Veganism

It’s Beautiful AND It’s Difficult

I have been identifying as a vegan for almost five years now. When I say identifying I qualify that by saying I do not eat vegan on my birthday and if I am at a location where eating vegan is not possible, I will still eat. As someone that studies eating disorders and maladaptive eating and weight control behaviors, the last thing I want to do is condone restrictive eating patterns just to keep dietary rules.

It is particularly important for me that people know that dietary restriction is not the point of veganism and that we need to listen to our bodies when they say we are hungry, regardless of what is available to us.

Putting that pedestal aside, I first became vegan for the environment, for the true belief that we have become a population crippled by our need to eat meat and animal products at every meal. We do not have enough space on the planet to sustain the number of animal products we are currently consuming, not to mention the environmental and animal cruelty effects of trying to do so. Living vegan has also been found to have several important positive health outcomes (Mann, 2014), including:

  • Increased fruit and vegetable intake
  • Decrease in cholesterol
  • A decrease in lipids (fat) intake
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased weight
  • Reduced risk of obesity
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of cancer

However, if veganism is not done right, it can be very dangerous. Despite the ease that you see on social media, beginning vegans should regularly see their doctors to check for the following complications:

  • Calcium deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Iron deficiency
  • B-12 deficiency
  • Extreme weight loss

The Lie

Those complications can be very serious if left untreated. It can be frustrating knowing these complications exist and seeing very few people that feel comfortable freely talking about how hard it is to be vegan. Every time I look on Instagram, or any other social media, I see people simply happy to be vegan – smiling, cooking, celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I am not happy as a vegan, but for me, veganism was a choice I made that has not been all sunshine and greatness. It is really hard, especially if you are used to eating meat or an animal product with every meal, to just change overnight and sustain that. It is hard to deal with comments from family and friends and from perceptions you know others hold of you, just by identifying as a plant-based person (Markowski & Roxburgh, 2019).

In my opinion, not talking about the trials doesn’t make people want to be vegan more, but makes people believe veganism is unachievable for them. It makes people believe it’s this exclusive and perfect group, with such high moral standing that only others that are the same deserve to even try to be a part of it. At least that’s how I feel at times, as a vegan, looking at other vegans.

As great as my body feels, as good as my sleep is, and as amazing as the health benefits have been, as well as the low environmental footprint, I still struggle a lot. This is not to deter people from being vegan, but to tell people that struggle IS a part of this journey and THAT’S OKAY! You can still struggle, and even fail, and get back on the vegan wagon!

The Research

Research has found that cheese (see Dr. Neal Barnard’s The Cheese Trap) has highly addictive qualities. Therefore, if you are an avid cheese consumer then you may have particular trouble kicking that part of the diet – AND THAT’S OKAY. Even moderate cheese consumers will likely have trouble.

Also, racial and ethnic minority populations (Pickett & McCoy, 2018) or those familiar with southern cuisines, have more access and familiarity with diets high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. There is evidence that stress increases our desire to consume foods high in fat, sugar, and carbs (Zellner et al., 2006). This means that in times of high stress we are more likely to crave foods that are not within our vegan diets – AND THAT’S OKAY. It is normal!

For example, eating soul food is more than just the food for Black populations. It is about community and relationships (Airhihenbuwa et al., 1996), and in times of high stress eating soul food with those that love you is a cultural way of coping. This means, for Black populations and other groups with similar coping styles, it may be hard to keep a vegan diet when stress arises. That does not mean that it is impossible! That does not mean there is no hope! It does mean that the trouble you may be having is not because you are weak or cannot do it, but due to systematic and scientific phenomena that outline why some times may be harder than others.

Being vegan IS great! Being vegan and Black is also great! Being vegan, Black, and in graduate school halfway across the country from my family is really really difficult. There are times when I fail, but there are more times when I am successful, and I rely on those positive experiences more than the negative ones to keep me going. I remind myself that those perfect people on social media are likely having trouble too. I remind myself of the science, and I remind myself that no matter what I am, vegan or not, my family and friends love me for exactly who I am – and that is what matters!

