Food

2
Nov
2016

vegan cookbooks you need in your life

Whether you’re looking for a vegan cookbook for yourself, or holiday shopping for your friends/family… Here are ones you shouldn’t pass over.

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Thug Kitchen: Gwyneth Paltrow’s fave and NY Times best-seller.  Probably the least boring cookbook you’ll ever own. Pumpkin chili and beer-flavored lime tacos? Yes please. If you at least kinda know your way around a kitchen already, I would say that this is a must-own. (TIP: If you are a beginner in the kitchen or always pressed for time so you need quick and easy recipes only, but like the idea of interesting veggie recipes, check out the newer version– Thug Kitchen 101… Personally, I swear by this one.)

 

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The Lusty Vegan: This one is mostly geared towards single vegans navigating the world of dating in a non-vegan world.  It’s funny and honest, and those of us who deal with vegan/omnivore dating all the time will especially appreciate.  Personally, I have watched one of the co-authors, Ayinde, do a cooking demo before at a veggie fair, and his incredible recipes and techniques alone were what made me buy this book.

 

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Happy Herbivore:  This is a great one for people who went vegan for weight-loss reasons.  (Disclaimer: yes, I know that veganism is WAY more than a diet.  But it can also be a diet.)  Fast, easy, and mostly fat-free, this book keeps the meals simple and affordable. Perfect for the clean eating veg-heads on a budget.

 

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Oh She Glows: Angela, the author, struggled for years with a debilitating eating disorder.  During her recovery, she healed her relationship with food through inventive recipes using nuts, whole grains, fruits and veggies… It changed her whole life, and she was determined to share her epiphany with the rest of the world. Most of her recipes are GLUTEN-FREE as well, and many are allergy-friendly and soy-free.

 

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Nom Yourself: I picked up this cookbook after obsessively following @nomyourself on Instagram for years.  Mary is constantly on the road touring with rockstars as their personal chef… Blink 182 and Ellie Goulding have her on speed dial, and it’s no wonder why.  She specializes in classic American fare with a vegan twist (think: shitake po boys and apple pie), and her photography is nothing less than brilliant.

 

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Afro-vegan: Whether you are African American or not, I would really recommend this book.  It is so different than any other cookbook I own; I may be especially partial because, as a Texan, I have an appreciation for the adaptations of southern classics.  Afro-Vegan is such a beautiful ode to African American soul food– references to history and music alongside nostalgic recipes, coupled with gorgeous photography.  One of my very favorites on this list. You won’t be disappointed, promise.

 

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27
Sep
2016

so you want to go dairy-free… congrats, you’re a badass

Get excited!  You are about to feel healthier, save some animals, and help the environment– all in one fell swoop. If you want additional info on why to make such an awesome change in your life by going dairy-free, feel free to check out this article.  I think it is so rad that you care about your life and the lives of others enough to make a daily habit change, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Can we be friends? You sound cool.

So, yes, I am vegan.  And yes, I want everyone to eat vegan food in order to save animals and increase personal health.  But I cannot lie to you: not all vegan food is good.  (Ahem– Just like not all non-vegan food is good!)  Luckily for you,  I am happy to be your guinea pig.  I’ve had two years to try pretty much every dairy-free alternative I can get my hands on, so now you can save time and money and go straight for the good stuff without having to spit out another vegan cheese that tastes like a foot.

Let us get to it, then!

Milk:  Milk is probably the easiest replacement.  The varieties are endless… Soy, almond, coconut, cashew milks are readily available at your local grocery store. As for me, I’m pretty loyal to Silk brand’s vanilla soy milk (available online) with my morning cereal. 

Cheese:  On the other hand, vegan cheese was the most difficult area for me to navigate when I “made the switch.” My tried and trues: Soy-free and delicious Follow Your Heart is my go-to… They have slices and shredded, from pepperjack to gouda to cheddar. Next fave:  Chao by Field Roast (creamy original flavor). 

Coffee Creamer: Califa Farms makes a damn good creamer, available online and in both vanilla and hazelnut

Cookie Dough: Hampton Creek has a good one! 

Chocolate snacks: If Bark Thins (available online) don’t satisfy your choco cravings, I don’t know what to tell you. 

Butter: My very favorite? Sold out on the website but found it here: Miyokos… I think its the healthiest one out there, and a bonus is that it doesn’t contain palm oil, which I try and boycott when possible (if you’re interested in why you might consider reducing your palm oil intake, go here). When I’m in a pinch, though, I grab this runner up from my local grocery store or online: Earth Balance buttery spread. 

Mayo: Oh my gosh I’m obsessed with Just Mayo (available online!)  Love it love it love it. Tastes just like mayo but a little better. 

Yogurt: Kite Hill wins here, hands down. Runner up & available online: So Delicious, vanilla flavor.  

