Saturday, January 17, 2015

Another New Year's Resolution Post

Hi everyone! So, we're about halfway through January. Did you make any New Year's Resolutions? If so, how are they going? If they're going well, GREAT! Keep up the good work! As you may remember in my last post, Why You Should, and Ways to Drink Green Tea, I have resolved to drink 3 cups of green tea per day. So far, I have been completely successful. So, I wanted to just share how I've managed to be successful so far, and whether you want to keep up a resolution better, or you just want to make a change in your life, hopefully these tips will help.

So, my first tip is: Mark things on a calendar. Everytime you complete a goal, or something that is part of a goal, mark it on a calendar, and keep it where you an see it. For me, it reminds me to finish my goals each day, and is a way of congratulating myself on all the successful days I've already had. I find that this gives me a lot of motivation not to give up. I have a color coded system and I mark a tick mark on each day for each cup of green tea I drink in one day in green, every time I publish a blog post in brown, every time I work out at home in orange, every time I go to the gym in red, and every time I go roller skating in blue. Granted only the green tea was an official resolution. The rest of those things were just things that I've been wanting to do more. But seeing it all right there on my closet door reminds me to keep at it, and shows me how often, or not, I've been doing each thing. If you don't have a calendar that you wouldn't mind marking up, then check out this free printable calendar that you can mark up to your heart's content! You can even decorate it with your favorite animal rights stickers. Again, if you want some ideas for resolutions, especially ones that are directly related to animal activism, check out my blog post from last year about New Year's resolutions.

Next, I have a tip for those of you who want to get in shape, work out more, lose weight, be healthier etc. Guess what? It doesn't involve joining a gym. In my blog post, 5 Ways to be Vegan and a Little Less Poor, the last thing I talked about was an app called Punchcard. This app allows you to earn mPOINTS, which can be traded in for gift cards and things. (Again, FYI, the $1 Amazon card is the best value.) But there are several really helpful mPOINTS apps that allow you to track your fitness activities or help you train more effectively. Runtastic Situps, Runtastic Pushups, Runtastic Squats, and Runtastic Pullups are all free apps that provide a training program for building muscle by doing those activities. They all reward you mPOINTS for each day you use the app, and each day you do 3 activities in one day. This can be any combination of training sessions and / or quick log sessions. These apps can also be synced with myfitnesspal, for those of you who use it for fitness, food, and weight tracking. Nexercise is another app that gives you mPOINTS for working out, and it allows you to log past workouts, so if you use one of the Runtastic apps, and then also log the activity on Nexercise, you're essentially getting paid twice for the same workout. Granted, you won't be making a ton of money off of it, (don't quit your day job,) but a little extra money, or Amazon cards, never hurts. So, I guess that would also be helpful if you've resolved to make more money. Sort of.

Thanks for reading everybody! I hope this has been really helpful. What resolutions did you make, if you made any? How well have you been keeping up with them? If you try out any of my suggestions, I would love to know how well they work out for you! Have a fabulous 2015!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why You Should, and Ways to Drink Green Tea

Hey everyone! So, it's not New Year's Day, but I'm going to be talking about resolutions anyway. It's still pretty early in the year. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might be aware that I wrote a New Year's post last year. The stuff I'm writing about today is completely different. But the things in my last New Year's post is, at least in my opinion, are all pretty good ideas for resolutions, and they're super-relevant. So, if you want some ideas for animal rights and environmentalism related resolutions, click here!

So I have actually made a legit resolution this year. I have resolved to drink a minimum of 3 cups of green tea per day. To me, that really doesn't sound like a lot. However, when I told several of my friends, they were surprised and kept saying how that was so much green tea! Come to think of it, maybe they meant the cumulative amount of green tea. Whatever. It's not that much.

