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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Top 5 Travel Tips

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As summer soon approaches, so do summer travel plans. Whether you are travelling stateside or planning to travel abroad, these tips will help you be prepared for your vacation.

Tip 1: For domestic flights, the best time to buy a ticket is six to eight weeks before the desired date of travel. And the best day to buy a ticket is on Tuesdays at 3pm. The reason for this, is airlines release their flight rates on a weekly basis on Mondays, so Tuesday is when airlines see each other’s prices and reduce their prices to be competitive. And if you are traveling internationally, then the best prices will be eight to ten weeks out from the desired date of travel. Just make sure to check that your travel dates don’t align with any domestic or foreign holidays, as this will increase the price of the ticket as well as the pricing and availability for hotels.

Tip 2: Subscribe to airline/train/coach buses newsletters. However you plan on travelling, subscribe to these newsletters as they are always competing to give you the best offered price and deals on tickets. I like to fly with Alaska Airlines domestically, and once a month they send me a newsletter for very cheap flights which require me to pick dates up to two months in advance. When I lived in Europe, I subscribed to Eurostar which also offered a similar newsletter deal for cheap train tickets to certain destinations.

Tip 3: Buy tickets in advance. This may seem obvious, but if you can buy a ticket online in advance then do that. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more on the day of. I made the mistake of buying a train ticket from London to Paris the day of and it cost me 4x the normal price. But since the train was already full, the only ticket option available was first class. And this applies to all types of tickets. For example, if you are planning to go to Disneyland/Disneyworld, then buy the tickets online since they will be the same price in person and then you get to skip waiting in another line.

Tip 4: Research what you want to do/see and where you want to eat. I use Pinterest to look up free activities to do in cities I travel to, as well as where to find vegan restaurants. What’s great about Pinterest is that there are a lot of blogs linked to the site, and if you are searching for cities then a lot of these blogs are written by locals, which means you can make the most of your travels by visiting the city like a local and less like a tourist. And I’ve used this for everything, from finding vegan food to getting step-by-step directions using the metro in Paris.

Tip 5: Try to plan to do 1 or 2 things a day, but nothing more. Whether this be sightseeing at two spots or visiting a museum followed by dinner, this minimal planning will make your vacation feel less stressful and more enjoyable. To plan on doing one or two things allows time for traffic and travelling from spot to spot without any rush. It also allows you to feel accomplished if you get to do everything you set out to do. If you plan to do 5 or 6 things a day, you’ll find it harder to fit everything into your schedule and end up feeling rushed or you’ll feel disappointed that you didn’t get to do everything.

I hope these tips will help your vacation be more affordable and less stressful. And Bonus tip, make sure to pack a capsule wardrobe to make the most of your suitcase. You can read a step-by-step guideline on how to create a capsule wardrobe for your suitcase here. Make sure to check it out and to follow these tips to make your next vacation a relaxing, stress-free holiday.

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How to Pack for Spring Break

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For Spring Break most people travel to celebrate and welcome the warm spring weather. If you are planning on travelling this month or next month for Spring Break, then keep reading to check out how to pack the easiest and best suitcase to help make your travels hassle-free.

The best method I’ve found for packing a suitcase is the 5,4,3,2,1 Packing Guide. Thanks to apairandasparediy.com for introducing me to this method because it has helped me travel throughout Europe while I live there. And once you use this method, you’ll never go back. This method is essentially creating a time capsule wardrobe for your vacation. I find that this wardrobe lasts about one week without washing, but if you bring laundry pods/laundry detergent packets then this suitcase can last you for weeks. For your suitcase, you pack 5 tops (make sure to include one jacket), 4 bottoms of your choice (shorts, pants, jeans, skirts, etc.), 3 dresses and/or rompers, 3 shoes, 2 swimsuits, 2 bags, 1 hat, 1 watch, and 1 pair of sunglasses. This packing guide just makes it so direct and easy to pinpoint exactly what you need. But also, one last thing to make sure to pack are 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks.

