The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Virtual Vegan Potluck

Okay, I think that everyone who reads my blog probably already knows about this because they read more ‘popular’ blogs, but I have to mention it anyway because I think it is such a great idea.

Annie at An Unrefined Vegan is hosting a Virtual Vegan Potluck on May 12th. Anyone can sign up to ‘bring’ a vegan course to share and we can all see what others think is worthy to bring to a potluck! I will be contributing a dessert (faithful readers will probably be able to figure out what it’s going to be!), Barb at That Was Vegan? will be sharing an appetizer. You don’t have to tell anyone what you’re going to bring, and I think that’s part of the fun, although I do know what Barb is bringing, and she know’s what I’m bringing. The awesome advantage of knowing each other in person! Annie just posted all the bloggers who are participating and in what category and I am really excited! There are a lot of people who have signed up, but you can never have too many vegan recipes!

The due date to sign up is April 30th. Yes, I know that only gives you 2 days to sign up, but c’mon, I know you can think of something! One of the best things about this event will be that it will generate a lot of traffic for all the blogs; you have to link to the previous and next recipe on your blog so you can flow from one blog to the next. And if you don’t want to contribute please stop by on May 12th anyway. You will get to see a ton of recipes and maybe you’ll even discover a few new sites to follow!

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Kreativ Blogger

I’m still new to the blogiverse, so I’m not sure how all these awards work, but I just noticed that Dudette nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger award! It’s really an honor to be recognized by others and I really, truly wish I could spend all my time perusing the thousands of blogs that promote vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. I have learned a lot and every blog has something unique to offer. Dudette’s blog features vegetarian recipes and quotes from The Big Lebowski. I can’t think of a more unique combo than that!

That being said, the rules of the Kreativ Blooger award limits me to seven nominations which is extremely difficult to do! Maybe if I get nominated for more awards I can mention more blogs (hint, hint 🙂 )

The rules are as follows: If you accept the award, thank and provide a like to the person who nominates you; nominate 7 other blogs and provide links, and list 7 things that others might not know about you.

Thank you again Dudette for nominating me! I really appreciate it!

Here are my nominations for the Kreativ Blogger Award:

That Was Vegan? I actually have known Barb for many years-her husband and my boyfriend are childhood pals. It was Barb’s suggestion that I start this blog and I have to say, it’s really nice to be able to put a face to the name! Barb’s site features wonderful vegan recipes that are super easy to make, accompanied by her lovely pictures. Thanks, Barb for giving me the courage to do this!

The Adventures of Vegan Charlie Charile is a fellow nursing student who blogs all kinds of stuff: vegan cooking, animals rights, and just some random thoughts. One of her recent posts, Beautifully Sad, made me cry at work. It is a must read, but do so only armed with a box of tissues at hand.

The Veggie Nook Gabby blogs just about some of the healthiest vegan recipes out there! She is currently doing a cleanse and I love following her posts to see how she is doing.

The “V” Word Rhea (yes we have the same name!) blogs vegan and gluten-free recipes.  Reading her journey about her health and weight struggles is very inspiring and proof positive that a vegan diet is much more beneficial than some would think.

The Tolerant Vegan Another great blog full of yummy vegan recipes. We share the sturggle of having tiny kitchens to try to cook in. But I’ll admit it, I mostly visit for Nikki’s pictures of her adorable cats!

Vegan Crunk Vegan junk food? Um, yes please! Bianca posts recipes, book reviews and new product reviews. I am secretly (well, not anymore I guess) very jealous that she gets to review new vegan products before they hit the market. I need that gig! She has a cookbook coming out this summer that I will no doubt be adding to my collection.

Green Vegan Living I think this was the first site I stumbled upon that mentioned my blog (besides Barb’s of course). I was shocked that there really were people reading my blog! Geanna lives in Portland and blogs her recipes as well as restaurant reviews. If I ever go to Protland, I’ll know right where to dine!

And the moment you’ve been waiting for: 7 things about me you don’t know and could probably live without knowing 🙂

1. I don’t like mushrooms. My boyfriend thinks it will be impossilbe for me to become vegan if I won’t eat mushrooms, but I will prove him wrong!

