Friday, May 30, 2014

Grocery Haul

Hey everyone. I know it's been such a long time! I'm sorry, things have been crazy lately. I've been able to work a couple of weddings and I can't say no if I'm available because every penny counts, right? Work has been crazy and between being super busy all day and feeling yucky from my allergies I'm usually pretty shot by the end of the day. I had put off going to Whole Foods for almost two weeks but I really had to go today because I had NOTHING so I decided that I'd do a quick grocery haul for you guys! I got a lot of the usual suspects but also a few new fun things. Mostly healthy but a few fun treats ;) I also apologize for the really horrible photo quality... these were taken with my phone and were totally backlit so sorry about that!

First up some yummy fruit! Grapes, strawberries and pluots (!!!), all organic.

Romaine, zucchini (for raw zucchini pasta), carrots, tomato, garlic, basil (the last three ingredients for a raw sauce) and some huge celery stalks. I typically HATE raw celery but it is so good for you and is especially good for inflammation which I always need help with. I have a ton of Angela's Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter and I thought that they would be a perfect match and a great way to get me to eat celery so I'm excited to try that!

Here's the fun stuff!! I saw the new Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares (Vegan Cheez Its, what?!) and had to try them. I will definitely let you know how they are :) I also love salt and vinegar so decided to try Pop Chips in that flavor. They are supposedly lighter than potato chips? And I guess not greasy because they are popped? We'll see I guess! In the back on the right there are Sea Snax Chomperz which are some sort of puffed seaweed chip I think. I have no idea but again, I was intrigued so I grabbed some. I didn't realize how expensive they were until after I looked at my receipt so hopefully they are good! 

Finally, my Whole Foods FINALLY started carrying my favorite and the only coconut water I will drink - 100% Raw Coconut Water. It is so delicious and as you can see they are bright pink! This is a good thing apparently because the antioxidants in the coconut water will turn pink in a reaction to the light so it is my understanding that the brighter the pink the more antioxidants? I could be totally wrong but that's what I heard :) I got one large bottle and two small eight oz. bottles... in retrospect it would have been more cost effective to just buy another big bottle but the little ones were so cute :X

This isn't part of the grocery haul but I just got them for like $1.50 each and I love them so I thought I'd share! These are my new water cups, one for home one for work. I love them because they are my two favorite things - skulls and owls! So cute, I'm so excited to use them.

OK that's all for today. I think my grocery haul is a good balance between healthy and a few fun treats and I'm really truly going to try and photograph some more meals for you. I'm going to start eating smaller meals more often again because my digestion is out of whack again and can only eat small portions for now before feeling yucky so you should be seeing some small, veggie packed meals coming up over the next week!

Happy Friday everyone. One more day until my weekend ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Flashback Friday: Truffles!

Hey everyone! I've been slacking on my Throwback Thursday posts where I bring back my old recipes so they can live on this new domain. Truthfully I just forget to do these posts on Thursday. I got out of work late yesterday so I just completely forgot but I figured that a Flashback Friday is just as fun as Throwback Thursday. For this week I decided to bring back two truffle recipes! One is a little more involved and time consuming and the other is so super easy and quick to come together.

Here they are!

Half Baked Truffles

Cookie Dough Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance buttery sticks)
2 tbsp favorite plant milk (I use almond breeze unsweetened vanilla)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Brownie Batter ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine 
2 tbsp favorite plant milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Chocolate shell:
1 bag vegan chocolate chips

For cookie dough:
1. Add brown sugar, white sugar and margarine to a bowl and beat until fluffy.
2. Add plant milk and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
3. Add flour and beat thoroughly. Dough will be soft and sticky.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Put in fridge for dough to stiffen up to allow for rolling.
For brownie batter:
Follow steps 1-3 above, also adding the cocoa powder.  Also refrigerate brownie dough to stiffen for rolling.

To make truffles:
Take 1 tsp of cookie dough and 1 tsp of brownie batter and roll together into one ball.  Place truffles on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once all truffles are rolled, place in freezer to harden before dipping.

Pre dipped rolled truffles!

