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?

WIAW: Monday’s Meals

Now that you’ve seen my meal prep, let’s see what I’ve done with all that food! These are all my meals from Monday, minus an afternoon snack of a pink lady apple and some homemade raw bites that I forgot to take a picture of because I ate them in my night class.

Let me start this post by talking a little more about Instagram. I know I’ve ranted about it in the past, but for me, it’s something I easily get sucked into even if I’m trying not to let it dictate my choices. A lot of the users I follow are raw vegans–even though the lifestyle is a little extreme (I don’t think all fats are bad, and I would like to try being more raw but not necessarily super low fat like most raw vegans), I find their viewpoint on food to be refreshing. They aren’t afraid of the carbs or sugar in fruit, and promote flexibility within the diet, but overall they’re committed to real, whole foods. So those users are positive influences on me. But then there are other users, who I stumble upon from the comments section of another user I follow, and I’m kinda pissed at what these people post. Every other picture is a Quest bar, and some even talk about how they don’t eat fruit after 2 pm because they don’t want the sugar in it to turn to fat. Disordered much? It just makes me so mad, and makes me question my own diet. Seriously, though, fruit is NOT bad and you shouldn’t feel afraid to eat it in the afternoon. And don’t preach ‘clean eating’ and ‘whole foods’ when all you eat is Quest bars and Walden Farms syrup. End rant.

Breakfast: frozen banana blended with romaine lettuce+Garden of Life raw protein powder for banana softserve, side of trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, homemade coconut bacon and raisins.

Breakfast: frozen banana blended with romaine lettuce+Garden of Life raw protein powder for banana softserve, side of trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, homemade coconut bacon and raisins.

Not an unusual breakfast for me. Actually, any breakfast not involving banana softserve is unusual. Yes, I still enjoy my cold breakfasts even into the winter. I just turn up the heat 😉

Lunch: random mix of kelp noodles, black beans, cauliflower, kraut and homemade spicy pumpkin sauce. Side of ataulfo mango and leftover homemade hannah yam fries.

Lunch: random mix of kelp noodles, black beans, cauliflower, kraut and homemade spicy pumpkin sauce. Side of ataulfo mango and leftover homemade hannah yam fries.

I love my lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because I can come home to my apartment and whip up something that I don’t have to scarf down in between classes or make the night before to take on campus. So I can have leisurely lunches like this random one above. Seriously, it sounds like a gross combo but somehow it all tasted good together.

Monday's outfit: black blazer (Charlotte Russe), black/pink patterned dress (Target), black tights (Target), black heeled suede booties (Target).

Monday’s outfit: black blazer (Charlotte Russe), black/pink patterned dress (Target), black tights (Target), black heeled suede booties (Target).

Monday’s outfit, brought to you by Target. But really, like most of this outfit came from Target. I honestly don’t buy clothes from there that much, but I love their cheap (and colorful) tights collection and adorable shoes. My mom happened to buy the dress for me, mostly to wear to work, but I love it as a dressier outfit for school too. I’m obsessed with the boots+tights+dress combo. I need more winter-appropriate dresses. The shoes were new, on clearance, and super cute but not the best for wearing on campus. I only had two classes on Monday, and I walked about 10 minutes from my car to class each way, but these were killing my feet. I just need to get better about walking in heels.

Dinner: salad of romaine lettuce, leftover Thai sweet potato veggie burger crumbles, raisins, pumpkin seeds, kraut and more homemade spicy pumpkin sauce.

Dinner: salad of romaine lettuce, leftover Thai sweet potato veggie burger crumbles, raisins, pumpkin seeds, kraut and more homemade spicy pumpkin sauce.

I’ve been on a roll with the random meals lately. Why do the most random combos always taste the best? I hate it because I can never remember exactly what was in the mix, so I can’t recreate it 100%. Like the pumpkin sauce in lunch and dinner. I remember pumpkin puree, almond milk, nooch, sea salt and some spices going into it. Maybe some sunflower butter too. It was so rich and creamy and just yum though. And it worked perfectly with the veggie burger crumbles and other toppings in this salad.

Dessert: successful take on the mug cake. Almond flour+coconut flour+stevia+a little baking soda+almond milk+stevia chocolate chips.

Dessert: successful take on the mug cake. Almond flour+coconut flour+stevia+a little baking soda+almond milk+stevia chocolate chips.

