthy ingredients. Plus squash seeds, like pumpkin seeds, are full of healthy plant-based fats, so eat up!

Do you like to roast pumpkin seeds? What is your favorite flavor combo (like sweet & salty, etc.)?

Thanks for all your amazing comments on my last post! I think it’s cool that you think it’s cool that I’m on TV 😀

WIAW: “Normal” Eating

This WIAW will be more ED focused than most of them, but I’ve got a few fun things to share so hopefully that’ll make up for the more serious talk!

So remember way back when (aka March) when I talked about how I was fed up with how much I was restricting? And I mentioned in other posts after that one about how I was working on making changes. Well…honestly…that didn’t happen. I didn’t make much of an effort to increase my eats, other than an extra handful of something here and there. I didn’t really make a conscious effort at all until…well, a couple of days ago. Okay, so it really started a few weeks back but lately I’ve been making big strides in eating more. And not only eating more, but feeling okay and ‘safe’ with it. Safe was one of the words my ED used to justify restriction–it felt safe and ‘normal’ to me. But now that I’ve seen the light, and realized I can eat way more and not balloon out of control well…I’m kinda saying goodbye to ED.

I know I still need to increase more. 2000+ calories seems to be the magic number for a lot of people. I’m fairly active, between walking to classes and doing daily full body workouts. But I’m also a small girl and I’m thinking I probably need fewer calories than somebody taller or wither a bigger build. But I know that what I’m eating now, even though it’s more than I was eating for too many months, still isn’t quite enough.

Anyways, enough of the chit chat. Let’s see how I’ve been normalizing my eating, and what better time to do it than WIAW?

Just as good as it looks, and so easy to make!

Yes, I made this. And yes, I also have been eating it. What exactly is it? It’s coconut whipped ‘cream’, completely vegan and totally yum. I followed Angela’s method, using a little bit of maple syrup and peppermint extract to sweeten it up. While mine didn’t turn out as fluffy as hers (maybe my canned coconut milk had a defect?) it is still delicious, creamy and crave-worthy. I’ve been enjoying a spoonful here and there and enjoying my new found love of coconut.

Another Whole Foods salad bar box? #sorryimnotsorry

This isn’t anything new…oh, wait, actually it kinda is! It was my first time trying beets (they had them in raw form at the salad bar) and I’m officially a fan. I’m also apparently a fan of veggies dipped in a big dollop of fresh guac and dumping tons of pumpkin seeds on my salad. Embrace the fats, people. So good.

Tall iced Americano. With 2 pumps pumpkin spice syrup and a splash of u/s vanilla almond milk. Welcome, fall.

It sure didn’t feel fall-like on Monday when I stopped into Starbucks for this new-to-me drink. But it totally got me in the mood for it. I finally gave in and tried the pumpkin spice syrup that everyone raves about. I took home my pumpkin-spiked Americano and added in some vanilla almond milk (seriously, Sbux, why don’t you have this?) It was good, but not amazing. I guess I’m more of a peppermint mocha kinda girl.

Disclaimer: not taken while actually driving.

Guys, I’m sorry. But I’m officially addicted to the ‘driving selfie’. Except I always take them in the parking lot, or mayyyyyybe at a stop light if I’m feeling rebellious 😉 I just like making goofy faces and seeing the reaction of my fellow drivers.

This meal made me a tofu lover. Mixed greens/broc slaw with raspberry acai vinaigrette. Curry spiked ketchup. Tofu “fingers”. Alexia chipotle sweet potato fries.

I was never a big fan of tofu. Yes, I know I’m a crazy vegan, but it’s true. I would eat it sometimes, but never loved it. All that changed when I made Angela’s tofu nuggets over the weekend. They were crazy good on their own. But they were even better dipped in ketchup. Oh yeah, now I also like ketchup too. I found an organic brand with only 2 grams of sugar, and it’s pretty good.

This truly was a bowl of decadence, and I enjoyed every bite.

My nightly snacks are taking on a different look lately. I don’t go for cereal much anymore. Instead, I like a bunch of different flavors and textures in one bowl. Enter, this bowl of healthy vegan decadence. Healthy, because the base was a protein microwave cake, made with a plant-based protein powder, some flax and almond milk. Decadent, because it was topped with a spoonful of Whole Foods vegan chocolate mousse (just a few healthful ingredients, but tastes so rich), Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream, semisweet chocolate chips and a little of the mint coconut whipped ‘cream’. Yeah, this was just as good as it sounds and looks. I think I’ll be repeating this soon.