For dipping:
To dip the truffles I just melted a bag of vegan chocolate chips in a double boiler. this is the part of the recipe I may tweak a little because I felt the chocolate was a bit thick for coating, but it still worked!

1. Melt 1 bag of vegan chocolate chips in a double boiler.
2. Take a few truffles from the freezer (they soften quickly so I only work with a few at a time). Place one truffle on a fork and dip in chocolate, making sure the truffle is completely coated.
3. Allow excess chocolate to drip off, gently shaking if you need to.  Place truffles on a second cookie sheet. *Tip: I froze a second cookie sheet and lined it with wax paper. This allows the bottom of the truffle to harden quicker and not spread a ton.
4. Place truffles in the freezer for a few minutes in between dipping to allow them to harden up a bit.
5. After all truffles are dipped, place tray back in freezer to allow everything to harden and firm up.  I stored them in the fridge before I gave them out since the heat makes everything melt so quickly! You can keep them in the freezer too!

I love this shot where you can see both parts of the truffle!

I hope that these instructions make sense! Like I said, I’m not the best at crafting recipes but hopefully this will work for you :) They are time consuming but have a high yield and taste incredible! Enjoy!

Cookie Truffles

These are the ridiculously easy  cookie truffles made with just 3 ingredients! They make a great gift during the holiday season!

1 package sandwich cookies (the original recipe called for Oreos but I made mine more festive for the holidays by making a batch with Candy Cane Joe Joe’s and a batch with Newman O’s Ginger Cookies)
1-8 oz tub of tofutti cream cheese
1 package vegan chocolate chips (if dipping the truffles)*

1. Process cookies into fine crumbs in the food processor.
2. Mix softened cream cheese in with crumbs. Combine completely.
3. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let it set a little.
4. Roll mixture into small balls (I used a medium sized ice cream scoop). Refrigerate again until firm.
5. If dipping, melt chocolate chips and dip truffles until evenly coated. Refrigerate to set the chocolate coating.
5. Enjoy! 

*Note – Dipping any chocolate or peanut butter cream cookies in chocolate will always be delicious. I didn’t know how the ginger cookies would taste so I rolled them in powdered sugar. They looked great for a little bit but then there was a condensation situation and it formed more of a glaze (which isn’t bad either). You could also try vegan white chocolate for those.

Ginger Cookie Truffles rolled in Powdered Sugar

Candy Cane Joe Joe Truffles dipped in Chocolate

I told you it was really really easy. You can honestly just leave the mixture in a bowl and just spoon it into your mouth it is that good. :)

So there you have it, some more Throwback recipes! I hope you all had a great week and have some fun stuff planned for the weekend. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brought to You By Other Bloggers

The other day I was in need of some inspiration so I headed over to one of the most inspiring blogs I know: Oh She Glows. Angela is definitely a rock star in the blogosphere and it's pretty easy to see why. Her gorgeous, healthy recipes accompanied by equally gorgeous photos are so inspiring and so easy to whip up in our own kitchens. I spent a lot of time combing through her archives and pinning tons of yummy recipes. I can't wait to purchase her cookbook but until I can do that I'm going to continue to make the recipes found on her blog.

I knew I wanted to finally try some of her recipes this week and since my fruit cravings have been kicked into high gear with this warm weather, I decided on a few fruity recipes. I love everything I've made so far and I can't wait to try more!

I am obsessed with Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter and when I saw Angela's recipe for this amazing spread I knew I HAD to make it. Check out the recipe here!

This peanut butter is DELICIOUS and it makes a good amount. Mine is a little grainy because I don't have a great food processor and it overheated so I didn't get to process it as much as I'd like but the flavor is incredible. It has a hint of salt and some sweetness and the chew of the raisins is such a nice texture. The cinnamon adds a lot of depth as well. This is definitely a recipe I'd recommend to everyone!

Check out these beautiful Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares with Homemade Jam! These bars are so incredible and the homemade jam is the star of the show! The secret ingredient to thicken the jam? Chia seeds! It's genius and delicious.

