Post-Thanksgiving (No) Blues

Do you ever feel let down after a holiday is over? I almost always do, especially after Christmas. It’s always a little sad to have to take everything down, and move on to real life again. I’m usually a little upset after Thanksgiving is over, usually because it means that I have to go back to school in a few days. This year, though, I’m kind of ready for Thanksgiving break to be over. Not that break was bad–I really needed the time off from school–but I’m more than ready for the semester, and my time in college, to be over. Senioritis, much?!

Even though break is almost over, and I’m itching to go back to school and finish up the semester strong (just 8 more days of classes, then finals) I’ve definitely enjoyed Thanksgiving break while it lasted. It was pretty low-key, mostly just plenty of time spent with my parents and sister and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I also had some pretty delicious food (on Thanksgiving Day and otherwise), did some retail therapy pre-Black Friday (it was way less crazy to shop on Wednesday) and even got some school stuff done.

Snow on campus to kick off Thanksgiving break.

Snow on campus to kick off Thanksgiving break.

I love the Mexican-inspired dishes at Native Foods!

I love the Mexican-inspired dishes at Native Foods!

Caught up on a few episodes of my new favorite show--The Newsroom.

Caught up on a few episodes of my new favorite show–The Newsroom.

Native Foods leftovers. Ensalada Azteca salad+sweet potato fries and some black beans, sauerkraut and pomegranate seeds.

Native Foods leftovers. Ensalada Azteca salad+sweet potato fries and some black beans, sauerkraut and pomegranate seeds.

I was feeling the navy blue on Black Friday. Cardigan: American Eagle. Strapless checked peplum top: Abercrombie & Fitch (hand-me-down from my younger sister). Dark wash jeggings: American Eagle. Necklace: American Eagle.

I was feeling the navy blue on Black Friday. Cardigan: American Eagle. Strapless checked peplum top: Abercrombie & Fitch (hand-me-down from my younger sister). Dark wash jeggings: American Eagle. Necklace: American Eagle.

Pumpkin nog banana softserve. Made with pumpkin puree+Califia Farms almond milk nog+frozen bananas and topped with cinnamon and pecans.

Pumpkin nog banana softserve. Made with pumpkin puree+Califia Farms almond milk nog+frozen bananas and topped with cinnamon and pecans.

Desert-like field near my house.

Desert-like field near my house.

Thanksgiving snack plate in lieu of lunch. Date+romaine wraps, sweet potato chips, olives, homemade guac, Skinny Crisps.

Thanksgiving snack plate in lieu of lunch. Date+romaine wraps, sweet potato chips, olives, homemade guac, Skinny Crisps.

The cutest car ever, spotted on a walk through the neighborhood.

The cutest car ever, spotted on a walk through the neighborhood.

Parnsip mash, with olive oil, sea salt and garlic.

Parnsip mash, with olive oil, sea salt and garlic.

Maple orange shredded brussels sprout salad.

Maple orange shredded brussels sprout salad.

Sweet potato fritters coated in pumpkin seeds+pistachios.

Sweet potato fritters coated in pumpkin seeds+pistachios.

Raw caramel pecan pie topped with cacao sauce and more pecans and raisins.

Raw caramel pecan pie topped with cacao sauce and more pecans and raisins.

I have some exciting (well, for me) plans for my time post-Thanksgiving. It might seem a little cliché to be hyperfocused on clean eating after the holidays, but that isn’t what I’m intending my plan to be about. I’m going to be avoiding all added sugars for the next two to three weeks and trying to get back to eating more whole foods. I generally do pretty well with this, but I also sometimes buy some cleaner packaged foods that happen to have added sugars. Things like store-bought buckwheat rawnola or the Larabars with chocolate chips aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but all those added sugars do add up, and I know I feel my best when eating foods without added sugars. So what will I be eating the next few weeks? I’m not going to be drastically changing anything, just focusing more on fruits, veggies, nuts and nut butters (with nothing added), beans and lentils and some raw stevia-sweetened protein powder. I will not be avoiding stevia during this mini-challenge because I feel like it’s a healthier alternative to sugar and I don’t tend to go overboard with it, so it’ll be nice to still allow it in my diet in things like stevia chocolate chips, black coffee and homemade desserts. I don’t think this challenge is coming from a disordered place–I just want to be more mindful of what I’m eating because added sugars are in EVERYTHING, and even the sweeteners I feel comfortable with (maple syrup, coconut sugar and raw honey) are much better in small amounts. So hopefully this challenge will help me realize that I can live without added sugars in my life. And I will definitely keep you all up to date on how this goes for me!

