Thursday, September 23, 2010

Real Food Recents

Here are some snapshot of real food meals I've enjoyed recently. Eating nourishing food at college (or anywhere) doesn't have to be hard, you just have plan ahead and make it a priority.

Bananas, raw milk, chia seeds, raisins, nuts,
freeze dried assorted fruit, and this "trail mix."

A delicious salad - romaine, spinach, red onion, baked chicken,
olive oil, pomegranate balsamic, spicy pineapple pico de gallo
and red peppers and cucumbers.

I am thinking about making "Real Food Recents" a weekly part of this blog. I hope to inspire others to eat healthier food, while also emphasizing that it does not have to be difficult. My ideas can also (hopefully) spark new ideas in your own mind for creating nourishing meals. As readers, if you like this idea I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Look what came in the mail...

.... this slow cooker!!

I am so excited :) I decided to purchase one since it would be easy in my dorm room to make meals. Now I can roast vegetables all day, simmer soups and make yogurt while I am out and about in class! My brother kindly gave me some dollars on Amazon for my birthday, so I am now putting it to good use. Also, since I am a student I get special shipping deals on Amazon, like free two-day shipping!

Do you have any easy and inexpensive real food nourishing crock pot recipes? And this baby is a 6 quart, so there are definitely gonna be left overs.

Happy mid-week!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banana Cake II

Last night I had the opportunity to bake! I had some ripening bananas that needed to be used up. I've also been out of the kitchen for a few weeks, and the coconut flour - banana combination was just calling to me! Smeared with some almond or peanut butter for some extra protein, this will be a great grab-and-go breakfast item for me.

Remember my original Banana Cake? I decided to do a second version, hence the name Banana Cake II, with all the ingredients I had available to me in my dorm room. The original recipe has a special topping, while this one is plain for ease of transport.

Overall I am happy with the results. It smelled amazing, rose well in the oven, and came out ooey-gooey banana-y. The recipe is not perfect, and that's why I am not sharing it with you today. Next time bananas are too ripe for eating, I will be baking banana cake II again. This time I need to add a bit more coconut flour (the cake was too moist), a bit more sweetness and maybe change the fat from butter to coconut oil, with a splash of vanilla for taste.

Bananas + Coconut flour + GF oats soaked in raw milk + cinnamon = Real Food for breakfast.

Want a recipe NOW? Click here for my original Banana Cake recipe! I've made it several times and it's a winner. Having either ripe bananas always on hand, or pre-measured mashed bananas frozen in the freezer, makes this recipe easy to whip up anytime!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Adventures in San Diego!

Every semester, or at least every year, my friends and I like to take a trip down to San Diego. One of the best parts about going to college is Southern California is without a doubt the location. My school is located in LA county, but we are really right on the edge of LA county and Orange county. LA is a less than an hour away (with traffic) and beaches like Huntington, Laguna and Newport are just a quick jog down the 5 freeway. Have I mentioned that Disneyland is 15 minutes away from campus too? San Diego is in my opinion one of the best spots SoCal has to offer. If you've never been, you will not really understand until you go. San Diego is just. so. nice!

We got up early and planned to leave at 8 am to make the about two hour drive down. After a quick stop at Starbuck's (my friends wanted breakfast) we were on the road. I enjoyed my breakfast (packed as usual) in the car while talking and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the ocean.

La Jolla coast

Our first stop was La Jolla, one of my most favorite places on the planet. As soon as we got there, there was 3-hour parking spot right in front of us - score! We saw the seals, laughed in the sea breeze, got a little wet from the waves, and walked on top of the La Jolla caves. We also took pictures at each stop -- thank you kind people that snapped them for us!! After seeing the ocean views we walked up to some shops. I normally don't like art galleries, but we walked into one that had nature photography and it was breathtaking! Soon it was time for lunch, so we decided to go to Downtown SD to try and find a spot to eat.

"Bird of Paradise" flower
After a lot of driving around trying to find our bearings and food, we finally just parked and went into the mall. I got a salad at a little place in the food court. I was not happy about the lunch options, but I chose the safest possible thing. It was a CHEAP salad :( It may look delicious, but looks are deceiving. The place only had a olive oil/canola blend, which I was not about to eat and so I had no fat on top of my salad. Yuck! I should have asked from some avocado!

Something DEFINITELY tasted funny here. I couldn't pin point the source!

