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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Candle Cafe Vegan

First of all I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by here to check out my entry for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. I welcome and appreciate your comments. I’m still making my way through all the blogs!

Living in Colorado I am fortunate to be close to many great restaurants that feature vegan food. City O’ City, Watercourse, Hops and Pie, Root Down, Linger. I could go on but I doubt these names mean anything to those living outside of CO. I don’t think any of those restaurants are known on a national level. But I’m willing to bet that every vegan knows the name Candle Café. Internationally known as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world, Candle Café features farm-to-table cuisine that is created in the most eco-friendly ways possible. I am insanely jealous of those who live in New York City and can go visit any one of their 3 locations at their leisure. I hope I get to experience it one day.

Until that day comes I can live a little vicariously through their new line of frozen entrees. Available in Mac and Cheese, Ginger Miso Stir-Fry, Tofu Spinach Ravioli, and Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce, these meals give a small taste of the goodness that CC dishes out. I tried the Seitan Piccata as it was the only one available at Whole Foods. It was also the one I was most interested in due to the seitan. As far as I know it is the only frozen meal that features everyone’s favorite wheat meat and I was curious to see how it held up.

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Before even heating it up I was a little disappointed by the amount of seitan. The seitan in the sauce contained only about four thumb-sized pieces and a bunch of much smaller peices. More than half of the dish was rice. Normally that wouldn’t bother me but the rice was seriously lacking flavor. There wasn’t enough sauce to go throughout the whole dish so it was on the dry side. However, the flavor of the sauce was great. It was distinctly lemony and though I didn’t actually see whole capers I could taste a slight brininess. The larger pieces of seitan were chewy and added just enough texture to keep the whole thing from feeling all around mushy. With 12 grams of protein it was more than enough to keep me full until dinner.

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I do hope to be able to try the other versions soon and review those; hopefully they will be a little more balanced. Unfortunately these meals aren’t cheap; at nearly 5 bucks a pop they are an occasional buy to keep around for emergency use. Candle Café does support The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, two organizations that work tirelessly to better the lives of animals in our world, so I can justify the cost somewhat. If you are interested in trying their frozen fare you can print a coupon off their website to help save a little on the purchase. And if anyone out there has tried any of the varieties I’d love to hear what you think!

 

 

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Virtual Vegan Potluck #3-Maple Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Serranos and Lemon

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Hello and welcome to this, the third installment to the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I hope you are having a wonderful time making your way through all the amazing recipes. Each time we do this it gets bigger and bigger and I couldn’t be happier. A huge, huge amount of thanks goes out to Annie, Somer, and Jason for their hard work at putting this event together, not to mention Vegan Bloggers Unite! for serving as the host site and the myriad of sponsors who contribute prizes. It may take longer to get through each course but I personally love discovering new bloggers and fun recipes to try.  I certainly hope you enjoy my offering and I would love if you kept coming back!

My entry this year is a pizza inspired by a recipe from Meatless, by Martha Stewart Living. The book is full of wonderful vegetarian recipes, many that are vegan or can easily be veganized. One of those recipes is the Brussels Sprout and Lemon pizza, an easy dish that features crispy sprout leaves and tart slices of lemon on top of fresh mozzarella cheese. It’s cooked in a cast-iron skillet so there’s no stress about having a funny-shaped pizza. I liked the sound of it, minus the mozz, of course. The first time I made it the cheese was easily replaced with Teese and the result was a light, but filling meal. It paired wonderfully with a crisp white wine.

Then Robert and I wondered what could make it better. He was a little adverse to the slices of lemon, though I didn’t mind them. He suggested I toss the sprout leaves in maple syrup (maple roasted Brussels sprouts being one of his most favorite foods) to add a bit of sweetness. I concurred; a touch of sweetness can elevate a dish to a whole new level. Then I thought about adding some heat in the way of a jalapeno. The result was good, if not entirely what I was hoping for. The sprouts were perfectly flavored by the syrup, but the lemon became too assertive and the jalapeno was lost in it all.

As with any good experiment I went back to the drawing board. A spicier pepper was definitely needed and I wanted to tone down the lemon flavor without removing it all together. I used two Serrano chilies in place of the jalapeno and instead of lemon slices baked on the pizza I added a bit of lemon zest and juice right after taking the pizza out of the oven. The third time was the charm and I ended up with a truly unique pizza creation. The spice of the peppers matched the sweetness of the sprouts and the lemon zest and juice added brightness and acidity without being overpowering.  The subtle creaminess of the Teese rounded it all out.  You can certainly stick with jalapenos if you are not a fan of heat or increase the heat with a habanero if you are so inclined. I’m very proud of how this came out as it is the first time I’ve evolved a recipe to make something all my own. I’m usually scared to deviate from a recipe but in this case it really paid off.

