Meal Prep Monday: Thanksgiving Redux

I’m having fun with these meal prep posts, so I thought I’d make it more of a regular thing here on AlmostVegGirlie!

This week’s edition is a bit of a throwback to Thanksgiving, because I made a couple recipes that are pretty Thanksgiving-y, but the best part is that they don’t require T-day leftovers to make. You can make these recipes whenever you have a craving for some traditional Thanksgiving eats, and they’re pretty adaptable to any diet–vegan, gluten free, grain free and no added sugar!

Groceries

Pantry staple from Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

Pantry staples from Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

Luckily I was able to brave the below-freezing temperatures and snow to get to the grocery stores on Friday. I stopped at Natural Grocers for a few things and spent under $20, and then hit up Whole Foods and spent around $55. I finally restocked my bean pasta (I got the mung bean variety this time, and it’s just as good as the black bean), got my new favorite stevia chocolate chips and some weekly staples like no-salt added beans, fresh ground PB and raisins.

Produce from Whole Foods.

Produce from Whole Foods.

Whole Foods had some pretty great deals on produce this week, with avocados 4 for $5 (I got 2), organic pomegranates 2 for $5 (I got 1) and Ataulfo mangoes 2 for $3 (I got 2). And I got my usuals, like bananas, romaine hearts and yams.

Groceries for recipes.

Groceries for recipes.

I also stocked up on some things I needed for recipes I planned on making this weekend. I still have been eating mostly no-sugar-added by default (not saying this will last forever, or even for the 3 weeks I planned on doing it for) as it’s just what I’ve been feeling lately, so I finally bought some date sugar to try out in dessert recipes. I love sweetening things with dates anyway, and date sugar will work better in things that call for cane sugar, so I can’t wait to give it a try.

Meals

Grain free apple cran stuffing, made with the best grain free bread I've ever made.

Grain free apple cran stuffing, made with the best grain free bread I’ve ever made.

The Thanksgiving plate. Thanksgiving veggie burger topped with homemade cranberry chia jam on a bed of spinach. Side of grain free apple cran stuffing.

The Thanksgiving plate. Thanksgiving veggie burger topped with homemade cranberry chia jam on a bed of spinach. Side of grain free apple cran stuffing.

I know I said that Thanksgiving is a not-so-exciting holiday for plant-based eaters, but for some reason I was really craving Thanksgiving flavors this week. It all started when I bookmarked this recipe for paleo-friendly stuffing, and when I realized it could easily be made vegan, I decided to give it a shot. However, I changed it up a lot based on what I had on hand and what I could find in the store, so I’m going to share my recipe here, along with my recipe for a Thanksgiving-inspired veggie burger.

Grain Free Cran Apple Stuffing (vegan, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

Bread

1/3 cup almond meal

2 tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp xanthan gum (can sub guar gum)

1/4 cup tapioca starch (can sub arrowroot)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Himalayan pink sea salt, to taste (I only used a pinch)

1 tbsp almond oil (can sub olive oil, or another nut/seed oil)

1/2 cup water

Stuffing

1/4 cup apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 6 oz box of 100% apple juice (like the kid’s size apple juice)

almond or coconut oil, for sauteeing

4 stalks celery, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

cinnamon, pink sea salt and other spices, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F (at a higher altitude, heat to 425). Grease a sheet of foil with coconut oil, and place foil on cookie sheet. In a bowl, whisk almond meal, coconut flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, baking soda and sea salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together water and almond oil, and stir in with dry ingredients. Keep mixing until ingredients come together and are a bit sticky. Spread dough out onto greased foil, and spread thin, about 1/2 an inch thick. Drizzle a little almond oil on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bread starts to brown. Set aside to cool and harden a little, for about 10 minutes.

Lower the oven’s heat to 350 F. Once bread has cooled, tear or chop into small chunks, and place in a coconut oil-greased baking dish. In a pan on the stove over medium heat, saute the almond oil with celery and garlic, until softened. Add in spices, dried cranberries and apple juice, and continue to cook until mixture is fragrant and starts to thicken. Remove from heat, and carefully pour over bread chunks. Mix all ingredients gently, then cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

So you understand just how good the bread part of this stuffing is, I made a second batch of it the next day, this time sprinkling it with cinnamon and date sugar before baking…and I ate several pieces of it the same day. I don’t know how, but this bread has the doughiness and taste of a regular bread without any grains in it at all! That’s why I love experimenting with grain free baking–it’s so different from regular baking (especially doing it without any eggs) but when I finally figure out something that works, it feels amazing. Total nerd status, but I just love cooking!

