Contact Me

My photo
United States
For product reviews, please e-mail me at

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fruit-Bearing Garden

Our garden is pretty much complete, save for a few sprouts that still need to be transplanted.
Roll call of edibles in garden: Wheat Grass (for cats), Catnip, Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Variety of Lettuce, Baby Bok Choy
Four strawberries are already growing!
Proof that you can grow (some) of your own food with limited space! This is our one-bedroom apartment balcony with limited sun and everything is still growing well. 

Happy Gardening!

Product Review: Garden of Life Raw Protein

In my past few smoothies, I have used Raw Protein instead of my usual hemp protein. I purchased at Whole Foods. 

Raw protein is made from the sprouts of a variety of grains, beans, and vegetables. 

It packs a lot for the punch! Tons of vitamins and probiotics as well as the protein. I feel the same amazing energy after my smoothie with Raw Protein as I did with hemp protein, though there could be other benefits I just do not realize. 

The thing that I do not like about Raw Protein powder is the taste. It has a very malty, chalky flavor that does not agree with me. Because of that, I will finish what I have but not purchase again. I do hope that you will give it a try! I am going back to hemp. 

Is there another vegan protein powder I should try? 

Food Lately

Just a few random pictures of food we've had recently. 

Ian made some pizza again, but this time the crust and sauce are homemade! That is some spinach on the pizza and there is basil from our garden in the sauce. A variety of leftover vegan cheeses. The crust is whole wheat and no yeast.

I tried vegetarian/vegan sushi for the first time. Avocado rolls. 
So glad to get some sea vegetables in my system!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vegan Blood is a Hot Commodity

I have been a blood donor for a few years. I always donate to the American Red Cross. I have exhausted every other option where I live and the Red Cross is literally the only place within an hour that takes blood and provides it to hospitals. The hospitals will not take direct donation, either. The Red Cross is not my favorite, but if you have a bad taste in your mouth about them, look into some improvements they've made in recent years. For me, the need for blood outweighs the ickiness of the organization. There is no substitution for blood and people die without transfusions. But that's not what this post is about.

Vegan blood is awesome blood! As a vegetarian, I often got turned away from blood donation for iron being too low. As I took each step closer to being vegan, my iron has been off the charts. Since last Fall until now, my iron has been over 14 and the requirement for women is 12.5. The technician is always really impressed and it is so validating.

I rarely going to the doctor, but donating blood is like getting a little physical every two months. I find out that my iron is at healthy levels, I don't have HIV, and my pulse is normal. Blood donation has also given me some red flags. I found out that I have slightly low blood pressure. Last time I tried to give, my veins were flat from dehydration that I was unaware of. Yesterday, I tried to donate and found out that I have a fever. Tadaa, I'm sick!

I believe that vegan blood is some of the healthiest. Our iron levels tend to be great because of all the leafy green vegetables we consume (and for me also, my prenatal vitamin). Also, I have heard that blood that has too much fat or sugar cannot be used, and this analysis is not done until after the donation has been made. I'm sure this is not a problem for most vegans. I am totally guessing, but we are kind of super heroes, so I think we must regenerate blood quickly, as well.

If you want any information on the process of giving blood, please ask! It is something very worthwhile to consider. Unfortunately some people are limited. If you are a person with male genitalia who has had sex with someone with male genitalia, or if you have ever been to Africa, they will reject you. Again, I am not at all ok with that, but I do it because people will die if I do not give blood. If you are an African-American, however, your blood is in high demand because it is more likely to be a match for someone suffering from sickle cell anemia.

I mostly do whole blood donation, but also apheresis once which is a longer more involved process for platelet donation. This usually goes to cancer patients.

