Vegan Pulled Pork?

IMG_4214

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.

IMG_4216

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!

IMG_4217
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

IMG_4222

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

IMG_5193

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.

IMG_5187

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!

IMG_5190
Red Thai Curry
IMG_5194
Pacific Organic Thai Sweet Potato Soup

Eco Friendly Water Bottle

 

IMG_5195
17 oz purple, satin S’well bottle from Starbucks

For some time now, I have been looking for the perfect water bottle. I wanted one that was safe for me and good for the environment. I thought with a glass water bottle I had found exactly what I needed, but the condensation and constant fear of dropping it were getting on my nerves. I have a few Tervis and Tervis like cups that I really enjoy, but I can’t just toss them in a bag and go. Finally I have found exactly what I am looking for, a S’well bottle.

This bottle is not bulky, it is durable, seals very efficiently, and their is no condensation. The best feature of this bottle though, it will keep drinks cold for 24 hours! Yes, 24 hours, I have tested it. I am someone who loves to wake up and have some ice cold water. It is so refreshing and really shocks my system to wake me up. Now, I can fill up my bottle with ice cold water right before I go to bed, take it up to my room, and then when I wake up I have refreshing water ready for me. Another very cool feature of this bottle is that the company claims it will keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours. As someone who drinks coffee very slowly, and tops off to warm it up frequently, this feature is very appealing to me. I tested my bottle yesterday, and after two hours, the small amount of coffee I put in my bottle was still warm!

My S’well bottle was purchased at Starbucks (it was a Christmas gift from my fiancé) but they have many more options of color, decoration and finish on the S’well website. They also have 3 different sized bottles, 9 oz, 17 oz, and 25 oz. The largest size is meant to be able to hold an entire bottle of wine, so if you are going on a picnic, to the beach, or on a boat ride for example, you could much more efficiently pack up a bottle of wine. These bottles are a little pricey, but for me it is worth it. I would rather invest in a durable bottle that will last me years, than constantly be purchasing new water bottles whether plastic or otherwise. I really think this company is wonderful, from the product they make to their contribution to different charities. If you are in the market for a great water bottle, I highly suggest S’well. But remember, it can hold more then water!

If you have tried S’well, I would love to know how you feel about the product and if you have tested the hot liquids for 12 hours!

If you would like to check out the website use this link: http://www.swellbottle.com

Baked Tofu

IMG_4135

Recently I attempted to bake some tofu for a yummy Mexican meal my fiancé was making for us. I baked the tofu for 40 minutes, flipping it over ever 10 minutes, at 400 degrees fahrenheit.  When I fry tofu, I usually cut it up thin and make it very crunchy, so this baked tofu was a little too soft for my liking. The instructions I was following said to use extra firm tofu, but I only had firm, so that may have changed the outcome a little as well. Obviously, baked tofu is much better for you then frying it in a bunch of oil, so I would love to find the perfect way to bake up tofu for my recipes.

The rest of our meal was completely delicious. My fiancé made some rice and a green chili sauce for the tofu.

IMG_4134IMG_4133

When the tofu was mixed in and everything was tossed in a tortilla, the meal was very satisfying. And the green chili sauce was very spicy!

IMG_4138

If you would like us to create a recipe for the delicious rice and green chili sauce my fiancé makes, please let me know in the comments. Also, I would really like to know if you have ever baked tofu and what worked best for you! I am on a mission to create the perfect baked tofu!

Yoga Studio App

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite way to get yoga practice in on a daily basis. I use the Yoga Studio app on my iPhone and iPad. The app is also available on the new Apple TV, which I think is amazing, and it is also available on Windows devices. The app does cost 3.99 USD. I usually do not pay for apps, but to me, this one is worth it. 

This app comes with classes ready to use, you just download the classes that appeal to you into your virtual yoga studio. The classes are arranged into different collections so you can easily find the type of class you are looking for. The classes are also divided by yoga skill level, so if you are a beginner you could start with the beginner classes and if you are more experienced you could use the intermediate or advanced classes. Their are also deep meditation classes that vary in length from 5-20 minutes. One of my favorite collection of classes is called quick yoga fix. These are classes that are all 10 minutes long and each class has a different focus, from strength, flexibility, relaxation and more. 

I also think this app is organized very well, making it easy to find what you are looking for. Within the collections themselves you can sort options by ability, focus, or duration. Or, you can search for a class by inputting how long of a class you want, your yoga ability, and even how intense you want the class to be. This app also has a section titled poses. This feature is wonderful. You can look at a picture of what each pose should look like, a description of how to perform the pose, benefits of the pose, modification for beginners, how to advance the pose for those more experienced, and even advice for when to avoid a drain pose due to injury or condition. 