But why green tea? Why 3 cups? Well, that's the average amount that most things I've read have suggested for daily consumption, though some suggest up to 5 per day. And at that amount, it's supposed to have all sorts of positive side effects. Well it's common knowledge that drinking green tea can boost your metabolism (which means that if you've made any weight loss or muscle toning resolutions, they'll be easier to attain!) According to About Food it can help prevent or alleviate rheumatoid arthritis. My family has a history of arthritis, so if I can avoid it, I'd love to. According to SFGate (disclaimer: this article cites some studies which involved animal testing which I do not endorse, and am strictly opposed to.) drinking green tea fights bacterial infections, (which can help with acne problems,) and may prevent certain viral infections including the flu, and certain STDs. According to Livestrong, the antioxidants in it can also prevent certain types of cancer, as well as heart disease. It's like freaking magic. I'd say those are some pretty great reasons to drink the stuff.

Now admittedly, if you are drinking 3 cups of green tea per day, you'll probably go through boxes of tea fairly quickly, and while it's a lot cheaper and better for you than carbonated beverages. However, it could feel like you're spending a lot more money than you used to. Now, I know Trader Joe's carries pomegranate white tea (which is the same as green tea, only it has more antioxidants (the stuff that helps you out so much, and less caffeine,) and I'm pretty sure they carry green tea as well. If you're not as familiar with Trader Joe's, they normally have some of the lowest prices of all the health food stores. But, Costco also carries green tea in huge bulk. I'm talking a case of 100 bags of green tea. It's their store brand, and I can't remember exactly what the price is, but I know I did the math once, and it was pretty much the best price I could find. It's technically matcha green tea, which means that there are super-fine particals which stay in the water after you take the bag out. Actually, normally a lot of them have already come out of the bag, and are loose in the individually-wrapped packages. You just pour them into the cup or mug you're preparing it in. The only set back is that instead of paper tea bags, they use nylon tea bags, so they're slightly harder to compost. You have to tear or cut the bag open to compost the leaves, but it's really not hard to do. I don't know if they carry any flavored green tea, so if you're wanting tea infused with fruits or something, you can either add them yourself, or you can just look for coupons and buy those sorts of teas at a regular grocery store. But if you're willing to give the normal green tea a shot, this stuff is great. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of any real tea plain. By real tea, I mean black, green, or white tea, which is actually made from a tea plant. Herbal stuff doesn't count. But there are several ways that I make it that I think are really delicious.

Tea Latte: So, basically, you brew your tea, and then put it in a cup with equal parts green tea and your favorite alternative milk. I usually go with soy. Sweeten it to taste. Easy enough. Your tea latte will have only as many calories as the amount of alternative milk you put in it, just in case you're counting.

The second way to make it is also really easy, but can be made entirely with bulk items purchased from Costco. (Though, I guess if you bought soy milk at Costo, you could make the other one entirely from Costco bulk products too.)

Tea Lemonade: First, you brew your green tea. Then add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. (Costco carries TrueLemon.) Then Add 1-2 packets (I use 1 1/2) of Truvia, or your preferred sweetener. (Also available at Costco.) The advantage of this version of green tea, if you're counting calories, is that it has none. (Unless you use real sugar of course.)

Hopefully, I've convinced you that you need this in your life. So, let me know in the comments if you want to start drinking more green tea! If you don't, I'd still love to know. If you have any yummy, easy recipes for gren tea, please share! Thanks for reading everyone! I hope this has been helpful.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Loving Animals Sometimes Means Not Having One

First of all, I'd kind of like to know your reaction to that title alone. If you wouldn't mind, tell me in the comments below along with any other reactions you have to this post. Thanks so much!

Now, moving on to what I'm actually here to say today. . .

As animal lovers, it's often very hard to say no to getting an animal. But you can't always be in the position to take a new animal in.

