larabar

Workity work

Hey!  I’m alive!  Ish.

This week was crazy.  [Life is crazy]  So many emotions. 

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Adjusting to working again after maternity leave is one thing.  Adjusting to a new hospital and orienting to the new unit environment is another.  And adjusting to spending the day away from my love is yet another.  All these changes require me to be flexible and cool with change, which isn’t my strong suit. 

I’m a creature of habit with a bit of OCD mixed in (what nurse doesn’t have OCD/Type A tendencies, tell me that).  Sometimes this is a good thing (like in an ICU setting), but it’s also something I have to be aware of (so that I don’t let it ruin the spontaneity of life).  Anyway.  None of this has much to do with this post, but it’s just worth noting since I’m now navigating all these new routines and schedules and re-evaluating my roles in life, as a working mom.  Trying not to freak out when things don’t go the same way they’ve been going for the past few days/weeks/months is something I have to consciously work at.  I’m sure it’s a natural and passive part of most people’s persona, but not mine.  It’s enough to have a new kiddo who is changing each and every day, but adding in moving to a new city, starting a new job, and all that jazz.  Lots of variables for a new parent!  As soon as I get in the groove, something else changes.  I like things just. so.  [Type A alert!!]  I’m getting better at adapting and just rolling with the things that are out of my control…mostly because I don’t have a choice and I can only micro-manage so much. 

Clearly, I’m a nut job.  Clearly. 

Instead of going on and on about my neuroses, how about I show off my packed up work food? 

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For breakfast I had an AB&J bagel.  The almond butter is fresh-grind from the Co-op and the jam is raspberry (home-made by my mom).  The bagel is an Udi’s mighty bagel.  So good.

[Mom, we’re on the last jar of jam, so I need to get more next time I’m home! Remind me!!]

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Snacks: carrots/celery, nuts, veggie chips, hard boiled eggs, strawberries, and a Larabar lemon pound cake ALT bar

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The ALT bars are on sale at the Davis Co-op and I think the lemon pound cake is my favorite flavor.  I’m really into citrus (especially lemon right now).  May have something to do with the fact that I stare at my neighbor’s orange and lemons all day long. 

By the way, the above packed food was for a half day’s worth of eats (hence the absence of a real lunch). 

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This is how you do a savory breakfast!  I made a cauli-egg stir fry before the week started, so I had it ready to go. 

On the side I chugged down some decaf.  I had the first half of the french press while pumping (I leave before P wakes up so I pump and leave the bottles for Kyle).  I take the second half of it with me to the hospital.  With almond milk and stevia. 

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Lunch!  Brown rice, goat cheese, broccoli, strawberries, & TJ’s balsamic glaze.

Snacks not pictured?  Who knows where the rest of the stuff went.

One of the things I’ve realized is that I am less able to eat my meals with a fork/spoon (because I pump on my breaks) so hand-held things are preferable. 

Sandwiches and bars are much easier when it comes to multi-tasking, so until my pumping days are over, I suspect I’ll be eating fewer things with silverware.

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See?  Look at all the nut butter and jam sandos!  I only had 3 slices of Udi’s bread left, so I made 1 1/2 sandwiches.  The half was sunbutter & raspberry jam, the whole one was (the last of the) almond butter & raspberry jam. 

I ate the half in the car before work.  I ate the second one while pumping.

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Bananas are another good thing to snack on while pumping.  We have a bunch at the perfect stage of brown right now (I love ‘naners with brown spots, no green ones for me thanks).

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Mini Larabars are also perfect bite-lets.  I wish they sold the sample sizes.  I have no idea where these came from, but I have a few more in my bar stash.  Carrot cake is not a typical Larabar flavor for me to buy, but it’s really good!  I’m thinking it may replace cashew cookie as my fave right now.  Although the chocolate ones are pretty awesome too. 

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Another day’s eats!

As you can see, breakfast was roasted potatoes (made in advance) and hard boiled eggs.

Lunch was cauli-egg stir fry.

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Snacks were carrots/celery, strawberries, banana, nuts, Dagoba chocolates, chocolate coconut chew Larabar (!!!), and a Van’s cranberry almond bar that I didn’t end up eating.

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Voila!

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Three key things that have helped ease this transition process? 

