The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

A Featherweight Moisturizer

Using the term ‘featherweight’ in a product review could conjure up negative perceptions about the product in question. Is it weak and ineffective? Is it unable to stand up to its claims? In the case of this review the answer is no and no. In fact the term featherweight is the perfect description for LUSH’s Enzymion, a moisturizer made for those with oily skin.

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With summer in full swing it was time to switch my heavy night moisturizer suited for the cold, dry air of winter to a lighter cream that could help control the oil situation that worsens in summer. I haven’t met a LUSH moisturizer I haven’t liked and Enzymion is no exception. Fortified with fresh fruits like lemon, papaya, and lime, this moisturizer helps soak up excess oil and creates a mattefying look. What makes this a ‘featherweight’ is how  incredibly light it is. As soon as it absorbs into the skin it’s almost like it was never there. Even after a hot, sweaty night (minds out of the gutter guys 🙂  ) my T-zone doesn’t look like the remains of an Exxon Valdez spill. And as light as this cream is it still manages to provide the right amount of moisture to keep skin soft. I have tried a lot of moisturizers that are designed for oily skin and this is the first that hasn’t had the result of being too over-drying–usually due to water or very astringent ingredients being the main ingredients in the product. In Enzymion  the astringent citruses are combined with avocado and evening primrose to create a the perfect balancing effect.

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I always use a day cream with SPF and that has made my face oilier as a result, but I have noticed a lot less oil since adding Enzymion to my night routine. It’s light enough to use as a base for makeup on hot days so you won’t feel like you have cake batter melting off your face. The scent is a mild mix of aloe and citrus and is very summer appropriate. The only real drawback is the price; a 1.5oz jar will set you back $39.95. I know it sounds like a lot but believe me, I wouldn’t have written such a glowing review if I didn’t think it was worth it. If you’re lucky enough to live near a LUSH store and are unsure about spending that kind of money on a cream they will happily give you a free sample to try.

I would like to hear from those of you who suffer from oily/combo skin. What are your favorite treatments and products? Does your skin go through phases and how do you adjust?

Also, I will be  updating the blog theme until I find something new I like, so try not to let the changes bother you. It might change more than a few times in the next few days until I find something that ‘speaks’ to me 🙂

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Eating Vegan In Omaha, Part Deux

Thanks for coming back to part two of this vegan Omaha review. The little owl is so very happy! 🙂 Now to continue the journey…

The next day was our big outing to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. The HD Zoo is comparable to the San Diego zoo in terms of sheer size and awesomeness. Granted, I’ve only visited the Denver Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, San Diego Zoo, and HD Zoo, but trust me when I say that the HD Zoo is one of the best in the US, if not the world. For one thing they have the world’s largest indoor desert inside the world’s largest geodesic dome, the largest zoo-based aquarium, America’s largest indoor rainforest, the world’s largest indoor swamp, and the world’s second largest free-flight aviary. And if that doesn’t sound like enough there’s also the huge cat complex, gorilla valley, Expedition Madagascar, the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, and all the other outlying exhibits. Whew! We were there for over 6 ½ hours and only left because we were too hungry to stay longer. Among other things we saw:

adorable lion cubs

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a baby pigmy hippo (partially pictured; mama is very protective)

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lots of baby prairie dogs at Prairie Dog Hill

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gorgeous butterflies free-flying around us in the Pavilion

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and rhinos who appeared to be recovering from a kegger the night before

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Plus the admission to the HD Zoo is only $15 compared to the $44 (!) you’ll pay for entry to the SD Zoo. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the admission to SD is pretty much worth it considering 1) they have Giant Pandas and 2) they’re in San Diego.  But you would be remiss to ignore the Henry Doorly Zoo in your travels. And like all zoos they are very active in conservation of species which is the most important thing when it comes to any zoo.

