Lulu’s chocolate: organic, raw, vegan, and chocolaty! »
Lulu’s is an organic raw chocolate company with not only super exciting wrapping design, but lots of yummy flavors! They are on the Food Empowerment Project’s recommended chocolates list, wrapped in vegetable-dyed, environmentally-conscious packaging, made with fair-trade cocoa, and sweetened with low-glycemic coconut sugar. Basically: EAT WITH RECKLESS ABANDON! Lulu’s sent me a bunch of free chocolate to try and now I will tell you all about it.
Sexy packaging! Rococo, mother-lovers!
Overall: LOVE. And I don’t know if I’m just gassed from their write-ups, but I felt like I was totally eating something that is good for my body! Chocolate is good for you now, right? Especially raw chocolate!
My very favorite was the smoked sea salt almond bar. Salt and chocolate is the best combination and Lulu’s pulls it off perfectly! I shared all the bars with my coworkers (because I am so nice to them) and they liked everything, but this bar was especially popular with them as well.
My other favorite was the coffee crunch bar. I also love coffee with chocolate and once again, Lulu’s does it right!
Smoked sea salt almond bar.
At the top, you can see the maca Buttercups. Maca is supposed to be super good for you, I think? At least it’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Below is the chocolate maca chunk.
Chocolate maca chunk bar.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t that into the maca flavored chocolates. They are fine but just kind of not that flavorful and not as good as the straight chocolate bars. But the Buttercups were pretty good actually! Besides the Buttercups though, I would mostly get the maca chocolates for the interest-factor. I.e. APHRODISIAC SEXY TIMES!
The love truffles are pretty exciting. They have hazelnut Rawmio! They were a little too rich for me, all truffles are, but my coworkers really liked them. So if you are a truffle person, these are for you. They have a hint of salt too! Yum.
So clearly I am a Lulu’s fan! If you want delicious chocolate that’s actually good for you, Lulu’s is where it’s at.
In other Lulu’s news, they currently have an Indiegogo campaign! They want to open a “chocolate lounge” but they need your help. There’s less than a week left and they still have a ways to go! So let’s help them out! I love when we get together and support vegan, socially and environmentally-conscious businesses! And you don’t have to be in Arizona to donate, the perks include LOTS of chocolate! So if you are thinking of buying any of their chocolate to try, think about doing so through the campaign so you get yummy raw chocolate AND you help out a vegan business. Let’s do this!
Product review: Odacité fresh skin care! »
Now, I wouldn’t say I freaked out when I turned 30, but I wouldn’t say I didn’t. I handled it like a champ! Look, I mean, I started noticing some fine lines and omg where DID ALL THOSE GRAYS COME FROM, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, WHERE DID THE TIME GO, I AM BUT A MERE MORTAL AFTER ALL, but I got through it. Since surviving that breakdown two years ago, I’ve found myself really enjoying my thirties, living life like a forever-angsty-teen from the ’90s and tightening up my skincare routine as to continue being carded when I buy vodka or black-bottle kombucha. While yes, it’s true that I have great genes and a youthful spirit, eye cream and moisturizer are of the essence (my secret weapon). Seriously, the right skin care routine is crucial business!
I have always loved skin care products, an obsession I must give my mom credit for, as she has every serum ever created. I’ve been using anti-aging creams since I was 12, no joke. The second thing I do after scouring the cupboards for food at my parent’s house is go through my mom’s medicine cabinets—it’s like Christmas. So, I was absolutely ecstatic when I asked Odacité if I could sample their vegan skin care line to review for this very blog and when they agreed, I kid you not, I squealed. After a short skin analysis, they sent me their 10-Day Discovery Kit—one that was fashioned to the questions I answered in the analysis. (The kit lasted well over 10 days for me, but I was quite diligent about using small amounts of the products.)
While using the Odacité kit, I noticed my complexion looked much more even, and I didn’t break out once! Not while traveling, and not during that extra special lady week. My face felt very fresh, clean, and the redness I tend to get on my cheeks faded. I could feel the quality of these products on my skin, and I was impressed. Another thing I like about Odacité is that they have freshness seals on their products, and it’s recommended that they are stored in the refrigerator. Why, you ask? Well, the ingredients are all pure, organic, and raw! These babies are not only cruelty, but toxin-free, with no parabens or fragrances added! But don’t just take my word for it, read the full story here.
Now let’s review the products!
Rejuvenating Cleanser: It’s creamy and doesn’t lather, which I’m not used to in a cleanser. A little definitely goes a long way—my skin felt very fresh and clean afterward, and it even took off my eye makeup! That’s always a challenge with my facial cleansers.
