Sunday, December 22, 2013

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurts

I've enjoyed So Delicious coconut milk yogurt for quite some time now. All flavors are delicious, but my favorite is vanilla. It's so creamy and tasty, just the right balance of sweet and tart, and smooth just like dairy yogurt.

I am only able to find the vanilla flavor at the grocery store that's by my work rather than the one that's by my house. When my boyfriend went grocery shopping the other day he saw these new Greek style yogurts from So Delicious and picked up some almond milk vanilla flavored ones and some coconut milk blueberry flavored ones.

As you can see in the photos below, the containers are very similar. The shape is a bit different, however, and the Greek-style seems a bit thicker plastic construction. The Greek yogurt has Greek bordering / symbols on the label and is not the same circular shape when looking at the container from above as the regular coconut milk yogurts. There are some other minor differences, but it would be easy to pick up one for the other as a mistake if in a rush and not paying close enough attention.

The Greek style almond milk yogurt is definitely thicker than the regular style coconut milk yogurts. The texture is still very creamy and, to me, it seems like a mix between yogurt and pudding as far as consistency and appearance (see photo below). The vanilla yogurt has a bit of a chalky after taste to me. While the taste is not overwhelming, there are certainly more preferable varieties I would choose rather than the vanilla Greek style almond milk yogurt.

On the other hand, the blueberry flavored coconut milk Greek style yogurt is very delicious with no after taste. It still has a smooth, slightly thicker consistency (still much like a combination of pudding and yogurt). I think the coconut milk works a little better for yogurt than almond milk since coconut milk is naturally slightly bitter, just like dairy yogurt.

Overall, I will stick to occasionally buying the So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla flavored yogurt, as that's my favorite. Unfortunately, I can only buy it sporadically (especially when I have coupons!!) as it's a bit too expensive for my budget. : (

If you are looking to earn extra money from home (part-time OR full-time), now is the time to check out SFI!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yves Veggie Breakfast Patties: Baby-approved, Vegan-approved, and Mom-approved... But not Boyfriend-approved!

The first time I tried Yves Veggie Cuisine Veggie Breakfast Patties was at LOVELY Great Sage (click the Great Sage link to check out their menu!) in Clarksville, Maryland. They were quite tasty!

Unfortunately, I cannot find this product in any local grocery store; however, my boyfriend works in Maryland and I have family and friends in Baltimore, so I often pass through Frederick and Baltimore and can visit Wegman's, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes... I picked up a pack of 8 which contains 4 servings (package total is 8 ounces [227 grams] with two breakfast patties per serving).

When looking at the nutritional value of the product, yes, as most things, it has high sodium, but each patty has only 40 calories! A full serving (two patties) is only 80 calories and has 10 grams of protein, lots of B vitamins, and other vitamins and nutrients as well, including two grams of fiber and zero cholesterol (like all vegan foods, of course). Because of its total fat of only 1.5 grams per serving with zero saturated or trans fat and zero cholesterol, it's good for the heart. (Cruelty free is good for the heart as well!) Soy protein and wheat gluten (the same food product from which seitan is made) are the main ingredients as well as seasonings. I like to add a lot of garlic and some pepper to mine as well as a touch of sage and pan fry it in a small amount of olive oil and vegan butter. The product is not bland, but I typically like a lot of flavor in my foods.

I found the texture a bit softer than I desired, but just frying the patties a few minutes extra makes them crispy and more satisfying, in my opinion. Keep in mind, though, that my opinion of texture and taste has absolutely no relevance when compared to "real meat" since I have not eaten a dead animal corpse in over twenty years...

This product is considered a "GreenChoice" as the outer packaging is printed on material that is "100% Recycled, 100% Clean Energy, 100% Carbon Neutral" according to the package. It's all-around good for the Earth!

As far as who liked and who didn't like them (the title of the blog), my boyfriend (30 year old vegetarian) is very picky, but to each their own. Not every person on this planet will enjoy this product. It's a reality. But look at who DID enjoy it: me (mid-30's vegan), my mom (almost 60 years old and a meat-eater), and my great nephew (almost a year old and raised with meat-eaters). So that's quite a range of tastes, ages, and experiences, and 75% of those who consumed this product that day like it. Also, I bet I could make this product again, tell my boyfriend it's another brand and just modify how it's cooked a bit (such as making it crispier and seasoning it a bit differently) and he'd probably like it the second time he tries it!

Anyway, I definitely like Yves Veggie Breakfast Patties and think this product is a good value. I'll buy it again and highly recommend it!

YVES Veggie Breakfast Patties YVES Vegan Sausage Baby Approved! YVES with Tofu Scramble and Vegan English Muffins -- with vegan butter, of course!

** Sorry for the crappy amateur pictures! I'm not good at taking and editing photos. **

Sunday, November 17, 2013

EO Lotion: A Great Cruelty Free Full Body Lotion

While trying to use primarily vegan items (not tested on animals EVER or containing any animal ingredients), I found a brand on Amazon called EO (which I think means Everyday Organics, or Every One?, or is it Essential Oils???, but please let me know which one is accurate). Now, I know there are some things going on with Amazon that most people consider bad, but for those of us who live in the boondocks it's the most convenient and economical way to shop for items we cannot typically find without driving 100 miles to civilization (often with FREE SHIPPING!!). That being said, I first ordered EO's Everyday Body Lotion in Grapefruit & Mint. It is heavenly!!! It's my favorite lotion to this day. (Well, since I am unsure if Merry Hempsters still makes their unscented lotion which was great with a mild hempy scent...)