Thoroughly famished we headed to Downtown Omaha in search of Block 16. Formerly called New York Chicken and Gyros, I was super excited to try this place because their website boasted house-made seitan and separate fryers for veggie items. I ordered the vegan gyro which featured thinly sliced chewy, chicken-y seitan, loads of crisp veggies, and creamy hummus in place of the traditional yougurt-based tzatziki, all stuffed into a soft pita. The spicy crinkle fries rounded out the meal.

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Sadly their website has changed since I last looked at it prior to the trip and it no longer states that separate fryers are used for meat and veg items. That doesn’t mean they don’t still adhere to that practice. I’m someone who accepts that cross-contamination will happen when eating out but I hope they haven’t stopped doing it.  They are currently redesigning the site so hopefully that issue will be clarified. I did take a pic of their in-store menu and you can see  the many options of adding seitan to various sandwiches and even salads!

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Surprisingly, Omaha features not one but two bakeries that have competed on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. We had no intention of getting cupcakes but we had a lot of time to kill before heading to Werner Park to catch the Omaha Stromchasers (the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals )and Jones Bros. Cupcakes was a short drive away. Their online menu didn’t have any vegan cupcakes listed so I was so very happy to see a vegan Chocolate Hazelnut cupcake sitting among the other choices. That made my decision easy! It’s easy to see why this bakery won CW as they have a perfect cake-to-frosting ratio. The cake was dense and chocolaty and the frosting has just the right amount of sweetness to be indulgent but not tooth-achingly sugary. I don’t believe for one second that if you handed that cupcake to someone without telling them so that they would be able to tell it was vegan.

On the right, my vegan chocolate hazelnut cupcake, on the left, Robert's non-vegan strawberries and cream cupcake.

On the right, my vegan chocolate hazelnut cupcake, on the left, Robert’s non-vegan strawberries and cream cupcake.

The baseball game was a lot of fun. I’ve only been to major-league games so going to a game on a smaller-scale was kind of weird. I liked not having as many people swarming around and the fans in Omaha are very passionate. To make things more interesting there are a lot of fan promotions that the team does between innings like trying to throw softballs into the sunroof of a car as it drives around the field and homerun contests. I was happy to just sit in the warm air and drink beer and you can’t beat the price—we sat just six rows behind home plate for only $11 a ticket!

We also made a stop at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Safari on the way from Omaha to Lincoln. The park features bison, deer, wolves, elk, pelicans, bears, and an eagle aviary.

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The aviary was especially cool as it houses bald eagles that have been rescued from the wild but unfortunately can’t be re-released. It’s a rare chance to see them close up and two of them posed handsomely for pictures for us.

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Most of the park was drive-through but there was about a 2-mile walking trail that looped around a lake that we hiked. I laughed at the signpost about the hike; there was a warning that halfway though there was ’moderate’ elevation gain for approximately .3 miles and was rated’ somewhat difficult’. I had on a pair of platform sandals and was only winded for about 10 seconds after the ‘treacherous’ climb. I guess that’s how you know you’re from Colorado; what is considered difficult elevation to mid-westerners is laughed at by those of us who know what elevation really is! We also snapped a pic of this frog, appropriately located at Frog Lake, trying to hide. We can totally see you Carl! (If you don’t get that reference I’m sorry. Just Google Geico antelope commercial and you’ll see what I mean.)

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The rest of the trip was uneventful, as far as vegan food goes. We did plan on trying a place in Lincoln on our way to the concert called Maggie’s Vegetarian Wraps but they closed at 3pm—we were 2 hours too late. It was a bit disappointing because the menu looked fantastic. Maybe the next time around!

All in all the trip was a success in trying unique vegan eats. I came away with a new respect for mid-western restaurants because I never expected to have so many choices and the two places we visited are by no means the only options in Omaha. Of course, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything vegan in chain restaurants or at major attractions. I know there were few vegan options outside of the usual fries and peanuts at the zoo or the baseball game. We stayed at the Ameristar Hotel in Council Bluffs, IA for the first two nights and of all the restaurants there I had to settle for just vegetarian food. Being a flex-vegan it was easier for me to make do but strict vegans will want to do a lot of research and explore all their options ahead of time. Still you can never assume that eating vegan is impossible in any city and there’s a pretty good chance you will discover some great new food if you keep your mind open!