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Maple Brussels Sprout Pizza with Serrano and Lemon

Adapted from a recipe from Meatless by Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients:

6-8 large Brussels sprouts

2 Serrano chilies

Zest of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

5oz Teese  or vegan mozzarella of your choice

1 tablespoon Maple syrup

1 can Pillsbury Whole Grain Artisan pizza dough, or dough of your choice (about 13oz)

Olive oil, for brushing

Directions:

Remove the dough and let it sit at room temp while you prepare everything else. This will make it easier to stretch and manipulate it in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly oil the cast iron pan, making sure to brush it up along the sides.

Cut the stems off the sprouts and pull as many leaves off as you can. You should end up with roughly 2 cups of leaves. When done, rinse and dry the leaves thoroughly. It is imperative that the leaves are completely dry, or the syrup won’t stick and they won’t get crispy. A salad spinner works well to remove most of the moisture, but you will still need to dry them with paper towels after spinning to get them totally dry. Place dry leaves in a bowl and toss with the maple syrup. Use your hands to make sure every leaf gets coated! Set aside.

Clean the serranos and cut them in half.  Carefully remove the seeds and membrane, and then slice into thin half-moons. Remember to wash your hands after handling the peppers! Set aside.

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If you use the Pillsbury crust I did, this part is a little tricky. The dough rolls out in a rectangle and of course the pan is round so you have to do a little cut and paste. Roll the dough out in the pan then trim the excess that hangs over either side. Use these pieces to fill in the gaps in the pan. This is where having pliable dough comes in handy. Pinch the pieces of dough together then pat it out evenly throughout the pan.

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Cut off thin slices of Teese and layer them on the crust, leaving approximately a half inch edge of dough. I using shredded cheese just sprinkle it evenly around, again leaving a half inch edge. Evenly spread the Brussels sprouts on top of the cheese then sprinkle the chilies on top. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the leaves are crisp and the dough is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and evenly distribute the zest and juice on top.

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Enjoy!

My entry will take you to The Road to Serendipity. Seriously, that’s the next blog in the potluck, but I think I might use it to close all my future blog entries; “Now to the Road to Serendipity with you.” It sounds very philosophical 🙂  Now off you go!

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Poppy’s Patisserie

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The Road to Serendipity

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Counting down to an awesome event

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The 3rd Virtual Vegan Potluck is quickly approaching! This time around there are over 170 blogs (including your truly 🙂 ) participating. If you’re new to this event, one: what rock have you been hiding under? and two: the VVP is a collection of vegan recipes from bloggers all around the world. On May 11th, all the participating bloggers will post their unique recipe with links to the preceding and next blog in the potluck. The categories include appetizers and desserts, and everthing in between. The idea is that of a real potluck; start with the appetizers and make your way to dessert. But just like a real potluck you can skip around and go back to your favorites again and again. I will be in the main dish category.  Check out the entire list of participants here and make sure you come back on May 11th to see what deliciousness I’ve cooked up!

Oh, and don’t think I haven’t noticed that my posting has been lacking lately. I’ve had an unprecidented bout of laziness come over me that I blame on the schizophrenic Colorado weather. It’s hard to want to do anything when it’s spring and there’s six inches of snow outside my window. Thankfully that seems to be over and my mood and energy will perk right up when I see some consistant sun. I’ll have some great reviews coming up and I’ve got a Sunshine Award nomination from Epicurean Vegan to acknowledge. That I am purposely saving for after the potluck, as I suspect I’ll have a whole bunch of new blogs I want to mention!

 

 

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Not-So Budget Buy-MyChelle Fruit Fiesta Peel

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I truly believe that every once in a while you have to splurge on something that makes you feel good. Whether that’s a new pair of shoes, a massage, or a meal at a fancy restaurant, treating yourself can go a long way to improving your confidence and self-image. My splurges are usually on skincare products, as evidenced here. Most of the time I try to be frugal when I comes to buying skincare items, especially if it is something I use every day. I know there are moisturizers and cleansers out there that cost an arm and a leg and that’s just not a cost I can justify if I will be using the product every day and thus buying it often.