An obvious example would be if you live somewhere that doesn't allow pets. Taking care of an animal is not worth violating a contract. In that kind of situation, you probably can't keep it a secret for long. When it comes out, you would probably be evicted and / or fined, and you might have to give up the animal, which would be painful for you and the animal involved. This also applies to people who live at a parent's house if said parent(s) won't allow animals. Keeping an animal a secret from your parents won't work. Trust me. They're smarter than you probably give them credit for.
I had a friend who tried to keep animals multiple times when she wasn't allowed to. She had found a stray puppy, and talked her mom into keeping it while they found the owner. No one ever claimed the dog, and her mom told her they'd have to take her to a shelter where someone else could adopt her. So, my friend, who didn't have the best relationship with her mother, decided to leave home. At this point, she was 18, but still in high school, so she moved in with her boyfriend and his parents. (Which I would imagine was really awkward, but that's just me.) she later moved into an apartment that didn't allow animals, tried to sneak the dog in, and eventually had to give the dog away, and if I recall correctly, had to move again. 

Here's another thing, I don't like the term "pets" because it implies that it's something that you can pick up and put down when it's convenient, at least that's how it always seems to me. Maybe that's not the impression that the word gives you, but the impression that I get from it is an irresponsible way to think about animals. Animals require attention and regular interactions like feeding them and cleaning up after them at the minimum. If you can't do that, whether it's because you can't afford the food and supplies, don't have time to care for them, or just realistically recognize that you have too big of a lazy or forgetful streak, it's not fair to the animals to deprive them of a chance to be in a home that can and is willing to care for them properly.
I have a friend who had adopted a puppy who lived at our house until my friend moved out on his own. He could afford the food and supplies, and even paid one of my sisters to walk the dog regularly. On weekends, when he had time, he would take his dog downtown to this really cute doggy cafe and buy him treats. But once he moved out on his own, and had to move for his work, he realized pretty quickly that all by himself, he worked way too many hours to pay enough attention to his dog. So, while he could afford it, he knew his dog was getting lonely. Though it was extremely difficult for him, he gave the dog to a family that could spend more time with him.
Sometimes, you can't take in an animal because you already have several. Now, it's okay to have multiple pets if you can afford it, but sometimes one more is too many. When that happens, the animals might fight with each other because there isn't enough room for them to all have their own space. You might not even be aware that they're fighting, as it could be mainly happening while you're at work or school. It can also make clean-up overwhelming. If you have several cats, you really need multiple litter boxes. If you have fancy self-scooping litter boxes, then it's a whole lot easier. But, if you have normal litter boxes, and you don't clean them often enough, your cats are going to start using the rest of your house as a litter box. They won't want to use a filthy litter box just like you wouldn't want to use an unflushed toilet in a public restroom. With multiple dogs, it can be very difficult to make sure they're being walked enough. Some dogs can be walked together, but larger dogs are often too strong to be walked together.
This is a problem that I had once. My older sister had moved out, and taken in 3 feral kittens. She moved back in and brought them with her. At the time we already had 4 cats. (2 had been feral kittens that my sister talked my mom into adopting. 1 was a cat who we were taking care of temporarily, but the original owner abandoned with us and moving away without notice. 1 was a cat that my sister talked her boyfriend into adopting from a local animal shelter, but his family wouldn't let him keep, so we took him in, and then that particular cat adopted me.) But anyway, that is 7 cats in an average suburban house. At the time none of us kids would admit it, but that is too many cats in one place. After about a year, my sister bought her own house, and soon took her 3 cats with her (3 cats is acceptable depending on their personalities), so the problem was solved. Now, it really was too long to have that many cats at once, but she had never intended to move back in for so long. But that's exactly how things like that tend to happen, right? In a situation where too many animals have been acquired, it can be extremely hard to pick which one(s) to find new homes for. It's a whole lot easier to say no right at the outset so you are less attached to the animals that you can't take care of. You can always adopt more animals in the future when one passes away.