  • Food prep /meal planning
  • Having a supportive spouse and family
  • Picking the right job

I could (and should) write a whole post on how fantastic Kyle is.  I know I did a lot of prep before the work week started, but he was still amazing at executing the plan to his Type A wife’s specifications.  Super dad.  He also brought P to visit me at the hospital on my lunch break so I could nurse him in person rather than pump.  These are the perks of living and working in a small town.  I love it. 

Child care is another discussion that deserves a more detailed post, but suffice it to say, my family has been wonderful in offering up their babysitting services.

As far as picking the right job goes, I lucked out that I found the perfect fit for me both in the location of the hospital as well as the position.  For now, it’s rough because I’m new and on day shift, but soon enough I’ll be on night shifts and everything will fall into place.  Then I won’t have to miss days with this guy.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that I live super close to the hospital and the staff is awesome. 

Even though I did cry a bit (and there will probably be more tears to come) the first week+, I also feel really happy at the end of my shifts.  I’m proud of the work I do and I’m excited to come home to my family.  It’s a win win if you look at it the right way.  But it’s definitely a balance, because I don’t want to spread myself too thin. 

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I mean, look at this face!  I don’t wanna miss anything! 

Ten Reviews

Here are some products I’ve tried lately. Some were bad, some were okay, some were good, and some were awesome. So I figured I’d share. I have no affiliation with any of these companies. These are simply my honest opinions.

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1. Boulder Canyon Natural Foods olive oil kettle cooked potato chips

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I’m not sure what makes these “kettle” exactly, but as far as ingredients go they are clean and pure.  Vegan and gluten free.  And FODMAPs friendly.  Purely potatoes, olive oil and salt.

I thought they were too greasy, but I’m not a potato chip person.  Kyle loved them. 

Would I buy again?  If Kyle wants potato chips, sure.  Otherwise no.  There are other flavors aside from olive oil that I kinda want to try out, though, like malt vinegar & sea salt.  Or sea salt & cracked pepper. 

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2. The Cookie Department fully functional cookies

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I got a sampler from the company with a few of their products.

They only have one vegan cookie (the Great Full cookie above), so the rest were Kyle’s to review. 

The Great Full cookie was okay.  I didn’t think it really met the dessert qualification in that it was too healthy tasting.  Not enough fat to be called a cookie.  It was more like a breakfast treat to me because it was kinda bready.  It’s cool that it has sweet potato in it, but they should probably just call it an cranberry oatmeal breakfast bake.

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In order of flavor preference from best to worst not best, Kyle liked: awaken baked, chocolate chip nookie, tough cookie.  The flavors were good, but the texture wasn’t his fave.  [And I agree]

These aren’t soft chewy cookies.  Both of us are into softer cookies with some give, as opposed to cookies that have a crispy crumbly texture.  So that is probably a big factor in our less than enthusiastic reviews. 

I will say, however, that they weren’t overly sweet, which was nice.  Sometimes eating desserts at night can give Kyle a stomach ache or headache (he’s surprisingly sensitive to sweets) and he said these didn’t do that at all.  The chocolate chip nookie wasn’t even the sweetest one.  The awaken baked took that honor, but it’s dominant flavor was still coffee.  That’s probably why it was his number one.  I had a bite of the peanut butter flavor (tough cookie) and it didn’t have nearly enough peanut flavor for my liking.  Plus it had nut chunks, which I’m not a fan of. 

Would I buy them again?  Not likely.  I like chewy cookies, plus it’s pretty rare for me to buy desserts instead of bake them myself. 

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3.  Sun Chlorella Well Well Wow

I got a sample of this and thought it was an interesting product (aside from the ridiculous name).  It’s caffeine free, but meant to give you some extra pep in your step.  Like a 5 hour energy drink with natural goodness and no nasty crap.

I didn’t end up drinking it though, since the warnings for breast feeding moms made me nervous.  Kyle took it with him on his business trip and said it tasted gross.  He could only tolerate a few sips.  For anyone who’s ever tried Echinacea drops, it’s flavor is like that stuff.

Would I buy again?  Negative.  While it’s probably good for you, if the flavor isn’t there, I’m not going to spend money on it.  Unless I’m sick.

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4. Larabar ALT bars

I’ve been looking forward to these for a while, so my opinion may be biased.  Kyle, on the other hand, doesn’t particularly like the OG Larabars, so his opinion is untainted. 

