Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Being Frugal and Healthy (quick post)

Check this out!  I managed to score an awesome deal on Zevia soda and now look at this stockpile....haha!  It looks like I am preparing for the apocalypse!  :)

Have you found any good deals lately?  Do you have any frugal tips for being healthy and thrifty?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Protein Bars Galore

Well, my plan was to blog more now that I am on my summer break but as you can see, that hasn't happened.  However, I have been doing a lot more cooking including making new recipes.  One of the things I have been making a lot of is protein bars.  All kinds of protein bars......gingerbread "Clif" bars based off of this recipe got everything started.  Then I made Blueberry chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, and peanut butter banana chocolate chip.  I am still working on getting it just right, but it's been a lot of fun experimenting with the recipes and making lots of new foods.

(Blueberry Chocolate Chip Protein bars with soy yogurt and fresh blueberries)

 I have also been making some overnight oats after getting inspired by a friend who makes them for herself.  Along with cooking a lot of new food, I also rejoined Weight Watchers.  I decided it was time to have more structure and accountability again.  Counting calories on my own just wasn't working for me anymore.  Hopefully paying money, going to meetings and having that accountability will be just what I need.

As soon as I get the protein bars just like I want them, I will post a recipe.  But as you can see based on this picture below, they still have some work (notice the cracks in them!):

(My protein bars:  a work in progress)

What have you been up to this summer?  Are you reaching your summertime goals?  I hope so!  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Berry Banana Pancakes

My summer break is officially here!  Hopefully I will have more time now to blog!  I have been wanting to blog about this pancake recipe for awhile now.  Strawberries are about over for the season, but I definitely took advantage of all of the delicious local strawberries this year.

(Strawberries from the farmers market)

I have posted other pancake recipes in the past, and I have mentioned that I always top my pancakes with yogurt and berries instead of maple syrup because I can feel so much more satisfied with the yogurt and berries than the syrup.  Below is my recipe for berry banana pancakes:

Berry Banana Pancakes 
(Serves 1-2)

-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp salt (just a pinch)
-3 packets stevia sweetener 
-1/2 banana (mashed)
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1/2 cup almond or other nondairy milk
-1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
-vegan yogurt (optional)
-additional strawberries and blueberries (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mash the banana and then add all other wet ingredients to the mashed banana.  Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Once ingredients are mixed, fold in the blueberries.  Heat up a griddle or pan and make sure it's nonstick or spray it with some cooking spray or oil it.  With a ladle, make into pancakes on the griddle.  Cook on one side for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom side.  Then flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.  Top pancakes with additional berries, a chopped up banana and vegan yogurt.  

Sometimes I like to make this recipe for dinner too!  I really feel like you can eat pancakes anytime of the day.  :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Annie's LITE Goddess Dressing!

(Photo Source: Prevention.com)

When I first became vegan, I practically drank this stuff.  That was back when I was in the mindset that if it was vegan, it must be healthy.  Hahaha!  I think that if you use the original Annie's Goddess Dressing in moderation, it is fairly healthy.  However, that was not the case for me.  The original dressing is pretty high in oil and fat.  So once I started getting healthy about 3 years ago, Annie's Goddess Dressing became a distant memory to my food repertoire. 

When I was at Ingle's the other day (my local grocery store chain), I noticed that they had some of the Annie's dressings on sale so I decided to check it out and see if anything sounded interesting and healthy.  That's when I spotted the Annie's LITE Goddess Dressing.  I quickly checked the nutritional information and I also checked to make sure the lite version was still vegan.  And it is!  Yay!  When I checked the nutritional information, I decided that 60 calories for 2 TBSP wasn't that bad and I wanted to see if it compared to the original version.  Here's the nutritional information:

(Photo Source:  Soap.com)

