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?

.

 

WIAW: No Filter

No, this title isn’t leading into a post where I just say what I feel without thinking it through. Not that kind of no filter. I’m talking about no Instagram or PicMonkey filter. I’m a sucker for prettying up my photos (which, lets be honest, are 99% of the time taken on my smartphone) but I’m trying to avoid the over-filtering of my photos. So I’m gonna share my original version of photos for this week’s WIAW…well, minus one or two filtered pics that slipped in there!

Breakfast: samoas-inspired chia pudding.

Breakfast: samoas-inspired chia pudding.

Sorry for the chia seed pudding overload lately–I’m not kidding when I say I get into breakfast ruts. First (almost 2 years ago at this point) it was overnight oats, then hot oats, then smoothie bowls, then pancakes, then waffles, now it’s the chia pudding. This version was inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookie (which I don’t think I’ve ever actually had) and made with Sunwarrior vanilla and Vega chocolate protein powders, lucuma powder for a caramel-y accent (my new love!) and topped with coconut, cashew butter (love this stuff) and a crumbled raw chocolate macaroon. This was good stuff.

Friday night sushi with friends. Cucumber maki and sweet potato tempura roll. Demolished.

Friday night sushi with friends. Cucumber maki and sweet potato tempura roll. Demolished.

I actually went out to eat twice this weekend. Both times with friends. This is big for me. I always feel super guilty when I have to eat out twice in a week/weekend, and I still have some anxiety about eating out with friends. But I had so much fun that it was worth it! The food wasn’t too bad either!

Failed recipe: healthy vegan Nutella.

Failed recipe: healthy vegan Nutella.

I’ve honestly never been a fan of Nutella (though Justin’s vegan version is pretty good) but I wanted to try making a healthier, vegan version to see if I’d like it better. It was pretty easy (other than attempting to remove the skins from the hazelnuts, which I eventually gave up on) but didn’t turn out delicious. I blame it on only adding 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Definitely needed more sweetness.

Lunch: spinach salad with homemade cashew cilantro dressing and avocado verde salsa, dry roasted edamame, eggplant 'bacon' and kalamata olives.

Lunch: spinach salad with homemade cashew cilantro dressing and avocado verde salsa, dry roasted edamame, eggplant ‘bacon’ and kalamata olives.

My salad-a-day is still going strong and I’ve been especially loving my latest dressing combo–homemade cashew cilantro dressing and the Wholly Guacamole brand avocado verde salsa I picked up over the weekend. So good, and better than regular old dressing.

Eggplant 'bacon' wrapped date stuffed with cashew 'cream cheese'.

Eggplant ‘bacon’ wrapped date stuffed with cashew ‘cream cheese’.

Speaking of eggplant bacon, this was one of my successful recipe experiments over the weekend. Seriously, so simple but so damn tasty. I wish I had had more than half an eggplant (I used the other half for something else) so I could make a bigger batch. It was especially delicious wrapped around a Medjool date stuffed with homemade cashew cream cheese. Mmmm, I could eat this all day!

Outfit of the day (March 4): pink cropped cardigan (Abercrombie & Fitch), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), pink ruffle tank (Abercrombie Kids), burgundy jeggings (Hollister), unpictured brown riding boots (Macy's).

Outfit of the day (March 4): pink cropped cardigan (Abercrombie & Fitch), pink plaid scarf (American Eagle), pink ruffle tank (Abercrombie Kids), burgundy jeggings (Hollister), unpictured brown riding boots (Macy’s).

I felt like a Valentine when I wore this on Monday, but who cares, I love pink! I’m really excited though for when I can finally wear dresses and skirts without tights–hopefully soon! Spring, come sooner.

Dinner: eggplant muffuletta on grain free bread, unsweetened applesauce, cheezy chipotle kale chips.

Dinner: eggplant muffuletta on grain free bread, unsweetened applesauce, cheezy chipotle kale chips.

Ummm…grain free bread? What is this madness? I will admit that, yes, I need to get over my fear of grains other than buckwheat and quinoa, but on the other hand, I can’t deny my love for coconut flour. And surprise, surprise, it actually makes a decent grain free and vegan bread when combined with a few other ingredients. Yes, it actually held together pretty well even when soaked with kalamata olive relish and baked eggplant, and it tasted a lot like naan after sitting for a few days. Look for a super simple recipe soon!

Another dinner: Thai stuffed sweet potato. Half a large sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and raisins/coconut shreds on one side, coconut cream and raw Thai curry cashews on the other.

