Review: Vanessa Elise Skincare in San Francisco! Vegansaurus readers get 20% off! »
Vegan skincare is a tricky one, and I often find myself confused by ingredients and labeling when it comes to cosmetics. Thank goodness then for Vanessa Elise Skincare, a one-stop vegan shop for all your facial and waxing needs, based in San Francisco! I’ve known Vanessa for a while and not only is she a dedicated, very knowledgeable and completely professional esthetician, she is a fantastic, thorough and patient teacher at Marinello. She was one of my first roommates and friends in San Francisco, and it’s been so much fun watching her grow within her career!
I don’t trust many people or skin care products with my complexion, but I have no problem surrendering to Vanessa’s expertise. She gave me my very first facial at Marinello School of Beauty in downtown San Francisco, for which I was kind of nervous. I was her “model” and not only had I never had a facial before, I was going to get one in front of her students. Vanessa’s humor, professionalism and demeanor put me completely at ease and it was such a fun experience. I was stoked when she asked me to visit her Style Seat location months later, because my skin looked so impressive after that first facial. I appreciate that Vanessa understands not only the importance of what a vegan lifestyle means to certain members of her clientele, but what food allergies mean in terms of the kind of products she uses. She does her research not only based on cruelty-free products, but for all the various skin types and allergies as well! She has assessed I have sensitive skin, which I never really considered before, but is now so obvious. Vanessa has given me so many valuable tips* about how to care for my particular skin type, for which I am eternally grateful. This second time I went to see her, the stress of making a long-distance move had reared itself on my complexion and I was embarrassed. She assured me that she had my back, as she was in the business of fixing faces. What a relief! Vanessa also tinted my eyebrows, a procedure I had never had done before! She went back and forth about it, worried that tinting my brows would make them too dark against my pale skin and light hair. That is until I cried, “IT’S SO GWEN STEFANI, DO IT!” My friend Britney was in the room and not only laughed at my outburst, she was so impressed by my brows, she had Vanessa shape hers!
That’s me, getting a facial! Photo by Britney Roque
Enough about my experience, let’s get to know the woman behind Vanessa Elise Skincare a little bit more. Tell us more about yourself, Vanessa!
I’ve been a licensed Esthetician since 2006. I am still teaching the Esthetics program at Marinello, and I’ve been here since last Spring. Previous places I’ve worked were Super/Perricone MD, Sephora, Pure Beauty, Always Tan Skin & Body. The things I consider to be my specialties are brows and treating problem skin (acne/clogged pores, sun damage/hyperpigmentation), but I offer facials for all skin types and ages. I do chemical peels (lactic, glycolic, TCA) and use microcurrent to lift, red LED to stimluate collagen and firm, and ultrasonic technology to exfoliate and infuse products into the skin. My whole concept is that professional skincare should be results-oriented AND cruelty-free, and that people shouldn’t have to compromise on either one of those things. I wanted to create a space where clients could feel confident that they are going to get the results they want, be it clear skin, beautiful eyebrows, or a basic bikini wax, with products that are ethical and luxurious at the same time.
The products I use and sell are from Skin Script and Dawn Lorraine Conscious Skincare. Neither line is 100% vegan, but all of the products I have from them are. I also sell Hurraw! Lip Balms. Dawn Lorraine is made up Nevada City, and the line uses organic ingredients whenever possible (meaning, when it will not compromise the effectiveness of the product), is paraben and pthalate free, uses eco-friendly packaging and supports animal and environmental protection. Plus it smells AMAZING. I use skinscript to fill in the gaps where Dawn didn’t have vegan options, mostly for acne stuff, and my professional enzymes and peels.
Right now, Vanessa is offering vegan facials and waxing treatments a couple days a week in downtown San Francisco, using Style Seat. If you are interested in booking an appointment with Vanessa, you can do so here! She has generously offered 20% services for Vegansaurus readers’ first visit, so let her know you found out about her here! Be sure to follow her on both Facebook and Twitter, as she is always offering specials to current and future clients! You an learn more about Vanessa and her campaign to open her own skincare studio here!
*Valuable tips include the importance of eye cream (the skin around your eyes has no oil glands and needs the extra moisture of eye cream to help keep wrinkles at bay. Drier areas of the body show age quickly) and not using an exfoliator, no matter how gentle, on my sensitive cheeks.