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Now that you have a list of your essentials, here’s a few more tips on how to pack everything so it fits perfectly in your suitcase.

The first thing you should pack are your shoes. Place shoes foot-to-toe in the bottom of your suitcase to save some space and to ensure that your suitcase is balanced. Two ways to cover your shoes and avoid the dirt from the bottom of them getting everywhere is to 1) lay a towel over the shoes to serve as a barrier (plus, if you are staying at a hostel remember to bring a towel since most hostels don’t provide them) or 2) if you have a plastic bag you can place them in there.

The next thing to pack are your socks. Put rolled up socks inside your shoes to help save space and preserve the shape of the shoe while inside the suitcase.

Next, you will pack your clothes. Roll clothing up and then se are compression bags to squeeze air out of the clothes. If you don’t have air compression bags, then use large gallon size plastic bags instead. These are just as helpful. When choosing which clothes to bring invest in wrinkle-free, light-weight clothing that you can layer. Pack clothes with a similar color palette so you can mix and match outfits.

For toiletries, pack travel-sized toiletries that are 3 ounces are less. The best and cheapest place to find these are at the Dollar Store. Also, make sure to double-bag toiletries to prevent spills. If you bring a razor with you but you don’t have a protective case for it, just use a binder clip over your razor blade to preserve it and prevent you from getting nicked.

For all your wires, chargers, and cable cords, use a pencil case or sunglasses case to store cables in your carry-on or suitcase. If you’re travelling internationally, don’t forget to bring an adapter (a multi-plug universal adapter is one of the best options).

And don’t forget your bags/totes/purses. Even if you think you won’t need two bags, it’s a good idea to still pack a couple of totes so you can put your toiletries, wire cables, accessories, souvenirs, etc. inside your bags to keep everything organized and stored safely in a conserved space.

One last thing I like to do is place dryer sheets inside my suitcase to ensure that my clean clothes don’t take on the odor of the dirty clothes. And this packing list will last you for about a week, but if you want/need it to last 2-3 weeks, then bring individual packets of laundry detergent (or laundry pods), so you can wash your clothes on the go.

I hope this packing guide and these packing tips will help make your travels a little easier, so you can focus on a fun and relaxing vacation this spring break.

Photos courtesy of @michelletakeaim and apairandasparediy.com

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.”

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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.

Top 10 Eco-Friendly Gifts

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During this holiday season, a lot of gifts will be exchanged. While advertisements pressure us to buy material items to give, you also have the option to give gifts with meaning behind them. And what better way to celebrate the present moment than by giving thoughtful gifts that consider the future. This top ten list will you give you many options to consider giving to your eco-minded friends and family or to simply give a gift that helps reduce waste and moves materials products into a more resourceful and innovative future.

Pets

CycleDog

My first recommendation is for all pet lovers out there. Cycle dog is an amazing earth-friendly pet company that sells recycled collars, harnesses, leashes, toys, and beds. Materials range from recycled water bottles, recycled rubber tires, to recycled bottle openers. Collars range from $23-$25, price depending on dog’s size, and their products can be customized to fit your dog perfectly if needed. Based out of Portland, Oregon, all products are hand-made and hand-sewn at their facility there. And shipping is a flat rate of $5 or free with orders over $60.

Children

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This is an exciting year for a few of my friends who recently had children or are expecting their first baby. For my friends with young, toddler-age children and expecting their first child, I’m giving them this awesome gift to their children. The Greenstart line by InnovativeKids has an amazing toy kit called the Stacking and Nesting blocks that is made entirely from Earth-friendly, recycled materials. With ten sturdy boxes to stock build, and nest featuring beautiful illustrations, your child will have enriching content for hours of fun and learning. These blocks also include different early-learning concepts of each side; numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and baby animals. This has so much learning in one toy that it can easily last for many years in a child’s early life. For toys in different age ranges, make sure to check out their website to see all the eco-friendly toys they have ranging from newborns to five years old. The Earth-friendly green start line features puzzles, games, books and more made from recycled materials, FSC wood, and eco-friendly inks. Every green start product is designed to encourage a love of nature and features simple messages that kids will understand and enjoy.

