Vegan Father’s Day BBQ

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When I think of Father’s Day, I think of my father’s famous BBQ’s. He loves grilling meat on a grill, but ever since I’ve been vegan he’s been more open to grilling veggies as well. In fact, he has perfected the art of grilled broccoli, so much so that even my teenage step-brothers beg for seconds of his home-made barbecued broccoli. So, keep reading to discover his amazing recipe as well as find out how easy it is to put together a vegan barbecue for your father this Father’s Day.

BeyondMeat1

The classic staple in any barbecue is the burger. And trust me, vegan burgers do not disappoint. In the words of my husband, the best vegan burger is by Beyond Meat. With 20 grams of protein, 25% of your daily intake of iron, zero cholesterol, and only 5 grams of saturated fat, this burger is beyond healthy but without all the fattiness and cholesterol of a normal beef burger. Beyond Meat keeps the whole experience of cooking burger as similar as possible, so they’ve worked very hard to create a burger that changes color as you cook it just like animal protein by using beets as one of the primary ingredients for the color and for its ability to “bleed”. The beets give the patty a red-meat appearance and provides the juice for it to cook just like a normal burger would normally cook in its own juices and fat. And, while your dad is cooking up these amazing burgers, you can easily prepare the toppings like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

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Another thing you can easily throw on the grill are veggie kebabs. You can make these yourself, or you can buy them in the deli section at your local grocery store. Most kebabs come with pieces of meat stuck between pieces of bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. However, you can ask the deli to prepare kebabs with only the veggies if they don’t have any prepared. You can just simply place them on the grill plain, or you can dress it up in a vinaigrette-based marinade. My two favorite marinades are by Lawry’s, which are cheap and found in most grocery stores, are Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Marinade and Lawry’s Teriyaki Marinade with Pineapple Juice.

VeggieKebab

Another delicious grilled veggie is corn. Grilled corn is one of my favorite barbeque essentials, plus corn is super affordable and in season during the summer. I like to top my grilled corn with vegan butter, sea salt, pepper, cilantro, lime, and a hint of cayenne. For non-vegans, you can even top it off with a little sour cream and shredded cheese.

GrilledCorn

Ingredients

1-2 large heads of broccoli

Worcestershire Sauce

Soy Sauce

Brown Sugar

Directions

  1. Set oven to broil.
  2. Cut off broccoli florets from the stem and rinse under clean water.
  3. Make a little bowl out of tin foil and prepare sauce by mixing 1-part Worcestershire sauce, 1-part soy sauce, and 2 parts brown sugar in it.
  4. Place sauce on top shelf of oven and broil until the brown sugar begins to bubble.
  5. Take sauce out of oven and place broccoli florets into the tin foil bowl. Cover the bowl with more tin foil to have it fully encapsulated so the sauce can steam into the broccoli.
  6. Place broccoli on the grill for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Take off the grill and enjoy.

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I hope that this Father’s Day you can share and enjoy a vegan barbeque with your dad, grandpa, or any person who’s been a father figure in your life.

Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Vegan Makeup Brands

MarbleMakeup

If you are new to being vegan, you might not know that a lot of makeup companies still test on animals. I honestly have no idea why animals need to be tested for mascaras and lipsticks. It seems a bit outdated to me. But, not to worry because more companies everyday are becoming cruelty-free and are making their ingredients vegan. So, I’ve compiled some of my favorite companies that are organic, natural, and eco-friendly. If you are like me and you like to change up your makeup for summertime, then make sure to check these makeup brands because they offer lightweight, colorful, and fun products for summer. But make sure to read to the end to find even more vegan makeup options at the drugstore and high-end vegan makeup options at places like Sephora and Ulta.

Before I dive in, I’d like to note that certain vegan makeup brands are excluded from this list because while they retail in the US as vegan, however, they sell to China which tests all their imported makeup on animals making them not vegan.

Pacifica

Pacifica_EyechadowPalette

This is a wonderful, budget-friendly brand. They offer quite a range in skin care as well as makeup items. Their primers, skincare, lotions are by far some of their best-sellers. But I happen to like their eyeshadow palettes because they make have natural colors as well as colorful, smoky palettes as well. Most products range from $10-$20, making these makeup items easily affordable and accessible.

Shop Pacifica online here.

