The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Stretch It Out

Stretch marks are one of the many, many disadvantages of weight gain. Whether they are the dark purple trenches of newly formed marks or the ones turned white with age, nothing can deflate the budding confidence of someone on a weight-loss journey more than these unsightly streaks. The hips, thighs, and breasts are the most common areas that stretch marks occur though they can technically occur anywhere on the body. I’ve never been bothered by the ones I’ve seemingly always had on my hips.  But when I was going through a significant weight gain months ago I began to really take notice of newer ones that developed on my thighs, calves, and breasts. I tried using just cocoa butter on them, but that was ineffective and frustrating. Have you ever bought a jar of pure cocoa butter? It’s solid as a rock and takes forever to scrape enough out to use on one area, though I must admit I love the smell. It reminds me of sugar cookies. Also, cocoa butter has been disproven as an effective prevention  for stretch marks.  Anywho…

At one point I shelled out $40 for Mederma, a cream that has been proven to reduce marks but it is not cruelty free (or very cost-effective) so I looked elsewhere for treatment. I tried Palmer’s stretch mark oils and lotions but I really wanted something that contained fewer ingredients. I stumbled across Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter at (where else?) Whole Foods.  Among its many claims (hydration, cell renewal, UV protection) is a reduction in stretch marks. One of the ingredients,  Vitamin E (listed as tocopherol on many labels), has been shown as an effective treatment for scars and stretch marks.  Shea butter provides hydration and frankincense and myrrh lend a subtle yet comforting, woodsy scent.

This lotion is very thick, almost tacky, and it requires a bit of rubbing between the hands to make it pliable but a little goes a long way. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave much greasiness behind. After using it every day for a month I actually noticed a reduction in the severity of the new marks I had obtained. It probably wouldn’t be obvious to anyone but me but I’m happy with the results and it makes me less self-conscious about my legs, so who cares? I know the marks will never completely disappear but anything that makes them visible is a plus in my book. Of course genetics and hormones play a part in how severe one’s stretch marks can be, so results will vary from person to person.  I would also recommend this for anyone with severe dry skin; I use it on my elbows which tend to get very dry and flaky and it works wonders. For the price, it’s a good value-$11.99 for a 4oz jar. Nubian Heritage is currently working on upgrading their website but you can find their products at WF and Vitamin Shoppe and can also order online from Vitamin Shoppe if you aren’t near a physical store. Not all of their products are vegan; some contain goat’s milk or honey, but they are all cruelty free.


Hope Relay-Breaking the Mold


I was recently tagged by Veganmonologue to be a part of the Hope 2012 Blog Relay. For those of you who haven’t come across any of these entries, it is a chain-letter type blog event in which the tagged blogger writes about their thoughts on hope. The food bloggers have also been submitting a recipe, though I don’t think that’s a requisite. I put off writing my entry because I wasn’t really sure what my idea of hope was. I thought about writing something generic, like hope for all animal suffering to end and world peace and all that jazz but I really wanted to put some thought into the post.

Then I was fired from my job on Monday. Suffice to say I was feeling a little hopeless (and angry and scared) then and still do. It is stressful to be jobless in this economy and being fired doesn’t exactly look good to potential employers. So I really don’t feel as though I should be speaking about hope when I feel so little of it. Not even a week has gone by and I am frustrated that none of my job inquiries have been answered. Worse still is that I feel like my firing was a vindictive act, though I’m humble enough to admit I probably did not respond as appropriately to the situation as I could have.

I am sure that from this unfortunate turn of events I will come out a stronger person and given that I was looking for another job prior to my dismissal, this was probably for the best. It still doesn’t lessen the blow but I will put my best foot forward and move on. I won’t be posting as much since the majority of my time will be spent job-hunting but I hope (!) to be back to a regular schedule soon. One is supposed to nominate 3 other blogs to pass the baton on to, but from what I can tell all the blogs I would mention have already spoken their part. So I lieu of new blogs, I want to direct you to some of my personal favorite posts on the subject. Sorry if it’s breaking the rules, but I guess that’s just par for the course for me lately 🙂

Veganmonologue-I love her entry because she too went through a jobless period recently and has made a huge move across the country with her husband in pursuit of starting anew.

The Vegan’s Husband-His entry is titled Hope and Ice Cream. Need I say more?

Good Clean Food– Somer has since moved on to her own blog (Vedged Out), but her entry here is short and thoughtful. And the no-bake blueberry maple cashew cheesecake looks simply divine.



Gardein Sliders with Daiya Havarti cheese

I’m not going to lie: I miss burger sliders. Chili’s big mouth bites were my favorite chain restaurant entrée.  Mini burgers topped with bacon, cheese, ranch, and fried onions; I was foolish enough to think that the smaller burgers meant less calories and fat but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 4 big mouth bites pack a mind-blowing 1,579 calories and 97 grams of fat (28 saturated). The side of fries that come with it adds another 520 calories and 31g fat. Okay, I don’t miss the ‘nutritional’ content so much. Or the various animals that were killed or otherwise tortured to make the meal. But I do miss burgers in mini-form. So imagine my delight when my initial foray to Nooch brought me together with Gardein beefless sliders. I couldn’t get those suckers into my basket fast enough! And of course I needed some cheese to put on those babies; what better than the Daiya Havarti wedge that had been eluding me?

The sliders come 4 to a box and are packaged in pairs. The instructions are to pierce the plastic and microwave for 30 seconds but I needed about an additional 45 seconds to cook them fully. I don’t have the most powerful microwave though so 30 seconds may work on better models. I took them out and let them sit the 1 minute that is suggested and cut some slices of Daiya to top them with. I also had some fresh roasted green chili that I thought would go well on them. I added some salt and pepper Popchips to my plate and dug in.

I was a little disappointed by the mushiness of the sliders, especially the buns. I think that letting them sit in the wrappers that extra minute caused them to become even softer, so I would suggest not leaving them in there. An alternate way to cook them is to use a sauté pan; I will definitely use this method next time to see if it solves the mushy problem. The slices of Daiya I cut were a little too thick and overwhelmed the sliders a bit, but overall the flavor of the burgers was good if not exactly outstanding . I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gardein is reinventing the wheel when it comes to veggie burgers but I love their products because of the healthy grains that are used and as you can see from the nutritional info these are a great deal better than the sliders I used to eat. No guilt here!

I don’t think I ever had Havarti cheese before I began transitioning to a vegan diet so I don’t know how Daiya’s version compares. I do like the tanginess and creaminess and think it works very well on burgers. I made these awesome green chili black bean burgers last week and topped them with the Havarti and even Robert enjoyed it so I think that says a lot! I think my favorite Daiya wedge flavor is the cheddar but I guess that’s because I’m a classic-flavor girl at heart. Still I am impressed by Daiya and their ability to make some of the best tasting vegan cheeses out there. It’s also great to see vegan foods becoming more available in chain grocery stores. The very week after I found the Daiya Havarti for the first time at Nooch I saw it at King’s Soopers! If you can get your hands on any of the varieties I highly suggest you try them out and if you need any ideas on how to use it, look no further than Vegnews; their top 7 vegan cheese dishes features my pal Barb at number one!