References

Airhihenbuwa, C. O., Kumanyika, S., Agurs, T. D., Lowe, A., Saunders, D., & Morssink, C. B. (1996). Cultural aspects of African American eating patterns. Ethnicity & Health, 1(3), 245–260. https://doi.org/10.1080/13557858.1996.9961793

Mann, S. (2014). More Than Just A Diet: An Inquiry Into Veganism. Anthropology Senior Theses. Retrieved from https://repository.upenn.edu/anthro_seniortheses/156

Markowski, K. L., & Roxburgh, S. (2019). “If I became a vegan, my family and friends would hate me:” Anticipating vegan stigma as a barrier to plant-based diets. Appetite, 135, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.12.040

Pickett, S., & McCoy, T. P. (2018). Effect of Psychosocial Factors on Eating Behaviors and BMI Among African American Women. Clinical Nursing Research, 27(8), 917–935. https://doi.org/10.1177/1054773817713420

Zellner, D. A., Loaiza, S., Gonzalez, Z., Pita, J., Morales, J., Pecora, D., & Wolf, A. (2006). Food selection changes under stress. Physiology & Behavior, 87(4), 789–793. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.01.014

Grilled Mushrooms with Soba Noodles

Recipe altered from the Thug Kitchen Official Cookbook

Sometimes we find the perfect recipe: Easy, cheap, quick, but not all the ingredients are to our liking. If you’re new to veganism, you’ll find this with lots of your recipes, especially the ones with meat, dairy, or eggs 😉But not to worry! One of the best parts about being a new vegan is getting to try all types of new plant-based foods and selecting your specific style. Once you’ve found your stance in the vegan lifestyle you’ll be able to substitute like a pro.

In this recipe, for example, the original calls for eggplant. Since I don’t like eggplant, I substituted with mushroom and added kale for some extra protein. I also doubled the recipe, so I could meal prep and freeze the extra!

INGREDIENTS

Mushrooms and Marinade

  • 1 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of agave syrup
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
    • Typically, if the minced garlic is from a jar (or pre-minced) I’ll use 1/4 or 1/2 tablespoon per clove – depending on how much you enjoy garlic
  • One 8 oz container of white mushrooms
    • You can use another type of mushroom, for example, sometimes I will use two cubed portabello caps
  • 2 great big bushels of kale

Noodles

  • Two 8 oz packages of soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of basil (fresh preferred)
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds (optional)

PREPARATION

Marinade

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl (or just a regular bowl – it really doesn’t matter what you mix it with as long as it’s mixed)
    • If you plan to pour the marinade on the mushrooms then have two bowls, one for each
    • If you plan to drop-in the mushrooms after they are sliced into the marinade bowl, just make sure the bowl is big enough
  2. Remove your mushrooms from the package and slice them to your desired size
    • If you’re using mushroom caps then cube them, or slice them – this is your world I’m just giving suggestions!
  3. Depending on the amount of time you have you can marinate for 15 minutes all the way to overnight, or while you’re at work, while you’re at the gym after work – The options are endless

Noodles

  1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. DO NOT forget that you have double the noodles so you’ll need to DOUBLE the directions
  2. Drain and rinse with cool water after the noodles are finished, to prevent sticking
    • You also want to prevent the noodles from continuing to cook and becoming too soft. If the noodles are too soft they will begin to crumble and fall apart, which is no fun

Mushrooms

  1. Bring your pan to medium heat
  2. Put oil in the pan to prevent sticking – I use EVOO
  3. Pour the mushrooms and marinade into the pan and let cook until they are the desired tenderness
    • This will take about five to ten minutes if your pan is already hot. If you just turned your pan on before you placed in the mixture it may take longer.

