Archive | February, 2012

Making the Switch: Face Scrub

27 Feb

I’m going to do a series of posts entitled “Making the Switch,” which will focus on ridding a certain ingredient or product out of my life and replacing it with a kinder alternative. Some may not work out the way I hope, but this year is dedicated to trial and error.

LUSH's "Ocean Salt" and Kaia House Organic's "Lemon and Sugar Clarifying Scrub"

Once upon a time, I used to work part-time at LUSH in Philadelphia, and fell madly deeply in love with their facial scrub called “Ocean Salt.” And it seriously felt like you were scrubbing the grime out with all the goodness of the ocean. It’s chockfull of amazing ingredients, like a mix of fine and coarse sea salt, grapefruit infusion, seaweed absolute, extra virgin coconut oil, avocado butter, and fresh organic lime extracted in vodka.  WOW, right?  But they sneak in one little ingredient that pretty much negates everything good they put in: lanolin.

What’s lanolin?  It’s a yellow waxy substance that’s secreted by sheep to protect their wool and skin.  While it’s usually harvested from the wool and not the sheep themselves, it is still pretty nasty to think about.  Why do I need yellow sheep wax in my face scrub?  I don’t!  My skin secretes enough oil to keep me protected.  While lanolin is technically vegetarian because it’s a byproduct of wool, just do a Google search and take a look at what sheep go through to get shorn.  The wool industry is an industry more interested in making a profit than humanely shearing sheep.  While I take no issue with a small farm gently shearing their sheep in the summer, the lanolin from that wool is almost definitely not in “Ocean Salt.”  So that’s why I’m saying goodbye to my favorite facial scrub and on the search for another that can do a hell of a job without supporting big bad wool.

My first attempt is Kaia House Organic’s “Lemon and Sugar Clarifying Scrub.”  I ordered this online, sight unseen, thinking the lemon and sugar might have something in common with my beloved “Ocean Salt.”  This is a much gentler scrub that kind of smells like playdough.  But it’s vegan, mostly organic, made in the USA, and makes my skin baby soft.  No complaints with any of that!  Also, while I’m not anti-parabens (in moderation), it’s cool that Kaia products never contain them – one less thing to worry about.  After I’m done with this jar, I’ll be on the look out for a salt scrub with a little more oomph, and get back to you on what’s better.

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Smoothie Time!

9 Feb

Earlier, you’ve read my post on the beauty of Glowing Green Smoothies.  But while greens are wonderful, there’s a whole world of blended delicacies to explore!  And explore I did, because I severely burnt the roof of my mouth on Buffalo “Chicken” Dip during the Super Bowl and could only consume liquids for days.  These delicious smoothies gave my VitaMix a workout and got me through without killing my soul.

1. Rainforest Smoothie

Rainforest Smoothie (picture from kimberlysnyder.net)

The creator of the GGS, Kimberly Snyder, has a variety of smoothies up her sleeve, and this is by far my favorite.  It’s so simple but satisfies my chocolate tooth and keeps me full for a long time.  Exact instructions can be found on her website, but I just make it with an açai packet, unsweetened almondmilk, cacao powder, a few drops of liquid stevia, and half an avocado.  I also add a half tablespoon of chia seeds sometimes, for the extra Omega-3s and iron.

2. Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie

Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Sometimes I just want to eat my sorrows with cake, but I almost never should.  I was feel supremely crappy about my mouth burn, but turned to Angela Liddon of ohsheglows.com to turn my frown upside down, and smile I did.  I made a few substitutions based on what I had in my kitchen.  I chose Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, a tablespoon of cacao, a few drops of stevia, left ouf the ice cubes, and used a tablespoon of almond butter.  Apparently, if you REALLY want it to taste like cake batter, you gotta go with cashew butter, but mine tasted absolutely decadent all the same.  I ran the nutrition, and while this isn’t a light smoothie by any means, it still manages to be a power house of nutrition.  My version was 462 calories, 20.9g of fat, 623.9mg of potassium, 14.7g of fibers, 14.2 g of proteins, and 11.% Vitamin A, 18.2% Vitamin C, 31.5% calcium, and 27.8% iron.  Pretty sexy for cake batter!  Even better, it kept me full for HOURS, and gave me lots of energy to tackle my day.

3. Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie

Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Yes, another decadent smoothie from ohsheglows! I promise I was drinking green smoothies, too, but drinkable gingerbread is hard to pass up.  It turned out a little too strong for my tastes – I went with the whole two tablespoons of molasses instead of first testing the waters with one – but the nutrition value to sucking it down was well worth it.  330 calories, 2144.2mg of potassium, 9.7g of fiber, 5.4g of protein, 50.1% calcium, and 42.4% iron.  WOW.  The only time I think I get more iron than this is when I eat injera.  I’m definitely going to continue to incorporate molasses in my diet, just in smaller amounts more frequently.

4. Cafe Gratitude’s “I AM COOL”

Don’t I look cool, sipping on I AM COOL?

This is DEFINITELY more like a milkshake than a smoothie, but Cafe Gratitude still manages to make this crazy amazing shake almost healthy with the inclusion of Vitamineral Green.  I’ve always wanted to try this lovely concoction, but the $9 price tag kept me away until I literally could consume nothing else but liquids.  Suddenly, it was just like buying lunch.  If you love mint chocolate chip ice cream, you have GOT to try this.  It sent me straight to heaven, and I rarely if ever choose mint chocolate chip ice cream over, say, cookie dough or chocolate hazelnut.  It’s totally divine and worth the price of admission.

5. Miso Soup

My massive mug of miso soup. Yay, alliteration!

While waiting for my mouth to heal, I didn’t constantly crave sugar and chocolate, despite what this post suggests.  Miso soup is definitely not a smoothie, but if you’re ever in a similar situation where you can’t have solid foods or anything too hot, this is how I navigated dinner time.  You’re not supposed to boil miso, and if you leave the bits like seaweed and tofu out, you get to skip the boiling all together, allowing you to control what temperature you want your soup.  I stirred in about 1.5Tbsp of red miso into two cups of very warm water, let it dissolve, season with a couple dashes of mirin and tamari, then poured it into a big mug.  If you don’t have tamari, soy sauce works fine, I just usually avoid adding gluten when it’s unnecessary.  Allow it to cool until you can comfortable put your hands around the mug, then cozy up on the sofa and sip your supper.  It’s comforting, nutritious, low calorie, and fills you up.

I would never in a million years give up solid food by choice (juice fast, master cleanse, NO WAY), but I enjoyed the opportunity to explore healthy and delicious smoothies.  Fun fact – during those three days, I had double the recommended about of fiber, tons of protein, lots of potassium, and had no trouble meeting my nutritional needs, while most days I plan dinner around what vitamin I’ve missed out on during the day.  There’s definitely something to be said for including smoothies into your life!

Get and Stay Healthy

7 Feb

My metabolism would lose a race against a snail, no question. I grow noticeably heavier the morning after indulging in a milkshake, so there’s no hiding my sins. When I started dabbling in veganism, I was kind of bummed that the pounds didn’t just melt off like so many people claimed. In fact, I gained weight!! But that’s me, and everyone’s different. My wedding is next year, so I’ve come up with a few easy ways to enjoy eating vegan while losing the excess pounds. I’m not looking for a body swap – I’ve always been curvy and that’s not going to change. I’m here to be healthy and balanced, and these are my tools.

1. MyFitnessPal
This iPhone application helps me keep track of what I eat and what nutrients I’m getting. I hate calorie counting, but bringing awareness to what I put into my body helps me make smarter choices. Low on Vitamin A? I’ll make sure to have a romaine salad with dinner. Went a little overboard with the french fries at The Counter? Whoops, that’s more fat than I should get in a day, won’t do that again! Keeping a food and exercise diary makes me accountable and helps me keep my portions in check.

