Monday, April 14, 2014

The March 2014 Vegan Cuts Beauty Box!

I did my taxes in a timely fashion, I got a place in LA, I've been writing a bunch on Vegansaurus, so I decided to treat myself to the Vegan Cuts Beauty Box subscription. I hope I can keep it, but once I get to LA and get a job, pay rent and bills again, we'll see. For now, it's just so much fun! Here is a picture of my March box:

I am just loving this subscription! I get to try all these new products that I wouldn't necessarily buy at their full-size price, because they are a pretty penny. So I get to try all these samples, even a couple full sizes, and make informed decisions about what I want to buy in the future! For a more in-depth review of the March Beauty box, check out the posts on Logical Harmony and Vegan Beauty Review. I liked it all, and I'm very much looking forward to April's box! 

Sometimes you just gotta treat yo'self! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Help the Campaign: Vanessa Elise Cruelty Free Skincare and Waxing in SF!

I swear, I would never post something about raising money that I hadn't contributed to myself. My friend Vanessa has seven days left on her Indiegogo fundraiser, for her Cruelty Free Skincare and Waxing in SF, and I'm trying to get the word out! If you are interested, and live in the Bay Area, I couldn't recommend booking an appointment with her more.

(That is me, I am getting a facial in that picture.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Best Brownies

I actually wrote a post on my other blog, Ask A Vegan Baker! Since I left my job in January, the last thing I've wanted to think about is baking vegan desserts. That little hiatus could only last so long -- now that I'm not covered in sugar all day I'm as excited about sweets as a kid on Halloween. My winter vacation has lead to a little soul searching; I wonder if I even want to be a professional vegan baker anymore? I think that might be a crisis to discuss another time, though. No need to open that flood of emotions right now, this post is about brownies! You know, the kind of food you stuff your face with when nothing in your life makes sense anymore and the future is a black hole, leading to feelings of hope, complete terror and the possibility of immense despair! I kid, I kid. NOW PASS THE CHOCOLATE.

Read all about my fudgy brownies here!

Vegan Breakfasts, Vegan Eggs

I have been playing around with breakfast sandwiches quite frequently in the last few months. I like a fried protein on my sandwich, and that protein of choice is tofu! I think the best kind of tofu to use for an "eggy" texture is silken. It's trickier to use, as it breaks very easily. What starts off as a slice often turns into a scramble. However, if you can manage to slice, fry and gently place a slice of silken tofu atop a plate or sandwich, I think you will find eating it to be an utterly pleasant experience: lightly crisp on the outside, yet soft and dare I say…silky on the inside.
That's it! I knew I wouldn't be able to get any sleep tonight until I let the world know that I think silken tofu is tops when it comes to replicating eggy textures for morning meals.

I did not use silken tofu on my recent "eggs' Benedict plate and even though the extra firm tofu was delicious, silken would've been magic! Hollandaise sauce recipe via The Comforting Vegan. I did eat almost the exact same thing yesterday morning, and I was sure to use silken. PERFECTION. I did not take any pictures because sometimes I just gotta eat my food, feel me?

A breakfast muffin from a few months past. I've come so far from this humble beginning. (I'm just kidding, that sandwich looks awesome.) My silken tofu turned into a scramble, but I believe in the future, by using a gentle touch and an unbreakable focus, I will always be able to keep my tofu in one piece! 

My new favorite thing to do is sauté spinach with Bac'uns Vegetarian Bits. I think I started doing this because I couldn't find any Upton's bacon seitan around, but now I'm hooked on the bits! Depending on what you can find in your area, both bacon bits and seitan will deliciously suffice for that smokey flavor I believe breakfast food absolutely needs. I was never a sausage person, so no, we aren't even going to discuss it as a possibility.

I believe that's all. Oh wait, one more very important thing! I learned this the hard way: either hollandaise sauce or Daiya cheddar, not both at once. It's totally overkill and the sodium content alone is super intense. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Still Loving Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga!

Earlier this month, after a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco, my mom picked me up from Ontario airport. Before I left for Northern California, she mentioned us going to Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga before the hour drive back to Temecula. What fun! I love Bright Star, and looked forward to our lunch date the entire morning of my departure from SF. It was bittersweet to leave the Bay Area, not knowing when I'd be back to the region I'd grown up in, the place where I had lived in for the last four and a half years of my adult life. (There were definitely parts of me that could not wait to get out and move on!)

We ordered a "shrimp" tempura basket. My mom still talks about how delicious the tempura batter was.

I had the orange "chicken" lunch. It's my go-to (all two times I've been). 

My mom got pad Thai with soy chicken. I'm pretty sure she was into it. 

After lunch we went to Viva La Vegan. It was a great afternoon. THANK YOU, MOM! (She kept commenting on how excited I was in the store. I was trying to keep it together; I guess I just wasn't doing a very good job of that.)

The shelves are alive, with the sound of me squealing through the aisles.

The vegan grocery store goods! 

On a final note, Earth Bistro in Temecula is gross. I recently went there a second time, and it was awful. To each their own, but what were those vegan commenters talking about on my Bright Star post? This last time I went, I'm pretty sure my vegan burger was cooked in the beef fat left behind by the burgers cooked before it. So gross. The Bradleys pride themselves on eating everything thing on their plates, yet my mom and I left half of our lunch behind. 

