Summer Favorites 2017

**I meant to share this post a couple of weeks ago, but apparently forgot to schedule it!**

Hello, everyone! It has been quite some time since I’ve written anything in this space – and I’ve attempted a few times to sit down and pour out some words…only to delete it all. It was a heavy summer filled with loss, hard times, and frustration and the fact that our computer is on its last leg didn’t help much. Yep, I’m typing this post from my phone…totally not fun, but it’s helping to force me to let go of “perfection.” All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone and aren’t edited. These words were typed in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. 

{{I’m dedicating this post to Jen, one of my best friends. Thank you for always inspiring me and pushing me in ways you will probably never realize…I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude.}}

This was definitely not a normal summer for us – usually we went on a new (or revisited an old favorite) hike each week, but with all of the wildfires, we were forced to stay indoors for most of it to spare our lungs.

BUT it’s officially Autumn and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m ready to pull out the heavy blankets, cozy sweaters, and let go of summer. I’m ready to welcome change in every sense of the word. Before I say goodbye to summer, I wanted to share a quick…or not so quick recap of my favorites!

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**If you’re used to reading my “favorites” posts, you’ll know they’re always organized by products, recipes, etc – this post is not. I’ve compiled my favorites here in the order they happened or when they were tried. If I continue with these posts, I’ll definitely go back to a more organized fashion! Hopefully by then our computer will be nicer to me!

SUMMER FAVORITES 2017

We flew to Vermont in June to spend a couple of weeks with Josh’s family and to get away from tourist crazy Bend! Felt good to visit with everyone. While there, we took a road trip to Rhode Island to spend a day with Jen and Tyler!!! (Seriously my favorite people) It’s truly incredible to spend time with people who just get you. Conversations flow and it’s definitely nice to not have to explain your reasoning behind certain choices (lifestyle, diet, etc) because for the most part, our values align. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m grateful to have them in my life.


Playing KUBB with Josh’s family! Even Willow got into it! If you haven’t played this lawn game, definitely check it out! Loads of fun!

Spending a couple of hours at The Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont. It’s amazing to watch your child light up with excitement to learn. I think she needs a microscope for Christmas…she literally spent 30+min using it!


Another highlight….FINALLY getting to meet Jen and Mike (and Eily + Taco) in real life! They came through Bend in July and we got to spend a few days with them. Feels like we’ve been friends forever and I know we will be. If you’re not familiar with their Etsy shop, Compassionate Paws, definitely check them out. 


Teaching Willow how to play UNO. Let’s just say there were a few days of nonstop games. So fun!

Josh and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary with a hike! My parents were so kind to spend the day with Willow while we finally got to complete this gorgeous hike at Clear Lake.

While in Rhode Island, Jen sent us home with some goodies and this tea became my favorite. I loved it so much that I shared some with my Mom. 

Vegan Lemon Sauce with Basil >> The Vegan 8 >> Yet another fantastic recipe from Brandi! So rich in flavor with the perfect lemon tang and the basil is a lovely addition. We used potato noodles (made with our spiralizer) instead of edamame noodles. I used leftover sauce on roasted veggies the following day. SO good!

FERRERAW ROCHERS >> @mindful_moose eBook >>  Jess and I have been long time friends on Instagram and I was so excited when she released this beauty of a book! Lots of delicious recipes. It’s no surprise that our first choice was a decadent chocolate recipe. Willow and I had a blast making these and my entire family approved!

CRISPY ROASTED CURRIED CAULIFLOWER >> @thefitforkfeed >> Lindsay shares my love for cauliflower and curry so I obviously jumped on this recipe as soon as she shared it on her page!! She shares a lot of amazing recipes within her posts on IG – I would highly recommend giving her a “follow!”

Oh!

And Wildbrine’s fermented Sriracha! We love how it’s raw and doesn’t contain things like citric acid, “natural flavors,” sugar, etc. It tastes SO fresh!

Poor photo, but I can’t say it enough, I wish everyone would watch this documentary! Such an eye opener and I really enjoyed the variety of doctors interviewed and how it didn’t feel like a preachy film. I learned a lot!

Watching the solar eclipse with Willow and my Dad! Thanks, Mom, for making that awesome setup for Willow to ease my worried mind!

MAPLE WALNUT CREAM CHEESE >> Veggie Inspired Journey >> I could cry. The photo somehow got erased from my phone!! But if you click HERE, I’m hoping you can see the photo I posted on IG. This was a huge family hit (entire family, including my Oma). We paired it with banana bread and Willow ate a good bit by the spoonful! Haha!

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Buddha Chocolate Coffee Fudge Cups. Oh, my. Paleo, vegan, and worth every penny. And it’s an Oregon company! We found this at Market of Choice here in Bend and they were sold out of all the other options by this company….which made me believe it had to be amazing. I can’t wait to try other products!

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Remember how I said Jen sent me home with some goodies?? Well, she included some books (the bottom three in the stack below). I spent all of my summer with my nose in a book and these were my absolute favorite! The Outlander series is incredible and while I’m dying to start the fourth one, I decided to take a little breather and read something else! Ha! I have reviews for most of these on Goodreads. Are you on there??? If you are please let me know! And if you’re not (and you’re a big reader), definitely check it out!

