A Vegan(ish) Thanksgiving

I don’t quite think I could eloquently describe the amount of pride and happiness that was spilling from my heart yesterday. I thought I might actually burst. This may sound self-righteous to some, and inconsequential to others.  How a few platters of food could speak volumes, and mean so much more to me than just a meal.

18 of us sat around the table for our Thanksgiving feast yesterday. Alongside us of course were 3 very dear hearts who were with us in spirit. Their warmth was palpable. And while the size and shape of our family has changed, and a generation has been added to the mix, what struck me most yesterday was the feast laid before us. We used to be traditional. HUUUUUGE turkey, centre-table, flanked by all of the traditional fixin’s. To this day, I tell you, nobody has come close to nailing stuffing the way my Nonna did. But a lot has changed in our spread in 5 short years. When I went vegan, I was an outlier. The one and only in my family (the first on my husband’s side too, although there were a couple pescatarians there). I of course got all the typical questions (yes, I get enough protein), and could clearly read the word-balloons floating above people’s heads:  “yeah, this won’t last long”. I felt enlightened in a way that nobody quite understood at that time. To look at my family then and see that we were all of the belief that heart disease and diabetes (among other nasties) were genetic, and ran in our family. Then, when I discovered that that simply wasn’t the case, I wanted to shake people, and scream from the roof top that we could in fact fix the problem on our own. Grampa’s heart disease was not something we inherited. It was our habitual obsession with unhealthful food that we inherited.

It’s almost funny, looking back over these 5 years, and thinking of the curious questions, random conversations and book recommendations I made here and there. Trying to get the point across to my family, without being an annoying and obtrusive vegan (and yes, I realize I failed at times and was annoyingly obtrusive lol).

I looked at our Thanksgiving spread yesterday, and it occurred to me how impactful it was to have made that decision. To be the outlier. To see how it all but saved my father’s life (that’s a whole other story to be shared one day, when I have the strength to overcome emotion and get it all on paper). To see that the herbivores now nearly outnumber the omnivores. To hear the stories about how most of us no longer have cow’s milk in our fridge. How we only keep vegan butter. How cow cheese is no longer the norm. How the majority of the family is now veganish, if not fully vegan.  And while we are still overly-indulgent on special occasions such as Thanksgiving, we have all made great strides in living more healthfully day to day.

We still had a turkey, but it’s interesting to note that that was a last-minute addition, and made for tradition only. Again, that habitual need to hang onto our Thanksgivings of yester-year. Also funny to note that more than half the turkey went untouched. On the other hand, the vegan Field roast was devoured. The curried lentil dahl was the talk of the town (nevermind the fresh roti alongside it). The curried squash, the AH-MAZING vegan risotto, and a hearty bowl of fresh greens with chick-peas and avocado…TO DIE FOR. Even the mashed potatoes were vegan and buttery (and I still swear, someone licked that pot when nobody was looking).   Dessert was stupid good. Like the kind of good that makes you want to sneak down to your fridge in the middle of the night and sit down on the kitchen floor in your jammies, so you can selfishly indulge in leftovers while nobody is there to judge you (or steal any of the goods). No I didn’t actually do that. And no, I wouldn’t tell you even if I did. But seriously, the chocolate peanut butter balls (I think I had 783 of them….Selena, stop making bite-sized food!!!!), triple-threat chocolate cake, and pumpkin pie. All vegan, and all insanely indulgent.

And of course the oaky, full-bodied cabernet from Napa. ‘Nuff said.

I woke up this morning with a strong need to write this all down. To reflect not only on the small daily changes over the past 5 years, but also on the major health crises that our family has seen. To see how all of that culminated into a crazy awesome feast. One that looks much different, but tastes just as good because it all still continues to have one ingredient in common: Love. It’s all roasted, basted, tossed and sprinkled with a whole lotta love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Advertisements

Vegan Cuts Snack Box Review

I was like a kid on Christmas when I received my package from Vegan Cuts!  I’d heard much about them through Twitter and Facebook but had never spent enough time to stop and take an in-depth look at what they have to offer.  To be honest, like most of us, it was one of those things that I was just too busy to pay attention to.  What I’ve learned though is that I’m EXACTLY the type of person Vegan Cuts caters to!!!  Crazy busy vegans!

