Monday, November 24, 2014

Earth Balance Coconut Butter Spread

I usually keep some Earth Balance butter (soy free, vegan variety) stocked in my fridge. I don't use it daily but it's nice to have some on hand for when I need a quick butter. I don't like that it uses palm oil, but supposedly it is sourced "ethically." Also, many items contain palm oil but are listed as simply "vegetable oil." The palm oil debate is another post, but I want to review my recent purchase of Earth Balance Coconut Butter Spread.

My normal grocery store was out of my normal product, so I picked this up instead, wondering how it would taste.

I was worried the butter would taste too strongly of coconut, although if refined coconut oil was used it might not taste at all like it. I do like coconut, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't sure how I'd feel about a coconut flavored butter.

It turns out there is a slight coconut flavor but it also tastes like "traditional" butter as well. It's a great blend of a delicate coconut taste and regular butter flavor. I am happy with it but still prefer the regular soy free Earth Balance buttery spread.

The coconut butter is a white color, unlike the yellowish hue the regular Earth Balance has. It spreads, melts, and cooks the same as the regular butter, for the most part. The main difference is the color and the flavor.

If you're a fan of coconut as I am, you may enjoy the coconut butter spread on cinnamon bagels, toast, English muffins, in sweet baking recipes (cakes and cookies, for example), and even in other foods. If you dislike coconut I wouldn't highly recommend this item. Also, the Earth Balance Coconut Butter spread comes in a 10 ounce container whereas the regular Earth Balance Buttery Spread comes in a 15 ounce container, although the price was only very slightly lower than the 15 ounce product.

In the comparison photo below the nutrition information and ingredients are listed. The blue container is the coconut butter and the reddish container is the regular soy-free buttery spread.

Nutritionally they are incredibly similar. The largest difference is that the coconut butter version contains more saturated fat, which is to be expected. The ingredients are very similar as well except the difference in the types of oils used to make each variety.

Both product varieties are vegan so they contain no cholesterol like regular traditional dairy butter. The sodium and fat content are comparable to traditional dairy butters. Vegan butters are cruelty free! Go vegan. : )


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Many Changes, More Posts Soon to Come

I've been on blog hiatus for awhile. I've been wanting to re-design my blog, even though it isn't very popular. I enjoy writing it and sharing my reviews and events I attend.

Kilo and Scrappy playing in the snow, circa 2005
Recently I have had many changes in my life. My dogs, Kilo and Scrappy, were getting very old. They were both 14. Kilo had failing health and declined since late spring. He left us on August 14. Soon after, we discovered Scrappy had cancer. We opted for surgery to try to save him, but it was too far spread, and he passed September 19. It was devastating. I still cry. My dogs were fourteen wonderful years of friendship, laughter, and love, and they were my family and joy.

I also found out, during all of this, that I was going to be laid off from my regular job on October 24, which has come and gone, so I am no longer employed and it's very difficult to find a decent job in this area. We'd like to move but are not financially ready to at this time. Maybe in a couple years.

Bryan and I nearly 8 years ago, and still happy today!
On a good note, however, we found out we are pregnant, so I am about 3 and a half months into my pregnancy now with my first child. We are incredibly happy about this as we've been trying for a couple years now and didn't think it would ever happen! We get to find out next month what the sex of our baby is. The baby will be raised vegan, of course.

We also decided to get a new puppy: Simba. He was born August 3, 2014 and we got him on September 25 -- six days after our Scrappy passed on from his battle with cancer. It was too sad and quiet in our house and we just couldn't stand it. Simba needed a home, so Bryan picked him up from the rescue and he's been making himself comfortable in our home ever since!

Simba comfortably snoozin'.
Throughout all these changes I've had to get a few things taken care of and have not been in the mood to write, but I am finally getting back to normalcy and expect to go on living my wonderful vegan life despite the struggles and changes. Some changes are great and others are heartbreaking, but life must go on. Best wishes to anyone reading this!


Friday, May 2, 2014

The Natural: Stain Treatment (from TC)

I recently tried some of The Natural brand products from TripleClicks (TC) and so far I've been very pleased. Most recently I tested The Natural Stain Treatment.