Sort along the lines of having several pets already, sometimes, whether you realize you're doing it or not, you might go from animal-lover to animal-collector. The idea of having exotic or wild animals as pets can be really enticing, but keep in mind that wild animals are just that. They aren't suited for living in your house like a domestic animal would be, and your house isn't suited for them living in it either. Having a rare pet isn't going to make you cooler, and once the novelty wears off, no one is going to pay you extra attention for it, and you may even get bored with the animal, which could lead to you not caring for the animal like you should. You have to keep in mind that animals aren't decorative. People often forget that when it comes to animals like fish. People frequently buy a really fancy bowl or aquarium and put some really pretty fish in them to make a space look fancier. However, people often don't realize just how much space a fish needs to thrive, and their fish die or become bored, or fight because they lack space. Also, fish are often captured from their natural environments (there's some truth to the story of Finding Nemo, afterall. . . ) or they're bred on farms where they are frequently not cared for well, and used to make money for large corporations. (Don't buy into The Man!) Or maybe it's not exotic animals that interest you, but specific fancy breeds of animals, and you just want to have this kind of dog, or this kind of cat, and then, oh there's this other breed or other color that's just so pretty, and you have to get it, and you accidentally reenact the story Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág. Now, I'm not saying that it's wrong to own a purebred anything. But if you're treating animals like collector's items, chances are, you're getting them for selfish reasons, and not just because you want to give an animal a home. With so many homeless animals in the world, it's really unfair to the animals that are euthanized in shelters every day because no one will take them in. Purebred animals rarely have trouble finding homes. If you have room in your heart and your home and your budget for an animal, rescue one! But don't just collect animals to show off what cool pets you have.
I know a girl who has several "exotic" animals, as well as several more common animals. She's also a photographer, so she's always posting pictures of them and using them in photoshoots. I'm sure she takes care of them, but it comes across as though she is just using them as props. For a while, it felt like she got a new animal every week. She has several cats, 2 snakes, a chameleon, and at least one tarantula. I'm pretty sure she has some other kind of reptile, but I can't remember. Now, to give her some credit, I don't think she's taken in any new animals recently. (I know because I've seen her posting things about having found animals, and trying to find homes for them. And she instagrams pictures of them enough that I'm sure I'd have noticed if she had gotten another one.) However, I do know that she thinks that she is better than other people who only have "normal" animals. She and some of her friends actually have "reptile parties" where they bring their reptiles over to one another's houses and take pictures and brag about how cool it is that they have such unique pets. 

Finally, not all animals are for everyone. If you ask most kids, they'll probably tell you that they'd love to have a puppy! Kids like the idea of having an animal to play with, and puppies are good at that, and they're really cute! But when the puppies grow up, and the kids grow up, not everyone can handle the responsibility of having a dog, or the energy it requires. I mentioned earlier that my family dog-sat for a while for my friend. Well, that was when I realized that I'm not really a good person to be a dog-owner. I'm definitely a cat person. Cats are pretty low-maintenance. Dogs on the other hand, need way more attention than I am capable of giving. Cats are much more individualistic than dogs are. While it's good to groom your cats every once and a while, dogs can't bathe themselves whatsoever, and dogs get pretty nasty if you don't keep them clean. But anyway, Just because you love animals, doesn't mean you have to have one. There are many ways to express your love for animals by speaking up for them and giving them a voice to ensure their well-being without necessarily living with one. It isn't hypocritical not to have an animal companion if you're an animal lover. As the saying goes, sometimes if you love someone, you have to let them go. Or to reference ABC's Once Upon a Time, you have to give them their best chance, and it isn't always with you. Putting this into practice takes a lot of maturity, because it's probably not what anyone wants to do.

Alright. This has been a really hard topic to talk about, because it is so much easier said than done. But it's a good thing to keep in mind. I hope it has been helpful. If you have any other reasons why loving animals sometimes means not having one, please tell me in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I'm sure I've missed several good points. Even if it's just a story you have that is a good example of one of the points I made, go ahead and share it! I'd really love to hear what you have to say about this topic.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Food Finds Friday: Tofu Pups vs. Smart Dogs

Okay everyone, so I've been on vacation, and whilst visiting grocery stores that are very different from the ones near my own house, I have come across many curiosities.