Jewelry

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Around this time of year there’s a lot of pressure to focus on jewelry as a gift, especially for women. But what about something a little more unique, like a wood watch? Jord wood watches is a company ran by artists, designers, and marketers that offer options for both men and women. And what’s special about this gift is the watches come in beautiful wood gift boxes. If you are looking for something like this but with a little bit of a lower price point, then I recommend WeWood watches. Both companies are completely committed to bettering the environment, which makes this little gift quite impactful.

Home

SaltLamp

For a little gift that can easily decorate a house another eco-friendly gift is a salt lamp. Not only are they great at cleaning the air and removing dust and toxins from inside, they also give a calming, beautiful glow. In store, I’ve seen small ones for $13 and larger ones for $32. You can easily find them online at Amazon and find a size and price point that best suits your needs. This would be a lovely gift and inexpensive gift for anyone, especially an eco-minded person on your gift list.

Teak and Blown Glass Tube Vase by Viva Terra

Another décor item that is very unique and cool is the Teak and Blown Glass Tube Vase by Viva Terra. Artisan-made in Indonesia, molten glass is poured over a reclaimed teak wood root to create this breathtaking sculpture. The glass flows over the curves of the wood, looking as if it’s frozen in time. Each vessel is made to fit a specific root, and the pairs will all be one-of-a-kind. For only $59, I think this is such a steal for something so incredibly special.

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This next gift is for the bathroom and for your body. Rocky Mountain Soap company is a Canadian company that uses all-natural ingredients to create products for both men and women. They have bath and beauty products that ranges from an entire face care line, bath and shower, body care, candles, deodorants, chap sticks, and aromatherapy. What really makes their products stand out is the amazing range of scents they have. Their holiday collection includes scents like Vanilla Ginger and Vanilla Candy Cane, and they even have fun flavors like their kid’s root beer bubble bath.

PaperSource

If you know anyone who loves writing letters or needs stationary for their home office, then I recommend Paper Source. One of my favorite things to gift is a stationary set with paper and envelopes to a friend of mine who lives in a different state then me. Stationary makes a great gift for family and friends who live far away because I see it as a promise to continue communication even though distance may keep you apart. But Paper Source is an amazing choice for stationary due to their commitment to being eco-friendly. They only partner with mills that adhere to environmental and socioeconomic standards, many of which are fueled via wind or hydro power. Their collection of solid color papers, cards, and envelopes are made from at least 30% post-consumer waste. And their printers operate with reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and recycle their ink waste. Based out of Chicago, this company is on a mission to making stationary paper as stylish ad eco-friendly as possible.

In many cities now, plastic bags are no longer being used which is a good thing for the environment. But to avoid paying for paper bags, the best thing to use are reusable bags/totes. One can never have enough of these bags. You can keep a few stored in your kitchen and another couple in your car. And now that these bags are everywhere, not to mention super affordable, you can find some great styles. Trader Joe’s has a fun selection in their stores. But what really surprised me was to see the Dollar Store collection, which are nice in quality and super cute.

This next gift is something I love giving and receiving. Every year, millions of water bottles aren’t recycled and instead are thrown away. You can help reduce that waste by giving someone a reusable drink container. I love love love using my Camelbak as my water bottle. They range from $12-$25, but they do come with a warranty in case they are damaged. But if you need something insulated, I recommend Kleen Kanteen. It keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks warm for 12 hours.

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For a fun little stocking stuffer, I recommend glass or metal straws. Plastic straws are so environmentally wasteful and nearly impossible to recycle. So, if you know any cooking enthusiasts, iced-coffee or smoothie lovers then these are perfect for them. I found my favorite metal straws online at Amazon but another good option with lots of fun choices is Strawesome Glass Straws. This company is family-owned and operated in Michigan that’s committed to health and the environment.