Another dinner: Thai stuffed sweet potato. Half a large sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and raisins/coconut shreds on one side, coconut cream and raw Thai curry cashews on the other.

I’m definitely doing a stuffed sweet potato for dinner more often…thanks for the inspiration, Sara! This one was Thai-like, with a peanutty sauce on one side, and curry+coconut on the other. I think I could do a different combo of this every day.

How do you like your sweet potatoes? Did you have a recipe success or failure over the weekend? 

 

WIAW: The Home Stretch

Well, this is (almost) it. Just two more finals, a day and a half and some packing before I don’t have to think about school for 5 weeks! I’ve been excited about Christmas break since at least Thanksgiving break and it’s finally here. This weekend was a little tease though–I went home on Friday and came back last night, mostly so I wouldn’t have to take back a crap ton of things when I drive home on Thursday night but also to be in a better study environment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my one bedroom apartment all to myself but things can get a little cray-cray around the complex on the weekends so I thought it would be better to try to study at home.

Today’s WIAW features my eats from Tuesday–side note, I wasn’t able to snap a picture of dinner, so I’m reusing a similar-looking pic from this summer.

Breakfast: peanut chocolate chia 'pudding' topped with homemade almond flour banana bread and unsweetened coconut shreds.

Breakfast: peanut chocolate chia ‘pudding’ topped with homemade almond flour banana bread and unsweetened coconut shreds.

The pantry has been a little slack-a-lackin’ as of late (wow, did I really just say that?) so I’ve been whipping meals and snacks out of my butt. The microwave at home also just broke (how convenient) so instead of being able to make my usual protein microwave cake, I had to settle for a cold breakfast. Luckily I had some chia seeds on hand so I made a chia pudding overnight made with peanut flour, almond milk and raw chocolate protein powder. In the morning, I topped it with crumbles of an almond flour-based banana bread I made over the weekend (so good, BTW!) and unsweetened shredded coconut. This was actually really good, definite repeat breakfast. I can’t believe I used to hate coconut, it’s such a good topper!

Lunch: homemade sweet potato wedges with organic ketchup for dipping, raw cauliflower, homemade maple cinnamon cashews, peanut flour paste with Theo coconut dark chocolate square.

Lunch: homemade sweet potato wedges with organic ketchup for dipping, raw cauliflower, homemade maple cinnamon cashews, peanut flour paste with Theo coconut dark chocolate square.

The snackplate lunch returns! This was a very random one, but I like random. The sweet potato wedges were made on Monday night and I’ve gotta say, homemade is way better than store bought when it comes to sweet potato fries–I’m baking them myself from now on! The cauliflower is my latest veggie obsession, I always eat it raw and plain, which is totally weird but whatever. It’s good. I made the cashews over the weekend and again, never going back to store bought flavored nuts (ok, I probably will when I’m feeling lazy). I just mixed a tablespoon of maple syrup with a shake of cinnamon and a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan until it started to boil and then stirred in the cashews. This will totally work with all nuts, in case you hate cashews. I don’t love them, but they were all I had on hand and they were good with the maple and cinnamon.

Snack: dried pineapple eaten in the car.

Snack: dried pineapple eaten in the car.

I didn’t eat this entire bag, but I love it so much I could have! This stuff isn’t cheap (~$3.50 per bag) but it’s a pretty good deal for dried fruit with nothing added, and I always make it last almost a week. I only eat dried fruit that doesn’t have added sugars or oils or other crap, and let me tell you, it is beyond amazing! I’m calling it my crack in a bag, it is literally that good.

Dinner: Panera chopped Thai salad, without the chicken or wontons.

Dinner: Panera chopped Thai salad, without the chicken or wontons.

My mom and I grabbed Panera for dinner before she dropped me off. Panera is always a good, quick, healthy option and I pretty much always order the same thing: the Thai chopped salad minus the chicken and the wontons. I love it because A) it’s a huge bowl of fresh veggies and B) it has an addicting spicy-tangy peanut dressing and edamame. I almost went with the black bean soup because it was so cold on Tuesday, but I had to go with my favorite. Never disappoints.

Dessert (left to right clockwise): peanut flour/raw chocolate protein powder microwave cake topped with Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter; raw lemon pie macaroon; a few Vega cocoa-covered saviseeds.

Dessert (left to right clockwise): peanut flour/raw chocolate protein powder microwave cake topped with Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter; raw lemon pie macaroon; a few Vega cocoa-covered saviseeds.

