Thursday, 20 September 2018

Vegan Products Review - September 2018

Sorry these actually go from July - September because I haven't had time to post.

Wild Hibiscus Flowers in syrup are something that reminds me of Christmas in Australia. The adults in my family always had them with their champagne at our Christmas gatherings. It adds a slight sweetness and the obvious aesthetic class to your usual glass of bubbly. Guaranteed to improve the taste of even the cheapest sparking wines LOL. It's made in Australia so the sugar is vegan! I have seen this in the USA in Total Wine and The Fresh Market.



I bought these Eco-Kids natural finger paints for my toddler. They were pretty expensive so I was happy when I saw them on sale. They are powdered paints made from natural ingredients so you actually only end up using a small amount each time and the pouch are zip locked to keep them fresh for next time. The natural elements is great too since with toddlers they like to eat anything. The one thing I didn't like about them, and this is probably true of all naturally made paints, it was a bit gritty and although the colours came out in lovely pastel shades while painting they all dried to a greyish colour which was a bit disappointing from a keepsake point of view.




I found these dried Okra and Broccoli snacks at Trader Joe's and loved that the only ingredients was sunflower oil, salt and the vegetable. However, although I thought they were pretty good the kids didn't love them :(



Also found at Trader Joe's these too spreads, Bruschetta which didn't really taste like bruschetta but was very good on pasta and Artichoke Antipasto which was great on pasta or pizza - especially Gourmet Pizza!



I got these Coconut Bliss ice-cream sandwiches at Native Sun and although I thought the cookie part was a little too sweet they were actually pretty amazing. Around $4-5 they are a bit expensive, I think I tried them on sale but they are quite large so if you're not a total piggy like me then you can easily get 2-4 servings out of it.


Also at Native Sun I found these Jolly Llama Mint Choc Chip Ice-cream pops. I'm a huge sucker for mint chocolate ice-cream and these did not disappoint! Very delicious. The same brand also has other flavors and some sorbet pops.


So it seemed Native Sun was just having a good ice-cream day because they also had some of the new So Delicious range and I tried the Peachy Maple Pecan which was soooo delicious! Get it?  Get it? Ok. Tough crowd.


Now this is going to be quite a local find, sorry! Native Sun had locally made (in Gainesville FL) ArtMoro Black Bean Tempeh and let me tell you, it was really good. Beside being the same price as regular tempeh it's also twice the size so I got two good servings out of it. It was a bit softer than the other brands I've bought and had a slightly tangier flavor but I was a fan!


I am quite the fan of Kite Hill's yoghurt but this cream cheese was on par with Tofutti in my mind, So it wasn't bad, just not worth paying more than Tofutti.


I was completely devo when Wholefoods stopped carrying my Primal Vegan Jerky (since found it at the naval station commissary so all good). They had this Louisville Vegan Jerky instead so I thought I'd try it. Now it was really really good BUT it was $7 a bag, and not a big bag so I'll definitely be looking out for it on sale but for your jerky cravings it will definitely hit the spot!


Native Sun (I think?) Had these Masala Pop vegan popcorns on BOGO (buy one get one) so I had to try. The chai caramel was SO GOOD!!!! I mean vegan caramel popcorn, what else do I need to say! The savory coconut was good too, like plain salt popcorn but with a hint of coconut oil.


I got these Skinny Sticks BBQ at my local discount store where I occasionally find awesome discounted vegan products to try! I LOVED these, really had that BBQ crisps taste but in a convenient stick form. LOL I don't even know what that means, it just sounded how they would sell it! Sadly haven't seen them again but they were good! Website says they are available in Walmart and Walgreens so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for new flavors! All are vegan and GF!


Another discount store find was Super Eats Chipotle BBQ. They were a little spicy for me and I can handle medium amount of spicy. I'd like to try the White Cheddar!


Again discount store to the snacking rescue, this Enjoy Life Plentils flavor I hadn't tried before. At least I don't think I have, who remembers? They were good though and I'd definitely have them again. Dill for life!!


Another discount store find, these The Real Coconut coconut flour tortilla chips were interesting. I think they were going to be like corn chips but they were more like a wheat based tortilla chip and had a coconut taste to them. They weren't bad, I just couldn't find anything to go with them. Maybe Corn Dip?


Another discount store find, these Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalapeno chips were WAY to spicy for me and I made the mistake of trying them in the car with no water or means of escape. These were so spicy I couldn't eat them so if you're always complaining nothing's ever hot enough for your burnt out taste buds check these out now!!! I love their dill flavor!