The EO lotion is so light and smooth that my skin feels hydrated immediately. It's sensitive (and natural) enough to use even on my face and other sensitive areas where I'd break out with most types of lotions, even those designed for sensitive skin. The scent is light and fruit yet enough to notice. It quickly absorbs into my skin without leaving a greasy or oily residue behind and my hands, and wherever else I apply the lotion, feel soft and moisturized. Ingredients include mostly organic jojoba, grapefruit and peppermint essential oils, chamomile, aloe vera, white tea, sesame oil, mango and rice protein and more. I like that the products are mostly natural and organic, yet the price is reasonable. I see no parabens or dyes listed in the ingredients.

I know the product is cruelty free, which is probably the best part! ( shows the product as: "EO Products, Web:
We've been in business for nearly 12 years, exploring the possibilities of Mother Nature with the belief that beautiful body care products could be made with pure and organic ingredients. We wanted to prove that gentle is also immensely effective."

I have also tried the unscented, which is also fabulous, and the Rose Chamomile, which was good as far as being mild, hydrating, and producing great results from a lotion, but I didn't much care for the scent. However, if you prefer a strongly herbal scent it may appeal to you.

The lotions come in a convenient size of 8 ounces (240 mL), and sometimes larger sizes such as 32 ounces (with a convenient and hygienic pump for about $8 a bottle), and they last a good bit of time as a little goes a long way with this superior product.

EO manufactures lotions, obviously, but also other skincare products such as shower gels, hand soaps, and a full range of men's products and more -- all in many different scents. Check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Amy's Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano

Okay, so I have the BEST boyfriend in the world. I am so grateful. He is so supportive and always thinking of me. He is vegetarian but eats lots of vegan meals with me. That being said, he picked up a few frozen meals for me to take to work on the days I might not have felt like packing a lunch or when I was running late. He's always so excited and proud to show me his offerings and makes sure he mentions how carefully he read the ingredients for me. : )

One of the frozen meals he bought was Amy's Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano. I didn't have high hopes for this. I've had a few good fake meatballs but most are bland. And frozen spaghetti?? As I heated the meal on my lunch break I read the back of the box and saw the mock meatballs are made of "lentils, quinoa and tofu," which sounded like an interesting mix, but how would it taste?

 photo amysSPAGital_zps71b0e01f.jpeg

Well, I was SO wrong to question the flavor. The meatballs were the best part -- phenomenal!! They were solid enough to hold shape yet delicate enough to split each one into a few bite size pieces with my fork. The frozen spaghetti actually was very good as well. The sauce has a good flavor. It actually tasted freshly prepared, if you can believe that! The box claims to have no preservatives or GMOs so those are definitely good things as well. I was very impressed and delighted!

I'm sure the price is a bit high (I don't know what it was since I didn't buy it, but Amy's products tend to carry a hefty price tag in my area anyway) but for an occasional treat I think it's worth splurging. It's very high in fiber, includes a great serving of protein and low in fat but does have high sodium (like most frozen meals). It is filling and very satisfying yet under 250 calories. It does contain broccoli, zucchini, and tomatoes, so there are some veggies packed inside this dish. Since it's vegan there is zero cholesterol or cruelty.

Amy's Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano can be prepared in a conventional oven, a toaster oven, or the microwave, and is very easy to prepare. This product contains soy and wheat, so there are some allergens, but I'm not sensitive to these ingredients so I will be enjoying this product again sometime.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Animal Advocate Spotlight: Andrew Kirschner

Through Facebook I have met many amazing people. I don't live near too many other "real life vegans," so it can be difficult to connect on a local level, but Facebook friends can offer advice, inspiration, and companionship that can sometimes run just as deep as friends we have in person.

I am a member of a number of vegan groups on Facebook and came across a phenomenal human being: Andrew Kirschner. I can honestly say he is one of the most inspirational people I've ever known. Even though I don't know him other than online, he touches me with stories regarding his experiences volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, charming tales of his adventures with his adorable dog, Pretzel, selfless advocating for animal rights, and also words of encouragement whenever anyone needs it. He strives to make others be the best they can be, and truly wants this world to be a better place in general.

Below is a short interview Andrew agreed to, even though he is incredibly busy (and my blog is certainly not what I would label as popular)! Thanks so much, Andrew, for being so kind and giving. You truly are selfless! From: the animals, the children, and countless others whom you've helped in one way or another!

His current project, in addition to so much else he contributes on a daily basis, is organizing a march against all forms of animal cruelty. From

The 2013 Florida March Against Cruelty to Animals aims to bring throngs of Floridians together who care about animals, from Key West to Tallahassee and Tampa to Orlando, to march in the streets to raise awareness about the plight of animals in our society. All Floridians are invited to join us in solidarity on Saturday, November 16th at 12:00 noon at Huizenga Plaza in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The purpose of the march is to ask people to learn about, think about, and stop supporting cruelty to animals in all forms.
Please share the above image and link to help further this great cause!

