Monthly Archives: March 2014

WTFriday-ACV

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Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the products that I always have on hand. It can be used in so many ways! I always use Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother. The Mother is where all of the beneficial enzymes are.

Apple cider vinegar is a sweeter, fruity vinegar. It is used in a lot of recipes from dressings to marinades. It isn’t as harsh as white vinegar and helps create a lighter, tender texture which makes it great for baking. Once added to batter, it has no vinegar-y taste. I use apple cider vinegar to curdle almond milk that I use in place of buttermilk in my recipes. Simply add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of your non-dairy milk (I use almond milk). Allow the mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes. You may see some curdling or separation on the surface but don’t panic if you don’t. It doesn’t look like  curdled dairy milk that you are used to. Add the curdled milk your mixture and proceed with your recipe.

Apple cider vinegar also makes an amazing facial toner! I use it everyday in my skin care regimen. To make your facial toner, mix water and ACV in a resealable jar. I store mine in a glass mason jar. I use a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part ACV but use whatever feels comfortable for you. When I started using this toner, I used 4 parts water and 1 part ACV and slowly decreased the amount of water. You can also use witch hazel in place of water or add your favorite oil  When you’re ready to use your toner, dip a cotton ball in your jar and then gently swipe over your face. Allow to dry and then follow with your moisturizer, etc.  I have noticed that my complexion is more evenly balanced, my skin is more hydrated and my skin is brighter. *A quick note about using this for the first time: keep it away from your eyes or any open scratches, pimples or sores. It will burn!

There are so many other uses for apple cider vinegar around the house, too! Use it to sanitize your bathroom, clean fruits and veggies, sanitize your countertops and cutting boards and as a deodorizer. Really, the list goes on and on. And it’s completely cruelty free and so inexpensive!

What’s your favorite way to use ACV? I’d love to hear it!

 

Category: WTFriday!?

Nacheez

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My hubby’s favorite food group is nachos. Wherever we go, he always has to order them. And, why not? They are the perfect food, a whole meal in a chip!

While there are many vegan cheese options, I was afraid that cheesy nachos were going to be a thing of the past. Until I found Nacheez! Nacheez is a soy free, gluten free nacho cheese miracle. Nacheez is an amazing sauce made of raw cashews and spices. It’s smooth and has just the right amount of spice, just like nacho cheese should. Nacheez comes in mild, medium and spicy.

Nacheez is based out of Sacramento, CA; however, it can be ordered online and found in Mother’s Markets in Southern California.

Delicious nachos with beans, vegan beef crumbles, Nacheez, jalapenos and guacamole!

Delicious nachos with beans, vegan beef crumbles, Nacheez, jalapenos and guacamole!

 

WTFriday!?-Chia Seeds

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Everyone has heard of chia pets. Those plants that grow in funny shapes and are usually found in the “As Seen On TV” sections of stores.

But here’s something you didn’t know: those seeds that grow those silly little plants are healthy and nutritional! The seeds, from the Salvia Hispanica plant, are completely edible and good for you! Chia seeds are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which help reduce inflammation in your body, support proper brain function and may even help lower cholesterol. Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber. Fiber not only keeps you regular, it is also thought to help reduce your risk of colon cancer since it keeps things moving along. And, it’s loaded with essential minerals and antioxidants.

chia seeds

Chia seeds are small, dark seeds (much like seeds on a strawberry) but they form a small gel bubble around them when they are added to liquids. The “gel” that forms is said to help keep you full longer and may be beneficial to weight loss. You can incorporate chia seeds into your diet in a number of ways. My favorite way to use chia seeds is in overnight oats. You can also add chia seeds into your morning juices or smoothies. Try sprinkling some on your salads for an extra crunch.

Chia can also be used in recipes as an egg replacer. Simply grind up a tablespoon of chia seeds (or use chia powder, if you have it) and combine with three tablespoons of water. Stir and allow mixture to sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. If using chia as an egg replacer, try to use white chia seeds instead of black. There is no taste to the seeds but if you use black ones in baking, such as Sunday morning breakfast, it will look like you have pepper in your pancakes.

Have fun with them and figure out your favorite way to enjoy them!

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Hooray for Hurraw!

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One of my favorite things is lip balm. I always have at least 3 sticks in my purse at all times. And I even keep a couple at my desk at work. It might be a slight obsession, I admit. And,  I am very particular about my lip balm: it must be light weight, long lasting and absorb quickly. I hate feeling like my lips are suffocating under the weight of the balm.

But most lip balms are beeswax based and therefore not vegan (read about that here) so it was pretty tough finding vegan lip balm. After I had tried a few products, only to be disappointed, I asked a friend of mine what she used. She told me about Hurraw Lip Balm and even bought my first stick for me!

Hurraw is amazing! Hurraw is organic, vegan and cruelty free (you can read about that here). The base of these balms is sweet almond oil so it is light weight and absorbs quickly into your lips. It also glides on very smoothly-no tugging and no stickiness after applying it. Your lips immediately feel hydrated, smooth and refreshed. And Hurraw is available in many fun flavors including: Chai Spice, Chocolate, Root Beer and Earl Grey. Their Black Cherry balm is tinted and gives you the perfect amount of color. Hurraw can be found at American Apparel stores or you can shop online at http://www.hurrawbalm.com/hurraw.

Enjoy!

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Category: Product Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Vegan and Cruelty Free

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Have you ever noticed the pink bunny or leaping bunny logos on scores of products from toothpaste to household cleaners. What do those logos mean? If the products are cruelty free, then they must be vegan, right? Not necessarily.

