Bread. My worst frenemy. I love it so much, but my hips feel otherwise. I don’t normally eat sandwich bread (lies, because avocado toast is now my new best friend), and the one time I hoard bread in my cheeks like a hamster is at Italian restaurants. So we made pasta one night and I thought, hey, why not make some bread, instead of going to the store to buy some with ingredients I don’t know about? My quest filled my home with the heavenly aroma of fresh baked bread. I know you smell it as I read it and want your home to smell the same too. Well do it. If the bread doesn’t come out great, at least you can thank it for the heavenly scents. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
Who doesn’t love a little sneak peek into what people are loving these days? Just like the weather, my mood and interests change all the time, much to my husband’s demise. Right now, I’m really into a lot of random things instead of being hyper-focused on one thing, which is quite unlike me. Anyways, I hope you enjoy a peek into my favorites at the moment and I’m curious to know what you’re all loving!
Our New Mini Goldendoodle
Vegan Orange Cranberry Scones
If you want a breakfast that will keep you full for hours, like literally you don’t think about food for hours, then try this decadent vegan treat. Here is the recipe if you want to give it a shot: vegan orange cranberry scones.
If you love some of Gucci’s looks but don’t want to shell out nearly $1,000 for trendy loafers that you maybe won’t love forever, especially if you’re fickle like me, head to Target. I got these red loafers for <$20 on clearance. They’re the perfect pop to a basic outfit and not to mention, it was the perfect hint to red, blue, and white at work the day before the 4th. Being fashionable on a vegan lifestyle is not that hard, and tbh, I’m still transitioning away from my love for luxury to more vegan fashion options.
I’ve literally had avocado toast every morning since I first tried it and I am obsessed with it. I made it for the hubs for the first time this past weekend and even he loved it. Eat this and you’re pretty much vegan 😉
I did buy an iPad Pro and I love it for many things, but I just haven’t figured out a way to substitute it for a good ol’ fashioned planner. The cover of the Panda Planner feels supple to the touch and according to the Panda Planner site, it’s made of pu/vegan leather (and I bet even a cowboy couldn’t tell). Not spon but you can use the code JULY20 for 20% off in the month of July! Or you can buy Panda Planner on Amazon here.
Whether you have big lips like I do or not, every one needs a conditioning lip product. Add a little shine and bam, you’ve got the perfect lip gloss. My previous favorite and a possible dupe for this is the Milani Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss in bare secret and mauve fetish!
It does come in three color options that may be better suited for those of lighter or darker complexions: Fenty Glow (the one I have), Diamond Milk, and Fussy.
Something I really appreciate about this brand is that they show what all the colors look like on every skin tone. I borrowed this photo straight from their site:
At $18, the price is relative at this point. I think a good lip product under $20 is worth it but it may seem overpriced to others. As I’ve noted in most of my other Vegan and Cruelty-free beauty posts, you can always wait for a Sephora sale to get 20% off!
It’s pretty sticky, not gonna lie, but I like that it’s sticky enough that it lasts forever on my lips and not so sticky that it’s hard to rub off your thermos when it transfers. Speaking of, yes of course it transfers. Please let me know if you find a magic lip gloss or tinted balm that doesn’t and I can officially end my search!
Oh it also has a giant applier, which I personally love as one swipe with the brush covers my entire lip.
Regarding if Fenty Beauty is cruelty-free: “Fenty Beauty is a cruelty-free brand. We never test products or ingredients on animals, nor do we allow suppliers or affiliates to conduct testing on our behalf. “
Regarding if Fenty Beauty is vegan: “Fenty Beauty is cruelty-free and never tests on animals, nor do we allow suppliers or affiliates to conduct animal testing on our behalf. While the majority of the products are free of animal byproducts, Fenty Beauty is not considered a vegan line: A handful of our products may contain ingredients of animal origin, such as beeswax and carmine. The following products are considered vegan-friendly: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Match Stix Matte Skinsticks, Invisimatte Blotting Powder, Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer, and our Brushes & Tools. “
Thankfully, yes! This lip gloss is vegan & cruelty-free.
I give this product a 9/10 and because it’s VCF, it’s Bloo approved!
Question of the Day
What is your go to lip gloss or lip balm? I used to work with a woman who would order one lip balm from Denver, CO in bulk and that’s the one and only lip treatment she uses. Now that’s love.
Eating out as a vegan usually isn’t hard, but it can be boring, especially in your run-of-the-mill brunch places. My husband and I are fancy, yes, but we aren’t brunch fancy. Don’t get me wrong, I still drink my Evian with my pinky up 😉
I digress. We went to brunch with our lovely neighbors to switch it up (hi neighbors!) and it was a great time! Especially since I had more options than just oatmeal or a side of potatoes. On the menu was (drum roll please) avocado toast! Sorry for the spoiler.
Now believe it or not, but I may be the only vegan on the planet who has never eaten avocado toast. I can hear your gasp, I know. Well, I dove right into the millennial hype and had some and I gotta say, it was ah-may-zing. So I set out to recreate it. Here my friends, is my gift to you: healthy avocado toast.
Healthy Vegan Avocado Toast – What You Need
1 slice of bread (toasted to your preference)
1 tsp of vegan butter
1/2 to 1/4 (depending on the size) of a soft avocado
3-5 grape or cherry tomatoes
Everything But the Bagel (EBTB) Seasoning
1/4 of a lemon
Red pepper flakes (optional)
A handful of arugula (optional)
Toast your bread
As your bread toasts:
Cut your avocado in half and save the other half or the other quarter (depending on how big your avocado is)
Cut your lemon into a quarter (you’ll only need a pinch, so you’ll end up saving the whole lemon)
Half your cherry or grape tomatoes
Once your bread pops up, spread a bit of your favorite vegan butter (you only need a bit)
Dice your avocado and smush it onto the toast and press down throughout with a fork (really smash it in there)
Top with a handful of arugula and also press that in with your fork.
Top with your grape tomatoes (cut side up for artistic effect and to impress your friends)
Sprinkle EBTB Seasoning on top
Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes (if you like if spicy)
Squeeze a bit of your lemon across the top of your avocado toast
Question of the Day
Have you tried avocado toast? If so, do you top it with balsamic vinaigrette? What are your favorite toppings?
Fourth of July is tomorrow, which means a spread of red, white and blue indulgences on the picnic table. It’s the night before your soiree and you’ve nothing to bring. Well I have you covered. At most, this takes <10 minutes to make, but about 4 hours to set in the freezer so be sure to make this easy vegan dessert at least the morning of if not the night before your July 4th party or get together.
Growing up, my house was literally behind a theme park. Not right behind…but it wouldn’t be far from the truth for me to say that we could hear the screams from the roller coaster #funtimes. One of the perks of living so close to a theme park was the free, unobstructed fireworks shows, and that was the extent of our July 4th celebrations. I always envisioned myself as that single boss-lady who threw Pinterest-style parties that were so on theme. Enter: Frozen Berry Pie. Let me tell you that I 100% envisioned this to be a layered “red-ish”, blue and white frozen pie…but that it 100% turned into a purple mush. HOWEVER, the star sprinkles saved me. None the less, it tasted good and thought it was worth a share. Forewarning though, when you go to buy your ingredients, make sure the star sprinkles are at the top of your list–they’ll save you.
Vegan Frozen Berry Pie – What You Need
Two large bowls
1 cup frozen wild blueberries (thawed)
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 small cup (usually 5.3 oz) of vegan blueberry yogurt (I opted for Forager)
1 small cup (usually 5.3 oz) of vegan strawberry yogurt (I opted for Forager)
1 tub of cocowhip lite
1 pre-baked graham cracker crust (while not healthy, the Keebler Graham Cracker Crust is vegan, although it does have palm oil in it…)
Vegan whipped cream
…and lastly, STAR SPRINKLES
In one bowl, add the thawed wild berries, the blueberry yogurt and half of the cocowhip and fold them all together
In the other bowl, add the strawberry slices, the strawberry yogurt and the rest of the cocowhip and fold them all together
In your graham cracker crust, pour the strawberry mixture then even out the top
Slowly pour in the blueberry mixture being careful to not let it blend with the strawberry base if you can
Top with sprinkles
Let freeze for at least 4 hours
Once it’s set, top with whipped cream, more sprinkles, and serve!
Question of the Day
What is your favorite pie? Do you have a no-bake one?
I was watching Ayesha Curry’s cooking show on Hulu (how cute is she btw) and she created this S’mores Dip literally 10 minutes before serving it. I don’t know if it was TV magic but she left the dinner table and minutes later, came back with a S’mores dip fresh out of the oven. Well dang, I decided to test if it was TV magic or not and decided it to try the S’mores Dip magic on my in-laws during a late Father’s Day celebration. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t TV magic. It really is that simple!
For you readers in the United States, 4th of July is right around the corner and S’Mores is about as American as one can get. You need this on your picnic table (be sure to use a coaster for pans!) Try it out and let me know if it was just as easy for ya’ll!
Vegan S’Mores Dip – What You Need
1 cast iron skillet (I used small skillet)
1 bag of vegan chocolate chips
1 bag of vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies Marshmallows. I think the minis work better than the larger ones)
Vegan graham crackers
1 tbsp Vegan butter
Place your skillet in the oven and preheat your oven to 450 F.
While the oven preheats, bring out all your ingredients and prep the graham crackers by breaking them in half and prepping your presentation plate.
Once the oven is preheated, carefully pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven and place on a heat pad. Add the tbsp of vegan butter and spread it around the pan.
Add enough chocolate chips to cover the bottom of the pan.
Optional: Mix in a bit of nut butter.
Add enough marshmallows to create an even layer atop the chocolate – no chocolate should peek through!
Optional: Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon atop the marshmallow.
Place the skillet back into the oven for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven (keep an eye on the marshmallow to see that it gets golden)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve immediately after with your graham crackers.
Question of the Day
What’s your go to backyard BBQ vegan dish to make or eat?
Do you ever walk into a Starbucks coffee shop and just ogle the baked goods case, because girl you know I do, and 0/10 something entices me…mostly because there’s absolutely 0 things vegan and partly because ya girl is trying to lost some L Bs.
I was working out of our Chicago office one day and a scone was calling my name when I went to get my latte. And so, the vegan orange cranberry scones below were born and let me tell you, ya’ll will take one taste and thank me. Not to toot my own horn (toot toot) but I verbally said I’m proud of myself after I tasted this scone so if you need a nice little self-esteem boost, make these vegan scones stat. It also works as a quick and easy vegan breakfast recipe or vegan dessert recipe.
Vegan Orange Cranberry Scones – What You Need
1 medium sized orange (for zest and 2 tbsp of juice)
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegan sugar (I used Truvia and don’t care for the after taste, so I would recommend another vegan sugar of your choice)
3 twists of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup canned coconut milk – be sure to not use the low-fat one
1 cup dried cranberries (or cherries would work well in this too)
1 9-inch circular baking tray
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar)
Add in the orange zest and add in 2 tbsp of orange juice
Melt the coconut oil and stir it into your dough
Stir in coconut milk
Fold in the dried cranberries and mix until combined.
Move the dough into your baking tray, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 400F
Pull the tray out of the fridge and draw a knife through the dough to make even triangles
Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes
The scones came out nice and soft and somewhat crumbly, and one will certainly fill you up!
I’m about to leave on a work (kind of) trip and decided to leave my husband with my some treats. So I chose to make something easy [read: something I can knock out quickly and will still remind my husband what he’s missing while I’m away 😉 jk]. After going through my pantry, I decided to make some sugar cookies with my pre-packaged mixture, so if you have just 30 minutes to bust out dessert for any reason or have a strong craving for something sweet, try these out and let me know how they come out for you!
3-Ingredient Vegan Sugar Cookies – What You Need
1 packet of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
1 tbsp egg replacer
2 tbsp water
4 ounces of vegan butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
As the oven preheats, mix 1 tbsp of egg replacer with 2 tbsp of water and let sit for one minute
As that sits, empty your bag of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix into a large bowl
Add 4 ounces of vegan butter of your choice (I measured 4 oz. out on my food scale)
Mix the butter with the cookie mix and add in the “egg” then stir, stir, and stir until it forms kind of a dough
Take a spoonful into your hands and form into little balls
Place the balls on your silpat or pan and gently push down, you can also smash gently with a fork for those artisan feels
Pop in the oven and bake for 21-25 minutes depending on your oven–check how they look at about the 15-minute mark
When they’re golden brown around the edges, they’re done!
Let the cookies cool off of the pan, preferably on an elevated wire base
I noticed the cookies will be hard-ish at first but the next day, they were nice and soft!
If you try this recipe, let me know what you think and how it turned out for you!
I know that sounds like such a clickbait title, but it’s totally not. I started doing all of the below and my hair is noticeably thicker and longer. It’s true! If you somehow lived the bizarro version of my life, then you grew up with a mom who did everything she could to ensure I had long, black hair like every other good Indian girl. Her passion was so intense that I wasn’t allowed to get haircuts. Even when I explained how split ends work, and how it’s counter-intuitive but necessary to get hair cuts to grow my hair, it went in one ear and out the other.
SO, naturally, this obsession with growing healthy, long, thick hair to rival a horse’s tail passed down to me. After losing about 20-30 pounds (it waivers), I definitely also lost some hair. Making the transition to being vegan caused some hair loss too (but only initially). Once your body finds its groove, your hair will start growing healthier and shinier and thicker. Move over Herbal Essences models! Anyways, go and get or do the below 6 things and you’ll thank me later.
1. High Potency Biotin
I’m leading with the punchline here. High potency biotin is the secret to thicker, longer hair. I keep my bottles of vitamins at work so I can easily take them after lunch. The one I use from Whole Foods (and is often on sale) works like a charm. I ran my hands through my hair and could tell that it felt thicker and got noticeably longer than ever before.