Can you tell me a little about some of your main goals in general, some of the most important things to you in life?
AK: When I'm not working, I spend most of my free time volunteering to improve the lives of animals and disadvantaged children. I walk dogs and provide volunteer orientations at a local animal shelter, pass out leaflets about the benefits of plant-based eating, and volunteer at my local Boys and Girls Club where I mentor children. I also spent a lot of time proposing legislation and lobbying for legislative changes to benefit children and animals.

I know no day is ever "typical," but can you run me through what a week might be like in your life as far as leafletting, networking, raising awareness, anything that might give a "layperson" a glimpse into the work you and your organization(s) do?
AK: Sure. Right now, I'm spending 40 hours a week organizing the 2013 Florida March Against Cruelty to Animals so I don't have a lot of time for other projects but I'm still managing to keep in touch with legislators regarding issues such as the Farm Bill, pass out Veg Starter Kits, write articles for my blog, and volunteer to help children in various ways.

Do you like to cook? Have you always been this way, or have you developed this skill over time with experimentation?
AK: Yes, I enjoy cooking very much. My dear mother taught me to cook when I was 10 years old. She also taught me how to clean, dust, vacuum, iron clothes, and perform all other household duties. I will always be grateful to her for equipping me with these skills. I cook almost every meal I eat and enjoy my food enormously.

What are some of your favorite dinner meals?
AK: My bean burrito bowl and kale salad are my favorites. You can check out the recipes on my blog, Kirschner's Korner, to see some of my other favorites.

Even though you make a tremendous impact and help multitudes of animals who would otherwise live in cruelty, how do you maintain a positive attitude amongst all the suffering and not let depression get the best of you?
AK: I understand the reality of the situation. I don't know any other way. Short of a catastrophic environmental disaster or historic legislation, the cruelty isn't ending anytime soon but it will decrease every day we advocate effectively. It's easy to imagine what it is like for fewer animals to suffer and that's what is happening as a result of people taking a stand for compassion.

What changes or trends have you noticed lately? For example, I have seen many more veg*n manufacturers and restaurants sprouting up and plant-based diets gaining popularity. Do you think this trend will continue, and what do you think fuels these changes?
AK: I see a big shift in the news coverage of plant-based eating and cruelty against animals. We're seeing more and more stories in mainstream media. I also see a trend in the development of new plant-based foods coming to market. These are positive signs.

Please discuss something that has touched your heart through your campaigning or any experience where you've tried to make a change for the better in someone's life?
AK: I receive letters from people from all over the world. The letters I receive from children probably inspire me the most because they made the connection at such a young age. They ask me how they can help and I give them ideas.

Any words of advice or encouragement for those considering a vegan diet?
AK: Eat your fruits, veggies, nuts, and beans. Eat a lot of red quinoa, kale, and other colorful food. Get your nutrients. Don't look to replace animals with bread, pasta, and rice. You will gain weight and lack the fuel your body needs. Get a full series blood test every year to make sure you're not suffering from D3, B12, or other deficiencies. Once you find your eating groove, you will soon realize it was one of the best decisions you've ever made.

What are some of your favorite websites? Some favorite vegan recipe websites?
AK: I'm so busy with my own activism that unfortunately I don't make time to visit websites, Facebook pages, etc.

Please list the goals and hopes for your website as well as the URL of any favorite websites.
AK: Right now, I'm focusing most of my energy on organizing the state march. To learn more, your readers can log onto

Also visit and bookmark Andrew's inspirational blog which features yummy recipes (of course!), events, legislation, and more: Kirschner's Korner: Trying to Make the World a More Humane Place.

Again, Andrew, I cannot thank you enough and there are no words to describe such a kind and giving person as yourself. I appreciate you opening up and letting us glimpse into your experiences, opinions, and emotions. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Craving Comfort Foods

Yesterday I had some fresh juice from my Fusion Juicer for breakfast. I added half a beet, a pear, an apple, a small piece of fresh ginger root, a large strawberry, and a couple baby carrots.

I know I posted a while back that I was going to try to eat healthier, less processed foods. I have been for the most part, but I don't believe in depriving oneself. Sometimes we all crave unhealthy meals, even vegans!

For brunch I had a very filling vegan French toast meal with a couple strawberries and blueberries. I included a delicious dollop of homemade coconut milk whipped cream and topped my two slices of French toast with some vegan butter and maple syrup and a few sprinkles of extra cinnamon.

It was very easy to make. I mashed a banana in about a cup of almond milk and added a heaping tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal, about a teaspoon of nutritional yeast, about a teaspoon of cinnamon (which helps regulate blood sugar, and I needed help after this meal! LOL), a dash of black salt (kala namak, which is optional but adds a slightly eggy type of flavor), and about a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

I dipped the pieces of bread in this mixture then fried it in a non-stick pan with a little oil (or you can use more vegan butter for that crispy, buttery flavor). Cook on medium-high for about 4 minutes on each side.