Image

I’m an über planner when it comes to my meals; cooking up whole-food, plant-based meals for the past 4 years.  My hubby is an omnivore, as are our two kids, age 7 and four (going on 18!), so I often juggle 3 or 4 burners and a couple of cutting boards at dinner-hour.  When I went vegan 4 years ago, it was definitely a challenge, but now I could do it with my eyes closed.  We decided off the hop that we would feed our kiddos vegan and non-vegan meals; expose them to both lifestyles.  When they ask me where their food comes from, or how it’s made – whether it’s a carrot, or a chicken period (that one’s for you Jasna!) – I tell them.  Nothing gory or gross, and nor do I paint a fairy-tale picture.  I just relay the facts.  They have come to understand both lifestyles and as they get older and learn more, they will be able to decide for themselves what kind of diet is best for their lifestyle.

My kids’ snacks however, are almost ALWAYS vegan.  Fruits or veggies, granola bars, smoothies, etc.  If it’s possible, I think they were even
more excited about the Vegan Cuts snack box than I was!  Ashton claimed the Bumble Bar right away, and Ava of course grabbed the GOOD bean roasted chickpeas (she’s a chickpea addict).  I was super pumped to see the Drink Chia bevy and my daily fave, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts.
Snack Box-3 nuts

My favourite out of the bunch?  DEFINITELY The 3 Nuts Salted Caramel Peanut Butter!  Huge shout-out to The 3 Nuts who suggested I try it with sliced apples.  So.  Freakin’.  Yummy.

Truly, I think what thrilled me most was the variety, and of course, the fact that everything was vegan, so it wasn’t necessary to scrutinize the ingredients.  What’s better?  The kids were happy.  And when it comes to food, happy kids = happy mommy.

While we only received sample-sized snacks, Vegan Cuts sends out a surprise box with 7-10 full-sized vegan goodies every month.  What a fantastic way to have lots of snack variety, and of course, to have lots of yummy vegan bites on the go without Snack Box - Mary's Crackersthinking twice.

If you decide to check out their site, you will find they also offer monthly beauty boxes, allowing buyers to sample various cruelty-free and vegan brands.  What’s more?  If you fall in love with a particular item, you can shop online right from their site for that individual item.

Overall, I’d certainly recommend the monthly snack box vegans and non-vegans alike.  Especially to busy moms.  It’s a great way to incorporate some of the more healthy snack options into yours AND your kids daily menu.

‘Til next time, stay crazy, happy and healthy!

xxo

Laura-Lea

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Curry in a Hurry: Coconut Curry Lentils

Coconut and curry.  The 2nd best food marriage ever conceived; next to chocolate and peanut butter of course.

Coconut so perfectly balances the sharp and bold spices of curry, creating a gorgeous symphony of flavour for the palette.  It doesn’t matter what kind of curry either; green, red, yellow…Jamaican, or Trini.  Coconut takes them all to an entirely new level.   Coconut milk and curry find their way into my cooking repetoire at least a couple of times a month.  Most often with potatoes and/or beans of some breed.

This particular meal was inspired by my BFF (Best Foodie Friend).  Someone who understands my love for good food, and shares my passion for plant-based living better than anyone in my life.  Despite the fact that we live a couple of provinces apart, it always feels like he’s next door.

Shain, this one’s for you!  My cousin, my confidant, and damned fine chef-at-home.  Your love and spirit always inspire me.  You bring soul food to a new level.  Among all of your insanely incredible talents, your best  one is your innate ability to make others feel fabulous (though your creativity in the kitchen takes a close second!)  If it weren’t for our random exchanges of food pics (a joyful habit many people just don’t understand!), I would never have thought to pair coconut milk and yellow curry!  The pic you sent me of coconut curry lentils has inspired so many variations of this dish, that I’ve lost count!