Full Disclosure: Vanessa did give me my Style Seat facial on the house, but I was so impressed, with both my skin and the products that she used, I purchased the exfoliator and moisturizer, and I have contributed to a past IndieGoGo campaign to get her started. I will definitely be booking an appointment with her during my next visit to San Francisco. I still can’t get over how clean my face feels after visiting Vanessa!
Images courtesy Vanessa Elise Skincare.
Recipe: fried tempeh tacos! »
I love fried food! I try not to eat it very often, because it can be quite decadent and I don’t know how to stop myself, but man-oh-man it’s fun! I get jealous of my friends’ fish tacos when we go out for Mexican food. Not the fish part obviously, it’s the fact they get to eat tacos with deep-fried protein and I don’t! This always seems to happen at the joints with a less-than-par vegetarian menu, so I’m left crying over my margarita. I’m just kidding, I never cry when margaritas are involved!
I got the idea to make my own “fish” tacos after one of these debacles. You can use any protein you like, but I like the tenderness of steamed tempeh in this recipe. There’s also no “fish” taste, but please, we’re just getting too technical. They’re delicious! Now pass the margaritas!
1 8oz package of tempeh
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 Tbs chili powder
3/4 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs rice flour
3/4 cup water
Chop your tempeh in to strips, widthwise. I usually get about 12 even strips. I always steam my tempeh first. It’s not a necessary step, but I like the tenderness it gives the tempeh. As that’s steaming, I toast all of my spices, from the chili powder to black pepper. I then pour them into a small mixing bowl with the corn starch. Mix the spices and the cornstarch together well! In another bowl, whisk the water and rice flour. This mixture will be watery, don’t worry about it!
Heat up oil in a medium to large sauce pan. I usually put in enough oil to fill 1/4 of the pan. You will know your oil is hot enough to start frying when, if you splatter the tiniest bit of water in the pan, it sizzles. Once my oil is hot enough, I like to keep the heat right in between medium and medium high. Too hot and your food will burn, too low and your food will be overly greasy.
Take your steamed tempeh strips, and one at a time, first dip them in the cornstarch and spice mixture, being sure to cover all sides. Then dip your cornstarched strip in the flour-water mixture. Quickly set your tempeh strip in your pan to start frying! Each side takes only about two minutes. The batter doesn’t necessarily brown, but it hardens up, so that helps to tell when it’s done. Put only about four strips into the pan at once because you’ll need room to flip them over.
As the tempeh strips are done frying, take them out of the pan and set onto a plate covered with a couple paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
That’s everything! It was hard to save any tempeh strips to actually make tacos out of! I topped mine with a homemade guacamole, only to realize afterwards that I should have also picked up some cabbage at the store. Next time! The fish tacos at California Pizza Kitchen come with zesty ranch, and I think that flavor combination sounds delicious. I just so happen to have a vegan ranch recipe in my repertoire for you!
Sliced tempeh, about to be steamed.
Toasting my spices! It only takes about two minutes in a dry pan on medium heat.
Tempeh covered in the cornstarch and spices mixture.
Fry tempeh, fry!
My recipe just so happens to be gluten-free, but you can easily make a gluten-full batter with 1/2 cup flour to 1/2 cup water.
Recipe: Vegan Cream Puffs featuring the Vegg Baking Mix! »
Hey everyone! I recently developed a vegan cream puff recipe, using The Vegg Baking Mix, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! We here at Vegansaurus love The Vegg, so of course we wanted the lowdown on this new product! Rocky of Vegg sent me a sample of his new product; Since I am a vegan baker by trade, I asked him if there was anything special he’d like to see done with it. When he said “vegan cream puffs” my first thought was “OH NO, THE HARDEST THING EVER!!!” But after 17 attempts and a very full trash can, I had a success! These delectables are a little cakey, yet still airy, with a flavor that reminds me of the cream puffs from my past omni life. I was determined not to quit until I got them right. My mom and my sister, two very discerning eaters who are not always impressed by my creations or choice of restaurants, request these puffs on a regular basis! That is how I know I’ve succeeded. The pops enjoys them too, but like me, he’s a much easier-to-please and adventurous eater.