Immortelle Refreshing Toner: I love using toners after washing my face. I love the fresh tingle and my skin care regime never feels complete without using one. I liked the smell and feel of this one; my face felt refreshed and ready for moisturizer. It didn’t sting, or smell of alcohol, and it didn’t bring out any redness or irritation as some toners tend to do.
Day Moisturizer: Moisturizer is a hard one for me. As a teenager, I had very oily skin, and now in my 30s it’s definitely combination—oily with dry patches. The wrong moisturizer can feel too heavy, which I am not a fan. I hate when I can feel it on my skin. This day cream was so light and absorbed instantly! My face felt clean all day, which is quite a feat when covered in frosting all day. In my opinion, the only thing missing is an SPF, but other than that I loved it!
Jojoba Beads Exfoliant: This product was both gentle and effective. When I was a teen, even into my 20s, I thought that the rougher the exfoliator, the better! Then my mom told me that the wrong (cheap) exfoliator will actually tear your skin. Scary! I tend to not like that some brands feel too gentle, like they aren’t doing anything! I liked Odacité’s because it felt gentle, but also like it was actually exfoliating. They recommend you use this product twice a week.
Ultra Effective Eye Cream: This is a very rich eye cream, which I found better suited me for nighttime use. As far as part of my day regime, it was too heavy on my lids, too creamy, and I couldn’t apply any eye make-up. Even on mornings when I didn’t apply make-up, I didn’t like the feeling of it on my skin. I ended up only using it at night, as it didn’t bother me in my sleep and that’s when I want a richer product on my skin (as long as it won’t cause break-outs!).
NIght Time Antioxidants Repair Serum: This cream was slightly richer than the day moisturizer, but still light enough that it didn’t bother the oilier parts of my complexion or feel heavy on my skin. I was quite impressed by how my skin looked the mornings after using it—no surprise breakouts and actually quite fresh-looking for someone who averages about five hours of sleep a night.
The discovery kit also came with two small circular sponges, which are for use on your face after cleaning it. You rub them over your face in a circular motion to get the blood flowing and decrease puffiness. What a fun new addition to my autopilot-esque skin care routine!
OK, OK, now I know you’re like, “Jenny, really? These products are like, a quarter of my paycheck!” I know they don’t come cheap, but if you can shell out, you are definitely paying for top-quality, stellar products. I’m not going to beat around this—it’s high-end stuff and believe me, not in my price range (which is why I’ve used gift-giving occasions to procure my stash*). However, Odacité is definitely one of the superior skin care lines I have ever used (and I have tried a ton of them). I definitely noticed a difference in my complexion, even after using them for only a couple of days, and if you can, I recommend trying out the discovery kit yourself, to see which products suit you and whether or not it’s even for you.
*I actually received the Discovery Kit about a year ago and have LAGGED on this review. But since then, I have added the full-sized toning mist, hydration mask, day cream, and exfoliator to my regime. I LOVE this line, and like I said before, when it comes to my skincare, I don’t play. Fashion choices—well, that’s a different story.
Product Review: Williams Sonoma and Navitas Naturals smoothie mix belongs in your porridge! »
I rarely make it to big-chain malls these days (I mean, who has the time!) but I do remember visiting the Williams Sonoma at the mall as a tweenager—and that it didn’t have too many veg options. When I heard the exciting news that Vedge Restaurant co-owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are doing a deal with them for all-vegan sauces and they’ve now teamed up with beloved raw vegan company Navitas Naturals to make superfood smoothie mixes, I got so excited! Looks like Williams Sonoma has totally decided to make vegan deliciousness happen on a large scale (they have more than 250 stores nationwide).
I haven’t tired the Vedge Sauces, but Navitas Naturals and Williams-Sonoma did send me a complimentary bag of one of their three new organic superfood smoothie blends—the Protein Smoothie Mixer! It’s high quality (As you’d expect from Navitas) and made with the nutrient-densest superfoods, including hemp powder, maca, and cacao powder. You can definitely taste the hemp, but the low-glycemic sweetener lucuma (grown in Peru) helps offset that a bit. This certified organic powder blend is super simple to use, making smoothie-making a no-brainer: Just toss it in a blender with ripe fruit and and any other nut milk or fresh ingredients you like. No guessing, no measuring. It’s superfood smoothie-making for the average bear! Get it at Williams Sonoma stores and online.
While smoothies are great, sometimes you’re living with five people in a two-bedroom apartment in the Mission and your roommates left for Burning Man and forgot to pay the electric bill, and the Vitamix just won’t run that day. Or maybe you just don’t feel like slurping your breakfast all the time—chewing is nice, too. Regardless of your motives for going blender-free, this superfood smoothie mix chia porridge will satisfy your palate and keep you going for hours!