Do you ever feel sad when the holidays are over? How do you feel about post-holiday eating plans?

What I’m Making this Thanksgiving (Vegan and GF)

Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for vegans, vegetarians and a lot of other people with food restrictions. The day is alllllll about the food (and family, and being thankful of course) so it can make things awkward if you can’t or don’t want to partake in the usual T-day fare.

This year will be my third as a vegan (well, 2 years ago I wasn’t quite vegan but my Thanksgiving was) and I’ve come a long way since then in terms of meal planning and finding healthier options. I am not a fan of the fake turkey and other meat options, so I’ll be making plenty of vegan and gluten free side dishes for me and my family to enjoy this year. All the recipes I’m planning on making are very friendly to almost any diet–vegan, gluten free and even paleo people can get in on these recipes and enjoy the holiday without having to compromise their health or moral standards. Note: I plan on making some changes to each of these recipes but feel free to check out the original!

Pumpkin & Pistachio Sweet Potato Fritters via Happy.Healthy.Life. (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

Photo from Whole Foods.

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

Sweet potatoes are possibly my favorite food ever, and paired with pistachios/pumpkin seeds and sauteed in coconut oil is even better. The simple ingredient list is a winner, and I plan on pairing these with some kind of PB and maple sauce.

Maple and Date Brussels Salad via Hummusapien (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

Photo courtesy of A Little Saffron.

Photo courtesy of A Little Saffron.

Another Thanksgiving-perfect side dish. What’s not to love about Brussels sprouts shredded to make a salad, then tossed with some dates and maple syrup?

Garlicky Parsnip Mash (vegan, gluten free, grain free, sugar free) via Affairs of Living

 

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

Photo by Whole Foods Market.

I’ve never been a fan of greasy, glue-y mashed potatoes but if you want the tradition factor without all the unhealthy ingredients, look no further than these white potato imposters! Rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, parsnips perfectly imitate fluffy potatoes when blended with a few, whole foods ingredients. If you want a cheesy flavor, toss in some nutritional yeast.

Chia Caramel Pecan Pie via This Rawsome Vegan Life (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free)

Photo courtesy of This Rawsome Vegan Life.

Photo courtesy of This Rawsome Vegan Life.

I love all the recipes I’ve tried from this blog, like I’m literally obsessed. I’ve been wanting to make a raw pecan pie for awhile and Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life has the perfect, totally decadent, Thanksgiving-dessert worthy option for one. Featuring dates, nuts and chia seeds, this pie is the perfect mix of indulgent and healthy.

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Currently: November

As you can see, I’ve changed my blog design yet again! I am a little obsessed with page design but I didn’t want to shell out money that I don’t have to get one of the premium designs or find a professional blog designer so this is what I went with and I like it–I love the colorful, bold look!

Anyways, here’s the latest edition of Currently. These kinds of posts are always my favorite to write because they’re more personal but in a fun way!

Current Book: Am I ever reading a book I actually like, instead of something I have to read for school? No such thing! Again, currently reading this book (on my tablet) for my post-WWII history class. I really like that class, and the books are pretty interesting, so no complaints.

all soulsCurrent Music: I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of Christmas music on Sirius XM (editor’s note: actually found out it started on Tuesday, so I’m officially listening to it on the drive to and from school) and I will be listening to that nonstop until New Year’s. What can I say, I love the Christmas season!

Current Guilty Pleasure: Starbucks 1x per week. I’ve been hitting up the ‘bucks almost every week for awhile now, especially now that the red cups are back. Seriously, it’s a problem but not really because I’m working my way up to gold card status and I never order those crazy fancy expensive drinks. Tall Americanos and blonde roasts for me, please and thank you, with the occasional addition of soy or sugar free syrups.

Another guilty pleasure is car selfies.

Another guilty pleasure is car selfies.

Current Nail Color: This pretty forest green color from OPI that I got last Christmas. It came in the cutest mini-size bottle and somehow I still have some left.

Current Drink: I feel like I say water every time (boooooring!) so I’ll switch it up and say tall Americano from Starbucks with 3 pumps sugar free peppermint, in a red cup of course. I got this drink the other day when I was at Starbucks for a group project meeting, and it was surprisingly good and not overly sweet.

