Crumble Away!

Like many of you, I got sick over the holidays. I decided to make a number of fresh juices (carrot-apple, carrot-ginger, apple-beet) to kick start my recovery. Usually when I make juice I feel super guilty when I compost all the pulp. This time I decided to bake it into a crumble with some leftover cranberries that never became sauce due to the ice storm. There’s no formal recipe for this one – I just added in some brown sugar, pulp and cranberries and cooked this down a bit before throwing it into a pan and topping with an oat/vegan butter/sugar/sorghum flour topping. Then I baked until everything was warm and crispy! It turned out really well but I should warn you – if you have a partner that tends to eat 3/4 of every dessert (and by this I mean 3/4 of the entire pan) in the span of two days, remind them that this contains a TON of healthy fiber and they will later pay for that decision. Unless of course they’re looking for a natural … bathroom aid.

Fresh, foamy juice!

Fresh, foamy juice!

Healthy Juice Pulp - carrots and apples

Voila! Juice Pulp Crumble!

Cozy Weekends

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope your 2014 is off to a healthy, positive start.  The theme of this holiday season for me has been relaxing.  I’ve been fighting off the nasty flu that everyone seems to have and ended up overdoing it at the gym yesterday, pinching a nerve in my neck.  Needless to say, it is VERY painful.  However, one positive out of this generally chaotic time of year is that I have had no choice but to relax in order to get better.  I’m very bad at sitting still and always feel the need to be moving around, but over the last few days I have had to sit still, watch movies, take long baths and drink lots of tea.  It’s been difficult but one of my resolutions is to work on at least finding some relaxation skills.  This means finally committing to a weekly yoga class and adopting a more”go with the flow attitude.”  Wish me luck!

Balu sleeping

 

This guy has no problems with relaxation; I’ll be taking more after him this year.

New Headband

 

I bought this super cute cozy headband the other day for all of the upcoming chilly dog walks.

To kick off a healthy new year, I tried using quinoa in a different way: for breakfast!  I’ve always been a bit hesitant to use quinoa in the morning but now I’m not sure what I was so afraid of because was delicious!!!!

Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 2-3
Meal type Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 2 Cups Almond (or soy) milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 1 Teaspoon Maple syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Banana (Sliced)
  • 1 Handful Blueberries

Directions

Step 1
Heat almond (or soy) milk in medium pot until slightly boiling
Step 2
Throughly rinse quinoa for about 30 seconds to reduce bitterness
Step 3
Add quinoa to the pot with the milk and bring to a slight boil
Step 4
Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is evaporated
Step 5
Mix in cinnamon and maple syrup
Step 6
Serve hot and top with sliced banana and blueberries

Whiskey, Onesies and Squash

So lately I’ve been on a major squash kick. Roasted squash, pureed squash, curried squash… I don’t know why, but it’s a fantastic phase. Last night, prior to our Whiskey and Onesies party, I made a squash and spinach lasagna and by the end of the night it was gone. And this morning someone commented how disappointed he was when he discovered that the lasagna ran out (I vaguely remember this same person finishing the last of the lasagna so I’m not sure why he was so surprised). Mmmmm, so while I work on my squash and greens chili, you all enjoy this awesome winter recipe!

Squash and Spinach Lasagna

Vegan, gluten free squash and spinach lasagna!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Pkg Rice Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 Butternut Squash (roasted)
  • 1 Onion (roughly chopped)
  • ~5 Cloves Roasted Garlic ((see our post on roasting/freezing this ahead of time))
  • 1 1/2 Jars Tomato Sauce (white sauce or fresh tomato would be better)
  • 1 Pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • 3 Slices Daiya Swiss
  • ~3/4 Pkg Daiya Mozzarella Shreds

