Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Helloooo my favorite snack ever! If you’ve known me for any length of time you probably know that my favorite food on earth is the wonderful sweet potato. Regular. Japanese. Red. Purple. I’ll take ’em all. Carb me.Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

I am a sweet potato maniac. When I was a kid I would walk around with a baked sweet potato in my hand, eating it as if it were an apple. I was cool. Between that and being the only elementary school kid drinking soy milk (because milk did and does give me the worst gas ever) I had a lot of friends. I promise.

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is with almond butter. Something about the nuttiness of almond butter plays so well off the savory sweetness of sweet potatoes.

Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Lately I’m very into making sweet potato wedges. For years, I pretty much exclusively made baked sweet potatoes and ate them whole. But lately I’m on a wedge kick. Bonus: sweet potato wedges are perfect for dipping, in my case in AB.

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Adopting Millie + Millie FAQs

Ahhh! Four years ago today I adopted Millie. That’s crazy to me. In some ways I feel like it hasn’t been that long, but it many others I simply can’t imagine my life without her.

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I get a million questions about Millie so I thought I’d address them here!

1. How did you adopt Millie?

img_1499the very first photo/selfie of us together!

Senior year of collage my roommate needed to move and we ended up breaking our lease and because no one needed a roomie in the middle of October I ended up living alone. I didn’t mind it, but I also desired companionship and have always been an over-the-top animal lover so I began exploring different pet options.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of a cat or a some sort of rodent. I was still a college student and lived in New York City and had no idea where I’d be living after graduation, so I kept convincing myself a dog was impractical.

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Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

Don’t you love it when you turn on the oven, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, hope for the best, and the result turns out amazing? Same here. And that’s exactly what happened with these Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies today.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

So this blog post is rather spontaneous. To be honest I’m in the middle of a few others that are more intensive in terms of scope and research required (think nutrition and sustainability).

But I’ve done so much grueling brain-sucking work this weekend I decided to take a break and make some cookie muffin things and they turned out so yummy I decided I’m extend said break by snapping a few phone photos (I need to get out my real camera…I’ve just been so damn busy the past few weeks) and toss them (figuratively) on the blog.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

The plus of spending so much time on the grind this weekend for work/school is that I suppose I learned a lot. Including that school is hard, I have a lot of self-reflection to do with professional development/relationships, having a working kitchen is very therapeutic to my existance and that people definitely notice dog hair in jam photos. Oops.

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Easy Homemade Chia Jam

I love me a PB&J. Or an almond butter and J. Both are wonderful. And something I feel I appreciate more as an adult than as a child. Anyone else? Okay, maybe just me.

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

While I’m a nut butter fiend, I also appreciate a scrumptious jam or jelly. The issue, I find, with many at the store is that they’re so darn sweet.

Chia Jam Recipe

I’m all about desserts, but when it comes to breakfast foods like yogurt, jams, and oatmeals, I’m very turned off but overly sweet things. Hence, I seek out sweetened-with-only-fruit jams (Crofter’s Organic is my favorite brand, and Trader Joe’s has some good options, as well) or I make my own homemade chia jam.

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Chia seed jam is the easiest thing ever. All you do is add chopped up fruit, chia seeds, and a hint of lemon juice if you’re feeling fancy. If you want to up the sweetness factor, go ahead and add a tablespoon or two of sugar, honey, or syrup.

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Easy Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese

On Saturday I stopped into the most adorable Italian bakery (Prato) and bought myself a giant loaf of still-warm multigrain bread. It was so fresh and so tasty and it was the best $3.80 I’ve spend in a while.

Easy Vegan Tofu Cream Cheese Recipe

Naturally, everything I’ve eaten since purchasing said loaf has revolved around things to eat with bread. I didn’t have any avocados (boo), nor vegan cream cheese (double boo) and wanted something savory to eat with my bread.

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So I decided to use some tofu to make a plant-based whipped cream cheese spread. I figured, if delis can make cream cheese out of tofu, so can I. So there.

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Now. I whipped this cream cheese up with a whisk because I don’t have my food processor with me in NJ yet. I keep forgetting to bring it out here and am setting a reminder to do so when I come back from spring break.

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Anyways, whipping the tofu gave me a whipped fluffy texture, like a whipped cream cheese.

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How I’m Liking Jersey City So Far

Hello all! If you’ve been following me over the last few months you may already know that I relocated to New Jersey just outside the city and now commute into the city for school. I thought I’d chat a bit about Jersey, how and why I came to this decision, and how I am liking it so far.

