Monday, 26 June 2017

Vegan Products - June 2017

Here are some vegan items I've tried in the last month!

Trader Joe's always a fairly productive stop for vegan items;

The Tikka Masala was actually pretty decent! I've had their frozen vegan meals before and didn't really rate them but this was ok.

Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo was like the others on the market, tasted the same as others on the market and was the same consistency.

Trader Joe's Beef-less Ground Beef, this I was actually pretty impressed with! I normally buy Gardein but I think I like this better! 

Trader Joe's vegan chili in a can was pretty average - really lacked any kind of real flavor and definitely needed salting!

Trader Joe's vegan baked bean - YUM!!!! I was pretty impressed, I've only had the Amy's or Annie's one before and this was on par with that for sure!

Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Butter - I'm a big fan of Miyoko and this is good, but not cheap. It will set you back around $6 but has more natural ingredients than Earth Balance and does have a more buttery taste although I wouldn't go so far as to say it tastes like butter. Also is very hard from the fridge so spreads kind of like real butter. If you have the extra cash then it's probably worth it to you :) Excellent butter replacement for young children being organic and natural.

I love the Natural Candy Store online! It's great for bulk orders and has a great range of vegan items (even tells you all ingredients and whether it's gluten free). If you have anyone with severe allergies this is the place to get their candy, they'll even package things separately to avoid cross contamination.

I'm surprised more people don't sell Eli's! I can never find it in store and so get them from the Natural Candy store. It's such an amazing vegan chocolate bar and no palm oil!

Found this vegan and gluten free Candy Tree licorice the last time I was shopping on the Natural Candy Store website and it's conveniently in shoelace style which is great for cake decorating.

Every time I'm on the Natural Candy Store site I get myself some Moo Free chocolate - it's just SOOOO good! The only time I'm eating real milk chocolate only VEGAN!

Go my hair all chopped recently and even though I'm still using my Shampoo Bar and that's basically it (link to my shampoo free experience), the hairdresser gave me these samples because she said Pureology is a vegan company! Smoothing Serum was great for frizzy hair (kind of essential in Florida!), and the Smooth Perfection conditioners were lovely and smoothing also.

Got this Pacifica nail varnish in "Abolone" because in the bottle it looked very pearlesque but when i put it on, even a few layers it just looked gun metallic grey - which is nice too but not what I hoped for.

I love EO's bubble bath so I was excited to try their face wipes which come from their new "Everyone" line.
I'm sad to say these were very disappointing, probably fine for removing your average day's worth of dirt and oil but terrible at make up removal. It barely took off the face make up let alone the eye make-up! I think that this is their "affordable" line even though it was around $10. Sorry to say these aren't for me, back to Simple brand eye make up removal wipes!

This was an interesting Bixby chocolate bar I found at Earth Fare. It's a combination of a protein bar and candy bar - genius! Tasted pretty good too but with a lot less calories! Quite a few flavors too.

Sol Cuisine Portobello Burger I found at Earth Fare and was pretty good actually! Tasted mushroomy but had a very meaty consistency and didn't fall apart which was nice.

Salazon Salt Chocolate - pretty good, quite creamy for a dark chocolate and the saltiness was very subtle.
I especially like the pattern on the bar but that's only important to my aesthetic sensibilities ;)
Also Fair Trade - yay!

When in Orlando...go to Ikea of course ;)
Just some things to get you excited for Jacksonville's grand Ikea opening this fall!

Found these drinks at Ikea which are so delicious! The one's in the boxes and the ciders are organic so definitely vegan but the concentrates are not organic. They don't have their country of origin on them and when I emailed customer service about where the sugar came from they told me they could neither tell me where the raw materials came from or where the product was manufactured which is entirely scary and makes me very wary of buying Ikea food in the future!

They were out of Ikea brand dark chocolate but they had Talanda dark chocolate and it was every bit as rich and creamy as the Ikea one (may more so! Sacrilege!) I haven't got a response back from the manufacturers on the vegan status of their sugar but it's made in Poland and I am of the impression that most European countries use bone char free sugar.