With the mediocre lunch (for me) behind us, we decided to walk to the famous Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory and Ice cream parlor. My friends enjoyed the chocolate samples. We all wanted something ice creamy but the prices were HIGH. Too much for five college students to handle, so we left.

Boats and beautiful shining water!
Next we walked down to the water and saw the boats, tourists and many restaurants with a shopping area. People were walking around enjoying themselves, getting lunch, watching guys play with fire, or sitting for a caricature drawing. I liked it for the pretty pictures of the marina/boats and water :) I don't really like touristy places, so I was kind of ready to leave. Not to mention one performer doing an act with fire was trying to get me to look at his performance, but I was not buying into that. I'm not a tourist!

We found our way to the car much faster than we left it, and we didn't even have to pay for parking - yay validation option! For the next stop we zoomed over the bridge to Coronado. We walked the beach, took pictures and of course, walked through the Hotel del Coronado. This hotel is fancy, and very expensive to stay at. Luckily it's fairly open to the public, and it's nice to walk around. We saw a beautiful couple having their wedding reception. The bride was gorgeous and she gave me some inspiration for what I want my dress to look like some day. It was fun to talk to my friends about dresses, the boys in the group were just smiling and putting up with our girly chatter.

View from Mt. Helix
Our next stop was Mount Helix, the tallest place in San Diego. You can see 360 degrees around on top of the mountain. The view was breath taking. We arrived around 6 o'clock, so the sun was just starting to go down a bit, so the view was not too sunny, it was good picture lighting. It was a little hazy in one direction, which was bummer since we couldn't really see anything. We got to the top and found out that there was a wedding and we could not park and go to the summit. So we settled for stopping on the road up and getting our pictures.

Last stop? DINNER. I told everyone about Sammy's Woodfired Pizza last April when I went for the first  time, so when we planned our trip to SD I decided this is where we are going to dinner. The food is so delicious, made from scratch, has a great gluten and soy free menu and is a good value for the price and amount of food you receive. We found the restaurant, ordered, and then THE FOOD CAME!

Caesar salad w/ chicken - the dressing might be the best part!

Gluten free caprese pizza - that's basil on top!
I ordered the small caesar with half chicken (the full is HUGE) and also a gluten free caprese pizza with extra feta. The chunks of tomatoes didn't even bother me the next day! They were so juicy and tender. This is the third Sammy's location I have been too and I must say that the service here was THE BEST, but the pizza was NOT the best. The crust seemed different that other locations, REALLY thin and not as thick or doughy. I still love Sammy's though and will continue to go back.

And I convinced my friends to split THIS five ways, the Messy Sundae (naturally gluten free!) It was a mess of chocolate sauce, and so fun to eat! The ice cream inside was not my most favorite, but the whole experience was totally fun. Splitting an $8.50 dessert 5 ways? ONLY $1.70, now that's an acceptable price.

Messy Sundae!
With all the food I ordered I only ate half and then had a whole other meal the next day! Perfect! My friends really liked the restaurant, so I think they won't object to going back! Hurah!

Chocolate and friends and a relaxing drive home - what a great way to end a fun day.

Note - I am a little bit behind cataloging all my restaurant experiences - I need to do official reviews on the blog and also on Yelp. It's important that people discover where to find gluten and soy free REAL food when the are eating out. Soon (when I get the time) I will be doing a post talking about eating REAL FOOD while eating out and all the things I have learned in the process. Hopefully it can help others who are like-minded with their food options.

Also, I don't know if you can tell, but on nearly all my pictures from this trip the bottom right hand corner is SO BLURRY! I am so bummed because it's ruined some of my otherwise good shots :( I think my lens needs to be cleaned, but on other pictures the blur is not as present or is not there at all. Weird!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The NEW Larabar's - Updated

Have you heard of the new flavors? The whole foodie community has been in such a buzz since Larabar announced their four new flavors and a few weeks ago when I went to Whole Foods, I was fortunate enough (they're hard to find, everyone buys them up fast!) to find some in each new flavor. So I grabbed two of each and ran to the checkout counter.

Photo Credit - Larabar Store
Chocolate Chip Brownie
This one reminds me a lot of Clif Nectar bar (which I don't think they sell anymore?! Sad.) but with chocolate chips and almonds, and no walnut chunks. It was delicious and was really full of chocolate chips. There were HUGE chunks of almonds which is typically unlike a Lara bar, where they are ground up. I actually found a WHOLE almond in mine! Chunky.