Alright, enough story-telling, let’s get to the recipe section of this post! One last thing before takeoff: I didn’t have the chance to experiment with anything else besides the cream puffs with The Vegg Baking Mix. If you are curious about it, here is a review by one of our fave vegan bloggers, Bianca of Cooking Crunk! I can’t wait to try that quiche. I haven’t been able to focus on anything except getting my cream puff recipe right! Did I mention I finally watched all the last episodes of Breaking Bad while doing it? That was a trip!
4 tsp The Vegg Baking Mix
1 cup water
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup Organic* Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk or water
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Adjust cooking racks to the bottom half of the oven. Preheat oven to
Blend The Vegg, tsp baking soda and 1 cup water until completely smooth. Set aside. This is the equivalent of about four large eggs.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk butter, sugar, soy milk and salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and add flour. With a wooden spoon, stir mixture until it forms one cohesive ball, which should take about 2 - 3 minutes. Turn heat off, remove dough from sauce pan and place in to a large bowl. With a hand mixer, using beater attachments, mix dough on a medium to medium high speed (always start at the lowest and work your way up) just to the point dough isn’t flying everywhere! Slowly add Vegg mixture and beat until fully incorporated. This is the kind of dough that warrants a strong gluten structure, so don’t worry about over-mixing. Turn off mixer, add vinegar, and let sit for a few seconds while it sizzles. On a low speed, mix in vinegar until incorporated. You can also use a food processor fitted with an S-blade for the mixing process, just keep in mind that the dough is sticky and therefore leads to a tedious cleanup.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, using cooking spray directly on the baking sheet to keep parchment in place. Place 12 rounded tablespoons dough on baking sheet. For uniform puffs, wet a finger and smooth the tops of the dough. Place in oven at 400F for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower oven temperature to 375F and bake for another 10 -15 minutes, keeping a close eye on the puffs between the 10 and 15 minute marks. The tops should be golden brown, but you want to keep the bottoms from becoming too dark.
Let puffs cool completely and decorate! You can poke a hole through the bottom and fill them with a pastry bag, but I prefer to cut mine in half. My
favorite way to fill them is with a coconut whip cream (if you use the Trader Joe’s canned coconut cream, refrigerated for a few hours, you don’t need to worry about discarding any liquid. Just open the can and go!) You can also use Jello Brand Instant vanilla pudding for the filling!
Cream puff assembly is pretty straightforward: I cut the puffs in half,
scoop a dollop of whip cream on the bottom layer, place the top back on,
and generously spoon chocolate atop (see ganache recipe below)! As a final option, you can sparingly dust on powdered sugar as garnish!
Makes about 24 puffs.
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk or soy creamer
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
I like to make a homemade double boiler for my ganache. I bring a small to medium sauce pan filled halfway up with water to a boil. I then place a metal bowl atop, lower heat to medium low, then add my chocolate chips and milk. I let the steam melt the two ingredients together, whisking
occasionally. If you do not have a metal bowl, gently warm milk in a sauce pan, being careful not to scald or boil it. Once it is heated, I remove from heat, and add my chips, gently whisking to melt down.
Full disclosure: Rocky sent me The Vegg Baking Mix free of charge to review for Vegansaurus, but I have purchased The Vegg in the past and I plan to do so in the future as well.
*If you’re concerned about palm oil in Earth Balance products and aren’t satisfied with the RSPO certification of their palm oil sources, you may prefer to use their organic Buttery Spread. All of the organic palm oil Earth Balance uses comes from Brazil, an orangutan-less country.
Product Review: North Coast Organics deodorant! »
Trying to find a vegan deodorant that works is the worst, isn’t it? It is! But, I have good news, because North Coast Organics makes vegan deodorant that not only works, it smells fantastic too!
I bought my Death By Lavender, hand-made, organic, all-natural deodorant on Vegan Cuts, after reading Bianca Phillips’ review on Vegan Crunk! I am so pleased with it, I want to shout from the rooftops, and so this is me trying to do an internet equivalent of that.
At first I had to get used to the wetness I felt on my skin right upon contact, as it takes a short period of time to dry, but now I don’t even notice it. I really love the scent of the lavender; it’s like aromatherapy for my pits! (TMI? Too bad!) The weather in SoCal hasn’t been particularly hot though, so I don’t know how this deodorant would hold up on a scalding summer day. I consulted an Instagram friend in Texas, (@veganhouston) who said he uses this brand too, and he replied “Works great in the heat! Probably better than other brands I’ve tried.” So there you have it! Keep in mind there are two other varieties I have not used: Revolver and Naked.