Thanksgiving Finds at Whole Foods

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I can’t get enough of this holiday season and the amazing food options available in the grocery stores. If you’ve been like me lately, you’ve been checking out your local grocery store to see what festive foods are available this year. And for vegans, we are always on the hunt for new vegan creations or discovering old favorites that have been made vegan. So far, I have not been disappointed in what I’ve found in Trader Joe’s and Safeway. But this past weekend, I went to Whole Foods and found some of the best vegan food for the upcoming holidays. So, here are some amazing festive food to add to your table this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner.

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My first suggestion is from one of my go-to vegan brands Gardein. They have this wonderful Stuffed Turk’y that is stuffed with veggie stuffing and comes with a delicious gravy. It serves two roasts in a bag, one per person. But they also have a larger roast they can serve a larger family.

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One of my favorite finds this year, is this holiday ham by Tofurky. I’m curious to try this but I know that I already love their regular Tofurky sandwich “meat.” So, I imagine this will taste just as tasty. I love how it even comes with a beer glaze just to make it extra special.

If you want to see which sides to add with these dishes, make sure to check my last post Vegan Thanksgiving Made Easy to see which foods are readily available in a local grocery store near you and/or available on online services such as Amazon. There are many great finds that might surprise you to discover they are vegan.

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But, if you’re like me and you want to skip straight to dessert then let me introduce you to this festive and seasonal dessert. Daiya has introduced a Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake. Nothing says more fall and winter than pumpkin spice, and this dessert is in the form of a cheesecake. Whether you’re vegan or not, I’d recommend this dessert.

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However, if pumpkin spice or cheesecake isn’t your thing, then you need to try Pepperidge Farm’s Raspberry Turnovers. Bet you didn’t know that these goodies were accidentally vegan. Not only are they vegan, they are amazingly delicious and they make an easy dessert to pop into the oven and serve.

Try some of these vegan finds at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas this holiday season and share veganism at the dinner table.

Vegan Thanksgiving Made Easy

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Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday in my family since it’s one of the few times during the year where we can all get together and share delicious food, stories, and memories. And this year, I hope to share veganism with my non-vegan family members. A couple years ago on my first vegan thanksgiving I was surprised to see how easy it is to create a vegan version of the traditional thanksgiving food on the table. And this year, I am even more surprised to see many food options that are pre-made and readily available as vegan. So, without further ado, let’s look at what traditional vegan thanksgiving feast options are available in your local grocery store (and even available online, for those who don’t have too much free time to make a trip to the grocery store).

The first thing you think of when you think of Thanksgiving is the main roast, which in most households is a huge turkey and maybe even a ham. But for those of us who are vegan or vegetarian, it’s hard to find a good replacement for this. Luckily, there are good replacements out there.turkey-less-stuffed-roast-gravy-label

I’ve tried Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy. This delicious roast is made of a soy-based tofu and stuffed with a cranberry stuffing mix and covered in crumbly breadcrumbs. This serves two people generously, or four people conservatively.

tofurky-holiday-roast-gravy-packageBut if you want a larger roast then I recommend Tofurky’s Holiday Vegetarian Roast and Gravy. I found this at my local Safeway for $12, but you can also find it online in case none of the stores near you carry this.

Another classic thanksgiving dish is stuffing. And if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to make this from scratch then here are a few options that are happily accidentally vegan.

pepperidge farm herb seasoned stuffingPepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing contains no animal products, but be careful because a lot of their other flavors do contain chicken and/or chicken broth. And the Cornbread Stuffing Mix at Trader Joe’s is also vegan.

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The directions on both these boxes do suggest mixing butter and water into the stuffing, but if you use vegan butter then this will make the whole thing vegan. The Pepperidge Farm stuffing is available on Amazon, and if you have Amazon Prime take advantage of that free overnight shipping. Also, another helpful hint, make sure to check out your local grocery chain’s brand of herb seasoned boxed stuffing because often they are accidentally vegan, like the grocery chain Kroger on the East coast has their own brand of stuffing that’s vegan.

