Vegan Cruelty Free, Vegan Food

Easy Instant Pot Vegan Chana Masala (Vegan Chickpea Curry-oil-free)

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

Chickpea Curry-2

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

Chickpea Curry-1

DIRECTIONS to make Delicious Vegan Chickpea Curry

  1. Set your instant pot to saute mode, and add the vegetable broth.
  2. Once the broth starts to sizzle a little, add your diced onions and sautee until they turn semi-clear.
  3. Add the garlic ginger paste and let it cook for up to 2 minutes, or until aromatic.
  4. Add the curry powder and toast it for about a minute.
  5. Add your can of drained garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, and cocnut milk.
  6. 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).
  7. Close the instant pot lid and cook it on high pressure for 6 minutes.
  8. 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.

Chickpea Curry-3

Question of the Day

What’s your favorite Indian dish?

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monthly favorites, Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, Vegan Cruelty Free, vegan lifestyle

September Favorites

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.

TKKFinalNoBread

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.

Is OGX cruelty-free?

According to their site:

Are OGX® products tested on animals?

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

Image result for an american marriage book
Photo c/o: Chicago Review of Books

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?

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Vegan Cruelty Free, Vegan Food

Vegan Taco Ring – Easy Vegan Dinner Recipe

 

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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!

Taco Ring Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 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)

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pouch of potatoes
  • Veggies of your choice

DIRECTIONS

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:

TR-3

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:

Photo Sep 09, 4 00 55 PM

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:

Photo Sep 09, 4 01 55 PM

8. Optional: Add vegan cheese to each ring on the top:

Photo Sep 09, 4 03 56 PM

9. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, then let it cool.

If You’re Using Potatoes

  1. Cut the potatoes into bite size pieces.
  2. 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.

Photo Sep 09, 4 38 32 PM

Question of the Day

Have you tried this kind of recipe before? What’s your go-to potluck meal?

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Vegan Cruelty Free, Vegan Food

Easy Vegan Banana Bread

BB1

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

BB3

Ingredients

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)

Ingredients

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.

Good luck!

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, Vegan Cruelty Free, Vegan Food

August 2018 Favorites

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.

Ember Mug

SeptFav2

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

SeptFav3

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

SeptFav4

Sesame Seeds

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

SeptFav5

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

SeptFav7

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.

Question of the Day

What are you loving this month?

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