Carrot Cake
Over the years I've found out that I do not like the Lara bars with spices, like cinnamon or something. I love cinnamon in real life, but in a Lara bar it just tastes off to me for some reason. This bar did have cinnamon, so I was instantly hit with an interesting flavor. Overall, it was not the best representation of how great actual carrot cake is; while the ingredient list is very similar to the real thing, I think it lacked the carrot-yness of carrot cake. This flavor did not taste bad, I was just expecting more.

Photo Credit - Larabar Store
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Oh my goodness! The name says. it. all. This flavor tastes exactly like cookie dough thanks to the cashews, dates and chocolate chips featured inside! I normally avoid cashews but I decided to go for it try this flavor. I was not disappointed. A few other food bloggers have mentioned how sweet it is, and I do agree, but I still think it tasted good :) I will definitely be going back for more! It had a great texture and was not chunky like the chocolate chip brownie flavor.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Everyone has been saying how this is their favorite flavor, so I before tasting this one I had high expectations. It tasted like their Peanut Butter Cookie flavor but with lots of chocolate chips. It wasn't all that different or wowing as I expected. I did like the flavor of it and the chocolate inside, and will probably buy it again, but it wasn't too far of a departure from the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor which I really like. I also ate this one frozen, yum.

Peanut Butter and Jelly - coming soon

Tropical Fruit Tart
This flavor is definitely by FAR, one of the BEST lara bars on the market. While the fruit content makes the bar VERY sweet, the sweetness factor can be mitigated by putting it in the freezer and eating it frozen (which I love to do). It has a chewy texture and you can really taste the pineapple in the bar. The whole experience reminds me of the dried pineapple fruit you can buy at Trader Joes. Delicious! I will keep buying this flavor.

By the way, I like freezing Larabars; it makes a fun snack to chew! TRY IT. Now!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beaches and Eats!

Hi everybody! I've been such a bad blogger, I'm sorry! I just completed my first full week of school, complete with labs, homework and gluten free birthday celebrations! To those of you who were wondering, YES it was my birthday, which I thought was obvious from my post, but apparently it wasn't! Now you know :)

Beach! The sun was out for a while before this photo.

In case you didn't already know, TODAY'S LABOR DAY! Which means... NO school! No classes! So therefore, my friends and I took full advantage and went off to the beach. It wasn't great weather, but it was super fun to be together. This particular beach had some KILLER stairs. It was definitely fun walking up and down; I welcomed the extra exercise. But unfortunately, no bathrooms? since it was a private beach, and it was in a completely residential area which made it a little bit difficult finding restrooms. And I even fed a seagull with my bear hands!!!! Apparently seagulls like Goldfish crackers! They have trouble eating them though if they are colored, so if seagull feeding is in your near future, make sure they are normal orange Goldfish, not the multicolored ones, haha!

After the beach, some warm dinner was in our future. We were actually craving Italian, and had been talking about it all day, (in contrast I've been craving Mexican food for days- weird) but we did not even end up going somewhere Italian! I had actually packed some dinner so I wouldn't have to buy anything or worry about finding a place that I could eat at with my allergies, which makes it easier for the crew, but everyone wanted to go to Pei Wei, which is branch of P.F. Chang's and if you are gluten free, you know P.F. Chang's is good. This is my first time having Chinese food in over 4 years! It was a very monumental moment. Sweet and sour chicken is one of my favorites! It was really nice to have some safe Chinese food and be eating the same thing as my friends, which doesn't happen often. I ordered extra broccoli and minimal rice. It was a lot of food and I ate the whole thing and I probably should have saved some for leftovers. It was definitely a good value for how much I paid. Next time I am going to follow my friend Natalie's advice and get the child size! As far as taste goes, I do wish the sauce had been less ginger-y, which is odd, because I love the taste of ginger.

Have I told you how much I love broccoli? :)

I totally owe you an update about my birthday and everything which happened that day. For now, let's suffice to say that it was one of the best birthday's I have EVER had! Usually people forget about my birthday so I don't typically celebrate it much, and this was a very nice change :) I am so blessed and thankful to have such wonderful friends!

Also, I have received some interesting proposal from a large company and I will be hosting a large GIVEAWAY soon! I'm so excited. My very first giveaway!! In the coming months I also hope to help them out with some product reviews. Double double excitement!

How was your labor day... relaxing? I hope so!
Have a good week!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010