Another winner for sure. And you can make any flavor of jam you like! Someone had even recommended making these with pumpkin and that sounds so incredible to me. These are a great snack on the go and also a yummy treat for breakfast.

The last recipe I wanted to try was the Apple Pie Chia Seed Jam. I LOVE apples and the jam was so intriguing to me and I felt like it was a really versatile recipe so I decided to go for it! Look how beautiful it came out. I decided to leave mine a little chunky and I have a few different meals planned with this gorgeous jam that I will show you next week! And the best part is that it truly tastes like apple pie filling. The only difference is that you can enjoy it without any of the guilt!

I can't wait to show you how I enjoyed the jam and the peanut butter next week but I figured I'd show you a little teaser ;)

This comforting meal of toast with Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter and banana with strawberries on the side was absolutely perfect.

Check out the raisins in the peanut butter. So freaking good.

So there you have some sweet recipes I've tried from Angela over at Oh She Glows! I can't wait to try some savory dishes as well. I definitely recommend all three recipes and would love recommendations of which of Angela's recipes I should try next!

Hope you are all having a great week so far!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Catching Up Instagram Style

Hey friends! Happy belated Mother's Day to all of the Mommys (Mommies?) out there (of human and/or fur children). I hope that you all had a really nice day. I spent the day with the family which was really nice. The only small issue was that my body didn't enjoy spending a few hours outside amongst the ridiculous amount of pollen and I had a bit of an allergy (read: swollen throat) situation last night but it's better now. And today is Monday which means it's time for "This Week On Instagram!" I have a few old pics and a whole lot of randomness but I guess that's what makes these posts fun, right?

On the heels of Mother's Day, here is a pic of me and my mom at my brother's wedding a few years ago. Minus the hair in my face it's one of my favorite pictures of us. I'm so lucky that my mom isn't just an amazing mother, she is also one of my best friends. We are lucky to have a really close relationship and while we drive each other crazy at times, she is honestly the most amazing woman I know.

And now onto the randomness ;)

There have been tons of bunnies running around my neighborhood lately. I got super close to the guy and he was so cute but I wasn't about to get any closer. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I worked a wedding for the first time in a while. I was at a catering hall that has peacocks randomly roaming around the grounds. I've had many run ins with the peacocks (they have a white one too) over the years... including one time in the parking lot where I had to wait for 5 minutes him to mosey along until I could leave because he was just standing in the middle of the lane just staring at me.

Here he is again. Those doors lead into the reception room so I'm sure it's fun for the guests to be able to look out or walk out of the door and see it. I hope that they treat them well and take good care of them. I wonder where they hang out during the winter as well.

I saw these gorgeous blossoms walking back to my car after a visit to my Dr. I thought they were so gorgeous I had to take a bunch of pictures of them. 

This is another picture of the gorgeous blossoms. The sky was so blue that day. This is one of my favorite pics I've taken and it's now the wallpaper on my phone :) It just makes me happy to look at the beautiful blossoms.

That's all I have for you this week. Not a ton of pictures but I hope you enjoyed them. I went grocery shopping this morning and did some prep for the week so I'll show you what I made on Wednesday! I hope that you have all been well. Sadly I think I have to put the mansions on hold for a few weeks until I get my allergies under control because the throat swelling is really uncomfortable but I can't wait to go to my second mansion and will do so as soon as everything is back on track.

Hope you all have had a great Monday! See you on Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Hey guys. I only have a few meals to share with you today because I've just been lazy and my appetite has been weird but I figured a few meals are better than none! Things have been crazy lately because of a major change in my work situation so I'm just trying to readjust and get used to my new workload...

Anyway, here are a few meals... very few ;)

Honestly this was probably my favorite meal of the week. A big bowl of strawberries and a banana. The strawberries were so sweet and delicious. I have been craving a lot of fruit lately so this was a perfect meal for me.

Been eating lots of salads. I love this new container because you know I love my compartments. This salad is romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumber and sun dried tomatoes with Isa's Classic Vegan Caesar Dressing. Carrots on the side.

I saw this sign in one of the Bagel Boss locations and was really excited! Not a whole lot of bagel places out on Long Island carry vegan cream cheese so I was glad to see this. 