I just have to add…Lily and the Octopus has my heart. SO GOOD!!! Even Josh read it and loved it!

Acorn ring made by Tamara of The Striped Cat Metalworks >> You guys. Have you seen her creations? I’ve been following her for a while on IG and have admired her craftiness….when she posted about this acorn ring and that a portion of the sales go to help the squirrels, I had to order one. And guess what? When my order arrived I was so surprised to see a little ring she made just for Willow! You can absolutely feel the love she puts into her work.

Circle Creations: 3 Cami Bra Package Deal

I will be the first to admit that I am “cheap” with some things. Bras were one of them. In the past I would get them from Target or Kohls…and I hated every single one. They were uncomfortable or broke after a few washes or wears. Finally, last month, I said, “I’m done. I NEED to find a bra I can get behind and one that is made with organic materials.” I immediately went to Etsy and ended up finding a shop in Oregon. I was SO hesitant to invest more than my usual $10-20 per bra, but I took the plunge and ordered a three pack! After reading every single review, I chose to order up from my usual size small and I’m glad I did. I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE BRAS!!!!! Hands down the most comfortable bra I have ever owned – I honestly forget I’m even wearing it. They’re beautifully and wonderfully made, they were shipped fast, and I feel good supporting a company who uses sustainable materials. Click HERE to view these bras. Also know that they offer them for sale individually for $36.

Nothing new, but being silly with this kid is my favorite. And this was probably my favorite Instagram post in a long time. It felt good to not care what people think and to really connect with people. I seriously had so much fun reading the comments and thank you to those who played along!

Homeschooling a kindergartner now! Woohoo! Crazy how fast time flies. She’s not a baby anymore!


3-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pots >> Feasting on Fruit >> If you have a major sweet tooth AND you love chocolate (who doesn’t???) then you need to try these!! They’re fluffy, dreamy, crazy rich pots of deliciousness. And believe me, you’ll only be able to take a few bites…it’s that rich.

Favorite local shop! Forge Humanity. Beautiful space, amazing people, and every single product goes to support a cause. For example, this book I bought Willow helps give 10 people clean water for a year! If you’re ever in Bend, Oregon, definitely stop in! 


Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel >> The Vegan 8 >> This is a recipe of Brandi’s from 2014!!!! And I finally tried it last month for the first time. If you know me, you know I’m addicted to tahini. BUT for those of you who are not, rest assured these aren’t strong in tahini flavor. Definitely rich and a small square is plenty, but that bite of spiced caramel is heaven. It truly makes these bars fantastic and pairs so perfectly with the lemon. This was absolutely with the wait and will definitely be a repeat recipe.

Coconut Secret UnGranola Bar: I. Am. Hooked!!!!!! Found these at Market of Choice and I was so excited! I should add that Willow is obsessed with them too! I love that they’re grain-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free (sweetened with coconut nectar), and they use fair trade chocolate!

Also, these Chaco sandals are the best. I have worn nothing else (literally every single day) for the last five months and I’ll be sad when I have to break out socks. I have worn these on 5+ mile hikes and normal every day wear – so comfortable!

Went on a date with Josh to Salud! All raw and everything is delicious! We found a coupon for buy one get one half off so we took advantage. We love this spot, but prefer to save money and eat at home. Our meals were amazing though (as usual). Plus it feels good to support a local business who cares about health!

Addicting. That is all I will say….


Chocolate Monkey Bread >> Feasting on Fruit >> I’ve never actually had monkey bread before and after having this version, I don’t think I need to try another…because it’s amazing!! Fudgy, gooey, balls of brownie. BUT it’s fruit sweetened, grain-free, and vegan (of course). This was gone in a flash and we’ll definitely make it again for soon!

The Fit Fork Feed : Everything Bagel Crusted Cauliflower >> She shared this recipe on her Instagram…if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll tag you in her post! I hope this works…click HERE to see her IG post.


Favorite movies that Josh and I saw in the theater:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • Wonder Woman 
  • Baby Driver

As always, I would LOVE to hear from you. Tell me some of your favorites from the summer! Books? Movies? Recipes? Moments? 

Thanks for stopping by!

❤️

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness

Happy Friday, everyone!! Today we’re getting to know AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness – a hardworking, strong, inspiring mama of two. I honestly think of her as a warrior – someone who has fought hard to get where she is today – she is truly admirable. She has two Instagram pages, one that shares her fitness journey & vegan food and the other one is filled with beautiful photography (including adorable pics of her family). So, be sure to check them both out!

INTERVIEW WITH ALISAMARIE:

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with AlisaMarie of @alisamariefitness

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am the mother of two boys. I like yoga, working out, taking photos and getting tattooed. 

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

My first “aha” moment to go vegetarian came after watching Food Inc. Levi was almost the age that we were going to start introducing solid foods and I really wanted to be educated on what we fed him. I don’t know why but it just hit me. It was the first time I ever really stopped to think about meat and what I was eating. I had just eaten McDonald’s right before watching it. And that was the last meal including meat that I ever ate (5.5 years ago).

Going vegan took more time. I went vegan about 6-8 months after going vegetarian and then ate some dairy and eggs when I got pregnant with my second son (everyone convinced me I needed it) but soon after I realized it was making me MORE sick. And I watched Forks Over Knives and learned about how addictive dairy is and the fact that I was so addicted and felt like I “NEEDED” it freaked me out. I remember sitting in bed thinking about it and I hated that feeling. So I made the decision to cut it out for good.

