Lagusta’s Luscious croissant-infused caramels and more! »
Did you eat enough candy last week? Me neither! Which works out perfectly because I went totally cray on the Lugusta’s Luscious website the other day and got all kinds of stuff. But rewind: did you see that title? I’m not even kidding! Croissant-infused chocolate-covered caramels! And let me tell you, they are so totally the new jam. And I let my coworkers try them because I am so nice and everyone agreed they are the new jam. So good. Nice and salty-sweet.
I also got these peppermint patty type things above. They are creamier than peppermint patties but they are very good. The chocolate is not very sweet, that is how I like it.
I also got this butterfinger type candy bar. This is the only thing I ordered that I’m not super into. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very yummy, it’s just missing something real butterfingers have. It’s not as crunchy or something. I don’t know. But it’s still peanut buttery-good.
This is the last thing I got, Matzo Toffee! It’s some kind of craziness! It’s like caramelized matzo with salty dark chocolate drizzled on top. Maybe I’m weird but I’ve always loved matzo. I would totally trade my snacks for matzo in elementary school. I also ate white flour. That’s enough about me for today.
In conclusion: YUM!
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: Wholesome Chow’s Big Yummy (gluten-free) Brownie! »
Okay, here’s the deal you guys: I’m not the biggest sweets fan. In fact, sometimes when I eat too much sugar, my skin gets red, puffy and really warm.* This just happened at my birthday party, and freaked out my entire family. I finished my cake anyway, but everyone kept touching my red, blotchy arm as if I were a science experiment.
Being the incredibly talented (as well as good-looking, charismatic and hilarious) professional pastry chef that I am, people are often quite confused that I don’t really eat sweets anymore. I’m like, “good thing you guys, this way at the end of my shift there’s actually prouduct available for the public to buy!” I mean, makes perfect sense to me—I go home and gorge on pizza, so everyone wins.
Cutting to chase here, I usually pass up on dessert samples for Vegansaurus. However, because of my success with, and complete admiration for, Wholesome Chow’s products in the past, I was not willing to give up the opportunity to try their gluten-free brownies! I was expecting to get a dry mix in the mail that I would then bake, so imagine my delight when I opened a package with three BIG brownies encased. I mean, I’m excited just reminiscing about that evening.
Let me tell it to you straight: The Big Yummy Double Chocolate Brownie by Wholesome Chow is not playing around. It took all the willpower I had not to eat all three brownies in one sitting. They’re quite sizable, and everything no brownie in the past has ever been to me. To be honest, I eat cake and brownies as vehicles for frosting, and these babies didn’t even need it. I didn’t miss a side of fudgy chocolate frosting AT ALL.
I’m someone who stays away from sugar, has never really been a brownie person (I mean, usually they can be SO dry) and doesn’t have to eat gluten-free (though I do feel better when I do). On that note, I crave these. I think about them all time. But where can I find these chocolate sensations, since Wholesome Chow doesn’t deliver them anymore? Well, here’s a handy list for you! (Just try to beat me to Rainbow to buy out their stock, I dare you.) Unfortunately for now, they are only available in California, but maybe you can ask your local natural food store to carry them? Of course you can always buy the brownie dry mix online too, as I’m sure it does not disapoint! Chef Veronica of Wholesome Chow also has a recipe for these decadent treats on their company blog!
*I did not have any type of reaction to the sugar in Wholesome Chow’s brownies, which may have also been because for once I exerted some amount of will power in not eating all three in one sitting.
Product review: ChocoSol vegan chocolate! »
ChocoSol is an artisanal dark chocolate company in Toronto. They sent me some free samples to try and now I will tell you all about them!
I knew you guys would like the company because, well just read this from their about:
Our artisan chocolate is made right here in Toronto using organic, forest garden, shade-grown cacao, sourced directly from indigenous communities in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. Our horizontal trade relationships go beyond the exchange of commodities and bring symbolic products, whose story is as important as the product itself. Our relationships are based on reciprocity, friendship, respect and mutual learning.
Our chocolates are made without dairy, gluten, soy and nuts, and are also vegan. We specialize in both eating chocolate and drinking chocolate (xocolatl), and offer a number of other sustainably grown ingredients that are sourced directly from farmers (such as coffee, cacao nibs, agave, hemp seeds and vanilla pods, among others).
Right?! And I love the packaging, it makes quite an impression. But! How is the chocolate, you ask? In a word: intense. It’s chocolaty-intense. As usual I had the whole office try it and ChocoSol was very popular among the suits. I liked the Darkness bar the best, though coconut-lovers were fond of the coconut-flaked bar. But if you are a milk-chocolate-only person, this is not your chocolate. This is super dark. But if that’s your style, you will love this!
They also make “drinking chocolate” which comes as these super awesome chocolate hockey pucks you see below. Again, very intense but really good. The vanilla adds a little sweetness which is nice. If you are into old school chocolate drink, this is for you. It’s really fun, the hockey pucks just seem so hardcore. It would be so smooth to pop these out after a dinner party, am I right? You’d be the coolest!
