Fork Worthy Nachos

So…I’m officially an adult! I made it through my first full, 40 hour work week.  Part of me feels like I’m still a (semi) irresponsible college student just doing a summer internship. It still doesn’t feel quite real, but I’m sure it will very soon. Possibly as early as tomorrow, when I have to forgo a day off to go into work to help cover severe weather. That’s exactly what I hope to be doing with my career eventually, though, so I’m excited. And at least I get to sleep in!

Nachos aren’t totally a kids-only food, are they? If so, then I guess I’m technically a kid because I love ’em.

Hold on. Aren’t nachos like the exact opposite of healthy vegan food? A pile of fried corn chips smothered in (usually) super fake and gooey cheese sauce, and topped with greasy ground beef and too much sour cream…not exactly my kinda fare. But I’m not talking about baseball game or Taco Bell or even Qdoba-style nachos. No, I’m talking about fork-worthy nachos — ones with plenty of veggies, fresh guacamole and salsa, aka adult – appropriate nachos.

These are those nachos. These are the nachos I choose to eat. Maybe they’re not technically nachos, because they involve no cheese at all (real or vegan) and you kinda have to eat them with a fork. Because they’re messy. And they’re mostly toppings. And sure, nachos aren’t nachos with a chip of some sort, but let’s be real, it’s all about the toppings. Because who wants a big plate of corn chips? Not you…because you’re an adult. You eat your veggies willingly, and you utilize silverware as needed.

But I promise I won’t tell your mom if you eat these with your hands…

Here’s to being an adult!

A beautiful mess.

A beautiful mess.

Fork Worthy Nachos (vegan, gluten free)

  • tortilla chips (I use Way Better Snacks sprouted sweet potato tortilla chips)
  • veggies, sauteed or raw (I used spinach, orange cauliflower and bean sprouts here)
  • spices (I used cayenne, onion powder and a little pink sea salt)
  • coconut or olive oil, to saute
  • beans (I used chickpeas, but black beans would be great too)
  • extras (pico de gallo, avocado/guacamole, pumpkin seeds, etc.)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat up coconut or olive oil. Add in veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add in beans and spices and continue cooking. Add in more veggies, if desired. Remove from heat and pour over tortilla chips. Top with salsa, guacamole or whatever you like. Makes 1 serving.

Do you like nachos? 

 

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

If you’ve been following along recently on my other blog, you’ll know I’ve been hinting at some big life changes lately.

Remember when I wrote this post almost 3 months ago? My life was a lot different then, which is so insane. I had just graduated from college a week earlier, and I was still trying to process that. I had just started the job search process, and even though I guessed it would take several applications to finally be hired (I guessed 50, it was more like 20), I had no idea what was in store for me or how I’d be feeling a month or two into the search. At least I was optimistic but realistic.

graduate

Little did this newbie grad know how much her life could change in just 3 months!

You know the saying, when it rains, it pours? That’s how my job search was. I heard back literally nothing from the applications I sent out from late December through late February. Nada. It was frustrating, to say the least. There were so many openings I was applying to, and I was opening my mind up to the possibility that I may not get an on-air position as my first job, or even my ideal location. But then, I got two emails in the same week in late February asking if I could interview. I also got another email last week, but by that point I already had something finalized and had to turn them down. From that point on, I’ve been riding a wave of hope, confusion and anticipation.

I got my official job offer last Tuesday, and it’s been a whirlwind since then. Paperwork, drug testing, appointments, figuring out budgeting/bank/money stuff, apartment hunting (online), furniture shopping, visiting some of my favorite places for at least the last time for awhile. It’s just starting to hit home that if all goes as planned, I’ll be moving 600+ miles from home in 2 weeks. 2 weeks. In fact, my family’s spring break trip is taking a little detour this weekend to check out apartments in the area and hopefully find a place.