I know the search for a cruelty-free deodorant that actually keeps body odor at bay can be a tedious and disappointing one, so I am stoked to share this find with you! The only time I noticed things starting to get a little stinky was when I tried to go a second day without reapplying it. (I am doing my part to conserve water by not showering every day! I am a very elegant and glamorous hippie, in case you did not know.)
You can order North Coast Organics deodorant on Vegan Cuts, as well as directly through their website! There are also trial sizes and sets available! Shout-out to Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, where North Coast Organics products are hand-made AND I used to live! It’s a happening place!
Recipe review: Vegan Hollandaise from the Comforting Vegan! »
I am living in a place where I don’t think vegan brunches are served; probably not the vegan-friendly ones I’m accustomed to. I don’t think granola and a fruit plate is much fun, but I do get a kick out of making food at home! Breakfast is served!*
I love breakfast food, it is my favorite kind of meal! It has always felt special to me to go out to breakfast with friends or prepare an elegant one at home (move over, fancy dinners, breakfast is back). I have come to really enjoy going out to brunch because that’s when restaurants make the most splendid of morning food! The array of beverages is fantastic: juices, coffee and sometimes bubbly! I, however, am my father’s child in that I’ll do anything to avoid a crowd, and sadly, weekend brunches on the town are no exception. That’s okay though, because thanks to both The Vegg, and a new-to-me hollandaise sauce from The Comforting Vegan, breakfast at home is now both chill and exciting! Friends, we’re doing brunch at my place this weekend!
The hollandaise sauce calls for The Vegg, which we’ve discussed here before, but I hadn’t tried myself until very recently. I’m super stoked by it. I had forgotten how much I loved the taste of “yolks” and ketchup together! The Vegg atop fried tofu is delicious, but I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen. I’ve been curious about vegan hollandaise, yet unsure about how it could be pulled off. This in turn lead to concerns about complete and utter disappointment as home cooking experiments failing to meet personal expectations can be so frustrating! Now, I’m going to admit to you that I was at first resistant to this recipe, possibly because I initially judge recipes by the amount of ingredients they call for. I was hesitant about the Vegenaise factor, yet something kept bringing me back. It was the comments section! How could I not give it a shot when everyone had great things to say and I, for once, had everything on hand?
The result? HOT DANG! My parents used to make hollandaise sauce once a year, on Christmas day for the family, and this recipe brought me right back there! I don’t think Amy could’ve picked a better name for her blog.
The most important meal of the day!
*Pro-tip: Hollandaise and Daiya together is a bit much, so you can totally nix the vegan cheese! I think vegan bacon (in whatever form: bits, seitan, coconut) and sautéed spinach go together splendidly; believe me when I say that it is an absolute dream pairing with this recipe!
JB’s Top 5 Bay Area Vegan Eats! »
Isn’t weird when you are a tourist in a city you spent so much time living your day-to-day life in? Do you know what I’m talking about here? You move away, you come back to visit friends and go to some show or something, and you plan everything out according to where you’ll be all day and where you are staying! The thing I get all up in arms about when I’m visiting a locale I used to live is the food! I want to go to all my favorite places, even if it overrides everything else on the trip (fun for everyone hanging out with me, I can assure you). I’ve been thinking about my fave haunts in the Bay Area; specifically the places I would be most disappointed if I didn’t get to hit up while visiting. Okay, I told myself I couldn’t over think this, so top-of-my-head, 15 seconds to write-it-out-list includes:
Their Lusty Lover’s tacos, with cornflakes, seitan and mac’n cheese, are what my dreams are made of! I haven’t met a menu item I’m not enamored by, including their chicken and waffles brunch sandwich and the beet burger on a donut bun! You can find where Sylvee and Tiff are set-up for the day on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts (@hellaveganeats).
Flaco’s in Berkeley is so flavorful, fresh and affordable! My favorite menu item is the soyrizo soft tacos! Word of warning, they are not playing with their hot sauce! I can take my spice, but I went into a semi-panic halfway through my first meal there. Now I play it safe and go with mild because I am terrified. Also, Flaco’s is closed on Mondays, which I forgot on my last visit which left me sad.
Timeless in Oakland has an array of both savory and sweet treats, including cheesecake, danishes, bacon and cheddar scones, and “chicken” pot pies!