Unfortunately, it looks like the easiest place to buy ChocoSol is in Toronto. Any of our Canadian readers tried this before? Buy some at the farmer’s market and send it to your vegan friends to the south!
Product Review: Manic Panic makeup! »
I will forever have fond memories of Manic Panic from my rapscallion teenage days. It was just the coolest, right? Well I recently found out they make makeup too! The mother of a friend of mine works at Manic Panic so when I found out many of their products are vegan, I hit her up! And she sent me some of their vegan make up to try (for free (full disclosure!)).
These are the vegan products (though fyi, none of their products are tested on animals):
All of our hair color is Vegan as well as our following cosmetics:
Lust Dust Eye Pigments (all but Hot Hot Pink, Infra Red, & Fuschia Shock)
Dreamtone (Virgin) Foundation
Large Eyeshadow (all but Deadly Nightshade)
Blush- Pussy Galore
However, it looks like they may have added some new products so you might want to email to check if there are more options. I tried the Pussy Galore, Starchild eyeshadow, Cobra Lust Dust and Ultra Violet Lust Dust. And now I will tell you all about them!
I LOVE the Pussy Galore. It works as an awesome blush but is also great as an eyeshadow. I’ve never worn pink eyeshadow but now I feel like I should wear it every day! The Starchild is nice too. Both go on very easily and have a lot of color (I did a light application). Tip: you can apply wet for an eyeliner effect!
These are the two Lust Dusts I tried. Again, both very nice though the consistency of these are more loose and prone to dust up your undereye while you apply. But once applied, it stays on wonderfully. I did a light application again but in general I think the Lust Dust isn’t as strong as the large eyeshadows. So if you want subtle, this is probably your better option. If you want bright, the large shadows rule!
In conclusion, I’m a little biased because Manic Panic will forever remind me of growing up in the 90’s, but I have to say I’m overall impressed with the makeup. And I’m going to wear the Pussy Galore every day! I am!
Product review: Tofurky Pockets! »
Tofurky has new products, and they sent us some to try out. Have you seen these Pockets in the frozen food section of your grocery store? I haven’t, but my grocery store isn’t really up on the latest in vegan convenience food.
This is the Pepperoni Pizza Pocket. I had to cook it in the oven, because we don’t have a microwave (or room for a microwave) in my apartment, but it only took like 30 minutes from freezer to plate.
This tasted like a less sodium-y Hot Pocket, which was about exactly what I wanted after coming home a little tipsy. “Food, comfort me!” I demanded, and this definitely did the trick. If you don’t like Hot Pockets, you won’t have any need for Tofurky Pockets, but if you do miss them, this is a fine vegan analog.
This was the BBQ Chick’N pocket. I cut it in three because I had two non-vegans to share it with, for research purposes. They both loved it, and said the sauce in particular was “delicious.” I thought was pretty sweet, for barbecue sauce, and the chicken pieces were like standard fake chicken. The crust crisped and browned nicely in the oven, and it was, again, satisfying to eat after a couple drinks.
Hey look, Turk’y Broccoli Cheddar! It was very well peppered, which was a nice surprise. The vegetarian I split this one with thought it was pretty good, too, especially the pepper. There was a fair amount of broccoli involved as well; that certainly doesn’t make it healthy, but Turk’y Cheddar alone, who needs it? Really, the insides tasted kind of like a weeknight casserole from 1989, and I have no complaints about that.
Now, I wouldn’t eat these every day, at all, but Tofurky Pockets are certainly better for you than gnarly old Hot Pockets. Is substituting all the convenience food from your freezer section with vegan options the future? Some of us might say so.
Product Review: Isabella’s Cookie Company »
Isabella Cookies are damn fine and come in lots of vegan flavors and some are weird and all are wonderful.
They sent me both the V-Ging, a spicy ginger chewy cookie topped with sweet vanilla icing, and the V-RV, a red velvet cookie with vanilla icing. They were both extremely excellent — homemade tasting and chewy and flavorful and absolutely splendid. You could buy a bag of these and polish them off yourself or bring them to a vegan bakesale and pass them off as your own. Or fool any omnivore with their deliciousness if you were inclined to share.
In addition to being gifted those flavors for potential review, I also bought the V-Breakfast cookie — “soft maple cookie with crunchy waffles, mouth-watering chocolate chips and vegan bacon”. It’s freaking weird as hell and also tasty as hell. Plus, it’s just really cool that vegans get to have fun weirdo flavor cookies.