WHAT I USEDLentil Curry Ingredients

2 cans of brown lentils, drained and rinsed well

1 can of coconut milk

5 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp yellow curry

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 cups of water

Salt and Pepper to taste

WHAT I DID

Of course, we always start with our mise en place (everything in it’s place) before we turn the stove on.

Potatoes SoakingFirst up, peel and dice the potatoes

HINT:  after the potatoes are peeled and waiting to be diced, keep them in a bowl of cold water so they don’t brown.  Once diced, toss them back in the water until ready to cook.

Next up, dice the onions and mince the garlic.

Then onto the cans:  drain and rinse the beans.

ANOTHER HINT:  Always rinse your beans in cold water to reduce the amount of bubbles.  This will subsequently reduce the embarrassing after-effects of eating beans!Lentils Rinsing

Lastly, shake and open the coconut milk and have your curry powder ready to go.

TURN UP THE HEAT

Now the fun and fragrant part!  Turn the heat to medium and add in the coconut oil.  While waiting for it to reach temperature, go ahead and drain your potatoes from the water.

Once your pan is to temp, toss in the onions and sautee until translucent.  Naturally, we then add in the garlic and sautee until fragrant; about 1 minute.  Now for the big boys!

Toss in the potatoes and stir until well-coated in garlic and onions.  Add in about 2 cups of water and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Cover to steam the potatoes for 10 minutes to soften.  Check them with a fork around the 8-minute mark for softness.  You want them near-done, but not totally soft, as you’ll want to finish them in the coconut and curry.

Sauteed Potatoes with CurryNext comes the curry.  Add in 1-2 tablespoons, depending on your preference.  You can also add some cayenne here if you so desire.  The key is to stir and toss the potatoes until well coated with curry.  Then repeat with the lentils; toss until well-coated.  The more the curry is tossed around in the heat, the more fragrant it becomes.

VERY IMPORTANT HERE:  Reduce the heat to low.

Lastly (my daughter’s favourite part) is to pour in the coconut milk and stir.  You may or may not feel the need to add in the extra cup of water here, depending on how thick you like it.  I added in just under a cup at this point, but you could also wait until everything has simmered for 10 minutes to figure out whether or not you want to add in the water.

Now that everything is combined, and the heat is down low, pop the lid on to simmer.  The simmering time is again preferential, depending on how you like your lentils.  I prefer them on the softer side, like a dahl, so I simmered for almost 15 minutes.  You could simmer for as little as 5 here if you like them more whole.

Coconut Lentil Curry

DON’T FORGET YOUR VEGGIES!

Most times, once I’ve removed this from the heat, I’ll throw in about 6 cups of baby spinach and place the lid back on for about 5 minutes.  This allows the spinach to wilt but not overcook.  Another option is to lay a bed of raw baby spinach in the bottom of your bowl, and pour the curried lentils on top.  You may also want to consider cooking some chopped carrots or sweet potatoes at the same time you steam the potatoes.

This time around, I took advantage of my thriving backyard garden, and went with Swiss Chard.  This was a last-minute decision!  I didn’t even cut the leaves from the earth until after the curry was already finished cooking!  So simple though.  For those of you not familiar with cooking Swiss Chard, it needs to be rinsed very well, as with any leafy green.  You always want to cut them stems away from the leaf and begin cooking these first as they take longer than the leaf.  In this case, I finely chopped the stems and sauteed them with onions and garlic on medium heat for about 10 minutes before I added in the chopped leaves.  Once the leaves were tossed and well coated in the onions and garlic, I covered and steamed for an additional 5 minutes, then removed them from the heat and sprinkled with salt and pep.

PIECE TO RESISTANCE!

Finished Plate

Seriously quick and simple curry in a hurry.  I hope you enjoy it!

‘Til next time, stay crazy, happy and healthy!

