Friday, 23 February 2018

Toddler Squash Soup

This is a great first soup for your toddler. It's thick, sweet and full of vitamins! You can use any squash or sweet potato. I make broccoli and spinach puree but steaming then blitzing and storing in ice cube trays in the freezer, bagging once frozen. You can add them to pasta sauces and soups and they don't change the taste :)


Toddler Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, skinned, gutted and cut into small pieces
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp iodized salt
broccoli puree


Method

Place butternut in boiling water or stock (enough to cover) and bring to boil.
Cover and simmer on a low-medium heat until butternut is soft.
Drain the excess liquid but reserve a little in case you need to thin out the soup.
Use a hand blender or blender to puree the squash and add in other ingredients.
When I serve I add in two tablespoons (one ice cube size) of broccoli puree to the bowl.
Serve with wholemeal toast strips.

A Few of my Favourite Things

It's been a few years since I did a blog post about the products that I actually use. If you're into making your own products here is a link to the DIY page ;)
These products are not endorsed, they are just what I use on a daily basis.

Food

Milk
Ripple & Bolthouse Farms are my go-to for when I want something that tastes like milk. They are both pea protein based so don't have that nut aftertaste and are perfect for those with nut allergies. Ripple is available at Target & Bolthouse Farms at Walmart & Publix.
Califia Farms toasted coconut & almond blend I love for cooking because it's cheaper than Ripple & Bolthouse but still has a creamy texture. They also do great creamers!


Cheese
Follow Your Heart or Chao by Field Roast are my first choice of sliced cheeses. Follow Your Heart has a great selection. I especially love their grated (not powdered) Parmesan...so amazing!
Miyoko's Cremery is definitely my pick for artisan cheeses - if you're a bit or a cheese snob and love a cheese & fruit platter with a glass of chilled Sancerre then these cheese are perfect. Bit on the pricey side but if you buy when they're on sale they freeze really well. The Double Cream Brie is my favourite!



Faux Meat
I use tofu or tempeh a lot to get the texture of chicken or a protein in many meals.
Beyond Meat makes great beef crumbles but their beef patties are AMAZING. I was not a fan of their chicken however.
Gardein makes a great range of vegan faux meat that my kids love...unfortunately most of it is not gluten free. Of the GF ones my favourites are teh beef crumbles, the garden vegetable burger (I love these so much, so some reason they remind me of crab cakes) and their "chicken" scallopini.
Sophie's Kitchen has a great range of vegan seafood - the smoked salmon is great!



Sauces
Follow Your Heart makes a great range of condiments, in particular their creamy sauces are amazing. I love the blue cheese salad dressing, thousand island dressing and tartar sauce.
I usually get Hampton Creek's Just Mayo mainly out of convenience because you can get it anywhere but it's pretty awesome!
I usually make my own Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce & ketchup but I really like Organicville brand too.
Sky Valley Organics makes a range of sauces for cooking such as peanut sauce and curry sauces which are pretty good.



Bread
GF vegan bread (that's good) is generally hard to come by and I've found wherever I've lived it comes down to a somewhat local company to save the day. I Utah I loved the bread (and everything else) made by City Cakes & Cafe in SLC. Here in Jax, FL I love DeLands vegan range (especially for hamburger buns) found at Native Sun and Little Northern Bake House from Earth Fare - this brand is amazing when you microwave it slightly, it actually tastes like normally fresh bread. So good!!



Snacks
I've been loving Hippeas lately, also cause the toddler can eat them pretty easily. They are puffy savory snacks.
Vega vegan protein bars are always in my bag (especially the peanut caramel one - tastes like a Snickers bar).
I'm very much in love with Primal vegan jerky and they have two soy flavors and one mushroom which are all GF. I get mine at Wholefoods but you can get them on Amazon too.
For a chocolate hit I love Unreal Dark Chocolate Gems (which taste like Peanut M&Ms). For cooking purposes I usually use Enjoy Life.




