Thug Kitchen

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Today I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite cookbooks, the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I will start by saying this is not your typical cookbook. In explaining how important it is to put real, quality, plant based food in your body, “Eat like you give a fuck” is often used to help get the point across. Some folks may be offended by this, I find it real and relatable. This cookbook starts with a lot of basics, such as an explanation of the book, recommended tools for a Thug Kitchen, and how  to cook basics. The cookbook also includes breakfast, salad, soup, mini meals, soups and stews, snacks, main dishes and desserts. Flipping through the book, every single meal looks fucking delicious!

I have personally created many of these recipes and I enjoyed every single one. Most recently I used the recipe for “Almond Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons”. First of all, the croutons are wonderful. But the dressing is even better. Creamy and tangy, it really reminds me of the caesar dressing I used to enjoy. I have also made “Warm the Fuck Up Minestrone” soup and “Potato Leek” soup using Thug Kitchen. Both are phenomenal. By fiancé has also used this cookbook to make a tortilla soup that was so spicy and satisfying. I am also obsessed with pad thai so creating a vegan version was very important to me. The recipe for pad thai in Thug Kitchen is by far the best vegan pad thai I have tried. I have also recreated the “Sweet Potato, Squash, and Black Bean Enchiladas” and “Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos” for my non-vegan family. Both recipes blew them away, especially the tacos.

Besides all the amazing recipes I have tried, every other recipe in the book looks delicious. This was the second vegan cookbook I added to my collection and it was so fucking worth it! I highly suggest you go to a library or bookstore and flip through it. I don’t think you will be able to leave without it. This book does not only offer up recipes, it educates you about food and cooking technique in a very understandable and relatable way. I love everything about the Thug Kitchen cookbook, and I hope you will too. If you have used this cookbook before, I would love to know what you thought about it in the comments!

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Caesar Salad Sandwich

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A few weeks ago, I used the Thug Kitchen cookbook to make vegan Caesar dressing and homemade croutons for a delicious salad. While my fiancé and I were enjoying a delicious meal, he said something that inspired me to turn this salad into a sandwich. The croutons would become the bread, the dressing would become a sauce, and the lettuce, tomato, and onion of the salad would become toppings (of course you can add whatever you want). While I don’t mind a veggie sandwich, some people are not too fond of that, so I decided to add some Gardein crispy chick’n tenders to complete the sandwich.

This was such a success! My fiancé loved it and I really enjoyed it too. I’m not much of a sandwich eater, so next time I am going to use the romain lettuce to make a Caesar salad sandwich wrap. I sliced a ciabatta loaf into individual sandwiches and then used the Thug Kitchen recipe for croutons to flavor the bread. We tossed the bread in to oven with the Gardein tenders for about 7 minutes. I made the Thug Kitchen Caesar dressing recipe as well. It is delicious! Once everything was ready we pilled it all on a sandwich and enjoyed!

 

Is Your Alcohol Vegan?

I recently spent a long weekend visiting family friends in Indiana. We watched sports, played cards, and even went to Indianapolis for a Pacer basketball game and barhopped after. Before I left for this trip I was really concerned about not knowing for sure which alcoholic drinks were vegan. I know this may sound crazy, what could possibly be in my beer to make it not vegan? The ingredients to make beer are quite simple, and vegan friendly. Unfortunately, some beer and alcohol producers use animal products to filter their final products of impurities.

Luckily, I found an amazing website, barnivore.com, to help me figure out what drinks were safe! The website has a list of beer, wine, and liquor and tells you whether the drinks are vegan friendly, or if they are not. You can also input the name of a drink and search the database to make better use of your time. If you don’t find the product you are looking for the website has an amazing feature. They have a section titled Ask a Company, with instructions for emailing companies to inquire about their product. This information is provided in many different languages and they instruct you to forward the response you receive. This way you can make sure the product you verify is added to their list.

Websites like this make being a responsible vegan so easy, I love it! Check it out and help add your favorite drink if you cannot find it!

Barnivore link: http://www.barnivore.com

French Onion Soup

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Last night I made some vegan French onion soup. This is an item I could never pass up if I saw it on a menu before going vegan. I made this soup in a crockpot, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. I love tossing all the ingredients in, letting it cook for a while, and coming home to a meal ready  to eat. The recipe I used was very simple and this is something I have made before. I really enjoy it, and it fills my craving for one of my favorite food items, but I do think the recipe needs just a little tweak. The soup is not quite as salty as I remember the non-vegan version being. Next time I make it, I plan to add some Better Than Bouillon to hopefully amp up the flavor, but overall this dish is so satisfying.