I’ve been seeing a lot of mug cake creations around lately and I wanted to make one again. I’ve whipped up a few in the past and they’ve always been an easy dessert option. This version was my attempt at a cookie cake. It was lighter and fluffier than a traditional cookie cake, and no where near as sweet (just sweetened with stevia) but still incredible. And definitely a more realistic dessert option for this baking-averse girl.

What’s the most random but delicious combo you’ve come up with? How do you feel about the ‘no fruit after 2 pm’ thing (or Instagram disordered eating in general)?

Homemade > Store-bought

I have a dilemma. See, I love making things from scratch, but sometimes there’s just not enough time to make all the recipes I bookmark, or sometimes they require way too many ingredients that I’ll end up using once. I’m all about convenience, but at the same time, there are things that are wayyyy better homemade than from the store…and vice versa!

Homemade > Store-bought

  • Coconut butter: Ask me this a week ago, and it would have been the exact opposite. I’m a relatively new convert to coconut butter’s magic, and I was partial to the Artisana brand, which unfortunately comes with a hefty price tag. My previous attempts to make coconut butter at home were complete disasters because I used reduced fat shredded coconut (all I had on hand) and that basically just makes coconut flour. I heard that using unsweetened coconut flakes worked well, so I bought the Let’s Do Organic brand for about $3 or $4 and ended up using a little more than half the bag to make coconut butter. I wish I had saved the entire bag before making it, because it turned out great–just a lot less than I wanted! The key is to use a large food processor, flaked full-fat coconut and at least 3 cups (I used 2, and it was fine, but I ended up with maybe 1/2 cup of coconut butter). I heard horror stories about food processors overheating, or the coconut never butterizing (is this a word?) and since I had to use my mom’s processor since mine’s a tiny one, I worried that I’d owe her a new one. Luckily, it whipped up the coconut butter in probably 10 minutes tops and it was perfectly drippy and creamy, just like Artisana’s.
Just like Artisana's but cheaper!

Just like Artisana’s but cheaper!

  • Guacamole: I don’t think I’ve eaten store-bought guac in a few months and I’m not sure I can ever go back. I used to love the Wholly Guacamole brand but now it tasted less than fresh to me. Guac is one of the easiest things to make at home (you technically don’t even need a food processor) and is so easy to customize. My go-to blend is one avocado (or sometimes half for a single serve batch), chopped fresh jalapeno pepper, cilantro, squeeze of lime juice and sea salt to taste. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy, I just mash the avocado in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and call it a day. Nothing beats fresh-made guac!
  • Sprouted tortilla chips: To be fair, I’ve never come across truly sprouted and raw tortilla chips in a store, but I used to be a huge fan of the Way Better Snacks brand of sprouted tortilla chips and they’re still great in a pinch. But when I have more time on my hands, I like to cut a few Food for Life sprouted corn tortillas into triangles, place them on dehydrator sheets and let them dehydrate for a few hours. It takes a little more time than making chips in the oven, but it’s mostly hands-off and you get the added benefit of preserved nutrients. I love the Food for Life tortillas because they’re organic which is important for corn, and sprouted, which is a lot healthier than most corn tortillas on the market. I’ve always made my chips plain, but you can definitely dress them up with spices or lime juice.

Store-bought > Homemade

  • Raw nut mixes and flax crackers: I love the Living Intentions Gone Nuts! line of sprouted and flavored nuts despite their high price ($5 for a tiny 3 oz bag) and the Food on Purpose brand of flax crackers, both available at Whole Foods and Sprouts. Though I could probably make similar things at home, they wouldn’t turn out as tasty or as portable.
  • Veggie burgers: I’ve attempted cooked veggie burgers a few times (with only one success) and I want to try a raw dehydrated version, but they are so hard to perfect! I had similar issues in finding the perfect packaged veggie burger–some were tasteless, most had sketchy ingredients. When I found Sunshine burgers, I knew I’d found a winner. They’re made of whole foods like beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds and they’re hearty and delicious. They’re not the cheapest brand, but quality foods aren’t always cheap and it’s worth it to have a clean veggie burger I can eat when I don’t feel like cooking.
Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

Store-bought and food truck made veggie burgers are just better.

  • Raw chocolate: Last week, I experimented with making my own version of this chocolate. I used raw honey instead of agave for the lucuma filling and it was stickier than I’d like and I couldn’t form the cacao+coconut oil into a bar form. It still tasted fine, but I’d rather buy a bar of raw chocolate once a week and save my cacao powder and coconut oil for other things.

Are there things you prefer to make rather than buy, or the other way around? 