Cruelty free simply indicates that the product has not been tested on animals. There are 2 main programs that are responsible for certifying that a product is cruelty free: PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program and The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetic’s Leaping Bunny program. Each website maintains a list of companies and indicate whether or not they are cruelty free certified. They work with companies to ensure that animals are not used in the testing of their products but this doesn’t mean that the product is free from animal derived ingredients. Some companies will offer vegan products within their line of products while still offering products that contain animal derived ingredients.

But, honestly, the only way to be sure that you are getting a vegan and cruelty free product is to look for both the certified vegan logo and the cruelty free logo. And, when in doubt, read the label or use one of the many smartphone apps available to help you determine if a product meets these specifications. One of my favorite iPhone apps is “Is it Vegan”. This app allows you to scan the barcode on the item right from your phone. It also allows you to search by ingredient, if you prefer. This app has come in handy many times! I would also encourage you to check your labels often-no matter how many times you’ve purchased that same product. Some manufacturers get sneaky and will change their ingredients over time. So be sure to check your labels to avoid any unwanted surprises.

And, many vegan and cruelty free brands are available at your local stores from Target to Costco. Shopping cruelty free couldn’t be any easier!

So, before you replenish your cosmetics or household items, be sure to check out some of the companies listed on the websites above. You can also check my reviews for some of my favorite products! And, then pick up a product or two on your next trip to the store!

Steve’s Ice Cream

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Ice cream. It’s one of my favorite desserts. Cold nights, hot days-it doesn’t matter. Ice cream is great any time!

I found out about Steve’s Ice Cream not too long ago and just had to get my hands on some. Luckily, I found Steve’s at my local Sprout’s Farmers Market! They had just a handful of flavors, with only 3 of them being vegan. The Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel was calling my name. How could it not!? Chocolate and caramel in one? Sign me up!

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I have tried many different vegan ice creams and this one is by far the best ice cream I have ever tasted.A few non-dairy ice creams that I have tried have a little bit of an icy, grainy texture to it. But Steve’s is so silky smooth mostly because Steve’s uses coconut cream as the base of their ice cream. It’s creamy texture is reminiscent of dairy ice cream.

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Steve’s uses Taza Chocolate for their ice cream. Taza Chocolate’s stone ground cacao is added to their ice cream base to create their chocolate flavor. The smooth ice cream and rich chocolate flavor created the perfect spoonful of happiness.

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And the caramel swirl took things to a whole new level. The caramel wasn’t overly sweet but had a nice thick consistency to it. It was slightly sticky so you knew it was caramel, not just caramel flavoring. And the caramel to ice cream ratio was perfectly balanced.

Steve’s offers 4 ice cream flavors that are vegan and gluten free: Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel, Mint Cacao Chip,Cinnamon Chocolate and Scotch Chocolate. Hopefully, they will continue to add to their non-dairy line up in the future. I would love to see a vegan version of their Southern Banana Pudding. But in the mean time, I suppose I can get by on Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel.

Look for Steve’s at your local grocery store. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

 

 

 

WTFriday! Tahini

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tahini plastic tahini glass tahini tin

Let’s talk about tahini! You will find tahini to be a common item in vegan recipes, especially in recipes based in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Tahini is essentially a paste made by grinding up sesame seeds that have been roasted, athough you can also find raw tahini. It can have a bit of bitter taste if eaten on it’s own so it’s usually combined with garlic, lemon and salt. It can be used in a multitude of ways from sandwiches to soups. Tahini is a bit of secret powerhouse packed with all kinds of essential vitamins.

Tahini can be found in grocery stores in the condiment or peanut butter aisle. It is packed in tin cans  or glass jars. The consistency is much like a natural peanut butter where the oil and butter tend to separate. Be sure to mix it well before each use. Tahini is best kept in tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

Use one of these great ideas to incorporate tahini into your next dish!

Enjoy!

What’s the deal with honey?

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You might hear the term “beegan” from time to time. That term refers to someone who is vegan but doesn’t abstain from the use of honey. Some vegans don’t see anything wrong with the use of honey as long as it comes from a local beekeeper instead of a commercial bee farm (yeah, those exist!). Furthermore, with the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder on the rise, others feel that the increased demand of local honey will help thwart the die off of honeybees that we are currently seeing. People have even started adding beehives to their own gardens to help the wild honey bees and will often use the honey made in these hives.

And, then there is the other side of the argument. Honey is something that is made by an animal and, therefore, should not be used or consumed by humans. While honey can be viewed as a simple byproduct of a honey bee’s hard work, honey is much more than that. Honey is food for the bees so who are we to take it from them, especially after they’ve worked so hard to make it? This article, 3 Reasons Not To Eat Honey, outlines the many issues that surround our current bee population and why taking honey from is harmful to them.

The decision to use honey or not is one that each individual must make on their own. Maybe you decide to keep a beehive in your garden, purchase local honey from a bee keeper or decide that honey is not for you anymore. Either way, the fact that you are thinking about this and making a conscience decision about it is a step in the right direction.

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Category: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

WTFriday!?

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So, you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to start cooking vegan style! You read through your new dandy recipes and you start seeing ingredients you’ve NEVER heard of before. Nutritional Yeast. Tamari. Black Salt. Tempeh. What is this stuff!? Well, that’s what WTFriday’s are for. Check back here every Friday for a quick tutorial on some of the common ingredients you’ve never heard of. I’ll highlight what they are all about, where to find them and what to do with them to help you create your delicious dishes!

So you’ve decided to go vegan…now what?

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Congratulations on taking the first step to becoming vegan. Committing to a compassionate lifestyle is exciting and overwhelming all at the same time! I hope that this blog will help make your transition easier by sharing new product information, recipes, travel information and inspiration as you forge ahead in your new lifestyle. It’s quite the journey but it’s so rewarding!

Enjoy your new veggie loving life!