The recipe calls for:

  • 4 sweet onions sliced
  • 4 gloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Baguette
  • Vegan cheese shredded, such as mozzarella

Cook the onions and garlic in some olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat, then add them to the crockpot. Add the other ingredients to the crockpot, besides the bread and cheese, and cook on low for 4 hours. When you are ready to eat, if you have oven safe bowls, place soup in a bowl, place sliced bread on top, and cover with cheese. Place in oven under broiler to melt cheese and crisp up bread a little. I do not have oven safe bowls, so I sliced up my bread, covered it with cheese, and broiled it on a baking sheet. When the cheese was melted, I removed the bread from the oven and placed it on top of my bowl of soup. Such a satisfying meal on a cold snowy day!

Happy Mail

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January Happy Mail Part 1

Just shy of a year ago, I signed up for Happy Mail from the wonderful team behind A Beautiful Mess, a blog I adore. The blog is full of fun and creative ideas, crafts, tips, and tricks, among many things. They also offer a few subscription services, including Happy Mail. This subscription service sends you cards with envelopes, a postcard,  a sticker sheet, a print, and some other fun stationary item every month. You get twelve items every month, nine of them usually being cards. I love to send cards and surprise my friends with cards every once in a while, but I am not a fan of the typical cards you find at the store. I wanted pretty, creative, and unique cards. This subscription service was exactly what I was looking for.

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January Happy Mail Part 2

This month I received an adorable postcard meant to look like stamps, a thank you card with a beautiful pineapple print, a congratulations card with a decorative envelope, a card with gold foil decoration, a birthday card with a sweet pun, a congratulations card for someone having a baby, plus many more cards, a beautiful print inspired by Amy Poehler, stickers to decorate or seal cards with shaped like cassette tapes, and a daily notepad. The quality is so good and the cards are better then anything I have ever seen in stores. They are a little funky, very creative, and down right beautiful.

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Birthday card..
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..with a sweet pun

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite cards and prints from previous months.

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I will link the blog and the shop below. If you sign up for Happy Mail for an entire year, it cost 15 dollars every month. It will cost 18 dollars every month if you sign up for 6 months, and if you just buy it monthly it will cost 20 dollars. I signed up for the year long commitment and it is totally worth it to me. Whenever someone in my family needs a card they just come sort through my stack and save themselves some money. And I love that people are receiving these beautiful cards! If you are interested in this service make sure to check out the links below.

Happy Mail: http://shop.abeautifulmess.com/happy-mail

A Beautiful Mess blog: http://abeautifulmess.com

Vegan Pulled Pork?

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Last week I was finally able to try the Upton’s Naturals bar-b-que jackfruit. I have seen many vegan bloggers mention this product and I was excited to be able to try it for myself. I have previously had a jackfruit sandwich at a vegan restaurant in St. Louis and I really enjoyed it. Pulled pork was something I liked to eat before going vegan, so having a vegan option is something I really enjoy. I cooked the Upton’s Naturals jackfruit per the package instructions and toasted up some vegan pretzel buns. I also had some cucumber in the fridge and fried onions left over from the holidays that I decided to use on the sandwich as well. Overall I enjoyed the sandwich, but the sauce on the jackfruit was very sour. I am someone who likes sour, and it was a little too much even for me. The sauce was vinegar based so the flavor was understandable, I just did not quite enjoy it.

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The brand has another flavor of prepared jackfruit, chili lime, that I am looking forward to trying. I think that would be really good on some nachos! Overall, I would buy this product again, and just add some other sauce to the jackfruit to try and make the flavor less tangy. I am also excited to get some jackfruit and mix up a sauce of my own. I love the options a product like this provides for a plant based diet. If you have tried this product or something similar I would love to know about your experience in the comments!

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I added some hot sauce and a side of sweet potato tots to my sandwich!

Clue: For the Ladies

One of the reasons I went vegan was to avoid excess hormones being put into my body, then throwing of the balance of my own hormone production. Hormone free meat does not exist. Even if the animals are not pumped full of artificial hormones by humans, all animals produce natural hormones for their own body, just as we do. Because of this, I realized how bad even birth control was for my body. I was taking birth control because I had extremely painful and heavy periods. But I decided, for me, birth control wasn’t worth it. I stopped taking birth control and decided to let my body maintain itself. I started to realize that I had little knowledge of my own body, my own cycle, or even what to expect. I was lucky enough to learn a lot about what is happening in my body during each phase of the cycle while in nursing school, but not every woman goes to nursing school and receives this knowledge. Thankfully, their is an app called Clue that will explain everything!

I LOVE this app, truly! Since I do not take birth control, I used to dread starting my period. I never knew when it was going to happen, and I usually wasn’t prepared when it did happen. Ever since I have used this app, I have had an understanding of my body and I know when my period is coming. Clue provides wonderful scientific explanations of everything that is going on in your body. For example, the app provides an explanation of what your period is, what is happening in your body, what is considered normal and healthy, relief for symptoms, explanation of medical terminology, and when you should seek a medical professional. This breakdown is provided for every phase of your cycle though, not just the most well known part of your cycle, your period. The app allows you to track so many different aspects of your life and your body. And their is an explanation or definition provided for everything, so you understand what ovulation pain is before you record that you are experiencing it.

