Tuesday, July 23, 2013

100 Days Until Halloween!

Only 100 days left until the very best holiday in the world!

Who am I kidding...I've been counting down the days since last November 1st!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beauty Review: Vegan Cuts July Beauty Box

When Vegan Cuts announced their new monthly subscription box for beauty products, I immediately signed up! I just couldn't pass up a box of vegan beauty products for under $20 a month. I received their very first box recently and was pleased with the summer beauty products it contained.

Vegan Cuts July 2013 Beauty Box

Here is a breakdown of what the July 2013 beauty box contained: 

  • Essence of Vali's "Sleep" essential oil - "Contains soothing essences of Lavender Flowers, Cedar Wood, Marjoram Leaves & Ylang/Ylang Petals to calm you into a peaceful sleep and comfort you during times of stress." This oil smells AMAZING and will help me ease into a peaceful slumber at bedtime.
  • NYL Skincare's Organic Rosewater Face Wash - This face wash works as both astringent and moisturizer on all skin types. It is only made of three ingredients - rosewater, vegetable glycerine, and Castile soap. I tried it and it is quite refreshing and has a light rose smell.
  • Acure Organics' Argan Oil - I love argan oil, which can be used on hair or skin for its exceptional moisturizing and restorative properties.
  • LVX Nail Lacquer in "Deco" - This coral-colored lacquer is from LVX's summer 2013 collection. I'm not fond of the color, but I have heard great things about LVX's nail lacquers! 
  • Glamnatural's Mascara - I can't wait to try this chemical-free mascara, which claims to lengthen, thicken and separate lashes without clumping or smudging!
  • Suntegrity's Tinted Moisturizer - This tinted moisturizer boasts a 5-in-1 formula that treats, hydrates, protects, primes and covers your skin! I'll be trying it this weekend on a trip to the desert.
  • Lippy Girl Extra Virgin Lip Gloss - I already love this stuff! It smells like fresh-squeezed oranges and provides a glossy finish to lips (with no stickiness!). 
  • Namaste Jemma Pouch - This high-quality bag is the perfect size to stash some lip glosses in when I'm on-the-go. Bonus: I like the hot pink color!
Overall, I liked what I received in my very first Vegan Cuts Beauty Box! I can't wait to try/use more of these vegan, cruelty-free products. 

If you are interested in Vegan Cuts' monthly subscription beauty box (they also have an awesome snack box - check out my review of my first one here), you can sign up at www.vegancuts.com!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Halloween Displays of 2013 Spotted at Michael's!

I've spotted my first Halloween items of 2013! The arts and crafts store Michael's has started setting up their 2013 Halloween displays and has some gothic Halloween decor out, as well as faux fall foliage and Halloween party favors, games and arts and crafts already on its shelves. They had many items decorated with skulls and owls in silver, purple and black (seems this is Michael's favorite color palette to use in recent years) and a few "leftover" items from last year.

I can't wait until they put out more, but for now here are photos of Halloween items the Michael's store in Costa Mesa, California had on its shelves:

I loved the metal signs with the skeletons on them! 
The mirror in the upper right hand corner was lovely as well!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Knott's Berry Farm Offers New Vegan Food Options!

Gasp! America's first theme park, Knott's Berry Farm in Orange County, California, has started offering some of their carnival fare VEGANIZED! Think vegan funnel cakes (!!!), vegan mac 'n' cheese, vegan chick'n tenders, vegan hot dogs/burgers/pizza and even a vegan tofu scramble for brunch! Many vegan options will also be gluten-free and soy-free. Way to go, Knott's!

Credit should also go to Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, aka The Healthy Voyager, for working with the amusement park to develop vegan options of theme-park favorites! Thank you, Carolyn, for your amazing work!

I just read about this awesomeness this morning on Compassion Over Killing, but after a quick Google search it seems this once announced last month. Still amazing news, though, especially since Knott's Scary Farm is fast approaching! Maybe they will have some special Halloween treats veganized as well? I can only wish!

I'm not sure if all their vegan options have been rolled out yet...has anyone had a chance to try them yet? I can't wait to try the vegan funnel cake!