2. Heat Protectant Spray
I have a bad habit of running my hands through my hair, only to accidentally pull out one to three strands at a time. Do this 30 times a day and that could easily equate to handfuls of hair. I started using heat protectant spray every time I wash my hair. I spray it on my slightly damp hair before I use the below and it helps prevent split ends as quickly.
Instead of using all kinds of heat tools on your hair, find the one multi-tasking tool that works for you. When Ulta had this for 50% off, I jumped on the opportunity and can I tell you I have voluminous, shiny, silky hair because of it? I do. In fact, I’ve never received as many compliments on my hair as when I used this. Scout’s honor. I highly recommend it! It takes place of a hair dryer and a hair straightener. Just be sure to use an effective heat protectant spray. You can get the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush here.
4. Hair bobbles, baseball caps, and dry shampoo
Embrace the dirty hair lifestyle. Your hair will get oily, and that’s OK. When it does, throw on your favorite baseball cap and live up that athleisure look. If you’re going to work, find some hairstyles that are work appropriate and easily conceal two or even three-day hair. My favorite are buns and half-up half-down hairstyles. A cute headband helps too! Be sure to use some good dry shampoo to help with the oil as well.
I mean are you surprised about this one? Health starts from the inside out, and giving your body all the natural minerals and vitamins will help not only heal your body, but give it the boost it needs to develop as it naturally does! I could go on and on about this, but I don’t want to start a fight. Point blank–don’t eat meat or dairy. Eat plants. Love life.
6. A shower scalp massager
This is 100% an Instagram influenced purchase that’s actually legit. I throw a good dollop of shampoo in my hair and get it wet before I take to my scalp with this massager. Not only does it feel good, but lathers up the shampoo ensuring that my entire scalp gets squeaky clean. It may be in my head but the excess build-up, dead skin and sweat can’t be good for a healthy head of hair. You can get the Hair Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush here.
7. 10-week Trims
Not going to lie. This one sucks. A lot. Not only because your hair gets shorter after the fact (I mean duh), but it also means you need to spend money on this. And when I saved up aggressively for the last down payment on our house (and designer shoes), my hair suffers. HOWEVER, it’s really important. Going every 10 weeks to shave off an inch, can help inches down the road. I suggest 10 weeks (because that’s what my hair stylist told me) because it depends on how quickly your hair grows. My hair grows super fast, so I should go monthly, but let’s be honest. I ain’t got time for that. I try to go quarterly if i can.
It’s been a rough couple of months since the new year guys. Am I the only one or can anyone else relate? I was motivated, decided to fall off the wagon (totally consciously), and get back on the wagon at full speed again. If you struggle with yo-yo dieting, this Wednesday weight loss tip will resonate with you. As soon as I changed my point of view to this line of thinking, it was like a huge lift off my shoulders. The revelation?
If you keep telling yourself that you’re on a diet, you’ll keep perpetuating the idea that you have weight to lose. If you go about life as you enjoy it, you won’t keep restricting yourself.
I know. Try it and let me know how it goes!
Vegan Breakfast Option
I normally don’t eat breakfast as you all know. I’m just not hungry enough! This morning though, I worked out and figured I would nourish my body for the hard work it put in in the morning–and instead I went back to my old habits.
Workout: 30 min. Run+walk on the treadmill
Breakfast: I planned to have Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal, but had my usual Nespresso latte with 8 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
Vegan Lunch Option
Many days, lunch is spent at my desk while working. Lately, I’ve been trying to get better at taking a break and truly stepping away from all the screens.
Activity: Stood while working
Lunch: healthy life low calorie bread with daiya provolone cheese and light life bologna. Side of cherub tomatoes (ate the tomatoes before they had a chance at a photo)
Going Out as a Vegan
My colleagues and I went out for a quick drink after work. I usually get wine but switched it up and got what the restaurant called a Moscow Muddler. Was good! We also had some appetizers of hummus with pita and fries.
Vegan Dinner Option
I was kind of lost for what to do for dinner. I usually meal plan, but with how busy I’ve been since I started my job over a year ago, it’s been tough! So I made do with the Apples and Cinnamon oatmeal I planned for breakfast. Sorry, forgot the picture!
Happy March VCF family! Not unlike January, February was equally short as it was long. Losing two to three days at the end of the month is bittersweet; happy because March is full of exciting things for our family and sad because, well, it’s two days less of time! Any who, you’ll see some February Favorites that are classic OGs and others that are new. What have you been loving this month?
Swiss On Shoes
I’m trying to pick up running again. My schedule barely leaves me time to breathe so I’m trying to fit it in where possible. I know once we move into the new house, my fitness will get back on track, but for now, my treadmill in my living room (ew) will have to do, and these shoes I bought when we were in Manhattan Beach, CA a couple years ago have regained my love.
I’m constantly thinking about work and things I have to do. Instead of carrying around numerous notebooks and post-its and notes, I now do everything on my iPad. Don’t get me wrong–I miss my old fashioned writing and still write in my gratitude journal every morning, but this iPad guys…game. changer.
Hasn’t failed me so far. I use this Ember mug once if not twice a day, morning and night.
Faux Fur Infinity Scarf
Polar vortex. Snow. Ice. Slush. I hate it all, but this faux fur infinity scarf is coming through to keep my neck nice and warm. Best of all, it’s a Target find, for less than $15 (at least when I bought it a couple years ago).
I’m kicking off vegan weight loss Wednesday with some what of a kicker. Enjoy!
5:09 am: get out of bed, get ready for gym, go to gym
5:14am: turn around and head back home because coolant level in car is low and you’re afraid it will blow up.
So, my morning didn’t go as planned. Did your highly orchestrated mornings ever just hit the fan? Instead of it letting me get me down, I came home, showered, made a latte and took gratitude.
Let’s Get Personal
During my shower and my gratitude, I thought back to the other night when I had a fit of digital organization. I went through my USB sticks and found one with files from 2008. They were weight loss plans with meals, schedules, and a weight tracker. It was so humbling to see that I struggled so much just 10 years ago with my weight but I am 30 lbs. less than I weighed then. It was all of those files that put me at ease today, because today, I don’t do that! I truly enjoy each day, and realize that the more strict you are on yourself, the less realistic a plan it is.
So take my failed attempt at a morning workout as a sign that hey, ish happens. Recalibrate, move on!
6:00am: be grateful, blog this and read.
7:00am: get ready for work and to drop the husband off.
Fast Forward to Lunch
Healthy Vegan Thai Salad. Is this a recipe you guys would like to see? Let me know!
Unfortunately my job keeps me busy enough that I often have to multi-task so lunch at my desk it was.
Fast forward to dinner. I’m ashamed to say it was cereal. That busy hustlin’ life I guess!
Question of the Day
What tips do you guys have to help you be more mindful?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional. Please seek advise from your general practitioner before starting a new routine or healthy lifestyle.
Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! You may be one of the 45% of Americans going into 2019 who resolve to lose weight, and I don’t blame you. While it’s not at the top of my list every year, I can certainly say that it’s been kind of a priority since I was in middle school, and more so when I wanted to join the Varsity Tennis Team in High School. However, I lost weight in both healthy and unhealthy ways. But unlike the majority of New Year’s resolvers who start every year with gumption that fizzles into Netflix and Chillin’ come February 1, I’ve cracked the code to healthy weight loss.
With that said, look out for a weekly Weight Loss Wednesday series where you can follow along my weight loss journey as a vegan, where I also give you some tips on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that believe it or not, is not completely about omitting the things you love.
This week, I’m going to share one tip that may help loads of you.
HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS TIP: Eat Fat, Get Fat
This is by far the simplest thing you can do. Intaking pure fat is the quickest way to gain actual fat (or add to your adipose tissue). I say pure fat because there’s a difference between pure fat and healthy fats as you probably already know:
Pure Fats – Oil, in any form:
Olive oil – reducing the intake of oil is the easiest thing you can do for your weight loss journey
Butter (dairy or vegan)
Cheese – reducing the intake of cheese and dairy is probably one of the healthiest things you can do for your body
Nuts (be aware of serving sizes. A handful can easily be between 300-800 calories).
Soy beans (keep daily intake low)
If I can’t have oil, what do I cook with?
When you sauté, cook with water or vegetable stock. Another alternative is cooking spray.
The rule of thumb is to intake up to 8-10 grams of fat per day at most…
…but more than anything and as with any healthy lifestyle–moderation is key. AND don’t let the scale dictate your day!
Your changes should not be a diet. They should be a part of a healthy routine that fit your lifestyle. Not the lives of someone you see on Instagram or even your co-worker or friend who’s schedule and day-to-day is completely different from yours.
I was going back and forth about starting this kind of series. Is this something y’all are interested in?
I am a 1.5 generation child. A what? I was born in India and moved to California with my family when I was 6 years old, old enough to know how to use the toilet (but still run into walls) and young enough to be extremely impressionable. Growing up as a 1.5 generation child meant finding the right balance between being American without losing my culture. God bless my parents they wanted me to learn English quick [all I knew was yes, no, hi, and thank you–man was I polite ;)] so they forbade me from speaking Telugu at home. Before they knew it, Valley Girl Samantha was born, with am “um, like” this and a “no. way.” that.
As I grew up, I fought hard to retain my culture, but with little success, EXCEPT, and it’s a big EXCEPT (all caps worthy), when it came to the food. I lived Indian food. We ate it day in a day out with lots, and LOTS of rice. After I moved to college and then to Southern California for grad school, then all over the nation after that (long story), I ate less and less Indian food with every move and every passing year. I did however try every Indian restaurant which compelled me more to try cooking Indian food at home, minus the ghee, dairy and all other non-vegan stuff. Welcome to my journey I hope you enjoy these vegan chana masala–instant pot version.
INGREDIENTS for Oil-Free Vegan Chana Masala
2 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 white or yellow onion (diced)
1-2 tbsp. garlic ginger paste (to your taste preference)
2 tbsp. curry powder
a handful of spinach
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can of lite coconut milk
1 can of garbanzo beans
DIRECTIONS to make Delicious Vegan Chickpea Curry
Set your instant pot to saute mode, and add the vegetable broth.
Once the broth starts to sizzle a little, add your diced onions and sautee until they turn semi-clear.
Add the garlic ginger paste and let it cook for up to 2 minutes, or until aromatic.
Add the curry powder and toast it for about a minute.
Add your can of drained garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, and cocnut milk.
If you prefer it spicy (add in a bit of red chilli pepper flakes–you can just as well add it directly to your dish at the end).
Close the instant pot lid and cook it on high pressure for 6 minutes.
Once time is up, release the pressure, open the lid and stir in the spinach.
If it’s more watery, you can easily enjoy it as a soup, but I personally think it’s best served with some rice or cauliflower rice.
The leaves are changing colors and while I hate (like a lot) to see Winter come, I LOVE any opportunity to throw on my boots, a scarf and some cozy sweaters. Yes, I’m a #basicb*@$h and proud of it. Fall always reminds me of that line from You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks (aka Joe Fox) tells Meg Ryan that it reminds her of a big bouquet of new pencils: “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”
Anyways, as we’re transitioning from Summer to Fall, I’ve loved these throughout the month of September.
1. Tom Ka Kai soup
I’ve legit made this vegan Tom Ka Gai soup (aka Tom Ka Kai, Tom Ga Kai) three times last week, and each time it lasted just a little under a week. Guys. It’s SO good. I suggest adding as much lemon juice as possible so it’s nice and acidic. Is your mouth watering? Mine is! Also, I just load it up with veggies. I also used the regular coconut milk in a can, but I suggest the low-fat version so that it’s not as rich.
2. Trestique Lip Crayon
I’ve been on a lip binge lately. This lip crayon goes on so smooth, and it gives your lips just the right amount of shade and gloss. LOVE IT. If you want the best of both worlds (lipstick and lip gloss), definitely give Trestique lip crayons a shot.
But Samantha, are they VCF? Definitely cruelty-free! Are they vegan? Here’s the answer on the Trestique FAQs:
WHAT IS YOUR INGREDIENT PHILOSOPHY?
We believe in high tech, high performance makeup. Why? Because you get better color, smoother application and longer lasting results. trèStiQue is free of parabens, synthetic fragrances and petro chemicals. We infuse our products with natural plant ingredients wherever possible, such as coconut oil, which is why we know you will love them! Most importantly our products are never tested on animals and everything is made with love.
3. NYX Lip Gloss
If you can’t wear lipstick because it literally wears off once you blink, then you’ll love this NYX butter gloss as much as I do. In “Tiramisu” it’s literally a your (or my) lips but better. It’s pretty much the same color as my natural lips but make them hella juicy–your welcome. I personally think it’s the perfect substitution for chapstick (which isn’t at all good for your lips).
Is NYX vegan
While not all NYX produts are vegan, they do have a vegan dedicated line. Check it out here!
Is NYX cruelty-free?
According to their website, they are. BUT they are owned by L’Oreal Cosmetics, which is not cruelty-free. (WHY!!!)
4. Hair Protectant
I seriously think I have hair protectant to thank for how long and thick my hair has gotten in the past few months alone. Stay tuned this week for a post on how to get strong, long and thick hair. Hello #hairgoals! I’m still on the search however for an amazing (and good smelling) hair protectant that’s VCF, so if you know of any, please comment your recs below! Appreciate ya.
OGX® does not initiate animal tests on either finished products or ingredients whether directly or indirectly. All ingredients used are carefully monitored. All suppliers are requested to confirm that their materials have not been tested on animals. Ingredients which do not have this data supplied for them are not used in any products. OGX® is against the suffering endured by animals when ingredients and products are tested. We support suppliers and organizations that are developing alternative methods of testing without using animals.