Real Purity

RealPurity

This makeup brand is perfect for those that are new to vegan, cruelty-free makeup because they are best known for being able to select sample colors to choose from, which makes it easy for you to pick the right color for you and your skin tone. So, you can easily get samples without having to commit right away to the investment of a whole bottle or tube of product. What I like best about this company is that their products are made from all-natural botanical and plant-derived ingredients. Plus, they affordably range from $10-$30 per product.

Shop Real Purity online here.

Juice Beauty

JuiceBeauty

This natural and organic makeup company is best known for moisturizers and anti-wrinkle treatments and serums. But this company takes eco-friendly to the next level by being USDA certified Organic, using local sources for its ingredients, and using solar and wind power in the manufacturing as well as using recycled packaging. Not only are they vegan and cruelty-free, they also give back to charities as well. They are priced from $20-$40.

Shop Juice Beauty online here.

Afterglow

Afterglow

Afterglow is a great brand for those with sensitive skin because their organic, natural ingredients blends minerals and natural pigments to carefully formulate their makeup to be soy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan and fair trade. They are best known for the colorful pigments which are exemplified best by their color range in blushes and lipsticks. What’s also unique about this brand is that their products can be refilled (not wasting its packaging) and their packaging is made from recycled materials. Most products range from $20-$40.

Shop Afterglow online here.

Alima Pure

AlimaPure

This makeup brand is highly regarded for its inclusiveness for having their signature powder foundation for all skin tones. They have an amazing wide range of diverse skin colors to choose from, so if you have a skin tone that is harder to find in most makeup brands, make sure to give this makeup brand a try because I’m sure you’ll find your shade with them. Their signature powder foundation is like Bare Minerals, but their high-quality, pure ingredients never includes synthetic dyes to achieve its color. Not only does this company dedicate itself to uncompromising natural and organic beauty, they also are eco-friendly. They use soy-inks on recycled paper for packaging, they are carbon-neutral, and their compacts are refillable. Pricing for their foundations is $28, with eyeshadow pigments costing $14 per color. So, it is a little bit pricier, but it’s still comparable to brands like Bare Minerals.

Shop Alima Pure online here.

If natural looking makeup isn’t your go-to look and you prefer brands at the drugstore or brands at stores like Sephora or Ulta, then below are bullet point lists with a few more of my favorite vegan companies that are sold at these places. And if you are interested in seeing more vegan makeup companies, then make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty. They introduced me to many of the vegan products I have listed here, but they have a great compiled list of vegan makeup brands. And now, onto some of the best high end and drugstore vegan makeup brands.

DrugstoreVeganMakeup

HighEndVeganMakeup

All-Natural DIY Cleaning Products + Easy Cleaning Hacks

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With every spring comes a wonderful sense of renewal, a new beginning from the drab of winter. And with each spring I like to do some very much needed cleaning. A few years ago, I watched a documentary called Chemerical, which goes into detail on the toxins used in commercial cleaning products. What I discovered from this was how unsafe many of these chemicals can be for the environment and bad for your health, your skin, your children, and your pets if they should be exposed to them. Not only can some of these chemicals be toxic, they can also have high risks such as causing cancer. So, if making all-natural, eco and budget friendly cleaning products sounds like the best way to refresh, clean, disinfectant, and deodorize your home this spring, then keep reading to find out how to make them. Plus, stay tuned to the end to discover cleaning tips and tricks to get out those stubborn, tricky stains.

These next three items are going to be your new best friends. The first item is vinegar. Distilled white vinegar kills micro-organisms, works as an effective disinfectant and deodorizer, plus it’s safe and non-toxic for you and the environment. It also works as a natural bug repellent. And don’t worry about that vinegar smell since it becomes odorless once it is dry. A huge gallon of this only costs a few dollars and lasts for about six months to a year. The second item is Melaleuca oil otherwise known as tea tree oil. This essential oil is very effective as an anti-bacterial, anti-infectious, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial. And the third item that’s an excellent natural cleaner is baking soda. It is anti-bacterial and works well as a deodorizer and mild abrasive.

Now that you know of these natural products, here is a recipe to make your own natural cleaners to use around your house.

All Purpose Cleaner

In a bowl add:

¼ – ½ cup of distilled white vinegar

15-20 drops of tea tree oil

Enough water to fill a spray bottle

Pour cleaner into a spray bottle (you can find a cheap one at the Dollar Store or Target). For long term storage you will ideally want to use a glass or aluminum bottle due to the acid content of the vinegar. This cleaner works great to clean surfaces, clean messes, or for dusting surfaces. However, do not use this cleaner on granite or marble since the vinegar will erode the stone’s finish.