For an early light dinner I wanted some macaroni and cheese. While the noodles cooked in a separate pot, I threw some almond milk over a low heat and added a couple teaspoons of nutritional yeast, some garlic, paprika, onion powder, about a cup of Daiya cheddar cheese, and some cayenne pepper. I stirred until everything melted together and then once I drained the pasta I mixed everything together and decided to add some frozen broccoli, since that always goes well with "cheese," too.

I served it with a small tomato sliced medium-thin and it was delicious. I had enough to bring some to lunch today and enjoy it all over again. : )

Monday, June 10, 2013

Scrambled Egg Sandwich: Vegan Style!

Of course, the vegan style of a scrambled egg sandwich doesn't contain eggs, or any other animal products. It does, however, look very similar and, to me, tastes very similar as well. I used to love a simple scrambled egg sandwich many years ago. It isn't incredibly healthy, but it does supply a good amount of protein and some other nutrients, and this tofu-style veganized version does as well. I love the salty, buttery flavor of this sandwich on lightly toasted whole grain bread. The crumbled tofu converts to a fluffy pile of yum on your sandwich!

Vegan scrambled egg sandwich.

There is a type of salt called "black salt," or "kala namak," which has a sulfuric taste and smell (similar to eggs). When this is used with tofu it does present an eggy type of flavor. The salt is not really black in appearance, but more of a creamy pinkish color.

It's not very difficult to make one serving or many servings at a time. For me, I rarely use precise measurements when cooking something such as this, but I will do my best to estimate how much I use per serving for the sake of providing a recipe.

Vegan scrambled egg sandwich.

Vegan Scrambled Egg Sandwich: One Serving


two slices bread of choice
about 1 tablespoon vegan butter
about 1/4 cup firm tofu (frozen then thawed)
about 2/3 teaspoon nutritional yeast about 1/8 teaspoon (dash) kala namak / black salt
  (...The Spice Lab's Himalayan BLACK Crystal Salt Kala Namak Salt 16 Oz (fine ground))
about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (depends on how yellow you like it)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt / iodized salt
tiny dash cayenne pepper
dash black pepper, more or less to desired taste
1/5 cup non-dairy milk (I prefer almond)


1. Toast two slices of bread if desired and coat with thin layer of vegan butter.
2. **BE SURE TO DRAIN/PRESS THE TOFU VERY WELL BEFORE USING! It should feel almost dry.** Mix together milk and seasonings, then add crumbled tofu. Let sit at least a couple minutes.
3. Fry tofu over medium-high heat for about five minutes. Remove and pile onto lightly buttered bread or toast. Enjoy hot.

Vegan scrambled egg sandwich.

Delicious vegan egg sandwich.

Ways to indulge in this delicious sandwich but make it a little healthier is to add some ground flaxseed and use less butter, but I think the butter makes it absolutely the best! You can add bell peppers, broccoli, and any veggies you wish. Serve it on a bed of lettuce and tomato if you'd like.

Of course, this sandwich isn't something you want to eat daily, but it's nice on occasion.

By the way, the kala namak can be purchased from Amazon (link below) and is a bit expensive, but only a tiny quantity is needed. It lasts a long time and is well worth the price!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vegan Cheesecake: My First Time

My first attempt at vegan cheesecake was a complete success! Cheesecake has always intimidated me. Even when I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian and still consumed cheese, I never tried making cheesecake. It seemed so daunting and scary!

I looked over a few recipes online for vegan cheesecake and decided on this one:
I Eat Trees: Perfect Vegan Cheesecake.

As displayed on the sourced website:

Classic Vegan Cheesecake

16 cinnamon graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
16 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer whisked into 4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust, combine crushed graham crackers, vegan butter, agave nectar, and whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. Thoroughly combine ingredients by hand and press crust mixture into an 8.5 inch springform pan. Set aside.

To make the filling, add cream cheese, sugar, egg replacer mixture, lemon juice, and water to a blender and blend until just smooth. Pour filling over prepared crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set in the pan. Allow cheesecake to cool at room temperature to 30-45 minutes. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 to 10 hours. Slice, top with berries or sauce if desired.

I made a few slight changes when I made the cheesecake. First of all, I couldn't find any cinnamon graham crackers without honey so I found some regular vegan graham crackers that I used for the crust and added some cinnamon and nutmeg. For the crust I also added about a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and about 1/4 cup coconut flakes.

For the cheesecake filling I followed the directions almost exactly, however, for the egg replacer I whisked some of it into almond milk rather than water. I also added about 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and only about 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla.

This cheesecake was taste-tested by myself, of course, and I loved it! Also, my picky boyfriend and four co-workers sampled this treat and it was very well received by everyone.

Many were very shocked when I said I'd made a cheesecake without "real" cheese, since they know I am vegan, and were a bit iffy about how it might taste. I think everyone was pleasantly surprised. Someone from another office actually contacted me and told me they heard it was good from a mutual co-worker, which made my day!

To top it off, I decided to try the coconut cream whipped cream I've read so much about. I used a chilled can of full fat coconut milk and scooped the top white part out and beat that with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar. It turned out white, fluffy, creamy and delicious! It's a great way to make vegan whipped topping and wasn't too difficult, either, so I was incredibly happy.

It was very tasty and topped the cheesecake with that extra something special. The cheesecake was phenomenal regardless of whether whipped topping is used or not.