Superfood smoothie mix chia porridge
Serves 2 to 3
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals-Williams Sonoma Protein smoothie mix
1/4 cup raisons or goji berries (or both!)
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)
7 drops liquid Stevia
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl or container. Let sit for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!
Proposition 37 failed, but we can still figure out what’s going on with our produce. Mike Kahn made this three-minute video about Price Lookup Codes (PLUs)—the digits on the stickers on your grocery-store produce—to teach us how to read them and use them to learn how a food was grown.
Bay Area Bites also has some more information on how to identify genetically modified and engineered foods.
My favorite organic food? Pepple’s Donuts, duh.
[Photo via donut king Josh Levine’s Instagram, which you should follow because DONUTS]
Label me delicious: Bites of Bliss superfood treats rule! »
As a high raw queer vegan, I think about labels a lot, how they’re helpful and also kind of complicated. Labeling a product vegan is a bold visibility move, and I like that. I’ve seen entire Facebook photo albums devoted to highlighting explicitly vegan products. It’s actually really validating, like, WE BUILT THAT, but less offensive because we’re talking about the vegan movement and not political tomfoolery. I do worry that overtly vegan labels might scare people away from trying vegan things for the first time. If all apples had huge VEGAN stickers on them, do you think everyone would still buy them? No, they’d protest until McDonald’s finally took the stickers off, uniformly chopped the apples, coated them in chemicals, and made them into a “pie” or something.
As the Vegansaurus raw correspondent, I get the privilege of seeing a lot of products’ labeling, and that has me thinking—doth the label maketh the product? The short answer is no, but when it comes to labeling raw vegan products, I’m convinced certain labels really do help make the sale, aka trip to my tummy. Alerting consumers that your product is raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, agave-free, dairy-free, and contains no GMOs is pretty much required if you want to party with the elite raw vegan foods crowd.
If the above description sounds absolutely incredible to you, then you’re in luck: I just tried Bites of Bliss, and they’re really delicious! I tried the goji berry, carob almond butter (you know there’s a chocolate-free label they wanted to slap on but were too scared of the raw chocoholics seeking vengeance. Best to downplay that particular feature!), and my absolute favorite, pineapple coconut with chia seeds. I haven’t had a piña colada since the early ’00s, but holy tropical fruit, this is truly delicious! It tastes creamy and it’s just the right ratio of pineapple to coconut.
The ingredients are delightfully simple: raw dates, raw walnuts, raw pineapple, unsweetened coconut, coconut nectar (yeah, EFF agave, that higher-glycemic sweetener!), raw chia seeds, and coconut oil—all organic, of course, and the taste is HELLA TROPICAL! I can almost feel the ocean tide and hear someone offering me bathing-suit-optional snorkel lessons. This product is a winner! Get it online and in select Bay Area health food stores.
Do you care about what’s on the label of your raw/vegan products? For research purposes it’d be rad hear about it in the comments!
[images via Bites of Bliss]
Giveaway and Product Review: Zen Society Natural Skincare! »
Zen Society is a line of vegan, natural skincare. It’s made with USDA Certified Organic ingredients, plant botanicals, and fruit extracts. Zen Society is super environmentally friendly; the shipping boxes are made from recycled materials and all the packaging is 100% recyclable. The products are also gluten-free!*
I like this part from their site:
Zen Society takes pride in offering fresh, handcrafted products. We use the highest quality of 100% Natural and USDA Certified Organic ingredients which are cold pressed and unrefined. If our oils are heated, they are never heated above 120° so they retain all vitamins, minerals and nutrients to provide ultimate nourishment to the skin. Each ingredient contains at least 10 vitamins and minerals. We include Fair Trade and locally harvested ingredients whenever possible. No parabens, pesticide sprays, petroleum, silicone, synthetics, artificial fragrances, dyes, GMO, or harmful processed additives.
They are also recognized as a cruelty-free company by PETA and donate a portion of all sales to Friends of the Earth. Kind of sounds perfect, right? Well guess what! Zen Society sent me the rosewater mist and the macadamia body oil on the house and I can say they ARE perfect! The rosewater mist is a nice little astringent or pick-me-up and, well, it smells like roses! Roses smell good.
The macadamia body oil is just about my new favorite thing in the whole world. It absorbs quickly and easily but the best part was when I put it on my elbows! I have rough, ashy elbows and after using this stuff like twice, they were totally better! No body lotion I’ve tried has made any difference and this stuff fixed it overnight. Pretty awesome. I had never even heard of macadamia body oil—now I’m in love! What a difference a day makes.