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

At first the hardest thing for me was cutting out cheese. Especially since cheese alternatives just don’t taste the same. I had to quit trying to replace cheese. I didn’t eat ANY vegan cheeses for a while and then when I tried some again (Daiya) I didn’t look at it like a cheese replacement, just as a yummy addition to my food. That helped.

Honestly, nothing else is that hard about it. Going gluten-free (in addition to being vegan) was MUCH harder.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health, to me, is to be observant about the health of your body and mind and to avoid medical interventions as much as possible. I believe there is a time and place for western medicine. But first, I will do everything I can do go the natural route first. I want to fuel my body (and mind) with whole foods and positivity (which includes no dead animals).

Tell us about your blog!

I have had a few different blogs over the years. But I’m not currently keeping up on it. However, I do have my favorite recipes over at www.alisamariefitness.com

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

Manic Panic hair dye 🙂 Because we love dying our hair fun colors and Manic Panic is easy and 100% vegan.

Who or what inspires you?

My kids inspire me to be the best I can. I felt guilt for living the life I did before going vegan and being more natural minded. But I had to remember “when you know better, you do better”. So now that is what inspires me. I think its important for us to be educated and act on that.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

Hands down, Vitamix. We use it at least 3x a day.

What is your favorite meal?

This is tough. Right now I’m really loving avocado wraps with the Wrawp (raw wraps) and smoothie bowls.

Some of our family’s favorites are Cashew Mac and Cheese, Quinoa Chili (my FIRST vegan recipe that I came up with) and the greatest GF/V Waffles EVER (from Babycakes)

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

I like Raw Coconut Aminos, nutrition yeast and garlic for extra flavor in my cooking. Pretty much every cooked meal I eat includes one of those. But I have been trying to eat more raw so in that case, I LOVE using dates in my raw desserts.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Documentaries: Food Inc, Forks Over Knives, Meet Your Meat, Vegucated, Fat sick & Nearly Dead.

Books: Skinny Bitch.

Cookbooks: BabyCakes, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar (not gluten-free), Oh She Glows

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

You CAN do it. I know its easy to believe “oh I could NEVER give up meat or dairy”. I know because I used to say it. I used to mock vegans. Do your research. It’s important to know what you are eating (and especially what you’re feeding your children).

There are vegan alternatives to almost everything and they are healthier and animals werent harmed in the process. There are tons of books and blogs out there so you have support.

Favorite quote.

“To continue to climb mountains, one must continually descend back into the valleys.”

“Be brave with your life”.

“The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.”

Three words to describe you.

Passionate, straightforward, complicated 😉

I asked Levi and he said “great, cute, good”

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

@alisamariefitness

@alisaonanadventure

REVIEW: May Favorites

Happy June, everyone!! Like all of the previous months, May flew by just as quickly. It was a bit of a rough month – a combination of rare gloomy weather, plenty of toddler meltdowns and some feelings of stress and being overwhelmed. But it’s a new month and I’m excited for what’s in store. The sun is back and summer is fast approaching which means LOTS of time to soak in the beauty of nature. I’ve got some new (to me) products, but mostly a ton of great recipes we got to try last month!

MAY FAVORITES:

Veggies Don’t Bite Overnight Oats Jar >> It wasn’t until last year when I really got into overnight oats. The thought of eating cold oats used to really gross me out, but later on, I began experimenting with different flavors, ingredients and recipes and grew to enjoy this breakfast option. Letting those oats soak overnight makes for easier digestion AND in the morning, you can decide if you want to eat them cold (as is) or warm them up. I have found that measuring out the ingredients creates a better end result – I would say 95% of the time if I just throw stuff together in a jar, I’m either left with too much liquid or not enough. This is where Sophia’s genius idea comes in! She has taken the guesswork away and provided a guide right there on the jar, showing you the “fill” line for each ingredient. Each morning I have the perfect oats! With your order, you also receive a pamphlet that provides instructions (what each “fill” line means and how to properly care for your jar) as well as some recipes. Our favorite is the Chunky Monkey…even Willow devours this one! If you click on the highlighted text above, it will take you directly to the Overnight Oats Jar page to purchase, if you are interested.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Healing Body Scrub >> Kaffe Organic >> My dear friend, Jen of @jengoesgreen gave this to me as a gift last month and I instantly fell in love. Some of my absolute favorite scents are coffee, lavender and peppermint…guess what? They’re all in here! What a delicious combination of scents, not to mention how incredible it all feels on the skin. Last month was stressful {toddler meltdowns and lots of them, sleepless nights, rare gloomy weather and getting my Etsy shop open} which caused breakouts and chaos to my system. I used this scrub to spot treat a few of my trouble areas and not only did it leave my skin feeling refreshed, but it also softened some of the scars. I have been using it a couple of times a week and I’ve noticed a huge change. I loved this SO much that I gave some of it to my mom and she fell in love, too. A little warning…DO NOT apply this as a mask and go about your usual routine with a toddler. She hasn’t seen me wear a face mask before and it scared her something fierce! Haha!