Laura-Lea

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Facebook Icon 48 mpx twitter icon 48mpx Arbonne Icon

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

Vegan Crepes

What a glorious way to kick off the weekend – with a breakfast reminiscent of the good old days!

Any memory of visiting Baka always brings out the warm and cozy in me.  Her modest 3-bedroom apartment was so full of love, laughter and soul food.  The news played religiously at noon, six and 11 o’clock; a bad habit she still indulges in today.  Our visits always began with a knock at her door for her notorious and giggly answer on the other side: “nobody home!”.  We would of course ALWAYS laugh.  We only  knocked because we wanted to hear her familiar and loving reply.  We found such happiness in reading the National Inquirer (really just looking at the pictures), and running down the hallway in our bare feet to throw the garbage down the chute.  The floor was so warm!  I remember on Fridays, the apartment building always smelled like fish and chips because that’s what basically every tenant in the building cooked on Fridays.

Of course it’s the “familiar” that makes the memories so warm and cozy.  Her place always smelled of food.  Nothing compared to her fried chicken.  Seriously.  I’ve tried to duplicate the batter the vegan way on many occasions and have yet to be successful.  She made the BEST spaghetti in tomato sauce, with tons of thickly sliced garlic, green peppers, and her secret ingredient, which I later learned was Kraft singles.  Her soup with gnocchi, which we would always drown in Maggi.  I think we just used the soup as an excuse to have Maggi to be honest.  Funny, I wouldn’t come within 10 feet of a bottle of Maggi nowadays (BARF)!  Her homemade doughnuts gave the traditional funnel cake recipe a serious run for it’s money.  And of course, the lemon Perrier I always looked forward to sneaking out of the bottom cupboard in the corner of the kitchen.

But MY GOD her crepes (or Palachinke as we say in Croatian).  Her crepes were THE BEST.  Didn’t matter if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Whether they were hot or cold.  Served with icing sugar or not.  Her Palachinke filled with jam were a sweet escape.  I always smell vanilla when I think of them.

That memory and that aroma came to mind out of nowhere last night, so sweetly.  So I decided I NEEDED to make them!  I hopped on my iPad and found a very simple recipe (thanks Vegan Yum Yum!), and they turned out AMAZING!!  Just as sweet as I remember, but with a difference of course.  Mine were filled with love just like Baka’s, but they were made in the sweet absence of eggs and dairy.

You’ll need the following ingredients to make the batter:

1/2 cup of milk (I used soy)

2/3 cup of water

1/4 cup of Earth Balance, melted (MEASURING HINT IF YOU HAVE A TUB OF BUTTER INSTEAD OF STICKS:  Fill 1/2 cup measuring cup with 1/4 cup of water and add the cold butter.  Once the water reaches the top of the cup, you have the 1/4 cup of butter you need, just dump the water and voila! Ready for melting.)

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

NOTE:  If you’d rather savoury crepes instead of sweet, omit the sugar and vanilla

Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined and smooth.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes (I left them overnight so I could wake up and cook right away!)

Once chilled, add in a couple of tbsp of water to thin out the batter; whisk to combine.

Heat your pan to medium-high heat (I used non-stick pans, but still added a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil for each crepe for flavour)

The key is to keep the crepes thin.  So when I poured the batter in the centre of the pan, I picked up the pan and kept rotating it until the bottom of the pan was fully coated with batter.  About 1 scant ladle-full per crepe.

Crepes cooking

After about 3-5 minutes, once the edges started to crisp, I flipped it over and left it about 2 minutes on the other side.

Repeat. Repeat.  Repeat!

Now I doubled the recipe above and it yielded 10 crepes.

From here, you can basically fill the crepes with whatever filling you’d like.  I went with a simple plum butter this time around, because I love the tartness combined with the sweetness.  Spread the jam around the entire crepe and roll it up!