I'm always on the look out for healthier options of GF pasta so this looked good. It tasted very strong - I mean maybe for a Asian noodle soup maybe but it wasn't good for pasta. 


I always like finding vegan GF granola bars for snacks because they are so easy to keep in my bag for emergency. These Enjoy Life are pretty decent, grainy and sweet but not too much.


Another discount find, this Hilary's Ranch Chia salad dressing, I wasn't a fan. It was very watery and vinegary.


These Betty Lou's PB&J Bars from the discount store were actually better than expected! Definitely not healthy but a fun treat!


I've had Hail Merry before and it's raw treats so you have to take that into consideration before you try but these were pretty tasty. 


I was told to try Forager Cashew Yoghurt but honestly I wasn't a fan, it was very gritty and quite expensive.


I'm in love with Trader Joe's cauliflower pizza crust! I feel like there must be a trick to baking it correctly so that it's crispy instead of soft but I haven't figured that part out yet. It tasted really good though!



These Veggie Ring's were ok actually, they tasted like onion rings and the family liked them...definitely needs dipping sauce because you get that cauliflower after taste. They also come in butternut.


I was super excited when I saw these Equal Exchange 55% cacoa chocolate chips! I love their 55% dark chocolate! 


Found these Hilary's Mediterranean Bites at commissary and they were pretty good, kind of like falafel!


I was actually looking for another brand when I found these Lucy's Snack'n Go Packs Chocolate Chip Cookies at Winn Dixies. LOVE that the are individual bags (I know it's terrible for the environment but good for no over snacking). They mini cookies and what I like most is that they are crunch,y, not soft, so perfect for dunking in my tea ;)


Most important till last! Found these Glutenberg gluten free/vegan beers at Total Wine which I quite liked. The Canadian brewery also has a few seasonal launches such as stout which I'm dying to try!!!





Friday, 17 August 2018

Black Bean Burgers

Recipe from doTERRA's recipe blog page.


Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
3 1/2 cups (2 cans) black beans, drained (I use fresh black beans that have been slow cooked)
¼ cup red bell pepper
½ cup yellow onion
2 drops Cilantro oil
2 drops Basil oil
1 egg replacer
1 1/2 cup GF bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
I also added in 1/2 tsp Fresh Jax Grill Master spice blend** You could also use any


Method

Preheat in 350F oven.
Put yellow onion, garlic, red bell pepper, essential oils, egg replacer, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and half of rinsed beans into food processor or blender until smooth.
Combine with remaining black beans and stir.
If mixture is too sticky, add more bread crumbs until it holds together.
Add in more salt or pepper as needed.
Divide into eight patties. I used a bit of GF flour on the outside to make the patties
Place patties on a baking tray (I used baking paper too) and bake for 10 minutes on either side.
Once done in the oven you can conitnue to cook to use or freeze.
When ready to use heat skillet/grill on medium heat with olive oil.
Heat patties roughly six minutes on each side.
Once burger is cooked, place on paper towel and allow to cool slightly before using.


** Fresh Jax Grill Master blend contains; Organic smoked black peppercorn, organic dill, organic onion, organic paprika, sea salt, organic coriander, organic thyme, organic garlic, organic fennel, organic rosemary.

Black Bean Hummus

Original recipe from My Recipes.


Black Bean Hummus

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (I used 2 drop of Cilantro Essential Oil)
2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 small jalapeƱo pepper, seeded (I just used a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper)


Method

Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve with crackers, corn chips or vegetables.

Black Bean Brownies

Original recipe from Minimalist Baker. A hit with all the kids!


Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients

425 g can black beans, well rinsed and drained (I used fresh cooked beans around 1 3/4 cups)
2 large flax eggs (2 heaping Tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp water)
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used carob powder because I was cooking them for my toddler)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Heaped 1/2 cup (105 g) organic cane sugar, finely ground. (I used coconut palm sugar)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Optional toppings: crush walnuts, pecans, or dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips (I used hazelnuts)


Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
Lightly grease a 12-slot standard size muffin pan (I used a silicon friand tray).
Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple times and then let rest for a few minutes.
Add remaining ingredients (besides walnuts or other toppings) and puree - about 3 minutes - scraping down sides as needed until smooth.
Spoon into muffin tray with room at the top for rising.
Sprinkle with crushed nuts or chocolate chips.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides.
Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
They will be tender, so remove gently with a fork.
The insides are meant to be fudgy.
Store in fridge or freezer.

Avocado Cilantro Hummus

It's nice to mix up your hummus a bit sometimes and this is an easy one because I normally always have these items on hand! doTERRA's Cilantro Essential Oil is one of the best food grade oils I've ever used - seriously indistinguishable from the real deal and I always have it...unlike fresh cilantro!


