vegansaurus!

04/16/2014

Lulu’s chocolate: organic, raw, vegan, and chocolaty!  »

imageMaca Buttercups. 

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.

imageSexy 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!

imageSmoked 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. 

imageChocolate 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!

imageLove truffles. 

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.

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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!

01/10/2014

Fine & Raw: Organic raw chocolate from Brooklyn!  »

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Hey raw chocolate lovers and all the other kinds of chocolate lovers! Fine & Raw is a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based raw chocolate company that makes yummy organic, vegan chocolates! They sent me some free bars to try and now I will tell you all about them!

Their mission “is to save the world through silliness and chocolate!” They use low-heat techniques and you’ll also be glad to know they make every effort to be environmentally friendly. Plus, reading their site is positively delightful! They are funny. And there’s some good info about chocolate on there like this!:

Cacao has been report to have these benefits:

  • #1 food source of antioxidants
  • #1 food source of magnesium
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) - the compound which scientists believe is released when you’re in love
  • Anandamide - the ‘bliss chemical’
  • Tryptophan – the precursor to serotonin.
  • MAO Inhibitors – allows more serotonin to flow in your body. read: more fun
  • Appetite suppresant & aphrodisiac
  • None of the above statements have been evaluated by the FDA, although they told us they really love chocolate.

Yay chocolate! Don’t mind if I do!

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Above is one of the truffle bars. Creamy and good! I had the peeps at work try all the chocolate of course because I am so nice to them and this was very popular. It’s not sweet but it’s not too bitter. A good balance.

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Now, my friends, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! As I’ve said a million times, I love salty chocolate so this epic dark chocolate sea salt bar was music to my taste buds. And just look at that bar, they are not messing around! It’s a solid bar of chocolate. On the bitter side, so this is a grown-up kind of bar. And you can break it into sticks! 

And maybe most importantly, they like dinos too!:

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For you non-New Yorkers, you can order Fine & Raw chocolates from their website. Get your raw chocolate on around the globe!

10/01/2013

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.)

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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.

image 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.

07/25/2013

Laura Miller, down-to-earth amazing creator of Sidesaddle Kitchen has a new YouTube show called Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. Watch as her don’t-give-a-damn gorgeous self teaches you how to make mouthwatering raw creations sans any fancy schmancy equipment. And don’t worry, there are no “goddamn salads” involved!

Sasha Funk is a plant eater, juice maker and crazy cat lady living in Connecticut. Follow her on instagram

03/06/2013

Good day, raw little lemon tart with lemon almond poppyseed ice cream from Fragrant Vanilla Cake. Are you an angel descended from heaven to share with us the gospel of lemon dessert? Because I will be your No. 1 evangelizer.

Good day, raw little lemon tart with lemon almond poppyseed ice cream from Fragrant Vanilla Cake. Are you an angel descended from heaven to share with us the gospel of lemon dessert? Because I will be your No. 1 evangelizer.

03/01/2013

Vegansaurus Giveaway: Coracao Confections Deluxe Box of Chocolates!  »

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Hubba hubba! This 22-piece deluxe sampler box from Coracao is up for grabs! You can see the box in all its glory above. I think that’s the bee pollen truffle in the middle but I checked with Coracao and they said that the bee pollen truffle doesn’t actually come in the sampler. So it’s all vegan—don’t worry your pretty lil’ head!

As you know, we are big fans of this yummy chocolate. This box sells for $60 and is not only vegan, it’s raw, organic, gluten-free and soy-free. Coracao also sent me a bunch of links about the possible health benefits of raw and dark chocolate:

1. It improves memory and slows down dementia

2. The countries with the highest chocolate consumption have the most Nobel prize laureates. Seriously.

3. One ounce of pure cacao has 200% of your daily USRDA Iron needs.

4. Cacao is one of the highest antioxidant foods ever tested. (PDF)

5. Decreases inflammation.

6. Prevents the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

7. A 2004 study in Britain showed that Theobromine in cacao is more effective at suppressing coughs than codeine.

8. Chocolate releases serotonin, helps make people happier and helps alleviate depression.

So obvi, raw chocolate is the new penicillin.

To win: “Like” the Coracao FB page and leave a comment here about how this deluxe raw chocolate sampler box will help you take over the world. I’ll pick a winner next Friday!

01/24/2013

Valentine’s Day is both nonsense and three weeks away, so let’s order ourselves this box of 24 assorted raw vegan chocolates from Happy Herbivore for … Galentine’s Day? Anna Howard Shaw Day? Because you’re worth it? Who cares, just do it! Choose from 10 different flavors, all of which are organic and two of which are nut-free. Fancy, beautiful, and delicious, three words that also describe our wonderful Vegansaurus readers.
Happy Herbivore has an Etsy shop full of raw vegan chocolates, and sells gift certificates, if two dozen raw vegan chocolates aren’t your thing. (which, why aren’t they your thing?)

Valentine’s Day is both nonsense and three weeks away, so let’s order ourselves this box of 24 assorted raw vegan chocolates from Happy Herbivore for … Galentine’s Day? Anna Howard Shaw Day? Because you’re worth it? Who cares, just do it! Choose from 10 different flavors, all of which are organic and two of which are nut-free. Fancy, beautiful, and delicious, three words that also describe our wonderful Vegansaurus readers.