So close to 90,000 miles! Alejandro and I will have to throw a party when that happens.

Contrary to what Alejandro’s odometer says, he’s only 4 years old. That’s kind of a lot of miles for that few years, but a lot of long distance driving was done in Alejandro before my parents let me have him. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, Alejandro’s my car, a super hot red Hyundai Santa Fe. I’m not totally crazy, promise.

Leftover tofu fingers with ketchup. Kale massaged with nooch and lemon juice. Fresh figs. Almond peanut cashew butter mixed with maple syrup and chocolate chips.

This was a lunch, but it’s a lot like my typical snackplates. What can I say, I love variety! My lunches lately have been more substantial, incorporating veggies, protein (usually edamame or my favorite protein powder) and fat (usually nut butter).

Breakfast is getting more delicious! Chocolate mint kale protein smoothie topped with mint coconut whipped ‘cream’ and chocolate chips.

Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? Okay, this wasn’t quite dessert, since it incorporated greens and protein (but I don’t exactly shy away from those things in my desserts) but the addition of the whipped ‘cream’ definitely took it over the top. And this pudding like breakfast packed 20 grams of protein, plus kale! Who wouldn’t go for that?

Sweet and salty kale salad–kale massaged with lemon juice and nooch, kalamata olives, strawberries, figs and dry-roasted edamame. Half sweet potato topped with maple-infused almond peanut cashew butter. Pumpkin spice iced Americano.

Coffee at lunch…why not? But let’s talk about this salad for a second–so good. I always love sweet and salty combos, and this was just amazing for a random mix. The sweet potato was great too. But that’s a given.

Do you like sweet and salty salad combos? Did you try anything new (food related or not) over the weekend?

This or That

By now you probably all know that I’m a sucker for surveys. Anytime I see one on someone’s blog, I just have to do it. It makes for an easy post idea (lazy alert!) and it’s just plain fun. This latest survey is health and fitness related, which is perfect!

Run/work out in the heat and humidity or freezing temps and snow?

Well, considering I’ve only ever lived in Arizona and Colorado, I basically have no experience with extreme humidity. The rare few days that it gets up to 50% humidity after a thunderstorm are pure torture for me 😛 However, I hate the cold and specifically snow even more, so I have to go with heat. When I play tennis, I’d much rather be sweating like crazy because it’s 90+ degrees instead of bundled up trying to ignore the crazy winds and blowing snow. I once played tennis outside in November and it wasn’t the best idea…

Have washboard abs or flat abs?

I kind of already have flat-ish abs, depending on if I’ve eaten recently or not, but I would kinda like them to be flat all the time no matter what. Washboard abs take a lot of work and discipline and while I’d be willing to work for them, there’s just some things I don’t want to give up to get them, like dark chocolate and coconut milk ice cream!

Dr. Oz or The Doctors?

I actually kinda hate Dr. Oz because he tries to make people scared of certain things, like one episode he said taking a shower is unsanitary, and stuff like that. I just started watching The Doctors last year from time to time and I actually like the show. It’s cool how they all have different areas of expertise and they cover so many topics in one episode.

Cardio or Strength?

This is so bad, but I basically do no strength training, aside from things like planks and ab workouts. I’m a cardio girl all the way!

Do water balloon fights count as cardio?!

Cravings: protein or carbs?

Let’s be real…I almost never crave protein. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some protein sources I love, like Plant Fusion protein powder, tempeh and edamame, but I don’t exactly crave them. I do, however, crave carbs often–what can I say, I’m a carbavore! But I do stick with the healthier carbs, like whole grains and fruits/veggies and it seems to work for me.

Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper?

Jillian! She’s so bad ass and I love her no-nonsense approach to fitness. I wish I could be as tough as she is!

Frozen yogurt or ice cream?

I used to be such a huge fan of froyo, but since I’ve been more devoted to veganism, I rarely get it because the places I go to only ever have one or two nondairy flavors. When I get froyo, I only ever top it with fresh fruit but I’m not as obsessed with it as I used to be. Now I’m in love with high quality, coconut or almond milk based vegan ice creams. They cost about $5 for a pint but they’re worth the splurge a couple times per month, plus they last me so long because they’re so much more filling than froyo.