Avocado Cilantro Hummus

Ingredients

1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinse (save your chickpea water (aquaflaba) for vegan meringue!)
1/8 cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of ½ lemon or lime
1 small garlic clove
1 ripe avocado
1/2 bunch cilantro (I used 2 drops of doTERRA Cilantro Essential Oil)
Salt & Pepper to taste


Method

Place all ingredients (using only a small amount of salt at this stage) in a bowl, or blender.
Blend together until smooth.
Taste and add further salt if required.
If the hummus is a little too stiff add extra water until it is at your preferred consistency.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Lavender Cupcakes with Royal Icing

These are a beautiful and delicately flavored cake perfect for gifts and fancy afternoon teas! Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe from Forever Summer.


Lavender Cupcakes with Royal Icing

Ingredients

for the cupcakes:
125g self-raising GF flour (Add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder if you only have regular GF flour)
125g very soft unsalted vegan butter
125g lavender sugar, sieved** (recipe below, I just added 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil)
2 egg replacers
pinch salt
few tablespoons non-dairy milk, more if needed

for icing;
1/4 cups aquafaba (chickpea water from a can - don't use fresh)
3 cups vegan confectioners'/icing sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (if needed to thicken)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
A couple drops of food coloring if using
I also added 1 drop of lavender essential oil

Method

Cakes;
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a 12-bun cupcake or muffin tin with paper cases.
Take butter and milk out of the fridge in time to make sure they're at room temperature.
Put all the ingredients for the cupcakes, except for the milk, into the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a double-bladed knife, and blitz till totally combined.
Process again, adding enough milk to make a batter with a smooth, flowing texture, then remove the blade and spoon and scrape the batter equally into the waiting cupcake cases.
Remember the cakes rise as they bake: there is enough mixture to fill each case adequately even if you panic when you first look at it.
Bake for about 20 minutes, by which time the sponge should be cooked through and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven, leave for 5 minutes or so, then arrange the cupcakes in their paper cases on a wire rack to cool.
Let cool completely before icing.

Icing;
Combine the aquafaba and confectioners' sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes.
Whisk in the lemon juice and food coloring if using, this will thin out the icing.
Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

** Note, I used two drops essential oil in the sugar to make lavender sugar because my essential oils are food grade. You can also use fresh/dried lavender place 1 Tbls lavender flowers to 2 cups sugar and blending in a food processor.


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Tzatziki Sauce

This Greek yoghurt based sauce is amazing with falafel!! Original recipe from Genius Kitchen.


Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

3 cups vegan greek style yoghurt (I use Kite Hill)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large English cucumber, diced (the long, skinny ones)
1 tablespoon salt (for salting cucumbers)
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or both, depending on preference) or 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped (or both, depending on preference)
salt & freshly ground black pepper


Method

Peel cucumbers and dice.
Put them in a colander and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt (draws water out).
Cover with a plate and sit something heavy on top.
Let sit for 30 minute Drain well and wipe dry with a paper towel.
In food processor or blender, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill and/or mint, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Process until well blended, then stir into yogurt.
Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed.
Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend.
This will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.


Summer Mango Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing



Summer Mango Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Ingredients

1 Mango, chopped
1 can Chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/2 bunch Mint, chopped
1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 Avocado, chopped
Sprouts
1/4-1/2 tsp Japanese Chilli powder (Shichimi Togarashi)
Juice from 1 Lime
2 Tbls Maple syrup


Method

In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, maple syrup and Shichimi Togarashi together.
Add all other ingredients together and toss to combine.
Pour over dressing and serve.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Essential Oil Living


I had been using essential oils on an off for most of my adult life and I used only essential oils in my soaps. One day I realized that besides the types of oils I mainly used I really didn't know that much about essential oils and what the benefits of other oils really were so I started to research.


Essentials oils are the oils that are pressed or steamed from different parts of plants that are extremely beneficial to natural health. (More on that here). These oils possess the best of the plant, the protective properties that the plant uses against attack and illness. Although people think of essential oil use as "hippy" or "new age" actually essential oils have been used for centuries for medicinal health & beauty purposes. Knowing which plants possess which qualities and therefore what their oils can achieve is the key. Most important of all is finding the best quality essential oil.



