Food & Fitness Friday

Well, apparently I’m a sucker for alliteration. And themed posts. Hey, whatever works right? And it’s Friday, by this point in the week I’m just happy it’s the weekend and I’m looking forward to my 3 day break from thinking. Joking, of course, because I still (always) have homework to do but it’s still nice to have a few days off from classes and the daily grind.

I hate when I get excited about a new food find…and it’s disappointing

All the way from the U.K. and not even that great.

All the way from the U.K. and not even that great.

I’ve seen these bars on several, mostly U.K.-based blogs and totally drooled over it. What’s not to love about a vegan, gluten free, no added sugar, maple peanut protein bar? Apparently, a lot. First of all, it’s a light grey-colored bar. Totally unappetizing, but I took a bite anyway. Aaaaand…not the best bar I’ve ever had. It didn’t really taste like maple or peanut, more just sweet and it had a texture different than the Larabars I’m used to. The only thing great about it was the 12 grams of protein. Not a repeat purchase for me. (P.S. I did love the raw chocolate brownie Pulsin’ bar I bought though…)

I took my first “progress” pics…and I’m actually posting them!

Definitely not where I want to be, but hopefully I'll make some gains soon!

Definitely not where I want to be, but hopefully I’ll make some gains soon!

I started lifting at the beginning of February (light weights, nothing too crazy at first) and I wanted to take some progress pics to establish a baseline. I have noticed a few changes, mostly that my biceps are a bit more defined than they were, and my triceps are tighter when I flex. I really want to start seeing some changes in my stomach (I have a few ab like lines when I flex but they’re not as defined as I’d like) and my legs are still one of the spots I don’t like on my body. I always feel like they’re huge, flabby, etc. even though I know they’re muscular and (hopefully) not huge. I just need to start accepting my thighs for what they are!

I’m having sushi twice in one week #getatme

I love having leftover sushi as a salad topper.

I love having leftover sushi as a salad topper.

After coming back up to campus on Monday evening and having to make a grocery run, I decided to just do a lazy dinner and get some veggie brown rice sushi from Whole Foods. I split the box into two servings, and enjoyed one of them the other day for dinner on top of a peanut flour and coconut aminos-massaged kale salad. And tonight, I’m planning on getting sushi from an actual sushi place with a friend. Nothing beats a Friday night sushi date!

I just can’t get enough…of chia puddings for breakfast!

A tiramisu inspired pudding. Made with Sunwarrior vanilla, ground coffee, chia seeds and topped with  1/4 raw chocolate brownie Pulsin' bar and the last of the coconut whipped 'cream'.

A tiramisu inspired pudding. Made with Sunwarrior vanilla, ground coffee, chia seeds and topped with 1/4 raw chocolate brownie Pulsin’ bar and the last of the coconut whipped ‘cream’.

These are becoming my new breakfast obsession. Actually, I could eat these for any and all meals, they’re just that good. The version I had yesterday morning was one of my favorites, nothing beats the coffee/chocolate/coconut combo.

Tiramisu Chia Pudding (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

1 scoop Sunwarrior Warrior Blend vanilla protein powder (or other vanilla protein powder)

1-2 tsp chia seeds

1 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 tbsp ground coffee (I used Archer Farms candy cane blend)

1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, to mix

In a small bowl, mix together protein powder, chia seeds, coconut flour and ground coffee. Add enough almond milk to make a creamy and thick consistency with no dry spots. Add a little extra if you want your chia pudding to be more liquid-y. Refrigerate overnight and serve in the morning topped with coconut whipped cream (just the thickened part of a can of coconut milk that’s been  refrigerated overnight or a few days), more ground coffee and a chocolate Larabar-type bar. Makes 1 serving. 

iHerb is my addiction #sorryimnotsorry

The latest iHerb order...including new-to-me lucuma powder and a free watermelon lollipop!

The latest iHerb order…including new-to-me lucuma powder and a free watermelon lollipop!