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If you want more of a backstory as to how and why I ended up here, you can read this post. But long story short, I was wronged by the city too many times and ended up staying here out of the generosity of a family friend and ended up liking it so much I decided to stay put.

Overall, I am really liking it. Yes, my commute is long (slightly over an hour), but I think the distance between me and the city has been good for my mental health, stress level, and our relationship (ie relationship between me + NYC).

Below you’ll find my honest take on JC thus far. Happy reading!

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Easy Vegan Banana Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

It’s crazy to think I went 27 years without ever making a banana cake. Me. Yeah I know. What the heck.

Delicious Vegan Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Sure I’ve made banana breads and muffins a-plenty but never cake!Β When I realized this I had to change it. Since promises of cake for my birthday fell through for the second year in a row, I decided to make myself a cake.

I actually made this banana cake as a belated birthday celebration cake for a department luncheon, only to realize there was no luncheon this week. Oops. More cake for me I guess!

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Why Counting Calories/Macros is Worthless

One of my least favorite trends right now / ever is counting calories and macros. It’s right up there with juice cleanses and detox latte potions (but that’s another article currently in the works). These things are very trendy right now on blogs and by those self-proclaimed ‘wellness experts’ and ‘wholistic healers/nutritionists’ on Insta, and while some people devote themselves to such regimes religiously, I am going to share with you why I think for most people it does more harm than good.

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Now. I’m not here to tell you it’s wrong to care about the food you eat. But if you’re hyper-focused on numbers, you may be missing the point of what it means to be actually be healthy.

Below are just a few of the reasons I advise against counting calories, carbs, or macros. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: Dietitian-guided meal planning and food tracking may be appropriate for those in the early stages of recovering from eating disorders or disordered eating until proper self-feeding is reestablished.

1. You don’t really know exactly how much you need, and a lot of different sources will give you different answers.

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While it’s true formulas exist to guide health professionals to estimate how much of certain macronutrients or calories a person needs for various life stages and health conditions, unless there is a case of enteral feeding, these are approximate values.

It’s highly unlikely that the calculations you compute at home or find on the internet are precise enough to match your exact needs. Moreover, you probably have varying levels of activity and sleep every day, which these formulas will not reflect.

If you don’t believe me, try googling “calorie calculator.” Type your info into a few different ones on the internet. See what happens. When I did it, I got a different value from every single website, proving a lack of validity for these values.

2. Not every item of food you eat has the exact same caloric content every time.

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Think about when you eat out. Let’s say, for example, I get a you pick two at panera. A go-to order for me is the garden veggie soup with pesto, a salad with avocado added, and a side of bread. Sometimes my soup has like, a bucket of oily pesto on it. Sometimes there’s barely any. Same with the amount of avocado, nuts, and tomatoes in the salad. It’s slight different every single time.

The bread that comes with it is sometimes a tiny nub, while other times I get a big round end piece. On lucky days I beg two pieces. You get the idea…all this to say that unless you eat nothing but perfect former and processed packaged foods (which I hope you don’t think is s way to get healthy), knowing the exact caloric and macro values of your food is nearly impossible, and studies have shown most people are pretty terrible at accurately tracking food and caloric intake.

What about a muffin your sister made? Or a latte at your local coffee shop? Even the USDA database has food values that don’t always reflect the actual food you eat (ie, they list 60 calories per slice of bread…the bread I eat has 80 calories per slide according to the label).

Are you going to neglect these foods because you don’t know how precisely they fit into your eating pattern?

Don’t! Free yourself! For the work involved, there is little to no benefit to tracking your calories or macros. If anything, it invites obsessing and micromanaging which can do more harm than good (see below).

3. It causes stress, and stress really mess with your physical and mental health.

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Keeping track of calories, carbs, etc requires a decent amount of attention and brain space on a daily basis. Perhaps you have plans to go out to dinner later but are worrying all day about the meal not fitting into your shiny perfect numerical nutrition boxes. Or maybe your coworker spontaneously suggests happy hour drinks or a classmate offers to share some birthday cupcakes in class. Cue stress, panic, anxiety, and loss of control taking over.