Yes, I had to accept that this job is not on-air. It’s not in my ideal location (ahem, California or Arizona!) either. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Because it’s a freaking incredible opportunity, especially for someone just starting out in the TV field. It has the potential to lead to bigger and better things. It’s in a larger TV market than I was originally considering, which means bigger city amenities (like 2 Whole Foods stores and plenty of Starbucks). The weather there is better than where I live now–less snow, warmer year-round, but with severe weather too. It’s also a decent distance from home. One of my good friends, who’s also pursuing a career in TV, confided in me that she doesn’t do well with change and so she’s hoping for a job in-state. Me? I’m so ready for change! Yeah, it’s seriously scary to create a whole new life for myself in a completely different state and time zone, a 9 hour drive from my parents, in a place I’ve never lived, let alone visited. But life isn’t about staying in our comfort zone forever–it’s about getting out there and doing something that challenges us. How can we expect to grow if we don’t? 
 
The night skyline of the city I'm moving to! Any guesses where?

The night skyline of the city I’m moving to! Any guesses where?

 
Source 
My life is going to change more than I can even imagine in the next few weeks and months, but all I have to say is…bring it on.  
How do you deal with change? 

Kale Me Maybe [recipe].

So…this weather. I can’t complain too much, considering how much the East coast has been dumped on with snow and freezing rain lately. When you East Coasters were huddled inside hoping the polar vortex would just leave, I was enjoying the sunshine and 60-degree weather with an iced tea in hand. Sorry not sorry, guys.

But now I feel for you. After a few glorious days of well-above-average temps for Colorado this time of year, we were graced by the presence of snow. Okay, like an inch or two at the most. But I was getting ready to store my sweaters and boots until next fall. Guess I’ll be keeping them around for a little while.

Whether you’re so over the snow, were shocked by a dusting of it after spring-like weather or you’re already sunbathing and wearing sandals, you’ll enjoy these kale chips. They’re inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, which is a fun spin on the classic winter drink. Recipes vary, but it basically involved cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sweet and spicy is totally my thing, so I had to take these flavors and transform them into a magical coating for kale chips.

Of course, I made them raw vegan friendly. I started a raw challenge at the beginning of this month, and honestly, I don’t have any intentions of stopping once February has left. I feel so great with a diet based around raw veggies & fruits, nuts & seeds and fun superfoods. And hey, if I can make it through one of the coldest months of the year (though we’ve been pretty lucky here this year) eating fully raw, I can certainly do it into spring and summer!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can certainly bake these kale chips. Personally, I prefer dehydrated kale chips as they stay perfectly crispy without any burned bits. Either way, kale me maybe and make these chips!

Sweet, spicy and crunchy!

Sweet, spicy and crunchy!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Kale Chips (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1 medium bunch curly kale
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used 1/2 tsp because I like them spicy)
  • sprinkling cinnamon
  • stevia, to taste (if you want a sweet and spicy kale chip)
  • 2 tbsp expeller pressed extra virgin coconut oil
  • warm water, to thin

In a large bowl, mix cacao, cayenne, cinnamon, stevia and melted coconut oil until combined. Add in warm water slowly, until mixture is liquefied but somewhat thick. Rinse kale and tear into small pieces and place in bowl with spice mixture. Massage spice mixture into kale leaves and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate. Place kale on Teflex-lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 105-118 degrees for 2-3 hours, or until desired crispness. Store in airtight container.

Do you like spicy foods?

Recipe submitted to Raw Foods Thursdays.

Cake Pops for Your Valentine [recipe].

I like Valentine’s Day. There, I said it. No, I’m not currently in a relationship. Yes, single ladies can celebrate V Day too without being all bitter or hung up on their single-ness.

For me, it’s all about loving the people who are in my life. Friends. Family. Being single just means you can focus your love on those other people, and show them how much they really mean to you. Like for instance, I bought my sister a vegan chocolate donut from Whole Foods and I’m surprising her with it for breakfast tomorrow. It’s the little things like that that mean a lot more than a giant stuffed teddy bear or a cheap box of chocolates.

Then again, I also like Valentine’s Day because it means…more treats for me! Yes, I’m a little selfish but it’s true. I’m bad at sharing the foods I like because A) they tend to be a little expensive (cough cough, raw desserts) and B) did I mention I’m selfish?