This is a staple of my life - one I'd been missing since moving to Jacksonville. I think these veggie balls are the bomb, they taste like vegetables though not meatballs. I love them plain, so good!

Got these Terra Sweets & Beets chips at Publix in Kissimmee and they were pretty good and very natural.

I've mentioned Natura before (because all their wines are vegan and you can get them at Publix) but I hadn't tried the Malbec! It was pretty good although I still think I prefer to the Pinot Noir.

Finally made it to the Riverside Arts Market (Jacksonville FL) and had a lovely time strolling along the Riverwalk and meandering around the venders. They even had some live music in a stage area which was nice. Found lots of local fruit & vegetable stands which was great and found some other hidden treasures!

At the Riverside Arts Market I found Olive My Pickle which had 100% vegan produce, mainly olives and pickles but they also had vegan kimchi! It was a little salty but other than than soooo delicious! The olives were really good too, can't wait to try the pickles!

The main reason I went to the Riverside Arts Markets was to find the Zen Butcher! Unfortunately they haven't got any GF vegan products yet but their queso cheeses are GF! I tried the Creamy Queso Blanco. It had a nice, albeit slightly garlicky, flavor but the texture was a bit gritty so it didn't work as a dip so much. I was great in roast vegetable lasagne (even without marinara - I did both versions) and I imagine it would be great in Vegetable Stackhouse or another pasta dish.. I am looking forward to trying the Creamy Nacho Cheese too!

My lovely friend bought me this Candoni Green Organic Pinot Grigio from Earth Fare, and it even has "vegan" written on the label. It was a very very nice wine too!

Wasn't sure if I had tried these Gardein Veggie Burgers before but I definitely had not! The were so delicious!!! Didn't need any condiments. They taste like vegetables, not meat (similar to Dr. Praegers Kale Burgers) and had a bit of oil in them so I didn't need to use oil when I fried them. Very nice!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

DIY Deodorant

My BFF gave me this recipe and the original is from Wellness Mama. I changed the oil to Shea butter as the coconut oil was two liquidy, but use that if that is the consistency you're after! I think Tea Tree and Lavender are a great essential oil combination for deodorant but you don't want more than 10 drops total or it will be too harsh on the skin. You can use an old deodorant stick container or just use a glass jar.
If you leave it in the refrigerator it will act like regular stick deodorant, if you have it at room temperature it crumbles a bit and you have to put it on my hand. I found this easiest anyway; take an amount around 1/4 tsp and hold on armpit until the Shea butter melts a little then you can rub it clear into the skin. I found this deodorant worked really well. I couldn't really smell the essential oils but it definitely kept me stink free all day!

DIY Deodorant


6 Tbls Shea Butter
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
Essential oils (optional)


Melt the Shea butter in a small sauce pan or stainless steel bowl over a low heat until completely melted.
Whisk in the other ingredients and pour immediately into desired container and place in refrigerator for an hour to set.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

DIY Beach Hair Spray

Recently got the chop and needed something to aid my natural curl. My first attempt is this spray based on a recipe from Wellness Mama. I found the Himalayan salt didn't melt into the mixture so next time I'll use kosher salt or leave it out completely. It doe make your hair a bit dry and slightly crunchy so I also used a little bit of Pureology Smooth Perfection serum to define the waves and lose the frizz.I'll try a different recipe next when I run out to see the difference.You'll need a spray bottle that holds around 10oz. Bottle from SKS Bottle Packaging Inc.

DIY Beach Hair Spray


1 cup of distilled water
2 tablespoons epsom salts
1/2 tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt (optional but adds stiffness)
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
2 drops of jojoba or almond oil (or conditioner)
5 drops essential oil (I used tea tree essential oil)


Heat the distilled water and add the epsom salts & sea salt (optional), until salts have dissolved completely.
Add in aloe vera gel and oils and mix well.
Allow mixture to cool before adding it to your spray bottle.
Shake before each use.
Should last up to 4 months.