Give some healthy vegan blood!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegan Junk Food: Dark Chocolate Dream

I am such a hypocrite. I tell you I'm not a junk foodie, but you should see what I've been eating lately. Especially now that I am on Spring Break, I have been lax about nutrition for a good week now. So far today I've eaten hummus with spinach (I guess that's alright), popcorn doused with Earth Balance, and now a chocolate bar. I haven't even had my smoothie yet, though to be fair, I'm waiting until I can't stand the heat anymore to drink it to cool off.

Yum! The Dream Company makes a variety of chocolate bars though this is the only one I've tried- many times.
  • Vegan
  • Not suitable for soy allergen
  • Processed in a facility with nuts
  • Transparent about nutrition and ingredients here 
  • 1000x more delicious than a Crunch Bar
I only ate those far. Cats and chocolate don't go together apart from that I love them both.

I am normally not a big chocoholic but now I am realizing that I won't get to have any candy when I am home at Easter or probably eat any Passover desserts either so I treated myself. 

Ok, sooo that picture made me want to photo shoot the "red one." Prepare for pet overload. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Progression of the Garden

We no longer have to awkwardly store our plants indoors! The frosts have passed, everything has sprouted, so we have a very small amateur garden on our apartment balcony. We are in need of some more pots and potting soil, so this is not the finished look.
Variety of lettuces in the bigger pots. Sprouts for different herbs, wheat grass for cats, and catnip are sprouting in the Keirug coffee cups.

Tomatoes, strawberries, basil and other herbs, and some type of flowers given to me by a parent when I completed by Kindergarten student teaching.
Tomato plants (don't tell, but I actually do not care for tomatoes)
On the left: two Hibiscus plants from our wedding rehearsal dinner, about 11 months old. Unfortunately not in bloom at the moment.

Ian has also begun raising herbs in an aeroponic planter! Pics from that soon. 

Earth Day Festivities, Vegan-Style

Happy Belated Earth Day!

I hope you all got some vitamin-D and celebrating something outdoors.

I went to my county's Earth Day Festival. I am so excited that this even exists! I live in a very rural area and I was surprised that these folks got together for anything but the county fair. Most of the vendors were just local businesses. The only Earth-related things were representatives from state the local nature centers and some conservation groups (I live by the Chesapeake Bay). Nothing related to food that is Earth-friendly. We did get vegan organic lunch from the kitchen at a nearby grocery store- quinoa salad.

Our day started with a trip to the organic grocery because they were giving away free bags. The best find of a day:

These bananas!!! 
  • Organic
  • Fair Trade
  • $1.09 / lb!!
So people and the Earth were treated fairly in the making of these noms. The only problem left is the gas it took to fly them in from Ecuador :o/

I also got a baby bok choy plant from a local organic farmer. Looking forward to some light stir fries this summer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Recipe Review: Quinoa Burgers

We love making this recipe that I found on Savvy Vegetarian . com

It is a multi-step process.

  1. Soak quinoa. This gets rid of the bitter layer. It also may sprout them for extra goodness. 
  2. Rinse. I use a small pasta strainer.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Mix all ingredients.
  5. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Cooling overnight makes it form patties well BUT it does make your hands very cold.
  6. Form patties.
  7. Fry patties.
  8. Let oil absorb.
  9. NOM!
I call it party quinoa because of all the colors. I am not sure which ones are whole grain. I buy organic in bulk.

What We Love About Quinoa Burgers:

  • They keep well, if you don't eat them all right away!
  • Delicious. 
  • Eat with a bun for a hearty meal or without a bun for a light meal.
  • Quinoa is awesome- a seed though it resembles a grain, it is the only grain/seed that is a complete protein.
Quinoa burger mixture with plain white quinoa.
What We Are Iffy About:

  • Frying them. All the oil is not the best health-wise and hot oil is dangerous and scares me. It is a two-person operation. Maybe they could be baked for a similar result?
  • Time-consuming to make!!! 

Other Notes:

  • If you are gluten-free, use potato starch instead of conventional flour.
  • We save and reuse the oil each time until it gets groddy. Let it cool and then store in a mason jar. 
  • I eat mine topped with hummus and spinach. Mmmmm!
This was Ian's, topped with tomato sauce and spinach. Made with red quinoa.

