One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Love Affair with Shea Moisture ( aka my coming out as a full-blown hippie)

I'm going to be frank with you, this post contains frankincense and myrrh and lots of hippie references. I like to keep it as natural a possible. I mean, not too natural, I do wear deodorant and shave my legs - but my deodorant is that aluminum free hippie stuff with tree liken and I use alba natural skin cream instead of shaving cream - it's all about compromise right? Anywho. When it comes to skin care I prefer to keep it simple. I make my own body scrubs from kosher salt and olive oil, face scrubs from raw sugar and grapeseed oil and moisturize my skin with olive, grapeseed or coconut oil infused with herbs and dried flowers or raw shea butter. See...I told you I was a hippie.

I've seen the Shea Moisture line of products on the shelves of Target for the longest time (hippies can shop at Target, right?) but felt no desire to try it since I have my own concoction of herbs and oils to fall back on. But on the urging of a good and long-time friend I tried it out. After all, it's a certified cruelty free brand and the list of things NOT in the product was longer than the list of ingredients that actually are in it.

This first thing I tried was the Shea Moisture Raw She Chamomile & Argon Oil Baby Head to Toe Ointment with Frankincense and Myrrh. Ok, let's all take a moment to acknowledge that the folks at Shea Moisture need to come up with some shorter names for their products! Long names aside, this stuff is crazy amazing. I've never actually used it on my little one, it's a little too thick for me to imagine putting it on an actual baby, but I use it on myself daily. It's great on freshly shaven legs and, just like the long name says, it literally works from your head to your toes. I see why baby Jesus was given Frankincense and Myrrh on the day of his birth - it smells like heaven!

Next I moved on to the bath salts. Wait, no...not those kind of bath salts (eating faces isn't very vegan friendly). Since I fancy myself to be a ballerina now (long story, if you follow me on facebook it makes more sense) the Lavender & Wild Orchid Joint and Muscle Relief Soak seemed like a good place to start. I'm used to the pure scent of lavender so the wild orchid element kind of threw me off a bit. But the way that my sore, tired muscles felt after 15 minutes of soaking in bath infused with these salts said it all. My whole body just felt calm and at rest. I actually got out of the bathtub, did 30 minutes of restorative yoga and then went laid down to one of the best nights of rest I've had in a long time. I should add that I used the Lavender & Wild Orchid Body Oil after the bath to moisturize with and it is, of course, fantastic as well. I've used regular epsom salt for years and never had such instant relief of my joint and muscle pain. I had the exact same experience when I tried the Lemongrass and Ginger Dead Sea Salt Soak except that this stuff smells so damn delicious that I got out the tub, went downstairs, and made myself a quick red coconut curry with lots of lemongrass and ginger for dinner instead of doing yoga and drifting off to bed.

Literally every product I tried from the Shea Moisture line has been phenomenal. I still love making my own beauty products and will continue to do so but these are a sweet indulgence and a special treat. Plus, they are priced reasonably and easy to find at most major retailers. I highly recommend you give them a try as well.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

World Famous Green Lemonade

I might be stretching the truth a little by claiming that the mother of all green juices is world famous. I can not confirm if they are hip to the green juice craze Zimbabwe or the Amazon but I'm pretty sure, no matter where in the world you live if you tasted this you would agree that if it isn't world famous it sure as heck should be. The first time I had green lemonade was at my local Whole Foods. There is constantly a line at the juice counter and everyone seemed to be ordering the same lemonade. One day I caught the juice bar at an off hour when no one was around so I decided it was the perfect time to try this green lemonade everyone was raving about. From the first sip I was hooked! My daughter immediately reached over and grabbed my cup to find out what all the fuss was about. Until that day had never tasted juice but I figured there was no better place to start than with green juice so I let her take a sip. She, was instantly hooked as well! 

I went home and combed the interweb looking for the recipe but no one seemed to really have one. Perhaps if you publish a recipe the Whole Foods giants will find you and throw you in juice jail, who knows, but I'm taking the risk! One of my friends who is on a journey to health and wellness has the same love of this sweet green drink and set out on a mission to make her own version at home. After many unsuccessful attempts she finally cracked the code and here is her recipe. Cheers to green lemonade everyone!

6 large leaves of kale
4 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
2-3 apples
1-2 peeled lemons

Juice all ingredients and serve cold.

Photo courtesy of For the love of Food

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Superfood Smoothie Recipes

So you've read the review of Superfood Smoothies but you just aren't sure you're going to love it? Try these  two sweet yet healthy treats and you'll be diving, mouth first, into this book!

Mint Chip
Tucked beneath a very convincing ice cream-like flavor, a wealth of beneficial spinach awaits you in
this smoothie. It’s so good it almost makes a person wonder why spinach isn’t used in all minty treats.
I love how the cacao nibs provide a bit of dark-chocolate crunch without being overpowering.

Makes 2 18 -ounce servings

2 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen bananas
1⁄4 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh mint leaves, minced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rice milk (original variety)
1⁄2 cup coconut water
sweetener, to taste (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Taste, and sweeten
as desired.

Superfood Boost:
Add 1/4 teaspoon chlorella (or to taste).

Maqui Banana
Experience the profound beauty of delicious simplicity.
Makes 2 14 -ounce servings

3 frozen bananas
2 ¼ cup coconut milk (boxedvariety)
1 tablespoon maqui berry powder
sweetener, to taste (optional)

Blend together all the ingredients until smooth. Taste, and sweeten
if desired.

Superfood Boost:
Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

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