I have learned that this company has since changed their name from Kaffe Organic to Wild Healing.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Raw African Shea Butter Balm {patchouli} >> Khaki’s Bomb Balm >> The same friend that gifted me that amazing scrub I talked about above, also gave me this balm. If you’re not a fan of shea butter, this definitely isn’t for you…but if you LOVE shea butter (I DO), your skin will be in heaven. How adorable is the packaging?! You can tell that a lot of love goes into the making of these products.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

It is thick (a little goes a long way) and lasts a long time! The smell is intoxicating and has really helped to heal even the worst dry spots – living in the high desert does a number on your skin if you don’t properly care for it. Visit her Etsy shop for more products and custom orders.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KhakisBombBalm?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Merrell Women’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport (Hiking Shoes) >> I was in need of a new pair of hiking shoes…especially with summer right around the corner. Josh bought me these great shoes for Mother’s Day and I LOVE them! I finally got to test them out last week – we had an incredibly wet month of May, so we weren’t able to get out much like we usually do. These shoes are super comfortable – lightweight, breathable mesh upper lining with a flexible sole (not stiff like most hiking shoes I’ve used) and VEGAN! I’ve owned quite a few hiking shoes – numerous brands – but I’ve gotta say, these have to be my favorite! I’m also in love with the color! All of my previous shoes have been a neutral or earth tone color, such as brown, grey or green, so I’m excited to break out of my comfort bubble with a “bolder” color.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Books: I’ll be honest…I haven’t been reading much these days. I’ve either been falling asleep at night with Willow or watching a couple of episodes of Friends before passing out. I have missed reading and hope to have some book updates next month!

Recipes we tried and LOVED:

May was a great month for new recipes! So get ready for a LONG list!!

Ultimate Raw Cookie Dough Chocolate Fudge Cake >> {The Vegan 8} >> So, I didn’t personally make this recipe, but my mom did and I thoroughly enjoyed it! She made it for my Dad’s birthday (he’s not vegan) and he LOVED it. Everyone did and no one missed the dairy. It was incredibly rich, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I honestly have yet to try a dessert recipe of Brandi’s that I didn’t like!

Smokey Cheddar Cauli ‘n’ Cheez >> {Cruelty Free Family} >> If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s vegan cheese sauces! Or really, sauces in general. I love everyone’s variations, or takes, on vegan cheese sauce so, I feel like I need to try them all! This one did not disappoint – I loved the turmeric in this dish – it really gave it a bright appearance and obviously tasted amazing. So flavorful and creamy – since our head of cauliflower was pretty small, we also cooked up some gluten-free noodles to enjoy this with. Thumbs up from Willow makes this a keeper recipe!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Smokey Cheddar Cauli ‘n’ Cheeze // Cruelty Free Family

Salted Caramel Cashew Cacao Chunk Smoothie >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> One word….AMAZING! I made this and shared it with Willow one morning for breakfast….tasted like dessert and oh, my goodness! Willow sucked it down SO fast. I used unsweetened cashew milk in place of soy, but other than that, I stuck to the recipe. I really have no other words for this smoothie – if you haven’t tried it yet, you NEED to! Oh, and if you don’t have raw cacao chunks, I tried it the second time around using cacao powder and it was equally delicious!

Buffalo Chickpea Burgers >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> Kind of like my thought on sauces, you can never tire of veggie burgers! I love trying new burger recipes because each one varies in some way or another. Since we make recipes with a toddler in mind, we replaced the hot sauce with a mild salsa and they turned out great! We paired it with Sophia’s BBQ Tahini Sauce (see below) and some oven roasted potato wedges. So so good!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Buffalo Chickpea Burger with BBQ Tahini Sauce // Veggies Don’t Bite

BBQ Tahini Sauce >> {Veggies Don’t Bite} >> Well, you have to know by now that I LOVE tahini so when I saw that Sophia created a BBQ tahini sauce, I had to try it! This was insanely simple to whip up and did not require the use of a blender. I could have eaten this with a spoon…who am I kidding! ha! I did at first, but then when the burgers and potatoes were done I dipped away! Tangy, slightly sweet and OH SO TAHINI-Y.

White Chocolate Vanilla Cake Strawberry Milkshake >> {The Vegan 8} >> Another great recipe created by Brandi! Willow and I shared this for dessert one afternoon and LOVED it! I’m more of a vanilla or chocolate milkshake kinda girl, but this one was literally all three delicious flavors whirled into one fantastic shake! Never would have guessed that cashew butter and cacao butter would create a cake-like flavor, but it does. We didn’t have whipped cream to top it with, so we enjoyed it with some Enjoy life chocolate chips and a homemade chocolate sauce.

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters >> {The Oh She Glows cookbook} >> I LOVE granola. I’ll eat it plain, with some nut milk or use it as a topping for my smoothies/smoothie bowls. I love that added crunch! Well, an Instagram friend of mine posted a picture of this particular recipe and I hadn’t tried it yet – so I made it the next day and asked myself WHY did it take so long to make this?!? We didn’t have enough walnuts, so I improvised with some raw pecans and it turned out incredibly buttery. We couldn’t stop eating it! This was another picky eater approved recipe.