Spinach

  1. If you have fresh kale, still on the stalk, fold the leaf at the stalk (in the middle) put your non-dominant hand on the now exposed stalk and pull the leaves off the stalk with your dominant hand
    • Rip the leaves to the desired size, or cut into your desired size (it is unlikely you will want to eat the whole leaf you’ve just pulled from the stalk in one bite)
  2. Place the kale leaves into a pot
  3. Fill the pot about 3/4 of the way with water
  4. If you have time put the pot on low heat and let cook
    • If you don’t have time, put the pot on high heat and place the kale in the water once it begins to boil
    • Turn the heat down to medium heat and keep a close eye on the leaves until they are your desired texture – Remember the more you cook kale the less nutritional value it has

Have a large bowl on stand-by for when all your steps are complete and you’re ready to combine everything. Enjoy!

Vegan Noodle Soup

So sometimes it’s close to grocery day and you have some random items left in your fridge, not enough to make a meal, but enough to make you feel guilty if you let it go to waste. I personally hate waste. I also hate going to the grocery store so I will eat myself out of house and home before I let anything hit that plastic garbage bag (even if it’s gross) 😉

Anyway, this recipe is a newbie, discovered out of necessity, as most of my meals are, but delicious nonetheless. If you make enough of it you can eat off of it for days. It may make your breath stink, with all that garlic, but a small price to pay compared to $25 for delivery each night, or spending hours you don’t have slaving in the kitchen, wouldn’t you say? I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and most of all, I hope you enjoy how easy it is to make!

INGREDIENTSfullsizeoutput_912

 

  • Whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Ripped kale
  • Baby carrots
  • Extra-firm tofu
  • Vegetable broth
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Brown rice

PREPARATION

Prepare the Tofu:

  1. Drain extra firm tofu using paper towels or a kitchen towel.
    1. Usually, I say “for a minimum of 3 hours,” but because this is a soup dish it is of less importance that the tofu is dry.
    2. Drain and dry the tofu first thing, then cube and add tofu to dish when you hit that step below.

Prepare the Broth:

  1. Half a carton of vegetable broth (or as much as you like, to taste).
  2. Quarter water, in proportion to the amount of vegetable broth.
  3. Bring to a boil, with EVOO, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Put in the brown rice.
    1. If this is stove cooked brown rice it will likely need a while before it gets soft and is ready to eat, however, if it’s microwavable then save this step until last and then add it in at the end…stir…and Bon Appetit!
  2. Put whole baby carrots in a bowl.
    1. Half them, if desired, by simply snapping them in half.
  3. Take three stalks of kale and remove the leaves from the stalks.
    1. Rip the kale leaves into smaller pieces of your desired size with your hands, or cut with a knife if you so choose.
    2. Place the smaller pieces into the bowl with the carrots.
    3. Place the remaining leaves in a Tupperware container for a salad, later recipe, side dish, etc.
  4. Place minced garlic and chopped onions into the bowl.
    1. Remember that both garlic and onions have a pungent taste and smell, so a little goes a long way, but again, add to taste.
  5. Put vegetables into the boiling water and reduce heat to medium-low.
  6. Put a dash of Spice Islands Oregano in the mixture.
  7. Put extra-firm tofu pieces into the mixture.
  8. Let cook for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften.

Prepare the Pasta:

  1. Add spaghetti noodles to mixed vegetables and broth mixture.
  2. Stir frequently and check for noodle tenderness after 10 minutes.
  3. Lower heat and allow soup to sit until you are ready to eat!

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Whether you’re a graduate student, full-time parent, full-time professional, or anywhere along this spectrum, time always seems to be limited. Twenty-four hours is never enough, and making full three to five-course meals every night, well that’s just impossible.