5. Book I’m Currently Loving
I’ve been starting a new feature with monthly favorites, and that’s my favorite book of the month! Ya’ll can judge me, but it’s definitely The Secret! It changed my life, and I have the book to thank for taking my already positive self to a whole new level and understanding. If you’re not into it, I also really loved An American Marriage.
Questions of the Day
What book are you loving lately? Any change to your routine that you’re loving?
I became vegan a few months after my husband and I moved to Illinois. January 1, 2016 marks my vegan birthday (cue balloons). As many vegans will tell you, the hardest part was finding fun recipes and thankfully, Instagram came to the rescue. I found a recipe similar to this ageees ago, but what I learned is that so many of these recipes can easily be tailored to your own. I especially love this one because it’s literally a garbage pile, in that you can throw all your leftovers into the mix, wrap it up, bake it and voila: taco ring.
A couple weekends ago, it was raining like crazy, and I wanted to bake and cook and just be around a warm oven. So I made the taco ring. What’s best about this is, you can easily make it for a potluck or a bring it to a party as your go-to meal because it’s literally SO easy to make and can be made really quickly too depending on the ingredients you use. The one I’m showing you guys below is a little more involved because it includes potatoes. Take out the potatoes and that literally cuts down about 20 mins of time. So, let’s get started!
1 roll of crescent rolls (Pillsbury is accidentally vegan, but Annie’s makes vegan options)
1 packed of Soyrizo (soy chorizo)–I get mine at Trader Joe’s (it’s the cheapest there too)
1/2 packet of taco seasoning (also from Trader Joe’s)
1 pouch of potatoes
Veggies of your choice
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut up all of your veggies and start sauteeing them.
3. Open your crescent rolls and lay them out to create a sun shape. The point side should be the outside of “the sun” and the wide side will overlap from piece to piece like below:
4. Cook the soyrizo in a separate pan for about 5 minutes. Then toss the mixture with 1/2 packet of the taco seasoning.
5. Mix the soyrizo with the veggies and whatever else you want to fold into the mix.
6. Scoop the soyrizo mix onto the ring like below:
7. It will get messy, but that’s ok. After you’ve scooped as much as that will fit, fold the point side into the wide side, like below:
8. Optional: Add vegan cheese to each ring on the top:
9. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, then let it cool.
If You’re Using Potatoes
Cut the potatoes into bite size pieces.
Throw them in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drain and let them cool for 5 minutes, before tossing them into your taco ring mix.
Question of the Day
Have you tried this kind of recipe before? What’s your go-to potluck meal?
I went to college at UC Santa Barbara, and before every final, I would go to the Arbor (UCSB students–know what I’m talkin’ about?) and buy a thing of banana bread. That was my little ritual, so needless to say, banana bread has a special place in my heart (whether I passed those tests or not).
I decided to get a little nostalgic last night and make some banana bread. Ok, TBH, I had a pile of black bananas in the fridge that were grossing me out, so into a bowl of flour, sugar and other tid bits they went. It doesn’t take that much time or trouble, so try this for yourself and let me know if you love it!
Vegan Banana Bread Recipe
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown or coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup plant milk 1/3 cup (80 mL) coconut oil, melted 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (add about 2 tbsp. maple syrup for a little bit more sweetness or a handful of chocolate chips)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
3. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan lightly.
4. Pour all the ingredients into the pan and bake it for 55 minutes.
Well, Fall is upon us, which means there are a LOT of Fall favorites ahead. I figured I would kick of September with a recap of Summer…an ode to the glory days before the cold hits.
If you’re like me, you take forever to finish your hot beverage. I sometimes heat up a cup of tea, and leave it and forget about it, only to greet it hours later with an, “…oh yeah.” This mug uses smart technology (and it has an app–what!) to control your temperature and keep it at that temperature. Too hot? You can use the app to cool it down and set it at the exact temperature you prefer. It is the absolute first world answer to a first world problem, which should only be reserved really for the top 1%. Well now, we can live like the Beyonce’s and the Gates’ 😉
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
This was my local book club’s book of the month, and I highly recommend it! It’s a really insightful look into Trevor Noah’s life as a child growing up in apartheid South Africa. It reads more like little anecdotes, as if you met Trevor at a bar and he’s just telling you some stories from his life. Very well done. 10/10 recommend.
Favorite Vegan Food
I put sesame seeds on pretttty much EVERYTHING. It’s zero calories and offers a TON of flavors. Next time you eat something bland, toss some sesame seeds on it (and maybe some sriracha) and you’re golden.
Veggie Wavy Chips
…are way better than the veggie straws (like serious pass). I make my dinner into a dip of sorts and eat it with a bag of these chips (which are labeled vegan and are only 130 calories per bag). Otherwise, we have them on the side with our vegan burgers!
Vegan Chickpea Patties
…speaking of burgers, these patties are amazing! They carry them at Costco, and I’m SO proud that they are carrying a lot more vegan options. Even in their cafeteria! They have a vegan salad and acai bowls too. What? #mindblown
Foreo Luna Mini 2 Face Cleanser
This face cleaning tool seriously leaves my face feeling SO soft. I talked about it in this full review here, and I still love it.
Barefoot Dreams CozyChic “In the Wild” Throw
I wasn’t able to find is Barefoot Dreams blankets are cruelty-free, but what I have learned is that it is 100% worth it. It’s the SOFTEST blanket I’ve ever wrapped myself in, and am low-key looking forward to Winter just so I can walk around the house in it…even more than I do now.
When I was a little kid, my mom would pore through weekend flyers like it was her weekly task. We would pile up all of the flyers on the floor and my brother, mom and I would sit in a circle, like a kumbiya trust circle of ads. She would look through each ad (back to front), then pass it on to me. I did the same, then passed it on to my brother. This is why I associate Labor Day sales with Macy’s (10% cash back through eBates), and nothing vegan or cruelty-free in particular. Now that I’m an adult (some might disagree), I look through Target ads every Sunday, and grocery ads to look for vegan and cruelty free deals…but are there really vegan Labor Day sales or cruelty-free Labor Day sales? Yes! Take advantage of the sales below to get the most bang for your hard-earned bucks. The list is short but powerful!
Asili Naturals: Asili Naturals is having a End of Summer Sale. 40% off their entire site, now through September 16th. Use code: ENDOFSUMMER at checkout.
Kat Von D: Up to 40% off cult products + Free vegan leather makeup bag, compact mirror, Mini Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black and Mini Studded Kiss Creme in Lovecraft when you Spend $75
The search for a vegan and cruelty-free foundation and makeup in general continues, but my hunt for a VCF matte foundation specifically seems endless. For the past month or so, I’ve been testing the L.A. Girl PRO Matte Foundation (not sponsored) as an affordable alternative to a lot of the higher-end (mostly NOT VCF) foundations out there, so that you can make your transition to a vegan lifestyle much easier. I bought mine at Ulta (you can use coupons on it!) for get this, $8.99…and that was pre-coupon. I mean. Come on! I thought it was too good to be true, so I put the foundation to the test, for more than one month straight.
This foundation is easily thick and creamy and offers a medium to full-coverage. It doesn’t really feel like I’m wearing a ton of makeup and doesn’t look cakey which is nice.
Not going to lie, I had high expectations for this foundation, and it didn’t deliver. It looks great at first, but after about a couple hours, I had splotches on my face where the foundation pooled with my oil–should my blog have had a “graphic” disclaimer? Sorry but I had to test it for you guys and that’s exactly what happened! This is why I think this foundation is better off for those who have normal/combination skin.
FYI–I touched up with powder maybe 3-4 times in my usual 10-hour day at the office alone to cover up the grease.
Between an “eh” and a thumbs up to be honest. I was, however, surprised by how good the quality is for the price. I did like that it came with a pump though!
4. COLOR RANGE
This L.A. Girl foundation only comes in 14 color options–such a bummer. I bought cafe at first, which was FAAAR too dark. This should’ve been named Burnt Toast because that’s what your girl looked like, and what’s worse, no one told me. #rude.
So I switched it up and went a shade lighter, which was much better. If it didn’t wear off an hour later, I’d be a sucker for this foundation.
5. VEGAN & CRUELTY-FREE FOUNDATION?
Cruelty-free? According to their FAQs: Please be assured that we do not test on animals. Beauty 21 Cosmetics (their parent company) is a proud member of the cruelty-free PETA organization.
They also wear the Cruelty-Free logo on their website! *Praise Be*
Vegan? L.A. Girl is not 100% vegan, although some of their products are. You can contact them to get a full list of their vegan products. I.E. some of their products contain beeswax.
TBH guys, I would pass. The color that eventually matched me looked beautiful, but that was it’s only redeeming feature. Needless to say, I do not use this foundation anymore.
RATING: 5/10 because of it’s initial beauty.
Would I recommend you buy it? Pass if you have oily skin. If you have normal to combination skin, this may be a win for you.
My search for the perfect foundation continues. But first, let me set the stage in case you’re a new reader:
I have oily skin.
I have a brown complexion with red undertones in some areas.
I could have smaller pores.
So what does perfect mean to me? A foundation that doesn’t move around even after a long day on the job, keeps me looking matte and doesn’t oxidize. Well it turns out that these three things are a TALL order for your every day foundation. Not to mention I’m totally entitled and need a foundation with SPF to protect me from all the sun’s realness. Not much right? Wrong.
My search brought me to the Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage 12-Hour Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen. Now that name sounds like it covers alllll of my three bases, so I put it to the test. Here are my results:
1. CONSISTENCY: What “Clay” Foundation Feels Like.
The foundation is middle in consistency between watery and thick, however probably leans more on the #thick side (hi!).
2. LONGEVITY: Does Tarte Foundation Really Last 12 Hours?
This is where I was gravely disappointed. For the first day, it seemed to work fine. I tested it both with a primer underneath and without, however the primer didn’t seem to make that much of a difference. Note: This may have worked awesome for you and let me say that I am totally jelly of you for that, but I do have oily skin, so keep that in mind.
It lasted for about 2 hours before it started to move all around the place. I touch my face when I’m thinking or just taking a pause between projects. Why? No clue. But then I go to the restroom and I what look like little nicks on my face where my foundation moved. It literally sat on top of my skin and didn’t stick to anything. That said, it didn’t necessarily feel like I had a lot of makeup on so that’s a plus.
3. Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation QUALITY
I think the quality is definitely there! It really make my skin look great (I always set my foundation with the same powder), even if it lasted all of two hours. As far as ingredients goes, this one is fantastic when it comes to sunscreen. Both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are mineral sunscreens, which are much better than the other ingredients on the market that are complete with fillers such as: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
4. Full-Coverage Foundation COLOR SELECTION
There are 40 color options to choose from, which is a lot more than I can say for your run-of-the-mill drugstore options! I color matched as 44S Tan Sand, and I think it was actually a little bit dark for me, so I replaced it with 40H Tan Honey, which worked out much better. It also didn’t oxidize orange, but I did find that it settles in a bit darker than what you see out of the tube. That may have just been me. Otherwise, I would say err on the side of a lighter shade to find the perfect match.
5. Is Tarte Foundation VEGAN & CRUELTY-FREE?
Cruelty-Free? When asked if Tarte is cruelty-free, they say: tarte cosmetics is a cruelty-free cosmetics line. tarte makeup and skincare is never tested on animals.
Vegan? When asked if Tarte is vegan, their answer is: many of our products are vegan! At the bottom of every tarte product page in the tarte shop there is an ingredient listing where you can find the ingredients to the products you’re interested in. tarte cannot guarantee that any ingredients or products were produced in an allergen free environment.
With that said, this Amazonian Clay 12-hour foundation is vegan-friendly, and it is one of many makeup options that are in their “Vegan Friendly” collection: #notsponsored
I would recommend this foundation not at all for it’s longevity, but for the quality if you’re looking to smooth out your complexion for a couple hours. A dinner? A photo shoot? A short outing? Perfect. Anything longer than that just didn’t gel with me.
RATING: 6.5/10 because of it’s longevity, otherwise I think it would be a solid 8.5!
Would I recommend you buy it? I think it’s worth a shot to see if it works with your skin.
If you’re like me you live for a good monthly favorites post. Well, I figured a current favorites will quench your thirst for such a post, so I’m sharing what I’m currently loving!
Current Vegan, Cruelty-free Skincare Favorites
You already know my love for rosehip oil, I mean it’s practically the fountain of youth bottled into a pretty package [not verified ;)] and after trying various serums, I’ve gone back to it. I don’t know why I ever left. Sorry RHO. I usually put it on after I wash my face with the Foreo Luna Mini 2 and swipe some Thayer’s Witch Hazel all over my face (which according to Thayer’s, does not test on animals).
Also, I’m always looking for some awesome body soap. After trying some from Fresh Thyme and Whole Foods, I’ve realized I really love the one from Trader Joe’s. It smells AH-MAY-ZING.
Best of all, according to Peta and product packaging, Trader Joe’s does not test on animals.
Cruelty-free Makeup Favorites
The major highlight (pun intended) of the past couple of months was rediscovering the ELF Highlight and Bronzer duo. Note, I do not even touch the bronzer. It has zero color pay off, which means this duo is only half worth it but really the highlight makes it totally 100% worth it. I know that made no sense. Roll with me.
You can’t really tell from the picture above but you really have to rub through the top sheen of the highlight to get through to the gold. It’s perfect for my bronze-skinned goddesses–it shows up perfect on my brown skin tone! Adding a little bit goes a long way, and while it comes off a bit chunky at first, it actually blends in quite nicely. BUT use a little bit. I put some on the tops of my cheekbones and on the tip of my nose #shinebright.