Crepes - spreading jam          Crepes Rolled

Crepes Cut

The same sweet and sour effect would be found with marmalade.  Other awesome fillers to try:

  • any flavour of jam you desire!
  • cream cheese and raspberry or strawberry jam
  • cream cheese and fresh berries
  • peanut butter or almond butter and bananas
  • almond butter and blueberries
  • peanut butter and jam
  • vanilla yogurt (I love an almond based yogurt) with sliced peaches or nectarines

The filler options could go on forever; all depends on how creative you are at breakfast time (or lunch or dinner)!

I hope you enjoy, and I’d love to hear other suggestions on fillings; whether savoury or sweet!

‘Til next time, stay crazy, happy and healthy!

Laura-Lea

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Facebook Icon 48 mpx twitter icon 48mpx Arbonne Icon

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

Reading Ingredient Labels

Hey everyone!

Looooooooong time no talk! In my quest to live crazy, happy and healthy, I’ve done a lot of research and personal development over the past few months, and have a pile of blog topics I want to share with you all; the first of which is label-reading!

Now, I’m not talking about what we put in our mouths this time around. I mean, what we slather on the biggest organ we own (no boys…not those ones). OUR SKIN. That’s right. In as little as 26 seconds, our skin absorbs everything we apply to it, right on into our bloodstream and internal organs. YIKES! That’s ten times faster than the absorption of what we eat!

First off, I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to my tw’eeps from TeenVGN. This of course is a follow up to the video blog I published for all of you.  You’re all chalked full of boundless spirit and limitless compassion…thank you so much for your inspiration!

So let’s get to it…

NATURAL INGREDIENTS

Unfortunately nowadays, marketing and advertising agencies toss the word “natural” around as freely as the money they make from the consumers who believe these tactics. And it’s no fault of the consumer. Most people simply don’t know know any better. I mean really…why would we be repeatedly lied to? Why would the governing powers that-be allow these organizations to bury ingredients under such obscure names and inventive terms? Well, if that’s not obvious, I’m not sure what is. MONEY, of course.

The saddest part is that “natural ingredients” can mean anything from water to aloe vera to dead animals. I mean, everyone wants a”natural” dose of mad cow in their lip gloss, right?

Probably not.

So today, I’m gong to give a quicky on label reading. A 101 on how to ensure your products do not contain some of the most common fillers and chemical additives that are highly toxic to our bodies.

First off…go and turn your bottles around. We’re talking tooth paste, face wash, shampoo, mousse, chapstick, deodorant, lip gloss, eye shadow, bronzer, lotion, soap, shave gel, perfume…YOU NAME IT, and get ready to do some reading.

ANIMAL RENDERINGS

What exactly are animal renderings? Sorry to say, I’m not going to go into detail.  Y’all know I like to keep things on the light-hearted side. In a nut shell, we’re talking about dead animals (pets, wild and farmed animals), butcher scraps, rancid cooking grease, road kill, etc.  if you really want to learn more and test the limits of your stomach, be my guest. Start here and let me know how it goes.

In order to ensure that your products are vegan and not tested on animals (because let’s face it, pigs don’t wear lipstick, so they don’t need to test it), you basically want a label indicating the product as such.  For instance, the PETA bunny or the classic Ⓥ.  Or terms such as “vegan friendly” or “certified vegan”.  If you don’t see any of those tell-tale labels, here are some of the animal rendering ingredients you can look for:

glycerintallow

collagen

amino acids

stearic acid

lanolinalpha-hydroxy

fatty acids

keratin

emollientcasein (aka caseinate, sodium caseinate)

retinol

natural ingredientslactic acid

lecithin

carmine

Now this is a list of the most common animal-derived ingredients you will find. The full list can be found here.

If any of the above ingredients are listed, and don’t specify “vegetable-based” or “plant-derived”, then your products likely contain diseased and/or animal bits. BARF.

HOW BAD COULD IT BE?

Well, apart from the diseased animals, amputated limbs, and rancid cooking oil, the animals are only a part of the problem.