I was going to share the recipe for the Thanksgiving veggie burger, but while the taste was spot-on, the texture was not. I’ve yet to make a perfect veggie burger–one that tastes good AND holds together without the use of an egg or breadcrumbs. I definitely don’t mind veggie burger crumbs, but they don’t exactly make a great recipe. I can direct you to the recipe I adapted for mine though, on the Post Punk Kitchen site. That one uses lentils as the base, which I would have done if I wasn’t lazy and had time to cook some lentils from scratch.

What’s your favorite flavor of Thanksgiving (traditional or not)? Any tips for making a good veggie burger that holds together well?

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?

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? 

Best of…November!

Can you believe it’s already December?! In less than a month, it’ll be a brand new year…how cray cray is that? It’s also my little sister’s birthday today–she’s sweet 16! Sheesh, she’s growing up so fast! I feel old 😉

I started this “Best of…” thing last month and it got such a great response that I thought I’d do it again. Besides, it’s fun to look back at my old posts from the past month. So here we go!

Best Foodie Post: What I (Wish I Ate) From Whole Foods

I loved hearing about all of your love for Whole Foods. It made me feel like less of a freak for basically being obsessed with that store 😛

Best Information: Who New?

Okay, to be honest it wasn’t that informative but I’d like to think so! It was just fun sharing some of my random updates.

Best Discussion: Too Much Fruit?

The responses to this post were amazing! They made me smile and reassured me that my obsession with fruit is okay! Fruit is healthy, and while everything in moderation is a good idea to live by, no one should feel guilty for enjoying their daily fruit habit.

Best Recipe: Festive Garland Bars

This one was actually really hard for me to decide on, since I made a lot of recipes this month, especially over Thanksgiving break. But this ended up being the winner, because I made a lot of substitutions to veganize it and they actually turned out quite amazing and addicting. I made two batches in one week, and they’re almost all gone now!

Best Recap Post: Simply Having a Wonderful Weekend Time!

Seriously, if you guys made it through this entire post, you are my hero! What was I thinking making it that long? Apparently a lot of stuff went down that weekend and I wanted to make sure I shared it all. It was a fun weekend though and hopefully all the foodie pics made the massive amounts of reading worth it 😀

What did you love most about November? I loved Thanksgiving break in general! What are you looking forward to in December? Winter break, Christmas and New Years Eve, baby!

 

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Hi peeps! Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Black Friday (if you live in the U.S.)! I am so sad that it’s over, mostly because I’m headed back up to campus tomorrow 😦 I’ve had such an amazing time this past week that I can’t believe break’s almost over. However, in less than 3 weeks, I’ll be back home for a whole MONTH! I ❤ college 😀

I decorated my little Christmas tree, even though I won't get to see it again for a couple of weeks. Ignore the toilet in the background, I am so classy 😉

Let’s back up to the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday before–I love shopping, but can’t handle the crowds and possibility of being attacked viciously by desperate shoppers 😯 My family decided to head up to Denver’s 16th Street Mall the day before Thanksgiving to try to avoid the crowds. We hit up the brand new H&M store first…where apparently a million other people also decided to go! So yeah, we did not end up avoiding the crowds. And unfortunately, the store was underwhelming. I mean, it looked cool inside, but it was packed and the clothes were kinda eh. I was definitely expecting more. I was considering buying a cute gold clutch, but I didn’t really think it was practical, so I passed. The only things I really wanted, a pair of cream knit legwarmers and a sequin skirt weren’t there or in my size so I left empty-handed. My sister and I also left Forever 21 without buying anything. They had more cute things than H&M, but I wasn’t really feeling it.

The lovely boots I was telling you about in my last post. I've already worn them out a few times!

What didn’t end up being a disappointment was Pinkberry. But then again, is froyo ever disappointing? Especially peppermint froyo? My mom and sister really wanted to try their seasonal peppermint flavor, so both of them got a cup topped with peppermint bark. I also got peppermint, but topped mine with just pomegranate seeds. Weird? Yes. But also really good. Don’t knock it til ya try it 😉

Another way I've been avoiding my homework--reading my fave magazine, People StyleWatch.