Best of all, according to ELF, “We do NOT test on animals or endorse such practices. Our products do not contain animal derived ingredients. Beeswax has been replaced by synthetic beeswax and lanolin has been replaced by Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladinpale-2. We currently support HSUS and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project.”
The Real Techniques sponge is also a favorite–you can tell by how dirty it is (sorry–I swear I cleaned it but that brown shade just doesn’t go away). According to their site, they are cruelty-free, “Our products are 100% cruelty-free. We never test products on animals.”
Cruelty-free Fashion Favorite
If you know me in person, you know that I’m always changing up my bracelets. BUT ever since my then boyfriend (now hubs) bought my me first LotusandLava bracelet at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market some 4 years ago, I’ve been a loyal customer. I probably own upside of 15 bracelets from her shop and continue to be a LAL lover. In fact, I used to treat myself to one every time she had a sale or just cause. I often go to these as the perfect gifts for people for any occasion or no occasion at all.
The ones I showed above sparkle so amazingly in the sunshine. The bottom is a goldstone bracelet, of which she has a different variation now on etsy. The top is my absolute favorite. It’s dark green, but when it hits the light, it shines like the night sky. I have this in a dark navy too that shines just the same.
Question of the Day
Do you like these kinds of posts? Would you like to see these on a monthly basis from me? Thanks as always for your kind support! You’re the reason I do what I do. ❤ ❤
Happy Thursday, ya’ll! Or to some, it’s more like, “it’s not Fri-yay, yet?” and to be honest, I’m definitely team Fri-Yay. This week has been a doozy, a truly busy one. While my days are usually long and filled with a never-ending to-do list, this week seemed especially crazy. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve hit a milestone birthday and feel the need to keep the fact that I’m aging out of my head or just that…I’m one busy gal (nice segue, Sam).
But in reality, I am busy, and the only time I really get to myself is at 5:00 in the morning, where I allow myself 30 minutes to get ready (shower included) and read for 30 minutes before I head to work. SO I wanted to take some time away from beautifying myself and add it to reading. Cue busy gal BROWS (not sponsored–I swear). I wanted to be able to do my brows effortlessly without wondering if my eyebrows make me look surprised one day and angry the other. But–did this Tarte brow gel deliver?
At first, I found it both hard and easy to use. Let me explain. The product doesn’t come out with much color on the brush, but it packs it on a tiny but at the very top of the brush. SO as I brush it through my brows, I find that the tip of the brush leaves product where I don’t want it. If you figure out how to distribute the product throughout your brush, it’s actually fairly effortless to use.
The downside is in the color pay off–there isn’t much payoff. I often have to dip my brush back into the tube 4 to 5 times for each brow. The swatch on the left is of the brush just touching my hand. The swatch on the right is what it looks like when I swiped it across–see what I mean about the uneven distribution?
What is surprising however is how easy it is to define my brows! It actually helps shape it quite nicely, however I do use a pencil to just outline them a bit.
Price: $18. I got mine at Ulta in the shade black brown.
Vegan? Yes! Tarte claims this is vegan friendly. It says so right on the packaging!
Is Tarte vegan?
Also, according to the Tarte site: many of their products are vegan. At the bottom of every tarte product page in the tarte shop there is an ingredient listing where you can find the ingredients to the products you’re interested in. tarte cannot guarantee that any ingredients or products were produced in an allergen free environment.
Is Tarte cruelty-free?
According to TarteFAQs, tarte cosmetics is a cruelty-free cosmetics line. tarte makeup and skincare is never tested on animals. However, according to ethical elephant, they’re owned by a parent company, Kose, that is not cruelty-free.
Is the Tarte busy gals BROWS brow gel worth it?
I give the product a 6.5/10. Mostly because it’s hard to get color and because of the color distribution. It does however last for a while and once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite easy to use.
Question of the Day
If you could choose between doing only your lashes or only your eyebrows for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Fam, I’ve bought so many versions of Clarisonic brushes, Clarisonic wanna be brushes and so many more face cleaning tools with little progress. In fact, they all did the opposite. They broke me out, didn’t seem to clean my pores out as much as promised and often left me with more work after (in the form of having to clean dirty brushes). Don’t get me wrong–I’m not knocking those of you who love their Clarisonic brushes! They’re a lot of people’s cuppa tea and they work amazingly for others! (just not for me). SO, I finally decided to try the Foreo Luna Mini 2 (thanks for the birthday gift, M-I-L! and not sponsored) for these reasons:
Foreo Luna Mini 2 Review – Size
When Foreo first came out with their face brushes, they were (and still are) rather large, probably bigger than the size of my hand. I heard great things about them from the onset, but the size kept me from trying it. Fast forward several years, the Foreo now has new options: The Luna Mini, The Luna Mini 2 (what I have), the Play, the Play PLUS, the Mio and now the FoFo. I may even be missing a few options in that list. While the FoFo is their brand-spanking new version (and apparently can diagnose your skin’s state to some extent and has an app, I mean hello fancy), it seems a bit too small for me. I like the size of the Luna Mini 2 enough that I wanted to try it, and I can attest that I lurv it.
Foreo Luna Mini 2 Review – Sonic Face Brush Type (Silicone vs. Bristles)
So I’m going to keep comparing it to the clarisonic because that’s probably it’s biggest (and most popular) competitor, and probably what most of you are debating between. Now that I can say that I’ve tried both, I can give you an honest review. After having tried many bristle face brushes (electronic and not), I can say that I honestly like the silicone “bristles,” which are actually nubs in the Foreo much more. They seem to irritate my skin far less. In fact, my face isn’t even red after I use it, but I know it’s working. How? I usually wipe a toner over my face after I wash and after the clarisonic, it still picked up some residue. After the Foreo–none. I know. I’m serious. Not to mention, my face felt as soft as a baby’s bum bum after I used it.
Anyway, it has three zones, and the one that matters to me is the one on the back, meant for those of us with oily skins and my skin has already gotten less oily (I mean, can I get an amen?!). The Amazon description states: Fine silicone bristles on the front care for sensitive to normal skin, while thicker bristles along the top deliver precision cleansing in the T-zone. On the back, broad silicone bristles specialize in cleansing oily skin.
How It Works
This is the easy part. It vibrates for a total of 60 seconds. After every 15 second interval, it almost buzzes so you know to move from one zone to the next, with each zone being: your left cheek, your right cheek, your forehead, and your t-zone. I follow that about 80%. After the 60 seconds is over, it buzzes three times but keeps going. I then run it under the water while it’s still vibrating and it cleans RIGHT. OFF. I hate (abhor) cleaning brushes and this is the easiest it’s ever been.
The LUNA mini 2 uses the power of T-Sonic pulsations to effectively cleanse deep below the skin’s surface. With 8 adjustable intensities and 3 zones of varying touch point thicknesses, it is suitable for all skin types.
The LUNA mini 2 removes up-to 99.5% of dirt and oil, dead skin cells, unclogs pores and removes makeup residue.
Memorial Day is one of the few days out of the year you can rock an American flag on just about anything: your headband, your booty shorts, your pool floaties and your grill, even the one in your mouth. But also synonymous with Memorial Day is meat, and lots of it. People LOVE to grill on this holiday and it’s no wonder…suns out, (burger) buns out, right? BUT we can do without all that meat, murder and cruelty (sorry omnivores) and pay homage to our veterans with some delicious eats that are so nutritious that you’ll keep the backyard “bbq” party goin’ all night long. SO with that said, here is the first edition of my Vegan Memorial Day eats (appetizer and dessert, entree to come tomorrow!).
Vegan Pigs in a Blanket, without the Oink
These “pigs” in a blanket make the easiest and quickest appetizer (or meal because you won’t be able to stop poppin’ these “piggies” in your mouth). All you need to do to pre-heat your oven and prep your ingredients. Once you assemble, bake and take. The best part is, you can personal these to your flavor profile. Read below to find out exactly where the personal touch fits in:
1 pack of vegan hot dogs 2 packs of Pillsbury crescent rolls (accidentally vegan) Dijon mustard or other sauce (to taste) Everything but the bagel seasoning (from Trader Joe’s) or sesame seeds
Preheat your over to 400 degrees.
Prepare your dogs: cut each dog into quarters. Cut them in half width-wide, then those two pieces in half length-wise.
Prepare your cresent rolls: Pull apart each of the crescent roll pieces and lay them out so they look like triangles on your flat surface.
Take the sauce of your choice and spread them across each of the triangle pieces–it doesn’t hurt to be generous here because once you bake these the flavors tend to steam (bake?) away.
Now place each of those quarter hot dog pieces on the fat end of the triangle, then roll them up toward the pointy end.
You should now have little pigs in a blanket! Repeat with each piece.
Lay them out about 1-inch apart on a baking sheet (I line mine with a silpat)
Take your seasoning or sesame seeds (optional) and sprinkle them on top of each of the little “Pigs” in a blanket.
Place them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
You’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown. Let them cool for about 5 minutes, and then they’re ready to serve, with an extra side of mustard for those rebels in your party.
Pina Colada in a Bowl (my vegan pina colada in edible (not drink) form)
This is my take on a pina colada in food form. All you need for this is three ingredients, one of which is purely store bought…unless you want to be really extra and over-the-top, then I got you covered too.
Fresh pineapple slices or canned pineapple slices
Full fat coconut milk
Dairy free ice cream OR frozen bananas and almond extract
Unsweetened coconut flakes
If using canned pineapple slices, try to get them as dry as possible before placing them on a grill. If using fresh, place them on a grill with a little bit of coconut oil on either side. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side.
While grilling the pineapple slices, separate the thick part of coconut milk from the liquid into two separate bowls. Whisk the thick portion until it turns light and fluffy and voila, you have vegan whipped cream. For an added taste, add a few drops of vanilla extract.
Place a scoop or two of ice cream in a bowl OR 3A. Blend frozen bananas with some water or a little bit of almond milk with some almond extract until it turns into an ice cream consistency.
Place your grilled pineapple on top of your “ice cream.”
Top with your coconut whipped cream and top that with some unsweetened coconut flakes.
Pina colada in a bowl. You’re welcome.
Question of the Day
What are your go-to vegan recipes? Share–we want to know!
My husband and I are adventurous eaters, well as adventurous as a vegan and a carnivore can be. Either way, one of our favorite cuisines is Thai and like every diner who feels like a food critic, we order Tom Ka Kai or Tom Ka Gai at every thai restaurant we try, and continue to compare, judge and rate. I know you do it too. Anyways, I decided it was time to walk the walk so wanted to try making a batch of thai coconut milk soup with tofu myself! It’s actually way easier than I thought and took very little effort. Most of the elbow grease goes into sourcing the ingredients. So, tie on your apron and get ready for the ultimate soup test.
Vegan Tom Ka Kai (aka Tom Ka Gai or Tom Kha Gai) Recipe
1 cup shitake mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choosing) 1 cup diced onions or shallots (about a quarter-inch in size) 1/2 cup lime or lemon juice (use as much or as little of this as you like–the soup authentically has a very acidic taste so I err on the side of more) 2 lemongrass stalks 1/2 cup water 2 tbsp. crushed red chili pepper (or to taste) 2 small green or red chilies 2 tomatoes 1 package of firm tofu 1 can coconut milk 4 tbsp. liquid aminos
Prep your ingredients: Cut the lemongrass stalks into about 1-inch long pieces. Slice the mushrooms into edible sizes, dice your onion, dice your chili peppers, slice your tomatoes into edible sizes, cube tofu into size of your choice.
Heat a large pot until it sizzles when you sprinkle in some water. Now add the 1/2 cup of water, lemongrass, mushrooms, onions and lime juice and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the diced chilis, red pepper flakes, tomato, coconut milk and tofu.
Add the liquid aminos and stir for about 5-10 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of thickness.
Remove your pot from the heat and stir in lime or lemon juice to taste.
Once you’ve made it, you’ll hands-down think your soup is the best you’ve ever had. I mean, that’s how it always works, right? 😉
Let us know what you think if you’ve made it and if you have any variations. I’d love to try how you change it up!
Question of the Day
What’s one food you always compare whenever you eat out?
Spring fashion these days is a toss-up. One day you’re grabbing your rain jacket and galoshes and the next you’re sweating up a storm wondering if it’s kosher to take a walk around the park in your sports bra and shorts. Why global warming, why?! Anyway, because of the fickle weather, Spring fashion can be tricky, especially this time of year, which is why I put together one of my favorite things: #lifehacks.
Come spring and summer, you want to be covered enough to feel warm just in case that nice cool spring breeze comes through. So let out your inner ballerina and opt for organic cotton leggings (make sure they pass the squat test) that tie around your ankles or get ones that have cut-outs anywhere on your legs to help with air flow, like these from Alo Yoga. According to Peaceful Dumpling, “Alo is committed to eco-friendly sourcing and production practices, right down to their solar powered offices in LA. Their colorful, modern tank tops are perfect for yoga, pilates, spinning, fitness classes, or running.”
Open Back and Tulip Back Tops
I’m personally not a fan of tank tops and I’m always cold (so hardpass), and the best medium for me to stay warm without compromising all of my skin to the sunshine is through tulip tops or open back tops! You can find these most anywhere, and they’re flowy, cute and Oh so Springy! Pair these with some black leggings, and a cute lace back bra that’s visible in the back and VOILA. S’cute.
Accessorize, Accessorize, ACCESSORIZE
…did I say accessorize? If you’re not a fan of going all out spring color, you can still wear all black, white, gray or what have you and have your pop of color live in your accessories. Consider vegan mustard color flats or vegan sneakers for those super casual days. Let your hair down or put it in a pony, throw on a baseball cap, some leggings, and a cute top…and dang girl, fashionista, much?