So, Lightlife makes many vegan products, including hot dog alternatives. I have only ever come across their Smart Dogs before.

These things are decent. For being vegan, gluten-free, only 50 Calories, and packing 7g of protein, I don't mind that they don't have the most fabulous flavor. If you eat them with some sort of toppings, it tastes better anyway. The texture is pretty much the same as real hot dogs. 

But then I found Lightlife's Tofu Pups

These things are significantly softer than both the Smart Dogs, and real hot dogs. It's kind of weird at first, but it's not bad. The taste is, in my opinion, much better than smart dogs though. Granted, they still don't taste like hot dogs, but that's totally okay! I didn't like hot dogs very much anyway. Good news is, they are also vegan, gluten-free, 50 Calories, and 7g of protein. Crazy huh? But they're definitely different. I think I might have to take some back home with me if there's space in the car.

I hope this was helpful, everyone! Have you tried either or both of these faux hot dogs? Which is your favorite? Have you found vegan (and preferably gluten-free) hot dogs my another brand that are better? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Live Action for Animals

Hi Everybody!

So, as you may or may not have noticed, I have revised the layout of my blog. I have removed some widgets and added others, and rearranged things. The main thing that I added is a fabulous Twitter feed widget! It is located in the sidebar right near the top, if you can't find it. It is set up to follow my vegan/ animal rights twitter handle: @Vegetabelle. It shows my most recent 5 posts. (There was a widget that will show your whole history, but it wasn't as pretty. If you want to see my entire history, just check out the Twitter profile.) I just thought it would be a cool thing to add so that you can see what peta2 missions I'm up to, inspiring images, photos of yummy food or vegan makeup, or so I can write a super-short vegan-related post and update it quickly without having to dedicate a whole blog post to it, but it will still be visible on my blog for those who follow my blog and aren't on twitter. For those of you who use Twitter, please hit me up! Follow me and tweet at me any questions you have, suggestions, tips, other random comments, or your favorite vegan things! (As an added bonus, any direct messages should appear on the blog. So you get to be all famous! Sort of. . . not really. . .) But anyway, if you're not following my twitter, you should be. If you're not following my blog, you should be. If you're not vegan, you should be. That is all. If you have any suggestions for other changes or additions I should make to my blog, PLEASE leave a comment below and tell me your ideas! I want to make this blog the best experience for everyone.

I love you guys! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guide to Vegan Eggnog

So, I'm really annoyed right now. I was feeling all great about myself because I had written several blog posts the past few weeks, and I had finally gotten back into the swing of blogging. I had been using the Blogger app on my phone, and as it turns out, it published nothing of what I wrote. In fact, it's been “saving” for weeks now, and so I can't even access the drafts to recreate them on a computer. So, I'm going to try to rewrite some of the best ones. I actually had written a post on Thanksgiving Day comparing and contrasting the 3 vegan eggnogs that I've found. So, Christmas is over, but It's not New Year's right? So maybe it'll still be helpful? Oh well. At least you'll have a guide to post-holiday sales. So, here are my thoughts about these things. Happy All The Things.

1. Silk Holiday Nog

This stuff is perfect. It is, in my opinion, the closest flavor resemblance to real Eggnog. (Though, to be fair, I haven't had real Eggnog in a REEEAAAALLLLYYYY long time.) I can't get enough of it.

2. Dream Rice Nog

This stuff is not quite the same flavor as Eggnog, but it is a really good flavor. It's not quite as strong, so if you want to drink a larger serving, I would go for this one. It actually quenches thirst, because it's not as thick. (Bonus tip, use it to make vegan hot chocolate, and it tastes great!) The best part though, is that it is shelf stable, so you can stock up on it when it goes on sale, and have a year-round treat! (That is what I'm planning on doing.)