If you have a small child with plenty of toys, or a dog or two with toys that easily become dirty, a great thing to use after a simple rinse is a disinfectant to kill all microbials and germs lingering on the surface.

Natural Disinfecting Spray

In a small spray bottle (can be found at Dollar Store or Target), add 20 drops of tea tree oil to water. Feel free to add any other essential oil drops like lemon or lavender to leave a nice smell behind.

Here are a few tips and tricks to clean pesky appliances using these magical, natural ingredients.

Tip 1: To clean hard water buildup in your coffee maker, make a solution of ½ water and ½ vinegar and run that through your coffee maker. Then after that has ran through, run your coffee machine with just water twice to rinse out the vinegar. This will help your coffee taste richer and fuller as well clean out an appliance often neglected.

Tip 2: To clean dirt and food buildup inside your microwave put ½ cup of vinegar into a bowl of water. Place bowl inside microwave and run it for three minutes. This will create a steam that will loosen caked on food and allow you to easily wipe off with a sponge.

Tip 3: To unclog and freshen your drain, fill your sink (or tub) with water about halfway (about ¼ way for a tub) and use ½ cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar (2 cups baking soda and 4 cups of vinegar for a tub) into the sink. Let this soak for a few minutes, then unplug the sink (or tub) and let the solution drain. This will remove the buildup that accumulates on your pipes and it will also leave your disposal smelling fresh.

Tip 4: To remove caked on food buildup in your oven, combine ¼ cup of baking soda with 2 cups of water. Apply mixture on tough spots and let it sit for 20-40 minutes. For cleaning the oven door, leave the door open so the mixture can stay put on it. Then, wipe clean with little scrubbing effort.

I hope these all-natural products and cleaning tricks and tips help you this spring and will be of further use to you in the future. If you are further interested in natural cleaners, essential oils as cleaners, and the toxins in commercial cleaning products, I’ve provided links below.

Documentary on chemicals in cleaning products Chemerical (streaming on netflix) http://www.chemicalnation.com/content/

More information on chemicals in cleaning products and your health http://www.greencleancertified.com/gr…

Vinegar as a cleaning agent http://greencleaning.about.com/od/Gre…

Research on effectiveness of Melaleuca aka tea tree oil http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic…

Antibacterial properties of essential oils http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/a…

7 Vegan Side Dishes for Easter Brunch

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With Easter right around the corner, there is easily a maddening rush to get to the grocery store and cook some homemade dishes. But if you don’t have a lot of time to make Easter dinner then no worries because I’ll show you readily available options that you can most likely pick up at your local grocery store. Whether you’re making Easter dinner and you want to try to include vegan sides for your vegan guests or you are vegan and will be attending as a guest to an Easter dinner then keep reading to find seven vegan side dishes for your Easter brunch or dinner. Try one, two, three dishes or try them all, I guarantee you’ll be very happy and satisfied this Easter.

Deli Options

At your local grocery store there is usually a deli that offers fresh options such as salads. Here are three recommendations that you can most likely find at your local grocery store (specifically in the deli/fresh-made section).

Three-Bean-Salad

  1. 3 Bean Salad – This salad is very hearty and full of protein and most of the time is made vegan. But do be careful because some variations include mayo or adds bacon bits into it, so if you aren’t sure about the ingredients just ask the deli counter. A 3-bean salad typically comprises of three different types of beans, celery, onion, parsley, rosemary, vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. So simple, yet so delicious.

Kale-Cranberry-Salad

2. Kale and Cranberry Salad – This delicious salad is in a lot of delis now thanks to the popularity of kale. The only thing to look out for in this dish is the addition of cheese. Some, not all, do include goat cheese, however the last few times I’ve seen this salad in the deli they didn’t include the cheese, but instead offered it after you ordered, so the batch is made vegan with the option of adding cheese. This tasty salad is made of kale, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, shallot, and garlic dressing.

tabboulehSalad

3. Tabbouleh Salad – This Mediterranean dish is a vegetarian salad made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. This is simple enough to make at home, but I often find it in the deli sections in most grocery stores. So, it can be one less thing you have to make on Easter day.

Frozen Options

This next section covers options that are available in the frozen aisle in your local grocery store. My suggestions cover frozen foods available at Trader Joe’s, however you can find similar frozen food options at other grocery stores.

zucchinifries

  1. Zucchini Fries – Trader Joe’s offers a lightly battered zucchini in their frozen aisle. Luckily, its batter doesn’t include any dairy, making these bad boys completely vegan. You can have these as a side or serve them as an appetizer. These are great for making at home (it takes a short time with no fuss) and bring over to a lunch gathering.