…did you know Mother’s Day is this Sunday? Literally two days away? Surprise! Well it shouldn’t have been, but now that your heart is beating faster because you’ve RSVPd’ yes to brunch without a gift in hand, I’ve come to the rescue. Whether you’re mama is vegan or not, concerned about cruelty-free or not, or said “no gifts” (no one ever means that, okur), this gift guide is for you. Best of all, you can pick up most of these things in store, or if you buy them tonight on Amazon, especially Prime (where are you if you don’t have Prime), then you’ll get it at some point on Sunday and you can casually surprise moms at some point during the day like that was your plan all along 😉
Vegan and Cruelty-Free Mother’s Day Gifts for the Beauty Loving Mama
If your wife, mom, sister, grandma or any “mother” in your life is always on-the-go or simply loves feeling pampered, help her feel her best with these vegan and cruelty-free beauty gifts. This Drunk Elephant Duo is the perfect gift or gift topper to help mama feel wide awake after long days tending to the kids or your fur babies. The Tarte Highlighting Eyeshadow Palette is a quick trick to make her look (and feel) like she had a peaceful morning with her cup of coffee cause that woman will be glowing from cheek to cheek with these many color options. Lastly, you can never go wrong by giving this beautiful woman a moment to herself at the spa with a gift certificate to get a manicure, pedicure or facial. (For you true procrastinators out there–this is your best option! As in you can roll out of bed Sunday morning, and pick this up on the way to Mother’s Day Brunch. Also, shame on you).
Vegan and Cruelty-Free Mother’s Day Gifts for the Vegan Foodie or Cook
Mamas love to feed us, especially if you have an Indian mom like I do, who loves to cook, then shove rice and curry into our mouths all day long–why I ever complained about this growing up is beyond me. I literally look forward to visiting the parents now for this reason only, oh and to see them of course…anyway, if your lady loves to cook, consider Silpat Baking Mats, they make baking and cooking mess free. Literally all gunk rolls right off and they withstand a high temperature in the over, toaster, etc. FYI Costco sells a similar version, just not Silpat brand. Another #procrastinationhack. You’re welcome.
The NutriBullet is also an easy last-minute option–you can buy them virtually anywhere. As is the Organic Wheatgrass Growing Kit–a fun way for mom to experiment in the kitchen. If she enjoys food but wants a break from cooking, give her a chance to relax with her choice of tea with this Tea Forté Tin Sampler Gift, or you can buy a bunch of boxes of tea you think she would like, throw them in a basket, add a Starbucks gift card, and boom. Last-minute Mother’s Day present.
If you have zero time at all, then consider an order of the Purple Carrot Meal Delivery service. You can buy her a subscription as a gift. It comes with all the measured ingredients, the recipe and directions to make a quick and easy meal. You can print out the sheet that says you’ve ordered it, roll it up, tie a bow around it, and voila.
Vegan and Cruelty-Free Mother’s Day Gifts for the Active Mama
The active mama, gym rat or simply health-conscious individual sometimes needs a moment away from all the activity, and the Zafu Meditation Pillow may give her just that. On the opposite note, if she wants to rack up #alltheactivitypoints, then help her realize how awesome she’s doing with the Jawbone Activity/Sleep Tracker. Whether she’s crazy active or just likes to take a morning stroll, it’s important to stay hydrated. Help her fuel up stylishly with this S’well Water Bottle. Lastly, give her a bag to put all of these things in that’s both super adorable and functional, like this Vegan Gym Bag. Lululemon also makes some cool bags (but do people know if they’re VCF?).
In reality, whether you got her something ages ago or are scrambling for a last minute idea, all mama wants is time with her babies. So spoil her with all of your time and shower her with love, because she brought you into this world (and she can take you out). JK.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but I want to talk about it again! I suffer from terribly, terribly dry hands as a result of Renaud’s Syndrome–my blood circulation is really poor, and the effect of that is most noticeable in the winter time. Being a Cali girl at heart, anything below 60 to me is freezing and my body thinks so too, which is why when winter comes around, it’s like my fingers get frost bites. No joke, I’ve had to wear band-aids just because it gets so cold in my office on a daily basis (winter or not). After years of suffering, I decided to do more than just put a band-aid on the situation (get it?). I sought hand lotion after hand lotion and product and service after another, and this is what works for me! (It may not work for you, but the whole process is kind of like a spa day so make it your own! (Please always consult your physician before starting any new regimen).
Step 1: Get a Regular Manicure
…and not a gel manicure, or acrylics. Just get a regular old fashioned manicure and ask them to pay special attention to your cuticles. Once you get a manicure and your hands feel fresh, free of all hangnails and relaxed after a short hand massage, it’s time to keep up appearances. What I mean is, you need to put lotion on your hands every night and treat your cuticles with some love.
Step 2: Lotion Up!
I’ve tried nearly every lotion under the sun, and these two have been my holy grails the past couple of months. The Asili Naturals Lavender Shea Body Butter is perfect before bed because of it’s calming lavender scent, and how it sinks into the skin (no messy bedsheets here!). After I wake up and get ready for the day, I then slather on some Green Goo 100% All Natural Hand Goo a few minutes before I head out (so it has time to sink in). My hands definitely drink it in. I bought my Hand Goo from Sierra Trading Post for $10, but you can also find it on Amazon or directly from GreenGooHelps.com. Both products are cruelty-free!
Step 3: Care for those Cuticles
When I have time to just sit and read or relax, I put on some oil (for the most part, any oil meant for skin will do) and massage the oil into my cuticles for just a few seconds per finger. With Renaud’s my fingertips get really sensitive and makes it hard to do things, like even write sometimes without cringing. Massaging with my rosehip oil really helps my circulation and keeps my hands soft!
Here are some before and after pictures that prove my method works! You can see that my hands before were peeling, splotchy and red, sometimes also purple due to poor circulation.
After (posing like a t-rex):
Question of the Day
If you have dry hands or skin, or suffer from Renaud’s Syndrome, what works for you?
February had the shortest amount of days, felt like it would never end, and yet when March 1st came around I was like, “Where did February go?” Clearly, 2018 is off to a weird start. Thankfully, I can’t say the same about all the products I’ve been trying so far. Aside from the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation, I’ve found so many holy grails and we’re only 2.5 months into the year #winning. Memo to self: remember unforgettable foods for March Favorites (stay tuned–check back in March too!)
Skincare & Makeup Favorites
1. Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation
Nothing helps you realize what’s best in your life until you try it’s terrible, terrible counterpart (of sorts). I tried new foundations and kept going back to the Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation. I’m convinced now that it really is that good. Go to Sephora stat and get a sample to try, and tell them you want a week’s worth because you’re worth it but really because you know your paycheck could go to Sephora in one fell swoop. According to the Kat Von D website, the foundation is part of their #veganalert product line, and I believe their entire brand is cruelty-free.
You can’t tell in the picture above but that bottle of serum is empty to the last drop. I literally pulled it out of the trash for you guys (you’re welcome). I alternate the use of this serum with my rosehip oil every night. The reason I love this serum so much is that I can truly tell the difference in my skin the next morning when I didn’t use it. While I would 100% buy this again, I’m too much of a “need for change” type of girl, and want to try a new serum. Any recommendations?
According to ethicalelephant, Acure is a cruelty-free brand, but not all of their products are vegan (the CGF oil-free serum happens to be): Acure Organics is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunny Program. This ensures Acure Organics products and ingredients are not tested on animalsduring any stage of product development and manufacturing. Acure Organics also does not sell in foreign markets that require animal testing by law.
I bought mine at Fresh Thyme but you can buy it on the Vitamin Shoppe as well, and select Target locations.
3. Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm
The best part of waaaaking up, is Fresh Sugar Balm on your lips (don’t lie, you said that like you were singing the Folgers jingle.) While I won’t buy this again because I am uncertain if Fresh is vegan and cruelty-free, I did enjoy nourishing my lips with the smell of dulce de leche every morning. My husband didn’t mind it either 😉
According to the Fresh website, the entire brand is cruelty-free (woop woop): As a result, all Fresh products undergo very strict tolerance tests using non-animal methods during the development of each product to ensure quality and safety prior to market.
However, ethicalelephant found otherwise, so I’ll leave it to you to make that decision.
After a looooooong day, what’s better than some cuddles, Netflix, wine and maybe a bath? I love how these Asili Naturals bath bombs smell (so subtle and not overly fragrant) and best of all, I can definitely feel softer skin. I made hand soap out of the lavender bath bomb one and lurv it.
You can order them on the Asili Naturals site and in select stores throughout Wisconsin.
5. Dr. Jaikaran’s Herbodent Toothpaste
I wasn’t sure which category this should go under so it got it’s own. While I’m not 100% if this is vegan, I know with certainty that it is 100% vegetarian (and most aren’t!), according to their site. My uncle-in-law (??) gave this to me, and I used it a couple of times (and I will probably leave it for guests to use because I am uncertain if it’s VCF), but if you are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, and can’t find a vegan toothpaste you like, the Herbodent toothpaste might be the perfect stepping stone. You can buy it on Amazon.
Questions of the Day
What is your favorite VCF serum? What would you recommend? What were your February favorites?
If you’re anything like I am, you’re skeptical of store-bought vegan anything. I much prefer to make things on my own, but sometimes, ya girl’s in a pinch…like when you wake up with 10 minutes to spare to shower, brush, walk the dog, take out the trash, watch a couple Netflix series etc. etc. SO, I went on the hunt for a morning caffeine push that didn’t require much thought…enter Califia Farms.
Vegan Cafe Latte Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk Review
At 90 calories per serving, I think the Califia Farms Cafe Latte with Almond Milk makes the perfect treat. A serving is 8 ounces or 240 ml for those who are counting. While a glass of it may seem small, it actually tastes quite creamy and rich, so you can actually savor it while binge-watching something or talking to your dog (me 100%).
That brings us to consistency. It’s rather creamy! It’s almost the exact consistency of almond milk, but a little thicker.
Be forewarned, it tastes really sweet…well compared to a glass of coffee. I should note that I abhor the taste of coffee. In fact, I can only drink it with vegan creamer in it, but this is actually the best middle ground between a frappuccinoand black coffee. Honestly, you won’t understand until you try it.
Yes! According to their FAQs: While our full line is not organic, all Califia Farms products are 100% plant-based, non-GMO, carrageenan-free, gluten-free, vegan and made with no artificial ingredients. It sounds like all Califia Farms products are made with sustainability and vegans in mind, so go buy yourself a bottle and enjoy! [#notsponsored, but happy to be if you’re reading this CF ;)]
Question of the Day
How do you take your coffee or tea? Black or as beige in color with creamer as you can get it?
Want some carbs with that schmear? I’ve been obsessed with Everything Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast lately. Something about half of a Whole Foods Everything Bagel covered with some cream cheese makes my mornings so right—wait, what?! Cream cheese?! You heard that right! Vegan cream cheese is almost indistinguishable from it’s dairy-filled counterpart, but probably tastes way better—if you get the right one that is. To help make your decision-making much easier, we’re going to compare two of the most popular cream cheeses on the market, at least where I live.
Tofutti Cream Cheese
At first glance, this cream cheese has the color of tofu (that almost off-white egg shell color) and the consistency of cream cheese mixed with a touch of gelatin. The tofu color probably comes from that fact that the second, third, and fourth ingredients are: expeller processed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit and oil), maltodextrin, soy protein, tofu.
While this cream cheese is marketed as “Better Than Cream Cheese,” I would have to staunchly disagree. However, if you’re in a pinch and jonesing for vegan cream cheese, it’s not…bad. The only reason I don’t like it is because of the consistency and some what due to it’s taste.
If you’re interested in buying this, I bought it at the “alternatives” section of my Jewel-Osco. I think it’s fairly accessible at regular grocery stores.
Price: ~ $3.99 (depends on where you live)
Kite Hill Cream Cheese
Where do I start about Kite Hill cream cheese? When I opened it, it looked like real cream cheese. Note that the first time I tried it, I bought the chive flavor which was the only flavor that was available.
The consistency is super creamy (the Jalapeno flavor is a tad bit gelatinous, but truly only 2% more). The taste is even more amazing. I had meat-eaters try it and they love it. My husband tends to favor it as well!
The only place I can find Kite Hill cream cheese in my neighborhood is at Whole Foods. They have plain, chive and jalapeno. According to Kite Hill, you can find them at Sprouts, Publix, Target and other retailers across the U.S. in addition to Whole Foods. You can use their Store Finder to locate it near you.
Taste: 9/10 (only because I wish the flavor was a little stronger)
Price: ~ $5.99 (the packaging recently features a 50 cent coupon, which I always use at checkout…the site also features a $1.00 off coupon here)
The Verdict? Kite Hill winds by a landslide.
Question of the Day
What’s your favorite dairy-free product? And what do you usually eat for breakfast?
The Tarte Shape Tape concealer apparently turned the makeup world on it’s head. It seems Tarte decided to ride the coattails of their concealer’s popularity and bring their beloved Shape Tape lovers with a foundation by the same name. While I have yet to try the Shape Tape concealer (because I don’t need a concealer yet), I decided to give their Shape Tape foundation a try. If you’re thinking about handing over more than $40 to your Ulta salesperson, please read this review first. Spoiler alert: it ain’t good.
Note: I tried this foundation everyday for 10-15 hours per day for 2 weeks straight, just like I did for my Kat Von D Foundation review.
I purchased my foundation at Ulta for $42 including tax. It retails for $39.