3. SoDelicious Coconut Nog

This stuff has seriously intense flavor. It's good, but I find it slightly overpowering. But, that means that if you're using it as an ingredient in holiday baking, it's perfect, because you'll actually be able to taste it! (Check out my post about Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake if you want ideas!) If you're a coffee drinker, this makes a good flavored latte, but I wouldn't really drink it straight up. It has larger particles of suspended spices, and so it has a slightly strange texture. But, if that doesn't bother you, and you like sweet things, then this is perfect for you.  

AAAAAANDDD how about a bonus thing? Since this is an unfortunately delayed post. . . 

4. West Soy Chocolate Peppermint Stick Soy Milk!

Yummy. (And on sale now probably because Christmas is over.) If you drink it cold, it's soy milk! If you drink it hot, it's hot chocolate! That is some serious holiday magic. This makes my inner child very happy.

 Have you tried any of these? What did you think about them? Did you find any other Faux Eggnogs? Are there any other holiday beverages that are a must have? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Movie Madness: The Book of Life

I have been looking forward to seeing The Book of Life ever since I saw the trailer for it when I went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Not only was it as good as I hoped it would be, it was better! Now, I'm not here to ruin the movie for you. But, I wanted to talk about some of the best things about it. It's the perfect movie to watch for Halloween! SO, here is why you need to go see it.

1. It's got prominent Animal Rights undertones. Hurray! I can't really tell you much without spoiling, but believe you me, it's there. (And once you've seen it, we can freak out about it together. Hit me up in comments with a spoiler alert.)

2. It's got prominent Feminist undertones. Again, I'm not going to spoil it. But, This is some seriously crazy women's empowerment stuff. Even though it's a love story, it features very strong, independent female characters. (Voiced by very strong, independent actresses.)

3. It's got a great story-line. Just trust me on this, and go watch it. 

4. It's got extremely good cultural references. The soundtrack is wonderful. 30 Seconds to Mars was in the trailer, so trust me. It gets even better. There are also several literary references. (If you missed them, hit up the comments and I'll tell you some of the ones I noticed.)

5. The art is wonderful. 'Nuff said. (Except I really want to talk about this, so I'm going to elaborate a little.) Mexican Day of the Dead style is gorgeous, and used a lot in this movie. (That's another reason it's a good Halloween movie.) 

6. It celebrates a minority culture. This one is pretty obvious. 

7. It's a good movie for all ages. Tip: If you're stuck babysitting, or if you're a parent and you don't want your kids running around the neighborhood at night on Halloween, this is a great movie to take kids to. They'll love it, and so will you.

Alright. I'm going to stop there, or I might accidentally spoil something. But SERIOUSLY! This is a great movie. Go watch it. I'm going to buy my own copy and watch it every weekend for the rest of my life. (Okay, maybe not, but I definitely want my own copy.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Veggie Favorites

So, as you are surely well aware at this point, it is Pumpkin Everything Season. (Also known as Autumn or Fall.) However, there are lots of other kinds of squash that are soooo in this season. Today, I'm hopefully going to convince you to try a slightly less common one: Spaghetti Squash.

Why is it called spaghetti squash? Well, for starters, it's a squash. And when you prepare it, it looks a whole lot like spaghetti. Here's the part where I blow your mind. (Maybe.) You can even eat it like you would eat spaghetti. OMG. This is too much! But I'm serious.

Are you looking for something to eat that's easy, cheap, delicious, satisfying, vegan, (also gluten-free,) and good for you? (Note: vegan food is not always actually good for you. Might I remind you, french fries and Oreos. It's okay. We're all guilty. But anyway. . .) You really should try it. I got a medium-sized spaghetti squash for under $3 at Trader Joe's, and I got about 6 servings out of it. Add marinara sauce with gluten-free, vegan faux beef crumbles (for protein,) and vegan Parmesan cheese, and you've basically got everything you need in a meal in one dish. (BTW,  you can get all those things, except maybe vegan Parmesan, at Trader Joe's for cheapsies. P.S. They'll also be organic.) Preparing Spaghetti Squash is also really easy, like I said. Basically, you vent your frustration with *insert noun here* by stabbing the squash several times. Then you put the squash on a plate or even just some paper towels, and cook it in the microwave. NOTE: Cooking times vary depending on the size of the squash. Just look it up on the internet. It's pretty simple. Again, mine was a medium squash. I cooked it for 20 minutes, and it was perfect. Whenever you're done cooking it, pull off the stem carefully, and cut the squash in half. Scoop out all the little spaghetti-looking parts, and eat it! No boiling water or stirring necessary. Congrats. You're so fancy. That would cost you about $10 per plate at Ruby Tuesday. (My version is normally less than $3 a serving with toppings, and you can eat it at your own house. What.)