OK, now, because I love the macadamia body oil so much, Zen Society has agreed to do a giveaway! To win your own macadamia body oil, leave a comment on this post answering this question: We already care about animals, why should we care about earth-friendly products too?! I’ll pick a winner next Monday.
*Is gluten bad for your skin?!
Product Review and Giveaway: NBW Skincare! »
Yay! It’s the next giveaway for Vegansaurus Giveaway Week! Check every day this week for more prizes! This is the last one but you still have a chance to win them all!
NBW is a line of natural skincare products with a focus on organic, fair-trade ingredients. Not everything is vegan, but most of the products are, and nothing is tested on animals. Yay!
I tried the Yarrow and Rosemary Light Daily Moisturizer. From the site:
"Yarrow has anti inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties to sooth blemishes and remove excess oil. Yarrow contains high levels of azuline which gives its strong anti-inflammatory effect.
Rosemary contains naturally powerful antioxidants which inhibit the activities of free radicals and slow the effects of aging. In addition, it possesses excellent astringent and antiseptic properties that make it especially suitable for oily and acne prone skin.”
This stuff is lovely. It absorbs nicely, and kept my oily skin moisturized without making it greasy. That’s a difficult combo to find! I’m a fan.
But wait, super-fun news! We are holding a giveaway so you can win your own NBW product!
To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me which of their products you totally want.
OK? OK! Go! Happy giveaway week!
Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor go vegan! Let’s hope it sticks! »
In news that I know you are all anxiously awaiting, another celebrity couple tries out veganism! This time, it’s Zoolander and Melody from Hey Dude! Just kidding you guys, I don’t seriously live in a world where actors are the characters they play. (Yes I do.)
Christine Taylor talks all about the transition here. Regarding her kids, she says they are having a harder time with the switch, and explains “My daughter loves veggies but doesn’t love fruit. My son loves fruit and doesn’t love veggies.” That’s so funny, because you know who else like veggies but doesn’t like fruit? Sarah! I just don’t get it. I even love the kind of fruit that everyone has a problem with—berries with little seeds! All the fruit for me, all the time! (except papaya, I don’t like that one. [Ed. note: WORD.])
Christine Taylor is also the spokesperson for Nourish body care products. I looked into Nourish, and it sounds like an awesome company—vegan and organic! I saw that the products are sold at Whole Foods, so I hopped, skipped, and jumped on over to the store across the street in search of body lotion. Sadly, the Upper Haight Whole Foods only carries Nourish body wash, and I prefer bar soap. Lavender mint lotion, you will be mine—I bet it’s at Rainbow!
Your Vegan Celebrity Correspondent
[photo via Ecorazzi]
Interview: Gnosis Chocolate gives you sweet vegan choices! »
A couple years ago, Vegansaurus TV did a feature on super-gorgeous Gnosis Chocolate creator Vanessa Barg. Since then, Gnosis has undergone some super-exciting changes! Vegansaurus chatted with Gnosis’ Marla Golde about these changes, and how Gnosis is working to offer more healthful ingredients in its all-vegan, organic raw chocolate!
Vegansaurus: In the past, your products were sweetened with agave, and it seems some of your new chocolates have coconut sugar. Why?
Gnosis: We are currently in the process of a switch to raw, organic coconut palm sugar as our primary sweetener! The taste and consistency of coconut palm sugar is slightly different than agave nectar, so we decided to offer our customers a choice during this transitional period through our “Sweet Choice” program. This allows customers to choose between chocolate sweetened by an agave nectar/coconut palm sugar blend, or coconut palm sugar only.
Vegansaurus: What’s so great about coconut sugar? Are you anti-agave?
Gnosis: Coconut palm sugar is a highly nutritious sweetener; rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium. It has a low glycemic index, and we’re particularly excited about it because it has been named the most sustainable sweetener by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations!
Vanessa Barg has a great relationship with Big Tree Farms in Bali, and has worked directly with their farmers. This has created a deep connection between our company and the community there, ensuring that we receive the highest quality product. The difference you’ll notice in the flavor of CPS-sweetened bars is that they impart more of a maple, molasses, or brown sugar-like taste—it complements our line of chocolates beautifully.
We still stand by our specific source of agave (see Vanessa Barg’s report here) and will continue to use it as a sweetener in some of our products. Our agave is organic, truly pure, low-glycemic, and raw.
Vegansaurus: Gnosis uses no advertising, but y’all are doing pretty splendidly! Why do you choose not to advertise?