Wine
I'm a very strict vegan so I consider many small things not to be vegan such as char bone sugar, any foods produce with the use of animals (coconut milk, truffles etc) and anything that used any animal products during it manufacture, which includes random things like condoms and WINE.
I miss good wine and it means that I've had to say goodbye to some of my favourite wineries over the years.
Since moving to the States I find it hard to get good wine, especially when the laws on transporting (even within the country) are so strict! Most everything else you can get at Total Wine or Wine.com.

Whites
I like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre) grapes so the good ones tend to be from Marlborough NZ or Loire, France. Some white wines that I've found and love are;

Pewsey Vale Dry Reisling (Barossa Valley, Australia)
Geisen Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington, USA)
Barton & Guestier Chenin Blanc (Loire, France)
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Candoni Organic Pinot Grigio (Veneto, Italy)
Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc (Marlboroough, New Zealand) - possible my favourite wine on the planet but for some impossible to get on the East coast! If you live in California though lucky you!
Layer Cake makes great vegan wine from grapes all over the world.

Reds
I like subtle reds, nothing too full bodied;


Bell'agio Chianti (Italy) - available from NEX and Publix
Natura - most of their reds are fairly decent and all their wine is vegan :) - available from Publix
OKO Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) - this was one of the best reds I've ever had but now I find it hard to get anywhere. Oko is all organic and vegan.
Yellow Tail Shiraz (South Eastern Australia)- actually a fairly decent shiraz, normally I stick to merlot, and a great one for a budget ;)
Layer Cake makes great vegan wine from grapes all over the world.

Beauty/Bath

Make Up

Primer - I like the Arbonne primer because it smooths out make up really nicely and is long lasting.
In Australia I loved Inika primer.

Eyes - I've been using Arbonne's mascara because it's got a great formula and brush and has peptides that are supposed to help with lash growth but previously I really liked Two Faced Better Than Sex Mascara and Tarte Amazonian Clay Gifted Mascara. The only thing I didn't like about the Two Faced one was that it was waterproof and very difficult to get off.
I still use Paula's Choice eye shadow and blush palettes that I've had for years but they don't seem to do as much cosmetics these days.
For liner I like e.l.f. liquid liners and felt tip liner but Kat Von D ink liners are really nice too and have great color options. I've been wanting to try Zuzu Luxe & Jordana fabuliner because I've heard good things about those too! 



Face - I've been using Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation and loose mineral powder. I've always loved Paula's Choice concealer. Although the e.l.f. HD Lifting Concealer is pretty good and cheap! 



Beauty Regime

Cleanser
The DIY one is pretty good but I also love Pacifica Sea Water Gel cleanser (great for make up removal) and L'Occitane Immortelle Precious Foaming Cleanser, the Immortelle Divine Cream Cleaser is amazing too.




Scrub
When I'm poor I just used ground coffee beans which seems to work fairly well, just leaves the sink/shower a little messy but lately I've been using L'Occitane Reine Blanche Illuminating Scrub.

Masks
Sometimes I just use a little bit of Kaolin clay and water and make myself a mud mask (I'm sure there are a ton of mask recipes online using that ingredient). I also love the L'Occitane Flash Moisture Masks and the Andalou gel masks.




Moisturiser

For face I love Rodan + Fields Reverse Daily Moisturizer with sunscreen and Image Daily matte moisturizer with sunscreen. The Image one is a lovely light, silky and pleasant smelling cream. All Image products are vegan but only some of Rodan + Fields are. If you have any age/hormone/sun spots the Reverse cream is amazing! My spots were gone before I finished the first tube.



For body I love L'Occitane Almond Skin Supple body oil mixed with one of their body lotions or Nature's Gate Hemp Lotion (It smells like baby powder is wonderfully moisturizing).