If you do want to try your hand at making your own vegan cornbread stuffing, click here to find a great recipe at Trendeing.com.

And what family dinner doesn’t include dinner rolls?

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I don’t know if you know, but Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls are accidentally vegan. Just pop them out of the can, roll them up, and bake. It’s as simple as that! Plus, if you aren’t hosting thanksgiving dinner, offer to bring these over to thanksgiving dinner. It’s a nice gesture and no one will believe you when you say they are vegan.

Another side dish you can offer to make and bring to thanksgiving dinner are roasted vegetables.

At my local Safeway, in the vegetable section, there are pre-made butternut squash with thyme, carrots with dill, or fingerling potatoes with rosemary. You can either make these a little sweet or savory. For example, with the carrots and dill you can drizzle maple syrup and brown sugar on top and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Or if you want them to be savory, you can drizzle olive oil, salt, and black pepper on top of the potatoes and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a simple dish that elevates any meal and is easily shareable.

Another Thanksgiving side dish that is always included is the cranberry sauce.

cranberry_SauceIn most grocery stores you can find this sauce in a can. My go-to is Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. But beware of any of the jellied cranberry sauces since they may contain gelatin, which is mostly not vegan. You can find a lot of variety online that ranges from homemade jars of it to organic.

The only thing I had a very hard time finding a vegan substitute for are Boxed Mashed Potatoes. These packages of instant mash potatoes usually have butter, milk, and eggs in their ingredients. However, I do know a great and easy recipe to whip up some mash potatoes if you want to make a vegan version for the table. Click here to make garlic mash potatoes with shiitake mushroom gravy.

My absolute favorite finds this thanksgiving are the desserts I discovered that are accidentally vegan.

Both Sara Lee and Marie Calendar’s Cherry and Apple Pies are completely vegan. I couldn’t believe it at first, but after re-reading the ingredient list I could confirm that there are no animal products in these pies. And what goes best with pie?

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How about some vanilla ice-cream? So Delicious soymilk vanilla ice-cream is a great option I found at Safeway. It’s the best price for the amount you get.

These products can be made for your own vegan Thanksgiving dinner, or if you are having thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home you can offer to make and bring these vegan options. I recommend bringing your favorite vegan dish, whatever that may be, so in case there aren’t too many options you at least have your favorite food there. But feel free to make one, two, three, or as many dishes as you want. I think thanksgiving is all about sharing, and what better day to share your love of food and veganism than on a day that celebrates sharing thanks with friends and family.

This Thanksgiving, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, compassion, and delicious vegan eats.

Vegan Eats San Diego: Part 1

San Diego

Last month, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego for Comic Con and while we were there we were told by both locals and friends to check out some of their favorite restaurants that they swear by. And lucky for me, not only did these places have vegan options, but sometimes they had entire vegan menus. I was most surprised when people who were not vegan, like our Uber driver, recommended their favorite restaurants which turned out to be entirely vegan. I wonder if my Uber driver knew that the soul food plate at Kindred didn’t actually have real chicken fried up. Either way, my non-vegan husband and I can definitely attest that the restaurants we tried in San Diego had the best vegan food we ever tasted and we can’t wait to go back someday to have seconds!

Click here to read more 🙂

San Diego’s Old Town

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Last weekend, my husband and I traveled to San Diego for Comic Con and while we were there we were told by friends and locals to check out Old Town. And we were not disappointed by our visit there. It is in a great location with lots to see and do like visiting the free museums, eating at one of the Spanish or Mexican restaurants, or checking out all the little shops.

We started our visit to Old Town by walking to the top of the hill, that way it would be easier for us to sight-see while walking down the street. Our first stop in Old Town was a little shop called Old Town Model Railroad Depot. My husband is a fan of model cars and model trains, which is why we decided to stop by. But, when we walked inside, we were completely blown away. I remember saying, “whoa!” upon entering. As you step inside, you are easily in awe at the huge dioramas that take up both rooms (nearly the entire space) of the store.