UPDATE: I haven't been to Knott's to try these options myself, but I've heard a lot of people say they haven't been able to find these vegan options in the park and that park employees have been less than helpful and seem clueless about vegan options. Not sure what the deal is, but I hope Knott's gets it together and becomes more consistent with their vegan offerings. If you visit the park and are able to locate any vegan options, let me know in the comments below! Good luck!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Food Review: Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips

Beyond Meat is a new plant-based protein that is said to look, taste and feel exactly like chicken! This vegan protein was created to perfectly mimic animal protein so going meat-free would be easier than ever. If people switched to Beyond Meat and stopped eating animal protein, think of the environmental benefits (reducing pollution, saving water, saving land, etc.), the health benefits (no cholesterol, more nutrients, etc.) as well as ending the cruelty of factory farms (just Google "chicken factory farming" to get an idea of the horrific lives these poor creatures live in order to end up on people's plates). With all these benefits, who wouldn't want to try Beyond Meat?

Being vegan, of course I couldn't wait to try Beyond Meat! Just think of all the cruelty-free chick'n dishes you could create with something like this! Well, I finally found some Beyond Meat at Whole Foods (they were $5.29 a package) and was very excited to try it! I especially couldn't wait for my omnivore boyfriend, Mister Spooky, to try it and see what he thought.

I bought the grilled variety (there are also lightly seasoned and southwest varieties I need to try!), sauteed them with some onions and bell peppers to make fajitas with them. Mister Spooky and I even had a few uncooked pieces (they are fine to eat straight out of the packaging, so you could even use them in salads or other cold dishes!) because we just couldn't wait!

Both cooked and uncooked they were pretty darn amazing. They have the same texture and bite as chicken animal protein, yet none of the cruelty! Woo hoo! I really liked how they were seasoned, too, and they didn't even need any additional salt, pepper or any other spices. It tasted so good that I didn't even get to take a picture of the dish...we ate it too fast! If you want to see a video of me preparing the dish, just check me out on the Vine app (just search The Spooky Vegan...for some reason it won't let me embed the video here).

My favorite part of trying Beyond Meat was that Mister Spooky (an omnivore) remarked how good it was and that he didn't need to eat chicken anymore since he will be buying Beyond Meat instead! Score!

The only fault I found with the Beyond Meat strips is that they tend to get a bit rubbery once they cool off after cooking. Still, despite this they still tasted amazing! I can't recommend these enough and found them to be the best plant-based chick'n I've ever tried.

Beyond Meat is a revolutionary and delicious plant-based protein that I think will encourage more people to adopt a more sustainable, plant-based diet - and rewards those that already live cruelty-free with delectable flavors and endless options!

For more info, please check out Beyond Meat's website.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Food Review: Daiya's Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza and Mushroom and Garlic Pizza

Daiya Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza and Mushroom and Garlic Pizza slices, 
plus some Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale I had been saving for a special occasion

Pizza is my absolute favorite vegan junk food...I love kicking back and enjoying a big pizza pie and a horror movie any day of the week! When that pizza craving hits, I usually go one of three routes: I either make my own pizza with hand-rolled dough topped with tomato sauce, Daiya cheese and pineapple chunks, buy the Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pizza, or, if I'm feeling indulgent, I'll order the Berkeley Vegan from Zpizza.

I was excited to hear Daiya was making their own frozen vegan pizzas, thus giving vegans even more options when it comes to noshing down on some pizza pies!

I was finally able to score some of these new pizzas in the frozen section of Whole Foods (on Vegan Pizza Day no less!!). I took home the Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza and the Mushroom and Garlic Pizza at the cost of $9.99 each (ouch!). I got home, preheated my oven, and unwrapped my pricey pizzas...only to find they were pretty small compared to the cardboard box they were in. I also noticed they had a pretty thin crust, though I didn't see anything advertising them as such on the box besides that they are gluten-free, so maybe that had something to do with it.

The pizzas crisped up nicely in the oven, and the extra crisp of the thin crust worked well with the subtle flavors. The Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza was okay, but I prefer the Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pizza, which has more flavor, even without having cheese on it. I liked the Mushroom and Garlic Pizza better as it had more flavor, but it was still lacking. I think both pizzas could have used more sauce, thicker crusts, better flavors and a more even distribution of toppings (see pic above for an idea of clumped together the toppings were).