WIAW: Still Summer

I know people think fall started on September 1st, or that Labor Day weekend marked the end of summer, but not in my world! Or, technically, in the real world either, since fall actually starts in a couple weeks. And here, there aren’t many signs of fall coming–it’s still hella hot and sunny every day, but I’m not complaining. I don’t want my favorite season to go away, ever.

This week’s WIAW is pretty random (aka not all from one day) but is pretty representative of what I’ve been eating lately. And in trying to keep with this month’s theme, I have one goal I want to work on for this month. Now that I’m in my own apartment, with an actual kitchen, I want to make one new-to-me recipe per week. Sure, some of my week days are busy busy busy but I have some downtime on the weekends and on some evenings and I want to use them wisely. I might not post any of the recipes, especially if they’re basically the same as the one I was inspired by, but look for updates on how I enjoyed the new meals. And keep an eye out for more college budgeting posts–I’m so glad you guys like them!

Protein micro muffin. Peanut flour. Buckwheat flour. Ground flax. Raisins, cacao nibs and almond peanut cashew butter.

I’m still loving the protein muffins. They’re such a great way to get in protein and healthy fats, plus they’re an easy breakfast or lunch for busy days. Since I bought coconut flour a couple weeks ago, I’ve been putting that in my muffins along with the protein powder and it adds a great, fluffy texture.

I love my snacks! Cashew ginger & spice KIND bar. Fresh mango. Edamame. Mini sweet peppers. Homemade trail mix. Sprouted toast with peanut flour paste.

This assortment of snacks/mini meals was from last Tuesday when I was covering the Obama visit. I had a couple other unpictured things but luckily, this was all able to keep me satisfied for the 9 hours I was on campus.

Maggie Pond in Breckenridge before the big race.

As I said in my last post, I was up in the mountains on Saturday for Breck’s annual rubber duck race. Yeah, I’m a 5-year-old, but it’s always so exciting to watch the thousands of ducks race down the river. This year, it wasn’t as sunny and hot as it usually is, but it was a good break from the heat we’ve been having back home. And isn’t the town gorgeous? I would so live here, if it wasn’t so snowy most of the year. Guess that’s why it’s a big ski town!

Selfie #noshame. Dress from Forever 21.

The mirror in my apartment bathroom is perfect for selfies. I promise I’m not that self-centered. It’s just fun to take outfit shots and make funny faces. I also promise I have a life 😉

Another Whole Foods salad bar. Can’t even remember everything in it.

I got Whole Foods salad bar twice over the weekend! Yes, I am super lucky. This pic above is from Friday, but I also got a delicious assortment on Monday night. The blackened tofu with pineapple salsa and raw kale salad with cranberries and almond slivers were the highlight of that box. Would you roll your eyes at me if I told you I plan on getting another salad box this weekend?

Snackplate…for lunch. Almond peanut cashew butter with chocolate chips. Kale massaged with creamy garlic dressing. Grapes. Salted edamame. Dark mint chocolate square. Sweet potato multigrain chips.

If I’m not having snackplates for a snack, I’m having them for lunch. They’re great for those times when I’m indecisive and have to leave for class in half an hour. I tried to get a good mix of nutrients with this one–greens, protein, healthy fats (nut butter and dressing), whole grains (chips), fruit and some fun with the chocolate.

The best veggie burger ever. Udi’s g-free bun. Handmade three bean patty. Fresh avocado. Grilled pineapple ring. Harissa ketchup.

Saturday was my first experience with a food truck and it was also a very memorable experience. The one I went to was focused on sandwiches and burgers but they had plenty of veg options. I ordered this one sans cheese and when they accidentally put it on (and my dad and I had to make the trek back across town to get it fixed) they were super nice and apologetic about it. I didn’t mind having to speed walk back once I tasted this bad boy. It was the best veggie burger I’ve ever had, period. And it made me a ketchup and avocado lover. I want this again.

What’s the most fun thing you did over the weekend? Have you ever had a life-changing veggie burger?

WIAW: What I Ate (Monday)

I haven’t done a legit WIAW in awhile, you know, like posting all my eats from one specific day. Really, it’s just more fun to highlight some of my favorite meals from the past week instead of doing it all from one day, plus I always forget to take enough photos! But I thought I’d try to do a real WIAW this week since I actually remembered to take pictures.

Breakfast: peanut butter banana smoothie-in-a-bowl made with So Delicious unsweetened Almond Plus almond milk, peanut flour, xanthan gum, Truvia, mini banana and topped with peanut butter Puffins.