Better than Restaurant Falafel >> {Minimalist Baker} >> SO good. Simple ingredient list and quick to whip up. We used fresh spinach instead of collards and I was originally going to try baking these instead of pan-cooking them, but we decided to stick to the directions. These were fantastic! Willow helped us prepare the mixture, but sadly did not want to eat them…not sure if she was intimidated by the green color or the fact that it was something new. That just meant more for the adults! I should add that my mom made this recipe, too and used broccoli in the mix…really good! We served ours with some hummus and a bit of hot sauce.

Po-Cauli-Leek Soup >> {Cruelty Free Family} >> This soup hit the spot on a chilly, gloomy evening – it was warm, comforting, and full of flavor! I’ve had cauliflower soup and potato soup, but the two combined create a perfect, thick, hearty soup. We split the batch into two and for Willow’s batch, we left the leeks out – She really enjoyed this soup, too! I have a feeling this recipe will be made quite a bit come fall and winter!

Fat-Free Baked Mexican Black Bean Burgers >> {The Vegan 8} >> Just, wow! Talk about an EPIC burger! It was crispy on the outside with a soft center – not the least bit dry like a lot of vegan/gluten-free burgers. We decided to make 12 small patties as opposed to the suggested 4-6, which made them perfect Willow size. So many wonderful flavors, especially with the addition of The Vegan 8’s Mexican Tahini Sauce. If you make these burgers, DO not skip that sauce!

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

Fat Free Baked Mexican Black Bean Burger with Mexican Tahini Sauce // The Vegan 8

The Ultimate Mexican Pizza with Sweet Jalapeno Lemon Cream Sauce >> {Vegetarian Gastronomy} >> We decided to skip our usual tacos for Taco Tuesday and made this AMAZING pizza! Being gluten-free, it’s hard to find a decent, simple, not time consuming crust to make. Well, it doesn’t get any easier than this! We were oooooohhhhhhing and aaaaahhhhhhhing throughout the entire meal. The roasted veggies were perfect, but that sauce….addicting. I licked the blender clean (no shame). The only adjustments I made to this recipe were: heating the beans/corn/spinach on the stove (separately to keep Willow interested) and I used unsweetened cashew milk and a tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup in the sauce in place of soy milk. We have made this sauce a few times and use it on everything from salads to baked potatoes.

REVIEW: May Favorites // Be Sol-Ful

The Ultimate Mexican Pizza with Sweet Jalapeno Lemon Cream Sauce // Vegetarian Gastronomy

Have you discovered any new favorites?! As always, I would love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re getting to know the lovely, Corey, of @consciousnonblonde – mother of two, a huge source of positive energy, and creator of drool-worthy recipes. Her comments always brighten my day as they’re usually humorous and always uplifting. I imagine Corey is a phenomenal listener because each one of her comments is very detailed, proof that she’s paying attention and actually reading your captions, no matter how long they might be – it’s as if you’re sitting and chatting with her face to face. While Corey doesn’t have a blog (yet), she does share recipes right there in her posts, whether in the caption or within a comment. Her photos are beautiful, colorful and creative – so if you’re not already following her, please go check out her IG @consciousnonblonde.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
INTERVIEW WITH COREY:
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I live in Atlanta. I like to be outdoors, travel, read, cook, plant. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
When did you go vegan? What was your “aha” moment?
I started into going vegan slowly first cutting meat, then eggs. I haven’t had any animal milk products in years though because my daughter is severely allergic to cows milk. My aha moment was 7 years in the making. 
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
Hardest part about being vegan is that people around you feel that they need to make the change to go vegan as well. I don’t want anyone in my family or circle of friends to think that their convictions should be the same as mine. And that it’s ok if I eat off the veggie plate at the party. I’m not going to starve  😉
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite cruelty-free product? And why?
My favorite cruelty free product is Tate’s miracle conditioner. Has been for years. It really is a miracle product. 
Who or what inspires you?
My children inspire me. They are constantly challenging the world around them and asking questions. Seeking their own path. I wish I had the same courage and inspiration when I was their age. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?
I really dig a Mason jar, handheld blender and spiralizer 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite meal?
Vegan rolls, miso, vegan tempura veggies, seaweed salad and green tea. 
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.
maple syrup, coconut oil and gf oats
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle.
I read the China Study 9 years ago and that sparked a big change. Also, hanging out at farmers markets and getting to know the growers.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Favorite quote
“The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.”
Three words to describe you.
 compassion, wit, grit
Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?
Any change no matter how big or small in moving towards a plant-based lifestyle is significant. It all matters. Even if you add one smoothie a day. Vegan culture comes from a place of love and acceptance and everyone should know that.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Where can we find you via social media? 
Find me on Instagram @consciousnonblonde
Still thinking and debating with myself about sharing it all with everyone on a blog.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Brittany of @lentil_

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with Brittany (of @lentil_) and if I could describe her in three words I would have to say: strong-willed, determined and honest. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is and won’t sugarcoat things…which at times can be intimidating, but also incredibly admirable. Coming from someone who lacks a bit of confidence, I look at Brittany and see strength and courage. She holds animal rights close to her heart and will shout it from the rooftops all the reasons why you should ditch dairy and meat. I learned about Brittany from a mutual Instagram friend and was immediately drawn to her natural beauty – You can tell that she takes care of herself inside and out.