I started buying doTERRA oils after years and years of buying cheaper ones. I never reaped the benefits that seemed to be promised and it wasn't until I did some digging that I realized it was the quality of the oils I was buying. The ones I had been using had been obtained through chemical processes, contained lots of fillers and carrier oils (oils such as coconut used to dilute the essential oil) and were not being stored correctly (other brands are exposed to heat and light before they even get to the stores). Having the pure oils come straight to you from a quality & temperature controlled warehouse makes a big difference. As in life, you get what you pay for and I really was buying junk essential oils, it made the house smell nice but they weren't doing anything beyond that. If I wanted to be serious about having a natural approach to health, home and beauty I needed to buy the best.

Although only being around for a decade doTERRA has fast made a name for itself buy being the best essential oil company (See Why doTERRA?). By extracting oils using pressing or steam method only, using only the freshest picked plants and having the extraction done in the country of origin allowed the oils to remain pure and maintain their best medicinal qualities. There's a big difference between fresh orange juice and a diluted concentrate you buy in the supermarket. Fresh is always best.

I was on the fence for a while because doTERRA is more expensive than other brands, but due to the concentrated properties you use so much less than other brands. I can use 1-2 drops where I used to use 10-15 drops.

The power of nature is quite amazing, if you've ever seen plants regenerate after trauma or disease you can see that. And we as a part of nature we should be harnessing what the Earth has already given us instead of relying on synthetic chemicals that can cause more harm than good. Certainly modern medicine has it's place but the idea behind essential oils is help to prevent rather than need a cure, although there are plenty of essential oil cures too...naturally! Keeping the body, mind and spirit as healthy as possible really is the best way to live the best life you can, not just exist and survive.

You can use essential oils in three different ways when you buy pure; Aromatically, Topically & Internally. (More on that here). Being able to buy herbal essential oil such as basil and cilantro is a game changer in the kitchen! I no longer have to worry about not having fresh herbs for my recipes!

If you are interested in essential oil living and have any questions on where to start please feel free to contact me (contact at the bottom of the blog) or visit my essential oils page!

The best way to get started is to sign up for the wholesale prices! But of course you can always go in and pay retail if you're not sure you'll buy much.

You can sign up for wholesale prices in two ways;

1. Pay the annual membership fee of $35 and you get a free peppermint oil included so essentially you'r only paying $12 for the annual membership.

2. Choose an enrollment kit (like the Family Essentials one I got shown below) and it waves your membership fee. This is a great way to start you using the oils because it gives you many to work with plus a lovely 120 page book on all the doTERRA oils, blends and products and how to use them. My favorite part is the little stickers in the book to put on the top of your essential oils for easy locating!

Having said all that I have a lovely list of vegan doTERRA products. Obviously all the essential oils and blends are vegan but doTERRA offers a range of vitamin health, weight loss solutions, beauty products and healthy home living products that are not all vegan. Luckily the list of not vegan is quite small...


This list of non-vegan doTERRA products was put together by Ora Leaders.

The following products are NOT considered vegan: 
  • The GX Assist uses a bovine gelatin. We use capsules containing an animal-based ingredient because the current technology for vegetable capsules had not allowed for oil-based products (they dissolve the capsules). We have found a new technology that will allow us to move away from these animal-based capsules, but the transition will take some time.
  • IQ Mega and xEO Mega both contain fish oils - however they do make vegan versions of these products
  • The Hydrating Cream contains milk proteins 
  • The a2z chewable supplements contain honey
  • Lip balm contains beeswax

doTERRA have some great blends that save you the trouble of researching all the oil properties. These blends have been found by doTERRA to offer the best combination to promote health in each area. I use a lot of the blends over single oils because I feel like I get more use out of them - they are an easy go to, especially the roll-on  form that I can carry with me.
Here are some of my favourites...

Slim & Sassy - for weight management


Deep Blue - for sore, tire muscles and relaxation

Breathe - for nights when illness or allergies are preventing sleep


Clary Calm - to keep my female hormones in check during PMS and give me an all round sense of wellbeing



Past Tense - for tension & headaches is the ones doTERRA product I had already being using for years for my migraines


On Guard - for a boost to the immune system and helping keep the house free of illness this range is one of my most used in the house. I love having the beadlets in my purse all the time.


Citrus Bliss - I love to add to household cleaner and to refresh a room using a diffuser


Serenity - for calming and a relaxation. The Lavender & Vetiver ensure a great night's sleep



Immortelle - amazing for skin look & preservation, the immortelle or Helichrysum flower is known in France as "the flower that never dies" 

In Tune - great for helping my daughter with ADHD to concentrate on the task at hand
TerraShield  - is great for outdoor activities to keep the bugs at bay. I love that it now comes in a spray bottle too!
FDA disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”