I’ve been experimenting with almond milks lately. So far, I’ve tried Pacific Naturals u/s vanilla, Almond Breeze u/s vanilla & chocolate, Silk u/s plain and So Delicious Almond Plus u/s plain. I’ve liked all of them, Almond Breeze and Silk are the creamiest and have the most calcium, not to mention I prefer the vanilla to plain, so I think I’ll be sticking to those to those two brands. The So Delicious one is good if you want  a little extra protein (5 grams versus 1 gram per cup in most almond milks) but I wish they would come out with an unsweetened vanilla.

Lunch: curried sweet potato pinto burger, carrots, ginger peanut sauce, fresh pineapple.

Being home has meant cooking for myself (for reals!) pretty much every day. For me, this isn’t a bad thing at all. Basically, because the rest of my family are omnis, I have to make my own dinner which has inspired me to get creative. Somewhat. I remade these awesome veggie burgers from spring break and they’ve been making an appearance at both lunch and dinner lately. The problem with cooking for one is you end up with a lot of leftovers…which maybe isn’t a bad thing at all!

Monday’s outfit: navy cardigan (American Eagle), dark grey lace tank (Hollister), navy/dark grey abstract floral skirt (Hollister), bangles (American Eagle).

The weather has been so effing bipolar here! Since I’ve been home, the weekends have pretty much sucked (temps. in the 60s at best, lots of clouds and wind, maybe some rain) and the weekdays are hit and miss. Monday was pretty warm, but cloudy for most of the day so I missed out on tanning. Boo 😦 Tuesday was super-warm, but I spent some of the day inside for my first day of my internship. What I did spend outside was extremely hot, even early in the morning. I’m just hoping this weekend is better because I want to do a lot of stuff outside.

Snackplate: freeze-dried fruit, raisins, square of dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt, stuffed date, kettle corn, blue and sweet potato Late July chips, peanut flour paste. Side of (half a can of) cream soda Zevia.

Snackplates are officially never going away…at least I hope not! The above assortment has been my go-to combo lately and I’m not getting sick of it. I’m just running out of almost everything on it! Time to make a trip to Whole Foods 😀

Dinner: Hugh Jass sweet potato topped with black beans/guac/nooch on one side, peanut flour paste on the other, side of mini sweet peppers and ginger jalapeno sauce.

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but this was one monstrous sweet potato! I enjoyed every last bite of it though, and of course had to please both my savory side (with the Mexican-inspired toppings) and my sweet side (with the peanut flour paste). The mini peppers are my new favorite veggie for summer, especially dipped in this spicy sauce. I can’t say enough good stuff about the Ginger People line of sauces. I love both kinds that I’ve tried and now I wanna try them all, well at least the ones without eggs or dairy in them!

Nighttime snack: PB Puffins in u/s almond milk, frozen grapes, peanut flour paste and almond peanut cashew butter.

See why I almost never post my meals from the same day? It’s because I repeat the same things throughout the day often. Like peanut flour, which I had 4 times on Monday, and Puffins which I had twice. I sometimes get really hung up on one thing and I eat it every single day or multiple times per day til I’m sick of it for awhile. I hope that never happens with my beloved Puffins and peanut flour…

Do you tend to eat the same things every day or multiple times per day? What’s your favorite thing to cook for just yourself? 

Top Ten Tuesday

So in case you haven’t noticed, it’s already almost May. Ummmm, what the heck?! Seriously, I feel like just the other day it was Christmas. Like many other college kids, I’m feeling pretty burned out on school at this point. But my summer unofficially begins in 10 days, so obviously I am beyond psyched for that! I say unofficially because I have only one final exam this time around, so I’m starting my summer a little early, heading home next Friday and popping back up here to take my final the following Thursday…then my summer will officially begin!

Because of this burnout, which extends to many aspects of my life (oh summer, please come faster!) I’ve decided to do a little Top Ten list type post for today, as a little recap of my weekend, and also because I can’t really think about posting an actual post 😀 Hopefully you enjoy this for the time being though!

Ten Foods I Can’t Live Without

1. FruitOkay, technically this is cheating, but there are a billion fruits I can’t live without, from grapes to pineapple to watermelon to bananas to raspberries to kiwi to…you get the picture!

2. Almond milk. I love the unsweetened vanilla kind, but the plain unsweetened is kinda growing on me.

3. Oats. 

My favorite oats combo at the moment--topped with kettle corn, pretzel sticks, raisins and peanut flour/almond peanut cashew butter.