INTERVIEW WITH BRITTANY:

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I always find introductions the most challenging part of blog interviews …. My name is Brittany. I currently reside in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. I wouldn’t really say that I have any hobbies but I do gravitate towards what I call “introvert activities” such as: reading, watching movies and TV shows. My interests include health/fitness and animal rights issues, documentaries, self-improvement and holistic health.

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

I went vegan in September 2013. I watched a video on www.meat.org about factory farming and animal abuse and I decided right then and there that I would go vegan. I had previously dabbled in a plant-based diet so I was aware of what life would be like without meat and dairy. I was on the path to vegetarianism when I watched the video online but that didn’t seem like enough, I needed to cut everything that supported and funded animal cruelty out of my lifestyle. I began researching more and more about how I could live a sustainable, ethical and healthy lifestyle. To this day I am still learning and adjusting my lifestyle to be more natural and compassionate. It is a beautiful journey and not a day goes by that I am not thankful to have learnt the truth and found a lifestyle that I adore.

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What is the hardest part about being vegan?

This is a very loaded question. Some of the hardest parts about being vegan are dealing with criticism, negativity and unsupportive people. I am very lucky that my family and most of my non vegan friends support and respect my decision to be vegan. But I have also received my fair share of ignorant attacks from non vegans. I also struggle with the sensitivity that comes with the vegan lifestyle. Some days it feels like everything hurts and everything is offensive and those are the days that I want to whisk myself and my loved ones away to live on a completely vegan planet. I find it very hard to share a meal with people who are eating meat. It is hard not to take things personally because, for ethical vegans, the passion and motivation for being vegan becomes so close to your heart that animal cruelty begins to not only hurt animals, but it hurts you too.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health to me is living as closely to nature as you possibly can. Taking advantage of the myriad of powerful fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants that we have been blessed with. As I mentioned before I am very into holistic health so I always try to resort to natural and self-healing remedies for any physical or mental ailments that I encounter.

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What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

We have a line of beauty care products in Australia called Sukin. All the products are free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, SLS, SLES and animal derivatives. Sukin has everything from hand lotion to shampoo to fake tan. I’ve been using their products for a few years and I absolutely love them. I also love the Hurraw lip balms. They have amazing flavours and they are raw vegan so the ingredients are very natural and healing. My favourite is the coconut flavor.

Who or what inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from my vegan friends and from the raw vegans that I follow online. Sharing connections with other vegans has become really important to me. You already have a strong common bond and it’s such a beautiful thing. The raw vegans that I find are the most inspirational are Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (fullyrawkristina), Ellen Fisher (ellenfisher or Mango Island Mamma on youtube) and Yovana Mendoza (rawvana). I also like to inspire myself. I reflect on how far I have come in my life and I work towards becoming a better version of myself.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

There are 2 kitchen gadgets that I can’t live without: my juicer and my Vitamix. I absolutely love juices and smoothies! They come in handy for quick, lazy meals and meals on the go.

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What is your favorite meal?

Oh my gosh, you are really asking me what my favourite meal is? I cannot possibly answer that! I love so many different dishes. If I had to narrow it down I would probably say it would be a mono meal of fruit, most probably watermelon. I say fruit because if I had to pick 1 meal to live off for the rest of my life I know I could definitely live off fruit. I do love cooked meals as well. Mac n Cheese is definitely a favourite and so are tofu and vegetable stir fries/curries.

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Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

3 of my favourite cooking ingredients are broccoli, nutritional yeast and dill. I could eat broccoli with anything.  I love a few different herbs but dill is my favourite. It has a beautiful, clean, fresh taste and it works well with a lot of different ingredients.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

My favourite vegan resources are The Skinny Bitch book, Earthlings, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives.

Favorite quote.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

  • Anais Nin

Three words to describe you.

The 3 words that I think describe me best are: quirky, pensive and empathetic.

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.?

Instagram: lentil_

Facebook: Brittany Allen

Twitter: lentil__

Thank you, Brittany!! It was fun learning more about you!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Happy Friday, everyone! I apologize for the delay in posting these Friday Feature interviews – I fell behind during the day-to-day chaos of life (personal matters and projects), but we’re back in full swing. Today, we’re chatting with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef. Her Instagram page is filled with beautiful vibrant photos of her food creations and she usually shares the recipes right there in the post. Laura is multi-talented and has a heart filled with compassion when it comes to people, animals and the earth. I won’t ramble on anymore…let’s hear from Laura herself!

Interview with Laura…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Originally, I am from Tempe, Arizona. I am a daughter of three, the middle child, so it’s a given that I am the most extreme when it comes to anything in my family. I am very much a free spirit. I love to travel, draw and paint, read and learn new things, experiment and create new recipes, listen to music, practice yoga, watch movies, and hang out with my friends and family. I truly enjoy helping people discover their health; enjoy food abundance, and educate them about healing cuisine. Also, I am very passionate about yoga. It has saved my life in many ways. It made me see who I am, and it has healed my body. I am a lover of the outdoors; walking, running, hiking, camping, spending time at the beach, swimming in the ocean, picnicking, bike riding, and gardening. I love animals and I have great deal of respect for their place on this Earth. Oh yea, and I love to cook!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

