Archives for February 2013

Raw Living Expo 2013

Sometimes I need to step out of my comfort zone to be fully inspired. As much as I love cooked vegan foods like KimChi Fried Rice Balls, Not Yo’ Mama’s Meatloaf or Tortilla Chip Queso Casserole,there’s always room for more raw foods in my life. My partner in crime for all things health & wellness,Alison,was up for an adventure, so we hit the road for the Raw Living Expo in Sedona,AZ.

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Guest Post::Jen Mathews-Top 5 Vegan Beauty Brands

I get a lot of questions about my favorite vegan/cruelty-free beauty brands. My go-to site for all the latest and greatest beauty products is Jen Mathew’s MyBeautyBunny, so I thought I’d invite her over to share her top five vegan beauty brands.

Great vegan beauty brands used to be hard to find. We’re lucky today that there are so many new vegan brands out there to explore. Today I’m going to talk to you about my top 5 vegan beauty brands.

Beautisol was created by celebrity spray tan artist and aesthetician, Sinead Norenius. She is passionate about helping people achieve a healthy glow with instant tanner and anti-aging products. She saw a missing link between the availability of product education and the end consumer, so she has worked to help educate people. Her sunless tanning products are cruelty-free and vegan. They’re also streak-free, smell good (no gross DHA smell), and help you to achieve the perfect golden tan. Beautisol has specialized face self-tanners, body self-tanners, exfoliant, and anti-aging skincare products. You should definitely check out Beautisol’s new Tea Tan Glow – a rinse-off product that gives you an instant sun-kissed glow without the commitment.

Professional cosmetologists are exposed to ingredients in hair products dozens of times a day. DermOrganic was created to provide both consumers and cosmetologists with healthy hair care products. They’re all vegan, contain no animal by-products, are not tested on animals, have no sulfates, salt, sodium chloride, glycols, DEA, MEA, dyes or food coloring. They are gluten-free, paraben-free, and contain no artificial preservatives. The products are made with EFA lipids and amino acids, vegetable proteins, and contain the miracle worker, argan oil. They nourish the hair without weighing it down. The must try product is the Leave in Spray Therapy treatment.

Rebecca Brayton spent 6 years researching and developing Relogy for her daughter, who suffered from persistent acne. Relogy combines clinical acne treatments with the healing power of natural ingredients to bring you a healthier way to fight and prevent acne. These acne skin care products don’t strip your skin with harsh cleansers; instead they use natural anti-inflammatory antiseptics and balance the skin’s pH. Relogy products are vegan and cruelty-free. They contain no animal by-products of any kind. They use natural materials whenever possible and are passionate about being socially responsible. Their three-product system is meant to streamline the skincare process and cut down on the multiple products that you’re told you need. They save you time and are gentle on your skin.

Cult Nails
Maria Morrison, a nail blogger, had a dream to start a nail polish company. She would often mix colors to get exactly what she was looking for. Finally she took matters into her own hands and developed her own line with her unique interpretation of fashion trends. She wanted to have a green company, so she made sure her polish does not contain toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, or camphor. She also loves animals and made sure that her products are cruelty-free, not tested on animals, and do not use animal byproducts or ingredients that are tested on animals. She uses recycled boxes that can be reused by the consumer and utilizes cotton balls to protect her nail polish during shipping. Her polish line is constantly being updated with new, on-trend colors. There’s a shade to suit everyone’s taste.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
OCC, as it is fondly known, was founded by David Klasfeld. It’s a clever nod towards how obsessed people can get over makeup. For David, he was obsessed with creating makeup with the finest ingredients possible. Rather than just cruelty-free, he upped the ante to create products that are vegan and never use lanolin, beeswax or carmine. He has created gorgeous Lip Tars, eyeshadows, nail polish, and airbrush foundation to suit anyone’s complexion. His products are a makeup artist’s dream because they allow for the utmost in customization. They can be mixed to produce an endless array of colors. If you’re new to makeup and not comfortable mixing your own shade, the variety offered will surely have the perfect color to suit your mood. If there’s only one product you try from OCC, it must be the Lip Tars!

From your lips to your tips and skin, we’ve got you covered with the best in vegan beauty brands. You can be beautiful and conscientious too!

Jen Mathews is the Editor-in-Chief of  My Beauty Bunny, a beauty blog for stylish ladies and gents who love beauty and hate animal testing! Jen is also a social media guru and President of Top Tier Social Media, a social media and online media agency for beauty, fashion, health and lifestyle brands.

Chili-Orange Spiced Sweet Potatoes

These baked sweet potatoes have a sweet & spicy Southwest twist that creates a flavor explosion in yo’ mouth. Blend up the margaritas and make the sweet taters as a side to my Calabacitas or Tortilla Chip Queso Casserole . Keep it simple  and serve over beans and rice with a green salad for an easy weeknight meal.

I was in Bend,OR last year when I first tried this flavor combo at Barrio. Zee taste buds approved! My inner recipe detective lead me straight to Rick Bayless working it out in this version here. With a few quick nips and tucks I present my version with some very basic ingredients. Do not, I repeat ” do not” use sh*tty spices. A bold chili powder blend with complimentary spices is a must,that’s all the magic creating the complexity of this dish. If you’re mixing your own, try some ancho or chipotle powder,cumin,coriander,cocoa powder, cinnamon,nutmeg,oregano,ground ginger…go crazy with it.