It's been a few years since I have had the original Goddess Dressing but the lite version tastes just as good to me.  I honestly cannot taste a difference.  I love it!  I have been using it on my spinach, quinoa and edamame salads and I also had a baked falafel (from Appetite for Reduction) salad with spinach and quinoa the other night and used the lite Goddess dressing on that.  Delicious!  I definitely recommend giving it a try if you find it at your grocery store.  I haven't really been looking around for it at other places that sell Annie's products but hopefully it's not too hard to find.  If you cannot find it in stores, I noticed that the Annie's online store has it for sale for a pretty good deal.  It's less than $3 a bottle and if you spend over $40 you get free shipping.  It might be worth checking out.  Anyway, that's the scoop on the Annie's Lite Goddess Dressing.  Try it!  You won't be disappointed if you have always loved the original Goddess Dressing but you don't want to consume all of those calories! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tutti Frutti Soybean Yogurt: Vegan Fro Yo!

Last weekend we were in Charleston, SC for our anniversary.  There's a Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant right outside of Charleston so we decided to go to dinner there for the salad bar.  As we were pulling into the parking lot, we noticed a sign for Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt that said, "Now serving soybean frozen yogurt."  I didn't get too excited at first because I was afraid that it would be similar to sorbet which isn't really exciting to me.  But we decided to check it out after dinner to see what it was all about.  When we went in, they had 3 soybean flavors:  vanilla, peanut butter, and Oreo....yes, I did say Oreo!  They have it set up where you can sample all of the flavors so we were able to try all of them.  (Here's the link to the Mount Pleasant Tutti Frutti if you live near here!)  I was definitely most excited about the Oreo flavor because I knew they would have Oreos on the toppings bar.  All of the flavors were very creamy and delicious!  As a vegan, I get really excited about the ice cream machines that you can pull down the lever and it makes swirly ice cream/frozen yogurt.  That was always my favorite kind of ice cream before I became vegan.  So whenever I find a place that has it, I always get excited....too excited!  The toppings bar also had lots of vegan options:  fruit, nuts, Oreos, Reeses peanut butter sauce, and Ghiradelli dark chocolate sauce (both of the sauces were vegan).  Right now you might be wondering about the nutritional info of all of this vegan frozen yogurt craziness and I will be honest with you, I didn't do this healthy at all!  The first day (yes, we went back) I had the Oreo frozen yogurt with Oreos on top.  Pretty simple and basic and totally NOT healthy.  However, it was delicious and super exciting as a vegan.  The next day, I got a little bit of all 3 flavors with Oreos, peanut butter sauce and chocolate sauce....yes, even unhealthier than day one.  I let the excitement of it all get to me.  Sometimes I go into "vegan survival mode" or "vegan excitement over a rare vegan find" mode.  It gets the best of me sometimes.

Even though I did this very unhealthy, I looked up the nutritional information online and it doesn't have to be unhealthy.  It could actually be a fairly healthy treat occassionally.  The peanut butter flavor was listed as having 34 calories per one ounce.  No one eats one ounce of ice cream....that's ridiculous.  But if you ate 1/2 cup (4 ounces) that would be 136 calories of the peanut butter flavor.  Vanilla wasn't listed but I bet it is even less calories.  If you ate one cup, that would be 272 calories.  The only issue is that you would have to eyeball it since you serve yourself or I guess you could ask them to weigh out your frozen yogurt before you put toppings on it (if you put toppings on it at all).  I feel like the toppings are the "danger zone."  With things like Oreos, nuts, peanut butter and chocolate sauce (all vegan) that's too temping.  I think I would really have to have a game plan next time I go to a Tutti Frutti that has the soybean flavors.  If I did get Oreos, I would just get a few and not get the chocolate and peanut butter sauce.  Or I might just get the vanilla and eat it with some fruit.  You really could have this be a relatively healthy treat if you did it right.  It's just so hard to do it right when they have Oreos and peanut butter!  :)

Another cool thing about the vegan soybean frozen yogurt is that it supports an initiative to fight hunger.  They donate a portion of the proceeds of the soybean frozen yogurt to help fight hunger.  Very cool. 