Pre-made coffee drink: Try my personal favorite, Malk: Pecan Milk + cold brewed coffee. I don’t even love coffee, but cannot get enough of this drink.  It is only available in 11 states, though (check out locations on their website). If it isn’t available try this one which my boyfriend prefers (available at groceries and online): Cafe Latte Almond Milk Iced Coffee by Califia Farms. 

Cream cheese: I’m going to go ahead and save you headache (these can taste not-so-great if you don’t choose wisely)– Tofutti brand or bust. This is the one you want. 

Sour cream: Samesies.  Tofutti wins again. 

Salad Dressings: Follow Your Heart has your back once again, whether you need Ranch, Caesar, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Creamy Garlic, or Honey Mustard. You can buy these in bulk on Amazon if they aren’t available near you! 

Ice Cream: Check out Ben & Jerrys’ new vegan flavors here.  (My favorite is the PB & Cookies.) So Delicous is another favorite (their cherry amaretto flavor is to die for), which are made from soy, coconut, or almond milk… Pick your poison!  I also indulge frequently in Tofutti “cuties” (ice cream sandwiches) and SOY-FREE Coconut Bliss ice cream & especially their ice cream bars. 

Mac N Cheese: Earth Balance White Cheddar is the only way to go.

I hope this helps you out!  If there is anything I have missed, and you need it dairy-free, please let me know– I’ll be happy to give you further recs! 

 

xx

M

 

4
Jul
2016

vegan 4th of july

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bodysuit ($29): uo // high-waisted cutoffs: uo // jellies: american apparel // vegan bag (<$50): uo

It has been such a fun-filled few days!  I love long weekends; they are perfect for recharging and getting to spend some extra time with loved ones.  My Independence Day weekend was full of delicious drinks, delicious vegan food, and quality time with friends and my dogs and my love, all in the name of celebrating freedom. I wanted to share some highlights with you guys.

The ‘fit: I paired this easy breezy red and blue bodysuit (great for a festive 4th look, or for everyday) with vintage looking high-waisted cutoff shorts. I love high-waisted; I think its the most flattering on your legs and booty, and it lends a casual 70s cool-girl vibe to your look. I grabbed this vegan leather bag (super affordable and versatile) and my… wait for it… JELLIES! Yes, they are back! I have them in several colors, and when I wear them I swear every other girl I come into contact with stops me and says “I LOVE YOUR SHOES! Wait– are jellies back???” Major nostalgia value, plus just super comfy and summery. 

The fun times & the grub: On our way to a BBQ party, my boyfriend and I (and our 3 dogs, who were also invited!) swung by the nearest grocery store to grab some vegan necessities: beer, chicken nuggets, and veggie patties. (My favorites to bring to such events are pictured below… I like to bring things that are taste-test approved by my omnivore bf and friends, so that everyone can enjoy! I also like to bring things that are available at any old grocery store– as opposed to the amazing vegan sausage you can only find at an obscure vegan market– to group gatherings, so that anyone who is veg-curious can easily go out and buy it for themselves later on.) Additionally, I made “hotdogs” using a recipe by Neurotic Mommy, one of my favorite healthy food bloggers. Check it out! We were so grateful that we were able to bring our dogs to the house party; we try not to leave them alone on July 4th weekend, since the fireworks freak them out so much.

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The downtime: We watched a hysterical new standup comedy (“Freedumb” by Jim Jeffries, available on Netflix… Don’t watch if you don’t like dark comedy) and ordered in (my vegan favorites: Andy’s TLT from True Food Kitchen, which is an amazing off-the-menu item, and veggie/tofu pho from Dalat (check out your local pho places if you aren’t in Dallas; they are very likely to have a vegan option for you). 

I hope you had a fun and safe and veggie-friendly holiday weekend!!! Remember– if you want to adopt/foster a puppy or kitty, now is the time: 4th of July is the peak overcrowding time for your local shelters (who are forced to put down the dogs and cats who have been there for awhile in order to make room for all of the runaways who fled their family homes during the scary fireworks).  You’ll save a life! XOXO

21
Mar
2016

the “bests” of the birthday week

So, I do not normally talk about this stuff on the blog…  But you guys, it has been a HECK of a year, and not in a good way (think: unexpected job transition, massively difficult breakup, and the devastating death of my little dog all at the same time).  It’s okkkk, we all hear that when it rains it pours, and I really do think that it’s normal to have an “off year” every now and again. Plus, I think that while it is important to let yourself feel sad, it is just as important to–at the same time–remember how good you have it compared to so many others out there.  Anyway, my point is– I just had a birthday, and my friends and family took it upon themselves to really “do it up” for me this time.  We ate, we drank, we were merry.  We had spa treatments, we fed our faces on rich desserts, and way too many gifts were given.  The past week has me feeling re-energized and hopeful for a fresh start.  As I sat here reflecting on the week of celebration, it occurred to me that I should share the highlights with you so that you can try them as well!  (Note: a few of these will be specific to Dallas, so for those of you who don’t live here… maybe its time to come make a trip out of it!)  Thanks for letting me open up a tiny bit … I hope that you feel encouraged if you, too, have had a less than stellar time lately. There are lots of “bests” in life to concentrate on, plus you have nowhere to go but UP! 🙂