After walking around the pedestrian mall to kill some time, we drove across town to our favorite mall. We seriously go there quite a few times throughout the year, even though it’s probably 60 miles from our house. Dedicated shoppers right thurrrr 😛 But it is such a nice mall, and pretty huge. I just realized that it has an Anthropologie store–I may have to check that out next time we go there! Anyways, my sister and I were on a mission so we ditched our parents and headed straight for Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. As I’ve said before, those are two of our favorite stores. I know they’re totally cliché or whatever, but we truly love them and don’t just shop there because it’s the ‘cool kid’ thing to do. We both ended up getting one thing at each store and with all the discounts we used, we ended up saving a ton of money. Love when that happens! Afterwards, we met up with our parents at the T-Mobile store. Our cell phone contract expires soon with them, so we wanted to play around with the phones and see what we might end up buying. A lot of them were really neat, but my mom ended up deciding later that we’re probably going to switch to AT&T. Fine with me, as long as they have awesome phones!

Navy striped pullover sweater from Hollister, red/navy plaid shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, both for less than $50 total!

Can I have this sexy man for Christmas? Kthx.

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. The food of T-Day is never my favorite part–I just love being with my family. The Macy’s parade was fun to watch and it was so nice to just spend the morning and afternoon relaxing while my mom slaved away in the kitchen. One of our traditions is to have snacks in the early afternoon instead of lunch and I was looking forward to that. I filled up a turkey-decorated paper plate with some of my fave snacks and then just chilled out on the deck with my madre and padre. It was so weird that it was warm enough to sit outside on Thanksgiving–usually it’s pretty cold and sometimes snows. But Colorado is so random weather-wise, I love it. After snacks, my dad and I went on a long walk and then came back and started prepping the brussels sprouts we were going to grill for dinner.

My T-Day outfit: grey wool duster cardi (A&F), grey floral tank (HCo.), coral culotte shorts (A&F), grey polka dot tights (Target). Sorry about my weird stance, I was trying unsuccessfully to show off the tights.

Snack plate lunch: Whole Foods kettle corn, jalapeno-stuffed green olives, local salsa, Whole Foods guac, bell pepper strips, green mojo multigrain chips, artichoke hummus. I went back for more kettle corn and chips latah!

Thanksgiving dinner was pretty quiet with just the four of us, but it was nice. My dinner ended up being all vegan, but it was kinda disappointing. I tried this field grain celebration roast that tastes exactly like stuffing. Unfortunately, I hate stuffing, but the roast wasn’t awful. The best part of my dinner by far was the baked sweet potato topped with a little maple syrup and some peanut flour sauce. Mmmmm, so darn tasty! What is it about sweet potatoes that’s so addicting? The sprouts turned out way too hard and dry, which was sad because I usually love ’em. You win some, you lose some. I tried a little of my mom’s stuffing, which she made vegan, but honestly, I still hate it. Sorry stuffing lovers! I might like a cornbread stuffing though so that may be tested out at next year’s feast. However, dessert is always the best part, hands-down. I had another piece of the festive garland bars I made (I’ve seriously had a piece of it every night since I made it on Monday–can you say obsessed?) and a slice of the pumpkin pie bars my mommy made. She also made these vegan especially for me, and they were super delicious, even better than a pumpkin pie. They were a little cakey and pretty sweet but so good.

My breakfast on T-Day: banana softserve topped with chocolate & PB Puffins and peanut flour sauce.

Friday I woke up later than I have in awhile (9 am!), had breakfast and just hung out for awhile. Lunch was a strange but yummy creation I’ve been enjoying this week. I cook up some butternut squash cubes, top them with black beans and some plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little guacamole. Then I pour on some really good salsa and crush some Late July mild green mojo chips on top. It seems so weird, but it’s actually good and kinda Mexican-y. I made something similar to it over summer break, but it was on top of lettuce instead. We ran out of lettuce this week, so I decided to use squash as the veggie base and it turns out just as good. Plus I’m obviously obsessed with anything orange.

I'm not even sure what to call this, except amazingly delicious!

Later on, my sister and I drove out to brave the Black Friday crowds get our Starbucks fix. The ‘bucks we went to was crowded as usual, but we actually ended up getting to sit in the leather chairs in the corner, so that was a win. I got the tall skinny peppermint mocha with soy, and it was even better with the soy versus the skim. A lot creamier without being sickening. I think this will be my holiday drink go-to. Afterwards, we walked over to Ulta to goof around and try on sunglasses and smell all the lotions and stuff. I love that girl; we always have so much fun together, especially when it’s just the two of us. Surprisingly, most of the stores weren’t that crowded (except the Apple store) but then again it was almost 5 at night. I guess most Black Friday shoppers head out early.