2. I have more animated movies in my Bluray collection than live-action ones.

3. I have four tattoos and my next one is going to be a series of cat paws on my shoulder blade.

4. I don’t feel guilty about sleeping in until noon on my days off.

5. My bucket list includes swimming with whale sharks.

6. I’m only 5 feet tall; I have some very toned calves from standing on my tip toes a lot! Too bad I can’t spread that toning around a bit…

7. I think Ricky Gervais is a friggin’ genius. He’s an animal lover, vegetarian, and creator of the funniest tv show The Ricky Gervais Show.  If you don’t know who Karl Pilkinton is you are seriously missing out.

That’s about it! I hope you check out the blogs I mentioned if you haven’t already and maybe discover a new favorite! Thank you to all my followers!

 

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Under Pressure

Ah, tofu. You are a versatile wonder food loved by vegetarians and vegans for your ability to soak up flavor. You can be scrambled, grilled, baked, fried, made into ricotta, and even added to desserts. So why are you so damn full of water? It’s really annoying because that water is very hard to get out. I’ve have had numerous blocks of you break under the weight of the various methods I’ve used to employ to try and press all the water out of you. And no matter what I put on top, it never seems to get enough water out. But then I found this:

Now I have no problem getting you nice and compact 🙂

I am surprised by how many cookbooks still suggest this old-school way of pressing tofu. I think just about every veg and vegan cookbook I have says to stack something heavy in a pan on top of the tofu. My problem was finding something heavy enough to actually put pressure on the tofu and if I did it inevitably drained unevenly and would start to fall apart. One night Robert and I drove all around town looking for something that would work better. When we asked one of the girls at Whole Foods if they had a tofu press she looked dumbfounded then said “No, but I wish we did. That’s a great idea.”

Enter the internet. A quick Google search revealed that tofu presses do indeed exist. One model was just two pieces of plastic that you put the tofu between and screw together like a vise. You still had to put a plate underneath to catch the water.  We decided to order the TofuXpress because the bowl you press the tofu in doubles as a marinating bowl and has a lid. You put a block of tofu in the bowl and press a plate with a thick tension spring down on top and it locks in place. This puts constant tension on the tofu so a lot of water comes out. It presses the block into about 1/3 its original size. See?

It’s really quite amazing. I also love marinating tofu in there because once it gets pressed you can slice it up, put it back in the bowl and it still fits perfectly and the marinade will cover it all. You can also use it to press water out of veggies, like thawed frozen spinach or eggplant.

The TofuXpress in 39.99 plus shipping and trust me it is worth every penny. It is such a space saver and it’s easy to clean. You can find them at tofuxpress.com. They also now sell a lighter tension spring that works with silken tofu. I hope that if there is anyone out there who didn’t know about the existence of tofu presses that I have enlightened you and made some of your kitchen work a little less stressful 🙂

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The Transitioning Vegetarian-A retrospective

I am going away from reviews this week because I wanted to share some thoughts on my transition from vegetarianism to veganism. A few weeks ago I told Robert that I wanted to be vegan by my one-year vegetarian anniversary in July of this year. It sort of came out of the blue, but it was inspired by some recent recipes I had made that were really, really good and convinced me that veganism was not out of the realm of possibility. Since then I have been gradually decreasing my animal by-product intake.

Today while at lunch with my favorite vegan Barb at one of Denver’s best veg/vegan restaurants, City O’ City, I had my real ‘Ah-Ha’ moment. We ordered seitan wings (a mix of BBQ and Buffalo) to start and a seitan ‘sausage’ and pepper pizza with Diaya. As we discussed our summer plans (protesting the circus together in her town, leafleting for Mercy for Animals in mine), I realized that I wasn’t hesitant about taking my bites. A year ago if you had put faux wings and pizza with faux meat and cheese in front of me I would have nibbled a little bit to get the taste and make sure I liked it before digging in. Not today. Thanks to the gradual phasing-out of non-vegan foods, I tucked in eagerly and wasn’t a bit surprised that I loved what I was eating.  And that’s because those foods that I thought I would never eat are normal to me now.  Tofu ricotta? Bring it on! Seitan burritos? Better than Chipotle, IMHO.