My “aha” moment was back in early 2013. A good friend of mine had invited me to her birthday party. She wanted me to meet a group of her friends that were very much into health and wellbeing. I had been working on a vegan cookie recipe, and I knew she loved them, so I baked a huge batch and went to the party. The woman who was hosting the party happened to be the Director of UCSD’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Long story short, we got to talking, she loved my cookies, and I loved her meal so she invited me to attend the Natural Healing and Cooking Program that was starting the following week. Thankfully, I helped run the classes by volunteering which turned into my training to teach the program! With no previous chef experience or teaching a cooking program, I successfully taught the program, created a holiday series, and trained new volunteers and instructors. During my training, I ate the cuisine that was prepared; macrobiotic, vegan and gluten-free, and it healed my mind and body within six weeks! Prior to this program, I had been searching for a higher level of health. I had been a vegetarian since the age of fourteen, but fell off the path a couple of times. I thought I had lived a healthy lifestyle, but deep down I knew there was something more. There was something better. The program is based on George Oshawa Macrobiotics and the China Study. I had never eaten a full-blown plant-based and gluten-free diet over a period of time. The plus side to the cooking program was all the leftovers. Every week, I was gifted with at least a week’s worth of food that truly set me up for success and consistency. After the end of the sixth week, out of the eight week program, I knew, I could never go back. My health problems that I had been treating for many years had healed.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

Based on my experience, I think it’s the psychological. Your mind ‘thinks’ it’s missing out or is being deprived of meat and animal products, but in reality, our bodies never miss it. If you are having “deprivation” cravings, you’re just not eating enough, and you’re not consuming an abundance of healthy vegan food. Daily, we are bombarded with excessive meat and dairy advertisements. Plus, animal products are found in so many food items. Our family and friends are not vegan. Many restaurants are not vegan, or the cooks do not have experience to prepare delicious vegan meals. Most simply, one does not know or understand how to live and thrive in a vegan lifestyle. Education is key. Support is very important as well. For myself, Instagram has helped me tremendously with experimentation, support, and different realms of veganism. I am so inspired. On the plus side, veganism is gaining popularity, and with social media, cooking programs, and culinary schools cheering us on, it is so easily accessible that the information is at our fingertips.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What does natural health mean to you?

Health means that one can thrive in life without any hindrance of illness within the mind, body, and soul.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

Call me a weirdo, but I go for anything all natural. I love essential oils, fresh herbs, sea salts, baking soda, white and apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. You can easily clean anything without harming yourself, loved ones, and nature. The possibilities are endless with basic elements from the Earth. This past holiday season, I created a body scrub, sold it to friends, and they loved it!

Who or what inspires you?

This is a tough one. Anyone with heart, soul, truth, and wisdom. There are too many. To name a few, Einstein, Gary Yourofsky, Freelee the Banana Girl, Durian Rider, George Oshawa, Max Gerson, Neal Barnard M.D., Jennifer Cornbleet, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen Fisher, Amy from Fragrant Vanilla Cake, Angela from Oh She Glows, Ricki Heller, Amanda Bradley, Eduardo Longoria, Lauray MacElhern, Ella Woodward, Gordon Saxe M.D., Jean Richarson, Rachel Hosler, and all the beautiful vegans I follow on Instagram!!

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

Number one is my tea kettle. My food processor and blender score second. But my pure basic essentials would be my chef’s knife, paring knife, and bamboo cutting boards.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite meal?

Hands-down, brunch, because you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes all at the same time!

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

In this moment, I would say, Oshawa Ume Plum Vinegar, Oshawa Tamari, Japanese Mirin, and Ginger.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Macrobiotic Guidebook for Living, The Kind Diet, Skinny Bitch, Rawvolution, The China Study, 801010, Wheat Belly,

Vegucated, OMG GMOs, Origins, Earthlings, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, The Gerson Effect, Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me, Food Inc., Black Fish, The Cove.

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Perseverance is key. Seek others that model what you desire. Stay open, be humble, don’t be afraid to ask questions and for support. Change is always uncomfortable, but the long-term results are limitless, bountiful, and inspiring.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Favorite quote.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Three words to describe you.

I had to ask this question for a school project. One of them said, “Amazing, hard-working, courageous.”

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

Facebook: Vegan Healing Chef

Instagram: @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Thank you, Laura for sharing with us!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with the ever beautiful, Tonya, of @inspired_fit_vegan! We joke that we’re long-lost sisters and honestly after doing this interview, I’m starting to question whether or not we really are. This nature loving, kind-hearted, inspiring woman is incredibly talented and creative. Like all of the previous friends I’ve interviewed, Tonya can be found spreading love and light to all – her energy is contagious. As a quote addict, I find myself constantly referring to her page to jot down some words of wisdom. Tonya’s page is also filled with beautiful photos of nature adventures, her latest food creations, her cuddly furbabies and of course, her beautiful face. It’s been a pleasure connecting with this lovely human being and I know we’ll be friends for a long time.