This is one of the most amazing vegetables out there, so what are you waiting for? Do you have a good spaghetti squash recipe? (Hint: You can also eat this stuff NOT like spaghetti. What.) What do you think about spaghetti squash? Have you ever tried it? Do you love it? Is it your favorite thing? Let me know in the comments! Until next time! Much love.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Food Finds Friday: Fall Favorites

First, I would like to apologize for so much alliteration in the title. It was just so perfect. Alright. So, first of all, dear vegans, Fall is coming, and with it, the jealous lusting after pumpkin spice lattes that still aren't vegan. (Though, if you have seen those ingredient list things circulating the internet, you're probably a lot less jealous now.) I'm sorry to say that I have yet to come up with the perfect vegan pumpkin spice latte. I'll work on that. But I have found some delicious things that will make it all better. (Hopefully.)

First, Archer Farms hot chocolate. I'm pretty sure it's available at Target exclusively. I haven't checked all the flavors they have, but FYI, not all of them are vegan. I do know that the dark chocolate, peppermint, and coconut macaroon flavors are vegan though. I like making them with either coconut milk or almond milk, which makes them super-creamy and wonderful. If you're a fan of Mayan/Aztec hot chocolate, you can add a VERY SMALL dash of cayenne pepper to your dark chocolate powder to give it that tiny extra kick. Be SUPER careful though. The only way to fix it if you add too much pepper is to make a ton more of the hot chocolate, and mix them all together until it's diluted enough. (Then you'd probably have to store the rest in the fridge and reheat it when you're ready to drink it.) So, while it's not a pumpkin spice latte, I hope this is a fall beverage you'll enjoy.

The other find I have for you today actually IS pumpkin spice. However, it's not a drink. Pumpkin Spice WAFFLES, everybody. These are gluten-free, AND vegan. On top of that, they're made with super-healthy things like quinoa and flax. OMG. I cannot express in words how delicious these are. My little sister, who is neither gluten-free, nor vegan, ate an entire box of them while I wasn't looking. This might be my new answer to "If you were stranded on an island with only one food, what would it be?" Last time I checked, Whole Foods had them on sale. Try them! You will like them! You will see! I think I'm going to go clean out my freezer so I can just load up my freezer completely full of these. (Perhaps I should just come up with a gluten-free, vegan pumpkin spice waffle recipe on my own. OMG SO YUMMY.) This is fabulous as breakfast or dessert. Or both.

Do yourself a favor, and go try both these things. After you've tried them, I'm betting you won't miss the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) at all. VEGAN PUMPKIN POWER! Let me know how you like these in the comments below! Also, If you have found any other fabulous pumpkin things, let me know! I want pumpkin all the things.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Be Vegan and a Little Less Poor: Part 2

Hi everybody! So in my last post, How to be Vegan and a Little Less Poor: Part 1, I gave 5 tips for saving money on food purchases. I talked about couponing and the rebate apps that I personally use. I'm really happy that a lot of you found it helpful! A few people asked me though about other ways to save money on vegan products. One of the ideas that was mentioned was purchasing items in bulk. That can be a really great way to save money. So, I'm going to start out 3 tips on how to bulk-shop, and then give you 3 bulk products that you should always keep on hand.