Next time I may use a bit more graham crackers and flaxseed in the crust and I may increase the amount of Tofutti vegan cream cheese I use as it was not quite as thick as I prefer, but the taste was flawless. I may also try a gluten-free recipe so my good friend and neighbor can try it. I plan to experiment with ground almonds and different types of gluten-free flours for the crust.

Thanks for the recipe!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vbar Sunflower & Cranberry Review

In my latest Vegan Cuts Snack Box I received a Vbar amongst the goodies. I brought it to work to try today. It looks pretty plain and similar in appearance to most other vegan energy or nutrition bars. It's a bland beige-like color with some specks of cranberry visible. How would it taste?

I admit wasn't too excited about it, but boy was I wrong! It tastes phenomenal! I was expecting a blah texture and plain bar, but this one has a nice substance to it and is slightly chewy without being overly sticky or having weirdly soft texture as some other bars I've tried. It has just the right balance of sweet and wholesome. The flavor was a mild sweet vanilla nutty kind of taste with a slight cranberry essence. I thought it was perfect! There are several varieties available and I am anxious to try them all!

I searched online for a website and cannot find one anywhere, but they are available for sale at different vegan retailers, such as Vegan Cuts. I am a little tight on cash this month but next month I plan on buying the variety pack, which has my mouth watering!

The bars come in a biodegradable plastic wrapper (and the variety pack comes in a biodegradable paper/cardboard box). The bars are gluten free, soy free, vegan, non-GMO and all natural. Ingredients: Brown rice cereal, sunflower seed nut butter, white sorghum syrup, coconut flakes, dried cranberries, vanilla extract, sea salt, coconut oil. No palm oil or preservatives!

Nutritionally, one bar (1.5 ounces) contains 210 total calories (120 from fat). Since it's vegan, of course there is no cholesterol in this product, a very small amount of sodium, and total fat of 13 grams (only 6 of which is saturated fats, probably from the coconut ingredients and the remaining fat is the good kind: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types). It provides 4 grams of protein per serving, 3 grams of fiber, as well as phosphurus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

Sorry for the horrible quality pictures, but here are a couple shots from my lunch at work this afternoon:

This delicious product is distributed by Benefit Foods, which is a California company (big surprise there!). Other varieties include: Almond/Fig/Carob, Almond/Cherry, Almond/Blueberry, Sunflower/Ginger, Sunflower/Cashew. The slogan on the front is "Unwrap Goodness!" YES, I agree and want more!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Healthier, Less Processed.....

I've been trying to eat less processed foods, even though I love Gardein and Veggie Brothers mock meat and other things I shouldn't consume so much of. I've also been trying to add more nutritional yeast to my foods for the B vitamins. Even though I have been vegan now for over 4 months, my cholesterol was still a bit high, although this does run in the family (and I'm not as active as I should be!).

Anyway, I had some extra potatoes laying around and don't often crave them, but I was craving something cheesy and I love broccoli, so I cooked the potato and halved it a few times on a plate. I prepared a broccoli-cheese sauce using Daiya cheddar shreds (I know it's processed, but it wasn't too much), nutritional yeast, a ton of broccoli, some minced garlic, cayenne and black pepper, and some almond-coconut milk.

It turned out to be just what I was craving. Although it does contain some processed goods, the majority of it, I would imagine, seems healthy and fairly basic. Hopefully it's a step in the right direction. I always drink plenty of clear water and have cut back on some of the snacks like potato chips and sweets.

Since becoming vegan I have probably at least doubled the amounts of raw fruits and vegetables that I eat. I eat a banana a day, usually an apple, orange, and/or pear as well. I love taking kale mixed with corn and nutritional yeast as a side to work and often enjoy salads, raw carrots, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, etc. Just this morning for breakfast I had half an avocado, a handful of mixed blueberries and blackberries, and some pine nuts.

If I can set myself up for some kind of rewards system, perhaps only indulging on mock meats and delicious Amy's Vegan Margherita Pizzas on the weekends and eat right Monday through Friday, I think that would be a great start for me. I also started Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and am on day 4. If I keep up with the healthier eating and more exercise, hopefully I can get my cholesterol at better levels and become more toned as I desire.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's Wrong with Palm Oil??

I only recently learned of the devastation harvesting palm oil creates on natural habitats, destroying rainforests and ecosystems and crippling the orangutan and other animal populations.

In an effort to raise awareness I have tried to find the most pertinent information from what I consider to be reliable sources. Education, although sad, is empowerment and people must be aware of what's going on in the world, especially when something causes so much harm that can be avoided.

Palm oil, one of the cheapest and most popular oils, also commonly referred to as palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil, and dozens of other names, is found in about half of all packaged goods, if not more. Palm oil can be also listed as PKO, palmate, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphates, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, chemicals which contain palm oil, and others, so it really can be difficult to know if this ingredient is in any of the foods you're eating or any of the products you're using. It can even be listed under the blanket term: vegetable oil.

Many shampoos, lipsticks and other make-ups, candy bars and other snacks, and even crackers and other food and cosmetic products often contain palm oil. Even beloved vegan products such as Daiya cheese uses palm oil in their block cheeses (not the shredded cheeses to my knowledge), Lucy's vegan cookies, and delicious vegan candy bars such as Jokerz, among others.