Night Regime
I actually just got back into a proper nighttime regiment after years of just using organic argan or rosehip oil on my face at night. Starting to use good quality products again has really made me notice a difference in my skin and I've even had some compliments! In my late 30's now so much more need for prevention than when I was in my 20's but it's never too early to start. 
After I cleanse I use L'Occtiane Youth Oil and then apply the Precious eye and night cream.
I LOVE the Youth Oil so much and you could use it with any other night cream you're using. Make sure you use it first on clean skin to get the best results!




Shower Products

For hand soap and shower soap I actually use my own soap which you can buy here and here's a link to the video on soap making. For a foaming soap you can make your own but there are also many vegan brands of liquid soap out there. I love L'Occitane Shower Oils which are a bit of a misleading name because it's actually more like a moisturizing shower gel. It foams up and is perfect for shaving. I love using it after I've soaped up and it leaves my skin feeling soft without leaving an oily residue on my skin or the shower!




Hair

I stopped using shampoo a few years ago (read about that journey here) and so now I only use a shampoo bar which I make myself and a little Maple Holistics argan oil in the ends when it's towel dried. I occasionally use Pureology mousse to give my curls a little kick. All Pureology hair products are vegan!


Dental Care

I usually buy Trader Joe's, Tom's, Jason's or Nature's Gate vegan toothpastes. I usually go for plain or whitening but always with flouride. Many of those brands have non-flouride options too.
For dental floss I love Dr. Mercola's vegan dental floss (I always buy the bulk amount because it's much cheaper!) or Radius Cranberry or Mint vegan floss (this is a much cheaper option!). I like waxed floss that is thin, not the ribbon style.




Feminine Hygiene

I've actually been using cloth pads (I liked Love My brand, long and durable) now for a number of years and just started using the Glad Rags XO Menstral cup and I like it so far. Took me a day to find the right fit but once I got it right it was pretty comfortable and long lasting :)



Deodorant
I still have a homemade deodorant which I love but if you're in the mood for store bought I really like Schmidt's Lavender & and Earth Science Lavender &Tea Tree. I don't wear a lot of perfume but the ones I have are L'Occitane, all are vegan except the Terre de Lumiere.



Home/Cleaning

Most of my household products such as hand soap, dish liquid, dishwasher powder and all purpose kitchen spray I still make my own. When I'm out of homemade and need some in a rush I usually choose Mrs Meyers or Seventh Generation.
Laundry detergent I recently changed to Planet x2 Ultra after making my own for years for only one reason; the homemade detergent was fine for the clothes but wasn't getting the cloth diapers clean enough. Note: dish liquid is a great thing to have in the laundry to get out oil stains! You can make your own spot remover too!





**Full disclosure, I have a part time job at L'Occitane so I get products at a staff discount so I'm able to try them all. We do not work on commission though and the store does not endorse me in any way to review products. Most L'Occitane products are vegan as only a few contain honey or beeswax (the only two animal products used by company). Honestly my motivation for wanting to work there was because I loved the products so much!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Chocolate Hazelnut Balls


Chocolate Hazelnut Balls

Ingredients

2 cups medool dates, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup Roasted Hazelnuts
1/4 cup Cacao
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
2 Tbls shredded coconut
1/2 cup shredded coconut for coating.


Method

Place all ingredients except 1/2 cup coconut into a food processor and blitz until well combined and nuts are chopped.
Form 1 Tbls mixture into a ball, roll in coconut and place on a cooking sheet.
Repeat until all mixture is gone and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
You can freesze these as well :)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Vegan Product Review - February 2018

Hello, and welcome to another products review! I have quite quite a lot of products stored up from thew last month so here goes...


I got this Andalou Instant Age Defying Face Mask at a discount store but they sell it at Wholefoods Market. I loved it! Kind of a refreshing gel mask. It says vegetarian but it's ingredients would indicate it's vegan also :) 
For any JAX residents, it was 50c at Solomon's Ventures... $4 at Wholefoods.