We both loved them. 

Flavor wise, the peanut butter cookie was amazing, but all the rest were just as yummy.  And the fact that they have pea protein only makes them better (they don’t taste chalky like other protein bars though, which is a plus in my book).  I’m not the kind of person who tracks my macronutrients, but I do make a conscious effort to get extra protein into our diets since I’m on a low FODMAPs plant based diet and he’s an active dude.  And for the low FODMAPs people, they are sweetened with brown rice syrup and dates (not honey or agave).  Yay! 

Would I buy again?  Yes!  Pumpkin pie and lemon pound cake are actually the ones I crave the most.  Daily. 

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5. Silk vanilla unsweetened almond milk

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I am usually an Almond Breeze girl, through and through, but Silk was on sale for significantly less so I took the plunge.  I also found it interesting that it doesn’t have carageenan.  It does, however, have a few other ingredients acting as thickeners, like locust bean gum and gellan.  Hmmm.

The Silk almond milk has a stronger vanilla flavor than Almond Breeze’s version, which I didn’t really like.  I like vanilla, but there was something overpowering about it.  In coffee it’s fine, but I don’t always want vanilla flavor.  For the record, I have tried the plain Silk before which I do like.  I also like that Silk’s products are non GMO. 

Would I buy again?  Nah.  Even if it’s on sale I’m just going to pay for the more expensive Almond Breeze.

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6. Flamous sprouted multigrain Za’atar chips

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As far as gluten free, vegan, healthy chips go, these were great!  They have a hearty grainy texture and taste that is a cross between a tortilla chip and a whole grain cracker. 

Hooray for wheat-less snack chips that don’t have a million starches instead of non-glutinous grains.  They’re a bit thicker than your average chip, but not in a stale way, just in a sturdy (pile lots of stuff on top) way. 

I could have used a bit more salt though.  [Says the salt fiend]

Would I buy again?  Yeah, if I can find them!  Now that we’ve moved I’ll probably never see them again.  Their website has a store locator/request form since they’re pretty poorly distributed. 

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7. Earth Mama Angel Baby organic comfort tea

Intended for post-partum mamas with recovery needs and raging hormones, this sounded like something I should invest in.  While it’s hard to say if it helped, it tasted good (like cinnamon).  Way better than raspberry leaf tea (which is not tasty at all).

Would I buy again?  I’m not sure.  I’m pretty neutral on it and since I am pretty picky about repeat tea purchases, I’ll probably pass.  But I did get a coupon inside the box so at least my next purchase will be discounted. 

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8. Clearly Kombucha ginger berry

A new Kombucha brand!  And they have a ginger berry flavor!

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And caps with fun messages!

Like most new products I try, I bought this because it was on sale (at Nugget market).  And I loved it!  I haven’t tried any other flavors because how can you pass up on ginger? 

Would I buy again?  Yes yes yes.  I have already…a few times.  Fortunately they’re still on sale so I’m taking advantage.

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9. Cybele’s free to eat chocolate chunk brownie cookies

I suppose I’m kinda a hypocrite after the previous review saying I prefer to make my own baked desserts, but these are most definitely better than anything I could bake.

They are SO chocolate-y and SO good.  And free of the top 8 allergens (dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish).  So yeah, vegan and gluten free.  Win!

They are soft and melt in your mouth.  They are exactly as the name describes – loaded with chocolate (and chunks) and gooey like a brownie.  Can you tell I liked these?  There are 10 in a box and I ate 6 in one session and barely pulled myself away from them.  Unfortunately the remaining 4 didn’t stay as fresh so they weren’t as good texture-wise.  They were more like normal (firm) cookies without the give of a fresh cookie. 

Would I buy again?  Heck yeah!  They are brand new to the market and I’m so excited that there are two other flavors to try.  Cybele Pascal is a genius for creating allergen friendly treats. 

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10. The Republic of Tea twenty herbs tea

I didn’t expect to like this because I rarely like herbal tea.  But I was desperate for a decaf variety and this was the only one left in the Republic of Tea sampler that I got.  I reviewed the other ones I’d tried previously (some were hits, some were misses). 