I was feeling indecisive when snack time rolled around (but when am I not?) so I went with a mix of my favorite protein-packed snack of a protein microwave cake and healthy, delicious fats in the form of a raw macaroon and some dark chocolate-covered saviseeds. Those last two items were part of my most recent iHerb purchase, and they were both worth the price. The raw macaroons taste exactly like a lemon pie and are perfectly dense with just a hint of coconut. I love that they’re raw and basically made from coconut, almond flour, maple syrup and lemon juice. My kinda snack. The saviseeds have definitely grown on me–the first time I bit into one, I thought it had the oddest taste, but now they taste almost like what I remember peanut M&Ms tasting like. I’m glad I got the cocoa saviseeds because I have an obsession with all things dark chocolate. It’s a problem.

Have you ever tried a raw macaroon or saviseeds? What’s your favorite dried fruit? 

Almost Wordless Vacation Recap

So I haven’t been on the computer in a week, and it honestly felt so freeing to just forgo technology (well, besides my phone and iPod) and just enjoy a few days of fun with my family. I also had an extra day away because I had to go up to my college town for some job training for my weather anchor position at the school’s TV station. I’m actually starting to get pumped up for school to start in just a week–well, maybe not school but having my own apartment and being on TV.

Anyways, here’s my mostly wordless vacation recap of my trip to Estes Park, CO with some words at the end about my intuitive eating/exercise experiment!

The cheese-free individual-size hummus pizza at Poppy’s…I devoured it all!

The view of Fall River from the condo.

Tanning by the pool.

Noodles in the deep end of the pool.

A mini Stanley Steamer model (steam-powered car) in the EP Museum.

Spicy sweet and sour tofu & veggies at Thai Kitchen…super spicy, but so good!

Sissy time!

The view from our hike around Lily Lake.

Tall iced soy skinny mocha enjoyed by the Big Thompson River.

Some awesomely bright flowers!

First time trying the Coconut Bliss brand of coconut milk ice cream–verdict = so good, even for the insanely high price ($6/pint). I had some chocolate hazelnut ‘ice cream’ topped with fresh raspberries.

The coolest owl cookie jar!

This really cool, super-vintage looking church just outside EP. It was even cooler inside!

The Big Thompson river.

First time trying vegan sushi! I had the sweet potato rolls filled with Japanese sweet potato, avocado and cucumber. And I loved the pickled ginger on the side.

Me and my sister down by the river.

I think I honestly kicked some serious ass on my self-imposed intuitive eating and exercise challenge. I didn’t record any of my meals or exercise in the calorie counting app I have since last Tuesday and I didn’t freak out (too much) about my macro balance. I feel like I ate more than I usually do, which I know is still probably not enough, but it was definitely a start. I feel like my meals out were pretty balanced–the first night, I had a small vegan pizza covered in veggies; the second night I had a Sunshine veggie burger (without the bun) topped with fresh guacamole; the third night I had sweet and sour tofu and veggies with a little brown rice on the side; and the last night I had a strawberry, spinach and walnut salad with balsamic and some vegan sushi. I honestly loved all the dinners that I had and didn’t have too much of a problem finding something healthy and vegan at the restaurants we went to. I challenged myself to try the Coconut Bliss brand of coconut milk ice cream despite it being higher in calories and saturated fat than my tried-and-true brand. I skipped my usual cardio circuits but was not a couch potato–I played tennis with my dad for an hour one day, walked around town a lot, went on a hike and did some swimming in the condo’s pool. I felt a little more comfortable in my skin than I usually do at home, despite wearing just a swimsuit a lot of the time. I tried a lot of new-to-me things, had some old favorites (veggie straws, baby carrots and PB Puffins, say what?!) and didn’t try to think too much about the food. Overall, the 5 days I spent intuitively eating were some of the best days I’ve had in awhile, and I want to try to keep eating the same way. Now that I’m home, I have more access to veggies, protein, etc. but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep eating more adequately and enjoying my food. And while I’m excited to go back to my regular exercise, I realize that a few days with less intense workouts won’t kill me. So I’m going to try to live every day like I did on my vacation–without the pool time, of course 😉

Do you eat intuitively or plan out your meals? Have you ever had vegan or vegetarian sushi?

WIAW: Salads and…Snow?

Happy WIAW…and happy birthday to my lovely madre! She is one lucky lady, having both her birthday and Mother’s Day in the same week. I’m so glad school ended just in time for me to be home to enjoy both days with her.