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5. Vegetable Pakoras – This isn’t the typical side dish you’ll see at Easter brunch, but it’s a fun option to offer a different flavor to the meal. These vegetables ae delectable and if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, alternative versions of these can easily be found in your local grocery store.

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6. Aloo Chaat – This is a potato snack originating as street food from northern India. It’s typically made of potatoes, spices, and oil served with chutney. Again, this dish isn’t a traditional Easter dish, but it will provide a hearty yet delicious palette to your meal.

Homemade Recipe

If you want to try making a simple side dish at home, then let me introduce you to my vegan Macaroni salad recipe. It’s simple enough to not take too much time, yet it’s so delicious that I often have my friends praising it.

macaroni-salad

7. Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

1 Bag of Macaroni Pasta

1 Large pot of Water

1 Red Bell Pepper

¼ Large Red Onion

2-3 Stalks of Celery (If you don’t like celery, then just replace this with carrots)

1 Large Pickle

6-8 Tablespoons of Vegan Mayo

4-6 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

2-3 Tablespoons of Yellow Mustard

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiling, add the bag of macaroni pasta. This will cook for about 10-12 minutes, make sure to continuously stir to avoid the pasta sticking to each other and the bottom of the pot.
  2. While pasta is boiling in pot, chop up red bell pepper, red onion, celery (or carrots), and pickle. Place all chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  3. After pasta is cooked, drain the macaroni into a colander. Rinse with cold water, and after pasta is fully drained add pasta to the large mixing bowl with the vegetables.
  4. Mix in Mayo, Vinegar, and Mustard and stir until everything is evenly mixed in. Feel free to add more of anything you want to get desired taste and/or texture. I usually skip seasoning with salt and pepper but feel free to add those if you want.

I hope these great vegan finds will make your Easter brunch or dinner taste even more delicious. And I wish you a wonderful Easter filled with family, friends, and delicious vegan food.

EasterLamb

Here is a cute little Easter lamb just for you for reading until the very end 🙂

Easy Vegan Easter Dinner

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Easter is a holiday spent in the comfort of your home with friends and family. A big component of this holiday is the Easter brunch or Easter dinner. I remember as a kid the excitement of finding Easter eggs followed by a delicious lunch with some of my favorite foods. This Easter I hope to recreate my childhood Easter dinner but with vegan options instead. If you are planning on making your own Easter dinner, then keep reading to see how easy it can be to pull off a vegan Easter dinner.

TofurkyHam

When I think of Easter, I think of the traditional Easter ham. I don’t know how I would make a a vegan ham from scratch, but luckily, I won’t have to. Tofurky makes a delicious Vegetarian Ham Style Roast. It comes with a delicious beer glaze that adds a nice sweetness on top. The great thing about this ham is how super easy it is, you just pop it in the oven and about 15 minutes before it’s done cooking you add the glaze on top. And for about $10, it’s a great buy that can easily 4-5 people. If ham isn’t your thing, then I recommend trying Tofurky’s Holiday Roast, which is another great option to affordably feed about 4-6 people.

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A great side dish to go with the vegan ham or vegan roast is gravy. Finding vegan gravy can be difficult, but I found a couple of options that can make your ham or mashed potatoes even more delectable. The easiest one to find in a grocery store near will be Campbell’s Mushroom Gravy. If you prefer organic, then I recommend Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy, or Imagine’s Vegetarian Wild Mushroom Gravy or, Pacific’s Vegan Mushroom Gravy.

And one of my favorite childhood foods that was always made with our Easter dinner are Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls. Believe it or not, these crescent rolls are accidently vegan with no dairy, butter, or milk in them, yet they are still amazingly delicious. So, make sure to get your hands on these delicious dinner rolls for your table this Easter.

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Now that you have your main staples for dinner, here are a few of my favorite side dishes that are easy to pick up from the store and add to your dinner. I absolutely love the Zucchini fries from Trader Joe’s. You can either serve them as an appetizer or they make a great side dish to your meal.

zucchinifries

Another one of my favorite side dishes that you can find at Trader Joe’s or at your local grocery store is Tabbouleh Salad. This Mediterranean dish is a vegetarian salad made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. This is simple enough to make at home, but I often find it in the deli sections in most grocery stores. So, it can be one less thing you have to make on Easter day.

tabboulehSalad

If you want to whip up a side dish, then I recommend trying this vegan potato salad.