This was actually really good!  I didn’t add milk or sugar, just drank it plain.  None of the flavors I dislike were dominant (mint, licorice, chamomile, etc.).

Would I buy again?  I believe I will.

His and hers lunches

I probably make or pack Kyle’s lunches 75% of the time.  He only eats on campus a few days a week and every once in a while it aligns with my work days.  Which means…

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I can pack both of our food the night before and kill two birds with one stone.

His differ in that they often have cheese and packaged health bars, but otherwise they are very similar. 

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I made his salad with spinach, tomatoes, falafel, sunflower seeds, and parmesan.

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While mine had quinoa instead of cheese.

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My breakfast was oats with Giddy Up & Go granola and strawberries

He had a PB&J sandwich instead. 

You already know my breakfast preferences, so I don’t think I need to elaborate much.  Sweet, savory, it’s all good.  I’m not hard to please.  Kyle, however, is a very picky breakfast-eater.  Savory typically trumps sweet when he has time to cook for himself, but in a crunch, he will grab a Clif bar or piece of toast.  He doesn’t like hot cereals (like oatmeal) or granola, but he does like grits and every so often he’ll eat cold cereal.  He won’t eat yogurt unless it’s in a smoothie.  He also won’t eat my home-made baked goods (even my quick breads, muffins, and/or bars).  He says they’re too sweet (and yet he thinks chocolate chip & peanut butter chewy bars are perfect ways to start the day).  He’s a funny one.

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Our snack preferences overlap some.  We both like salty nuts, bananas and dark chocolate.

On top of that, I opt for carrots, Larabars, and candied ginger while he goes for Kashi, Clif and Chewy bars.

Because he relies on processed bars way more than I do, I try to make sure his main meals are full of whole foods.  Sometimes he’s on campus all day (through dinner too) so I make him big servings of pasta with marinara or pesto, or brown rice with veggies and tofu, but I’m pleased to say he is very content with massive salads as a meal.  Happy hippie!  Ideally, he could reduce the number of packaged bars he eats, but it’s easy for him and since he doesn’t have GI issues, I’m kinda whatever about it. 

How do your meals differ from your significant other?

All work

And no play makes Elise a repetitive eater.

Rather than subject you all to the same exact meal (times twenty), I’ll show my hippie bowl once and move on to my work food.

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Quinoa, carrots, spinach, seitan, avocado, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s aminos.

After a few bad days, where I was carelessly eating wheat and agave (FODMAPs no-no) like it was going out of style, I knew I needed to get my GI tract back on track. Feeling bloated (and a bunch of other less-internet friendly terms) is the worst.

So! I did what I know works. FODMAPs free. A few days of hippie bowls and I was feeling much better. Hooray.

And now I can return to my more calculated low FODMAPs lifestyle.

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Unlike lunch, my hospital breakfasts are eaten in the staff lounge. Quickly. Which is why 99% of the time I opt for warm grains, like oatmeal, which can be heated and reheated (and reheated again) when I’m inevitably interrupted with some task. What I’m building up to here is how this pancake breakfast was an anomaly.

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Pancakes at work!! How decadent!!

I brought a banana to slice on top (no syrup), and they were melt in my mouth good.

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Salad du jour: spinach, quinoa, tomatoes, avocado, falafel, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast.

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Out of all my snacks, I only ate the muffins (home-made vegan & gf) and carrots, so I’ll let you know how the uber Larabar is later.

The reason I didn’t eat my roasted nut roll is because I sorta accidentally bought a different dessert. Oops?

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Frick! Paying $7 for a bar is not acceptable behavior and I have to quit before it gets out of hand. And no your eyes aren’t deceiving you – it’s really only 2.3 ounces of chocolate. It’s smaller than my iPhone.

Dear Righteously Raw, Why are you so good!?! WHYYYY.

And now for some mental exercises:
Insert hippie bowl dinner here.
And more chocolate here.

And then it all started again…

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As you can see, I went back to my traditional breakfast fare.

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Steel cut oats, almond milk, shredded coconut, & bananas.

It looks mangled because I made it in the slow cooker overnight, but since I went to bed early (for me), it was in the pot way longer than the cooking time. Whatever. Crispy edges are fine by me.

I made this batch with almond milk only (no water) which made it super creamy. I also nixed any kind of sweetener. Steel cut oats and coconut. Simply done.