I really love the Nadamoo! brand of vegan ice cream!

To train: upper body or lower body?

Since I don’t do much strength training, I can’t really answer this. But I do know that I feel awesome after a yoga or plank session when my arms feel all weak!

Protein powder or food with protein?

Let me preface this by saying I only use protein powders that are totally plant-based, with as few ingredients as possible and no soy. With that said, I prefer protein powder. I love that I can be eating a sweet treat while still getting in quality protein. I use it in so many things, from smoothies to protein frosting to baked goods. I like some sources of whole foods protein, but protein powder is a lifesaver for me!

I’m in love with protein waffles (and protein powder frosting-topped waffles!)

Lunges or squats?

Lunges! I don’t know why, they’re just fun.

Sweet or salty?

I really love the two together. Lately I’ve been loving the combo of almond peanut cashew butter, real maple syrup and chocolate chips! I usually go for just sweet though.

Workout attire: cute or comfy?

Cute for sure. Of course I want to be comfortable, but I don’t feel comfortable if I’m wearing something I don’t love. So cuteness always has to come first for me.

My typical cute-ish and comfy workout outfit.

Body Pump or Heavy Lifting?

I haven’t done either, but I’ll go with heavy lifting because I know so many people have good results with it.

Yoga or Pilates?

Are you kidding me? Yoga! I still really need to go to a hot yoga class though…

Nike or Adidas?

Nike!

Running on the treadmill or outdoors?

I’m not big into running, but I have to say treadmill. That way, I can read a magazine or whatever and I probably won’t end up tripping!

Whole Foods or Trader Joes?

I wish I could actually choose between them, but TJs is nowhere near me, like literally none within 200 miles of where I live! However, Whole Foods is really awesome and I don’t even mind the high prices most of the time. They have so many of my fave products!

Who can pass up the delicious salads at the Whole Foods hot and cold bars? Not this girl!

Summer or winter Olympics?

Summer, definitely. A lot of years they happen during my birthday (this year they started on my birthday), which is awesome and I love so many of the summer Olympics sports.

Exercise classes or exercise videos?

Classes. I love working out alone sometimes but with other people it’s ten times more fun.

Steamed veggies or roasted veggies?

Roasted, but I actually prefer grilled over either of those!

 

 

Answer any of the questions above!

WIAW: Snack Talk

July’s almost over and I haven’t even done a WIAW post that really fits with the theme for this month…sorry to disappoint, but this one doesn’t either! Oh well, I play by my own rules 😉

As you can probably guess by the title, this WIAW is all about snacking. I am big on snacks and have at least 2 per day, along with little bites and tastes of fruit and nuts here and there. I can’t do the 3 square meals a day because I get full fast but I also get hungry fast so my 5 meals a day are all fairly small and snack-sized but that’s what works for me. And I love getting to eat a little bit of a bunch of things rather than one big thing so snacks are perfect! These are some of the snacks I’ve been enjoying this week…

One of my favorite new finds: Alter Eco dark chocolate with quinoa crisps.

Chocolove used to be my favorite chocolate brand because of all their creative flavors, like ginger dark chocolate and chilies and cherries in dark chocolate. But once I discovered Alter Eco chocolate, I’m not planning on going back to Chocolove. For one thing, Alter Eco’s chocolate is organic and fair trade. But it also tastes richer and more like chocolate. Oh, and it comes in a quinoa crisp-studded flavor. Yeah, it’s like those chocolates with rice crisps in it, but way better. Quinoa may seem weird in chocolate but it so works!

Nothing better than fresh mango!

I didn’t eat this bad boy all at once, but I probably could have. I love the juiciness of a ripe mango and don’t really care how messy and sticky it is, it’s just so damn good. They’re so hard for me to cut, but it’s well worth the deliciousness.

Homemade trail mix: dry roast edamame, freeze-dried mango, pistachios and mini chocolate chips.

I’m a trail mix lover for sure. What I don’t love is the price–store-bought trail mix is pretty pricey and not always tasty. That’s why I like to make my own because I can put only the stuff I like in it and it’s cheaper to buy all the ingredients I need in bulk. That’s a win win in my book.