VeganPotatoSalad

Ingredients

5 to 6 red, white or Russet potatoes

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like the Trader Joe’s brand best)

3 tbsp. vinegar

1 medium redonion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Top and mix in 2 teaspoons of paprika for a smoky taste addition

Add 1/2 cup of yellow mustard to add some extra tang to the dish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the water from the pot and cool the potatoes completely, about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel the potatoes completely and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside (Alternatively, you can leave the peels on some potatoes for more texture)
  4. Gently toss together all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the potatoes gradually and cover with the ingredients until evenly distributed.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Chill for at least one hour before serving, if you have enough time. The flavors would be best after an overnight refrigeration.

And to make your easy vegan Easter dinner complete, don’t forget about dessert! When I was a kid, it was my favorite thing to frost the sugar cookies at Easter. My mom would bake sugar cookies in the shapes of Easter eggs and us kids would get to decorate them with icing and sprinkles. For this easy Easter dessert, I recommend using Annie’s Sugar Cookie Box Mix. The mix calls for milk and eggs, but you can simply replace these. For milk, you can use soy, almond, or coconut milk. And for every egg you need you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. This dessert will be fun for both adults and kids alike.

AnniesSugarCookieMix

If you are attending an Easter dinner this year, make sure to stay tuned for my next article where I’ll share some easy vegan side dishes you can bring to dinner.

This Easter, you won’t have to fret or worry about compiling a vegan meal. Instead, you will see that there are many options available to you to make this Easter dinner your easiest one yet.

EasterBunny

Here is a cute little Easter bunny just for you for reading until the very end 🙂

Vegan Eats: Las Vegas

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You would think in a city nicknamed “Sin City” that your odds of finding vegan food would be as low as your odds of beating the house. When I think of Vegas, the last thing I think of is vegan food. But my assumptions were wrong because it turned out that this devilish city found a way to make vegan food delectably sinful.

Las Vegas is a very accommodating place to people from different backgrounds, including dietary backgrounds. People from all over the world come to Vegas, so it makes sense that this city would be accommodating to all sorts of customs. But one custom that Vegas is known for is their buffets. That’s right, Vegas even has a buffet with vegan food.

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My first recommendation is The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. This buffet is known for being very luxurious with only the best and freshest food. This buffet has captured the attention of many meat-lovers, but the reason it has captured my attention is because it’s the only buffet with a vegan menu. As you enter The Buffet, you are immediately transported in a colorful, playful room where flowers float from the ceiling and tea kettles and other kitchen objects are ornately arranged with flowers in bouquets. It feels a lot like stepping into the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. And after being seating, your server will take you to the buffet, which spans over 4 rooms, where you will be introduced to the head chef. The head chef will then give you a personal guided tour of the buffet pointing out what is vegan, since many items that are vegan have to be requested at stations since they are not displayed. My favorite thing was the vegan cranberry muffins, which had these airy, delicious rice-Krispy-like cereal bits in it. I also had the vegan blueberry pancakes, which were amazing. But, you can customize the pancakes to be whatever you wish, I just happened to order blueberries in mine. I tried the vegan matcha chia pudding which was very interesting and different from anything I had before. And if you are a juice or smoothie enthusiast, then you’ll love all the concoctions they make here. I think I must’ve had four of them. This buffet has any and everything you could possibly ask for.

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So, for my second plate back at the buffet, I had the vegan sushi which I customized with cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and pickled cabbage with a side of veggie spring rolls. And for dessert I had the chocolate and raspberry sorbet with a vegan chocolate chip cookie. As you can see, I made sure to get my money’s worth out of this dining experience. Eating here for breakfast will set you back at about $25 per person, but if you are a big eater like me, then you’ll get a lot of tasty food to fill you up for the day.