As it stands, one of the most clever ingredients ever to be added to our personal care products is mineral oil. Sounds totally harmless right? Even beneficial! The first time I heard the term “mineral oil”, I was like “hey, that’s awesome! That’s gotta be like, salt or something, right?!” WRONG.

Mineral oil is derived from the crude oil industry. That’s right. Those sad images we see on the Dawn commercials, or on the news (if you watch that sort of thing) anytime there’s an oil spill. The thick black sludge in the water, on the ducks, destroying the ecosystem. THAT’S where mineral oil comes from. Rather than the crude oil empires needing to pay the environmental disposal fee on this sludge once it’s refined, they turn around and make a GIGANTIC PROFIT by selling it to personal care and cosmetic companies to use as a cheap filler!

But why exactly is mineral oil so harmful? Well, apart from the obvious black sludge, and the colourants, bleaches and chemical fragrances added in order for it to be consumer-ready, it is an occlusive oil. The molecules of the oil are larger than our pores. When it is applied to the skin, it sits on the surface and virtually suffocates our skin; not allowing the toxins to leave our body, or the nutrients to enter. Why do you think Olympic athletes are instructed NOT to use products containing mineral oil? Because body temperature cannot be regulated if the skin is not able to breathe! You may as well wrap your body in saran wrap, because the effect is the same. That’s what makes this bad boy the 2nd leading cause of aging behind Mr. Sun (I know most people think that marriage is the leading cause, but that’s a myth).

While mineral oil is illegal in Switzerland, and parts of the EU, it’s perfectly legal in the grand old continent of North America! And why, do you ask? Let’s hear it class: M-O-N-E-Y.

This big-time money-maker is usually the first or second ingredient in most personal care products in the world. We slather the petroleum jelly all over our babies’ squishy bums, rub the mineral oil all over their bodies, and squirt yellow shampoo into their hair. We may as well be swimming in the sludge as adults with the amount of it we slather on ourselves in our soaps, creams, gels and cosmetics.

And of course, our dear friends in the industry wouldn’t dream of simply labeling this ingredient as “mineral oil”. That would be too honest! It hides under more than 75 different names! AWESOME. Here are just a few of them:

PetrolatumParaffin

Clearteck

Drakeol

Hevyteck

Filtrawhite

Frigol

Kremol

Kaydol

Albline

Nujol

Paroleine

 

PeneteckPrimol

Triona B

Blandlube

Crystosol

Molol

Protopet

Bayol F

Crystol 325

Fonoline

Bayol 55

Kondremul

 

SaxolAdepsine

Glymol

Lignite

Carnea 21

Ervol

Gloria

Hydrocarbon oil

Adepsine oil

Albolene

Cable Oil

Baby Oil

ParolPenreco

Perfecta

Petrogalar

Primol 355

Primol D

Tech Pet F

Drakeol

Lignite Oil

Paraffin

Mineral Seal Oil

White Oil

Neo-cultol

 

Not to confuse you or anything.

Think about it.  That “oily t-zone”.  Or, that sheen that shows up on your face that you assume is a “normal” part of your bodily function.  Maybe you blame it on hormones, or genetics.  News flash:  It’s not normal.  It’s your skin working overtime trying to rid itself of the animal fat, mineral oil, and other skin-stripping ingredients you’re unwittingly washing and moisturizing with.  That “squeaky-clean” feeling you love?  GET AS FAR AWAY FROM IT AS YOU CAN!!!  You are not supposed to feel squeaky clean.  That feeling means that you have stripped your acid mantle.  The fine layer of film on the surface of your skin that is meant to protect you from bacteria and contaminants.  So while you’re making it squeaky clean once or twice a day, you are sending into the perpetual cycle of dry, oily, dry, oily, dry, oily…get it?  Good.  The acid mantle helps your skin maintain a perfect pH of about 5 and a half, which is slightly acidic.  Most face washes are between 11 and 14 on the scale; as alkaline as bathroom cleaners.  Why not just wash your face with Mr. Clean?  Well because that would be absolutely absurd right? (Psssst…..all of these hidden ingredients and the companies and organizations that hide them from us are BEYOND absurd).  If your skin is overly dry, or overly oily, chances are it’s not your hormones, or genetics, or your luck, or the hand you were dealt.  It’s more than likely what you are washing your face with, and/or what you are eating.  Trust me, I’ve taught many people how to easily fix this and the changes are uncanny. IT’S SO SIMPLE IT’S CRIMINAL.