So I should have known when I first ordered from iHerb (November 2011…wow how time flies!) that I’d become addicted! I only buy from them once a month, mostly for my peanut flour fix, but they have great selection, decent prices and they always ship out pretty quickly. My latest order shipped out on Monday and I got it Thursday morning…free shipping rocks! I got my beloved peanut flour, my favorite chocolate brand in the two flavors I can never find (and love the most), a big thing of coconut sugar, my favorite Larabar flavor in a 5 pack and new-to-me lucuma powder that I’m already loving! If you’ve never shopped on iHerb…do it now! Oh, and use my code NOQ779 for $5 off orders under $40 and $10 off orders over $40!

What’s going on in your world food and fitness wise this Friday? What hashtag sums up your life right now?

Recipe submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #32

The Meal Survey

Happy Labor Day, for those of you who get the day off! Sorry I’ve been pretty MIA since midweek–school was crazy and then I came home for the long weekend. My family and I went to Breckenridge, CO on Saturday for their annual duck race. Sounds silly, but totally fun and a great excuse for a day trip to the mountains. I was really looking forward to it, especially because the weather here has been crazy hot for months and it’s always cooler up there. Well, we got a little more than we bargained for–it was sunny and hot in the morning, storm clouds rolled in and it rained like crazy, then it was cold and windy, then sunny again and finally cold and rainy. Totally bipolar day, but still fun!

Today I’ve just got a fun food-related survey that’s been all around the blog world lately. Enjoy!

Breakfast Questions

1. Favorite cereal as a child?

Tough question, since I was a huge cereal lover as a kid. That was basically my breakfast every morning. I remember really loving Post Blueberry Morning. It was a healthy-ish cereal but plenty sweet and full of berries and almonds!

2. Coffee or tea? With milk or without?

Coffee for sure! I love tea, but really only iced tea. Coffee is great iced and hot. When I get it iced, I go for just straight black coffee sweetened with some Truvia. But I prefer my hot coffee with a little soymilk or almond milk (Starbucks, can you get on the almond milk trend?) and one of their sugar-free syrups. I know artificial sweeteners aren’t the best, but I love their syrups and they’re an occasional indulgence.

First hot coffee drink in months! Tall soy skinny vanilla latte.

3. The one food you eat most often at breakfast?

I go through major breakfast phases. A year ago, I was really into overnight oats. Then I liked hot oats. Then smoothies in a bowl. Then pancakes. Now it’s waffles, and I’m ob-sessed! I always make them with buckwheat flour (I want to experiment with coconut flour though), ground flax, almond milk and then go crazy with mix-ins or toppings. My favorites are dark chocolate chips, real maple syrup, sweet potato, berries and protein frosting.

Lunch Questions

1. Sandwiches are generally considered a “lunch food”. If you had to choose between a grilled cheese and a peanut butter and jelly, which would you pick?

Hands-down, PB&J! I obviously don’t eat real cheese anymore and I’m not a big fan of the vegan cheeses. I actually never was a big grilled cheese lover, even as a kid. However, I did used to eat just jelly sandwiches on wheat bread because I hated (still do) PB. I was a weird kid 😉 I absolutely love almond butter and jelly sandwiches though. I really want to try a macadamia butter and mango jam sandwich, it just sounds amazing!

2. You can only put four ingredients in your salad (not including greens); what do you throw in the mix? Additionally, which greens and dressing do you pick?

Ooooooh, hard question! I really love complex, random salads so it’s hard for me to pick just four. I guess I’ll go with edamame, peanut sauce, red peppers and chili-flavored cashews (like the Thai salad from Panera!) For greens, I usually go with kale or baby spinach. I hate hate HATE arugula though, so I’ll pick it out if it’s in a spring mix. I’m so high maintenance 😉

Another favorite salad, from Qdoba. Black beans, corn salsa, habanero salsa and tons of guac.