This app also has a schedule feature that will connect to your calendar. This is a great way to keep yourself on track and accountable, by putting the virtual class in your daily schedule. I think my favorite feature of this app though, is the custom class builder. If you have a good understanding of yoga and want to play around with creating your own class, this is really fun. You can go through and chose all the poses you want included in your class. Then you can use a feature called link poses and the app will suggest other poses to help create flow between each of your chosen poses. You do not have to use all the link poses and if you have a experience putting a yoga class, you probably wouldn’t need that feature at all. 

This app is perfect for my yoga needs, it allows me to practice in my home and is adaptable to my time limitations as well. But I am still able to experience professional, guided yoga classes that can help me wind down after a long day or really challenge me, whatever I am needing. I would love to know if you practice yoga, your favorite way to practice, and about any yoga apps you like as well!

Meet My Girl, Wednesday

The name for this blog was inspired by my beautiful dog Wednesday. Just short of four years ago, I was in a very lonely place. My boyfriend (now fiancé!) lived over an hour away, school was overwhelming and did not allow much social time. I went on a desperate search to find a dog. I worked as a receptionist at the time, and would spend hours in the evening looking at the dogs for adoption on different Humane Society and rescue websites. Not only that, I forced my mom or dad to got to every local adoption place with me to look at the dogs in person. Then finally, I saw this little face.

IMG_0909
Wednesday at the Humane Society, our first meeting.

I was never going to leave the Humane Society without that dog. I knew right away she was the one for me. I got my sweet little mutt home and decided her name would be Wednesday. I have always loved the Addams Family, Wednesday being my favorite character. I just knew the name would be very fitting for my new companion. When I first brought her home, I thought for sure our family dog, Spike, would never forgive me. But the two of them have formed a very close bond now and I am so grateful for that.

IMG_2455

I cannot put it into words accurately enough to explain how much this beautiful creature means to me. I am always whispering in her ear about how she has to live forever, because I cannot imagine my life without her. That is probably the unconscious reason I named this blog after her. Twenty years from now, I will still have this spot, where I can go to share what is important to me and she will always be apart of it. Every night when I lay in bed and she is curled up next to me, keeping me warm, I am amazed by the relationship that has developed between our species and hers. And I am so grateful for it. Outside of having a child, I think the bond with an animal is one of the most pure things a person can feel.

IMG_2849

Please tell me about the animals that mean the world to you in the comment section! I would love to read your story.

I Heart Keenwah

IMG_5184

I do not live in the most vegan friendly, progressive area so I often hear about interesting snacks but can’t ever find them. Odd as it may sound, I often go to T.J. Maxx to find new, unique snacks. And that is where I finally found the I Heart Keenwah quinoa puffs! I first heard about these when I was watching a vegan snack box unboxing on YouTube posted by Rhian HY (I love her videos). She seemed to really enjoy them and I love to have a crunchy snack around to curve my chip craving. I went on a mission around to every T.J. Maxx in my area to find more flavors.

On the website for the company they have four flavors listed, sea salt truffle, herbes de provence, sweet chili, and aged cheddar. All the flavors but aged cheddar are vegan. I was really hoping all four would be vegan snacks, but three is better then nothing (something to think about though I Heart Keenwah company). I found every flavor but herbes de provence and I obviously did not buy the aged cheddar snacks due to it not being vegan. The first flavor I tried was sea salt truffle. I was not a huge fan of the flavor but I did like the texture and crunch of the puffs. The second flavor I found was sweet chili. I liked the taste of this flavor better, but it definitely has a very mild chili flavor.

This snack is wonderful because it is vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, and since it is made from quinoa flour, it contains 5 grams of protein per serving. Obviously snacking on fresh fruit or vegetables would be healthier, but every once in a while I need to indulge in a guilty pleasure and I would rather reach for a quinoa puff than a potato chip. At my T.J. Maxx these snacks were priced at $2.39, but the price tag says compare at $4.00. I can tell you right now, I would never pay $4.00 for this bag. On the website they are for sale for $3.49 for a single bag. They can be purchased in bulk on the website for discounted prices and if you spend $50, your order ships for free.

I don’t know if I would purchase this snack online, but I would definitely buy it again if I saw it at T.J. Maxx in the future. If you have tried these snacks I would love to know what you thought about them in the comment section below!