The Tarte Shape Tape Foundation: Pros
1. 2 Formula Options: Dry or Oily Skin
Of the 36 shades (we’ll get into that below), 18 are made for those who have dry skin and 18 for those who have oily skin. Dry skin individuals may opt for the Hydrating Foundation and those with oily skin (hi!) will probably want to try the matte foundation. So, of course, having a semi-oil slick for a face, I opted for the matte foundation.
2. Medium Coverage
This is NOT at all a full-coverage foundation. Because it’s more liquidy, it tends to lean on the err of medium coverage. You can build it up, sure, but there’s a reason why you shouldn’t (see cons).
The Tarte Shape Tape Foundation: Cons
1. The Color Range
After Rihanna’s successful launch of her Fenty Beauty makeup line, including a range of foundation colors for everyone under the sun, Tarte’s range failed to please. As in crash and burn. They only have a selection of 18 shades per line (see above). 18! Drugstore foundations have more of a color range than that, right?
2. Doe-Foot Applicator
I found this applicator cumbersome to work with. I mean, yes, hardcore first world problem, but every time I used this foundation, I would open it, and swipe the foundation on one of my fingers (clean hands), and would swipe that onto my face. When I needed more, I used a new finger. I don’t think the doe foot applicator is the most sanitary option, which is why I count this as a con.
Ya’ll, this didn’t last for sh**. I said in the cons that it has medium coverage, and it does, but even one small layer of this foundation lasts maybe about 2 hours, 4 hours if you’re having a good day. If you layer the foundation on, it’s worse. This may be because I have oily skin (not sure), but this foundation moved around SO much. I put my makeup on around 6AM then head to work about an hour later. Around 9AM-10AM, I go to the bathroom and when I look in the mirror, my face has marks from where I touched it because this foundation doesn’t stick worth a dime to your face. It MOVES. It’s a matte foundation that sits on top of your skin. Not to mention, it get super blotchy throughout the day.
Worth It? Absolutely not. Although, you obviously have different skin than I do and there are many other outlying factors where this foundation may be your holy grail! I have tan, oily skin with an olive undertone, and it didn’t work for me.
Question of the Day
What is your favorite vegan and cruelty-free foundation? I went back to my Kat Von D foundation, and am loving it.
If you love the idea of taking baths but don’t have a bath tub fit for a queen like you, or want to enjoy your bath bomb without having to take a bath because some of use just don’t have the time to luxuriate (hi!)…then this SUPER EASY DIY is for you! I’m completely devoid of the DIY gene so the fact that I can even do this says something. Without having to film, this would’ve taken me like 5 minutes to do. Watch the video to find out how to turn your favorite bath bomb into shower gel. No surprise that I used one from Asili Naturals, but you can use any you have.
NOTE: One thing I would do after mixing, is to let the solution settle for up to an hour before pouring into your bottle. Enjoy!
We just came back from a trip to Albuquerque, going from 68 degrees and sunshine to a snowstorm and -15 wind chill. You could imagine how distressed we were landing onto a bed of snow after a 4-hour delay. I know. I know. #firstworldproblems. Anyways, aside from stress from travel hiccups, stress is a part of our daily lives, at least many of us, and it stems from one of three things: Personal, Professional and Self. SO, as always, I got you guys and I’m here to bring you back to your happy space with 3 ways to destress in Winter. Hey, if you live in the west coast where it’s 75 degrees and awesome, you could still use this tips, girl!
Whether it’s a lingering fight you’re having with your significant other, a breakup gone bad, stress from parents or a friendship gone awry, relationship and personal stress is no joke. It doesn’t matter how close you are to that point of stress, relationship and personal stress is draining. So, how do you come out of it? WRITE and COMMUNICATE.
One of the things that transformed many of my relationships was the 5 Love Languages. If you’re not sure what your top love languages are, go take the quiz! Not going to lie, the web page looks like an ad, but believe me it’s legit. As the name suggests, the love language is how you speak love–do you perceive love (romantic or friendly) to be in the form of affirmations, acts of service, or otherwise?
It’s really interesting. Take the quiz, review your results, then see if your friends or family can take the quiz too. This will not only give you a way to bond, but it may give you more insight into each other’s perceptions.
We are our hardest critics, as the saying goes, and self stress from poor body image, a negative self image or otherwise can quickly send you spiraling. First of all, know that you ARE beautiful inside and out, because it’s your spirit that matters above all else. So one of the first things to do to combat self stress is to smile. That’s seriously the easiest thing you can do, and you’ll already start feeling better. The next, is self love. Take care of yourself! Take some time to brew some tea, pull out a good book, throw on a vegan and cruelty-free face mask and just enjoy some of that time to yourself. By the time your face mask is dry, and you wash it off, you’ll feel some sort of renewal–a fresh start if you will. And if you didn’t already know, the Asili Naturals Spirulina Clay Mask is my FAVE. If you’re not sure how to apply a clay mask, I did a quick tutorial here.
I don’t have to tell you that 8 hours of work a day is draining, and even more so when you tend to put in 10-12 hours a day (hello!). Whether you’re simply tired from a long day’s worth of work or stressed from the growing to-do list, you CAN relieve yourself and actually enjoy the time from 5-9 (if you go to sleep at 9 like I do…).
How? Schedule your day for focus. Often times, work stress comes out of “not having the time” to do something else, when in reality, those minutes we spend picking up the phone to browse or just dilly dally actually add up. I sometimes have this problem, so I looked for an app to help me focus because lord help me. I found this app like Forest #notsponsored. It’s cute, because you can set the amount of time you want to focus for, and if you stay focused, say for an hour, you grow a tree. This tree gets added to your forest! The more you stay focused, the more trees you add to your land. You also accumulate points. Once you hit a certain amount of points, it goes toward the company giving a tree to third-world countries where food is scarce. So win-win.
If you’re like me, then you slap on a face mask faster than a squirrel to an acorn when you see a pimple on your face. Really–we need to realize that face masks can be just as preventative as they can be reactive. Next time you want to destress (post on destressing coming soon), want to relax, or just want to glow from within, try a clay mask! The one I use is from Asili Naturals. I used to use the one from Glam Glow, but they ain’t VCF (boo!). You can see my comparison of the two here.
Learn how to apply a clay mask and the benefits of using one in under a minute with this super short video:
The flu or something like it hit me hard, ya’ll. I’m still only 98% with the remnants of a cough and lingering sniffles and headaches. Now that I got my boo hoos out of the way, it’s time to talk about how to get clear skin and finally enjoy an acne-free complexion. Personally, I struggled (very minimally) with acne as a teenager, but not so much since. Since Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or forget that it’s V-day at all day is a little over a month away, it’s time to show your face some love so you can enjoy a date night at home or out on the town with full confidence. Whether you’re celebrating with Cupid or not, these tips will ensure you get smooth skin fast and keep it that way!
Step 1: Wash Your Face with Natural Cleansers
Simple Skincare is free of all the nasty chemicals you would find in most commercial face washes. They pride themselves on creating, “products [that] have no dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants that can upset skin and contain skin-loving ingredients and added vitamins for natural, healthy-looking skin.” (NOT sponsored!). It’s important to use such chemical-free cleansers so as not to strip the face on your skin of the beneficial things it already does, like turnover skin cells and produce important oils that help prevent wrinkles (hello, natural botox!).
After washing your face, it’s important to exfoliate your face with–and this is important–a GENTLE exfoliator 2-3 times a week when you’re trying to get rid of a pesky pimple, and just once a week to maintain acne-free skin. I’ve been using the Microdelivery Exfoliating Face Wash from Philosophy since my skin had a major breakout from stress in May. I’ve tried a lot of exfoliators and I like this because:
The “beads” are super gentle. If you’ve used the popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub, you know that those are pretty harsh (and hard). While it may feel like it’s more effective, it’s actually causing micro-tears in your skin which can cause premature wrinkles as your skin tries to repair itself.
It includes Vitamin C, which is important for that glowy skin (here we come, JLo).
Step 2: Maintenance Cleanser
Once your skin is clear of acne, it’s important to keep up with a safe cleaner. The cleanest face soap on the market I’ve found (seriously, you should’ve guessed this by now) is from Asili Naturals. The Shea Face Soap is full of nutrient-rich softening oils to help you maintain baby-butt soft skin. The below is the Rose Hip soap I use to help my the skin on my whole body nice and soft.
Step 3: Moisturize According to Your Skin
If you have oily skin and acne, opt for oil-free serums and lotions. Once your face has cleared up, maintain your skin with the ultimate skincare secret weapon: Rose Hip Oil.
Step 4: Medicate
This is where the chemicals come in, and the only time it’ll be ok to use them because it will clear your skin fast. Guaranteed. The first thing to do is recognize the type of acne. If your acne is just skin colored or slightly red bumps, you’ll need to treat it definitely than those pesky painful pimples with the little white tops. Here’s what you need to do:
Pimples with the white tops: treat with salicylic acid, like the Clear days ahead lotion from Philosophy.
Now that your skin is free and clear of acne, it’s time for upkeep! In addition to washing your face every day and after sweaty workout sessions (at most 3 times a day–more and you’ll strip your face of its natural goodness) and proper moisturization, use a clay mask once a week. This Spirulina clay mask will naturally pull out the impurities and prepare it for all the right moisturization.
There are two theories on setting resolutions for the New Year: 1. Yaaass honey fresh start clean slate I’m gonna slay this year, or 2. Ahem, you shouldn’t have to wait 365 days to start a new resolution. I hear you both. But there is something especially special (redundant?) about January 1st this year…it lands on a Monday. What’s more resolutiony than that? Whether you decided to stop eating meat (yay you!) On November 25th or want to start fresh at the beginning of a new year, more power to you! It never matters when you start, it just matters that you start a change and most importantly, that you stick to it. Here are 5 steps to help you become a vegetarian or vegan so that you can make 2018 better not only for you, but for the plant and all the animals on it.
Step 1: Tell Everyone
There is absolutely zero shame in you wanting to a) better your health and b) better the planet. The latter is pretty much the foundation of every religion, right? And no one will bash you for what you believe in (go away trolls!). And if you do happen to deal with those negative naysayers who make fun of “vegan food” or act negative around you, just shroud it out with your good vibes cause that’s all you’re putting out and lettin’ in sistah. Some show on Blue’s Clue’s (hi, 80s baby here) told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. If you’ve tried to nicely explain your way of life or amazing decision to stop eating meat to someone and they just don’t get it…move on. You do you.
Step 2: Expect Bumps In the Road
Giving something up is never easy. If you’ve eaten meat your whole life, it’s hard to go cold turkey. Know that you may have a setback here or there but one setback isn’t the catalyst to failure. Just get back on the buggy.
Step 3: Educate Yourself
Piggybacking on step 2, the main reason most people fail at resolutions, regardless of what it is, is because they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Someone may want to lose weight because they just want to be skinny and may get there the unhealthy way. Setting up a resolution should come from a desire for change. If you want to become vegetarian or vegan, but aren’t sure why or what to say when people ask you why, then it’s time to educate yourself! Once you feel compassionate about your cause, your resolution becomes less of a goal and more of an intrinsic belief. Check out numerous documentaries on Netflix and YouTube, get a vegan starter kit from PETA, and follow inspirational social media influencers to surround yourself with likeminded individuals.
Step 4: Plan for Success
You may be stuck on your daily ham and cheese sandwich for lunch or chicken and broccoli for dinner. As with every resolution, becoming vegetarian does need some work, but minimal at best. Googling vegetarian versions of your favorite recipes, new recipes all together, finding inspirational meal planners on social media or YouTube, these are all things that can help you plan for success.
The easiest way to start is to take a weekend and meal prep 2-3 vegetarian meals or vegan meals you can use for lunch and or dinner. It’s as easy as even preparing the ingredients you need to pull the meal together in minutes once you get home from work or after picking the kids up from school.
This resolution you set to not eat meat shouldn’t be a stressful one. Your body takes about a month to detox all the blood, spirit and chemicals from the meat products you’ve eaten over the years. Expect withdrawals, bad skin (a part of detox) which turns into amazing skin, stress and pressure. But all this in such a small period of time will lead to your best self.
Please always consult your physician before making any drastic physical or dietary changes.
Question of the Day
What is your resolution for the New Year?
I’m giving up processed sugar of any kind for the month of January. If all goes well, then another month after that and so forth.
If you waste half your life on Instagram (hi.), then you will have seen that gorge beauty Farah work her magic. Half the time she uses her own line of products like the Farsali Rose Gold Elixir or her Farsali Unicorn Essence. And if you’ve never seen these products, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to get your hands on these (spoiler alert), mostly because the packaging–and the products–are to die for. I picked up the samples, which are the perfect size as gift toppers and stocking stuffers–hint hint.
Farsali Unicorn Essence Review
Perhaps one of the most popular Farsali products, this pinky cloudy liquid smells like cotton candy and sinks like a song into your skin. It’s packaging describes it as a Skin Enhancing Antioxidant Serum. It also claims to work as a dual product: it infuses your skin with beneficial skin care and also preps it for putting on moisturizer or makeup. So I did both.
I washed my face and put a drop each on both my cheeks, my forehead and my chin and patted it in. In almost immediately sinks into your skin but also has a slight sticky feeling, which can feel unwelcome at first. BUT it’s this sticky feeling that makes makeup application a dream.
USE: I DO NOT suggest using this as a stand-alone moisturizer. If you use this, definitely top with moisturizer or top with a moisturizing foundation. I used it alone as well and it made my face feel tight–you know that feeling after you wash your face and don’t moisturize it? That. (yuck).
RESULTS: I waited a while after I got this to review and guys, when used as a primer, it’s amazing. Definitely go with the sample to see if your skin agrees. Even if it doesn’t…you may get addicted to the smell if you like sweet sugary scents.