 

BEST DRINK

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You guys… TRUE FOOD KITCHEN has a VEGAN PINA COLADA!  Super sweet, but verrryyyy good if you’re celebrating something!  And if you’re there, be sure and get the lettuce cups and Andy’s TLT sandwich… You’ll be hooked on the whole experience.  

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

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UNLEAVENED FRESH KITCHEN is brand new and soooo good, y’all!  Menu highlights:  Their hummus, the spicy avocado dip, the Farmstand wrap (specify that you want it vegan, not just vegetarian… It was seriously amazing) with a side of rice pilaf, and NO JOKE their coconut lime popsicle is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  They have beer and wine, too. 

BEST SKINCARE LINE

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I got a little gift in the mail from OSEA MALIBU, and I can honestly say that I am a new member of their considerable cult following.  Pictured here are my four very favorite products of theirs (listed in the order in which I apply them):  1)  Ocean Cleanser (I’m in love with the smell, and it leaves my skin feeling so refreshed); 2) White Algae Mask (anti-aging and skin brightening… I LOVE that you can leave it on for just 10 minutes, or overnight if you want to! You wake up, wash it off, and your skin looks incredible); 3) Brightening Serum (use to lighten age spots, sun spots, acne scars, freckles, uneven tone/blotchy skin); 4) Atmosphere Protection Cream (anti-aging, moisturizing, and protects your skin from environmental stressors). Osea’s products are cruelty-free (no animal testing) and vegan, all-natural, and organic. I was inspired and happy when I read this on their website: 

“I want to leave this planet a cleaner place than when I arrived. (Like being a good house guest.) I also want women to be able to use the safest cosmetics possible. Remember 70% of what you put on your body can be absorbed into your bloodstream. I want to raise the consciousness of women so they use safe cosmetics, it’s not just about beauty – it’s about their health.”
– OSEA Founder Jenefer Palmer

BEST MANI/PEDI

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My favorite thing about MINILUXE is the availability of 5-free (meaning, without all 5 dangerous chemicals commonly found in nail polish) vegan polishes!  Impeccable service, too, and located around some of Dallas’ best shopping.  Word to the wise: make an appointment; not very walk-in friendly because they are always so booked up! I went to the uptown dallas location, but these salons are found in Texas, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. 

BEST BEAUTY EXPERIMENT & EXPERIENCE

I was invited by FIT N’ FANCY to try out their non-invasive Strawberry Laser treatment (typically $100 per treatment).  I must admit… I was skeptical.  But I looked it up online and saw that it is FDA approved and has been featured on Rachel Ray, Extra, and The Doctors… Plus I figured hey, why not.  Temps are rapidly rising (hello global warming) so clothes are getting sparser, and I wouldn’t be mad if I lost a couple of inches.  So I went to and visited Leah at her spot in Grapevine, and what I can tell you is this: She cares about what you want, about your lifestyle, about being truthful in regards to what your expectations should be, and she takes great pride in her work.  It went down like this: Leah took my measurements, then placed little paddles, bound by a strap, around my waist.  It was warm and I fell asleep 🙂 30 minutes later, I woke up and groggily removed my “belt.”  Keep in mind that I am pretty small to begin with, so any change in my size is very noticeable to me… But I swear, I could tell a difference immediately!  I know, it sounds hokey, but I would never lie to y’all.  We measured, and I lost a total (meaning, cumulatively from measurements around 3 different parts of my abdomen) of 3 inches.  I felt fine– no soreness or downtime or anything like that.  Things to remember: The FDA says that the inches lost are temporary, but with diet and exercise can be maintained; also, multiple sessions are recommended for optimal results. Leah (who is vegan-curious, so I had a ball chatting with her) also offers teeth whitening, hair removal, and more.  

BEST NEW AFTER-DARK LOUNGE

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(photo cred: my super talented friend Mary Summers Hafner of So Then They Say)

QUILL is finally open, and it did NOT disappoint!  I felt like I was in New York, not Dallas, as I danced with my friends to old school hip hop among the older-world black and white + emerald decor, accented by brass. Go, go, go! 

 

I hope you enjoyed my “Bests” list… Admittedly, it is a departure from my regular content (fashion, of course!), but let me know if you want me to keep these types of articles coming! 

xx

M

23
Mar
2015

Eat Local: Why & How??