Vegas Fun Fact: Steve Wynn (owner of the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas) is a vegan, which is why all the restaurants in his hotels have a vegan menu in addition to their regular menus. All you have to do is tell the hostess that you would like a vegan menu. Make sure to check out these restaurants menus online to see what might interest you. I’ve heard the steakhouse at the Wynn has an amazing truffle risotto and a delicious Portobello “steak.”

grandcanals

My next recommendation is a place that is more suitable if you are with a group that might not eat vegan, but you do. In the Grand Canals at The Venetian, there is a great restaurant called Black Tap Burgers. It’s a great spot to grab a good burger and beer, but what’s surprising is that they offer a lot of vegan options as well. I ordered the Vegan Burger which comes with a black bean patty, vegan mayo, pickled onions, salsa verde, and cilantro with a side of fries. And, if you are gluten-intolerant, then you can also order your burger with a gluten-free bun. This burger was surprisingly juicy for a black bean patty and the salsa added a fun twist to an old classic. Although fries are a classic side to the burger, I decided to try some of their other snacks and sides that also happened to be vegan. I shared the teriyaki broccoli which is seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame, and scallion. And, because I couldn’t resist one more side, I also had the crispy brussels sprouts which came with a sesame-tahini dipping sauce. These sides were just as amazing as the burger, so make sure not to skip these extras. They also have other vegan options like their burger bowl served with quinoa and a black bean patty, but I think I had some of their best vegan options here. The really nice thing about this place, is I could comfortably get what I wanted while my non-vegan husband ordered a regular burger. And since it’s in the Grand Canals, you get to see one of the coolest and unique place in Las Vegas.

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My trip to Vegas was short and sweet, so I didn’t get a chance to try every vegan restaurant, however, listed below is a list of other restaurants in Las Vegas that have vegan menus that I’ll definitely be trying next time I visit.

  1. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Costa Di Mare (Seafood), Lakeside (Seafood), Mizumi (Japanese/Sushi), Tableau (American), SW Steakhouse, Wing Lei (Chinese/Michelin Star Restaurant)
  2. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Andrea’s (Asian-inspired cuisine), Sinatra (Italian)
  3. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Allegro (American-Italian), The Buffet, Charlie’s Bar + Grill (Sports Bar), Le Cave (wine pairings with food), Red 8 (Chinese/Thai/Korean/Vietnamese), Terrace Pointe Cafe (Breakfast/Brunch)
  4. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Jardin (American cuisine), Wazuzu (Pan-Asian)
  5. VegeNation – Located downtown Las Vegas, this place offers a wide-ranging variety of vegan options from Vietnamese Pho to African Yam Stew to veggie burgers all at an affordable price.
  6. Yard House – Located on The Strip, this American burger joint offers vegan options with Gardein meat-substitutes in their burgers and street tacos at a cheap price.
  7. Pancho’s Vegan Tacos – Located on the Eastside, this place offers up vegan tacos for all those taco lovers out there.
  8. Panevino – This Italian restaurant offers a plant-based menu for both lunch and dinner. Located in Southeast Las Vegas, the restaurant offers cool views of the Vegas skyline.

New Year, New Goals

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In my last post, I referred to new year’s resolutions as a reason for many people changing their diets this time of year. Weight loss is the number one new year’s resolution, but it’s a hard one to keep since true weight loss requires you to change a lifetime of poor habits.

I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of new year’s resolutions, mainly because I’ve always associated them with failure. I don’t know anyone who’s ever stuck to their new year’s resolutions. So, I prefer the term goals. By its definition, the word goal means to have an end or a desired result. So, for the new year, I’m creating new goals for what I want to get out of 2018.

Keep reading to see how I plan my new goals for 2018 and how I’m going to accomplish them.

Goal 1: Eat Healthier

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This is a goal most people try to accomplish with the start of a new year. I’m not trying to lose any weight, but I am trying to reduce how much processed food I eat and to decrease my overall sugar intake. I already eat a vegan diet which helps me get my fruit and veggies in, but I’ve noticed that I’ve relied a lot more on vegan junk food that is highly processed and usually high in sugar. The way that I am achieving this goal is to just cut out what I know is bad for me. No more vegan junk food like potato chips, vegan desserts, and sodas. Instead, I’m replacing them with fruit. If I crave chips, I’ll make myself baked potatoes with seasonings. Same thing, way healthier option. If I crave vegan chocolate chip cookies or vegan desserts, I’ll have fresh fruit like strawberries. And if I crave sodas, then I’ll make a fruit smoothie. The key essential things to do with changing your food habits is to reduce the amount you eat out (so you don’t cheat) and you stock up your fridge. These two things will help you stay focused and not get distracted with other, lesser, food options.