A few of the exceptions I make to this are with eye creams and masks/peels.  I don’t mind spending a bit more for an eye cream because they tend to last longer since such small amounts are used. With masks/peels I’m definitely willing to spend more because I want to get the most out of the once or twice weekly applications. I have used a lot of different masks and peels in the past, but none are quite as intense as MyChelle’s Fruit Fiesta Peel.

MyChelle, a company created here in Colorado, creates skincare products that are made with the highest quality and most effective plant-based ingredients. Their face care products are geared towards specific skin types: All/Combo, Youth blemish control, Oily/blemish control, Dry, Age spot/UV recovery, Age defense, and Sensitive. Based on your particular skin type and needs you can create an entire regimen of products that cleanse, tone, moisturize, protect, and treat. I decided to splurge on the Fruit Fiesta Peel because it targets wrinkles. The formula features Lactic Acid, an anti-aging ingredient that cleanses and moisturizes, and various fruit extracts that work together to nourish and moisturize skin. What I love about this peel is that you can actually see the fruit in it. One of the ingredients is raspberry (which provided soothing, anti-oxidant skin protection) and you can see the pulp and seeds right there. It almost looks like jam. How often do you use a product where you can actually identify a specific ingredient just by looking at it?

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When I say this peel is intense, I am not kidding around. Almost immediately after applying it your skin will start to tingle and itch. You only have to leave it on for 1-3 minutes but those will be the longest minutes of your life. Nothing will feel quite as good as splashing cool water on your face to wash it off. But once it’s off your skin will feel amazing. Fresh, tight but not dry, and still slightly tingly. I can honestly say I haven’t noticed a reduction in wrinkles, but then mine aren’t that bad. Someone with more pronounced wrinkles might have more effective results. I just love how my skin looks and feels after using it. It’s a great way to wake your skin up in the morning. This is definitely not for sensitive skin types and even those who have tough skin may want to limit the use of this to once a week, which is how often I use it. Whole Foods locations often have a MyChelle representative who is more than happy to offer a sample of any of their products and this is a great way to try this peel before dropping $30 on a 1.2oz bottle.  You can also purchase the Dry/Mature trial kit which contains a sample size of the peel.

All of MyChelle’s products are vegetarian and most are vegan; a complete list of their vegan products can be found here. The website also offers a lot of info on how to get the most out of your skincare regimen, how each ingredient works, and which products to use for your skin type. None of their products are exactly cheap but you are getting what you pay for: quality skincare that is tailored to achieving the most effective results. I can’t think of anything better I’d want to splurge on 🙂

 

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Doggone It!

We’re just one day away from spring! Although that doesn’t mean much in these parts (Colorado is notorious for having some wicked spring blizzards) it does mean we are one day closer to summer and I am so ready! So to get everyone in a summery mood, I present a review of Tofurkey’s vegan hot dogs.

Vegan chili cheese dog!

Vegan chili cheese dog!

Before I get to the review, let me clarify a few things, mostly to do with the lame picture above. I’m not the world’s best planner when it comes to my posts (hence my sporadic posting schedule) so although I knew I wanted to review these, I didn’t get around to taking the picture until I had already thrown out the package and was out of hot dog buns. I actually took the picture at work, thus the paper plate. Thankfully my blog isn’t about pretty pictures but honest reviews, right? 🙂

My go-to for vegan hot dogs has been Lightlife Smart Dogs. I’ve tried Field Roast’s Frankfurters and thought they were better than Lightlife’s in both texture and flavor, but they are more expensive and each dog contains 8 grams of fat compared to the Smart Dogs, which have just 2 grams.  I’ve stayed away from Tofurkey because honestly it is my least favorite mock-meat products. I’ve only tried the deli-style slices once and was horribly put off by them. I occasionally use the Italian sausage or Kielbasa in a jambalaya recipe, but can only use a very small about. I just don’t like the texture or taste. I always assumed that I wouldn’t like the hot dogs based my dislike of their other products but they just happened to be on sale so I threw caution to the wind and picked up a package. I figured even if they were awful I would be adding copious amounts of Daiya and vegan chili so it wouldn’t really matter.