3. One food you can’t live without at lunch?

My lunches are always different, but one thing that stays the same is produce. I always have a fruit and veggie at lunch time and I try to mix it up. I love salads but it isn’t always practical to have one, so sometimes I’ll bring baby carrots or mini sweet peppers to campus and for fruit I try to go with something more portable if I can’t be at my apartment for lunch.

Dinner Questions

1. It’s the end of the day. You’re tired, hungry, and your fridge is empty. If a fast food (from a chain) is your only option, where do you go and what do you order?

I haven’t had legit fast food in years, and I have no desire to do so. Plus most of them aren’t very vegan-friendly. I prefer fast casual chains, like Chipotle, Panera, Noodles, etc. since they have plenty of healthy options. However, my real ‘go-to’ is Whole Foods. Their prepared foods section is amazing and you all know my love for their salad bar! I actually just got some again on Friday and I’m already wanting more #noshame

The latest Whole Foods salad bar box. Marinated artichokes, sweet potato and pepper salad, orange chipotle tofu, Korean veggies, chana masala.

2. TV/computer on or off while you’re eating?

Always on, at least when I’m by myself, otherwise it feels too quiet and weird.

3. The one food you eat most often at dinner?

Sweet potatoes! I don’t know why, but I rarely have them at other meals (besides my sweet potato chocolate chips waffles). They’re my addiction for sure, especially topped with nut butter!

Dessert Questions

1. Choose between these two American desserts: cheesecake or apple pie?

Cheesecake, definitely. Never been an apple pie fan, but cheesecake was one of my faves before becoming vegan. Now I still enjoy it sometimes, when I make raw cheesecake from scratch or buy this amazing raw cheesecake brand from Whole Foods (super expensive, but worth it).

First attempt at raw cheesecake!

2. Choose between these two foreign desserts: tiramisu (Italy) or flan (Spain)?

Never had flan, but it does not look appetizing. Tiramisu, on the other hand, is amazing. I haven’t had it in forever, but I’m working on a raw, vegan version. Stay tuned!

3. Ice cream: cone or cup?

I prefer cups, unless it’s a special-flavored waffle cone like this one place in Estes Park makes. They seriously have flavors like bubblegum and marshmallow!

What nut butter and jelly sandwich combo have you always wanted to try? What’s your favorite American-style dessert?

Raw Foodism 101

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, particularly my recipe posts, you’ll know that I’ve recently discovered a love for raw ‘cooking’ and foods. I currently only have 8 raw recipes in my repertoire but I’m constantly thinking up new desserts I can ‘raw-ify’. I know a lot of people out there don’t know a lot about what raw foodism is, so I thought I’d give you a little rundown of what it means to me and how to start incorporating raw foods into your diet. Note: I am NOT a strict raw foodist, or an expert on this topic. These are just my opinions and what I’ve read from other blogs about raw foodism.

In a (raw) nutshell, raw foodism is eating foods that have not been cooked above a temperature around 115-118 degrees. The main type of raw foodism is raw veganism (as many vegan foods are safe for consumption without being cooked), but some raw foodists are vegetarians or omnivores. Raw foods are preferred over cooked because cooking can destroy the healthful enzymes found in the raw form.

Raw vegans eat fruits, vegetables, soaked nuts & seeds and sprouted grains & legumes. The strictest raw vegans follow a diet known as 80/10/10, which is 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat, and eat just raw fruits and veggies.

Raw ‘cooking’ is a bit more complicated than just eating straight-up raw or soaked foods. You need a lot of kitchen appliances, like a food processor, blender, juicer and dehydrator. Raw foodists can still eat crackers and cookies–by using these appliances, they can make healthier, more nutrient-dense versions of these popular items while still staying raw. Dehydrators technically heat foods, but only to 115-118 degrees.

Raw ‘cooking’ involves different ingredients than regular cooking. I haven’t done as much experimenting with savory raw dishes, but I can tell you some of the staples needed to make raw desserts.