According to Greenpeace: "Demand from emerging economies such as India and China as well as a growing reliance on biofuels in Europe and elsewhere means global production is only set to grow... The environmental damage that can be caused when expansion of industrial production continues unchecked and the undeniable link between palm oil and deforestation can be witnessed via the destroyed peatlands and rainforests in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer."

Many different animals have adapted to the specific environment from which palm oil derives, and reducing the forests and destroying the land from production is causing many species to dwindle rapidly, soon to be on the brink of extinction. The UK-based news publication The Independent claims "The wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being chain-sawed to make way for palm-oil plantations. Thirty square miles are felled daily in a burst of habitat destruction that is taking place on a scale and speed almost unimaginable in the West... When the rainforests disappear almost all of the wildlife – including the orangutans, tigers, sun bears, bearded pigs and other endangered species – and indigenous people go. In their place come palm-oil plantations stretching for mile after mile, producing cheap oil."

Please be aware of the devastation palm oil causes and be compassionate enough to check your food and product labels. Do your own research and let everyone know about this. I was unaware of this for so long, and, sadly, I'm sure many others are as well. I have stopped buying products that contain palm oil as much as possible (by this I mean I read all ingredients and if I think it contains palm oil I do not purchase it, but with all the many ways it can be listed, it can be difficult to know I am avoiding it 100%) and will continue to boycott them. Please do the same.

Also, if you choose to become more active concerning this problem, please voice your opinion by calling companies to let them know you are against the use of palm oil and will not be using their products until they stop using it as an ingredient. Spread the word!

My Sources:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookie: Chocolate Chunk

During the work week I am usually in a rush to get to work on time, so after showering and getting myself ready, feeding and walking my two dogs, and taking care of our chinchilla, I usually only have time for a quick breakfast. I often eat a bowl of cereal with almond milk or, occasionally, a bowl of oatmeal or cream of wheat.

While browsing online for cool new vegan foods (am I the only one who does this?) I found Erin Baker's Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies, which are vegan. There are lots of varieties of these breakfast cookies, but not all are vegan-friendly. The reviews were mostly favorable (4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon with 29 reviews total), so I decided to buy a pack, which consists of 12 individually wrapped 3 ounce cookies. I paid $16.56 USD for the dozen, which equates to $1.38 per cookie (or $0.46 per ounce). This product qualified for free shipping through with my total purchase of over $25.

I was excited to try them when they arrived, so I didn't wait until breakfast the next morning. With the first bite I thought they were just okay, nothing too special, but they actually got tastier as I ate more, which I found odd but delightful. The first bite was a little bland and dry yet soft, but as I took a few more bites it seemed to get sweeter as my tastebuds adjusted to this product. They are sweet and tender like a soft-batch cookie and a little chewy, not hard or crispy at all. You can see the oats and other whole grains in the cookie. They taste great. I've eaten two of them (one last night and one this morning for breakfast) and I'm not at all disappointed.

I highly recommend this product. It's easy to eat (unwrap the cookie and eat it), versatile (can be heated in the toaster), and vegan, which means there is no cholesterol or cruelty. They are a fast choice for breakfast and full and satisfying. The only complaint I have is that it could contain more chocolate chips! It's good the way it is, but I would like it better with more chunks of chocolate. I'm going to try the peanut butter chocolate chunk variety next; I think that one will be very good!

Erin Baker's Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies are all-natural, made with whole grains, and sweetened with fruit puree. Because they are all natural and don't contain preservatives, the shelf life is only a few months, but the cookies can be stored in the freezer for a longer period of time. (Ingredients: Whole grain oats, unbleached wheat flour, prune puree, evaporated cane juice, chocolate chunks, water, brown rice syrup, canola oil, banana puree, inulin, molasses, baking soda, vanilla extract, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon.)

At 300 calories per cookie, they're a bit high in calories, but considering how much protein (7 grams per serving), fiber (5 grams per serving), and nutrients (iron 20% RDA, vitamin A 6%, vitamin C 2%, and calcium 2%) they provide, I don't think it's so high when putting those things in perspective. They keep me feeling full for hours after eating one, so it's perfect for a quick, delicious breakfast. Great with a cup of non-dairy milk!

Find more information at or check them out on Amazon by clicking either of the pictures of the cookies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Health is Wealth Veggie Munchees Review

Health is Wealth is an all natural company that makes a variety of natural vegan and vegetarian products. They do also make some chicken products. The thing I like most about Health is Wealth is that all their products are labeled very clearly on the front and a decent variety of products are available at my local grocery store.

I have tried the following products from Health is Wealth: Vegetable Spring Rolls, Thai Spring Rolls, Chicken Free Nuggets, and others. Most recently I sampled the Veggie Munchees for lunch. The product is filled mainly with cabbage and carrots wrapped by an enriched wheat coating. It is flavorful. I did have mine with duck sauce (sweet and sour sauce) and it's also good with soy sauce or even vegan sour cream to enhance the flavors. Of course, they are also satisfying plain as well.