There was enough for at least three servings, but I may take it down in two. I’m special like that. The banana was an afterthought, but worked well with the coconut.

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It’s not an optical illusion, half of those carrots are yellow. They taste the same as normal carrots, but have a slightly more crunchy texture. It may sound odd, but they are more on the crispy side, almost (dare I say it) apple-ish. Geez I miss apples.

Salad du jour: spinach, quinoa, avocado, blackened tempeh.

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I didn’t leave work until well after 8 pm, which may be a record for me. Such a day! Mentally and physically draining. After giving report, finishing my charting, commuting home and showering, it was like 9:30 pm when I finally got dinner. Blah. Another hippie bowl. Not worth showing.

But I will share my dessert.

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I made a mini cake! It was gluten free, vegan and chocolaty. Mmmm…

I meant to save half for another serving, but then I didn’t. So I’ll have to make it again.

Happy weekend everyone. I’m off to San Clemente for some dog-sitting and golf!

Finding Falafel Republic

The worst thing about falling in love with a product is becoming obsessed with it and then having it get discontinued.  This is why I have a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe’s and Costco.  I LOVE when I discover awesome new CHEAP veggie products.  But I HATE when I return to the grocery store to replenish my stash and it’s nowhere to be found.  And it happens ALL the time!

Case in point: peanut flour

Over a year ago, I bought a big tub of Falafel Republic’s falafel balls.  They were outstanding – the perfect blend of beans and spices.  And they didn’t get dried out when reheated, which is a miracle for a frozen product!  I blogged about them a few times, raving about the aforementioned qualities. 

So imagine my heartbreak when I went back to Costco and couldn’t find the falafel.  I tried again a few months later.  Nada.  I shed a tear, and moved on.

Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve found a proper replacement.  I stopped buying falafel from the Whole Foods hot bar because they were so dry, it was like biting into the desert, forming a lump in the back of my throat no matter how long I chewed (and there’s only so much water I can chug with a meal!).  I tried making my own, but they weren’t authentic and I didn’t really like the spice blend. 

Now, months later, I get an email from Falafel Republic saying they are going to be selling their products again at Costco. 

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The best part of all is that they wanted to send me some of their NEW items to try out.  Weee!! 

Since I was insanely sick when this package arrived, most of the items went straight to the freezer.

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But this weekend I was back at work which meant I was looking for quick and easy portable healthy vegan eats. 

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How perfect is this individual on-the-go container of falafel/hummus?

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I had some with the salad (spinach and leftover pickled cucumber salad) and some with the Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks tortilla chips.

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The chips are multi-grain, gluten free, and vegan – made from brown rice and seeds.  And not just your typical flax and chia seeds.  They have radish and broccoli seeds too!!  Crazy right?

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Both the chips and the falafel were excellent.

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The falafel was soft and flavorful on the inside and authentically crispy on the outside.  So good.  Unfortunately, the hummus was rather acidic for my taste buds.  I prefer my chickpea dips thick and creamy, with an emphasis on the tahini.

As for the Simply Sprouted snacks, they reminded me of FSTG chips.  They were WAY salty, which I happen to like, but I have a salt tooth.  In other words, people with hypertension should proceed with caution. 

I have more flavors of the chips to review, but what I’m really excited for are the rest of the goodies Falafel Republic sent me, especially their new wraps with falafel, hummus, and salsa.  Yummmm. 

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Here are the nutritional stats for the individual falafel and hummus.  Obviously I had both servings (who eats half a tub of hummus?). 

Here’s my entire collection of work eats.

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I already showed you lunch, but breakfast was grits.  I made them in the crock-pot (this was the last of the three servings it yielded), so I owe you guys a recipe. 

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Hint: it had Sabra roasted red pepper hummus and tomatoes.  I topped it with an egg which I microwaved for 45 seconds in a glass bowl sprayed with canola oil.  Simple as that.

Some candied ginger, Adora dark chocolate (my stash is done-zo), and a banana rounded out the day’s food.

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These other snacks were brought to restock my locker stash.  It’s been running on low for a while, so I’m bringing in a few bars every shift to make sure it remains a fully loaded emergency stash.  I’ll review the NuGo bars when I try them.

Any items you’ve fallen in love with and then never seen again?