I have two dogs and they are both fourteen, so they are getting quite old. The one has frequent accidents. I wish I could work from home and didn't need to leave him, but we do have a friend that stops in daily while we're both at work to check on the dogs and let them out. However, my one boy still has frequent accidents which can be difficult to clean and keep from leaving stains.

The Natural Stain Treatment has been reviewed 34 times at the time I write this and has a 4 star rating (out of 5 stars), so that's pretty good. It arrived within just a few days with standard shipping. I was actually a bit skeptical that this product would work, but it was worth trying since it is not tested on animals, is a "natural" product, contains no animal ingredients, and I get bonuses for using the product. So why not, right??

Anyway, the photo at the site shows green liquid but the product I received was basically clear. I have only purchased it once thus far, although I plan to purchase again, so I don't know if it comes in two different versions or what... The product has a very light peppermint aroma which is pleasing to me, but was the product effective?

I followed the directions and shook the product, saturated the stained area, and let it sit a few minutes. Then I lightly scrubbed the stain and let it sit another minute or two. Finally, I took a clean paper towel and patted the area dry. The stain came up almost completely. If you didn't already know the area had been soiled on the carpet you would REALLY have to strain to spot it.

This product works MUCH better than other products I've tried, and many of the products I've used in the past were name brand products that are supposed to be the best of the best. Well, I can honestly say, for price and performance, there is NO comparison! This product wins in both departments.

For a quart it is less than $6 and a gallon can be purchased for less than $19. I can testify that it performs well on different types of stains. I don't want to gross anyone out, but I've used this product to clean blood, feces, urine, and different food items on upholstery, clothing, and carpet. It performs well across the board not only for fresh stains, but also for set-in stains that are a few hours old. It did not release old stains that were previously cleaned with other products many weeks ago, but I didn't really expect a stain that set for a month to be cleaned at this point.

I highly recommend this stain treatment product. It's better for the environment, your family, animals (no animal testing or animal ingredients), AND it works incredibly well in my personal experience.

To purchase, click the link of the size you'd like:
The Natural Stain Treatment: QUART SIZE
The Natural Stain Treatment: GALLON SIZE

Photos of the product I received:

Here is the description directly from TripleClicks:

BENEFITS/DESCRIPTION

This remarkable laundry, carpet and upholstery stain treatment removes organic based stains caused by wine, blood, soil, grass, mold, food, vomit, feces, urine, and perspiration. Utilizing the power of natural enzymes, it breaks down and deodorizes organic matter as it cleans, leaving a fresh peppermint scent.

DIRECTIONS

Shake just before use to energize the enzymes.
Stains and severe odors: Apply directly to odor source or stain after removing encrusted matter and solids. Let stand for 15 to 45 minutes. Scrub with a white rag or soft brush. Blot with a white towel. Rinse if desired.
Drains, grease traps, bowls & urinals: Use 4 oz. per fixture weekly to eliminate odors and build-ups. Keeps drains free running and odor free.
Laundry pre-spotter: Mix with 1 to 10 parts water and apply directly to spots and stains 15 to 45 minutes before washing.
Deodorizing garbage cans/dumpsters: Mix with 3 parts water and apply to source of odor.

INGREDIENTS

Natural Enzymes, Non-Ionic Surfactant (naturally derived detergent in an ethanol derivative), Peppermint Oil, Propylene Glycol, Ozone Treated Water (for purification). Contains no preservatives.

PRICE COMPARISON

K2R Spot Lifter The Natural
Price-per-Ounce $0.74 $0.25
Price-per-Quart $23.62 $8.06

ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

* Non-toxic.
* All ingredients are biodegradable or break down into harmless natural elements.
* Biodegrades without forming micro toxins.
* Contains no hazardous ingredients as per OSHA regulations.
* Free of petroleum distillates, butyl ether, ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, benzene, pine oil, or strong acids.
* Free of all known or suspected carcinogens.
* Gray water and septic tank safe.
* Biodegradable without effluent treatment process.