I'm a sucker for the red cups!

Friday night my dad had another performance of his play, so the rest of us just stayed home and had a nice dinner of leftovers (I had a slice of the celebration roast topped with yellow mustard, which made it so much better, and some sweet tater fries) and then spent the rest of the night watching The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie ever!) and playing games.

How sad is this--packing up to go back to school 😦 The countdown til Christmas break officially begins Monday!

What have you been up to the last few days? Have you ever shopped at H&M?

WIAW: What I (Wish I Ate) From Whole Foods

Another week, another Wednesday…another WIAW, of course! I love this little shindig that Jenn came up with–total genius idea! And just think, only two more Wednesdays til Thanksgiving! If only T-Day were on Wednesday because how epic would that WIAW be?

Peas and Crayons

Anyways, y’all probably know how obsessed I am with Whole Foods already. I mean, I talk about it practically all the time 😛 Okay, maybe not that much, but lately I’ve been making a stop there every other weekend and I’m lovin’ it! My parents’ wallets, not so much 😉 But hey, I try not to go overboard there, just stocking up on the essentials like oats and dates and squash and cereal. I always end up with a few more things than I planned on, but I’m not complaining.

Besides my undying love for Whole Foods stores, I also love the recipes they have on their website/app. I’ve bookmarked so many it’s ridiculous. Obviously I haven’t even come close to making them all, but someday I will! For today’s WIAW, I wanted to share with you some of my current favorite recipes that hopefully I’ll be making come Thanksgiving break. So here we go! (P.S. All photos courtesy of http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/. I am not that good of a food photographer 😉 )

Breakfast: Cocoa Almond Baked Breakfast Quinoa

This almost looks like cake!

 I know what you’re thinking–quinoa for…breakfast? I totally thought the same thing, but this actually looks really heavenly, and is healthy to boot (of course!) Quinoa is a complete source of protein, which is great at breakfast, and with the addition of some hemp seeds and almond meal, has some healthy fats and fiber. Overall, it’s got 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per slice.  Plus it’s sweetened naturally with dates and is made with cocoa powder.  Total win, right?

Lunch: Carrot-Ginger Soup and TLC Sandwich

I love how orange this is!

It's like a BLT...but better/healthier!

 I’m usually not the hugest fan of soup, but I’ve gotta admit that it’s super-comforting in the fall and winter. I love carrots too and this broth looks so thick. I’d probably just swap out the regular potato for a sweet tater, you know, to increase my chances of turning orange 😉 And the soup/sandwich combo never gets old. This sammie features homemade tofu “bacon” which sounds absolutely amazing! Definitely a must-try recipe. If I was in a hurry, I’d probably just cook up some strips of tempeh bacon to put on the sandwich. I never used to be a big fan of real bacon, but I love me some vegan bacon! It’s so crispy and smoky.

Snack: Cocoa-Oat Truffles

Looks like poop, tastes SO much better 😉

 How simple are these–just 4 ingredients, plus extra spices if you want to. I would totally make these right now if only I had a food processor, because I’ve got everything else on hand. A mini food processor is DEF going on my Christmas wishlist! Basically, these are 4 of my favorite staples–rolled oats, cocoa powder (I’d use Hershey’s Special Dark), dates and almond butter–all rolled into one ball. Could they be any more yummy?

Dinner: Portobello and Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers (with a side of Baked Sweet Potato Fries)

Too bad mine wouldn't look this perfect!

Now I really want sweet potato fries!

 If you’ve ever had a portobello burger, you’ll know how delicious they are. I’m not even a big mushroom person and I love them. My favorite kind is from Larkburger, but I’d love to attempt to make my own at home. And I would totally dress them up with teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple, because those are some of my fave burger toppings. And of course, what would a burger be without fries? I love love LOVE baked sweet potato fries with all my heart, they will never be replaced!

Dessert: Festive Garland Bars

Sweet and salty is the perfect way to end the day!

 I will find some way to make these vegan for sure. I’ll probably sub dark chocolate chunks for the white ones, omit the butter, replace the egg with pumpkin puree (for an extra festive twist!) and use oat flour or whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose. But these are definitely on my must-make list for Thanksgiving break, I just love the sweet and salty combination!

So there you have it! While I wish I could really cook on a regular basis, it just isn’t possible in a dorm room so I have to look forward to breaks and weekends at home!

Do you like the Whole Foods website recipes? What do you wish you could make for yourself right now?