INTERVIEW WITH TONYA…

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m originally from a little town in Connecticut where I spent most of my life, but I recently moved to Buffalo, New York to sort out some big changes I’m making in my life right now. I live here with my boyfriend: Jeremy, two dogs: Draco and Penny and 3 cats: Gatsby, William, and Lilac. I spend most of my time making sterling silver and gemstone jewelry for my little Etsy shop, but a lot of the time you’ll find me in the kitchen testing out and creating new recipes. Cooking lights a fire in me like nothing else! Other than that I enjoy playing the piano, guitar, hiking somewhere beautiful, or just curling up with a nice book and my furbabies.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

In 2011 my diet consisted mainly of cannolis, pizza, subway, steaks, gin, wine, chicken, candy, chips, chocolate, and cheese. My exercise consisted of a maybe weekend hike depending on the weather, and if I felt up to it. Over time my physical state started to affect my mental state. Taking a look at how I was feeling at the time-tired, depressed, and getting sick a lot, I decided it was truly time for a change. The big switch was when I started to take a look at what I was eating day-to-day, and realizing it was contributing to how I was feeling. My best friend has been vegan for many years and I really started to notice how amazing she felt and how great all of her food looked. So I started to ask her some questions about being vegan, and she was more than happy to share information with me. Each weekend I would go to her house and we’d cook an amazing vegan meal together – I was always so surprised at how amazing it tasted! So I started to incorporate that into my diet, subbing in vegan meals here and there. I watched a video on factory farming and it opened up my eyes, and sealed the deal for me. Being an animal lover I saw that eating meat truly conflicted with my inner morals, and from that day I went vegetarian. I started to look at my physical health next, and began walking together every day after work. Slowly I was seeing changes in my energy. In April of 2012, I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and it was just decided it’s time to go vegan.  It was really a no brainer, and I have been ever since! I wish I had known everything I know now a long time ago.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

Hmm the hardest part about being vegan? Well I’d say the hardest part is the lack of understanding from family members. I’ve felt so amazing since making my transition to a plant-based diet that I want to share it with everyone I know and love. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in, and I just want my family to understand how much I care about their health and well-being. I understand though that people just have to take their own time, and learn when they are ready. I guess I just don’t like the judgments that come from people. Like “why aren’t you eating a burger?!” Regardless of anyone’s choices, I always accept the fact that we are all different and that is okay.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health to me means living a life full of whole foods and products that come from the earth, instead of man-made chemical laden products. Health is a multi-faceted subject and I think natural health focuses on mind, body, and soul.

Tell us about your blog! (or shop)

I am currently working on a blog so I can share my vegan recipes with everyone, but I have an Etsy shop:

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Blue Sky Eyed started out back in 2011 when I was busy running my other online shop The Lion and The Rose. I always had admired gemstones since I was a kid collecting different stones with my family in the woods, stones, shells and sea glass on the beach, and finding little treasures wherever our family traveled over the years. More recently I’d started to admire and become drawn to other people’s artisan gemstone necklaces. I just feel that the gemstones all have certain energies and goodness to them! I am a child of the outdoors, I love being in the woods, or at the beach, anywhere there is sunshine & blue skies, for it brings me such joy and hope! One day I thought I should do my own styled pieces, as I’ve always enjoyed making jewelry. So I started out making only gemstone, glass and sterling silver jewelry and gifting it to friends and family. It was very rewarding, and I found it so relaxing and peaceful that I decided it would be a fun way to use some of my spare time, conveying my love of nature through my crafts, and hoping that my pieces would be able to bring happiness to other people in the process!

You can find it here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BlueSkyEyed

What is your favorite cruelty-free product and why?

My favorite cruelty-free product is coconut oil! I love that I can use it for so many things: moisturizer, in my smoothies, make-up remover, oil pulling, hair conditioner, and so many other uses. It’s right up there with vinegar, one of the other things I can’t live without!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Who or what inspires you?

Everyone that has crossed my path in life inspires me and teaches me something new! My parents definitely inspire me for sure as they are both strong, and loving, and I know no matter what I can always lean on them for support! My boyfriend Jeremy inspires me, and has taught me so much about embracing the present moment. Nature inspires me, and renews me. I love days where I can just sit outside in the sunshine, by the water and create-words in my journal, jewelry, or music. Also my furry friends inspire me-they teach me to have fun with life and never take anything too seriously.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

That’s a tough one: There are three kitchen gadgets I don’t think I could live without-my Vitamix, Cuisinart food processor, and my Kitchen Aid mixer.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

What is your favorite meal?

I have so many favorites, but a nice vegan baked mac and cheese takes it for me!

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

Olives, Chocolate, and Garlic

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

My favorite resources are:

Documentaries:

Forks Over Knives

Food Inc.

Earthlings

Books:

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra

Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra

Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

Chloe’s Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli

Chloe’s Vegan Italian by Chloe Coscarelli (She’s my absolute favorite and I’d love to work with her someday)!

Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

 

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Take it slow, do your research and don’t worry about being perfect. When I started out I was vegetarian and I wasn’t absolutely perfect. That’s okay-the most important thing is that you know why you want to make changes, and that you are always true to yourself in the process. Invest in some of the cookbooks I listed above and you’ll never look back! Network with others that will help support you in your journey, as sometimes friends and family aren’t always the most encouraging.

Favorite quote.

Gosh I love quotes-but one of my very favorites is:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three words to describe you.

Passionate, Peaceful, and Loving

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

Instagram: http://instagram.com/inspired_fit_vegan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlueSkyEyed

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Tonya of @inspired_fit_vegan

 Thank you so much, Tonya! I’m looking forward to your future blog – I know it will be successful.

Thanks for stopping by!