I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of an entire day’s worth of eats (bad blogger, I know, but it’s just slipped my mind most of the time) so this week’s WIAW is just a random compilation of the best of what I’ve been eating this past week along with a recipe and some new grocery store finds.

Breakfast: overnight oats topped with peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, mashed strawberries and maple macadamias.

This is my new favorite overnight oats combo. Peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, fresh strawberries and maple macadamia nuts are surprisingly yummy together, and taste like summer. The maple macadamia nuts are a new obsession of mine from the Whole Foods bulk section. They are expensive (18 bucks per pounds, yikes) but they’re so worth it.

Lunch: kale wraps with cold grilled tofu strips, sauteed bell peppers and Ginger People hot ginger jalapeno sauce.

Move over, lettuce wraps! Kale wraps are heartier, more nutritious and delicious. One day for lunch I decided I didn’t want a salad but I still wanted to get my greens in. So I took a few heads of kale, partially destemmed them and filled them with leftover fajitas filling, aka grilled tofu strips and sauteed peppers. I drizzled them with my new favorite sauce, and they turned out perfectly spicy and crunchy.

Lunch: chopped kale, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sprinkle of nooch and vegan Caesar dressing thinned with almond milk.

I’ve also been loving raw kale salads for lunch lately. The key is to let the greens soak up the dressing or sauce overnight and marinade with the other ingredients. Oh, and nooch is a necessity for me. This was a Mediterranean inspired salad that I’m definitely repeating. It would be great for dinner bulked up with some chickpeas and kalamata olives.

Lime green striped oversize tee (American Eagle), denim cuffed shorts (Abercrombie Kids).

Can you believe I wore this outfit on a day it snowed? Okay, so I definitely changed into something more weather-appropriate when I had to go out that night to see a performance of Hairspray (really good, BTW) but it’s crazy to think that it didn’t snow at all here in March or April, and then we get dumped on practically in May. What?!

White cardigan (Target), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), navy plaid shorts (Hollister).

I’m not complaining though because after a weekend of rain, light snow and thunder (yeah, Colorado’s weird!) it was back to shorts weather by Monday. I enjoyed a little time outside and did a stairs workout that left me tired (in a good way) and hungry. Running up and down the stairs of my deck was no joke, but it was a fun, heart-pumping workout that I like to do every once in a while to change things up.

My new-to-me Whole Foods finds.

I’m pretty sure I can’t go to Whole Foods without trying out at least one new thing. When I went over the weekend, I hit the mother lode and got mostly all new-to-me things. So far, I’ve tried the quinoa pasta (better than whole wheat or regular), ginger peanut sauce (perfect for Asian dishes), maple macadamias (0b-sessed!), rice cakes (pretty plain but good with toppings), honey vanilla agave (great sub for pancake syrup) and artichoke hearts (basically like any other artichokes, which I love) so I’m excited to try the lemon Larabar, vegan ravioli and pasta sauce.

First Frapp of the summer: tall mocha light with soy and 1 pump raspberry. So effing delicious!

You know me, can’t pass up Starbucks, especially when it’s half price. Sadly, I only got to take advantage of their happy hour once, but I’m glad I did for the deliciousness above. Mocha light Frappuccinos are my absolute favorite, and they get even better with the addition of a pump of raspberry syrup. If you love the chocolate and raspberry combo, order this. Now.

I’m growing my own cilantro!

Get ready for a whole lotta pico de gallo recipes around here…because I officially have my own cilantro plant! My dad’s growing a mint plant so we are definitely stocked up on two of the best herbs. Last summer I grew strawberries and while there weren’t many and they were tiny, it was cool to grow my own stuff. The cilantro already looks pretty healthy and vibrant, so I’m excited.

California Pizza Kitchen’s half Thai Crunch salad without chicken, dressing or wontons…so basically Napa cabbage, carrots, avocado, edamame, peanuts and Ginger People ginger peanut sauce.

I love me some giant salads. I had one on Thursday post-final at Mad Greens with my dad (no picture, but it was spinach/artichoke hearts/kalamata olives/garbanzo beans/sunflower seeds with fat free balsamic) and I had one on Sunday night to celebrate Mother’s Day. We got CPK to-go and I was debating between a veggie pizza without cheese and this salad. Glad I went with the salad, even though there aren’t any leftovers (boo!) We hadn’t eaten at CPK in well over a year and I almost forgot how much I love them and their giant salads. Plus now I know that they’re totally accommodating to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free people and also if you’re picky like me and don’t like wontons or restaurant dressings. I totally demolished this salad and for the record, it took up my entire regular-sized dinner plate. No shame!