Chili-Orange Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Super simple baked sweet potatoes with a sweet & spicy Southwest twist. Serve these sweet taters as a side dish or over beans and rice for an easy meal.
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes,cut into wedges
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 large orange zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • optional- ¼ cup salsa or your favorite hot sauce
  • optional- 1-2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 8x8 baking dish
  • vegetable oil
  • aluminum foil
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes,cut into wedges.
  3. Whisk orange juice,chili powder,roasted garlic and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. If you prefer a dish with more heat, add the salsa or hot sauce.
  6. If you fancy a sweeter flavor, add the agave nectar.
  7. Spray baking dish with vegetable oil and arrange sweet potato wedges in an even layer.
  8. Pour orange juice mixture over the sweet potatoes and cover with foil.
  9. Bake covered for 45minutes or just until the sweet potatoes can be pierced with a fork.
  10. Remove foil and turn up the oven to 425F degrees.
  11. Braise the sweet 'taters with the juices and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  12. Garnish with orange zest.
  13. Serve as a side dish or over rice and beans with a green salad for a complete meal.


Veggietorials:: YouTube “On the Rise”

I am thrilled,excited and over-the-moon ecstatic to be nominated for YouTube’s February “On the Rise” promotion. Details about how you can help me create better vegan cooking videos by voting HERE are in the video.

Mahalo for all of your support as I develop this channel into an entertaining resource for discovering how delicious plant-based cooking can be.

You’ve Got Mail::Vegan Subscription Boxes

When I was a kid,the most exciting part of my day was waiting for the mail. I had pen pals from across the world and family members that still practiced the art of writing on fine stationary. Opening a letter with a fancy wax seal was a simple moment of joy.

Flash forward to adulthood (with my sophomoric sense of humour and general goofiness, I use that term loosely) when the mail becomes something to dread because all you get are bills and bits of junk mail that won’t go away. Gah!

Solution: Sign up for a monthly subscription box full of vegan goodies delivered to your door! These services are fantastic if you enjoy trying new products,but live in a location that has a limited variety of vegan items.

My favorite sites are Vegan Cuts and Conscious Box. Vegan Cuts has just released their new bigger and better snack box,almost doubling the amount of goodies contained in the December box.

January Vegan Cuts Snack Box

Items included in my January Vegan Cuts box:

Cuppow-Turns a Mason Jar until a travel mug

Beanfield’s Chips (GF)- Pico de Gallo AND Salt n’ Pepper (eating these with spinach dip right now!)

Dandies Vegan Marshmallows(GF)- A classic pantry “essential”.

NY SuperFoods Manhattan Mud Chia Peanut Butter- No salt or hydrogenated oil (no palm oil). This is not labeled as gluten-free

Nutcase Crunch(GF)- Almonds,pecans, coconut and pine nuts. I sprinkled this on a salad and it was quite tasty.

GoRaw Banana Bread Flax Bar(GF)- I buy these all the time to eat before I hike…happy to get another one.

Just Pure Foods Chocolate Kalenola(GF) – Chocolatey kale chip granola-ness.Your brain will be like, “whuuuut?!” and your mouth will be like, “more please!”

Organic Freekeh-*Recipe card included* Roasted green wheat. This is actually a pretty good sized bag at 8oz. and will make four servings. I’ve dabbled using freekeh in recipes but since I’m reeeeeally trying to go gluten-free, I’ll probably share this with a friend.

PÜR Gum(GF)- Wintergreen. Fresh breath is a priority in my life, so I’ll be carrying this is my purse.

Moringa Tea- According to Ayurveda, the oral tradition of Indian medicine, Moringa prevents 300 diseases. I am not a tea connoisseur but I thought the flavor was similar to a light green tea.

$25 iTrain Gift Card- Download mp3 workouts. The cost of each download is between $5.99-$10.99 so I downloaded two of the ballet sculpting routines. So convenient to add the free workouts after I chowed down on all the snacks!

I was excited that almost all of the products in this month’s box were new to me and super bonus that I liked everything after sampling.The Cuppow alone would be almost $11.50 so you definitely get your money’s worth with this box.

December Vegan Cuts Snack Box

Conscious Box offers a classic box (vegetarian friendly), the vegan box and just introduced the new gluten-free box(GF review next month). Be sure to specify which one you’d like when you sign up.

January Vegan Conscious Box

Happy Squeeze – Strawberry Kiwi Beet fruit & veggie twist. I take these along to slurp down after I hike.

Peeled Snacks Apple Cluster(GF)- Berry flavored and surprisingly satisfying when I have a sweet tooth.

Nutiva Hemp Seeds(GF)- I blast these in my Vitamix with some water to make my own hemp milk.

People Towels- Save a tree, carry this washcloth sized towel around with you to wipe your hands.