The serving size is 6 munchees and each package has about 12 munchees, thus providing two suggested servings. One serving is slightly high in sodium (at about 21% recommended daily intake!) but contains very low fat, only 150 calories, about 11% of your daily fiber, 4 grams of protein, 20% of the recommended vitamin C, 10% of the recommended vitamin A, and some other nutrients. Because they are vegan, of course there is no cholesterol in this food.

Health is Wealth Vegan Veggie Munchees are very easy to prepare. I just popped them on a plate and in the microwave for about a minute (there is no toaster oven or conventional oven at my work). I had half a package for lunch with a small side salad.

I was not a huge fan of their mock chicken products, but would like to try their vegan sprouted burgers, which are also gluten free.

Health is Wealth has been around since 1977 and make all their products in the USA. They use no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Visit their website to check out all their products, the company philosophy, and where to buy:

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Loving Hut, Falls Church, VA

I've had take-out from Loving Hut in Falls Church, Virginia, before when I was at a meeting in Manassas and simply had to try the food, even though it was about 20 miles out of the way on a stretch of incredibly high-traffic road! Loving Hut is an all-vegan restaurant with a decent sized menu and an excellent reputation, at least from what I can find online. For carry out I got a few appetizers (the golden rolls, golden nuggets, and fried wontons), the club sandwich, and a raspberry cheesecake. Everything was phenomenal and the fries that came with the sandwich were even incredibly delicious.

Check out the menu for the Falls Church location: Loving Hut menu.

Anyway, when my boyfriend and I were going to a concert at Verizon Center (only about 10 miles from Loving Hut) I knew we needed to stop in for dinner.

We definitely came with huge appetites. Since we live about an hour and a half away, we ordered extra so we'd have plenty for leftovers at home. Bryan ordered the corn and potato chowder to start. It cam with an awesome grain bread which was good on its own or dunked in the soup.

We ordered the fried wontons, golden rolls, and summer rolls as appetizers. (A picture of the summer rolls is directly below this paragraph.)

I was torn trying to decide what to have for an entree. I wanted something that was unique and that I don't cook all the time already at home, such as burgers and stir-fry, so I decided on the Spicy Cha Cha, which is their rendition of a vegan breaded/fried shrimp. Bryan decided to try the Sesame Eggplant Tofu, which was very nicely presented (much nicer than the photo directly below, which is the leftovers from our visit).

The Sesame Eggplant Tofu came with eggplant, tofu, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sesame, a delicious sauce, and rice on the side. Bryan wasn't overly fond of the texture of the eggplant. He thought the sauce made it a bit too soggy and the skin left on the eggplant was slightly tough to him, but I thought it was really good, especially today when I ate it for lunch. The tofu was nicely seasoned and firm on the outside but soft and flavorful on the inside.

The friend shrimp I was a bit hesitant to order, as I have had fake shrimp before and it was only so-so, but never have I ordered it breaded. I decided to be adventurous and was very glad, because it was great. The crust was spiced perfectly, a bit salty and tasted a bit like the sea in some way, which made the coating and the shrimp together delicious. (Pictured above, both whole and cut in half.) Finally, we got dessert to go. I got the strawberry cheesecake and Bryan ordered the Death by Chocolate cake, which really was to die for! Unfortunately, I didn't snap and photos of the cakes before they were greedily consumed.

We had leftovers of almost everything to enjoy the next day. I took the rest of the Sesame Eggplant Tofu to work with me for lunch the next day and the remaining Summer Roll. Bryan had the Spicy Cha Cha leftovers and the Wontons. With all the food we ordered, our bill was only $46 and some change. To sum it all up, we ordered a soup, three appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts for under $50!

I highly recommend Loving Hut if you're in the area. The diverse menu and delicious food can draw almost anyone in! Both times I've sampled their food I was impressed and satisfied. The prices are very reasonable, the staff is polite, and the food is great! Check out the reviews on

Monday, February 4, 2013

Today: Three Months into my Vegan Transition

Today marks three months since I started transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years, but being a vegan is completely different. I always ate mostly vegan food and used a great deal of products not tested on animals. For example, Giovanni shampoos and conditioners and Merry Hempsters lip balm were always some of my favorite products.

Now I read every ingredient and try to buy as compassionately as I can, which means getting a great deal of stuff online and at natural food stores. Some of the larger grocery stores in my area, like Martin's, does have a large organic and vegan section, for which I am grateful, but there are not too many vegan-friendly restaurants like I am used to back in Baltimore, where I grew up. I have been in Martinsburg, West Virginia now for over three years and it has its pros and cons just like everywhere else.

I am eating much healthier now that I have cut out my greatest weakness: cheese. No more cholesterol in anything I eat and usually the meals are lower in fat and higher in nutrients. I am eating a great deal more fresh fruits and vegetables as well and less fatty snacks, such as potato chips with dip. I always thought giving up the cheese would be harder. I loved cheese very much, and am sure I was addicted to it. (If you don't think cheese is truly addictive, research casomorphins!)