Current Food: Lettuce wraps for lunches on campus, random salads at home, homemade PB & J bites (basically raisins blended with peanut butter from the Whole Foods bulk section), black bean pasta (soooo good, and I love the protein it has), protein banana softserve, pomegranates and persimmons.

A totally random but yummy salad.

A totally random but yummy salad.

Current TV Show: I’m not watching any show regularly, aside from SNL every week. A lot of the cast is brand new this season, but I’ve liked most of the shows so far. I still miss Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, though.

Current Wishlist: Basically, all I want is to make it to Thanksgiving break alive (I am crazy busy with school stuff) and then make it to graduation with good grades. I’m in the home stretch, and I’m freaked out and not at the same time. #senioritis

Current Needs: More time in my day to get shit stuff done, a break from school (Thanksgiving break in T-minus 8 days!), a little bit more money in my budget to get me through the rest of the semester.

I also need to find more persimmons, to feed my addiction.

I also need to find more persimmons, to feed my addiction. I like the hachiyas best.

Current Triumphs: This may sound weird, but learning to like the color black. Before this year, I owned basically nothing black in my closet. I was not a fan of black in any way. I finally branched out and bought a few black pieces to add into my wardrobe and I’m finally starting to love it, in small doses, paired with other colors. I just love how chic and edgy it can be!

Current Bane of Existence: School, my skin situation (I still have acne, and it’s not going away easily), stress about finding a job after graduation.

Current Indulgence: These homemade PB cups I made last week. Okay, maybe they weren’t that indulgent, being made with stevia-sweetened dark chocolate and organic, no-salt no-sugar PB, but they were really good and I’m planning on making them again once I get more chocolate chips and PB.

Current Blessing: Having the support of my family, forever and always. I’ve said it before, but I love my family. Even when they get on my nerves, I still love them and I will be forever grateful that they’re so supportive and loving. My mom’s been helping me pay for groceries lately since I’ve been running low on money, and my dad’s helped me figure out some school stuff, and my sister’s just been there to cheer me up with some new Lady Gaga music 😉

Current Outfit: This was something I wore last week, but a red peplum shirt from Forever 21, my new black jeggings from American Eagle (I’m obsessed with these, and they were $12!) and sparkly black flats from Target.

OOTD shots are always better in my new full-length mirror.

OOTD shots are always better in my new full-length mirror.

Current Excitement: ARTPOP, the new Lady Gaga album, is finally out. It’s a lot different than some of her older stuff, and I still think I prefer her Born This Way album, but the new songs are really catchy and fun.

What are some of your currentlies?

The End is Near+Kelp Noodle Stirfry

Well guys, here we are again, at the end of another year. I hate being cliche, but where the heck did 2012 go? I feel like as I get older, the years fly by so much faster than when I was a kid. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s crazy to me that I’m practically done with college!

I’m really excited for 2013. I have no idea exactly what will happen, which scares the type-A planner in me, but it’s exciting to think about all the things that could happen this year. For one, I’m finally turning the big 21 in July. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not big into drinking or anything but it’ll be nice to be able to order a good drink in a restaurant sometimes, or enjoy a cool cocktail at home. Also, I might possibly be graduating in December–crazy talk! I really want to get all my credits done in time so I can graduate a semester early and get started on my first big girl job. I know a lot of people would rather stay in school as long as possible but I’m so excited about my future career (hopefully as a meteorologist) that I want to get a head start!

I don’t want to drag this post on forever, so I’ll just share some brief highlights from the year with you and then give you a delicious, quick recipe at the end.

January

I finally got a Twitter, I experimented more with raw recipes and I overcame my hatred for hot tea. 

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour frosting.

February

I tried a bunch of new-to-me products, did a raw food challenge and went to a father daughter dance with my sister and dad. 

Dressed up for the dance.

Dressed up for the dance.

March

I reevaluated my recovery journey and eating habits, got an internship at a local TV station and made a bunch of recipes over spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

Enjoying the sunshine during spring break.

April

I celebrated Easter with the fam, tried Zevia for the first time and got ready for summer food & fun

Coloring Easter eggs.

Coloring Easter eggs.