Goal 2: Save Up For A Car

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Believe it or not, my eating healthier will actually save me a lot of money. By staying in, instead of eating out, I will eat out less which means I’ll be saving more money. And this helps with my next goal because my husband and I want to purchase a new car by the time our insurance expires at the end of June. This gives a time line of when we need to buy a car, which motivates us to start saving immediately. In fact, we started saving last month in December. The best way to make a new goal work is to just start it, no need to wait or procrastinate, just start it today. And make sure you plan out how much you can realistically save up each month. My husband and I looked at our last paychecks for the month of December and budgeted how much bills, rent, etc. are for the month and how much we have remaining. So, our goal is to save $2,000 per month. And last month, we did extra good and doubled that and saved almost $4,000. So, we are already at a great start which is good because it propels us forward. And while we are saving, we are researching and researching like crazy for our next car, which constantly reminds us why we are working so hard to save money.

Future Goal Ideas

Those two are the only goals that I have made my definite goals for 2018, but I plan to add a few more as the year goes on. However, I know that things change and so may my plans. As long as you are open-minded and flexible you can add as many new goals for the new year as you want. Here are some ideas that I have (which aren’t set in stone) that I hope to implement in 2018.

  1. Go to my mom’s for Christmas.
  2. Save up to go to Bahamas with my mom and siblings next year for Christmas break vacation.
  3. Plan weekend get-away’s with my husband
  4. Visit my grandparents in California (in February)

And I’ll add things to the list as the year goes on, but for now this is all I want for the new year. I hope you have a great start to a new year and that you get to achieve your new goals too.

Top 10 Things You Need in Your Vegan Kitchen

Fruits And Vegetables

With the new year comes new resolutions. And after the feast of delectable eats the holidays had brought, many people’s New Year’s resolution revolve around diet changes. If you are looking for a new diet to transform your health than I recommend a vegan diet. Some people believe it’s hard to transition to a no-meat and no-dairy diet, but keep reading to find out how easy it can be for you to make this dietary change by following this list of top ten essential items you need in your vegan kitchen.

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  1. Milk Alternatives

Instead of using regular dairy milk, you have the option to keep soy, cashew, or almond milk in stock. All these milks have less fat than dairy milk. Soy and cashew milk have twice as much as calcium as dairy milk, and almond milk has a lot of protein in it if that’s what you’re looking for. These milk alternatives are great on their own or can easily be used as an ingredient for cooking and baking.

  1. Margarine or Vegan Butter

My favorite brand of vegan butter is Earth Balance, but I also like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as well because it’s tasty and more affordable. The great thing about vegan butter is that it cooks and tastes just like dairy butter. You can easily use this is in your cooking and everything will taste the same old buttery goodness.

  1. Vegan Bread

Before going vegan, I used to love to eat whole wheat bread but after going vegan I was sad to learn that most whole wheat breads have either or both honey and milk in it. In fact, it can be rather difficult to find vegan bread in general. But there definitely are vegan breads out there. You’ll have to check the ingredients, but locally baked bread is frequently vegan. Oddly, these local breads are often kept in a different aisle than the national brands in supermarkets. If you are interested in national brands, then I recommend Ezekiel or Dave’s Bread.

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  1. Vegetable Oil/Olive Oil

Not only is this great for cooking up some veggies on the stove-top, this is also great to use in baking as well. If you like baking cookies, cakes, or other pastries you can use veggie oil to use as an egg substitute. You just need to use two tablespoons for one egg.

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  1. Hummus

If you aren’t used to snacking on veggies, then I highly recommend getting hummus to dip your veggies in. This delicious snack can be homemade by simply grinding garbanzo beans and adding lemon juice and seasonings to taste. I like to dip bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots in hummus as a light, delicious snack. But you can also use crackers and other vegetables to dip in it as well.

  1. Rice & Beans

These are probably the most essential thing to add as a staple in your kitchen. If you season it right, you can have a variety of different tasting rice and beans all depending on the seasonings you use. I like making Mexican-inspired rice and beans, but I also try my hand at Indian-inspired rice and Chinese stir-fried rice.

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  1. Seasonings

Speaking of spices, that brings me to my next must-have item you need in your vegan kitchen. You can make any vegetable taste delicious if you know how to just season it. And you don’t have to stick just to seasonings, you can also use sauces. My dad makes the best roasted broccoli by roasting the broccoli in a mixture of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. But having a good selection of seasonings can help you adjust to incorporating and eating more vegetables in your diet. Seasonings can be pretty pricey, but if you are new to cooking then I recommend buying a pack of selected seasonings so you can get your money’s worth.