What kind of 'burgers' do you make? Bean, lentil, veggie, walnut? How have you gotten around using all this oil?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vegan Junk Food: Crab Chips

Sorry for the long hiatus! I will be posting more soon as my spring break is next week!!! I am mostly busy finishing up my student teaching to be followed by writing my master's thesis and trying to find a job (and maybe also planning my cat's first birthday party).

I ran into a conventional box grocery store after school to pick up some treats for my third graders. As a vegan, I am compulsively checking labels of packaged foods to ensure there are no egg or milk products. Fortunately, these are required to be listed as allergens. 

Let me pause to say I am not a junk food vegan. Really. Most of my diet is raw, most is homemade, and most is organic. (Hopefully soon I can say that most is homegrown). I rarely ever eat potato chips, like once or twice a year. When I do, they are likely to be Utz Crab Chips. I looked at that labeled out of curiosity.

HONEY. They are made with honey. But not just honey, some sort of honey product that I don't remember. I will do a post soon about honey and the vegan mind. 

If you are interested in an alternative and don't begrudge a bag of chips every once in a while, I found one at my nearby-ish organic store: Route 11 Chesapeake Crab Potato Chips
The website clearly lists the ingredients. Nothing from an animal! They are yummy and crunchy. Try them out.

This post might mean nothing to you if you aren't a Marylander. I have spent most of my life in Maryland and now live very close to the Chesapeake Bay. Even though I no longer eat seafood, I get my kicks from the seasoning usually used on it: Old Bay. 

I have to tell you that I did not pose this picture for this post. This was taken freshman year of college in my dorm room five years ago. I brought Old Bay with me to the cafeteria every day. Thankfully, I stopped that after the first semester, but it just makes everything taste better,

I still like Old Bay but use it infrequently. I also started using the low sodium variety, though I actually have low blood pressure so sodium is not a big concern. Probably, I could mix up a seasoning similar to Old Bay myself but somehow the thought makes me feel like a traitor. 

I hope I've put you in the mood for summer!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Hubby's Blog!

Check out my hubby/partner Ian's blog Dilbert Minus Dilbert! 

He takes the Dilbert comic strip and removes the character Dilbert for hilarious results. If you have seen Garfield Minus Garfield, it is in that vein. 

Very LoL-able! 

My Favorite Re-Use Websites

1. Freecycle

This site is run by Yahoo. People within a county post things they want and things they have to get rid of. All transactions are free. Volunteer moderators approve all posts and members. One gets an e-mail about once a day with the 25 most recent posts. Your e-mail address is not identified unless you choose to respond to someone. You can set up a specific pick up time, or leave an item for a 'porch pick-up.' You can have actual human interaction, or not.

I've gotten some awesome stuff and had a way to get rid of things I really don't want to throw away. Every couple of months I clean out my closet and give away a big bag of clothes. I've gotten clothes, a purse, cat things, and office supplies. Like Craigslist, except you're not entering into a contract with a stranger. And it's FREE!

2. Makeup Alley

Not just for makeup!! This is a swap site. Mostly, people swap bath/beauty items but also clothes, DVDs, books, and anything else. You provide feedback to one another to boost your credibility. If someone has no feedback, they ship their end of the swap first. I have mostly swapped for Lush, but other things as well. Also lots of reviews on make-up type items.

Try these out in an effort to re-use items that may be discarded and avoid buying new items. I have saved a bunch of money and trips to the landfill.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Deodorant Options

One of my favorite and a much more established vegan blogger Eco Vegan Gal recently made this blog post  regarding natural deodorants. I have been very curious about this myself and have been on the search for a natural deodorant that works for me.

For years, I used Dove deodorants. They worked very well for me and my sensitive skin. Because they don't mention being aluminum-free, I have to assume that aluminum is an ingredient. Can cross that off of the list.