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“The average item of food in America has traveled 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate.” 

-Michael Pollan

This is a fact that we oftentimes avoid recognizing.  Nonetheless, it is safe to say that “eating local” makes sense for people who seek more control over what they put in their bodies, want to support their local economy, and want to reduce their carbon footprint.  Lets get down to brass tacks:

Eating Local: Why should I give a damn?

(There are many reasons, but in my opinion these are most important):

1) It tastes better and is more fresh. This food lasts longer. It also means that you are eating seasonally, which is the way Mother Nature intended, and which leads to greater appreciation of the food.

2) It is better for the environment.  Given the travel involved with bringing most food to you, buying locally produced food significantly decreases the amount of fuel used in transportation and energy used in storage.

3) It is safer eat locally grown food. Even when the food is not organic, small farms are less prone to aggressively treating their produce with chemicals. The fewer steps between your food’s source and your plate, the smaller the chance of contamination.

4) It supports your local economy AND your beliefs. This is opposed to your dollar going to an anonymous corporation in another city/state/country, where God-knows-what is going down.  Keeping in mind that you essentially cast a vote/affect demand every time you spend your hard-earned moola: when you know about where your food comes from, you can more effectively support your values. I, for instance, adhere to a vegan diet for reasons pertaining to health, the environment, and animal rights.  Therefore, I choose to eat at my favorite vegan restaurant (where I know that they source their veggies from a local, organic, vegan farm) as opposed to merely choosing a vegan option at a chain restaurant who does not source their food locally, and whose sources’ practices are likely not sustainable or cruelty-free.

Eating Local: How do I do it?

1) Shop at local markets.

2) Try an organic delivery service.  Organic produce and other groceries can be delivered to your door on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

3) Frequent your local farmers’ market.

4) Research from where your favorite restaurants source their food.

 IMG_0071-2*This vintage-look, super-soft “Eat Local” Tee is made in the USA!

Boyfriend jeans from Zara.

Worn with a floral kimono…because, why not? 🙂

XOX

M

20
Jan
2015

What’s for dinner? Crispy Seitan Stir-Fry!

As I have mentioned before: Rachael Ray I am not.  It is necessary for my self-esteem that all attempted recipes are idiot-proof. Seitan stir-fry fits the bill, as I only burnt myself with hot oil once and it barely hurt. My favorite thing about this meal: the minimal prep/maximum taste combo.  Bonus: it is invariably a hit.

prep time: 30 minutes max

ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of sherry (tip: don’t use “cooking sherry,” which contains tons of sodium; be sure to use dry sherry, which you can find sold with other fortified wines.)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/8  of teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon of canola oil (divided)
  • 8 ounces of water-packed seitan (preferably chicken-style, drained and patted dry)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts
  • 1 teaspoons of chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 carrots (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 bell pepper (thinly sliced)

stir

Directions:

  1. Whisk sherry, water, hoisin, cornstarch, brown sugar, lime, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 3 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add seitan and cook–stirring occasionally– until crispy (4 to 7 minutes).
  3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, peanuts, and ginger and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
  4. Add carrots and red pepper and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  5. Whisk the sauce again; add it to the pan and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender/crisp, and the sauce is thickened (typically for about 3 minutes).

…. anddd done!  Now, eat until uncomfortably full.

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21
Dec
2014

Drink Responsibly!

 

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I know there are no “winners” in a White Elephant holiday gift exchange; but somehow I managed to win last night!  I strategized carefully, ignoring the social pressure not to “steal” a gift from seemingly nice strangers in order to come home with this vegan holiday beer and polyester Santa “snuggie” in hand.

Beer drinking (and even cocktail drinking) around the holidays can be tricky; for flavoring purposes, certain beer may contain dairy, gelatin, or even shellfish!  And typically, eggnog and hot chocolate is dairy-and-calorie-laden.  Thus, I am providing you with a holiday guide to conscientious imbibing. Cheers.

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This is a sweet-tasting option, brewed with peaches and pecans.  Australian International Beer bronze award winner in 2013.

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Brewed with locally harvested spruce tips in Juneau, Alaska, this is a malty, warming, seasonal beer.

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Brewed in Seattle, Washington, this is referred to as a “winter warmer” due to having higher alcohol content and a bold (in this case, chocolate and nutty) flavor.

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This dairy-free option seriously tastes JUST like the real thing. Really. REALLY, really.

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At only 70 calories per serving (woohoo!) this vegan cocoa option packs a slight kick with the addition of cinnamon and cayenne.

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** note: polyester snuggies (ie- fleece-free!) are hard to find this year for some reason, but THEY ARE OUT THERE!  I lucked out, since I came home with an unopened, re-gifted snuggie from last year’s party.  Based on my research, your best bet seems to be to peruse ebay for options like this one.  

XOXO HO HO HO

-M