Definitely freeze these if you want to be able to eat them whole!

I made raw blondies for the first time last summer and they were definitely a hit…well at least with me, since my family’s wary of trying raw desserts. I made a new and improved version the other day and while they’re crumbly and messy, they’re simple and healthy, with just 4 ingredients.

Raw Amaretto Blondies (vegan, gluten-free, raw)

3 100 calorie pack cinnamon almonds (can use plain almonds)

6 pitted dates (I used California pitted)

1/2 tbsp raw agave nectar (can sub raw honey or real maple syrup)

1 tbsp Vega Vanilla Almondilla protein powder (can use other protein powder but this gives it the amaretto flavor)

Blend almonds and dates in food processor or high powered blender until mostly combined and crumbly. Add in agave and protein powder until mixed in. Pack blondie mixture into a square glass dish and keep frozen (so the blondies don’t crumble). Makes 4 blondies.

Have you ever tried quinoa pasta? What’s your favorite “special” nut?

Saturday Seven: Home Sweet Home

Well, by the title of my post I’m pretty sure you can guess that I’m home 😀 I have been since about 9 on Thursday night and I’ve had so much fun so far! I’ll explain this in my Saturday Seven, so let’s do it to it (sorry I’m such a dork 😉 )

1. I can’t wait to wear these booties!

I am ob-sessed with these!

Ever since I bought my brown tall boots I’ve been totally head-over-heels (haha, get it?) in love with boots of all kinds. And I’ve had my heart set on these Aldo Pirnie booties in particular since earlier this fall. When my grandpa sent me an Amazon gift card for an early Christmas present, and I saw they had these boots for $28, I snapped them up. They came on Tuesday, and they were probably the reason I was most excited to come home (just kidding!) I finally got to try them on on Thursday night and they fit perfectly and look super adorable. The only problem is, my dad said I can’t wear them til after Christmas, since they are technically a Christmas present. Boooooo 😦 Dads just don’t understand that we girls want to show off our new clothes 😛

2. I’m on a salad kick, and loving it

It basically looked like this, except for with a different salsa and there was lettuce of course!

Monday night when my mom dropped me off after my weather anchor audition (I spent a long weekend at home), we hit up my favorite salad place, Mad Greens, and I got the Don Quixote, which is one of my fave salads there. It had lettuce (duh), mango chunks (yes please!), fresh avocado, corn and black beans. Not a fan of corn at all, but the salad was still good. On Thursday night my mom and I grabbed dinner at Qdoba on our way outta town, and I got the naked vegetarian taco salad. The naked part just means it is in a bowl instead of a taco shell. I was starving, so I went to town on that baby! It was basically lettuce, black beans, corn salsa, habanero salsa (which was soooo hot, but soooo good!) and their fat free picante ranch dressing. That dressing is so delicious, but definitely not overpowering, and it made for a delicious dinner. Then yesterday, my sister and I had a nice lunch at Panera, where I got the Thai Chopped salad, minus the chicken and wontons. The peanut sauce, edamame and cashew clusters really make the salad and again, I devoured it. No shame! I’ve been craving salads like crazy, since at school I mostly just eat in my dorm and don’t have space for lettuce. You best believe I am stocking up on salad greens ASAP to make my own salad creations at home!

3. Need someone to unpack your stuff? Just call me!

Recycled from Thanksgiving break, but you get the picture! Obviously too tired after all that unpacking to snap a new pic.

Friday morning, I went to town unpacking the two giant suitcases I brought back half my life in. I think it took me like 20 minutes at the most, and it’s all unpacked. I think you just gotta get in the groove, and it doesn’t feel like work. If you put it off, it’ll just suck when you finally get around to it. Plus, I’m somewhat of a neat freak, and can’t stand having too many things out on the floor. Drives me nuts.

4. Colorado doesn’t get white Christmases

SNOW...oh wait, just kidding, that's basically just frost!