Here's the catch:  not all Tutti Frutti locations sell the vegan soybean frozen yogurt.  Some of them just have sorbet.  Asheville has two Tutti Frutti locations and neither one of them have the soybean yogurt.....yet.  Hopefully (or maybe not) they will get it soon.  Before you get too excited, I would call your local Tutti Frutti shop (if you have one in your city) and see if they have it.  If they do, check it out!  It's totally worth it! 

Check out the website link for Tutti Frutti listed above.....they advertise the soybean frozen yogurt on the main page of the website!  How cool is that?!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Food Reviews and What I've Been Eating

I've been taking some pictures lately of different products I've tried and also some of the foods I've been making and I thought I would just do a post on that.  Some of the products are hits and some are misses. 

Protein Plus Peanut Flour-As far as convenience goes, you can't beat this product!  For me, I use peanut flour just like I would peanut butter.  I mix up about 30 grams of it (roughly 1/4 of a cup) with 1 packet of stevia, a pinch of salt and small amounts of water until I get the right consistency.  Peanut flour is high in protein, low in fat and pretty filling.  I will usually put it in a tortilla with a banana once I have mixed it up.  It also travels well.  You can take it on a plane in your carry on luggage whereas you can't take regular peanut butter.  I love this stuff.....a little too much.  That's going to lead me into the cons of this product.  Once I start to use this product, I use it too much.  I have it several times a day and my portions start getting bigger and bigger.  Basically I start to abuse it just like I would regular peanut butter.  Then I have to back off of it and not order it for awhile until I feel like I am "in control." Haha....Then the cycle continues. 

The other con, and please note that it may be something completely unrelated to this product, is that I think it affects my menstrual cycle.  I really don't have any solid evidence to back this up, I am just going off of a couple of things.  Last year, I visited an accupuncturist and he was concerned about the amount of peanut flour I was eating.  He said he thought it could be affecting my lack of a menstrual cycle.  I didn't really listen to him though because I went to a chiropractor shortly after that and after visiting her just a couple of times, my period started back up and has been going ever since.....ever since a couple of months ago.  Recently I realized that my period had stopped again and I was eating a lot of the peanut flour again.  So when I ran out sometime at the beginning of last week, I decided not to buy anymore.  Here it is about 1 1/2 weeks later and my period started again.  Like I said, it could be a complete coincidence because I can't really find anything to back this up, but I am just going to pay attention to my body right now and avoid the peanut flour for awhile. 

(Pistachios for my morning snack!)

I just recently discovered that I love pistachios more than about any other nut.  It's the best nut to snack on because it's in a shell.  It takes longer to eat and it feels more satisfying to eat these than other nuts.  I typically don't eat nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc. for snacks because it doesn't feel like enough.  I always still feel hungry after I eat them.  However, pistachios are different.  They usually do a pretty good job of tiding me over til lunch time.  I love the roasted and salted kind.  Delicious! 

(Hummus with carrots)

I've been making a lot of hummus lately.  I will usually make a batch over the weekend and have it throughout the week.  I have been making it in my Montel blender and it comes out so perfect when I do that.  (The picture above was NOT made in the Montel blender).  The Montel blender is similar to the Vitamix in that it's super powerful and gets things extra smooth.  I will usually bring along some carrots, bell pepper strips and a tortilla to go along with my hummus

The first time I bought this product, I was so frustrated with it.  I opened it up and it looked like it had been frozen when it shouldn't have been.  It was a lot more like custard than yogurt.  When I tried to mix it up, it then just turned into the consistency of cottage cheese.  The texture was completely off putting and I thought I was just going to throw the whole container away.  Then R got the idea of putting it in the blender.  Brilliant.  We put all of the yogurt in the blender and got it smooth and then just put it back in the container.  Then it was perfect!  This is my favorite vegan yogurt on the market, unfortunately, it's just a pain in the ass to put every container into the blender first before I eat it.  What I usually do now is I buy four or five of the large containers and then do all of the blending at once.  Between R and me, we eat enough yogurt that it doesn't go bad this way.  I eat yogurt almost every day so I really want it to be a yogurt I am happy with. 