  • raw, soaked nuts and seeds (especially cashews)
  • raw cacao powder
  • agave nectar, raw honey (not vegan)
  • dates, other dried fruit
  • fresh fruit
  • chia and flaxseed
  • maca/mesquite/lucuma powder
  • cacao nibs
  • soaked buckwheat

If you’ve ever wanted to try preparing raw meals for yourself, but are worried about how complicated it might be, never fear! There are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive raw recipes out there for you to try out. Here are some that I’ve made in the past or planning to make soon…oh, and don’t mind my lame attempt at raw humor 😉

Rawcos (raw tacos)

Photo courtesy of My New Roots.

Tirawmisu

Photo courtesy of A Raw Story.

Cheezy Sundried Tomato Kale Chips (dehydrator recipe)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Key Lime Cheezcake 

My own photo & recipe.

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of Choosing Raw.

Rawco Salad (raw taco salad)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Raw Mini Pecan Pie

My own photo & recipe.

So now you have no excuse not to try out raw foods for yourself!

What’s your favorite thing to eat raw? Have you ever made a raw meal or snack?

Pancake Party!

I get into breakfast ruts a lot. For most of my life, I ate cereal with skim milk and possibly a side of waffles for breakfast basically every single morning. I’ve never been a savory breakfast kind of girl, because I’ve always hated eggs, bacon and sausage. Within the past year, though, I’ve moved away from having cereal for breakfast. First, I was on an overnight oats kick that started about a year ago. I was obsessed and came up with a million different combos. I still love overnight oats, but now I’ve been having them for snacks more often than for breakfast. Just a couple of weeks ago, I started having a smoothie-in-a-bowl basically every single day, topped with fruit or crushed cereal. So good. But since I’ve been home for the summer, there’s been only one thing on my mind–pancakes.

Before a week ago, I don’t think I’d ever made pancakes from scratch. Sometimes on the weekends I’d whip my family up a batch made from an Archer Farms mix. While they have tons of awesome flavors, they aren’t super healthy (or vegan–why do so many things have to have milk in them?) Earlier last week, I made my first homemade, single-lady pancake batch and I was hooked!

If you’re intimidated by making your own pancakes completely from scratch, fear not. They are super simple to make, take practically no time at all (maybe 10 minutes at the most, if you make a batch for just yourself) and are totally customizable. Here’s the basic formula I’ve been using…

3 T to 1/4 cup flour (I like peanut flour or oat flour)

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 to 1 T flax seed, ground and made into flax egg

2-4 T unsweetened almond milk (any flavor) plus extra water to thin

sweetener (I’ve been using Truvia packets or flavored liquid stevia)

Stir flour and baking powder together in a small bowl until combined. Add in liquid ingredients until mixed well. The batter should be thin enough to drip off a spoon but thick enough to hold together. Makes 3-4 small pancakes.

The baking powder is really the only thing you can’t substitute. You can use any flour you like, gluten-free or whatnot. If you’re not vegan or don’t have flax on hand, sub in egg whites or chia seeds. You can use all water, or all almond milk, or any kind of milk you want. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can leave out the sweetener or you can use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup or honey. And of course, any add-ins  and toppings you like! You can even play around with the texture. I love mine really thick and fluffy, so I make tiny, pillowy pancakes.

I’m sharing some of my favorite combos that I’ve made so far–all of them have been amazing and so much better than pancakes made from mixes!

Carrot cake pancakes made with oat flour and shredded carrot/fresh pineapple chunks/cinnamon/raisins, topped with peanut flour sauce and raisins.

PB&J pancakes made with peanut flour and topped with homemade strawberry jam and sunflower seed butter.

Cookie dough pancakes made with oat flour and chopped vegan chocolate chips, topped with honey vanilla agave syrup.

Tiramisu pancakes made with oat flour and Starbucks instant coffee powder, topped with homemade cashew ‘mascarpone’ cream, dusting dark cocoa powder and honey vanilla agave syrup.