Tip #1: Check the price per unit. Whether the unit is ounces, grams, milliliters, or whatever, you'll only save money if the bulk price is a smaller price per unit. If you're at a bulk store like Costco, this can be a little more difficult, because they don't have regular sized items to compare to. (Though, you can always pull them up on a smart phone.) I know there were several times I went to a bulk store and found a product I normally buy in regular sizes, only to realize that I wasn't really saving any money by purchasing 5 times as much of it. If you're buying a bulk item at a regular store, you can often compare it to a similar, pre-packaged product.

Tip #2: Buy what you like. Bulk purchases aren't always the best time to try something new. You're running the risk of getting stuck with a whole lot of something if you don't end up liking it. If you're willing to take that risk, then that's up to you. For example, I've found gluten-free, vegan veggie burgers at Costco before, and they're pretty good. I had never seen that brand before, so I didn't know if I was going to like it, but I just decided that I'd find a way to make myself eat them even if I didn't like them. (Even though, as it turns out, I did like them.)

Tip #3: Don't buy too much. When purchasing in bulk, make sure you'll have enough space to store what you don't immediately use. For example, have some sort of a dry, sealed container to keep your nutritional yeast in. It won't keep well in the little plastic bags the grocery store provides. (My cats apparently really like nutritional yeast, and they can easily tear those bags open.) I sometimes go crazy when I'm at the grocery store, and one time in particular, I ran out of freezer space before I could fit in all of the bulk veggie burgers. I put some of them in my fridge, but I couldn't quite eat them fast enough, and a whole case of them went bad. If you are getting so much that you can't use it before it spoils, you're not saving money, you're wasting it.

Alright. Hopefully those ideas can help guide your bulk-shopping. Next, I have a few ideas on what to purchase in bulk. If you're at a bulk store, and you can find bulk products that you like, knock yourself out. But, here are a few staples that you should always keep on hand.

Product #1: Quinoa. Quinoa is a seed that is most often eaten as a grain. It is one of the only plant-foods to have complete protein. That means that it contains all of the protein variations that people need to be healthy. Quinoa is a very versatile food that can be eaten in salads, baked in foods, used as a flour, eaten plain, etc. There are so many yummy and creative ways to eat it. It doesn't have a very strong flavor, so it can be added to just about anything, and it can be a great part of any meal. (Even breakfast.) Quinoa is basically the seed equivalent of tofu. I have purchased it prepackaged at a bulk store, and I have also purchased it in a bulk bag from a regular store, but I eat it a lot, so I always buy it in bulk. (Bonus tip: Costco has pre-washed bulk-packaged quinoa, which makes preparation a lot easier.)

Product # 2: Nutritional Yeast. I haven't seen a pre-packaged bulk bag of nutritional yeast, though I know you can sometimes buy cases of the canisters of it. I haven't done the math on that though, so I don't know if it's a good deal. I normally buy nutritional yeast in scoop-it-yourself bulk bags at Whole Foods or Earth Fare. Nutritional yeast is another great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, (or anyone really,) and I use it in a variety of recipes. I would definitely recommend keeping it on hand.

Product # 3: Dried Beans. For me, I always go for chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and black beans. Those are the absolute best in my opinion. They're very versatile, they store well, and they aren't too hard to cook. (As a bonus, there are several ways to make soup broth with the water you re-hydrate them in, which gives you a little more value for your money.) Beans are a great source of protein for vegetable based diets.

Of course, these aren't the only products I purchase in bulk. I also have bulk oatmeal to either eat as oatmeal, or make into flour. I buy spinach in bulk sometimes, and peanut butter, (I would totally buy sunflower seed butter in bulk if I could find it at a bulk store,) and other assortments of fruits and veggies. (Those can be a risk sometimes with a mad dash to eat them all before they spoil.)

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful! If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them. If you think I should blog about another specific aspect of making a vegan lifestyle more affordable, let me know, and I'll get right on it! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment! Thank you so much to all my lovely readers! Happy shopping!