Eating the same amounts every day isn’t healthy, nor realistic. Life has ebbs and flows and is meant to be enjoyed spontaneously at times. Subjecting yourself to deprivation or hyper rigidity will likely cause you stress and anxiety, both of which can impact your hunger hormones and mess not only with your hunger and fullness cues, but also with your sleep schedule and mental health, cultivating a path away from optimal functioning, instead of one towards it.

Moreover, think of all the brain space you must devote to tracking your intake. Now imagine what else you could fill that brain space with: creative thoughts, fulfilling activities, or more time to spend with family and friends or spent cooking yummy nourishing meals. Sound better than counting carbs? I thought so.

4. It doesn’t take into account how hungry you are.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your body is not a calculator, so it shouldn’t be treated as such. Unless you sleep, move, think and breathe the exact same amount every single day, you shouldn’t eat as if you do.

One of my biggest issues with calorie and macro counting is that it teaches you to disengage with your inherent hunger and fullness cues. Once you lose touch with them, it can be quite difficult to remember how to self-regulate.

Some days you’re just extra hungry for no reason. That is okay. And other days you may not feel as hungry as usual. That’s also normal. But you should eat according to what your body wants and needs given the situation. This means listening to hunger and fullness rather than a chart full of numbers.

5. It sucks the fun out of eating and eating out.

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Per the reasons mentioned above, calorie and macro counting suck joy out of life. Don’t do this to yourself. Food and eating are meant to be pleasurable. They’re intended to be shared, joyful experiences, or at the very least, fulfilling nourishment to cary out the rest of your life’s passions without being distracted by hunger or stressed by food charts.

This evening, for example, I overheard two well-intentioned females picking items off a menu based on what would fit their macro plans based on what else they had eaten that day. It made me so sad. You are meant to enjoy the food you consume, not micromanage it.

Imagine instead if these girls ordered what they had wanted instead of what they did order, and satisfied the craving their body had, nourished mind body and spirit, and moved on with life. What struck me the most was that the concern was not on the healthfulness of the varied food options, but rather, a game of numbers and macros. I almost wanted to butt-in from my table and tell them that their original order was actually highly nutrient-dense and would likely keep them satisfied for hours. But I held back…

Well there you have it: the reasons I advise against counting calories and macros.

If you are looking to improve your health, my best advice is always the same and relatively simple: fill up on plant-based foods (fruits, veg, beans, nuts, seeds, etc). Moderate the rest. Eat what you want when you want it, and stop when you’re satisfied. Listen to your body. They’re smarter than we give them credit for. And don’t forget to prioritize sleep an stress reduction, both of which may be compromised by rigid dieting.

Cheers to a happy, healthy 2018, free from self-inflicted diet stress.

Orchard Grocer Review

Monday was my last day of winter break before spring Semester started up again. My friend Caty had off work so we planned a late lunch date to orchard grocer to celebrate MLK day.

Orchard Grocer is an all-vegan deli on the Lower East Side, stocked with vegan spreads, sauces, faux meats, cheeses, snack foods, and candies. They also have a deli counter where you can order some vegan sandwiches and soft serve.

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Travel Recap: Colorado

Wednesday:

Wednesday night I landed around 5:00pm Denver time and my sister kindly offered to pick me up from the airport since she got off work early that day, which I was super thankful for because Millie was NOT having a good travel day (usually she does fine, but she, like everyone, has her days she is not feelin’ it).

After waiting 5ever for my luggage, we headed to my sister and her husbands place, stopping for tofu and kombucha at Natural Grocer’s along the way.

Disclaimer: Millie does not engage in recreational marijuana lol; this was a joke!

Back at her place, her husband whipped up a Super yummy cauliflower rice stir fry with crumbled tofu and a spicy peanut sauce. I didn’t take a photo cause #hanger but it was YUMMY in my tummy.

After that we just kinda chilled and hung out until bedtime. I was pooped.

Thursday:

I didn’t sleep well AT ALL on Wednesday night, and neither did Millie. I think it was the altitude. And then Millie woke me up for the zillionth time at 4:00am and I decided to put her out and feed her. And after that, I was just up, and couldn’t fall back asleep no matter how hard I tried.

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Jenn and Tyler both worked Thursday, so I went to a free birthday Yoga class at CorePower, half napped, and worked in the guest bed the whole day with Millie. Anyone else get super pooped while adjusting to altitude? I feel WIPED the entire first day.

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Then, at night, the three of us met up with my friend Vic to celebrate my birthday early with dinner at True Food Kitchen Denver. I started off with this really yummy house-made ginger tea with lemon thing. Because, you know, turn up.