ESTROGEN OVERLOAD

Another particularly bad ingredient that hits home hard for me as a woman and a mommy, are parabens.  Parabens are particularly bad for adolescence and menopausal women.  Why?  PARABENS = ESTROGEN-MIMICKERS.  They make our bodies believe we’re on estrogen overload.  And we wonder why girls as young as 7 are hitting puberty; why breast cancer and cervical cancer rates are higher than ever…and that the women reporting these cancers are getting younger and younger.  Parabens are now being found in 99% of breast cancer tissues, and are most often found where antiperspirants and deodorants are applied.  For more on this, check out Dr. Mercola’s findings here.

And while we’re on a roll, how about phthalates (prounounced thay-lates).  Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.  They’re found in everything from pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements, adhesives and glues, electronics, building materials, medical devices, detergents, packaging, toys, paint, printer ink, food products, and you guest it PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS!  Like parabens, they are hormone disruptors, and can cause birth defects.  Phthalates easily leach into food and the atmosphere and are routinely found in urine samples by the CDC.  And wouldn’t you know, diet is believed to be the main source of phthalate intake…predominantly from milk, butter and meats.  Interesting…

SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (what????)

Last but not least, one of the most brilliant marketing schemes in history (in my humblest of opinions).  SLS is a foaming agent that, prior to the mid 1900’s, was predominantly added to our home-cleaning products to create foam and bubbles.  It wasn’t until a tooth-paste company was having trouble with selling their goods, that SLS became mainstream in personal care products.  A marketing firm came up with an advertising campaign…add SLS to toothpaste and tell consumers that the foam is what makes their teeth clean. BRILLIANT!!!  And thus, the habit of needing bubbles to feel clean was born!  The campaign was a huge success; not just for the tooth paste company and the marketing firm, but for the advancement of the personal care industry as a whole, and our innate necessity of needing bubbles to feel clean.  C’mon…you know you’re that person!  When your shampoo doesn’t feel bubbly enough, you slather on more, just like the rest of us!  Well guess what…BUBBLES DON’T MAKE YOU CLEAN!  In fact, SLS is a known irritant with prolonged exposure; particularly for people with sensitive skin.

So go ahead…turn around your bottles.  If you bought them from a drug-mart, department store or big-box store, I’ll bet you’ll find every single one of the aforementioned ingredients in ALL of your bottles.  Some of these sneaky ingredients are even hiding in the bottles of personal care products at health and wellness stores.  And consider this…if most of these toxic effects are being found in adults, imagine the high levels of toxicity that would be found in abundance in the tiny bodies of our babies and children.  This growing pandemic of cancers, Alzheimer’s, early-onset puberty, allergies and skin sensitivities is not a coincidence.  Think about it.

‘Til next time, stay crazy, happy and healthy!

Laura-Lea

xoxo

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Facebook Icon 48 mpx twitter icon 48mpx Arbonne Icon

“Do what you do so well that people can’t resist telling others about you” -Walt Disney

Vegan S’mores Cake

Hey crazies!

Just finished celebrating my baby girl’s 4th birthday (4 going on 18, that is!) and those of you who know me, know that I LOVE [LOVE LOVE] to bake!  I wasn’t always this way though. In my former life, my favourite kind of baking involved crackin’ open a tube of Pillsbury cookie dough and eating half the dough before it made it to the oven. That was about the extent of my skills.  It was only when I swore off dairy and eggs that I fell in love with baking. And honestly, I don’t even think it was the baking per say; but the thought of the challenge and learning something new. Accomplishing something I had never done before. Most of all, proving to others that my plant-based goodies were just as yummy as the old fashioned versions. When I won best all-around cookie with my chai cookies a few years ago (amidst about 25-30 traditional recipes), I was like “woah…seriously??? I gotta keep doing this!”  So here I am, still baking up a storm when I can, and loving the challenge of veganizing old-time favourites.