Directions

Step 1
Cut and roast the squash in a 400 degree oven until soft. Either turn off oven and leave the rest of the steps for later or lower to 375.
Step 2
Boil the lasagna noodles.
Step 3
While the noodles are cooking, dice the onion and remove the skin from the squash and dice the flesh very roughly.
Step 4
Put the squash flesh into a bowl and mash up with 2 slices of the swiss daiya.
Step 5
Heat a pan with a little oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, roasted garlic and package of spinach. Stir occasionally until the onions are cooked and all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Step 6
In a lasagna pan, put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Next put the squash and cheese mixture and sprinkle the majority of the mozzarella shreds on top. Place a layer of noodles, then the spinach mixture. Another layer of noodles, then sauce and cheese. Rip up the remaining swiss slice and distribute on top.
Step 7
Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Cruelty Free Beauty Part 1

This post is long overdue but I wanted to make sure I tested all of the makeup and beauty products that I recently purchased before writing about them!

Now, I know a lot of people don’t really think about what happens to their cosmetics before they purchase them, but if you buy from companies that test on animals you should, at the very least, understand what this means.

Well, this is what it looks like

primate_testing_540x

If you’re interested in seeing more photos about what animal testing for cosmetic purposes looks like click here (link is also where I found the above photo) because I don’t have the heart (or stomach) to include more of these photos myself. In my opinion, it is totally unnecessary for these products to be tested on animals, and by purchasing cruelty free brands you can help stop animal testing worldwide.  The sad truth is that most makeup at stores like The Bay, Sephora and common drug stores is tested on animals.  I even thought I was using all cruelty free brands such as M.A.C (which used to be my favourite brand), Smashbox, and Stila until I realized that they were now authorizing the sale of their products in China, which now has a mandatory animal testing law for all cosmetics. If you’re wondering how to tell if a company is cruelty free or not, email them or go to their website and check. If you find something like this: “Stila does not test any of our products on animals, nor do we ask others to do so on our behalf, unless it is required by law in countries where our products are distributed,” it may sound good but the part about testing when required by law STILL MEANS THEY’RE TESTING ON ANIMALS.  Companies have a choice to sell in China, and if they agree to it they do so knowing their products will be tested on animals.

So what can you do?  Well, you can start by checking out the AMAZING vegan lifestyle blog Logical Harmony and looking at her Cruelty Free & Vegan Brand List, which is very comprehensive and always up to date.  You’ll probably be surprised at how many brands that you thought were cruelty free are not on this list.  However, there are still plenty of alternatives that you can even purchase at Sephora that do not allow animal testing. My recommendation try one product from a line that you’re interested in to see if you like it before buying an entire product line.  Ok, now on to my current beauty favourites….

It took a while for me to brand shop and find items that I will continue to purchase in the future and I love to try new products so I’m sure I’ll be updating this list often.  I’ll be reviewing makeup, face products and hair and body products at every opportunity.

Today’s post will be discussing makeup!

Makeup

This review will focus on the brands Tarte and Too Faced.  Both of which can be purchased at Sephora in Canada and in the USA.

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Cream:

What it is: A light-to-medium-coverage, oil-free tinted moisturizer.

What it is formulated to do:
- Ultralight, water-based formula to provide coverage while banishing imperfections
- Features SPF 20 sun protection
- Comes in eight shades

Thoughts: I personally think this BB cream is pretty great.  It lasts all day and gives a nice dewy look.  I also didn’t notice much of a scent, which I definitely prefer.  One thing to note is that since it’s a BB cream (and not foundation), it provides only light coverage.  If you’re used to a foundation-like coverage you may be disappointed with how light this is.  I’m not a huge fan of foundation so this was perfect for me!

 

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer: 

What it is and what it is formulated to do:  A full-coverage concealer that won’t crease, flake, or leave you needing more.   In addition to promoting healthy skin, this concealer is also ideal for masking discoloration and imperfections such as acne, blemishes, redness, scars, hyperpigmentation, and dark circles.