Outfit break! Red flutter-sleeve shirt (American Eagle), aqua cami (Aeropostale), denim cuffed shorts (Abercrombie Kids).

I always say that I don’t really have a set style. It’s kind of a mix of girlie, preppy and boho but it’s all me. This outfit was more on the breezy, boho side. I bought this top a couple summers ago and I love it. I don’t have a lot of red in my closet but some days I like wearing the color if I’m feeling really bold and fun.

Nighttime snack: vegan chocolate chip cookie, Nadamoo mint chip coconut milk ice cream.

I recently discovered Nadamoo and their coconut milk ice creams and I can’t get enough of them. So far I’ve had the maple pecan, java crunch and now the mint chip. My favorite is hands-down the mint chip. Everyone has a favorite ice cream or froyo flavor that they go back to over and over and mine is anything pairing mint and chocolate. The coconut milk ice cream version is super creamy and reminds me of Christmas because it’s more pepperminty but I love it. And I love that it’s colored slightly green by spirulina instead of artificial colors!

Who said vegans couldn’t have maple bacon waffles?

This wasn’t a snack, but I just had to share it. I have no idea where I came up with this waffle flavor, but I realized I had a package of smart bacon in my fridge and wanted to experiment with it. I’m not the hugest fan of it because it’s pretty processed, despite being low in calories and stuff, but it does taste good when it’s crisped up in the microwave. I decided to put it in a waffle and this sweet and salty combo was born. It was actually decent, but next time I’d drizzle more maple syrup on top. Oh, and I’m a huge fan of real, pure maple syrup. None of that low-cal, fake syrup stuff for me!

What’s your favorite frozen dessert flavor? What’s the weirdest waffle or pancake flavor you’ve ever seen?

WIAW: Staples and Goals

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s also Lady Gaga’s birthday…can you tell I’m obsessed 😀 Ummmm yeah, so it’s also almost April and Easter–crazy stuff! In just a little over a month, I’ll be done with my sophomore year of college. I think my mom was right in saying that time flies by once you’re an ‘adult’–I still don’t feel like an adult, but I’m already going to be turning 20 in 4 months. Wow, where’d my childhood go?

Instead of reminiscing, let’s take a look at this week’s meals. With the change of seasons, extra daylight and amazing weather, I’ve been changing up my eats somewhat lately so I want to share some of my latest staples, plus an update of the goals I made for March.

Voluminous overnight oats topped with pretzel sticks, peanut flour paste, kettle corn, raisins and drizzle raw honey.

Okay, so overnight oats have been a staple in my life since last summer, but lately I’ve been loving on the sweet and salty combo. My go-to toppings are crushed pretzel sticks, almond peanut cashew butter, raisins and a little raw organic honey. I mixed it up on Monday when my peanut flour order came in (I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the package in the mail–can you say addicted?) by subbing PF paste for the nut butter and also adding in a little Whole Foods kettle corn. So. Good.

It looks like soda, but it's not and it's wayyyyy better!

I’ve professed my love for Starbucks’ unsweetened iced coffee a lot lately–but can you blame me? It’s just so refreshing! Now, I’m not hardcore enough to be able to drink it sans any sweetener–I just bring my own Truvia packets and stir away. That way, I can control the sweetness and it’s a natural sweetener so it’s healthier. My former favorite summer drink from the ‘bucks was their light Frapps, but this may be my new drink for the warmer months.

Fresh spinach and red cabbage salad topped with crumbled southwestern Sunshine burger and vegan Caesar dressing.

Usually my dorm room meals are sadly lacking in the veggie department. I usually have some baby carrots and edamame stocked in the fridge, and sweet potatoes of course, but I rarely have greens. After spring break, I had some leftover spinach, so I decided to bring it back up with me. Best decision ever! Now I’ve been able to enjoy a salad for dinner some nights. I’ve been really loving topping the spinach with a crumbled veggie burger. I haven’t had a Sunshine burger in several months but my mom happened to leave me some so I was able to have them again. I think they’re becoming my go-to veggie burger brand, because of how simple yet nutrient-packed they are.

Return of the snack plate: crushed Late July chips (summertime blues and sea salt by the seashore), Whole Foods kettle corn, raw kale chip crumbs, dried fruit (mango, pineapple, raisins and stuffed date), vegan pepperoni slices.