I just noticed these Sky Valley Organic Sauce sat Walmart and now I see them at the health stores too. Most of their products are labeled vegan but not all, as they contain dairy. I've tried these three and some of the Indian ones and they seem to have a good range. Tikka Masala ones were good, Thai Peanut was great, Plum Sauce was ok and General Tso's was awful. It inspired me to make my own though;)





Found these Gopal's Power Wraps at Native Sun. There are two in a pack and they are vegan & raw. I really liked the Japanese one best followed by the Curry but was not a fan of the Texas BBQ (Ironically thought this would be my fave and bought the Curry by accident)



I have searched for a Greek style vegan yoghurt and this Kite Hill  one is it! Loved it and can finally make a decent Raita!



Bought this Forager Cashewgurt in an attempt to make Raita and it was a pretty good yoghurt but I think the Kite Hill plain unsweetened yoghurt won out on the Raita front.


OK so it's Beyond Meat for the Vegan win! I couldn't not believe how amazing these burgers tasted, seriously. My whole family loves them and I can't say that very often. They taste like meat to me, but it has been a while so you be the judge! I'm not a fan of their chicken strips but like their beef crumbles. Found at Native Sun and Wholefoods Market.

  



I love Dr Prager's Kale patties and these Kale Puffs were pretty good! I bought them for my toddler but ended up eating them myself ;) 


For JAX locals I really like The Zen Butcher's Nacho Cheese so I tried this Creamy Cheddar Cheese when they were out of the nachos one. It was ok, similar to the nachos but I still prefer the nachos.


 Loved these Bixby Bars so was excited when I saw them in bites, pretty delicious!!! 


I bought this Pixie*Mood vegan leather tote bag recently when they were on sale. I've been coveting them forever! I just bought the tote but it came with a free smaller bag! AWESOME! Perfect for me too because the tote has all the baby stuff in and the handbag is great when I need to pop out without the toddler!



 Found this Santa Julia organic Malbec on sale at Earh Fare so I thought I'd try it - so delicious! Barnivore says most of their wines are vegan :)


Sorry can't remember which health store I go this Let's Do Organic Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (maybe Lucky's Market??) but I can finally make my caramel sauce again!!!



A big fan of L'Occitane for some time now (most of their products are vegan, only a few contain beeswax or honey) I just tried these new product; Shea Hand Scrub - so luxurious! Love how soft my hands were afterwards!


Tried these e.l.f. products recently; love the HD Lifting concealer (More liquid and easier to apply), did not love the regular concealer (too thick and darker than indicated). 


Loved both these products - the lip stain and lipstick I think Crimson Crush and Berry...


Really loved this Walmart brand Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Penne Pasta and so did toddler, so winning!


Sorry can't remember where I got these Sunshine Burgers (I think on sale at Winn Dixie?) but I didn't like them. There were floury and tasteless and honest both tasted the same so not sure what the difference was :(


I know Ore-Ida isn't exactly a health brand bit these Potatoes O'Brien with onions & peppers. A great start to hash browns!! I love to add mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach and tomato to mine so with this you're half way there.


I tried these Pacifica Sea Water make up removing wipes for three reasons; I saw them in Target, they weren't expensive and I love the Sea Water cleanser. Very disappointed :(
They smell nice and all and are great for a refreshing an already clean face but did not remove much make up at all, even the easy stuff :(


A couple of items my super awesome hubby brought back from his business trip;

These Nutty Goodness raw dried fruit and nut snacks are kind healthy fruit roll-ups.


And he got these Unreal chocolates. LOVED THEM! It's been a while but the peanut ones really did taste like PB M&Ms! The plan ones had puffed quinoa in them and were like crunchy M&Ms and the PB cups tasted like Reeses but also had quinoa puffs in them. Saw them at Wholefoods Market too! Only the dark chocolate ones are vegan :)


This is the best thing he got, apart from being hilarious this Choc Stars chocolate was really good, almost milk chocolate but dark. Only this one was vegan from what I could see...website worth a look though just for the other covers!


Found these Galil vegan Turkish Delight with pistachios at Solomon's Ventures. Apparently available at Publix and Walmart. SO GOOD! Although I am partial to rose water Turkish delight if I'm honest ;)