Here’s where you learn an important lesson, kids—never assume that you will dislike everything a company makes until you try it all. I was so prepared for a bland, mushy offering that I was afraid I had accidentally served myself one of Robert’s beef dogs when I took my first bite. It had spice and texture. It didn’t taste like an extension of the bread, but rather an ingredient all its own. I grilled mine on an indoor grill and it actually developed a nice crispness to the outside, providing that satisfactory ‘snap’ when I bit into it. The flavor is almost exactly how I remember non-vegan dogs tasting; a perfect balance of salt, garlic, and smokiness, and it stood up well to the chili, cheese, and red onion I adorned it with. I do believe that Tofurkey has made a perfect vegan hot dog, and I almost let my own narrow-mindedness pass it up.

I make sure to label leftover dogs to aviod any unwanted meat consumption.

I make sure to label leftover dogs to aviod any unwanted meat consumption.

Nutritionally speaking they fall right in the middle of the pack between Field Roast and Lightlife. Lightlife dogs are 50 calories each, with 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 330mg of sodium. Tofurkey comes in at 100 cals per dog, 4.5g fat, no saturated fat, and 330mg of sodium (Keep in mind these are for the regular dogs, not the jumbo ones). Field Roast’s dogs will set you back 180 cals each, 8g of fat with 2g saturated fat, and 690mg of sodium.

Definitely check the puppies out (no pun intended) if you haven’t already and keep thinking happy, summery thoughts; it will be here before you know it!

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Snack Attack

I’m going to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post. I’ve been trying to make sure I post my own pics and not just those from a website, but I occasionally get lazy and don’t feel like dragging out the camera, taking pics, uploading them to my computer, then to the post. But that’s not why pictures are lacking for this post. I have no pictures because the product in question doesn’t last long enough for a picture. I’m totally serious.

So, just what is so amazing that it practically disappears as soon as it crosses the threshold of the apartment? Only Earth Balance’s new vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn and White Cheddar Puffs.

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I love Smart Foods White Cheddar popcorn. I can eat an entire bag. Not one of those ‘snack’ size bags but the big, this-should-last-you-at-least-a week size bag.  I haven’t eaten it nearly as much as I would in the past due to its un-vegan-ness but that hasn’t stopped me from indulging.  So imagine my delight when I saw that EB had created a vegan version of one of my all-time favorite junk foods.  I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have my doubts.  Could it possibly live up to the taste of the original?

I was fortunate enough to get the last bag on the shelf of my local Whole Foods a few weeks back. I raced home and opened the bag in eager anticipation. I threw a few pieces in my mouth and for a moment I thought I might cry. I tasted almost exactly like the Smart Foods version. In fact I found that I liked it more because the cheese flavor was not as overpowering.  I had Robert try some and he loved it too. I also noticed that it was a lot less powdery so I didn’t get a thick coating of ingredients on my fingers. But perhaps the best thing is the nutritional comparison. I always managed to fool myself into thinking that the Smart Foods version wasn’t that bad considering it was made with popcorn but  I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritional Information for Smart Foods White Cheddar Popcorn

Nutritional Information for Smart Foods White Cheddar Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With EB you get almost double the serving size with fewer calories, less saturated fat and more healthy fats, and less sodium. That’s not to say that eating an entire bag of EB popcorn is recommended, but if you do it certainly won’t be as bad.

Do you ever miss Cheetos Puffs since going vegan? EB has an answer for that as well-Aged White Cheddar Curls. These big, airy puffs of deliciousness are made with corn and…navy beans? That’s right. It sounds weird but after your first one you won’t be able to stop.  It’s almost like the beans add creaminess to the puffs.  That might not be the right way to describe it but you’ll know what I mean when you try them. Their nutritional content is even better than the popcorn, again making it less of a guilty pleasure.

Earth Balance White Cheddar Puffs

Earth Balance White Cheddar Puffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since trying both these products the first time a few weeks ago we have gone through 2 bags of the popcorn and 2 bags of the puffs. Neither bag has lasted through more than one sitting. They are just that damn good. We probably would have gone through more bags but more often than not they’re sold out, so I get them whenever I can. They also have a plain, buttered popcorn flavor that I haven’t tried but I imagine it’s equally delicious.  I highly suggest you snag a bag of either if you come across them and see for yourself how the evolution of vegan junk food is coming along.

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Victory!

This little guy applauds the EU ban.

This little guy applauds the EU ban.