I have had a few struggles here and there, but I am proud of myself. I've thought about cheating a few times but I've stayed strong and have felt better because of my strength! I am strong enough not to give in to the petty desires of my tastebuds, and I am very opposed to animals being used as commodities (they are living beings who feel hurt, pain, and fear, just like anyone's precious pets do, so if you wouldn't eat your dog or your cat, why would you eat a cow, pig, or other animal?), and am saddened and angered by the horrendous conditions and practices used in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement for this mini-milestone today! Three months down and many years to go with my more compassionate lifestyle! There are so many exciting recipes I am anxious to try. I always knew I was meant to be vegan.

For breakfast today I ate Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Red Berry Crunch Cereal with almond milk; between breakfast and lunch I ate a banana. For lunch I had a leftover slice of Amy's Vegan Margherita Pizza, and some corn and collard greens mixed together with a dash of sea salt and vegan butter. Later at work I will have a small snack of sesame pretzels with roasted garlic hummus.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Breaded Chicken Patties Comparison: Morningstar Farms and Boca

Both Morningstar Farms and Boca chik'n patties look very similar; each patty is round and almost identical in size with a golden colored breading. Both taste very similar as well and have many nutritional similarities. Both are found in the frozen foods section and contain four patties per standard box. The prices are very similar, although I find the Morningstar Farms items tend to be priced slightly higher than Boca products.

Main Differences between Boca Chik'n Patties and MSF Chik Patties

First and foremost, Morningstar Farm Chik Patties are not vegan, so I don't eat them any longer. They not only contain milk but also egg. They are definitely not very allergen-friendly (soy, milk, wheat, and egg ingredients).

Morningstar Farms (MSF) is part of the Kellogg's Company. Morningstar Farms seems to have a wider array of products available, including mostly vegetarian-friendly items and a few vegan items. As far as I can tell, Boca Foods Company is not part of a larger, more popular company. Boca is, however, endorsed by Weight Watchers. Boca has some variety with their products, but nowhere near as extensive as MSF. Even in the small town I live I can find both products at the local grocery stores and even Wal-mart.

Similarities between Boca Chik'n Patties and MSF Chik Patties

It's been a really long time since I've eaten real chicken, so I honestly don't know if these taste like chicken. Others who have not been vegetarian as long as I have say they do. I think they're incredibly tasty and versatile. I have used the chik'n patties on sandwiches, sliced on top of salads, in wraps, in pot pies, chick'n salads, and by themselves, among other ways. There are tons of recipes that can use these veg*n chicken patties.

Both products are about 71 grams per patty. The Boca has about 11 grams of protein per serving while the MSF patty supplies about 8 grams of protein. Both have approximately 150 calories per serving and provide 10% RDV iron and other vitamins and minerals. There is zero cholesterol in either product. The vegan diet contains no cholesterol by nature.

I think the Boca patties are slightly more juicy than the Morningstar Farms brand, but both are very similar in texture and flavor. They both have crispy, delicious breading that does not fall off. The patties can be prepared in the oven (which is probably the healthiest preparation option), in the microwave (which can tend to make the patties slightly mushier than may be desired), or even pan-fried. I have tried them each of these ways and cook them differently depending on for what I am using them.

Both do contain soy and wheat as some of the main ingredients, so those with food sensitivities should be aware of this. Even if you are not vegetarian or vegan, if you are looking for a healthier, tasty alternative to animal products, give this a try. There are often coupons readily available online for both companies.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gardein: Oh How I Love Thee!

Gardein has become one of my favorite products. I believe all their products are vegan, but I may be wrong about that. Everything I buy from them is vegan. They have only a limited selection available in my grocery store, but everything I've tried from them is delicious.

I have loved the Chick'n Scallopini and Beefless Tips for a long time and they are so easy to use in recipes. I've made different types of vegan stir-fry, Beef Tips Diane, sandwiches and subs, and the list goes on.

Yesterday I tried the Beefless Slider for the first time and it has great texture and flavor. There are many ways you can prepare them, from adding veggies like peppers and onions or mushrooms, avocado, tangy mustards and other types of sauces, and other possibilities.

Anyway, last night before bed, I was bad and made some food. I try not to eat past a certain hour, but food was calling my name!

I had a taste for the Gardein Crispy Chick'n, which comes with a sweet and sour type sauce. I fried the Crispy Chick'n in some vegan butter with onions and toasted sesame seeds. I added a bulgur and brown rice mixture that I'd prepared as well as some frozen peas and some leftover pineapple chunks I had sitting in the refrigerator and some minced garlic.

It turned out delicious! I wish I had some bell peppers to add and maybe some other veggies, but it turned out just the way I was craving, so I was very happy except the fact that it was so late. I only ate a small bowl and brought a serving for lunch today at work and had it with a banana. I have one more delicious serving still waiting at home in the refrigerator -- unless my boyfriend gets to it first!

Here's a photo of it I took from my lunch; it might not look perfectly appetizing, but it tasted amazing!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Seeking Cash!

Right now my biggest interest is how to make more money from home. I am researching different methods but have neglected my blog for a bit.

I will be more active with blog writing very soon. I've been occupied testing out writing sites like Seekyt and Firehow lately as well as experimenting with Infolinks, Amazon Affiliates, and a few others. Results will be scrutinized and posted soon.

While you're here, want to buy any of these cool items?:

Adopt a Shelter Pet License Plate Frame
Red Fox Mousepad
Paw Prints iPhone Case

T H A N K S and have a fantastic vegan day!