2. Shake up the carbs, lower the wheat
I freakin’ LOVE carbs. My parents used to call me a pastaholic when I was a kid. But too much of anything tends to leave me feeling unbalanced and bloated, and too much gluten is like eating paste, clogging up the works. While I’ll never be gluten-free, I control the amount of conventional wheat I consume at home to a bare minimum, so I don’t have to worry about it when I eat outside. My flour of choice is spelt, an ancient form of wheat that is much easier to digest and doesn’t leave me in a carb-coma. I’ve never had a problem using it 1:1 in recipes for all-purpose flour, except in pancakes, in which case I almost always needed to add more spelt no matter the recipe. I also keep gluten-free flours around for recipes that call for them. I use Rudi’s “Ancient Grain” spelt bread exclusively, and it is the best bread I have ever had from a bag. For pasta, I really enjoy Tinkyada’s brown rice noodles – earthy, but never mushy. While I love seitan, I don’t center my diet around it, and I’m way more likely to make tempeh than seitan.  My carby grains of choice are quinoa, millet, and black rice. With options this good, who needs modern wheat?

3. Go easy on the processed soy
Again, I’m not on the anti-soy boat, but variety is beautiful! Unfortunately, soy comes in so many different forms, you might think your diet is varied when it’s not. I don’t turn my nose to the occasional soy latte, but in my fridge, I’m all about 365 unsweetened almondmilk. I almost always avoid fake meat products at home (I save those for treats at Veggie Grill, Native Foods, and Doomie’s), but I’m not scared of tempeh, edamame, and miso. I’m pretty cool with tofu, too, just not every day. For a sweet treat, I reach for Coconut Bliss – soy-free, and it’s the Häagen-Dazs of vegan ice cream! Switch up your soy for other alternatives, and you’ll quickly get out of your rut without missing a beat.

4. Cooking low-fat
I’m almost positive that the initial weight I gained when I went vegan was from the increase of oil in my diet. Fat makes food filling and delicious, perfect if you’re entertaining skeptics, but a little too heavy for everyday eating. My favorite cookbooks right now that emphasize low-oil cooking are Appetite for Reduction, Color Me Vegan, Blissful Bites, The Happy Herbivore, and The Beauty Detox Solution. All of these books are very “gluten-free/overly processed soy-free” friendly as well, which is great!  Now, If I’m bringing treats to a party, I’ll opt for the chocolate chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance, but if I just want to munch at home, Blissful Bites‘ gluten-free peanut butter cookies are perfect for me. Sauté with water, cook with coconut oil, bake with applesauce, and your body will find its balance.

The beauty of veganism is that you are already well on your way to being your healthiest self.  It only takes a few tweaks here and there to make sure you’re getting everything you need, and not too much of stuff you don’t.

What struggles do you have to stay healthy? What are your tools?

Color Me Green

3 Feb

Never in my life did I imagine I’d one day enjoy green smoothies, because nothing sounds appealing about lettuce and celery blended.  But the crazy beautiful nutritionist Kimberly Snyder changed all that for me with her Glowing Green Smoothie recipe and her promises that it tasted sweet and delicious.  Okay, I’ll bite.

My Glowing Green Smoothie

I’ve been making this baby for over a year, and find when I stop for a while, I miss the burst of nutrients and energy in the morning.  I actually just ended a two month hiatus, as my CSA box lately has been root vegetables and not so many leafy greens.  I was totally inspired when my box came yesterday with romaine, kale, celery, cilantro, and tangelos.  Perfect for smoothie making!

I highly recommend following Kimberly’s recipe to start, which will give you a better feel of what the proportions should be, but once you get the hang of it, go crazy!  Today I chopped up a head of romaine, 6 big dinosaur kale leaves (torn from the stem), 4 stalks of celery, a pink lady apple, a tangelo, a frozen banana, a handful of cilantro, and the juice of one lemon.  Behold!  A green smoothie that totally glows.

I have Kimberly’s book, The Beauty Detox Solution, and it’s filled with great nutrition advice that’s inherently vegan (though has options to help omnis lean into it).  It’s a little intense – no gluten, no soy – but all of her recipes are delicious and her advice is sound.  In the months leading up to my wedding, I can definitely see myself getting gung-ho about it, but in the meantime, I’m a happy dabbler and enjoy the occasional smoothie.