I also couldn't get over how small these pizzas were. Sure, they run about the same size as the Amy's pizza I am used to buying, but the boxes they come in make it look like the pizzas would be bigger. The price was a bit steep for what you get. Two Daiya pizzas barely fed two people, and that was $20 worth of pizza. It felt more like eating an expensive appetizer than a meal, especially when I can buy an extra large Berkeley Vegan AND have it delivered for around $25 and it feeds more people.

Overall, I was let down with the Daiya pizzas I tried. The flavor was lacking, the size was definitely lacking and they just didn't compare to other pizzas out there or to Daiya's other products. I would probably not buy again unless they were the only vegan pizzas available.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Healthy Junk's Vegan Breakfast Club

You know what one of my favorite meal times is? BREAKFAST! I love tofu scrambles, hash browns, (Smart) bacon, fresh fruit, french toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles, cereal and lots and lots of coffee. The problem is, I'm pretty lazy and I'm not a fan of cooking when I get up in the morning. Another problem is that there aren't too many places you can get vegan breakfast items in Orange County. There is always Mother's Market (their tofu scramble is bomb) or Freesoulcaffe (delicious waffles), but sometimes you crave something new...

Enter the all-vegan eatery Healthy Junk in Anaheim, California, which already serves amazing vegan comfort food for lunch/dinner, that just had their first ever "Breakfast Club" this morning! I am already a big fan of Healthy Junk's yummy vegan offerings, so as soon as they announced their breakfast club I was one of the first to sign up! I believe they had 50 slots for their first breakfast club, to test it out and see how it would work. I was placed into the "earlybird" 8 AM group, which I was totally stoked for. I definitely don't mind getting up early for a delicious vegan breakfast food as long as I don't have to make it!

Healthy Junk in Anaheim, CA

Mister Spooky and I arrived there a few minutes before 8 AM and you could tell everyone there, patrons and employees, were excited for the first-ever breakfast club! Chef Lynda herself was greeting everyone at the register and later walked around to talk to everyone! She is such a sweetie (as are all her employees!)!

Breakfast Club

It was $15 per person for an all-you-can-eat buffet style spread that included fried chick'n smothered in gravy, buckwheat waffles topped with your choice of maple syrup and bananas/blueberries, tofu scramble with "fakin' bacon", crispy homestyle potatoes, fresh baked muffins (blueberry, cranberry walnut and chocolate chip), fresh fruit with mango lime dressing and beverages (coffee, tea or OJ). It was SO MUCH FOOD!

Healthy Junk's Fried Chick'n, Homestyle Potatoes, 
Buckwheat Waffles, Tofu Scramble!

Mister Spooky and I had our plates loaded with fried chick'n and gravy, a waffle topped with fruit, tofu scramble and potatoes (we skipped the fresh fruit cuz we are rebels like that). We each grabbed a muffin, coffee (for me) and orange juice (for him) and found a cozy spot on their outside patio. We dug in and weren't disappointed! Everything was delicious, but the chick'n fried steak was the real standout! THIS was vegan comfort food - the gravy was thick and creamy and the chick'n was fried to perfection - delectably crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. Even Mister Spooky, who is an omnivore and can be picky with vegan food, loved it!

Healthy Junk in Anaheim, CA

We also enjoyed the other items. I liked the flavors of the tofu scramble and thought the addition of zucchini was a nice touch. The buckwheat waffles and homestyle potatoes were scrumptious! My favorite way of eating all this deliciousness was layering the chick'n, waffles and potatoes into bite-sized morsels and stuffing them all in my mouth at once for an explosion of flavors! MMMMMM!!

Healthy Junk's Breakfast Club

After eating one plate of food each, we were both stuffed!! Hard to believe, but just one plate each satisfied us both. I tried a bit of the muffins (I was too full to enjoy any more), but I can't wait to have them later because the tiny bites I took were so fluffy and wonderful!

Healthy Junk's breakfast club was a huge success and I really hope they do one at least once a month (or maybe just decide to open for breakfast every Saturday)! It seemed like everyone that was there had a wonderful time and the food was so amazingly good!

If you want to get in on Healthy Junk's next breakfast club (and drool over their regular menu items), follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

For more info you can also visit their website!
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