Thoughts: I found that it provided the full coverage it promised (I was using it for under-eye circles) and lasted all day (i.e. 12 hours).  While I did enjoy how long it lasted, and I would purchase it again, I noticed that it takes a couple of minutes to dry once you apply it.  I would recommend apply the product, waiting a few minutes, and then blotting the area with a tissue before applying powder.  My main criticism is that the tube felt like it was only half full, which is a big negative when you’re paying a good amount of money for this product.

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Tarte Powderful Amazonian Pressed Powder:

What it is and is formulated to do:  A mineral-based pressed powder. This whisper-light mineral pressed powder allows skin to breathe while treating it with soothing vitamins and minerals.

Thoughts: This powder also lasted all day (even with an hour at the gym)! It seems like Tarte really knows how to formulate their products so they will stay on for 12 hours or longer.  I really appreciated how light this powder was and the fact that I didn’t have to use very much to cover my face (I’m using a big powder brush to apply).  However, like the BB cream, if you’re used to a full coverage you may be disappointed with the light coverage this provides.  Personally, I prefer a lighter coverage and will absolutely be purchasing this again in the future.

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Picture obtained from Sephora.com

Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes 4-in-1 (Waterproof) Mascara:

What it is formulated to do: Our lights, camera, splashes™ 4-in-1 mascara could be considered a push-up bikini for your lashes—a 4-in-1 (lengthening, curling, volumizing, and conditioning) mascara

Thoughts:  While I didn’t dislike this product, I don’t think I would purchase it again.  I had to put on four coats to get the oversized lash look I love and it took a very long time to dry.  I sneezed about 10 minutes after applying and it wasn’t pretty.  Considering the price point on this mascara, I expected more.  However, I appreciate that they have created a waterproof cruelty free mascara, something that is nearly impossible to find in my experience. The hunt continues for a waterproof mascara that dries quickly and provides thick, voluminous lashes without more than two coats!

Picture obtained from Tarte.com

Picture obtained from Tarte.com

Now moving on to Too Faced!

Too Faced La Vie En Rose Blush:

What it is formulated to do: Brighten and accentuate cheeks with this powder blush and give your cheeks an instant lovely lift. Slightly shimmering, sheer pigments are universal and can be used on a variety of different skin tones.

Thoughts:  I have been looking for the perfect pink blush for a very long time and I have finally found it with this product.  I am a big fan of a bright pink cheek and this blush provides the concentration of colour I am looking for and is super flattering on my skin tone.  My ONLY criticism is that I have to re-apply throughout the day since it’s a powder and not a cheek stain.  Totally worth it though for this colour!

Picture obtained from Amazon.com

Picture obtained from Amazon.com

Too Faced Candlelight Glow Highlighting Powder Duo:

What it does: Inspired by Too Faced’s original Candlelight powder, this formula offers a more ethereal glow by using “Photolite” technology which diffuses harsh light, giving your skin a soft, youthful luminosity.

Thoughts: I love this product!  I’ve been told that my face looks like it’s “glowing” multiple times when wearing this.  I also really like the two different colours for different areas of the cheeks and face.  I highly recommend this product for every day use.  Once again, the only criticism is that I find myself re-applying the powder in the afternoon (generally after the gym).

Candlelight Glow

 

Too Faced Powder Pouf Brush: The above items (La Vie En Rose blush and Candlelight Glow) were applied using the cutest cruelty free brush EVER!  This brush is made with all natural fibres, is super soft and is also made by Too Faced.

Too Faced Powder Pouf Brush

Too Faced Shadow Insurance: 

What it is:  An eye shadow primer guaranteed to go the distance.  Your eye shadow will last longer and will never crease.