I rediscovered my obsession with snack plates over spring break, and I brought it back with me to school. Lately, I’ve been having combos similar to the one above. They’re the perfect snack for an indecisive person like me. I just love having a variety of flavors and textures to choose from.

Why didn't I try this earlier?

My bar obsession is still going strong. My current favorites are the Clif Mojo white chocolate macadamia trail mix bar, KIND peanut butter & strawberry bar, Pure chocolate brownie bar…and Larabars? Yes, I actually just tried my first one yesterday and wow! Why have I never tried these before? I love that they have so few ingredients, yet taste exactly what they’re named for. I guess I never tried them because of their low protein content (this flavor has 5 grams, though, and a few others have 6 grams, which is decent) and their high calories/fat. Since I’m working on feeling safer with higher calorie and fat things as long as they’re healthful, I decided to buy one, specifically the cappuccino flavor since I love anything coffee-flavored. It was perfect, especially paired with some dark chocolate chips! Now I can’t wait to try more Larabar flavors. I’m addicted!

Lovin' on the bright colors: belted coral ruffled tank (Hollister), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), jeggings (American Eagle), various bracelets.

Not a food staple, obviously, but with spring and the warm weather, I’ve been really loving wearing brighter colors. I am not someone to shy away from color, even in the winter, but spring and summer bring out the color-lover in me even more. I love how the tank top pops against the dark jeans, and coordinates nicely with the scarf.

Now onto the goal updating. I actually think I did pretty well with most of them, and it inspired me to make a few more for April!

  • Eat more veggies: Check! This WIAW doesn’t showcase many, but I definitely got in my veggies  a lot over spring break, and have been doing pretty well with my limited groceries back at school. Some of the veggies I’ve been enjoying include spinach, kale chips, yams, carrots, red cabbage and grilled asparagus. I’m excited to eat my veggie quota again during the summer!
  • Summer internship: I’m happy to announce that I landed an internship with a TV station back at home. I’m super excited to start working and it’ll be a great opportunity. It’s unpaid, of course, but amazing work experience.
  • Cook more: I definitely accomplished this over spring break. Of course, it’s basically impossible to cook while at school since all I have is a microwave, but I’ve been making do. When I was home for break, I made quite a few things and even shared 4 new recipes.
  • Budgeting: This was one area I didn’t really do too well on. I got paid right before spring break, and all I could think of doing was going on a major clothes shopping spree. So that’s what I did, and while I don’t regret it, I wish I had planned out my spending more wisely. I also really need to work on my grocery shopping budget, since I’ll be doing more of that myself next semester and I need to not blow all my money at Whole Foods Paycheck.
  • Avoid food ruts: Spring break helped me do this, since I had so many more food options, but I’m still doing well with this goal even with fewer groceries at my disposal.

With my success at goal-making and accomplishing this month, I wanted to set a couple new ones for next month.

  • Eat more. This goes back to my honest post a couple weeks ago, but it’s something I need to be consciously working on. I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve been making in my ED recovery, so this is a non-negotiable goal. However, it’s still extremely hard. Most days I’m never super-hungry, so it’s difficult to eat more than I have been, but I’ve just gotta buck up and do it.
  • Don’t get burned out. Yes, summer is just around the corner. Yes, finals and final projects are too. I’m in the home stretch, and I can almost taste freedom. However, I’m also starting to get really burned out with school. I need to keep my motivation going for the next few weeks so I can finish this semester out strong.
  • Focus on eating more “whole foods”. Obviously, this doesn’t mean just stuff from Whole Foods, as much as I love that store. I’ve been reading a lot lately on how processed soy products are really not that healthy, and I want to cut them out of my diet. I’m not cutting out soy completely–just the more processed stuff. I’ll still be eating edamame, tempeh, tofu (0n occasion) and Clif Mojo bars, because they’re all either organic or more whole/natural forms of soy and therefore a lot healthier. Yes, things like soy bacon and other fake meats are tasty sometimes, but I’m going to work on finding better, “whole foods” versions to replace them with, like Sunshine burgers which are only made with veggies, seeds, brown rice, beans and spices; and beans, quinoa, etc. I don’t think all processed things are bad, but I’ll be buying things that have as few ingredients as possible, or at least all pronounceable, healthy ingredients.

Do you have any goals for April? What’s one of your food staples right now?