Simply Straws- Glass straw. Love this idea but the straw is only six inches, the glasses I drink out of are seven inches, and so it’s a bit awkward. Just call me a size queen. I did a little searching and they do make a 10-inch straw along with a cleaning brush that you can purchase here

Dale’s Raw Protein Bar(GF)- Blueberry Macadamia. YUM! This is seriously one of the best tasting bars I’ve had in a while. Really wonderful texture and flavor.

Hail Merry Macaroons(GF)-  Coconutty-choco heaven in a cookie.

Maakoa Koopuwa- Antioxidant elixir made with cupuacu, acai and other super fruits. Tastes like Welch’s grape juice

Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood- Wild berry flavor drink powder. Will add this to my travel kit.

Dr.Singha’s Mustard Bath- This is the only item I’m not thrilled about because 1)I don’t have a bathtub, only a shower and 2)a mustard bath does not sound sexy to me at all.

Conscious Box also includes coupons for most of the products featured in each monthly box, with offers ranging from 10-20% off or buy one get one free. You can see what was in some of the previous boxes here .

Conscious Box has had a few hiccups with products containing bee derived ingredients making their way into the “100% vegan” box. I remember there being a tea with honey in the box a few months back and this month there was a lotion with beeswax (not pictured because I gave it away). I reached out to Conscious Box to ask about this issue and I received this response from Jesse Richardson who handles customer support :

“Unfortunately, Bodhichitta Botanicals, an item in January’s vegan box, contains beeswax, a non-vegan ingredient. While some vegans (aka “beegans”) are okay with using insect ingredients, other vegans are not. Because the box is marketed as “vegan,” Conscious Box will work diligently to prevent any other bee products in the box – these are not vegan and therefore will be excluded.”

I have ordered both of these services for myself and been very pleased with the shipments. Both Conscious Box and Vegan Cuts charge $19.95/month (shipping included). Vegan Cuts will ship to Canada for an additional $8 and you can sign up for the newsletter to be notified of new offers. Conscious Box does not currently ship outside of the U.S., except to APO addresses.

Vegan Cuts

*Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertorial. I have paid for and ordered boxes from both Vegan Cuts and Conscious Box in the past. I received gratis January boxes from both Vegan Cuts and Conscious Box but I do not promise favorable reviews in exchange for free product. My opinions are always honest and I do not share reviews for products/services that I do not use myself.This post contains affiliate links.

Tortilla Chip Queso Casserole

I remember my Mom making this type of casserole in the 70’s,though her version had cans of condensed soup and some sort of dead animal in it. When my bag of organic corn chips went stale after being open for a mere 48 hours, I couldn’t bear to chuck the chips into the Bokashi bucket, so I got down with this spicy comfort food instead.

The reluctant cooks can make this with store-bought vegan queso (my favorite is the Food for Lovers Original),canned beans and/or pre-seasoned grain/soy meat. For the slightly more ambitious, cook your own legumes and whip up my quick ‘n dirty queso. While you’re at it, you can even make your own un-chicken broth with this recipe that my friend Chanelle (the genius behind these Sticky Buns) shared over on The Vegan Virtuoso blog.

This dish is best served with a cold beer …and more cowbell. Original SNL skit HERE


Tortilla Chip Queso Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Whip up this quick Tortilla Chip Casserole for parties, potlucks or an easy meatless meal.
Cuisine: Southwest
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • For the Casserole
  • ½ bag organic tortilla chips
  • ½ cup + ¼ cup vegetable broth (divided)
  • 1¼ cup vegan queso
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • ¼ cup diced green chiles
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • cilantro,green onions,red onions,salsa,bell peppers for garnish
  • Olive oil spray
  • For the Crema(Tofu Sour Cream)
  • ½ package silken tofu
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp agave
  • For the Vegan Queso
  • 1 cup soaked raw cashew pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • salt
  • optional- pinch of turmeric for color
  1. For the Vegan Queso
  2. Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix.Blend on high-speed for 2 minutes.Set aside.
  3. For the Casserole
  4. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  5. In a medium size pan over high heat,cook onions in ¼ cup vegetable broth until they soften,about 2 minutes.
  6. Add green chiles (with the liquid),roasted garlic,taco seasoning and beans.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. Spray a 6x8 casserole dish (an 8x8 works fine with the addition of a few more chips or double the recipe in a 9x13 pan)with olive oil and place a layer of chips on the bottom of the dish.
  9. Drizzle one-third of the vegan queso on the chips, then add half of the bean mixture.
  10. Add a layer of tomatoes,sprinkle with black olives.
  11. Add another layer of chips and repeat the layers of queso,bean mixture,tomatoes and olives.
  12. Top with a final layer of chips,vegan queso, tomatoes and black olives.
  13. Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and gently press down on the casserole with a spatula.
  15. Slowly pour ¼ cup of the vegetable broth over the top of the casserole,try to distribute the liquid evenly. *Skip this step if you want a crunchy nacho-style dish*
  16. Bake for an additional 20 minutes,the liquid should all be absorbed.
  17. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
  18. Top with crema,cilantro,green/red onions,salsa and enjoy.
  19. For the Crema
  20. Add all ingredients to a mini food processor and blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  21. Refrigerate unused portion in an airtight container for up to 3 days.