It’s been a long time coming, but it has finally happened- The European Union has banned the import and sale of all animal-tested cosmetics! From the Opposing Views article:

After over 20 years of effort and delays, animals will no longer be used to test makeup, skin care products and other products in the European Union. The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments has succeeded in banning the use of animals in cosmetics testing in all member countries of the EU. We all celebrate with them!

 

As of March 11, 2013, the EU will ban the import and sale of animal-tested cosmetic products (including ingredients) for all member states. From this date forward, anyone selling new cosmetic products and ingredients in the European Union will not be allowed to test them on animals anywhere in the world, the Nydailynews.com reports.

 

Under the new rules, all personal care products, from high-end to drugstore brands, not only cannot be tested on animals, but neither can any of a given products’ ingredients, according to mnn.com. All toiletries and beauty products, from skin cream to toothpaste, will be affected.

 

Cosmetics will still be tested for safety by the companies that produce them, but using agreed-upon methods that do not involve animals.

 

Chief Executive of Cruelty Free International Michelle Thew said: “This is truly an historic event and the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning. Now we will apply our determination and vision on a global stage to ensure that the rest of the world follows this lead.”

 

This victory was largely due to the support of the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg. The ECEAU states, “The former European Commissioner in charge of the EU’s cosmetics regulations had been considering recommendations to delay or weaken the ban, allowing the cosmetics industry to continue testing cosmetic products and ingredients on animals until they could find alternative methods, but it went through, thanks to Borg’s urging.”

 

The ban has been planned since 2009, but animal-testing campaigners feared a delay to the decision. EU Commissioner Tonio Borg wrote an open letter informing them that the ban is due to go ahead as proposed, and stating that he was “not planning to propose a postponement or derogation to the ban.”

 

The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments announced that its next goal is to end the use of animals in scientific experiments, stating that 12 million animals a year are used in Europe for this purpose, according to mnn.com.

 

OTHER AREAS OF THE WORLD

 

ISRAEL

 

On January 1, 2013, Israel banned the import, sale, and marketing of animal-tested cosmetics, toiletries, and household cleaners. In 2007, the Israeli government had banned the use of animals to test personal-care and household products within the country. In the new law, which came into effect January 1, 2013, lawmakers have blocked products that have been tested on animals in other countries from even crossing Israel’s border,

 

INDIA

 

At the urging of Maneka Gandhi and Indian activists, India is currently revising its method of safety testing for cosmetics and it is hoped all animal testing will be banned. Indian Drug Control General Dr. Singh recently stated, “If animal testing of cosmetics isn’t mandatory by either the US FDA or the EU, it seems unnecessary for India to have them at all.”

 

Ms. Gandhi explained that India would lose tremendous revenue if the European countries are unable to purchase cosmetics from India because of its failure to comply with the new EU anti-cruelty laws, which prohibit subjecting innocent animals to unnecessary pain and suffering to test products.

 

CHINA

 

One of the world’s largest markets, China still demands animal testing as a safety precaution, according to mnn.com. PETA states that Chinese companies are required by law to pay for testing before some cosmetics can be marketed to the public. PETA is working in Beijing, training scientists to test cosmetics with alternative methods.

This is such a huge leap forward in animal welfare and I can only hope that other countries follow suit.

Don’t go running out to buy that favorite European brand you abandoned years ago just yet. Despite laws against testing in the EU, some companies will still sell their products in countries like China, which require animal testing. And since the testing is conducted in China it falls outside the jurisdiction of the EU law. And to make matters worse the company has to pay for their own animal testing. That’s why companies like Avon, May Kay and Estee Lauder fell out of favor with PETA last year. Late last year Urban Decay, a popular cruelty-free company with many vegan cosmetic options, experienced first-hand the disappointment from consumers when they announced they were going to sell in China. After the backlash they quickly backed off from that decision and said they would not sell in China until the mandatory animal testing policies were outlawed. Hopefully countries like China will take a page from India and realize that they could suffer a huge blow in revenue if they fail to comply with the new laws and can’t sell in any EU country. Thankfully they are amenable to learning about alternatives to animal-testing. If you are in doubt as to whether a brand is or isn’t tested on animals, refer to Leaping Bunny.org. You can trust them to list only companies that do not test products on animals in any country.

I wonder how this will affect US companies. Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, and SC Johnson are some of the biggest companies that still conduct animal testing and I can only imagine that they will take a huge financial hit if they can no longer sell in Europe. I hope this will be the catalyst that causes them to reconsider their stance on animal testing.

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