That picture above was taken last year on Christmas Eve…does it looks like snow to you? Ummmm, no. Seriously, we have a much better chance of it snowing on Easter than on Christmas here. And Halloween, too. Bizarre weather much? Apparently in the last 100 years, only 13% of the time has Colorado had a white Christmas, where it either snowed on Christmas day, or there was snow on the ground on the day. How sad is that? I’m hoping it snows this year, or at least the snow that’s still on the ground sticks around for another week…

5. There’s a sequel to “Santa Baby”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm_YHHyAlYY

Don’t ask about the weird  image that’s with the song. But anyways, my mom told me that she heard this song for the first time the other day (it’s called “This Year’s Santa Baby”) and since then, I’ve heard it twice. It has the same melody, but new and kinda funny lyrics. But apparently, it was never a hit, which is probably why it’s rarely played. But if you have Sirius XM radio, definitely check out the Holiday Traditions station because they’ve been playing it a lot!

6. I could totally live in a bottle of Bath & Body Works’ Vanilla Bean Noel lotion

It smells like cookies and magic!

Uh, yeah, don’t mind me over here smelling my lotion bottle like a crazy person. I can’t help it, BBW has the best lotion scents. This one is truly amazing. Don’t tell anyone, but I kinda want to eat it…

7. I really want lace shorts for Christmas

These ones in particular, from Abercrombie Kids!

I’m kinda obsessed with the shorts and tights (with boots!) trend for winter, and what better way to dress up the combo than with lacy shorts? I think they’re completely cute and I’m really hoping I get them. I like these grey ones, since white seems too summery and I already have a pair of navy shorts.

What is your favorite salad from a restaurant? Do you like the lacy shorts trend for winter?

Oh Hey September

Where has the year gone? It feels like just the other day I was ringing in the new year. Gosh, time flies when you’re having fun, huh? Or, I guess, when you’re really busy. I’m starting to miss summer, but I’m also excited for fall. It’s just starting to cool down a little (if you think 80 degrees is cool…) and I’m already thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wow, can you say cray-cray?

Anyways, I kinda just realized that it’s September now, and I’ve been going like a mile a minute since it started. Thursday I had classes all day and I was running around trying to print off assignments and turn in an application for a student editor position at our campus staff newsletter (fingers crossed that I get it!). Then mi madre came to pick me up for a long weekend at home. We were going back and forth between Whole Foods, my room and getting dinner. We didn’t get home until 9 (stupid long commutes!).

Friday I got to chill in the morning, but then we had to go to the bank, pick up my sister from school and then go back home for like an hour before we had to leave again with my daddy in tow for another long drive. 2 hours each way to this teeny tiny town called Westcliffe, where my dad’s play was being put on. It was actually really weird to see, because my sis and I were the lead characters in the play like 5 or 6 years ago when it was first produced. We had to laugh when someone from the town said “Oh yeah, it’s so busy here this weekend.” And literally, none of the stores were open and basically no one was out on the street at 10 pm. Apparently, that’s busy for them 🙄

Saturday was…well, amazing! Okay, besides having to wake up at 7 after going to bed at 1 (yeah, 6 hours of sleep and I DO NOT get along). My mom and sister and I drove another 2 hours or so to Breckenridge, this really cool ski town in the mountains. Of course, we weren’t skiing since it’s September and we can’t ski. At all. There was a duck race happening that we haven’t missed in the 5 years we’ve been going up there and a bunch of other festivities. Unfortch, many of them were adult-related, such as a wine tasting festival. 2 more years and then I can do that too. Erm, but probs not. We ate 3 amazing meals up there, but I was stupid and didn’t take any pictures. So ummmm, yeah, I decided to “borrow” some photos from weheartit. No shame.

I actually got the same thing for lunch and dinner, but at two different places. Fresh spring rolls are just too good to not repeat. Plus they had different veggies in them (including amazing pickled ginger in one).

They have this really good (but reaaaaally popular) crepe cart where they make them by hand. I got a raspberry and marshmallow crepe that was to die for. Melted marshmallow=mmmmmm!

 As per tradition, my sissy and I bought 3 rubber duckies each and also took tons of selfies during down time. No shame in that, either. We had such a fun time giggling at all the cute kids and puppies there and freaking out when some crows almost attacked us.

Our view of the kiddie duck race.

Oh hey, Brooke's arm!

The newest additions to the rubber duck collection.

Thousands of duckies waiting to race.

 

I love the mountains!

Go duckies, go!

 

Awhhhhhh...sister love!

Some random stuffed puppies we saw in a gift shop. I love the patterns on them!

 

I'm so boss 😉

 So that’s been my September so far. No complaints here; I can’t wait to see what fall’s gonna bring!

 

How has September been for you? What do you like about fall?