May

I finished up my sophomore year of college, made my first pancakes from scratch and celebrated my blog’s first birthday

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam

Peanut flour pancakes with homemade strawberry vanilla jam.

June

I talked about why I eat healthy, made a goal to stop counting calories and moved to a new house

Eating applesauce on the go.

Eating applesauce on the go.

July

I embraced my love of healthy fats, made my go-to meal for the first time and celebrated my 20th birthday

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

The delicious vegan cake I enjoyed on my birthday.

August

I tried vegan sushi, almost saw the President and started budgeting my grocery shopping. 

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

Vegan sweet potato tempura sushi rolls.

September

I overcame my fear of coconut, had jury duty and embraced fall

I also did my first giveaway!

I also did my first giveaway!

October

I participated in Vegan MoFo, started my addiction to kabocha and broke some fashion rules.

My first Fashion Friday post.

My first Fashion Friday post.

November

I shared my Christmas wishlist a month early, proved that vegans can get protein too and spent Thanksgiving break writing papers

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

Almond cake vodka on Thanksgiving.

December

I proclaimed my love for the Whole Foods salad bar, stressed out about finals and had an enjoyable (while sick) Christmas.

It was a white Christmas after all!

It was a white Christmas after all!

 And now for the recipe! I don’t know about you, but after Christmas, some nights I’m feeling lazy and I just want a quick dinner to throw together so I have more time for family game and movie nights. This stirfry recipe comes together in 10 minutes and is easy to customize to your tastes. I used kelp noodles as the base because I love their texture and how they can bulk up a meal without adding any calories but you can use rice or soba noodles if you prefer.

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry in bowl

Coconut Curry Kelp Noodle Stirfry (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1/4 cup light canned coconut milk (can use full fat)

1 tsp curry powder

red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tbsp peanut flour (or peanut butter)

1 tsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1/2 cup kelp noodles, rinsed and dried

fresh or frozen veggies (I used shredded carrot slaw and fresh green kale)

1/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (or chopped fresh orange)

1/2 cup shelled edamame

In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk, curry powder, red pepper, peanut flour and aminos until thickened and combined. In a medium pan over medium heat, cook edamame, veggies and pineapple in a small amount of coconut oil. Add in kelp noodles and stir sauce over noodles. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is hot and sauce thickens up a bit. Serve topped with shredded coconut, chopped peanuts, pumpkin seeds or a drizzle of sriracha. Serves 1. 

What are some of your favorite memories from 2012? What’s one new thing you tried this last year?

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #23.

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Break

The title totally sounds like a middle school English class essay you had to write after coming back from Thanksgiving break, doesn’t it? Haha guess I just love reliving my younger years 😉

My break isn’t quite over which I am very thankful for–the last three weeks in the semester are always the hardest because you just got a taste of freedom but then you have to go back and get ready for finals and write papers. Not fun. But this is how I’ve been spending the past few days, with a mix of the successes and struggles I’ve had along the way.

Struggles

Still dealing with ‘disordered’ thoughts. 

Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for a recovering anorexic. And as a vegan, I’m not that thrilled by the usual selection of holiday foods. So I did struggle a bit on Thanksgiving Day. For one, I didn’t have breakfast. Yep, I wasn’t exactly planning on it (I love breakfast and never miss it!) but I wanted to have a pumpkin waffle with plenty of real maple syrup but my mom ended up using my waffle maker to make waffles for the rest of my family, and I freaked out about the ingredients she used in the waffles and decided not to make a waffle. But I didn’t end up making breakfast at all because I just got stuck in my disordered eating thought patterns and was getting anxious about Thanksgiving. I also didn’t eat lunch, because our family just does a lot of snacks in the afternoon. So I did enjoy some snackage (homemade guac I made myself, rice cake with pumpkin butter/chocolate chips, raw carrots and cauliflower, amazing spicy salsa). I also had a few adult beverages but we’ll save that for the successes part! I think I did an okay job eating once the big meal went around and I even tried some of the vegan stuffing my mom made. But I definitely struggled with feeling okay with being a little full. The feeling of fullness still scares me to death so that was hard to deal with. I also had some issues with exercising. I told myself I’d take a day or two off from working out this week but that hasn’t happened. It’s still too scary for me to take full-blown rest days.

The cute plate I had my snacks on.

Never being able to make a really delicious dessert from scratch.