4. Kale. It’s great in chip form, cooked up with some salt/pepper/garlic on the stove and even raw and massaged with some kind of dressing.

5. Tempeh. My vegan “meat” of choice. I love it’s nutty flavor!

6. Peanut flour. 

I prefer peanut flour to PB2, I just store mine in an old PB2 jar so it's less messy!

7. Kalamata olives. Some people can’t stand olives–I don’t understand those people!

8. Medjool dates. So gooey, so caramel-y, so addictingly good.

9. PB Puffins. Do I really even have to explain this one? It’s basically my crack (besides peanut flour).

10. Sweet potatoes. 

Saturday's simple but yummy dinner: sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste, baby carrots, garden herb Sunshine veggie burger topped with mustard.

Ten Things I Did This Weekend

1. Went to an independent film fest with my dad. We’ve gone to it since it started 5 years ago–we both love seeing random short indy films.

2. Went to church on Saturday night. Pretty self-explanatory!

3. Went out to eat…4 times! Normally, we barely ever eat out, except for when my mom drops me off back at school after a weekend at home. Due to our busyness this weekend, we had to eat out a lot. Definitely a struggle for me with my ED thoughts, but I mostly succeeded. Yes, I did order ‘safe’ things, like salads and veggie/hummus plates, but I truly enjoyed all of them. My favorites of this weekend were the salad I ordered at Mad Greens on Friday afternoon (baby spinach topped with Kalamata olives, dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and garbanzo beans with a fat free balsamic dressing) and the salad I got on Sunday night at Noodles (the Med salad with no dressing or feta, topped with grilled tofu). I kinda learned that I’m really not a tofu girl–it’s not necessarily the texture, but the taste for me. I’m not the hugest fan.

4. Played tennis with mi padre. Usually we play singles and a half (because we play with my sister) but she was unavailable so the two of us just played singles. It was so warm out and I was running around more than usual, so it was a great workout!

5. Grocery shopping. When my mom and sister picked me up on Friday afternoon, we hit up the Whole Foods and Super Target up here, then back at home we picked up a couple more things at the Super Target by us. And on Sunday, my dad and I ventured to Walmart where I stocked up on Truvia.

6. Bought my first-ever Zevia! I got the cream soda variety, and while I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to enjoy it, I have a feeling it’ll be incredible. Hopefully not so incredible that I feel the need to buy it on a regular basis since it’s pretty expensive…

So excited to try this!

7. Rode my bike for the first time since last fall. I never get the chance to ride it during the winter because of snow (duh) and there was even some lingering snow when I came home for spring break. I got in two quickie miles that were super hard because my tires were flat. Oops!

8. Worked on my final papers. Not fun, but they have to get done at some point!

9. Starbucks trip! I ordered a tall unsweetened iced coffee with 3 pumps of sugar-free hazelnut. Even better than the plain unsweetened with Truvia. I loved the nutty taste.

10. Repainted my nails silver and pink. I love this color combo and I actually haven’t had it since the beginning of school back in August!

My (slightly chipped) nails, and my lovely snake ring from American Eagle.

Ten Things to Do Before School’s Out

1. Finish my papers/essays. I’m definitely on track, just gotta keep my motivation up.

2. Clean my room. Vacuuming, dusting and all that should probably be done before I peace out.

3. Laundry. I don’t want to burden my mom too much, so I’m planning on washing my sheets and towels.

4. Finish up my last two weeks of classes. Even though I’m so done, I still have to get through 8 more days of classes. I can do this!

5. Make a (huge) list of recipes to make this summer. Some of this list will be coming ‘atcha tomorrow or Thursday for WIAW.

6. Turn in the last page of my internship stuff. The adviser in charge of organizing internships for students has such limited office hours that every time I stop by her office she isn’t there. I need to get this in though!

7. Move everything out of my room. Most of this will be done next Friday, and the rest the day of my only final. Not exciting or fun, but it’s gotta be done.

8. Sell my textbooks? Since I won’t be here during finals week, I’m not sure if this will get done, but I hope it will so I won’t have to have all these books laying around until the next buyback.

9. Study outside. It’s been incredibly nice here lately (I’m talking 80 degrees in April!) so I want to do this at least once.

10. Move out of the dorms…forever! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. I love my dorm this year, since it’s all my own and it’s new and has air conditioning, but I am so ready for my own place next year.