A week or two after I saw that sign I decided to have a Shen inspired meal! I saw this exact meal on her blog and thought it sounded delicious. I am a plain or pumpernickel bagel with plain cream cheese gal but I thought this combo sounded great so I opted for an everything bagel with tofu scallion cream cheese. It was such a yummy combo but those giant globs of cream cheese in the middle were removed because that is a bit intense.

Since this was a Shen inspired meal I figured I'd photograph it on the gorgeous Vegan Dish that she gifted me. I love the dish so much and it was the perfect vessel to deliver this meal to you :)

Finally, a quick meal on the go of red and green apple slices and Justin's Maple Almond Butter. It was a delicious combo and I had forgotten how much I loved this almond butter. 

That's all I have for today! I should be back tomorrow with another Throwback recipe! I think they are almost all transfered which is good because I think my other domain expires in July! I'll have to make sure I'm on top of that ;)

Hope you are all having a great week!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Show & Tell Sunday: Lush Haul & Review

I first discovered Lush many years ago when backpacking the UK and Europe with a friend of mine. We went in and were amazed by the amount of beautiful products lining the shelves and counters and by how AMAZING it smelled. For those of you that have never heard of Lush, it is a company that makes fresh, handmade cosmetics, hair and skin care, and beautiful bath products. They use mostly natural ingredients with "safe synthetics" in there only when necessary.

On the heels of finding out that I have a chemical allergy and knowing that I'm susceptible to develop more, I made the conscious decision to cut the chemicals and do everything I can to use natural ingredients. I have only ever purchased one product from Lush and it was years ago but I knew that going to a company that makes all of their products by hand with natural ingredients was the way to go.

After working a wedding I decided that I was going to use that money to pamper myself. I've been really stressed lately and that has led to stress breakouts on my face, yuck. I decided that I was going to completely revamp my skin and hair care routine to include beautiful products that pamper my skin and hair and leave me smelling amazing. While Lush products are not cheap, I was willing to FINALLY splurge on myself.

Last Sunday I went to my local Lush shop and worked with one of the girl's that worked there to find everything on my list. She was so helpful and explained everything to me and made it a really nice experience. I figured I'd use the products for a week and do a review for you so here it goes!

One huge reason why I love Lush is that they are very vocal in their fight against animal testing. Not only do they not use ingredients tested on animals, but they will not buy ingredients from companies that supply ingredients to companies that test on animals. They are loud and proud in their fight and I love that. All of their products are vegetarian and a huge amount of them are vegan. They label all of their vegan products so it's easy for you to tell which are vegan and which are not. In addition to this, they believe in sustainable sourcing. According to their website, "We give our love (and money) to suppliers that respect the environment, as well as the animals and people living there."

As I mentioned before, everything from Lush is hand made. I think it is so adorable that they place these stickers on every product showing you who made your product! It also includes the date it was made as well as the expiration date (all natural ingredients expire!).

Finally, Lush is extremely environmentally conscious. They believe in naked packaging which basically means that a lot of their products have no packaging at all. The bottles and black pots are made with recycled BPA free materials. They encourage you to bring back your empty black pots by offering a free fresh face mask for every 5 pots you bring in. When they ship their products they package everything in biodegradable packaging and use biodegradable filler (packing peanuts that apparently melt in water!).

So now you know why I love the company... now let's check out the haul!

So many beautiful products. I basically got the bare minimum I'd need to start a new hair and skin care routine. I have seen videos of people that essentially hoard Lush products but I don't have the funds for that ;) Let's go through what I got.

This beautiful bar of soap is called Sultana of Soap. It is a creamy, beautiful soap that smells light but sweet. It is a creamy soap with currants, apricots and cranberries. It lathers pretty well and leaves your skin smelling amazing and feeling really soft. The only thing is that it tends to melt pretty quickly in the shower so it is best to cut the bar into little pieces to preserve as much of it as possible.

While I love using the product I probably would hold off on purchasing it again ONLY because I don't really like using bar soaps. I have always preferred liquid soaps so that is the only thing that would hold me back from buying it again.