Gnosis: The company has grown 100 percent by word of mouth, with no advertising and no PR companies. Instead, we devote that energy and money to making the absolute best products possible; and carrying out projects that make sure that our customers can deeply trust in our commitment to run our vegan business with complete integrity.
Vegansaurus: Where are you located?
Gnosis: Both our office and our kitchen are located in Long Island City, just a few minutes from New York City.
Vegansaurus: Please tell us more about your vegan mission!
Gnosis: The phenomenal health benefits of veganism (decreased likelihood of heart disease, increased life span, stronger immune systems, just to name a few!) are vitally important reasons why our chocolates are vegan. Because our bars are dairy-free, they don’t block antioxidants and contain no cholesterol. Gnosis was born out of Vanessa’s work as a holistic health counselor—the bars were created for her clients as a way to take great care of their health without giving up their beloved chocolate.
Also, while personal health is a vitally important part of our mission, planetary health is just as important—so our products are also vegan in the name of sustainability and environmental consciousness! Since the livestock sector plays such a major role in deforestation, pollution, land degradation, and the reduction of biodiversity; and animal agriculture leads to global warming via methane and nitrous oxide emissions…. Producing products that support a vegan lifestyle is a great way to ensure that we’re a model for responsible, conscious entrepreneurship.
Lastly, we never, ever want our products to harm any creature, so our chocolate is also vegan in the name of kindness to animals. We know that the animals at factory farms feel pain just the same as our beloved Choco-Kitty, Charlotte, and are proud that our vegan certification tells the world that none of our products are tested on animals.
Vegansaurus: Thank you! Any concluding thoughts?
Gnosis: Thank you so much for this opportunity! We absolutely honored to be a part of Vegansaurus again!
All Gnosis products can be purchased online and at select Bay Area health food stores.
All-vegan boutique in SF: the Detox Market! »
Last week I got the scoop about an all-vegan market in the Mission. The Mission?! I’m there all the time (burritos and bars). How did I not know?
The Detox Market is amazing. I was so nervous to be going to a beauty boutique, looking like a hot mess after work, but it was so soothing in there! Clean, bright, and very well organized. Inside I met Rachel (hey girl!), who walked me through the store and explained all of their products and philosophies.
The Detox Market sells organic, vegan (and local when possible!) products. In each genre—be it tea, toys, lipstick, salt, chocolate, candles, NAIL POLISH—they only sell one brand! Rachel explained that they choose the best of the best! The highest quality of everything! Believe me, it shows.
I can’t possibly go over every product in the store, but I’ll show you what stuck out to me. You’ll just have to check it out yourself!
The Can-Can Cleanse! Rachel offered me a sample of the green juice and it instantly revitalized me. For a split second I thought, “Maybe I can do a juice fast!” Anything is possible, right?
TAZA chocolates! Valentines Day is coming up. Or someone’s birthday, I’m sure.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that nothing good comes out of Florida. They are wrong for two reasons: 1.) I was born there; and 2.) The Spice Lab salts come out of there! Florida FTW!
Of course there were many different varieties, but OMG! Truffle salt? Yes please and thank you.
They have sooo many flower essences. Which I always just kind of brushed off as a hippie thing, but after my visit, I’m reconsidering. Rachel held up a card featuring about eight pictures of flowers; I was to point to the one that visually appealed to me the most. The one I choose, which looked like a bird of paradise, was “Quiet Mind.” I was thinking it meant that I was mellow and introverted, but I was wrong! She told me it means I’m really stressed and need to calm down, try to focus and find clarity. Then she sprayed me with my appointed flower essence. She’s good—I want to go back and get Quiet Mind essence! And spray it all over myself the recommended five times a day!
Guess what? Soy wax is out and coconut wax is in! That’s what these Pure Light candles are made of. Let me tell you, they smell delightful. Mother’s Day can’t come fast enough. (My mom loves candles!)
Don’t these Inna Jams look pretty? They are made in Berkeley! Local product alert!
Last but certainly not least is the Kusmi Tea collection. This tea is from Paris. So fancy! I smelled a couple different varities and it’s good. I’m not even really a tea person, but I’d brew myself a cup of this stuff (probably the detox one).
There is so much more at the Detox Market, including skin care, makeup, and sunscreen. Seriously, all organic and top of the line. Toothpaste even! Rachel gave me a sample of some acai toothpaste that I just love. LOVE! Get up and go! If I had known about this place before Christmas, my shopping would have been so much easier. You can find something for almost anyone here. Or just go treat yourself.
The Detox Market is located at 969 Valencia St., between 20th and 21st streets in the Mission. There is also a shop in Los Angeles, at 8380 Beverly Blvd. Happy shopping!