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  1. Potatoes

Did you know that potatoes contain all your daily vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin D and calcium? Potatoes in my book are the best things ever. You can cook them whole, slice them and bake them, or fry them up. Any way you cook them they are simply amazing. My favorite way of cooking them is cutting them up, toss them with garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and crushed pepper flakes and bake for twenty-five minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

fruits

  1. Fruits

My daily eats for fruits are bananas, cuties, and grapes. For bananas you can freeze them and put them into smoothies later. And speaking of smoothies, this is a great breakfast idea that makes it easy to pack in your fruits for the day. I buy frozen fruit (the tropical mix) in the frozen section at the Dollar Store. So, it is possible to find frozen fruit for cheap.

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  1. Vegetables

If you’re not fond of eating your vegetables then try seasoning them and experimenting with cooking recipes. I often find that it’s easier to start with the ones you like and slowly incorporate new finds into your diet.

I hope this list can help you start a new lifestyle in the new year, and if you want more vegan foods to add to your grocery list just keep reading below to see the best vegan alternatives to some of your already favorite foods.

Extra Items for Your Vegan Kitchen

If you are completely new to not eating any meat or dairy, then here are some extra recommendations to help you for when you do have cravings for meat and cheese.

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  1. Chao Cheese

This is the best vegan cheese I have ever tried. I like the original flavor best. This is pretty pricey, so I buy it sparingly when I do crave some cheese in my sandwich. It’s mostly made from potato, corn, and soy tofu, but it tastes exactly like processed slices cheese.

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  1. Tofurky Sandwich Meat

I love sandwiches, so when I went vegan it was hard for me to give up turkey. However, Tofurky makes a great tofu based “turkey” substitute. The best price I’ve found this for is at Trader Joes at only $2.50 per pack, which is a great price for sandwich meat.

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  1. Veganaise (Vegan Mayo)

I love putting mayo on my sandwiches, burgers, and basically everything else. And vegan mayo is just the exact same thing as regular mayo except for the eggs. Vegannaise is a bit pricey, so I recommend buying Best Foods Vegan Mayo. For a large jar I bought it at Safeway for only $3.50, which is half the price of Vegannaise.

  1. Gardein “Meat” Products

I absolutely love Gardein! They have a huge range of awesome “meat” options. My favorites are their “Chicken” Strips, Orange “Chicken,” and their Pork-less Buns. The pork buns are to die for, my non-vegan husband can’t even taste the difference that’s how tasty they are.

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  1. Daiya Soy/Coconut Yogurt

This is a great yogurt substitute if you need one. My non-vegan husband loves to have one of these with his breakfast.

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  1. Tofutti Cream Cheese

My last recommendation is this cream cheese. I prefer it to Daiya’s vegan cream cheese, and it’s usually half the price of Daiya’s too. This cream cheese also works well in cooking too. I made vegan jalapeno poppers using this and it tasted amazing.

Fit for Fall: Week 4 Update

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Have you ever started something with a lot of initial excitement but after a while you lose some motivation and feel deterred from accomplishing your goals? This week, for some reason, I wasn’t mentally all there. I only worked out three days this week, which is still good but not what I expected from myself. I may have put high expectations on myself, but it felt like I was off-track from my running, ab, and butt challenges.

I wish I could pin-point why I wasn’t feeling up to my workouts when for three weeks in a row I have been super committed to my fitness regimen. But the reason I embarked on this fitness journey was to improve my mental health. I want to perk up my outlook and not be stuck in the hazy, grim perspective I felt before. I can say I do feel better mentally since starting this, but I don’t want my lack of commitment to affect next week’s progress.

What I’m trying to say is that I hope this recent laziness/lethargic attitude I had doesn’t derail me for too long and that I maintain and continue my fitness regimen. I guess, it’s a natural feeling to think I might quit. Mainly because, that was something I would’ve done in the past. But here are the important things I will focus on; all that I’ve already accomplished so far, my future fitness schedule, and keep in mind the fitness goals I want to achieve.

So, with a positive outlook I will focus on keeping up with my workouts. Stay tuned for my next fitness post to read how I found motivation during this week by thrifting for athletic gear.

Vegan Eats: Charlotte, NC

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Whenever I think of good southern comfort food, I’m easily reminded of Charlotte, North Carolina. And North Carolina loves to boast about its heavenly BBQ. My dad and his family live in Charlotte, so I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to try all the delectable vegan eats in this beautiful southern city. So, come on y’all. Let’s get our eat on!

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