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With small towns replicated using scale models, two trains circle around the track that connects each scene to one another. If you love the 40’s and 50’s, then the small-town scenes depicted here will easily charm you and make you nostalgic for that era. And even if trains aren’t you’re thing, this store will amaze you with their passion and dedication to make this huge diorama.

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A little donation is recommended (~$5) for maintenance and operating the trains, but it’s totally worth it after seeing this in-person. And with every donation, you get a card to have a free appetizer at Café Coyote right down the street. But, seeing how much hard work goes into this place is reason enough to donate. The two gentlemen who run this shop and operate the model trains clearly demonstrate how quaint, charming, and special this place is. What started off as a passion project for them transformed into a full-time job they both love. Remember how when I walked inside I couldn’t help but say “whoa!” like a three-year old kid opening a present on Christmas morning? The owner said in response, “That’s the response we look for. It makes me so happy to hear people say that.”

So, if you want to believe in the awesome magic of trains, or just feel like a kid again then make sure to visit yourself and you’ll see how amazing this place is.

While in Old Town, make sure to check out all the cool, free museums. You get a glimpse of what life was like in San Diego in the 19th century. These were awesome to walk around in. And let’s not forget all the cute little shops. Some of them are kitschy and trouristy, but others are pretty authentic with local artists displaying their artwork. There’s a good balance of these types of shops to keep you entertained.

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And while wondering around Old Town, make sure to check out every little niche and enclave. My husband and I stumbled upon this adorable little niche that made us feel like we were transported to another country.

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Right next to this niche is a vegan chocolate shop called Nibble Chocolate that had a fun way of displaying their process for making chocolate. Customers get the chance to grind the cacao beans themselves. My husband had a fun time giving this a try and kids will easily enjoy this too.

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Because this chocolate is vegan and only has 2 ingredients (cacao and raw brown sugar), it is on the bitter side. But what I recommend is getting one of their desserts and/or drinks. They have chocolate Bundt cakes, chocolate truffles, etc. And their drinks are all served with their powdered cocoa with a choice of almond, soy, or cashew milk.

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I ordered the soy hot chocolate and can easily defend that this is the best vegan hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Ever! It’s that good. The chocolate is so smooth, you feel like you’re drinking liquid gold. This was hands down my favorite dessert in San Diego. And my husband tried the iced chocolate espresso. With the richness of the chocolate and almond milk, the espresso is more of an undertone and takes a back seat to the very delicious chocolate flavor. Whether you are vegan or not, you should at least try the drinks here because they are seriously divine.

If you want, there are a lot of Mexican and Spanish restaurants in Old Town. You can’t go wrong picking any of them to eat from, but if you want the local favorite in Old Town, it’s best to ask your Taxi/Uber/Lyft driver. Trust me, they will know which ones to recommend, but just know, since it is a touristy area, some of the restaurants have higher prices than others.

Overall, Old Town is a unique blend of the old missionaries, old west, and Mexican history, which makes it an awesome place to visit in San Diego. Here, you feel like a real Ranchero on set of an old western movie. So, make sure to check out Old Town and see this cool and beautiful place.

Make sure to stay tuned for future posts on San Diego and my experience at this year’s Comic Con 😊

Vegan Eats: Los Angeles Part 2

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Back with a bang, the second part to this week’s Vegan Eats continues our trip in LA where we focus on all the delicious vegan restaurants in the city.

Let’s start with the classic burger. California, as well as some other West Coast states, proudly boasts the In-N-Out burger chain. Unique for its top-quality, locally sourced and locally grown produce and beef, this restaurant chain screams Instagram goals. However, if you’re vegan then there isn’t anything on the menu for you. But don’t think you won’t be able to eat an In-N-Out style burger. Burgerlords is here to save the day.

Click here to continue reading.

Click here in case you missed Vegan Eats: Los Angeles Part 1.