I know that there is a misconception that all vegans/vegetarians are snobby and carry a holier-than-thou attitude. And that is very true of some of them. But coming from a situation where I live with an omnivore, I think that I have developed a more respectful approach to cooking for one. If Robert wants meat, I will make it for him. I might make a comment about how his steak looks like a sheep heart, but still, I’ll make it. Likewise, he respects my decision and doesn’t protest to being a guinea pig when I decide to try something new.  He knows why I’m veg and why I want to go vegan, and he would be the first to admit that some of the vegan meals I have made are pretty damn good (Hint: I will be posting a recipe for Vegan Habanero Key Lime Cheesecake soon that he couldn’t get enough of!) This has made it much easier for me to make the change. If he decides to follow suit one day, then great! Otherwise, I will never think less of him or think that I’m a better person because of what I eat. He quit eating chicken cold turkey (no pun intened) about two years ago after reading Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human and her depiction of the treatment of factory-farmed chickens. He uses only cruelty-free non-food products. He 100% supported my decision to leave biology class during the cat dissections. He adores our cats. And don’t get me started on what he thinks of Michael Vick. He loves animals. Guilt-tripping him won’t work, and I don’t believe it is an effective method to try and convince others to choose a plant-based diet.  I am proof that you have to discover it on your own terms and in your own time.

I still have a ways to go before I’m completely vegan. I am not a wasteful person so the foods I have already purchased that aren’t vegan will be used. But I am really looking forward to what new vegan favorites I will discover and I truly hope that I can reach my goal. Vegetarianism and veganism is not about depravation. It is about realizing that with and open mind and empty stomach (channeling some Iron Chef there!) good animal-free  food is still good food-even if it is made with a product that sounds an awful lot like Satan 🙂

 

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Mineral Fusion

 

Mineral-based makeup has become a very popular trend since Bare Minerals broke onto the scene a few years ago. The benefits of mineral makeup are numerous:  It provides natural UVA and UVB protection, it doesn’t clog skin’s pores, it’s naturally hypoallergenic, and it has anti-inflammatory properties, among other things. Who doesn’t want a makeup that provides those kinds of benefits?

I have never been one to wear makeup, especially foundations because they felt too heavy on my face. I couldn’t wait to get home and wash it off. But, I’ve never tried mineral makeup before and when I discovered Mineral Fusion at Whole Foods a few weeks back I decided to give it a shot.   Mineral Fusion offers 3 kinds of foundations: Loose (powder), Pressed (powder), and Sheer (liquid). I chose the Sheer in Neutral (the lightest color-the other 2 colors are Warm and Olive) and have been using it almost every day.  I am now a huge believer in mineral makeup. It is so much lighter than typical foundations and because they don’t sink into the pores, I don’t have to use nearly as much to get complete coverage and it goes on very smooth. I occasionally have to blot my face to get rid of some of the shine from oil, but that’s just my natural skin type and I have to do it without makeup on too. I really just like having a foundation that doesn’t make me feel like I have a mask on all day. The Sheer foundation provides great all-day coverage and hydration. In addition to the minerals in the formula, the foundation has Pomegranate, Red Tea, White Tea and Sea Kelp which offers antioxidant protection. I still use an SPF moisturizer underneath the foundation only because I don’t know how much protection mineral makeup offers, but it is nice to know I have a little extra barrier between me and the sun.

Another product I bought was the Hydration Mist, which helps to set the minerals and provide  extra hydration. The idea is to spray this on after applying the foundation . I thought this would make the makeup oily, but it actually provided a dewy look. I only use it in the morning, but it can be used it anytime to provide a little refreshment and revive your look. It has a very mild scent and it contains Chamomile, White Tea, Burdock Root and Sea Kelp, all of which help soothe and nourish the skin.

So, what sets Mineral Fusion apart from other mineral makeup companies? For one thing they are a Denver-based company and I love supporting local businesses! They have a whole line of makeup, as well as hair care, body care and skin care products, all mineral-based. They are free of gluten, parabens, artificial colors, fragrances and talc.  All of their products are vegetarian and most are vegan (some of their lip products contain beeswax) and a portion of their proceeds goes to The National Coalition against Domestic Violence, a non-profit organization that provides education and support for victims of domestic abuse. Mineral Fusion does not currently offer their products for purchase online, but they are in many health-food stores and you can use their store locator to see if they are in a store near you. Check out their entire line of products here and discover the benefits of cruelty-free minerals for yourself!

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