Cashew ‘Mascarpone’ Cream (vegan, gluten-free, no added sugar)

1/4 cup cashew pieces, soaked in water overnight

2-3 T unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or plain)

5-6 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to taste

Drain water off cashews and pour into food processor or high powered blender. Add in almond milk and stevia and process until mostly smooth and creamy. Serve on top of pancakes/waffles, as a dip for fresh fruit or as sandwich filling. Makes about 1/4 cup.

Do you prefer pancakes, waffles or crepes? What are your favorite toppings for pancakes?

WIAW: ABC’s of Food Survey

I haven’t done a survey in wayyyyyyy too long. Sad, because I love ’em. I’ve always loved taking quizzes (except in school…) and questionnaires, so foodie surveys are right up my alley. But just in time for another WIAW, I’ve got a survey to take, courtesy of Tori of Fresh Fruition. Let’s get to filling it out!

Peas and Crayons

A new creation of mine: snickerdoodle cookie overnighters! Mixed with plenty 'o cinnamon, Truvia and topped with Annie's cinnamon bunny grahams.

[A] Apples or Oranges: I like both but I’ll have to go with apples. Especially Exclusively Pink Ladies. Oranges are great in the summertime, though.

[B] Beans or Lentils: I’ve only had lentils once or twice, so definitely beans, though I’d like to try lentils more often. My fave beans are hands-down black beans, but garbanzos are also muy delicioso.

[C] Cereal or Oatmeal: Gosh, I used to be such a cereal fiend but since this spring, I’ve been lovin’ on the oats almost daily (sometimes twice!). I love all the overnighters combos I’ve had and I think oats are the perfect palette for getting creative.

[D] Dates or Raisins: Before I discovered dates, I liked raisins a lot, but once I bit into the gooey golden goodness that is a Medjool date, I forgot all about raisins. Luckily, I recently rediscovered my love for raisins and I’ve been having a handful a day. But nothing can beat an almond butter-stuffed date!

I like to eat a lot of small things at every meal so I don't get bored. The usual spicy veggie sausage, frozen mango and peanut butter Puffins. I'm slightly addicted to these.

 [E] Eggs or Milk: Now that I’m mostly vegan, both are out. However, I’ve never ever liked eggs in anything. I do like nondairy milks, however, especially unsweetened chocolate soy milk and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Yum!

[F] French Toast or Waffles: Considering that I can’t ever remember eating French toast, I’ll go with waffles. I haven’t had one in a few weeks (that’s gonna change soon, hopefully!) but I love making my own or just chowing down on some toasted mini blueberry waffles.

[G] Garlic or Salt: Garlic. I’m pretty sensitive to saltiness so if something tastes a bit too salty, it ruins the whole dish for me. Garlic is amazing in all kinds of savory dishes, but it gives me horrible breath. Yikes!

I love salads at lunch, especially if they have a bit of crunch. Mixed greens salad topped with black beans, Greek yogurt/guac dip and multigrain chips. Raisins, frozen pineapple and mint chocolate roasted almonds on the side.

 [H] Honey or Maple Syrup: I’m starting to become addicted to maple syrup–the real stuff, of course! I’ve never been a huge fan of honey, except in Greek yogurt. Maple is amazing on oats, in yogurt, on waffles and toast…pretty much anything.

[I] Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt: Froyo all the way! I don’t go for heavy things like ice cream anymore, but give me some froyo any day. But if I really had to choose between all frozen desserts, my answer would obviously be gelato. It’s so much thicker and fluffier than ice cream, but healthier and not as filling.

[J] Jam or Toast: Since I’ve discovered Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread, I’ve been loving toast. Though some nice organic jelly can be good, too.

I painted my nails! The new trend is to paint only one nail in a different color, so I painted 9 of them silver and one hot pink!