Which leads me to Ava’s birthday cake. I had NO CLUE what to do for her birthday party. I was about ten days from B-day when I panicked and relented to the wonderful world of Pinterest for some party ideas (yes…even us event-planners get stumped sometimes). May I point out that I had avoided the Pinterest world in fear that I would become a complete addict. Well guess what. My fear was realized. My name is Laura-Lea, and I am an addict.

CAMPING!!!!

That was the solution to all my woes. A camping theme!  Ideas were flooding through my brain thanks to 60 uninterrupted minutes of pinning. I was in my glory!  We would have story time in a tent, do a scavenger hunt, eat trail mix, and of course have a s’mores cake! But of course, we all know that milk chocolate has…well…milk, and marshmallows have hooves, bones, horns, skin, etc. Otherwise known as gelatin. So, I figured hey…I’ll just buy vegan marshmallows!  Better yet, I’ll make vegan marshmallows! In all my spare time.  Which is a whole lotta none.

Ok, so…need to find a marshmallow substitute.  Need to sub the milk chocolate. Well, that’s easy. Semi sweet chocolate chips (I use PC Decadent Semi-Sweets). Layered between graham crackers.

I let the ideas simmer until (truly) the day before. I had to consider my party-goers; 3 and 4 year-olds. The cake needed to be soft; simply for ease of eating and to limit the amount of mess I’d have to clean up. So, I decided to use the following:

1.  A container of Fluffy white icing in lieu of marshmallows. This still carried the sweet flavour and also helped the layers stick together.  Animal-free, but full of sugar and processed ingredients that aren’t very healthy.  But hey…every once in a while, not a big deal.

2.  2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips melted together with about 1/2 a cup of Silk and about 1tbsp of Earth Balance Shortening.  This made it more on the soft and creamy side for ease of forking and chewing (or frankly, eating with their hands as they ended up doing!)

3.  2 boxes of graham crackers crushed up and mixed in with 2 cups of vegan condensed milk and baked at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. This turned the graham into a soft and chewy breakfast bar sort of texture. The recipe for vegan condensed milk can be found in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “The Joy of Vegan Baking”. My go-to book for all things baking since I went veg.  I would not be the master of the mixer I am today without the mad skills and compassionate voice of Ms. Patrick-Goudreau.

I made the chocolate and the the graham cracker layers the night before so that they would have time to cool and set. I spread both onto parchment-lined cookies sheets, which I ultimately sliced in half so I would have 2 layers of each!

So, once the chocolate and graham layers were set, it was time to build the cake!  It went like this:

Graham

Chocolate

Icing

Graham

Chocolate

Icing

Not rocket science.  It looked rustic, homemade and delicious. And the taste totally lived up to the appearance. Kiddos and parents alike loved it. The only thing I would change if I had to do it again would be to leave it to a single layer of each. It’s a rich cake, so a double layer is not really necessary. Not that that stopped me from clearing my plate 😉

Smore's Cake

As for the rest of the party? Well, my scavenger hunt idea and other outdoor activities were squashed.  Thanks to snow and freezing temps, we pitched the tent in my living room and made the best of it. The kids had a blast and loved all of their camping goodies!  Bug nets, flash lights and magnifying glasses for this summer’s impending camping excursions and trail mix and journals for snacking and chronicling the stories of what fun they had.

It was a great feeling seeing all those little faces and genuine smiles; especially Ava’s. Such a great reminder to stop and just…well…play!

‘Til next time, stay crazy, happy and healthy

Laura-Lea

Crazy Vegan Mommy

Facebook Icon 48 mpx twitter icon 48mpx Arbonne Icon

“Do what you do so well that people can’t resist telling others about you” -Walt Disney