Friday, 26 May 2017

DIY Vegan Children's Paint

I wanted to make baby some finger paint because the bought variety comes from countries with suspicious quality control. And I know he's going to try to eat it ;)
I found a few recipes online and they all seem about the same. For the dye you can use natural powders (such as beet and tumeric) or you can use a vegan food dye. Great blog here on making your own natural dyes!

DIY Vegan Children's Paint


1 cup plain flour
1 cup kosher salt
Hot water


Add salt to about 1 cup hot water and stir till melted. I didn't do this and the paint was granulated.
Once salt has melted add the salt water to the flour and whisk til there are no lumps.
To get your desired consistency add more water.
Divide flour mix into different bowls (one for each colour).
Add dyes to each bowl and stir, adding more dye if needed, until the desired colour is reached.
Store in air tight containers.

NB: some people also add 1 tbls oil for shine but I didn't do this.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mum's Easy Spaghetti

This simple recipe is one my mum always made when we were growing up. It's far less tomatoey than the other recipes I've used and uses staples you usually already have so it's great for last minute dinners! In the USA spaghetti means Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce which is in Australia is often called "Spag Bol" so here it is...

Mum's Easy Spag Bol


2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Tbls tomato paste
Mixed herbs to taste
430g can of Tomato Puree (Aus)/sauce (USA)
1-2lbs vegan beef crumbles (I used Trader Joe's but Gardein, Beyond Meat or TVP would be fine)
1 Tbls oil


Fry onions on a medium heat until clear, add faux meat and cook until onion has browned slightly.
Add tomato paste, herbs and pepper.
Add tomato purée, heat through and simmer for around 10 minutes.
Watch the consistency as it does reduce a bit as it simmers.
If you want more sauce to feed more people, add more puree.
Keep stirring regularly as it simmers so it does not stick or burn on the bottom of the saucepan.
Serve over pasta.

Whole Foods Cleanse

I am a week into a wholefoods cleanse and I've taken most of my guidelines from The Daniel Fast. There are different sites that all give conflicting information but the basic idea is only wholefoods and no processed food or animal products (which we've obviously already got covered!).
So far I've lost 4lbs so I'm pretty happy! Oil and salt are allowed in small quantities. Juice is allowed as long as it's 100% juice with no sugar added. Some sites say tofu and canned vegetables are ok, and some don't so I'm allowing them in moderation. I'm trying to use tempeh as a substitute for tofu. And no coffee (caffeine), in fact you're only supposed to drink water :(

Here are some of the foods I've been eating;

Jambalaya from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester

Roast Vegetables  with olive oil, salt and rosemary (potato, garlic, rutabaga & beets)

Bowl with Tempeh, Spinach & Brown Rice, with a sauce made from Tamari, sesame oil, coconut aminos & sesame seeds.

Mash potatoes (using just almond milk, salt, pepper & garlic) and mustard greens

Red curry with vegetables and brown rice. The red curry comes from a Fresh Jax mix of spices and is mixed with some homemade stock and coconut milk.

Entering the third and final week now! I've lost 5lbs already which I'm pretty happy about! I think I'll definitely try to keep eating this way at least 80% of the time. I'm not sure I'd be completely happy NEVER having any processed food, but cutting them down to occasional is definitely a better option!

Here's some foods I ate last week...

Had homemade hummus and guacamole with raw vegetables when a friend came over.

Had a salad with leftovers vegetables from the kids taco night plus I added marinaded tempeh and a tahini sauce (sweetened with prune juice instead of agave).

 Roast vegetables again...sweet potato, potato, mushrooms and asparagus

Tempeh, spinach and millet with soy sauce, sesame oil and liquid smoke marinade.

Bruschetta with Avocado in Romaine leaves.

Ok so after 21 days I ended up losing 3lbs which is something at least. I certainly think that eating more wholefoods and saving the processed stuff for occasional use is the best move forward!