Monday, April 30, 2012

The No-(Sham)Poo Challenge


Recently I was reading up on DIY household items and came across an article on Bonzai Aphrodite about going “no-poo”. No, this isn’t about limiting time on the toilet, but instead about giving up harmful, chemical-laden shampoo for something more natural, not as damaging and less expensive.

The “no-poo” method relies on simple baking soda (a natural cleanser) to clean your scalp and hair and apple cider vinegar (a natural softener) to condition it. The rational for this is that store-bought shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils and actually cause many scalp and hair problems (i.e. build-up, dryness, oiliness, limpness, etc.) and our hair would be better off if we didn't use shampoo and conditioner. Also, lots of store-bought shampoos/conditioners contain harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, carcinogens and nasty animal-derived products (read about these chemicals in cosmetics on Bonzai Aphrodite's article) that you definitely don't want to use on your body or add to the environment!

Using the "no-poo" method will eventually allow your hair to self-regulate meaning you will only need to use baking soda/vinegar about once a week. The rest of the time water will be the only thing needed to cleanse your hair! Sounds pretty cool, huh?!

The advantages of the no-poo method include: softer, more manageable hair, no harsh chemicals stripping your hair or going down the drain to harm the environment and huge savings as you won't be spending your moola on shampoos and conditioners anymore (I've been known to spend $60 on "luxury" shampoo!).

The disadvantages are that it will take a while (at least a week or two and up to a few months) for your hair to adjust to the "no-poo" method. During this time it may be a bit oilier than usual...but I hear you just need to tough this period out to get to the good results!

I'm taking on the "no-poo" challenge (though I am a bit late - the original post over at Bonzai Aphrodite was done 3 years ago!) and will be no-poo'ing for the month of May!

Anyone care to join me? If so, the directions are below (reposted from Bonzai Aphrodite's post):
In the shower, mix 1 tbsp baking soda into ~1/2 cup water to form a thin paste. Apply to hair at the roots, massaging thoroughly into the scalp. Remember that this will not foam up (no poo!) but that doesn’t mean it’s not cleaning. Rinse. Follow with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar diluted in ~1 cup water. Massage into roots and shafts, and then rinse.
I'm super-stoked to try this and will give you updates as I go!

UPDATE 5/7/12: Ugh, sorry fiends, but I've thrown in the towel on this challenge! My hair did not take too kindly to this experiment and I had so much build-up from not shampooing that I couldn't take it anymore! 

While my hair never got too greasy and the baking soda/vinegar left my hair pretty clean and manageable, it was the itchiness and build-up on my scalp that I just couldn't deal with. I'm bummed cuz I was so ready to go no-poo! I guess I'll either have to try again or just stick to my regular vegan shampoos!

Did you try this challenge? If so, what were your results?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gory Gear Review: LilWickIdz Zombie Plushes

Photo courtesy of LilWickIdz

Ooooh I love my fiendish finds of creepy cute stuff! I was recently contacted by the creator of LilWickIdz plushes to check out her line of eerily adorable undead dolls! These handmade zombie dolls instantly stole my heart (and brains too), especially with names like Angst, Misery, Dementia, Mischief, Rancid and Madness!

Of course, my favorite would have to be Zoe, a vegetarian zombie. According to the LilWickIdz website:
"Zoe is a misfit Zombie. She doesn’t quite fit in with the other Zombies. It might be her upbeat attitude or maybe it’s because she’s a vegetarian. She finds it equally as difficult to fit in with the living, on account of her being dead. But she won’t let being different stop her from being happy. If you give her a chance she promises not to have your brains for a midnight snack, as long as they don’t smell like vegetables. If I was you, I’d use your brain everyday…it wouldn’t be good to become a vegetable!"
Zoe and I would be such good friends!

Zoe and the other LilWickIdz need a pet, so this is where Stitches, the zombie cat, comes in: 
"Digging up zombies.
Harassing the living.
Serenading the moon off key.
Biting your toes while you sleep.
Playing peek-a-boo with the monster under your bed.

Straight from his grave and into your arms, Stitches may look nice and clean, but don’t be fooled, he won’t stay that way for long. With time he will require additional stitching and mending. Don’t worry, he doesn’t mind a little pain, as long as you provide a lot of tasty brains."
There are many other LilWickIdz characters to check out on the website and any of the creations would make a fabulously fearsome addition to any spooky kids collection.