Next, I tried Tom's of Maine deodorant for sensitive skin. Aluminum-free, check. Fragrance-free, check. This product gave me a horrible rash. It gave my sensitive skin a very painful reaction.
Then, I tried Lush's Aromaco. Aluminum-free with vegan and organic ingredients. However, it's the only Lush product that I deeply dislike. You take the solid in your hand and rub it over your pits. I expected it to soften from your body heat like a massage bar, but it stayed solid so you have to rub rub rub. Its harsh edges break off and are wasted and the friction starts to hurt. I also found it to be ineffective i.e. smelly pits. I was so disappointed!

Then, Eco Vegan Gal to the rescue! At her recommendation, I picked up a Crystal deodorant at my first trip to Whole Foods. So far, I love it! I got the rolly ball kind and it has kept my underarms smelling fresh. It applies easily and lasts throughout the day. 
I'm sticking with Crystal for now, happy to have one more carcinogen-free product on my body.

Morning Smoothie- Recipe

I don't really have a name for this smoothie. Raw green power smoothie? I cannot overstate how much lasting ENERGY this smoothie gives me. I don't usually get to eat for my 9 hrs of unpaid labor (aka student teaching) except sometimes an apple, but I keep going. Even when I get little or no sleep, this smoothie perks me up. I do not drink coffee, tea, or soda.

This is based on my cousin Sophie's recipe for a post-natal mommy smoothie. Sophie is a certified raw chef and yoga instructor who runs a company dedicated to raw cleanses, cooking classes, and holistic health. Check out her webpage, especially if you are in the LA area. She is an amazing person who did yoga and running right up to and just after she gave birth.

  • Half of a banana
  • 1/2 c. non-animal milk (I've used hemp, almond, soy, and coconut water)
  • 1-2 tbsp. flax oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw maca powder
  • 1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp. protein powder (This is half a serving. I use Hemp.)
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter (sunflower, almond, whatever)
  • Bunch of greens! (Kale, spinach)
  • At least three ice cubes. I use seven, thick like a milkshake.
  • Optional: ground flax, Spirulina

1. Add your non-animal milk to a blender.
Get the unsweetened. I hope to try 'homemaking' almond milk soon.
2. Add your 1/2 a banana.

3. Add 4 tablespoons of dry ingredient mix.
. mIn the back, you see Tempt Hemp Protein Powder, Cacao Powder, and white Maca Powder. I  just bought some Raw Protein Powder I plan to try soon.
4. Add nut butter, agave, coconut oil, and flax oil.
I will do another post about agave because it is controversial for multiple reasons. So is coconut oil. I haven't heard many complaints about almond butter, but for some reason this brand includes palm oil which I am not ok with.

5. Add ice cubes.
Our blender is a Hamilton-Beach Wave Action 12 speed. 
6. Pile greens on top. They will prevent the other ingredients from popping up on the top and sides.
Kale is incredible! The first time I used this green instead of spinach
I thought "hmm this is a little bitter" but I quickly got used to it.
You can always had more agave if needed.
7. Blend! You may even have a 'smoothie' setting. Go until ice cubes are broken up. Should take about a minute.

8. Pour in a cup and sip away. May need to scrap down sides.


I drink this smoothie every morning along with a glass of water. I get a lot of my daily nutrients, including Omega 3s and calcium, as well as the majority of my calories, around 850 according to Anecdotally, I have always heard that breakfast should be your biggest meal. No matter what happens later in  the day and what I end up eating, I am certain I got in my body all the good stuff in the smoothie. If I don't get greens like I should in the evening, at least I've already eaten a handful of kale. Normally, this is my attitude with morning exercise as well, but my needing the leave for work at 6:30 a.m. is precluding that. Oy.

Let me know your smoothie success stories! I will definitely be switching up this recipe once fruits come into season.