Lately, I haven’t been able to make a dessert from a recipe that I actually like enough to eat. For some reason, I like it when I’m tasting it in the cooking process but then once it’s made, it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. And then it goes in the trash. I can’t keep wasting food, but I can’t figure out why I can’t make an amazing dessert. I guess I should just stick with my simple, throw-it-together desserts like coconut milk ice cream or ‘banana bread’ protein bowls. Those are always satisfying.

A delicious lunch at my favorite restaurant. Falafel, tabbouleh, fresh red cabbage, lettuce and hummus.

Body image issues.

This kinda goes along with the first one, but lately I’ve been really having a hard time accepting what I see in the mirror. I always go through phases where I either like what I see or I’m totally disgusted by it, and right now I’m dealing with the latter. Anyone who’s ever dealt with this knows how much this sucks, but I’m hoping I start moving out of this phase soon.

Going back to classes after break.

Not gonna lie, I’m already burned out by school. The hardest time for me is always the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, especially this year when I’m buried with a million assignments. I’m simultaneously freaking out and feeling passive about finishing up the semester.

These almost look like stars, don’t they?

Successes

Enjoying alcohol without worrying about the calories. 

I’m not quite 21 yet (just 8 months to go!) and I’ve never been one of those people who partied hard in college but lately I’ve been more interested in drinking, at least on special occasions. On Thanksgiving, I tried some cake vodka mixed with a little vanilla almond milk (to die for!) and I also had some green apple liqueur at dinner and I enjoyed them both. I did NOT get drunk or anything but it was nice to be able to sip my drinks and not freak out about drinking OMGsomanycalories.

This was soooooo good!

Getting a lot of assignments done.

I was kind of dreading Thanksgiving break, because I had a lot of schoolwork to do during it. But I’ve been splitting it into manageable chunks and working on a little each day and I’ve definitely been making progress.  I’m still stressing out about some of them, but I’ve got a few more days to finish them up.

I love fall sunsets.

Mixing in fun with the work.

My break hasn’t been all work and no play though. Yesterday we went up to Denver for the day for some window shopping, a cheap lunch at Garbanzo (they were offering a buy one get one deal all day) and checking out a cool German Christmas festival. We also played tourist with my grandparents and went to Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City the other day. It’s kinda fun to explore the sites in your own city even if you’ve seen them a hundred times.

The weather was gorgeous and so were the views.

What have you been enjoying over the past few days? Do you like to be a tourist in your own city?

WIAW: Ashley Lately

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately–my Thanksgiving break started on Thursday afternoon and since then I’ve been busy writing papers (why do professors make assignments due right after break?), cleaning the house before my grandparents come for T-day (I haven’t seen them since my high school graduation 2 1/2 years ago!), doing a butt load of grocery shopping and just enjoying my time off. I definitely needed to come back in time for WIAW though! Especially since it’s just before American Thanksgiving and I have a couple of recipes to share 😀

How appropriate–my most loved veggie shaped like a heart!

Garnet yams and sweet potatoes are my fave veggie right now, other than kale. Or maybe cauliflower. Anyways, I think I love sweet potatoes because they’re one of the few veggies where it’s totally normal to top them with sweet things. I went with raisins and maple almond butter this time, and it was a great combo.

Not food, but I can’t resist cute Christmas things!

I am such a sucker for all things Christmas, whether it’s a limited edition holiday coconut milk drink, or an adorable decorated Kleenex box. I realize these things tend to be overpriced, but Christmas only comes once a year. Why not live it up with a snowman tissue box 😉

Halfway through the longest paper I’ve ever had to write!

As much as I like to write, I don’t like it enough to be able to breeze through a 4000 word term paper. Ironically, this is for one of my journalism classes and in all journalism, specifically broadcast journalism which is my (hopefully) future career, the writing is very short and to the point. None of this 20 page paper bull shit  crap. At least I’m interested in the topic I’m writing about, it’s just incredibly time-consuming. But I literally only started this paper on Friday, so I’ve gotten pretty far. This calls for a coffee break…

Speaking of Christmas…my favorite Starbucks holiday drink.

Most people even hate or love peppermint. I personally love it, especially combined with chocolate. So it’s no secret that I love Starbucks’ soy peppermint mocha. And now I love it even more that they offer a skinny version. I like sweet things, but their normal version is way too sweet so I like that they have a sugar-free version so it’s not too overpowering.