Thoughts: I bought this product in the “Candlelight” colour because of its lovely glow.  This is another product that I love and will be purchasing again, if I ever need to.  A little goes a LONG way.  I apply it from my lids all the way up to my eyebrows since it has a beautiful shimmer and really opens the eyes.  You can even wear this alone since it does have a slight pigment to it and really sparkles.  When it is used as a primer it does exactly what it claims to do; I have never experienced any shadow creasing and it allows me to wear my shadow all day without even worrying about re-applying.

too-faced-shadow-insurance-candlelight

 Too Faced “Perfect Eyes” Waterproof Eyeliner:

What it is formulated to do: A creamy, long-wearing eyeliner that glides on with the ease of a liquid liner and locks down for eight hours of budge-proof, smudge-proof wear.

Thoughts: This eyeliner really performed!  I purchased the product in black, and used it in my lower lash line, where eyeliner pretty much never lasts longer than an hour for me.  However, this lasted for much longer and was very easy to apply.  I actually went to the bathroom at one point to re-apply (since I usually have to with lower liner), and was happily surprised that I didn’t need to.  I will be purchasing this product again in the future for sure!

Picture obtained from Tarte.com

Picture obtained from Tarte.com

Stay tuned for more reviews, and if you have a makeup product you would like to see reviewed on here or you would like to review yourself as a guest blogger, please contact us!

Also: If you happen to know of the perfect cruelty free waterproof mascara, please contact me immediately!

-Laura.

 

Vegas Detox Meal #1

Hello all! Last weekend, I had the privilege of escaping to Las Vagas for fun and deliciousness. As always, the buffet at the Wynn is a wynn-er (ha) – great food and everything is labeled. There are always tons of vegan options. This trip’s lunch highlights were the tomato bisque and tapioca with passion fruit jelly(?) (it’s not as gross as it sounds – I promise). At dinner my highlight is always the same – the make-your-own pasta station with non-dairy alfredo. Fantastic. As for off-strip highlights, the Velveteen Rabbit has to be it. It is hands-down my absolute favorite bar in Vegas. The drinks are inventive, super delicious and very reasonable. We definitely ordered everything on the menu as well as the bartender’s choice (with gin, bourbon and mezcal). As an added bonus – the bar is owned by two sisters. Check out their blog here. Below is a picture of my friend’s drink (tequila + amaro Montenegro + lemon + amargo bitters + pumpkin spice syrup + egg white + rosemary).

Vegas 2013 resized

Needless to say. I am in need of a detox. So I have made a Fresh-inspired salad (pictured below). On top of a brown rice/quinoa mixture I put cubed roasted beets, roasted veggies (onions, zucchini, peppers), fresh tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and tahini dressing (tahini, lemon juice, fresh dill/italian spices from those squeezy tubes, a touch of garlic powder, cubed cucumber & water to thin). It may not look fantastic, but it’s tasty and very healthy. Protein and calcium from the quinoa, iron from the beets, fiber and nutrients from the veggies. Yum!

Detox Salad 1

For similar ideas, see our past posts on salads (Laura’s favorite salad, kale and chickpea salad)!

Halloween Cookie Inspiration

Happy (Late) Halloween everyone! This will just be a quickie post with a picture of my half-decorated halloween cookies to get you geared up for holiday baking season. Not the prettiest cookies in the land, but very tasty. I used the sugar cookie recipe from Lois Dieterly’s Sinfully Vegan (Amazon page note: link is for the new version, I used the older edition). It’s my go-to basic holiday cookie. The dough is simple enough that you can add pretty much any flavour or additive (nuts, chocolate, sprinkles in the dough) and they still turn out great.

Halloween Sugar CookiesBonus story (It’s related, I promise!): My first October in Chicago, Hulk Hogan was at Borders for a book signing. I wanted to have a book signed as a surprise present for a friend but had to leave directly from school in order to make this happen. The day of the signing I brought my halloween sugar cookies to school to share with the class, so I ended up in line with my cookie tin in  hand. When I was at the table getting the book signed, Hulk Hogan spied the cookie tin and remarked that I had brought him cookies. I said sure and then handed over my vegan baking. He shared the cookies with his staff and they were a big hit. If that isn’t an endorsement for this sugar cookie recipe, I don’t know what is.