Another awesome thing about LilWickIdz is that it is run completely by a family of four, including mom, dad and two teenage daughters! Everyone helps out, including ideas for designs, photography, running the website and creating the dolls.

Support this family-run company by checking out their website and digging up some LilWickIdz of your own!

Visit LilWickIdz's website!

Food Review: Go Max Go’s Cleo’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snap! Candy Bars



Let me tell you, Go Max Go Foods is a life-saver for chocoholics like me who love rich, decadent candy but also want to eat ethically. Go Max Go makes vegan candy bars based on popular flavors but with all-natural, vegan and ethically conscious ingredients.

If you are a vegan, you are probably already familiar with Go Max Go’s flavors like Jokerz (similar to Snickers), Twilight (similar to Milky Way), Buccaneer (similar to 3 Musketeers) and Mahalo (similar to Almond Joy or Mounds), which are all to die for!! In fact, I included them in one of my posts about my favorite vegan Halloween candy - check it out!

A while ago, Go Max Go released their newest flavors – Cleo’s and Snap! Cleo’s is similar to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snap! is similar to Crunch bars. I jumped with joy when I found them both at my local health food store, Mother's Market, and couldn't wait to try them both!

First I tried Cleo’s Peanut Butter Cups! In my pre-vegan days I loooooved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so I was stoked to finally have a go-to vegan version of one of my favorite flavors!

The candy cups did not disappoint and were the perfect mix of light rice-milk chocolate and creamy peanut butter. Mmmm mmmm good! One cup was rich enough to satisfy even my immense sweet tooth, so I was able to save the second cup to savor later (or to share with Mister Spooky, if I feel generous).

Snap! was everything the name promised it would be – light, crispy and crunchy! The puffed, crisped rice bits and rice-milk chocolate gave the bar a light, airy feeling while still filling me up. It was the perfect indulgent snack without weighing me down!

Go Max Go’s candy bars continue to impress me! Both new flavors were delicious and I would definitely buy them again. They are not your typical vegan candy bars and really do emulate the taste of their inspirations. In fact, I say that they even taste BETTER than the stale, plastic-y candy bars they are based on!

Not only do they taste better, but Go Max Go candy bars are vegan and contain only ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients.

You can find Go Max Go products at most Whole Foods Markets, your local natural/health food store or by ordering them online!

For more info, including where to buy their products, check out Go Max Go's site!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Horror Article Archive on a New Blog


Hiya fiends!

Sorry I've been away for some time, but for the past few months I've been a busy bee backing up all my old horror reviews, interviews, articles that have appeared on numerous websites and compiling them all in one place.

You may have heard that I've given up my post as editor of Fatally-Yours.com (the horror website I founded and nurtured for the past 6 years), so I wanted a back-up site where I (and others) could easily access all my old articles (and post new ones too!).

All my horror writings from Fatally-Yours as well as from other sites I have written for are now compiled on my new blog Fatally Yours Reviews here on Blogger. I'll be posting any and all horror-related posts here, so please give it a follow if you are so inclined! I also have all my infamous Women in Horror Month articles on the new site!

Fatally Yours Reviews will exist as a separate blog dedicated to archiving my writings about the horror genre, so rest assured The Spooky Vegan isn't going anywhere!

In fact, I'll be back to posting spooky stuff on here quite soon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Film Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


Despite being sick on The Cabin in the Woods’ opening night, I still bundled up and trooped out to the theater because there was no way I was missing catching this flick on Friday the 13th! It has been one of my most anticipated movies of 2012 as 1.) I’m a big fan of Joss Whedon and 2.) it actually looked like it would do something fresh and different with the horror genre.

There has been a lot of hype and build-up surrounding this film, and just today I saw tons of Twitter and Facebook updates proclaiming how "______" Cabin in the Woods was. I hate when flicks get spoiled by too much hype, so I tried to put myself on a social media lockdown for the day to avoid any spoilage.

I avoided any spoilers, made it to the theater and decided for myself just how "______" Cabin in the Woods was...

In the film, five college kids head to a remote cabin for some weekend relaxation, but soon find that things aren’t exactly what they appear. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

The best way to see this movie is with little or zero knowledge of it, so I'll keep this review short and to the point (and spoiler-free). The film is pretty much a horror fan's wet dream, as it cleverly plays with expectations, toys with horror clich├ęs, tips its hat to many horror films AND adds something quite different and unexpected to the horror movie formula.