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Eating Vegan in Omaha, Nebraska

Yup, you read that right. It is possible to get some tasty vegan eats in the heart of beef country. A few weeks ago Robert and I took a mini vacation to NE to see Alice in Chains in concert in Lincoln. We decided to extend our visit by a few days so we could go to the Omaha Zoo (the reasons for which I will explain later) and while planning the trip I had to find some veg-friendly places for us to eat at. Thank goodness for HappyCow.net. If you haven’t utilized this website you absolutely must the next time you plan on eating in a different city. Simply plug the city you are visiting into their search engine and you will get links to all the restaurants that feature veg-friendly food. Without it I would never have thought finding vegan, or even vegetarian food would be possible in a city known for their steaks.

The drive from Denver to Omaha is about 7 ½ hours so despite snacking on the way up there we were desperate for a solid meal by the time we finally rolled into the city. We immediately headed to Blue Planet Natural Grill. Their menu features plenty of vegan options, from burgers to bowls to pizza. Having browsed the menu several times prior to arrival, I knew I wanted to have the Ratner’s Vegan Griller burger with vegan cheese. The ingredients of the burger aren’t listed but I think it was a chickpea-based patty with veggies like corn, peppers, and onion mixed in. It was just what I needed after the long drive. Crispy on the outside, loaded with flavor, and topped with a creamy slice of what I assume was cheddar Teese on top. The whole-wheat bun was also fantastic. It reminded me of a ciabatta roll but it was softer on the inside and added just the right amount of texture to the whole thing.   I had the regular fries but ever-adventurous Robert opted for the curry fries and I’ll admit that I should have had them as well. They were perfectly spiced and went well with the Grill’s homemade chipotle-lime ketchup.

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After we checked into the hotel and had a quick nap we drove to the Benson Street neighborhood, an historic area of Omaha full of unique shopping and loads of bars. We made our way directly to Krug Park, an upscale bar that features over 50 beers on tap. Having lived in Colorado all my life I am fortunate to have a lot of options when it comes to local beers. We are tied with Portland as being the microbrewery capital of the US after all. However it is nice to discover brews from other cities and Krug Park had plenty of NE beers for us to try. I won’t lie at this point; I don’t remember which ones I tried but I do know that I liked them all. I wasn’t drunk mind you, but as much as I like beer one starts to taste just like the other after a while. We really went to Benson St. to try and find Shooter, the resident bar cat. According to the Omaha Visitor’s guide Shooter makes his rounds throughout the bars, cozying up to bartenders and making friends with patrons. We asked the bartender at Krug about Shooter and she became all smiles. She told us that he belongs to the man who basically owns all the property on Benson St. and will just saunter in and out of places at his leisure. She even showed us several pictures she’s taken of him relaxing on her bar’s back patio. He looks very much like a well-fed, content alley cat and the proprietors of the bars are very protective of him. Our bartender said that the only person who has ever been banned from Krug was banned because he tried kicking Shooter. Now that’s my kind of place! They don’t care about rowdy drunks, but don’t you dare try to hurt Shooter.

On a side note, Krug Park is located right next to Lot 2 Restaurant and Wine Bar. I only mention this because we glanced at the Lot 2 menu and I was shocked to see not one but two dishes that featured seitan! I don’t know if they were vegan but I do find it immensely cool that a fancy wine bar had seitan on their menu.

I originally planned this to be one post but once I got to typing I realized I wanted to share as much as possible about what we did without boring anyone so come back on Friday for Part 2 of Eating Vegan In Omaha featuring lots of animals, scrumptous seitan, and decadent desserts. To keep you interested, here’s an adorable picture of one of the rescued owls we saw at the Conservation Park and Safari.

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Who’s the fool if they don’t come back for the rest? Huh, see what I did there? 🙂

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