ANIMAL RIGHTS

* Cruelty free.
* Contains no animal ingredients.
* Has not been tested on animals.

CAUTIONS

Keep out of reach of children. Not for internal consumption. Avoid contact with eyes. In case of contact, flush thoroughly with water.

To purchase, click the link of the size you'd like:
The Natural Stain Treatment: QUART SIZE
The Natural Stain Treatment: GALLON SIZE


If The Natural Stain Treatment doesn't appeal to you,
check out what Amazon offers for your needs:


Saturday, April 5, 2014

EASY RECIPE: Layered Enchilada Bake

Enchiladas are delicious, but it can be time consuming to assemble and roll each one then bake. This recipe is simple, full of veggies, vegan (of course), and easier to make than traditional enchiladas while still capturing the flavor and essence of the classic dish. Use corn tortillas to keep this dish gluten free.

As always, my recipe can be tweaked to fit your own tastes. I say 10 to 16 ounces sauce because some people love lots of sauce (me) and others only like a small amount. Similarly, if you don't like a certain veggie I use, omit it or substitute something else. Broccoli and cauliflower are great in this recipe, so are leafy greens, but I chose not to use them this time. If you want to use them, the more the better! ; )

Layered Enchilada Bake Recipe

Ingredients:

tortillas (use corn tortillas to keep recipe gluten free)
10 - 16 ounces enchilada sauce
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large yellow squash, diced
about 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large bell pepper, chopped (any color) about 4 ounces cooked black beans
about 1 cup corn
about 10 ounces refried beans (be sure to use "vegetarian" or "fat free;" check ingredients as some brands use LARD!)
dashes of: garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, onion powder
*optional* about 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese to top (I used Daiya** cheddar shreds)

Veggies cooking for the gluten free vegan enchilada bake.

Directions:

1. Saute the squash, mushrooms, and bell pepper in small amount of olive oil for about ten minutes until they start to soften (left photo directly above). Season with small amount of salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and onion powder and mix well. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a baking pan with oil. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan to coat a very thin layer.
3. Spread half the refried beans onto the tortilla then place on the bottom of your baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the corn and black beans on top. Add some seasoning if desired.
4. Spread the other half of the refried beans on another tortilla and layer that on top of the bean-corn mixture. Evenly spread your mixed veggies (mushrooms, squash, peppers) on top.
5. Place one plain tortilla on top then cover with enchilada sauce. Top with vegan cheese if desired.
6. Bake about thirty minutes or until heated through and bubbly in the oven. Remove from oven and let stand at least ten minutes before serving.

Serve hot. Top with vegan sour cream or guacamole if desired (right photo above).
Makes at least four to six large servings.

I topped mine with classic Wholly Guacamole. It was delicious and filling!
I hope you enjoy the recipe. : D

I had some leftover refried beans, tortillas, and enchilada sauce, so I decided to make an enchilada wrap for lunch (photo above).

I put the little bit of remaining refried beans on a tortilla, a bit of kale and corn as well as some Diaya cheddar, rollde it up like a typical enchilada, then smothered it in the remaining sauce and covered with another sprinkle of Daiya. It was divine!

**Daiya vegan cheese shreds are gluten free as well.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Veg*n on a Budget: Easy, Healthy Breakfast (Inexpensive Too!!)

This is my third installment regarding eating vegan on a budget. The first post discussed staples all vegans and vegetarians should have in their home. The second post provided a simple, cheap, healthy rice and beans recipe with many ways it can be used (wraps, side dish, entrees, etc). This post is a dedication to one of my favorite breakfasts. It is simple, healthy, and delicious!

It is bursting with vitamins and nutrients as well as flavor (and color!). It keeps me full for a long time and I know right off the bat for the day I am getting at least one or two full servings of vegetables, which starts the day off right!

Beth's Veggie Breakfast Burst

Ingredients: Use a handful or two (about a cup and a half per serving) of all your favorite mixed vegetables, it's super easy if you use frozen veggies! Grab a little broccoli and cauliflower mix and some stir-fry mix at the store for this for a delicious mix. I like any of the following:

broccoli
cauliflower
onions
squash (zucchini or yellow squash is best for this recipe)
shredded or chopped carrot
bell pepper
kale, spinach, or other leafy greens
mushrooms
tomato
and the list goes on!