I love the Christmas Pandora stations.

Speaking of Christmas, it’s definitely not too early for me to start playing Christmas music. I started a week ago, when Sirius XM started playing their holiday stations again and now I’m listening to it daily, almost non-stop. It just puts me in a good mood, even when I’m mad because I got a crap ton of work to do over break.

Another take on the easy-as-pizza cinnamon roll.

Remember when I made cinnamon rolls out of pizza dough? Cinnamon rolls have always intimidated me but when you make them with fresh dough, they are beyond easy to make and customize. This time I went with a pumpkin chocolate chip combo and it was even better than the original maple pecan rolls.

Pumpkin Chip Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)

half ball of fresh multigrain dough (can use gluten-free)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave or coconut nectar)

sprinkle cinnamon, to taste

powdered stevia, to taste

1/2 tbsp mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix dough with sweetener to taste. Roll out dough on floured cutting board until about 1 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Mix pumpkin, maple syrup and cinnamon in a small bowl until thick and paste-like and spread on dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and roll into a thick log, pinching ends. Cut into 6 small rolls with a floured knife and place in sprayed baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown on top. Serve warm from the oven topped with pumpkin butter, protein frosting or more maple syrup.

The return of the hipster glasses…

Remember when kids used to be made fun of for wearing glasses? I find it so funny that now it’s actually fashionable to wear them. These aren’t my real glasses, but they are my new favorite accessory. They add a nerdy chic touch to any outfit and I just think they’re fun.

Latest dinner obsession: pineapple fried quinoa.

I hope I never get sick of this dinner, because it is just so damn good! I think if I keep mixing around the ingredients, I could eat this forever. I’ve had it three times since last Wednesday and each time it’s been a little bit different. One time I topped it with peanut flour paste and had red cabbage and kale in it, then I had cauliflower in it and the other time I had sweet potato chunks and kale in it. Sooooooo good, so easy.

With gorgeous weather like this, I can’t complain too much.

If you’ve never been to Colorado, you probably think we’re the land of snow and cold, at least in the fall and winter. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the mountains get dumped on but here on the Front Range, we get temps in the 60s into November and December sometimes (I remember a couple of days this past January that were nearly 70!). We almost never get a white Christmas (we’re more likely to get a white Easter) and Thanksgiving Day is usually pretty warm. It’s been sunny and gorgeous all week and I’m loving it. As much as I want to move somewhere like California or Arizona for even warmer weather, I do love it here. And I get to see the beautiful mountains every day!

Can you believe I’m just trying spaghetti squash now? Crazy talk.

Guys. Why did I never try spaghetti squash until now? It’s so good, and really interesting. I like pasta and noodle dishes, but it’s all about the sauce and toppings. Spag squash makes for a great noodle replacement because it’s a fiber-filled veggie with a light taste that goes with red sauce, Asian sauces and pretty much anything. This version featured cauliflower, a spicy peanut flour-based sauce and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Gooooooooood stuff!

My latest lotion obsession: BBW sweet cinnamon pumpkin.

I go crazy over seasonal scented lotions. Bath and Body Works is my lifesaver–they have so many yummy scents at a decent price and they introduce new ones all the time. This one was new this year, and I hope they never stop making it. It’s just great, period. Please go smell this now if you haven’t.

Do you like seasonal products? What’s the longest paper you’ve ever had to write? 

WIAW: What I (Want to) Eat on Thanksgiving

Can you believe we’re just over a week away from T-day? Me neither! Does it surprise you that I really like Thanksgiving–even as a vegan? For me, it’s not really about the food (the desserts, though…) but the fact that I get a week-long break away from school, just when I need one. I am really stressin’ right now but luckily this year, I get an extra day off because my class on Friday was cancelled. Definitely thankful for that!

Even though I’m not a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, I still have some things I would like to make and eat on the big day. Some of the flavors that scream ‘Thanksgiving’ for me include maple, pumpkin, cranberry and pecan so hopefully I can include all of those in this year’s meal.

Maple roasted veggies. Photo from La Vida Vegga.

Roasted veggies are the best–why not make them even better with a hint of real maple syrup? I think these would be great as leftovers too!

Maple pecan pie bars. Photo courtesy of Natural Noshing.