Sample Size: 0.34 fl. oz.
Price: $20.00, the full size (1 oz.) is $54.
Worth It?: If it was $20 cheaper, yes! If you have a coupon, yes! Otherwise, not so sure TBH.
Farsali Rose Gold Elixir Review
If you guys are into luxe things that are 100% extra (hi again), then you want this, believe me. The Farsali Rose Gold Elixir is marketed as a 24K Gold Infused Beauty Oil and it literally has flecks of 24K gold in it. How’s that for extra?
While the Unicorn Essence is cloudy in appearance, the beauty oil feels like a true dry oil, not unlike my skincare secret and anti-aging hack: Rosehip Oil. It has Vitamin A (retinol–scientifically known to help fight wrinkles), and Vitamin C, which is why it smells a bit citrusy.
USE: Best used as a moisturizer.
RESULTS: I’ve been using it as a moisturizer before going to sleep and man, I feel like I’ve aged backwards at least like 3 days. But really, I love it.
What’s nice about this beauty oil is that it absorbs SO quick. I HATE the feeling of being covered in oil, especially when I sleep with it in. Since I’m extra as all hell I sleep on a (far too expensive) silk and copper-infused pillow case and the last thing I want to do is ruin it with oil. BUT I can put this oil on, let it dry for a hot second and go to sleep knowing my pillowcase wasn’t a total waste of money.
Sample Size: 0.34 fl. oz.
Price: $20.00, the full size (1 oz.) is $54.
Worth It?: Yes! Wait until you get a Sephora coupon then spring for the full 1 OZ. Yo welcome.
VCF? Yes, according to the About Us page, they are cruelty-free!
Question of the Day
Have you tried anything from Farsali Beauty? What are your favorite night serums or moisturizers?
These are the most aptly named patties…maybe ever. These burgers not only look like meat, but I personally think they taste better than meat! I was a meat-eater until 2007, when I went vegetarian, so while I don’t remember what all meat tastes like and while I rarely had hamburgers then, I can say that this tastes much better than any dead carcasses.
Not only does it look like meat in the packaging, but it also cooks like meat.
When I immediately put it on the pan:
After I flipped it once, you can see how it browns:
What’s weird is it even stays a little pink in the middle. Also, since it already has some fat in it, I didn’t cook it in any oil or vegan butter. I just plopped it onto a high-medium heated pan as is and it immediately started sizzling away.
I paired it with some Angelic Bakehouse hamburger buns and had it with a side salad and some Daiya provolone cheeze.
While it may be a little higher in fat, it certainly is high in protein and completely 100% plant-based. If you’re going vegan and crave a big, juicy burger with all the fixings, this Beyond Meat Burger will definitely quench your craving.
Question of the Day
Have you tried these? Do you like them? What are your favorite alternate meats for burgers?
When I first went vegan on January 2016, I couldn’t stay away from carbs. I ate broccoli and rice almost every day and a lot of pasta…and let me tell you where all this carbo-loading went (I put Kim K’s butt to shame). It took me anywhere between 2-6 months to really figure out a balance in my “diet”, air quotes because ya’ll know it’s a lifestyle. Part of this balance is finding “junk” food and sometimes wanting a little more than your faithful greens. Ya girl can only eat so much broccoli without turning green [P.S. it’s kinda true–my husband ate so many carrots as a baby he turned orange.] So to change it up, I opted for some vegan meats. Now while I like to stay as clean and as few ingredients as possible, these little patties, balls and strips (Las Vegas club name?) make salads just a bit more fun when you need to change it up. FYI you can get all of these vegan meats at Trader Joe’s!
1. California Veggie Burgers
If you like veggie patties or want to make more delicious burgers, opt for these low-calorie, nutrition-packed vegan patties (see the little circle with the heart on the bottom?). While they don’t taste like meat, they don’t taste like squashed veggies either. Something about them is so tasty!
Not so Secret Tip: If you do want the look and taste of meat, Beyond Burger patties are EV-UH-REE-THING. I’m getting them again this Friday and will talk about them on Monday, in case you were considering them ^_-.
Highlight: Cleaner than most other patties (Veggie Masala Patty is a close contender)
2. Chickenless Crispy Tenders
These are so delish. If ya’ll want to add a bit of something naughty to your salads, add these dumplings that are FAR from meat! Or if you want to trick your friends, these do the trick too 😉
Calories: 150 for 3 chicken tenders
Highlight: They’re hella tasty. Like dang yum yum.Unfortunately, one serving has 7g of fat, which is pretty dang high. Most should aim for 0-4g of fat per serving.
3. Meatless Meatballs
Now the above picture isn’t of the Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs, but it’s a recipe where you make your own. Now if you don’t have time to make your own, sub those kinds of recipes with these “meatballs” and you’ll be good as vegan gold. Also, if you miss spaghetti and meatballs, I got yo back! These work great with tomato sauce or also make a great addition to salads. I’ve even made them just as snacks, and they’re great for that too.
Calories: 140 for 6 meatballs
Highlight: It’s good for those on a low-calorie diet. These are the best of the worst products for you, because it’s high in sodium and highly-processed.
…in winter no less! If you’re like me, your lips go dryer than the desert year-round, but in the winter, this condition goes from lips to toes. Thankfully, I found the exact regimen you need to not only get soft, smooth and itch-free skin, but your body will thank you as well…because hello lymphatic drainage! Stick with me…
I won’t hold back. The secret to skin so soft that you can’t stop touching yourself, is a dry brush (that’s it). Use any cruelty-free dry brush which has thick bristles and helps cure the itch, literally (look carefully to ensure that it’s not a boar bristle dry brush–thanks for the comment reader!). The bristles are rough enough that they feel like you’re scratching your skin, but soft enough that you aren’t.
Step 1: Dry Brush
Before you take a shower and you’re in all your naked glory, start dry brushing your skin upwards in short strokes from your toes. Continue until you get to your belly button. Then start from your neck and move down in small strokes. The point is to move all the blood to your heart–this is the process of lymphatic drainage. Not only does it slough off all of your dead skin, but it helps move your blood and promote circulation (yay clean blood).
Step 2: Exfoliate
I know you got to step two and are thinking, well duh. But what’s important is to find an exfoliating body scrub mixed with essential oils. So many scrubs on the market are mixed with soap that tend to dry out your skin even more. This Himalayan Body Scrub has a mix of almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba seed oil, lychee fruit essential oil and other goodness. You can get yours for 50% now at Asili Naturals. Go now!
Step 3: Moisturize
Again, duh. But the key here again is to find a moisturizer that has a dry oil that will easily sink into your skin. Again, Asili Naturals delivers. This Coconut Body Butter smells like lemongrass and makes you feel clean too. It has little scrubbies in it that just sink into your skin. Guys, it’s amazing.
Question of the Day
What do you guys do for smooth skin? Does it work? Share!
If your face is a natural oil-slick like mine and you like playing with makeup, then you’re on a never ending hunt for matte foundation. The Clinique Stay Matte Foundation was my holy grail, until I found out that Clinique is NOT VCF (like why?). So my hunt continued and after a lot of research, I caught a new animal. Check out the face off below to see if this new VCF foundation measures up to the Clinique foundation.
Clinique Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup
This is probably my 5th or 6th bottle of the Clinique Stay Matte Foundation, that’s how much I loved it. I tried foundations from Giorgio Armani, Estee Lauder, IT Cosmetics, Pacifica and so many more looking for a VCF foundation and haven’t found one that keeps my oil at bay.
This is a lighter consistency foundation that doesn’t leave a cakey look. Best thing though is that it leaves your skin looking radiant and oh so nice.
Longevity: About half-a day, best when touched up with powder foundation every 4-5 hours.
Quality: Amazing. Goes on smooth, dries nicely and is build-able.
VCF: No 😦
Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation
The Kat Von D Lock-it Foundation is definitely a thicker foundation. A little bit goes a long way and I found that it’s best applied with a damp beauty blender…I use the orange sponge from Real Techniques. It comes in a lot of colors, so be sure to get color matched to get the right shade, only because it’s a high-coverage foundation. Last thing you want is a face that’s a much different shade than your body.
Longevity: It stays on ALL day–verified. Best when set with a powder.
Price: $35.00 for 1 oz.
Quality: Fantastic! Doesn’t feel cheap, but CAN look a little cakey if too much is applied.
What else do you do when you have a coupon for Sephora? You spend your life savings and withdraw from your 401(k) to spree is what (jk–but am I really). Well I’m on a tight budget (hello dream house), so I really only got the things I need. Come snoop through my cart!
1. Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm
If you need a new lip balm that smells like divine heavenly angel food cake and caramel on a plate, then you need to get this. Not only that, it feels dang good on the lips–your boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, lover, cat will thank you.
Unfortunately guys, I learned some tragic news thanks to Ethical Elephant: Fresh is NOT Cruelty–Free! Sadly, this doesn’t look good for Fresh considering all imported cosmetics into Mainland China are required by law to be tested on animals and by Fresh choosing to sell in these stores, they must consent and agree to have their products/ingredients subject to animal tests.
2. Farsali Beauty
Ya’ll, I am BEYOND excited about these two. I only got the mini sizes of Farsali Beauty Unicorn Essence and the Rose Gold Elixir because I wanted to test them out first, and also because the full-size options are hella expensive (bye bye dream house), so I opted for the little bottles. Also I like Farah, so I had to support her.
From their website: Our naturally inspired products are always cruelty-free, and made with exceptional-quality in mind. YAY! <– not from their site, only my enthusiasm.
3. Asili Naturals Bath Bomb
I mean, you know I can’t go a couple weeks without talking about my #1 homie, Asili Naturals, my most favorite VCF brand of all time. So of course, this Rosemary Jasmine bath bomb joins the haul party.
4. Fresh Sugar Roll-On
Aside from the fact that Fresh Sugar is NOT VCF (did you hear that noise? That’s my heart breaking), I am most excited to try this product because it’s both an anti-perspirant AND deodorant and most “healthy” deoderants are only the latter. This will most likely go back because it’s not VCF. Womp womp.
P.S. I also got a little sample of the Solid Beauty Blender cleaner because I love my Real Techniques Beauty Blender…is that cheating to us the BB cleaner for my Real Techniques sponge?
Question of the Day
What have you guys picked up lately that you’re loving?? We want to snoop!
Before you read on, you’re welcome. This is by far the easiest vegan chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever find, and best of all, they came out tasting amazing all thanks to serendipity and some experimentation (and a whole lotta taste-testing). I started with this recipe from Daily Rebecca, but ended up making it my own. They take less than 20 minutes to make so if you need a last-minute (omg I need to bring something to Thanksgiving dinner), then these cookies got you covered. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand.
½ cup coconut oil
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup almond milk + 2-3 tbsp. reserve on the side
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used the ones from Bob’s Red Mill)
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup (or as many as you want, really) vegan chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a big bowl, mix the coconut oil with the brown sugar.
Add ¼ cup of almond milk and the vanilla extract.
Into the same bowl, add in the flour and baking powder (salt is optional).
Mix it all together. If it looks crumbly, add in 1 tbsp. of almond milk at a time. If it feels wet, it’s probably not wet enough, so it’s okay to add some more until it feels wet and soft.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Roll into small sized balls and flatten with your hand before placing on a pan with a silpat sheet on it or an un-greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes and check. These cookies should be a bit hard coming out of the oven, so you may need to add 2 minutes at the end.
Let cool and serve!
You can throw some of these into a clear plastic bag, tie them with a little string and give them away as affordable presents to your co-workers, the mailman, or just about anyone! (but not your dog, cause hello, chocolate).
You can make these cookies just about however you want. Feel free to nix the chocolate chips and throw in cranberries, or nuts, toffee, or any other vegan mix-ins. Enjoy!
Question of the Day
What are your favorite vegan cookies? We’d love to know!
If stuffing stockings were a hobby, I’d be a freakin’ pro (toot), but as the holidays come around, it can be hard to find vegan and cruelty-free gifts and stocking stuffer ideas without succumbing to throwing boxes of raisins in those oversized socks. That’s why I’ve come up with some ideas (which also happen to be my faves) that make your non-vegan family members and friends not hate you for gifting them with a “meat is murder” sticker, right? So let’s get less political, and a WHOLE lot more fun!
1. GIFTS FOR THE PERSON ALWAYS ON-THE-GO
If you know someone who is always on-the-go, go, go (hi), then you want to put some travel friendly ideas that scream, hey I’m fashionable, healthy and awesome on to their gift list.
Hair Invisibobble: For those women or men with long hair, being on the go means throwing your hair into a bun (or man-bun) and getting ish done. My favorite hair tool of all time is the Invisibobble (hello millenial scrunchie). It’s that black ring that looks like a phone cord in the picture above. It doesn’t kink your hair, and pulls out really easily. #gogetsome. Now I look at old hair bands and just wonder…but why. I bought mine at Sephora and it sells for $8. I got it for 20% off woop woop.
Vegan Leather Tassle: This tassle keychain is so boujee, it pretty much screams that you love fashion with an edge. You can get any of these vegan tassles (and pom poms!) pretty much anywhere (i.e Charming Charlie, Forever 21, Discovery, TJ Maxx, Target, pretty much anywhere, maybe even Cracker Barrel?!). I got mine on clearance for $3.00 something at Target. They usually range from $3 – $12.
Coconut Oil Packets: If your person travels a lot, remind them to keep their health in check from the plane to the hotel and anywhere else. Coconut Oil is the perfect solution to almost anything they happen to forget, like moisturizer, hair mask, toothpaste (oil pulling), makeup remover, a whole bunch of stuff. I bought my box of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Packets at Trader Joe’s for $3.99.