What’s on your top ten foods list? What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

Saturday Seven: Good Things Come in Threes

Hi everyone! So here we are again at the end of another week…and it’s almost halfway through April! I feel like I’ve said this a million times before, but time is really flying by! It’s almost kinda scary, considering how much stuff I still have to finish before I can say adios to this semester. Oh well, that’s pretty much the status quo for the end of any semester.

I haven’t done a Saturday Seven in…um, 2 months?! Yeah, let’s fix that right now!

1. The countdown is SO on!

I'm hoping this doesn't happen (photo from here).

As the title of this post suggests, there are only 3 weeks left in my semester. Technically, there are 4, but I only have one real final (the rest are papers or projects, which I kinda prefer) so I’m planning on peacing out the weekend before finals and just popping back up here on that Thursday to take that final. This is the first time I’ve ever had only one final in my college career so I am definitely going to appreciate it! Plus going home a few days early is always a plus.

2. I have a shopping addiction…

Obviously I suck at being creative!

Online shopping, that is. It’s where I get all these new-to-me food products that I never seen in stores or that are a little too expensive when I do see them. The latest purchases are from Amazon, where I got some Vega vanilla almondilla shake and go protein powder, xanthan gum and liquid vanilla stevia, all for under $40 and free shipping! I’m really excited to try the Vega powder because I’ve been on the hunt for some good, fairly inexpensive vegan protein powder that is free of soy protein, and this fits the bill! The xanthan gum is something I’ve been wanting for awhile, after seeing everyone post amazing-looking, super thick smoothies. And the stevia I’ve had before, but now it’s in a bigger bottle so I’ll get to use it more.

3. I’m actually being creative with my hair

I'm lovin' the side ponytail lately!

I almost never, I repeat NEVER put my hair up. But three times in the past week, I’ve put it in a side ponytail. Who am I? Twice this last week, it was curly (and in a side pony one of those days), then it was wavy for two days and finally straight for two days (once as a side pony). It’s actually been fun switching up my hairstyles, because I used to only have it wavy or straight, and down. I’m going to experiment with a side braid next.

4. It’s supposed to SNOW this weekend

I'm not looking forward to this again!

I already know that Colorado is a bizarre state, after living here for 17 years of my life. But this unusually warm spring has thrown me for a loop, and now I’m expecting it to continue to stay warm until October. Yeah, too bad it’s still April, one of the snowiest months here. We don’t get spring showers, we get spring blizzards. Luckily they are usually short-lived, and warmer temps return the next day, but snow is still no fun.

5. I’m becoming a Larabar lover

My second-ever Larabar...almost as good as the first.

I used to say I wasn’t a fan of Larabars–not sure why, as I’d never tried them before a couple of weeks ago. But I actually do love ’em…a lot! So far, I’ve tried the cappuccino (mmmm!) and the chocolate chip brownie, which reminded me of a chocolate brownie Pure bar, except with the addition of fair trade chocolate chips. It was good, but I think I’d stick with the Pure bar version in the future, since it has more protein. That’s my only complaint–most Larabar flavors have barely any protein. But I think some of the more unique flavors might be worth the lack of protein, and a few actually do have 5-7 grams, so it’s not too big of an issue. I just love how simple they are, yet really tasty!

6. I’m really missing the food at home

One of my favorite lunches over spring break: curried sweet potato pinto burger, kale chips, fresh mango.

Yeah, dorm room food isn’t cutting it anymore. Every time I go home for the weekend, I remember how much I love being able to cook for myself. And no, the microwave and blender don’t count. This is another big reason why I’m so ready for it to be summer–I can finally cook again. Plus I love summery foods, like berries, asparagus (okay, this is more springy but whatevs) and grilled veggie burgers so that makes cooking even more exciting.

7. I’m all ready for next semester

Registering for classes is always really stressful, but it wasn't too awful this time around.

Next semester is going to be SO different than my past 4 semesters have been. Mostly because I’ll be living off-campus for the first time, and I’ll be taking the bus everyday to classes. So I’ve gotta learn the bus routes and schedules. I also tried to schedule my classes in a way that would either give me big breaks (so I can catch a bus back to my apartment) or really small breaks so I can stay on campus in between them. I’ll definitely have to do more meal planning, even more than I already do with my current schedule, but I’m excited for a change. I think I’ll feel even more independent than I currently do.

Do you like to change up your hairstyles? What’s your favorite or least favorite Larabar flavor?

WIAW: Staples and Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why didn't I try this earlier?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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