The bakers at Timeless are so incredibly talented. Coming from someone in the same trade, every time I go in I’m both inspired and I want to just throw in the towel! Timeless has raised the bar tremendously when it comes to vegan pastries and desserts; if you’ve been there before you know what I’m talking about! Their blueberry cheesecake is now the only cheesecake that exists to me, and worth two trips on my last visit!
Donut Farm in Oakland, baby! Lay your pretty eyes upon the most glorious of feasts, including cold-pressed coffee, mushroom gravy smothered biscuits, tempeh bacon and sautéed southern greens!
Best brunch and donuts in the Bay, hands DOWN. I never went there for the weekday lunch menu because I was in the city, doing city things (you know how it goes when you live in San Francisco). I also only ever ordered the biscuits and gravy because vegan biscuits and gravy are so special! I love Donut Farm so much. I love the feeling I get when I walk inside, I love how friendly everyone is, how happy the customers are and I also REALLY SUPER DUPER ENJOY that even when it’s very busy, I never feel stressed out there. There was something about going to brunch in the city, and everyone’s energy being insane with every thing so crowded. Did I mention I work in restaurants? I notice the craziest things when I go out to eat! Anyway, I WILL LOVE DONUT FARM UNTIL THE END OF TIME! (They have a choice of soy or coconut creamer for your coffee; it’s the little things that count!)
Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls sans mayo, crispy spring rolls and Volcanic “beef” entree!
I’ve lived a life that has included devouring Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls, and now I don’t want to be without! I know this joint may seem like the wild-card here, but I just loved going to eat at Thai Idea. Everyone in my parties always enjoyed their food, the staff didn’t get cranky about large groups and they offer vegan shrimp. Plus there is that BYOB policy, which is everywhere in Chicago but I never see in California! I think the food is creative and flavorful, and the plating is beautiful! Recently their health score fell pretty low, so I hope they can get that back up because I would hate for them to close down! The score doesn’t faze me too much because I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens and some places get caught while others, for some reason, do not.
So that’s my list. I generally like comfort foods that are easy on the budget and casual, yet innovative, satisfying and tasty. Tell me your Bay Area faves so that when people google where to eat when visiting, they’ll see all of our ideas! Did you know you can upload photos in Disqus? Do it! I want to see a plates of your most highly-regarded vegan restaurant meals! I also want to give a shout-out to Weird Fish, Mission burritos, the chocolate Heaven Dogs I used to make at Source, Benders, the oyster mushrooms at Millennium and From the Garden Greenhouse brunches!
It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)
The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”
Well, hello there Crispy Coconut Cauliflower Bites! I would very much like to enjoy you this afternoon with a delicious cocktail. Nothing wrong with celebrating happy hour in the luxury of my
parent’s own home, with gluten-free, vegan and fried (or baked option) snacks! I will see you come 5pm, cauliflower bites! Thank you Fork and Beans, for this delectable-looking recipe!
The LA vegan mac truck fundraising campaign has moved internet locations! »
Recently we posted on Chef Ayinde Howell’s efforts to raise money to open a vegan and gluten-free MAC’N CHEESE TRUCK in LA. Well, the campaign has moved from Kickstarter over to Indiegogo, and I want to help get the word out because I am incredibly selfless. I also want it available for my consumption upon arriving in LA; it looks scrumptious! Anyway, you know how Kickstarter works; if you don’t make all the money you tried to raise, you don’t see any of it! That’s bananas, right? Or not, whatever, but it seems nutty to me. If you were thinking about, or did contribute to the original fundraiser, go ahead, take a look at the new internet location. Let’s not only help make Chef Ayinde’s dream a reality, but also my dream of eating a plate of Mac and Yease a few times a week!
Can’t see the videos? Check them out at Vegansaurus.com!
Check it out: an easy-to-follow, three ingredient recipe for coconut whipped cream, by Laura Friendly! Not only is it vegan, it’s gluten-free too! And don’t you worry about using the the rest of the can of coconut milk, that’s easy! You could make ganache, or curry, or use it for the liquid in a cake (just add water if you don’t have enough, it’s fine). While not all of Laura’s recipes available on Hello Giggles and her website are vegan, a bunch of them are, and they’re all gluten-free! Check it: TRUFFLES! You could dip the truffles in the whipped cream! Or this chocolate pie! Or make a vegan whipped cream bikini, it’s all the rage!
Photo via laurafriendly.com