Also, I contacted Amande about this issue and they told me it was supposed to be like that.  (???)  I think maybe they are still working out some issues with the product....I don't really know.  However, they did send me a couple of coupons in the mail for 50 cents off.  Not a lot but since I continued to buy the product, I was able to use the coupons. 

I really could take or leave this product.  I definitely was not really excited about it by any means.  I was excited to try the vegan greek yogurt because I was already vegan when the greek yogurt craze hit a few years back.  So, I had never even tried greek yogurt.  I thought that one of the perks to greek yogurt was that it was supposed to be high in protein so I was thinking this would be a good filling snack option.  Not so much....the vegan greek yogurt only has 2 grams of protein per individual sized container.  I don't consider that very much.  The yogurt was very thick like I had imagined greek yogurt to be but it wasn't anything amazing.  R did really like it though.  I took a bite of it and then I just gave her the rest and she also ate the other container of it that I bought.  I will stick to the almond and soy yogurt. 

I've tried Teese cheese before but I guess when I tried it before, I didn't really focus on the nutritional information.  I found both the greek yogurt and the Teese cheese at our local "scratch and dent" health food discount store.  At 99 cents, it was a bargain and I couldn't pass it up.  So I bought 3 tubes of Teese without even thinking to look at the nutritional information.  When I got home, I decided to turn the tube over and glance at the back.  This is what I see.......

(Teese nutrition)

At first glance, it doesn't look that bad.  Then I looked again and realized that there are 10 servings in this little tube.  I quickly did the math and realized that 10 times 80 calories is 800 calories in one small tube of Teese cheese.  Yikes!  So I started thinking about ways to still be able to use it without breaking the caloric bank.  Then finally R made a gluten free macaroni and cheese with broccoli in it.  It turned out so-so but definitely not worth all of the calories.  We ended up throwing the mac and cheese away and the other two tubes of Teese.  I asked another vegan friend if she wanted it and she said she just didn't like the taste of Teese.  I guess we will just stick with Daiya. 

I think those are most of the new products I have tried lately and the things I am eating the most of right now. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge

(Just a note--all 3 of these pictures are pretty bad.  I have been really lazy over the past several months and I haven't brought my nice camera with me anywhere.  Therefore, I take pictures with the Retro Camera app for my phone.  I need to get better about this!)

One of my favorite places to go in Asheville is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.  It serves chocolate and coffee....what more could I want, really?!  Because I am mostly not eating chocolate during the week, the Chocolate Lounge is a nice weekend splurge.  I love the French Broad Chocolate Lounge because they stay open late, they serve vegan chocolate cake, truffles and sipping chocolate and it's a much better environment than a bar.  It's a great place for us to take guests when they are in town because everyone loves chocolate (well, maybe there are a few weirdos out there who don't) and it's a great place to just sit around and talk.  They have two floors and 3 separate rooms so even though there's almost always a line out the door, you can find a place to sit.  They also have live music on certain nights too. 

There are some other things I love about the chocolate lounge.  They have stevia available for my coffee instead of other nasty artificial sweeteners, they pay a fair wage to their employees, they have a focus on the environment and sustainability and it's a great local establishment that pumps money back into the local economy.  It's kind of expensive for us to go to the chocolate lounge but it's definitely worth it and it's a nice, decadent splurge. 

When I go to the chocolate lounge, I ALWAYS get the vegan olive oil chocolate cake....AMAZING!!  Once again, excuse the terrible picture:

They also have a line of vegan truffles called the Buddha collection, but I can't resist the cake.  The truffles are excellent but I just really enjoy the cake more.  R usually gets 2 or 3 of the truffles and we both share some of the french pressed coffee.  It's just a great way to spend a Saturday evening.