Can you believe these are vegan, gluten-free and grain free? Me either, but I really want to give them a whirl to see if they turn out as delicious as they look. I actually really love trying out recipes that are vegan and grain free, which is kinda hard to find since most grain free recipes include eggs, but this one thankfully doesn’t!

Cranberry kale salad. Photo courtesy of Kraft (recipe from Whole Foods).

You all know how much I love kale (it’s my favorite veggie, other than sweet potatoes) so combining it in a salad with fresh cranberries and miso paste sounds perfect for Thanksgiving.

Vegan caramel apple. Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

Caramel apples seem so complicated and way too sugary…but not this one! The recipe seems so easy to follow, and the caramel sauce itself is made with coconut sugar (lower glycemic!) and coconut milk so it’s much healthier.

Spiced grilled sweet potatoes. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods.

Sweet potatoes are great, but even better when they’re grilled and made spicy!

Pumpkin s’mores pudding. Photo courtesy of Healthy Food for Living.

How amazeballs does this look? It’ll be the perfect way to use up some of the Ricemellow creme I just bought–huge container, thought it was a little too sweet but it would be great on top of this!

Pecan pie waffle. Photo courtesy of Three and a Half Vegans.

You know my obsession with waffles–these take that to a whole new level! I think I know what I’ll be having for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning…

Do you prefer pumpkin, apple, sweet potato or pecan pie? What’s your favorite fall flavor? 

College Vegan on a Budget: Doubling Up

One in a series of posts about how I stay on a budget while getting my fill of healthy, vegan foods from higher-end stores.

As it is the week before Thanksgiving break (hollllllla!) I was in a bit of a pickle. I was running out of some things I need weekly (almond butter, kale, nuts, olives, almond milk) but I didn’t want to make a big stock-up trip and end up wasting money on things I won’t be able to use up in a week or be able to keep around until after break. I knew I couldn’t really live on what was left in my fridge unless I wanted to be totally restrictive and veggie-less for the week so I made the trip to Whole Foods…twice! Yeah, crazy, I know, but one of those times I went with my mom when she came up with the rest of my family for the weekend and the other time was a semi-emergency trip.

All this stuff should last me through this Thursday, and some of it I should be able to take home with me over Thanksgiving or just leave here without risking food poisoning. And I didn’t spend too much, which is a total win!

*=organic

New find, just in time for the holidays! And it’s fair trade!

Whole Foods (trip 1)

What I Got: dark chocolate covered raisins* (a fear food of mine I wanted to challenge–they had pretty clean ingredients so I went for it), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze pack (ran out of AB, needed a quick fix for a couple of days), Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (OMG, so good, look for a review of it soon), Theo peppermint dark chocolate bar (splurge, but it’s worth it for good chocolate)

What It Cost Me: $32.15 (I had a $5 off coupon for the protein powder, score!)

Verdict: I could have maybe skipped the chocolate and the raisins, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could go outside my comfort zone and buy a couple items I’ve been wanting for awhile but haven’t been brave enough to try. The protein powder was a total leap of faith (I’ve had the brand before, but a different flavor) but it was worth the money–great taste, good nutritional profile, awesome ingredients. 

My bigger Whole Foods haul, with plenty of produce and staples.

Whole Foods (trip 2)

What I Got: Pacific Naturals vanilla unsweetened almond milk*, Rising Moon garlic merlot pasta sauce (my favorite brand for sauce)*, Made in Nature dried pineapple and apple* (on sale!), Truvia, Farmer’s Market boxed pumpkin*, Maranatha maple almond butter (new favorite AB), maple covered almonds, Nada Moo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, Celestial Seasonings vanilla red rooibos tea, green kale* (also on sale), 2 small bananas, green figs*, bulk olives

What It Cost Me: $47.23 (not bad!)

Verdict: I am so happy I stayed just under $80 for this week’s groceries (this is a new goal of mine for every week) and I got a lot of good stuff I was out of so this was a much-needed trip. Even better, we went at night so the store was not crowded at all!

Like I said above, I want to try to stick to a budget of $80 a week on groceries (I think I can do it!) and this week showed that I can do it, even buying more expensive items like the protein powder and vegan ice cream. I know there are certain things I don’t want to give up, because the higher price is worth the health benefits and taste, but I also know there are ways I can keep whittling down my budget to consistently stay around the $80 mark each week.

If you use protein powder, do you buy it online or from a store? What are some things you can’t live without every week?