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We ordered a bunch of stuff to share including a butternut squash pizza with almond milk ricotta, a charred cauliflower with a yummy vinaigrette glaze and dates, tofu mushroom lettuce cups, a seasonal salad with a bunch of burnt veggies and squash and white beans and pomegranate, a veggie bowl with teriyaki glazed sweet potatoes, quinoa + hemp seeds, avocado and some other veggies, and a winter squash toast appetizer.

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Noms.

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The charred cauliflower was my favorite. I also was SO looking forward to redeeming my birthday dessert and they were out. Boo. Looks like no bday desserts for me once again this year.

After dinner, we went back to their place, put the pups out, and went to bed.

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Friday:

Friday my sister had off work so we took the pups hiking at Three sisters wilderness area. Millie had SO MUCH FUN it was insane.

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There were many sniffs involved!

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Afterwords we headed back to her place to shower. In the afternoon, the three of us ventured out to Whole Foods in search of vegan cheese, fruit, veggies, guac, crackers, and other goodies to make a charcuterie plate for dinner. Whole Foods ended up being out of many of the cheeses we wanted (womp womp) but we still picked up some yummy ones and nice spread. I reviewed the ones we tried here.

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We also got Hail Mery’s pies which I reviewed here.

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After that we played some board games and chilled and went to bed early.

Saturday:

Saturday we left in the morning for Rocky Mountain National Park. We did a nice walk around a frozen lake and played on the ice a bit.

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I had fun with portrait mode.

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After, we stopped in Boulder, CO for the Celestial Seasonings tea factory tour!

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It was pretty legit considering it was a completely free tour. While we were waiting for the tour to start, we got LOTS of tea samples and were offered the ability to have any flavor brewed for us to try. The tea tour was about an hour, and included a video about the company, as well as a walk-through of the facilities. The mint room smelled so minty it hurt my eyes!

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Next, we hit up Whole Foods Boulder to check out the Beyond Meat Sausage since we were close by they have the Beyond Burger Bar there.

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The Beyond Burger bar is where the whole Beyond Burger got it’s start, and it’s currently the only place in the country you can get it. I’m writing a whole review for Spoon, which I will link here once it’s live, but long story short, it was good!

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It came with these weird quinoa tots. And Jenn and I also ate salads.

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After we got back, I showered and did some homework while Jenn napped and Tyler gamed.

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Eventually I got hangry and woke Jenn up and we ate leftovers from the previous night for dinner with zero pants or fancy arrangement, all standing around the kitchen island inhaling food like savages.

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We finished off the evening at C-Squared, a local cider brewery, where we met up with our friend Vic and some of her friends / boyfriend. GTs.

Sunday:

Sunday I slept until 6:40am (late for me). Millie was also so pooped she didn’t want to get out of bed!

I tried to bake something but messed it up (I’m going to blame never before baking at altitude lol). Didn’t matter much, though, since we ventured out to Thump (not Trump) for coffee.Β 

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At Thump, I spotted a vegan coconut almond scone that was out.of.this.world.

I’m not a huge scone person but if all scones tasted like this one I would be. The inside was super fluffy and the outside was crispy and had crunchy caramelized coconut flakes and the whole thing just tasted like fluffy almond extract which is one of my favorite flavors EVER.

Tyler and I noshed on this while we walked the dogs at Chessman’s park.

Millie rode co-pilot home. We quickly dropped off the pups and headed to brunch at Vital Root.

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Per this post, Vital Root USED TO have the best avocado toast on earth. They changed it significantly and now it is MEH! They took away the crispy chickpeas, balsamic glaze, and spicy chili sauce…aka everything magical about it.

Also, maybe it was just the one I got, but it was like SOPPING with oil and super greasy and gave me gnarly acid reflex. I was super bummed. My sister’s tofu scramble was pretty tho lol.

I was in a poopy mood after that because I was bummed about the toast and sad about going back to the city. I just love hanging with Jenn and Tyler so much and really miss them. Plus, the city is just a hard place to go back to when you’ve been away.

I left for the airport around 3:00pm and off Millie and I went on our 5:50 flight to Newark. We landed around 11:00pm local time and Millie was a TOTAL rockstar traveler (#proudmamma).

And now it’s back to the grind! My bday is tomorrow and I plan to post a reflection post, as well as a review of my trip to Orchard Grocer soon. Stay tuned!