health & home

Last weekend, I made this adorable gingerbread house with Ryan, one of my best friends.  We sipped Silk nog and apple cider and decorated for hours.  It was exhausting and messy but so much fun to make!  It was the perfect way to spend a snowy Saturday.  For the house and royal icing, I followed this vegan recipe.

Instead of cutting the house’s pieces out by hand, I used a mold. Here is the mold I used.  It worked really well except that I put way too much dough in the mold. The pieces of the roof came out very thick and felt like a brick!  We were worried the house wouldn’t stand.  So… I’d recommend filling your molds about half way with your gingerbread dough and pushing it down by hand.

In the end, our gingerbread house is standing and holding tons of candy thanks to the super tacky royal icing. Here’s how we constructed the house:

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After a jump into the 60s last week, today’s 40 degree weather felt very chilly. It’s time for cold weather comfort foods!  Soup, roasted vegetables, creamed kale, indulgent breakfast, and vegan grilled cheese are all on my “to make” list this winter.  All recipes are dairy and egg free.  Visit my Vegan Recipes & Foods Pinterest board for more cooking inspiration!

1. Creamed Kale by Quiche-a-Week  view recipe
—->Kale’s nutritional benefits: iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and antioxidants!
2. Smoked Tofu Benedict by The Pear & the Purple Peach  view recipe
—->Nutritonal yeast is loaded with B vitamins and this recipe also uses my favorite superfood: kale.
3.  French Onion Soup & Vegan Grilled Cheese by Olives for Dinner  view recipe
—->Onions are known for their anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties in addition to many other health benefits!
4. Bell Pepper Corn Soup by Eating Richly  view recipe
—->Bell pepper nutritional benefits: tons of vitamin C, vitamin A, carotenoids, and antioxidants.
5.  Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Balsamic Syrup by Lauren’s Latest  view recipe
—->Brussels sprouts nutritional benefits: vitamin A, vitamin C, folacin, potassium, calcium, phytochemicals, and protein!

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These gift ideas are perfect if you’re looking for a way to give to charity while giving to your loved ones!

1. Superfruit Lip Balm by Peacekeeper Cause-Metics  (view online) “Peacekeeper Cause-Metics is the first cosmetics line to donate all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues.”
2.  Youth Hoot Beanie by Krochet Kids Intl.  (view online) “With every product you purchase, you are helping Krochet Kids provide women in Uganda or Peru with fair and consistent income, skills training and mentorship.”
3. Beech Wood Troubadour Headphones by LSTN (view online) “For every pair sold, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.”
4. Species Adoption by World Wildlife Fun (view online) “Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats.”  Choose from over 100 species to adopt! For a $50 donation, you’ll receive a plush animal, adoption certificate, photo, and species info card!
5.  Hope Soy Candle by Juara (view online) “10% of proceeds from this candle will be donated to Walubi charity relief organization dedicated to aiding Indonesian disaster relief efforts.”
6. Gold + Silver Dust Set by SAME SKY (view online) “SAME SKY provides jobs globally for women struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. Instead of a handout, we believe in giving a hand-up and the tools to become self-sufficient. Trained as artisans, SAME SKY women earn 15 to 20 times the average wage in Sub Saharan Africa. 100% of net proceeds are reinvested to train and employ more artisans in need.”
7. Navy Navia Throw by JADEtribe (view online) “With every item you purchase, you are helping JADETribe provide financial opportunity for women in Southeast Asia and support the artisitic and cultural tradition of textile weaving.”
8. Just Like You by the Just Like You Foundation (view online) 100% of the profits of this amazing book go to charity. You can choose which charity you would like to donate to at checkout!
9. Charity Pot Hand & Body Lotion by LUSH Cosmetics (view online) “Every penny (yes, every single penny) that you pay for a pot, excluding the tax, goes to fund and support grassroots charities all around the world.”
10. Earthwise Rust Men’s Vegan Classics by TOMS (view online) “With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.”
11. Grey Ikat Women’s Vegan Classics by TOMS (view online)
12. Earthwise Cranberry Bimini Tiny Vegan Classics by TOMS (view online)

Last night, I finally tried a recipe I pinned months ago from Chocolate-Covered Katie,  ”Homemade Krispy Kreme Doughnuts- The Healthy Version“.  I am in love!  Don’t be fooled by the title- they don’t taste like Krispy Kreme but they are so delicious and really easy to make.  From prep to finish, mine took only about 45 minutes.