The (Mostly) Ups and (a Couple) Downs of Suburban Vegan Eating

I'm living in the suburbs as of late, and there are few places I like to hit up when I'm out and about. BJ's Brewhouse and Panera Bread are two of my very favorites!

The gluten-free crust at BJ's is vegan. Their regular crust is as well, but I like to go with gluten-free when I eat out, it just feels healthier. I love this crust: it's thin yet flaky and doesn't have a strange aftertaste! I build my own pizza when I go, this last time I ordered marinara, roasted garlic, mushrooms and basil! There is some question about whether the butter spread they use is vegan or not, but back in 2011, Quarrygirl posted that it was. I see how there could be some trepidation, so just ask for your pizza without butter brushed on if you are hesitant. 

I also love the Skinny 'Rita at BJ's! I don't like my cocktails made with conventional mixers, so I always check out the "skinny" menu. In all honesty, it's nice that the cocktails made with juice and agave have less calories than the conventional ones! I'll cut calories wherever possible, but I won't sacrifice taste! 

It is such a relief to find delicious vegan options at popular chain restaurants because it is easier to enjoy dinners out with my family that way. I don't mind ordering a salad out with family, but dinner is so much more fun with something more substantial, like pizza! 

I go crazy for the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich at Panera! The jalapeño cilantro hummus what my dreams are made of. I order mine without feta (obvi) and sub avocado. Sometimes they charge me for avocado and sometimes they don't. It has just come to my attention that the tomato basil bread contains honey, so in the future I will substitute a different bread as well! This is a huge bummer to me because I loved that bread, but I am also fangirl of sourdough, so the crisis has been averted! 

My days of eating that tomato basil bread are over! 

Recently my mom and went to California Pizza Kitchen. I wasn't very hungry, so I ordered the Asparagus and Arugula salad with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Exquisite! Of course I ordered my salad without parmesan. Their allergen menu states there is egg in salad, but it seemed to check out vegan. I looked up the lemon vinegarette, and that contains no milk or egg so I don't know what that's about. I'd only been to CPK once before in the late 90s, so I don't know much about their vegan options. I am loving this guide that CPK has written up for vegans and vegetarians though! 

My mom and I also went to The Yard House, which I'm not digging. I'd only ever go again for their sparkling Elderflower cocktail, but I'm not into their food. There aren't many options for vegans and anything that is give me this distinct feeling I could be make it at home. The first time I went, I ordered a Gardein chic'n and avocado sandwich, wrapped in lettuce (I was told by my server the bread contained eggs or milk, I can't remember which), minus the mayo and cheese. It was alright. My cocktail though -- A+. I'm pretty sure the ingredients were St. Germaine, Hynotiq and club soda so as soon as I procure those liquors, I'll never have to step into The Yardhouse again! I just don't trust anything on their menu.

That's it! Of course I love Taco Bell, always and forever (Bean burrito made fresco and a Mexican Pizza remove cheese, sub beans for beef). What are your favorite vegan options at chain restaurants? I would love to hear them, so that I can then go eat them! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Vegan Cuts February 2014 Beauty Box!

I got my first Vegan Cuts Beauty Box the other week, and what a delight! I love beauty products, and I adore getting to try new ones! I've been vegan for almost seven years now, which I know I keep saying over and over and over again, but the cruelty-free and vegan market has changed quite a bit, and it's a joy to talk about myself. Seven years ago, there was not even any Daiya (I will always love you, Follow Your Heart soy mozzarella), although there were plenty of other goodies to keep me vegan and happy! I don't say this to be a big old, condescending whiner, I mean that I'm stoked there are so many up and coming vegan ventures, entrepreneurs, chefs, artists, and cosmetic manufacturers. This lifestyle keeps becoming more accessible in the United States and for that I am both grateful and hopeful.

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is $19.95 and available for purchase here. It comes with a variety of both trial and full size products! The February Beauty Box included:

I'm pretty stoked with everything I've tried so far! At first I was put-off by red lipstick because I am into pink lips, but it's subtle enough that I think I can pull it off. My mom said it looked good on me but she might be a little biased. The candle smells divine, and is soothing to have lit while struggling through writing blog post. I was also initially turned-off by a pickles and ice cream flavored lip balm; let me tell you it's actually quite nice! Not too sweet, not too…tangy? Pickled? Sour? It's good stuff. The product I absolutely love and would not hesitate to buy in the future is the lavender hand creme by Chandler Farm! I think lavender is one of the best scents around and the creme itself is lightweight; it absorbs instantly! I never moisturize my hands because I can not stand for them to be greasy, but I can use the Chandler Farm creme day or night. Hands are one of the first surfaces on the human body, besides the eyes, to show age, so let's just say I'm relieved to have found a cream I like! 
Intrigued? Here are a few other fun reviews to read! 

I have yet to try the styling whip, because my hair has no style. Haha, just kidding! I would say my style is that of a five year old who discovered that scissors will cut hair. It's a thing! I don't know how to use the styling whip, so maybe that will be one of my challenges for the day. That and pulling off red lipstick without feeling like a doofus. (Note to self: channel Gwen Stefani.) I also haven't tried the deodorant because I am stoked with my new North Coast Organics deodorant. I'm not ready to switch it up! 

I am still torn about signing up for March. Of course I want to, but I should also maybe get a job, or do my taxes first.