I laughed, I jumped, I rooted for both sides and completely reveled in the sharp writing by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (who directed as well). The Cabin in the Woods is one heck of an entertaining time from start to finish and left me with a big goofy grin on my face hours after I watched it. That's pretty much all you need to know, besides the fact that it has many different facets to its seemingly simple story.

If you’re a horror fan that enjoys smart, original and witty horror films, then I highly encourage you to check it out ASAP! It was totally worth avoiding the hoopla on Facebook and Twitter all day and sucking up a fever/sore throat to watch it opening weekend. Believe me, this is one film that actually lives up to the buzz surrounding it and is definitely one you don't want to miss!

Team Mer-Man! (You'll understand when you see the flick...now go see it!!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Horror Movie Night Eats: Vegan Spinach Dip and Irish Soda Bread for Leprechaun/April Fool's Day Double Feature


Last night I hosted a horror movie night for some lovely fiends where we watched a double-feature of Leprechaun and April Fool's Day. It was like a post-St. Patty's Day/pre-April Fool's Day themed night!

I wanted to make a green main dish for the night in honor of the theme, so I decided to make vegan spinach dip and some Irish soda bread to go along with it. I had never made either dish before, so I was excited to try them out.

First, I made Irish soda bread, which was super-easy to make! I used the recipe below, which I've had for quite some time and unfortunately don't have the source for. I think it is a pretty generic veganized recipe, though.

Irish Soda Bread

1.5 cups plus a few splashes of unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
1.5 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
4 cups flour (whole-wheat pastry flour is best, though I used regular "all-purpose" flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1.    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.    Combine the non-dairy milk and apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl and set it aside.

3.    Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center, and add the non-dairy/vinegar mix, stirring with a large spoon until the mixture forms a dough firm enough to shape into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add a few extra splashes of non-dairy milk.

4.    Place the dough on the parchment paper and form into a circle 8 inches in diameter and about 1.5 inches thick. Using a knife, make three vertical cuts into the top, .5-inch deep and about 2 inches apart. Then, crisscross with three horizontal cuts abut 2 inches apart.

5.    Bake the bread 40 to 45 minutes or until the bread forms a golden brown, firm top and bottom crust. Best served warm!

Mmmmm this bread was super-easy (no yeast! and it doesn't need to rise!) and super-yummy!! Not only was it delectable with the spinach dip I made, but this morning I had it slathered with blackberry jam and it was nom-a-licious! I will definitely be making it again.

Now, the vegan spinach dip was going to be a real treat...I can't tell you how long it has been since I had spinach dip since going vegan! Luckily, I found a recipe from Healthy Happy Life that resulted in a delicious spinach dip that is also significantly healthier than your non-vegan version.It definitely "fooled" my non-veg friends with its decadent (but still healthy) goodness!

I have slightly altered the recipe, but all credit for the recipe and accompanying photos should go to Healthy Happy Life.

 [source]

Vegan Spinach Dip

16 oz. organic frozen spinach, thawed
4 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup pre-soaked raw cashews
1/2 cup raw parsley
1 cup raw arugula
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 cup shredded Daiya white cheese, plus a handful for topping

Directions:

A few hours before making, pre-soak your cashews in water so they soften up. If you don’t have time, you can do the “quick-soak” method 20 minutes before making – just soak the cashews in hot salted water.

1. Thaw your spinach. Do this quickly by soaking the bag in warm water.

2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Add all your ingredients EXCEPT beans and cheese to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Then pulse in the beans. Do a taste test and adjust seasoning to suit your preferences (Kathy provides lots of optional seasoning “add-ins” on her blog, so check out the original recipe).

4. Pour the spinach dip into a heat-safe serving dish. Fold in the Daiya cheese. Then top with a handful of more Daiya cheese.

5. Pop in your pre-heated, 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes are up, turn the heat up to “Broil”, place the dish on the top shelf of your oven for 5 minutes so the cheese browns and bubbles and gets to that perfect ooey-gooey consistency.

6. Once the time is up, remove from oven and let it cool for a minute. Serve warm with the Irish Soda Bread (or with chips, crisps or veggies).

This spinach dip is filling, satisfying and oh-so mouthwateringly delicious! I definitely liked "tricking" my non-veg friends with this hearty but healthy spinach dip and serving it with the fresh-baked Irish soda bread. They were a perfect accompaniment to our cheesy horror movie double-feature.
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