I used almond milk for the doughnut mix and added a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter for a little extra flavor.  I also opted to make a different glaze (recipe below).  I was so excited to finally use the pans I ordered months ago when I first found the recipe!  Here are some options of doughnut and mini doughnut pans if you don’t already have them.

After the doughnuts cooled, I finished them 3 ways:  Cinnamon Sugar, Coconut, and Powdered Sugar.  For the powdered sugar doughnuts, just throw each in a ziplock bag with some confectioners sugar and shake.  For the Cinnamon Sugar and Coconut,  I dipped them in a vanilla glaze then flipped them on plates with cinnamon and sugar or shredded coconut and pressed until they were coated.

The glaze was simple to make:  I whisked together almond milk (you can use any non-dairy milk) and confectioners sugar until I got the consistency I wanted then added a bit of vanilla extract.

These doughnuts are so light that it’s hard not to eat the whole batch in a day! Happy baking!

This past weekend, Ryan completed the first 70 miles of Project 96!  The project’s mission is to raise money and awareness for Juvenile Dermatomyositis by swimming, biking, and running 96 miles in two events, seven days apart. The first event was the Half Full Triathlon in Ellicott City, Maryland. The race was held on Sunday, October 6th, at Centennial Park and the weather was unbearable. It was nearly 90 degrees and humid! In addition to the challenge of the the unseasonable weather (last year’s race it was in the 40s), this half-ironman triathlon is known for being one of the toughest courses…and this was Ryan’s first triathlon.  What an accomplishment!  Ryan pushed through the heat and dizziness and completed a .9 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run. The entire event was inspiring: there were athletes of all ages and sizes, cancer survivors, families, and friends. All racing for a good cause. It was amazing standing at the finish line watching everyone run across the line. We saw people running with arms linked in the air, parents holding babies, wives and husbands jogging in support, people breaking into tears, and friends screaming in support along the path. There were even dogs that made their way across the line with their owners. We were so proud when we saw Ryan come around the bend! He did it! Here are some of my pictures from the event:
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Today marks the 2 year anniversary of my going vegan! In some ways, it seems like it’s been much longer than 2 years- almost as if I was born like this. On the other hand, I can’t believe I’m sticking to a plan that was only supposed to last a month!

I had tried, unsuccessfully, to go vegetarian as a young child when I learned that chicken came from…chicken. My experience was similar to the little boy in the adorable viral video who learns that the octopus on his plate is actually a real, chopped up octopus:
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Happy First Day of Fall! It’s time to pick apples, bake homemade pies and warm bread, drink fresh cider, carve pumpkins, eat creamy soup, and take comfort in all things Autumn. Here are five of my favorite vegan recipes for the Fall plucked from my Vegan Recipes & Foods Pinterest board.

1. Apple Cider Glazed Sweet Potatoes by Oh My Veggies view recipe
2. Roasted Fall Vegetables with Lentils by Whole Living view recipe
3. Creamy Cashew Veggie Pot Pie by Healthy. Happy. Life. view recipe
4. Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup by Allyson Kramer view recipe 
5. Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Layer Cake by Healthy. Happy. Life. view recipe

Project 96 was started by one of my best friends, Ryan McCarthy.  He’s like a brother to me and I’m so proud of him for taking on this ambitious challenge so I wanted to share it with you!  Ryan started training and competing in marathons a couple years ago and has decided to put his growing mileage towards an amazing cause: fighting Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a rare and incurable auto-immune disease that affects as few as 2-4 children out of a million.   In particular, the project will benefit an adorable 6 year old girl named Keira Jzyk, who is suffering from JDM.