If you like to share your food, then these cake pops are for you. A little bit cheesecake-y without the guilt, plenty of cherry and dark chocolate flavor to make them appropriate for Valentine’s Day…or any day, really. And if you don’t like to share–you’re in luck, too. Because that means more cake pops for you.

Someone went a little crazy on the Picmonkey filters...

Someone went a little crazy on the Picmonkey filters…

Cherry Cheesecake Cake Pops (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 1-2 hours
  • 2 tbsp raw coconut flour
  • handful frozen or fresh pitted cherries
  • 1 pitted date
  • stevia, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

In a food processor, pulse soaked and drained cashews, coconut flour and date until combined and cakey in texture. Blend in cherries and stevia and set aside. In a small bowl, mix cacao, coconut oil and additional stevia until mixture is thinned. Roll cashew cherry mix into small balls and dip into raw cacao mix. Place balls in fridge or freezer for a few hours, and serve as cake balls in cupcake liners or poke with lollipop sticks or toothpicks for cake pops. Makes 10 small pops, ~50 calories for 2 pops.

Perfect for your Valentine...or for you!

Perfect for your Valentine…or for you!

What’s one food you don’t mind sharing with others? 

Recipe submitted to Raw Foods Thursday

Bacon for Raw Vegans? [recipe].

My carnivorous (seriously, she HATES veggies and many fruits too) sister is a bonafide bacon-lover. She and my dad are currently in Chicago as she auditions for musical theatre colleges and they’re planning on going to a bacon restaurant this week. A. Bacon. Restaurant. What is wrong with America that we glorify shameless, unhealthy meat eating to the point that there are restaurants with a bacon theme?

Getting off my soap box, I realize a lot of people like bacon. Vegetarians and vegans alike, even. If that weren’t true, there wouldn’t be so many faux bacon products out there. I used to eat them occasionally, not really to replicate bacon (because let’s be honest, those products don’t and also I have no desire to eat meat or its imitations) but just to get that flavor. I think it’s the salty, smoky, sweetness that makes people go gaga over bacon. So why can’t raw vegans enjoy this flavor combo too…in a healthier form?

Enter…coconut bacon! I’m definitely not the first to think of this (though I wish I was) but many recipes out there aren’t raw or quite as healthy as this one. I’ve got nothing against maple syrup (love the stuff, actually) but for the sake of staying raw and no-added-sugar, I nixed it for homemade date paste and dehydrated my ‘bacon’. I think I like it better dehydrated than baked, because it keeps the texture perfectly crunchy.

Homemade 'bacon', fresh from the dehydrator.

Homemade ‘bacon’, fresh from the dehydrator.

Coconut ‘Bacon’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no-added-sugar)

  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (can increase amount for more ‘bacon’)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut aminos (can sub tamari for non-raw version)
  • few drops liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp date paste (soaked dates+a little water blended)

Mix aminos, liquid smoke and date paste in a bowl until combined. Add in coconut and stir until coconut is covered. Spread coconut flakes onto Teflex or parchment paper lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 118 degrees for 2-4 hours, or until coconut is crisp. Makes 1 cup.

BLA lettuce wraps with the coconut 'bacon'.

BLA lettuce wraps with the coconut ‘bacon’.

You can just eat the ‘bacon’ by the spoonful if you want, but it also makes a delicious addition to BLA (‘bacon’, lettuce and avocado) lettuce wraps, salads, sweet & salty desserts and basically anything that needs a little ‘bacon’!

Recipe submitted to Raw Food Thursdays

Have you ever tried non-meat alternatives to bacon? 

Grain Free Pizza Crust [recipe].

Remember when this blog was mostly about food? I actually don’t at all regret posting more about my personal life on here. I’m going through a very transitional phase in my life and while I’m enjoying some aspects of it (getting my groceries paid for by my parents is a HUGE perk!) I’m also very ready for something to happen in my life. So look forward to more personal posts on here and maybe on AlmostVegGirlie.