Something else that is amazing about Lush is that they are so generous with giving out samples. I wanted to try a few out before I bought them for two reasons. Either the products was ridiculously expensive or it contained chamomile. People that are allergic to ragweed can cross react with chamomile so I wanted to do a patch test with the product before I purchased it. I'll talk more about each sample below.

These are my fresh face masks! In my attempt to pamper myself I figured that a face mask would be the perfect way to do it. All of the fresh face masks are made up of completely natural ingredients and have to be stored in the fridge and used with three weeks. They have three vegan face masks and I have two pictured above.

Oatifix: The Oatifix face mask is made of oats, bananas, almond, and vanilla among other ingredients. It is a cooling, soothing face mask that exfoliates and moisturizes. It is safe for sensitive skin and great for soothing red or irritated skin. I was attracted to this one because of my stress breakouts and because I have rosacea and am always looking for a way to soothe that. The face mask is really cooling and soothing while it is on and it smells AMAZING. It leaves your skin feeling soft and supple and exfoliated. It smells like a beautiful, sweet oatmeal cookie. It is a really lovely product and I'm glad I bought it. I would purchase it again in the future if I was looking for a way to pamper myself but not too often since I don't know if I'll even use it all up in the three weeks before it expires.

Catastrophe Cosmetic: The little sample that I have is called Catastrophe Cosmetic. This face mask contains blueberries, calamine, chamomile and rose absolute. It also has a calming, soothing effect on your skin. This face mask is creamy, unlike the Oatifix so it is nice if you want something cooling without the abrasiveness of the oats and almonds. It smells nice but not as amazing as Oatifix. I got the sample of this to patch test since it has the chamomile. I have not done this yet so I can't review how the product works.

These are my FAVORITE products that I purchased!!

Big: Probably my favorite product in the entire haul. This shampoo (yes, shampoo!!) in the open pot on the left is a beautiful, volumizing shampoo. It is filled with coarse sea salt that melts away and citrus juice, seaweed infusion, coconut and avocado oils. The sea salt scrubs away the dirt as well as volumizes your hair, the oils keep your hair soft and nourished and the citrus juices make your hair shiny. Let me tell you, every claim is correct. After I use this shampoo my hair feels super clean. I don't use heat on my hair so I let it air dry and it has TONS of volume and the sea salt brings out my natural waves. It is super soft and shiny as well. It lathers really well in the shower and smells like a citrusy margarita (which I love). I will buy this product over and over again, I am totally in love with it.

Veganese: I would say that conditioners probably have the fewest vegan options but all you need is this one! This conditioner is light with a beautiful, bright, fresh lemon scent. It has lemon and seaweed that leaves your hair silky and shiny. It pairs perfectly with the Big shampoo, I love the combination of the two.


Sympathy for the Skin: The large pot on the left and the body moisturizer that I chose. It contains bananas which are moisturizing and make your skin super soft. A little goes a long way and this lotion is thick and luscious. It smells like a sweet banana/vanilla custard and the scent stays with you for a long time after you apply it. It is a really lovely product that I would definitely recommend. I use it after I shower and my skin feels soft and smooth all day.

Celestial: The facial moisturizer I chose to sample. Since their facial moisturizers are expensive for the size, I decided to try a sample of it before I committed to the full size. This is a sensitive skin facial moisturizer that soothes and hydrates. It contains cocoa butter, almond milk and dove orchid extract. It is a really light moisturizer that smells like vanilla custard. I LOVE this moisturizer. It is really light and doesn't irritate my skin which is really important for me. You'll see how much I liked it in a minute.

Tea Tree Water: This is the toner that I chose to try. It is alcohol free which is great since alcohol can dry out the skin. It is really effective on blemish prone skin and since my stress breakout was driving me crazy I figured I'd give it a try. It brightens the skin, reduces redness and clears excess oils. I love spraying it directly on my face since it is really cooling and refreshing. This is another product I will be incorporating into my regular routine.