 [K] Kale or Spinach: I’ve only had kale one time in a really good Asian salad from Whole Foods, and it was good, but spinach has my vote. It’s my green-of-choice for salads and smoothies (Green Monster, anyone?)

[L] Lemon or Lime: Unlike most people, I prefer lime. It’s so sour without being too much–I love it squeezed into fresh iced tea or drizzled on black beans.

Outfit of the day: charcoal grey cropped tee (American Eagle), dark brown leather woven belt (Abercrombie), distressed boyfit midi shorts (American Eagle), bangles and shell necklace (American Eagle). I used my new hair waver to create the "hippie" look I was going for today.

 [M] Muffins or Cupcakes: I absolutely hate frosting, so muffins it is! I love how muffins taste decadent but are usually pretty healthy–at least healthier than cupcakes!

[N] Nut Butter or Jelly: Nut butter! More specifically, crunchy almond butter. I love mine unadulterated, just almonds ground up. Though I would love to try the almond cashew peanut butter from Target…

[O] Onions or Peppers: As much as I love the taste of onions, I’ve gotta go with peppers because they don’t leave me with a terrible aftertaste for days. No joke. Grilled bell peppers are one of my favorite veggies.

[P] Peanuts or Almonds: Almonds, fo sho! I like peanuts when they’re cooked into an Asian dish, but otherwise, give me the almonds and no one gets hurt 😉

[Q] Quick or Yeast Bread: I have never made yeast bread before because it seems way too complicated for me so quick bread it is.

Peanut butter Puffins make yet another appearance, this time atop plain Greek yogurt mixed with a drizzle of maple syrup.

 [R] Raspberry or Blackberry: Definitely raspberry! I love those ruby bites of yumminess, but I actually like the golden variety even better.

[S] Sweet or Savory: Are you kidding me? I have such a sweet tooth it’s not even funny. I’ve gotta have something sweet at every meal, even dinner. In fact, give me breakfast for dinner and I’ll be happy.

[T] Tea or Coffee: I like both, but only in specific ways. Coffee–must be Starbucks (I know, I’m spoiled 😛 ), preferably in a skinny latte, light mocha frappuccino or straight-up iced. Tea–gotta be iced, sweetened with a packet of Truvia.

Dried fruit is my favorite thing to snack on! Freeze-dried strawberries, Medjool date and dried pineapple. All that's missing is raisins!

[U] Udon or Spaghetti Noodles: I don’t think I’ve ever had udon noodles, so I’ll say spaghetti but I really only like whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Spinach pasta is also so good.

[V] Vanilla or Chocolate: Chocolate! I usually only eat chocolate-flavored things instead of straight-up chocolate, but if I do eat it that way, it must be dark. I do love adding vanilla extract to my oats, though.

Dinner: Gardein veggie burger on wheat sandwich thin with a pickle tongue (!), baby carrots, sweet potato tater tots. These tots were new to me, and I loved em.

[W] Whole Wheat or White Bread: My mom has never bought white bread for sandwiches, not even when I was a kid, so I’ve always been eating wheat and liking it. My new favorite grain-filled bread is Ezekiel cinnamon raisin.

[X] Xanthan or Guar Gum: I’ve never used either one, though I’d really like to try some in my smoothies, so I can’t say I have a preference. I think xanthan sounds the coolest, though. Xanthan, xanthan, xanthan…

[Y] Yogurt or Pudding: Yogurt. Greek yogurt of course; my brand of choice is Oikos. I love all the flavors, especially chocolate, superfruits and peach mango. Plain is perfect in place of sour cream. I would love to try some soy pudding, though.

[Z] Zucchini or Cucumber: Cucumber, mostly because I’ve never had zucchini, but also because it’s amazing in Greek salads.

Oats twice in one day? Bring it on! This time, another new variety: tiramisu. Mocha overnighters topped with coffee-infused Greek yogurt.

 Tell me more about you! Fill out any of the above letters with your answers!