Here’s some information about the disease from the Cure JM Foundation:
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I made this amazing Vegan Potato Salad with Dill, Shallot, and Peas for the 4th of July and haven’t stopped thinking about it since! I normally don’t even like potato salad so this creation surprised me. I’ll be going on vacation next week (finally!), and I think this recipe will be the perfect addition for an end-of-summer cookout.
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These are my favorite non-toxic, cruelty-free cleaning products by great companies like Method, Mrs. Meyers, Grab Green, and BabyGanics.  Click on links beside each item to view on Amazon.
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Grab Green Dishwashing Detergent Pods view on
Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap in Basil view on
Grab Green Degreaser Cleaner view on
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes view on

{Toy & Highchair}
BabyGanics The Cleaner Upper Toy & Highchair Cleaner view on

Method Squirt + Mop Wood Cleaner  view on
Mrs. Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner in Basil view on

Method Laundry Detergent in Fresh Air  view on

Method AntiBac Toilet Cleaner  view on
Mrs. Meyer’s Bathroom Cleaner  view on

Grab Green All Purpose Surface Spray in Thyme with Fig Leaf  view on

BabyGanics The Sparkle Maker Glass & Surface Cleaner  view on

Method Wood for Good Polish view on

{Marble & Granite}
Method Daily Granite Polish view on

Today is National Lasagna Day! This is one of my favorite recipes from my Vegan Recipes & Foods Pinterest board. Doesn’t it look delicious?  It is the Vegan Lasagna with Basil Cashew Cheeze from Oh She Glows, photographed and reviewed by 86 Lemons.  Basil cashew cheese is one of the best vegan foods I’ve been introduced to in the last couple years!  It is so diverse:  you can spread it on bread and crackers, bake it on pizza, make creamy sauce with it, or cover it with breadcrumbs and pan fry!  Make your own following the recipe above or buy a pre-made version, like the amazing basil cashew spread called Basilcotta from Regal Vegan.

Sunday, July 21st is National Ice Cream Day! With the heat wave we’re enduring, I’m welcoming any excuse to enjoy one or two frozen desserts this weekend. After going vegan in 2011, I mourned the loss of ice cream as if I’d lost a beloved friend. I’m not kidding. I had been the kid who spent all my allowance on the ice cream truck and who snuck Breyers’ French Vanilla in Dixie cups any time my parents weren’t in the kitchen. In college, I had an obsession- borderline addiction- to frozen Twix bars and Black Raspberry Frappes. I thought, maybe this will wear off after college? Maybe it’s like all the beer and pizza I am consuming right now…just a phase? Nope. The beer and pizza quickly disappeared but my love of the frozen concoction followed me to NYC- I could still eat it any time of day, any kind of weather but…it never quite agreed with my stomach. I endured the hours of bloating for the 5-10 minutes of indulgence over and over, year after year, until the day I went vegan in 2011 and almost immediately realized the negative effect dairy had been having on my body.
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These are some of my favorite cruelty-free, vegan products to beautify from head to toe.

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This week, I decided to try a bite-size version of the frozen banana pops I often make in the summer. I made the little snacks on a hot and sticky afternoon and they were the most delicious, icy treats! As you probably know, when bananas are frozen, they take on a consistency almost like ice cream and are such an easy, healthy alternative to frozen dairy desserts. I made two versions:

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On Friday, we celebrated Katia’s birthday with champagne, Dr. Cow vegan cashew cheese, Basilcotta, Faux Gras and delicious cupcakes from Molly’s Cupcakes.

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MyChelle Dermaceuticals
Isabella Oliver Maternity
The Honest Company