This app is so customizable, you can turn on and off the different aspects you want to track. You can track everything from bleeding, cravings, your hair, your skin, temperature, weight, emotions, energy, exercise, and your birth control method. Their are many more options then those I listed, and you don’t have to use them all by any means. I just feel so strongly that every woman should use this app, no matter what your method of birth control is, just to have a better understanding of what is happening in your body and why. The app is very easy to use and is free in the apple App Store (I couldn’t find info on the other app stores, sorry) and it is available in numerous different languages. If you use this app or a similar one, let me know, I am curious to check some others out as well!

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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This cookbook by Angela Liddon is the first vegan cookbook I added to my now quickly growing collection. I saw it at a bookstore and the cover was so beautiful, I was instantly drawn to it. I flipped through it and I was so inspired. Now, about a year later, I have made a few of the recipes and I still love this book. It is filled with over 100 recipes and beautiful photos to match. Recipes range from breakfast, smoothies, juices, teas, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, sides, power snacks, desserts, and wonderful recipes to make homemade versions of cooking staples, such as almond milk or grapeseed mayonnaise. The book also includes her suggestions of what she keeps in her pantry, her favorite kitchen tools and equipment, and a very handy cooking chart in the back.

My absolute favorite recipe in this book is a simple one, but it is perfection to me. The salt and vinegar roasted chickpea recipe is by far the recipe I have used and enjoyed the most! I love to make this for a snack when I have to drive four hours to visit my family. I have also made her recipe for chickpea salad sandwich, when I was in school I would make this every other week so I would have something quick and easy to pack for lunch. I also made this when I went to visit some friends in Indiana. I knew the small town they lived in and their daily diet was not vegan friendly, so I made a batch of this and never went hungry. I have also made the effortless vegan overnight oats many, many times. I make it with chocolate almond milk and it turns out wonderfully. Both of the soups I have made from this cookbook were spectacular. The red lentil-kale soup recipe turned out to be one of the best soups I have ever tasted. And the soul-soothing African peanut stew was exactly that, soul soothing.

Of course, their are many other recipes I have recreated. Kale chips, black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, roasted rainbow carrots, and I could just keep going. This cookbook really is wonderful in my opinion. If you aren’t in the market for a new cookbook though (see if your library has it and just flip through perhaps) Angela also has a blog. You can sign up for email updates from her blog and have her wonderful vegan recipe goodness sent right to you. I also follow her on instagram and snapchat because I love to see the photos of the yummy food and drinks she is always creating!

Oh She Glows blog: http://ohsheglows.com

Instagram @ohsheglows

Twitter @ohsheglows

Snapchat: angelaliddon

Natural Deodorant

So, I need help! I have tried three (maybe technically four) different natural deodorants and I just cannot find one I love. It is getting so frustrating. The first one I tried was from The Honest Company, and I was so excited to try it. I tried it when it was a brand new product and they only had one fragrance. It did not work for me at all, I mean AT ALL. I smelled horrid. So I quickly got rid of it and tried the LaVanila coconut vanilla scent. This worked okay for me, but by the end of the day I was not smelling too great. Because of that, I did not repurchase when I finished that one. I am currently trying the Tom’s long lasting wild lavender deodorant. I am having the same issue with this one that I had with the LaVanila. The product works for about half the day. Because of this, when I was working in the hospital I purchased the Pacifica underarm deodorant wipes. I would use that product when I started to stink and it worked wonderfully. In fact, it is probably my favorite deodorant product I have tried but it is not practical for daily use.

I have heard about different types and brands of vegan, natural deodorant. One I am very curious about is crystal deodorant. I am also curious about trying the other fragrancies from The Honest Company. I wish that one had worked better for me because it is in spray form, and that is a feature I really like. I have also heard people say that LaVanila is really good, you just have to find the scent combination that works best for your body. But before I try another product, I would love some input from you all. If you have found a natural, vegan deodorant that works well please let me know. And if you have tried a crystal deodorant I would love to know how well that worked for you. Please give me your input, I would REALLY appreciate it!

Thai Curry

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A few nights ago my fiancé and I made a red curry for supper that was inspired by a Pacific organic Thai sweet potato soup we found at our local grocery store. I already had a little jar of vegan red curry paste and rice at home. So along with the soup, we picked up some coconut milk and cubed tofu to made a yummy, Thai inspired meal.

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We just used the vegetables we had at home already, so we added onion and bell pepper to the tofu and curry mixture. You could really add whatever you would like though. Next time I think I will add green beans and carrots as well. The soup was very good, with a strong lemongrass and lime flavor, but it was very rich. Next time I will not eat it with the same meal as the curry, since they both are quite rich. We did not add any spicy peppers to the curry since the curry paste was labeled as hot, but my fiancé and I did not find it hot at all. Next time we will definetly add some Thai chilies! This meal is a work in progress, but overall it is super simple to make and very yummy!

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Red Thai Curry
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Pacific Organic Thai Sweet Potato Soup