For now, let’s talk pizza. It’s the weekend and for many people, that means letting loose with their eating habits. Nothing necessarily wrong with indulging every once in awhile, but what if you want to keep things healthy but still weekend-worthy? Enter the grain free (and vegan!) pizza crust. And pizza toppings, of course, but I’m leaving that up to you.

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The Best Grain Free Pizza Crust (vegan, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

~2-3 tbsp almond meal
~2 tbsp coconut flour
~1/2-1 tsp psyllium husk (this is necessary to hold the crust together)
~1 tbsp tapioca starch (can sub arrowroot)
~pinch baking soda
~spices, to taste (I used sea salt, lemon pepper seasoning and rosemary)
~warm water (use enough to create a wet dough)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. Pour in water slowly, until a wet dough is formed. Spread pizza dough onto parchment paper lined cookie tray, about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until crust firms up and begins to brown.

To use as pizza crust, lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and top with sauce and veggies. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until toppings are hot. Makes 1 single-serving pizza.

What do you like to put on your pizza?

That Post-Grad Life.

Hi again! I’m thinking I want to keep up using this blog, and possibly transitioning AlmostVegGirlie over here eventually…we’ll see what happens.

As mentioned in my most recent post on my other blog, I graduated from college exactly 1 week ago. Since then, it’s been a crazy whirlwind of moving out of my apartment and back into my parents’ house, Christmas shopping and present-wrapping, Christmas itself and all the post-holiday errands. I still can’t quite catch my breath, but I’m starting to get back into a routine–well, if you can call not having much to do a routine!

I can’t quite believe I’m a college graduate–I feel like I was just moving into the dorms for my freshman year. But real world problems, like having to find a job and pay off college loans, are starting to hit me hard. I officially started the job search yesterday, and so far I’ve applied to one job, with another application ready to send out. Believe me, I’m going to be applying to probably about 50 jobs, so my job search is still in its early stages. When you go into a competitive field, like broadcast journalism (what I’m pursuing), you have to be ready to take a job almost anywhere. As it is, I’m limiting my search to the western United States. I’m willing to go as far east as Texas, possibly Nebraska, and anywhere else within the western part of the country besides Idaho/Montana. Those states are just too much nothingness for me. Even Wyoming is pushing it, but I know a lot of CSU grads get TV jobs in Cheyenne since the school is only about 40 miles away in Colorado.

Finally graduated.

Finally graduated.

I’m starting to dream out a life plan for myself, and I feel kinda like a grown up. I can almost picture myself living in some of the places I’m applying to, having a full-time job, probably with crazy hours and days, and learning the ropes of being on TV. I have 3 semesters of experience doing weather for my college TV station, but that’s small stuff compared to even the smallest TV markets. I can’t wait to (hopefully) move out of state, have my own apartment (if it’s in a bigger city, I may have to have a roommate…) and a new life. I’m excited to make friends with my co-workers, find a job I can truly enjoy (or move to one that I like better in a year or two) and maybe, just maybe, settle into a relationship. I’m not rushing that one, but it’s exciting (yet scary) because I’m coming to some conclusions about myself (and in a way, ‘coming out’ to myself) and it feels so freeing to admit to myself that, yes, I prefer girls to guys and that’s okay and I can really see myself having a meaningful relationship with (and hopefully eventually marrying) an amazing woman. But again, I want to focus on myself first–finding a job, settling in to that job, and making a new life for myself–and I don’t think that’s selfish. I have big dreams for myself, and I don’t want to limit them. I know I probably won’t get my dream job right away, and that’s okay too. One thing I really appreciate about my industry is that even though it’s competitive, there are always jobs open and the opportunities to move up quickly are many. I may not be in my first job for longer than a year!

As for right now, I’m continuing the job search process and mostly just trying to soak up the remaining time I have left at home. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of having your laundry done for you and having your groceries paid for? I love my family to pieces, and I know I’ll miss them a lot when I move out, but I’m also excited to really start my own life!

What are your plans for the new year (work/school/etc.)?