Grease Lightning: Spot treatment to get rid of blemishes pretty quickly. It contains herbs like thyme and rosemary, grape juice, aloe vera extract and other ingredients that combine to form a gentle but powerful blemish fighter. I have been using this all week to combat my stress breakout and I am confident when I say that this stuff is amazing. My breakout has improved tremendously in just a week and I definitely believe that adding this product to my routine has helped me calm my skin and reduce the appearance of my blemishes.

Dark Angels: This was probably the product I was most afraid of. It is a facial scrub made of charcoal and black sugar. It is to smooth and brighten skin and reduce redness while exfoliating the dead skin away. Cold pressed olive oil softens and nourishes the skin. Truthfully, I hate the way it smells... which is like a combination of charcoal and licorice and using a black cleanser is messy BUT... it works. The combination of this cleanser, the spot treatment, the toner and the moisturizer has not only helped my breakous tremendously, it reduced the redness in my face as well as smoothed my skin and made it glow. While my complexion still is far from perfect, the combination of these products have definitely helped it improve tremendously.

Rub Rub Rub: The final sample of this haul is called Rub Rub Rub, a shower gel/scrub. I got a sample of this because I wasn't sure how I felt about it and it was pretty expensive. Like the Big Shampoo, it contains salt for its cleansing power and exfoliating properties. The salt isn't as coarse as in the shampoo so it exfoliates gently. It has a refreshing citrus scent and works really well. I want to purchase a full sized pot of this product but it is really expensive so I'm going to wait for a bit. I'm going to stretch the rest of my sample as much as possible ;)

I loved my Celestial moisturizer sample so much and was really happy with my new facial cleansing routine so I went back to Lush this past Friday and picked it up. I picked up a few other things as well as you can see!

Happy Hippy: Since I was going to hold off on Rub Rub Rub, I chose to go with a less expensive shower gel option. This shower gel smells AMAZING. It has a gorgeous and refreshing grapefruit scent. The grapefruit cleans amazingly well, brightens your skin and is the perfect morning wake up scent. The only thing I'm not super thrilled about is that the scent doesn't stay on your skin at all. It's not a huge deal since I use the strongly scented lotion after but I love the scent so much I'd love for it to stay with me for a bit. Honestly, I'll probably use it as a liquid hand soap as well.

Let The Good Times Roll: I was lucky enough to get another sample on this trip and this time I chose a different cleanser. While I will continue to use the Dark Angels cleanser because it works, I wanted to try another one that smells better :X And this one DEFINITELY smells better! I love this scent. My first impression was that is smelled like sweet cornbread. I've heard that it smells like caramel popcorn but I still get the cornbread scent from it. Anyway, this cleanser consists of maize flour, corn meal and cinnamon and is meant to exfoliate and moisturize and leaves you with beautiful glowing skin. The scent stays with you for a long time which I loved. I have only used it once but I liked it. I'm a little nervous to rock the boat on my skin care routine so I may use it as a body scrub in the shower (which is another great use for it!) when my Rub Rub Rub sample runs out.

Popcorn Lip Scrub: Lush is well known for their sugar lip scrubs. It is pretty easy to make your own but I felt like the popcorn flavor was so unique I wanted to give it a try. It is a salty sweet lip scrub that tastes like caramel popcorn. It exfoliates your lips and leaves them soft and smooth. All you do is gently rub the scrub on your lips then lick it off! It works so well and is really yummy too!

So that's everything! Truthfully there is so much more that I want to try but I kept it to a minimum since I'm just starting to rebuild. I'm really happy with the products I got AND I found a way to save money for when I need to re-stock. It is apparently cheaper to purchase the more expensive products from the UK website and I tested it out and added up a purchase of my favorite essentials and including the international shipping (about $13ish US) I would save $35. So I'm going to be ordering from the UK when it's time to re-stock!

So that is my incredibly long Lush haul and review. I hope you enjoyed reading it! I'll keep you posted on any new items I pick up and definitely let me know if you've ever tried anything from Lush or what you may want to try! Also, if you have any favorite all natural hair or skin care products please share them in the comments, I'd love to hear some more suggestions.

Hope you all had a great weekend!