Happy Herbivore has an Etsy shop full of raw vegan chocolates, and sells gift certificates, if two dozen raw vegan chocolates aren’t your thing. (which, why aren’t they your thing?)

Eating raw will not ruin your life!  »

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When Megan Rascal sent me this article asserting that a mostly raw diet is inherently unhealthful, I debated whether to write a response or just ignore it. It’s always a toss-up when ill-informed crap ends up in my inbox; I thought I might ignore it because I believe that giving press to bullshit can sometimes just perpetuate the bullshit, but I decided to respond because of the (growing? I hope not) misconception that raw food = crazy people food, and that high-to-fully raw people know nothing about nutrition or how to take care of ourselves, and are basically just all counting our days until our nutritional deficiencies kick in and turn us into vegetables.

The article I’m referring to, also published on a “science” blog, claims that a raw vegan diet is super unhealthful. I’ll be honest, it’s got some good (if obvious, already widely known) points in support of expanding a raw diet to incorporate cooked food. Yes, some cooked food has value, and yes, if you don’t supplement your B12 or take a multivitamin bad things will happen, but how the author takes these points and comes to such rash conclusions makes me wonder if he had a bad break-up with a raw vegan or something. When I read lines like “You have nothing to gain and much to lose by going totally or even mostly raw,” I wonder if this article was written to prove that the author’s target was on the wrong path, damn it, and look! now it says so on the Internet!

The piece completely misses the point of a high-raw vegan diet, which incorporates tons of raw greens, veggies, and fruits in whole, unprocessed form, and just picks on the zealots who refuse to supplement and only eat bananas. It even brings up the “you’ll kill your kids if you feed them raw food!” argument, which we have heard about all forms of vegan diets and continue to prove wrong.

(Side note: I hate it when vegan doctors are cited to prove that one vegan diet is better than another. This article cites Dr. Eseystein and Dr. McDougal, both of whom have made millions hawking their unique brands of veganism, as evidence against a high-raw vegan diet, which has its own doctors rooting for and staking millions in its value.)

I really appreciate Gena Hamshaw’s balanced, science-driven approach to raw food in her post “Why Raw? Revisiting the Question.” I love Vegan RD Ginny Messina’s compassionate post, “Raw or Cooked Foods? Which Is the Best Diet for Vegans?,” on why raw foodists should consider incorporating some (or lots) of cooked vegan foods to round out their diets and have an easier time staying vegan. There are plenty of folks who jettison veganism or raw veganism when health issues come up, and while I have no judgement for them I supremely admire folks who take every measure to hold true to their values while minding their health needs. Bonzai Aphrodite recently posted this beautiful long-read about how she’s navigated health issues while staying vegan. Brava! I wrote a Vegansaurus post about why there are so many ex-raw vegans and advocated for folks to consider adopting a more expansive raw vegan diet. In the context of these articles, the anger and all-or-nothing conclusions made by this article and many like it baffle me and make me think there’s a personal grudge.

Closing thoughts: Some (but not all) raw foodies are inflexible and unrealistic, just like some (but not all) vegans and some (OK, most) meat-eaters. Everyone should be taking B12, and probably a multivitamin, omega-3, and maybe a D supplement, too. Mostly raw vegans can be very happy and healthy. I am doing pretty damn well on a high-raw vegan diet that includes lots of raw greens-rich salads and raw smoothies and juices on the reg, as well as a variety of cooked foods. I just got my bloodwork done as a routine every-few-years thing so I can brag in articles like this, and my doctor said my blood is so groovy it makes her want to go vegan. So to the author of these articles, I say this: Please don’t judge all high-raw vegans based on a tiny fraction of us who go to extremes, and in return, I promise not to call the raw vegan who broke your heart and alert this person that you’re hella casting aspersions on them.

[Photo of Pure Food and Wine's tacos by Edsel Little via Flickr]

01/17/2013

Product Review: Emmy’s Organics Superfood Trail Mix and Peanut Butter Banana Granola!  »

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Emmy’s Organics is a pretty amazing company. The owners met at a music festival, and the good vibes seem to permeate their raw macaroons, granolas, trail mixes, and other tasty all-gluten-free raw vegan products. sent me a complimentary batch of their new Superfood Trail Mix featuring cacao, goji berries, raisins, and cashews. I used the superfood trail mix and Emmy’s outrageously yummy Peanut Butter Banana Granola containing hearty buckwheat, and rich large chunks of nuts and banana atop a homemade raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie. It was the most delicious and decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while!

Raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie
Serves 1 to 2

Ingredients
2 cups strawberries
2 bananas
1 cup almond milk
6 to 7 drops Stevia, or maple syrup, or coconut nectar, or agave
1 tsp. maca
1 tsp. cacao powder
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup ice (optional)

Instructions
Blend and top with superfood trial mix and granola!

It’s rare to find raw food that hits the mark in multiple categories—savory, breakfast, and dessert—but Emmy’s truly do. I approve of these products! Check them out online and in stores!

01/15/2013

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!
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Superfood smoothie mix chia porridge
Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients
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

Optional toppings
Buckwheat groats
Chocolate chips
Granola (pictured)

Instructions
Mix all ingredients in a bowl or container. Let sit for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!

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