A Cute Tray: When they do come back home or take off all of their baubles before a bath, give them a place to put it all, like this cute tray! I got this one at Target on clearance but you can get them virtually anywhere.
2. GIFTS FOR THE BEAUTY LOVER
If you have a friend who loves to primp and prime or is all about self-love (hallelujah), then they’ll love these gifts. Especially if they love to smell amazing. Santa will be jealous you thought of these first, well second I guess 😉
Native Deodorant: If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that I’ve tried every deodorant in the world and after my deodorant review, am now addicted to Native Deodorant. They’ll love that this smells great, and that it leaves them smelling great.
Formula 10.0.6 Pore Strips: With all the big work parties and family dinners or even if you have that hot holiday date (I do every year, hi hubs), you gotta make sure your nose is blackhead free! These Formula 10.0.6 Pore Strips clear out your pores and you’ll be walking with confidence, one nose ahead of everyone else.
Pacifica Perfume: This perfume is both vegan and cruelty-free and comes in a whole bunch of scents. Since perfume is a pretty personal choice, I would give them a fun “coupon” that you drew up yourself for them to go shopping with you and pick their own Pacifica Natural Spray. This means you can give a gift and set-up some time to hang out. Quality time: check!
Bath Bomb: This is a no-brainer. You can wrap this Whole Foods Bath Bomb up with a bottle of some good wine and one of their favorite movies and there you go: spa night! Maybe throw in a face mask too–see the next idea 😉
3. GIFTS FOR THE PERSON WHO NEEDS TO RELAX
Know someone that needs to relax or is always uptight? (um, hi). Then throw all of these into a cute little basket and wrap it up into their stocking and BOOM. I’m falling asleep just thinking about it I’m so relaxed.
Bath Bomb: This is what I was talking about before! You can get festive and throw in an Asili Naturals holiday-scented bath bomb, like the pumpkin spice one above.
Asili Naturals Clay Mask: On my Friday Face-Off, we compared this clay mask with Glam Glow, and guess who won? You called it–this one is AMAZING! This Spirulina Clay Mask doesn’t smell like dirt like most masks (ahem Glam Glow), but smells amazing like lavender. #treatyofriend Throw in a makeup brush too, which makes applying pretty much any face mask much easier, and far less messy.
Handmade Natural Soap: When soap smells good, it makes a shower even more relaxing, literally feels like it’s melting away your stress.
With all of these ideas, you’ll be stocking stuffer royalty. Might as well buy a tiara when you’re out shopping for presents.
Question of the Day
What kind of stocking stuffers do you like? What is your favorite part of gift-giving? Share, please!
I don’t know about you guys, but this week has literally felt like an eternity. Am I 80 yet? Well, no but I dang sure feel a century older. Luckily, I’ve got self-love on my side. That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m working on loving myself, and a part of that if taking care of your skin so your inner glow can shine just that much brighter, and who am I kiddin, so we can look hella cute, amirite? So, Friday night = self-care because I really do have the soul of an 80 year old. Curling up with books and wine is my kinda Friyay. Anyways, it also means slathering on a face mask and scaring the hubs (what I do best). So to start your Friday night self-care routine off right, you need to have the right face mask on deck. Today, I’m reviewing a face mask from Glam Glow and a face mask from Asili Naturals (which ya’ll already know is my ride or die, but will it beat the godliness that surrounds Glam Glow?). Let’s put the two to the test!
1. Glam Glow
Glam Glow definitely lives up to it’s reputation. This Glam Glow Supermud Clearing Treatment Mask feels cooling on the skin and is fairly easy to apply with a makeup brush. Fingers work too but it’s too messy, because it tends to dry up pretty fast.
Quality: After I put the Glam Glow face mask on, I left it on for 20 minutes. They suggest you leave it on for either 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes, so I went with the latter because ya’girl needed some clearing. What’s cool about this mask is that it has something called a Pore-Matrix™ technology that show up as dots where it apparently extracted dirt as it dries. After it dried, I washed it off with warm (scalding) water and it felt smooth after that! I can’t tell if my face had less dirt on it or if the Pore-Matrix was life changing, but overall, I wasn’t mad at it.
Best Way to Apply: With a makeup brush.
Price: $24 for 0.05 oz/15g aka hella expensive.
Where to Buy: I bought mine at Sephora with a discount, but you can find it at various retailers, including Amazon.
VCF?: According to ethicalelephant, GLAMGLOW is not cruelty-free and they do test on animals when required by law. BOOOO.
2. Asili Naturals Spirulina Clay Mask
As always, we can count on anything from Asili Naturals to be made from plant-based ingredients, and this Spirulina Clay face mask is no different.
Quality: As you can see, this Spirulina Clay Mask is MUCH thicker in consistency and a little drier than the Glam Glow mask. It goes on the skin thick as well but spreads out pretty easily, again with a brush. It does harden and while it doesn’t have the Pore technology that Glam Glow has, I trust it’s working because it’s made for all-natural ingredients, specifically: Purified Water, Bentonite (Clay), Safflower Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Spirulina Pistensis (Spirulina) Powder, Lavendula Augustifelia (Lavender) Essential Oil.
I left it on my face for about 5 minutes (they recommend 1-5) and I washed it off with warm water after wards. I can honestly say that my skin felt like a baby’s butt, or what I imagine a baby’s butt would feel like.
Best Way to Apply: With a makeup brush.
Price: $24 for 12 oz/340g aka hella affordable. (Look at the size of the tub!)
Asili Naturals wins by a LANDSLIDE. That’s right, the famous Glam Glow mask has been dethroned. If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer or a fun “thinking of you” gift, you can never go wrong with self-care products, and this whole tub will last what will feel like a lifetime.
Question of the Day
What face mask is your favorite? Share with the VCF fam!
If you follow a lot of vegan profiles on Instagram, then you’re probably no stranger to Shankara Naturals. I haven’t heard of them until I saw one of their ads on the ‘gram and after persistent viewings scroll after scroll after scroll, I decided to click “Shop Now” and look a bit more into their company. Before you say anything, no they did not send me anything. They actually offer a sample pack that’s really convenient for vegan bloggers and other commitment-phobes like me…for $10 and FREE shipping (hallelujar). So I added it to my cart and actually checked out (the latter of which is rare).
You can pick from three lines and I opted for the one meant for people with oily skin, called Kapha. As listed on their site, the others are: Vata (Dry) and Pitta (Combination/Sensitive).
This travel pack comes with three tiny glass bottles about the length of your thumb and the width of your pinky. You get: Anti-Age Serum, Balance Treatment Oil and Muscle Release Oil. You also get two tiny jars and one larger jar. The two include the Balance Moisturizer and a Microcrystal Exfoliant. The larger jar is the Purifying Cleanser.
I can tell you right off the bat that the best product out of all of these is the anti-age serum…unfortunately I found out that while this serum is cruelty-free, it’s not vegan (womp womp).
Actually, I learned that not all of their cruelty-free skincare products are vegan or cruelty-free. They spell it out in their FAQs:
Where do most of your ingredients come from? We source ingredients from all over the world, and manufacture here in the US.
Do you test on animals?No we do not. All products are PETA cruelty-free approved.
Are Shankara products Vegan? All products are certified vegan by PETA except that contain honey powder, yogurt and/or milk protein. These products are: Deep Cleanse Treatment, Anti-Age Serum, Moisturizing Mask, Dead Sea Salt Scrub and Allure Mineral Bath Salts.
Are Shankara products organic? We use many organic and wild crafted ingredients.
The balance oil though and the balance moisturizer are both fantastic! The serum (the one time I used it without realizing it wasn’t vegan) was actually really nice, and was tacky at first application but left my skin feeling taut. Now I’m curious to try their other serums, and with the right coupon, I just might!
Question of the Day
What new skincare products have you tried? What are you on the hunt for? I’m currently looking for amazing serum!
Bath bombs. No other time than fall and winter do baths with some chocolate and wine sound like the perfect way to end a night. Throw in a bath bomb and you’ve got the perfect marriage of perfumed water glistening with oils and nutrients to soak your skin in warmth. Let’s get real. Not everyone has time for baths these days. Whether you’re a #girlboss, a mom or both, baths can be a luxury. So today, we’re facing off three different bath bombs, so you don’t have to waste your time and money trying to choose which one to use! (I tried to stay fall-themed and get them all in the same scent, but Whole Foods didn’t have pumpkin (like how?))
1. Asili Naturals Pumpkin Spice Bath Bomb
We all know about my undying love for Asili Naturals. With that said, it was time to see if that love extends to their bath bombs.
I have to point out that this bath bomb, is 100% plant-based. How awesome is that? Ingredients: Baking Soda, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Witch Hazel, Coconut Oil, Pumpkin Spice Blend Essential Oil, Food-Grade Mica Powder
Once you drop it in the water, it fizzes and fills your room with the scent of pumpkin spice essential oil (move over PSLs!). It creates a good amount of bubbles and well, just feels natural you know?
Price: $3.00 for 1.85 oz.
Ingredient Quality: 10/10 (7 ingredients)
2. Lush Bath Bomb in Pumpkin Bath-o-Lantern
Now, I’ve always liked the way Lush products look. This one in particular looks like a carved pumpkin, I mean come on s’ cute. But the con I have with Lush bath bombs (which is kind of also a pro) is that they’re so darn crumbly and hard. I could clearly use this one for multiple baths but how do you cut it exactly in half or a quarter and save the rest? I’ll leave that to my bath aficionados.
This Pumpkin “Bath-o-Lantern” is a fizzer. This would be a great one for the kiddo’s bath time because it turns your bath water BRIGHT orange and it fizzes away turning your bathwater into Sunkist. As far as the scent goes, Lush describes it as, “a spicy-sweet pumpkin pie perfume full of exotic pimento, sweet vanilla and cozy, warming cinnamon.”
As fun as this bath bomb is, the thing that makes my spine tingle a little are the ingredients. I know that Lush is cruelty-free (AWESOME), but they could work a bit on what they put into their products. For example, this bath bomb has 15 ingredients, the last of which are Fragrance, Orange 4 and Yellow 8. Completely unnecessary, I think. The others are all naturally occurring ingredients in essential oils, is what they say so we’ll go with it. I guess it wouldn’t be that fun of a bath time without those last few ingredients! *shrugs shoulders*
Price: $7.75 for 7.0 oz.
Ingredient Quality: 7/10 (15 ingredients)
3. Whole Foods Fizzing Bath Bomb in Lavender Vanilla
The Whole Foods Fizzing Bath Bomb is a fun and effervescent, yet all-natural way, to get your relax on in the bath tub. It feels soothing and fizzes nicely when you place it into the tub. The one downside though is that it didn’t create many bubbles (maybe I picked the one sad bath bomb and it wasn’t bubbly enough?), but the scent was still amazing.
As far as ingredient quality goes, it has 9 ingredients and none of that Orange 5 or Sky Blue 4 in it. All natural for the most part.
Price: $3.00 for 2.3 oz.
VCF: 90% Not all of their fizzing bath bombs are vegan since some are available in “milk and honey”
Ingredient Quality: 10/10 (9 ingredients)
Tie between Asili Naturals and Whole Foods! I would say Asili Naturals won by a thread because of their ingredients and product quality but Whole Foods is just a hair behind. The cost for quality is great for both, but I know exactly what I’m getting with Asili Naturals products AND I’m supporting a woman-owned business instead of a corporation which is always a thumbs up in my book.
Question of the Day
What are your fave bath bombs? What is your favorite part of your self care routine? Do share!
Lookout world–a head of shiny, gorgeous hair coming through! If you have dark hair that gets oily after like half a day (hello), then you know that you have to work your schedule and everything you do around when you wash your hair. Going on a hot date? Ok, need to plan to go to the gym before that so I can wash my hair and let it dry so I can look cute for dinner. The toss up is: How do I not wash it everyday?…because every news, book and Instagram post says it’s bad for us (it’s true). So with that said, I wash my hair every other day, and if I’m lucky, every two to three days. But the secret to maintaining a good lookin’ head of hair (aside from an awesome vegan diet), is what you wash it with!
I’ve tried the apple cider vinegar no-poo option, but all that really does is clean your scalp, and leave oily strands behind. It’s also hard to use that kind of no-poo method if you use styling products–and I use heat protectant, hair spray and mousse. Oil joins the party at times.
Back story done. Onto the main event. So what shampoo do I use to maintain some healthy, no split-end hairs? One I recently found, have been using for a while and am loving (it smells amazing and I secretly smell my hair like a creeper hourly).
Hask brand products are new to me. TBH I picked it up at Target because I desperately needed shampoo and it was on sale (mind you, it’s still more expensive than Garnier, Herbal Essences and other popular brands for the amount you get). And to be real, I’m cheap so it’s actually not that bad at just $5.99 regular price. But once I got home and jumped in the shower, I immediately fell in love with the smell. This Orchid & White Truffle scent? UGH. STOP. SO GOOD.
Although I looked at it upwards and sideways before I bought it, I thought, this can’t possibly be VCF. So I looked into it. They’re definitely 100% cruelty-free! From their FAQs section:
“We definitely DO NOT test on animals! That’s terrible… I’m hurt that you even think we do – and my puppy Harley is offended too! We make sure our suppliers and vendors supply safety and regulatory information on our ingredients so we don’t run into any issues. We love our furry friends and would never do anything to harm them! (P.S. We’re glad you’re concerned about this too)”
Since some of their products contain honey, I can’t say that all of their products are vegan, but they seem pretty darn close.
As for the consistency, a little goes a long way I’ve found…which makes the extra bucks worth it in the end. I mean really, $5.99 ain’t bad.
What are your favorite shampoos? I fell in love with one so quickly that I had to share!