Product Review: Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty Kettle Chips! »
Say what you will about the “hipster” movement over the last few years, but there is a silver lining in the black-Levi’s-with-keys-on-a-carabiner-dangling-from-a-belt-loop cloud. So-called “foodies” have been putting bacon on everything, which is pretty disgusting and unfortunate, but it’s provoked vegan and vegan-friendly food chemists to create some more mock-bacon food stuffs. The bacon craze has always been weird to me; even in my non-vegan days, I never understood the infatuation. I’ve even seen Torani, the company that makes sugary syrups for your coffee beverages, add a “bacon” flavor to their lineup. Seriously dudes? Bacon-flavored coffee? But I digress.
Kettle Brand certainly isn’t the first potato chip company to take a crack at bacon flavor, but as a company who is proud to stamp their bags with “GMO-free” labeling and as a company that knows what “vegan” means, I was pretty excited to try their new summer flavors, Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty.
If you’re one of the many vegans who couldn’t care less about finding a bacon replacement, then these Maple Bacon chips are actually going to be right up your alley. They were incredibly delicious—they just weren’t bacony. At all. They tasted more in line with K.C. Masterpiece BBQ-flavored Lays, but with Kettle Brands’ better chip as the base. Plus, I can guarantee, with no prior research, the fine folks at Lays probably go to the same country clubs as the fine folks at Monsanto. Again, I digress.
After eating the Maple Bacon chips, I became curious as to what the Sweet & Salty were going to taste like, because that name easily could have gone to the bacon chip, and no one would be the wiser. The Sweet & Salty, however, are WAY sweet. Like, almost as sweet as I am (awww, also I’m single, just kidding (no I’m not)). My vegans-of-Instagram pal Chris, aka @dinotheman, said it best: “Imagine chips with a hint of pineapple flavor and [there] you have it.”
These chips should be already on your grocer’s shelves, just in time for summer cookouts, or in my case, dinner. I’ve eaten entire bags of chips in one sitting before and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re both a must-try and please let us know what you think! Kettle Brand deserves a Lays-sized display in the chip aisle. Say no to Monsanto. Monsan-no.
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California. He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island-based hip-hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
Product Review: Buddha Cups, raw organic dark chocolate almond butter cups! »
Your Vegansaurus loves (vegan, fair trade, organic) chocolate, and your Vegansaurus loves almond butter, so when the lovely people of Buddha Chocolate offered to send us a sample two-pack of their fancy gourmet cups, you know we took them up on it.
I cut one in half to share with whoever else was in the apartment that day, namely one of my roommates, her boyfriend, and my brother, all omnivores.
The results were … mixed. While the chocolate was rich, the almond butter was dry and crumbly. The omnis all said they could “tell” the chocolate was vegan; I haven’t had dairy chocolate in like seven years, so I wasn’t really sure what they were tasting that I wasn’t (or vice versa?).
I suspected user error, though—they’d gone from a hot package in the mail to the fridge, and then right back out to a hot apartment—and the second one I let sit on the counter a while before eating it. Much better. The almond butter was softer, the chocolate melted into it, and it was really satisfying. Not too sweet, so you could totally eat one for breakfast (seriously, the fat and protein? Awesome to start the day) if you didn’t want to wait till dessert.
Buddha Cups are handmade in Brooklyn by a couple of awesome vegans, and are available at select Manhattan and Brooklyn locations, or you can buy them online. They’re like Justin’s, but almondy and harder to get! I recommend them. In fact, I’d eat one right now if I had it.
[Top photo via Buddha Chocolate; second photo by me]
Product Review: GalloLea Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Kit »
My amazing high school sexuality and society teacher (it was Quaker School, OK?) taught me pizza is like sex; there’s tons of different ways to enjoy it, and sometimes you just want a slice and other times you want ten pies and you want them NOW. (Watch his Ted Talk to learn more!)
Speaking of pizza and unlimited choice and sex, last night four of my nearests and dearests and I made some GalloLea gluten free vegan pizza! GalloLea sent me three of their gluten free pizza starter kits, all of which come in this cute box that contains the basic necessities for fomenting an at-home pizza-making revolution: crust and sauce ingredients. The only things you have to bring to the pie are your favorite toppings, a bit of oil and water. Pretty groovy, right?
There are a lot of frozen pizza options these days, some of which even contain vegan cheese, and you can buy a crust or maybe crust plus sauce pre-made, but this is a really solid option for those of us who want to pretend we’ve cobbled together all the homemade pizza fixings and slaved over a hot baking tray without, you know, actually having to do that.
Toppings included: daiya, spinach, onions, olives, Brussels sprouts, and fresh tomatoes.
I highly recommend getting one of the GalloLea pizza kits and making it with friends or a significant other/crush. You can learn a lot about each other based on topping preferences, and discover how everyone’s respective booties look when bent over the stove checking AGAIN to see when it’s finally gonna be done, because the package lies and it took us twice the time it advertised on the box.
The pizzas turned out great! The sauce wasn’t my favorite part, but the crust was super solid and it definitely held up well under the weight of the massive amount of toppings we used. Thanks to GalloLea, I ate some delicious homemade pizza AND I learned that all of my friends want onions on their pizza except Jenna, who is weird and should really think about her life priorities.