You'll also need a slice of bread (I lightly toast a slice of whole wheat bread), a dash of olive oil to cook the veggies, and spices to season the dish. I often use garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, a small dash of cayenne pepper, a dash of sea salt, and a MUST: nutritional yeast. I sometimes use turmeric, cumin, and other spices, but you can choose whatever you like for both spices and veggie mix, making this dish very versatile and easy to vary so you don't get bored of it.

Directions:

Cook the veggies in a small amount of olive oil (or hemp oil, coconut oil, whatever healthy oil you prefer) over medium heat for a few minutes until they are heated through, usually about five minutes.

While the vegetables heat, lightly toast a slice of whole grain bread. Turn the heat off and leave vegetables in the pan. Add whatever seasonings you prefer.

Place the bread of toast on a plate and top with the hot vegetables. Optional: Add a touch of Daiya cheddar or whatever topping you like. Serve hot and enjoy a healthy breakfast that was prepared in less than ten minutes!

Sometimes I spread avocado or guacamole on the toast for a creamy change of pace. It adds even more nutrients, including healthy fats.

Other times I top my dish with a cheddar or American style cheese from The Non-Dairy Formulary: Vegan Cuisine for the Ethical Gourmet. There are a ton of delicious vegan recipes in this book, including how to make vegan fried eggs that really taste and look like fried eggs, dozens of homemade cheeses and sauces, and even homemade vegan butter. Check it out, there is a free preview on Amazon at the above link provided.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vegan on a Budget Series: Rice and Wraps (Post #2)

My previous post Veg*n on a Budget started off with a simple list of mostly inexpensive and healthy staples all vegans should have in their home. Cheaper produce such as bananas are always great as well as heads of lettuce, apples, oranges, and other produce, especially when it's on sale. Also, rice, beans, and frozen veggies are great to stock up on and can be used in a variety of ways.

Today I will focus on seasoned rice with beans and corn. Make it however you like it, but it can be enjoyed by itself, as a side dish, a snack, or used in wraps, tacos, etc. The list goes on, just be creative. The following recipe is how I like my seasoned rice, but use more or less seasonings to your own specific preferences. The recipe is for two servings, so multiply for more servings, depending on if you are making it for the family, making it ahead just to have in the fridge, etc. It will stay good for about 7-10 days in the refrigerator.

Seasoned Rice

2 servings rice (prepared according to package directions)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup beans (any type {black, kidney, navy, etc} either canned or dry and prepared according to package)
1/4 cup corn (frozen or canned)
about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
about 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (and/or black pepper)
about 1/3 teaspoon cumin
about 2 tablespoons water

After you've prepared the rice according to the package instructions, keep it in the pan and add all ingredients in. Stir well over low heat for about five minutes. Serve warm or cold. (I like mine better warm.)

Wraps with Rice

tortilla (flour, corn, or veggie)
about 4 heaping seasoned rice
about 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
any of the following: avocado/guacamole, olives, diced tomatoes, hummus, diced zucchini, salsa, fresh spinach, mushrooms, refried beans (be sure the can says vegetarian, sometimes the fat free varieties are okay, but some refried beans have beef fat or lard or other animal ingredients in them), sprouts, shredded carrot, veggie patty (vegan chicken or burger), falafel, etc. Again, be creative!

Gently place all ingredients on the tortilla. Be sure not to put TOO much or it will be hard to wrap and eat without it falling apart. Wrap and enjoy! Mmmm!

Again, this seasoned rice is really versatile and can be used however you'd like. It goes great with salsa and Mexican / Tex-Mex / Spanish foods such as tacos, fajitas, burritos, etc, but use it however you'd like. Please comment suggestions or how you like to use it! : )

Check out these sites I found with good, inexpensive and easy (so they claim) recipes:

Vegan Kansas City Easy Recipes
VegVine.com: Cheap Meals, Vegan Recipes
Eating Well: Easy Healthy Vegan Recipes