Be You. is here to help, for first-time vegans and veterans looking for easy recipes! Be You. recipes only take about 30 minutes, or less, and are made in large amounts, to last for the rest of the week. Recipes do not have amounts so they can be altered to taste and desired size of the dish. I hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

fullsizeoutput_90c

  • Whole-wheat fusilli
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Sliced mushroom
  • All-purpose flour
  • Dry white wine
  • Vegetable broth
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Broccoli

PREPARATION

Prepare the Pasta:

  1. Boil water with EVOO, salt, and pepper, to taste.
  2. Add pasta and reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Stir frequently and check for noodle tenderness after 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and keep in draining bowl until the vegetables are ready.

***Noodles will continue to cook in the sauce, so remove noodles and drain just before peak tenderness.

Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Put a small amount of EVOO in a large skillet, heat at medium-high.
  2. Put onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a bowl.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash (Table Blend).
  4. Put vegetable mixture in the pan and add a small amount of water to help soften.
  5. Cook and stir until onions and broccoli are soft, and mushrooms have released their liquid.
  6. Add noodles to mixed vegetables.

Prepare the Sauce:

  1. Put flour, wine, broth, salt, pepper, and mustard in a bowl, to taste.
  2. Stir until mixture is thick.
  3. Add water until the mixture is the desired consistency.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Add sauce to vegetable and noodle mixture.
  6. Stir until noodles are tender and the entire mixture is covered with sauce.
  7. Remove from heat.
This recipe is an adaptation of the Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff recipe found on EatWell.com, by Sylvia Fountaine

Teriyaki Tofu

I’m not sure how many of you are new to Be You. or who is an old favorite, so I’ll preface this recipe with some detail 🙂 I just started graduate school again, working towards my Ph.D. and I have never been so busy in my entire life! This obviously leaves no time to stir around in the kitchen and make gourmet meals, so I’ve had to get creative. This recipe is my own version of teriyaki tofu, wild rice, and vegetable stir-fry. It only takes about 30 minutes, with some slight morning prep. I hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTSIMG_0144

  • Extra firm tofu
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sweet Basil
  • Near East – Long Grain & Wild Rice (Original)
  • Cascadian Farm Organic – Chinese Style Stir-fry Blend
  • Mrs. Dash – Table Blend

PREPARATION

Prepare the Tofu:

  1. Drain extra firm tofu using paper towels or a kitchen towel for a minimum of 3 hours. Usually, I will do this before I go to work in the morning: drain package and cover with towels, then placing it back into the refrigerator.
  2. Turn oven to Bake at 350 degrees
  3. Cut dried tofu into cubes or rectangles of your own desired size
  4. Put into a mixing bowl.
  5. Cover tofu with teriyaki sauce – to taste
  6. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, sweet basil, and onion powder to the mixture. Again, this will vary depending on your desired taste.
    1. The previous two steps, for longer pieces of tofu, can be put into a separate bowl and brushed onto each individual piece to make sure the cubes stay intact.
  7. Once finished use hands or seasoning brush to season the mixture and make sure it saturates all of the tofu. Let sit while you prepare the side dishes.
  8. Place each individual piece onto a baking sheet, first adding a non-stick spray or olive oil.
  9. Bake until a golden brown (25-30 minutes) or to desired taste.

To Make The Rice:

  1. Using a medium-sized pan fill about halfway with water and let boil.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  3. Once the water has come to a boil stir in the rice mixture and the seasoning powder.
  4. Decrease temperature to low
  5. Cover and let sit for 27 minutes.

To Make Vegetable Stir-fry:

  1. Using a medium-sized pan fill about halfway with water and let boil.
  2. Add a dash of olive oil.
  3. Add Salt, Pepper, and Mrs. Dash (Table Blend) – to liking
  4. Once the water has come to a boil stir in the vegetables
  5. Decrease temperature to low
  6. Cover and let sit for 27 minutes – Stir Frequently
    1. The directions on the package do not say this! If you would like to go along with what the package says that is more than fine! I tend to do it this way so that everything is ready at about the same time and everything is still hot!

Vegans at The Beach

I’ve always loved the beach more as an idea than in actual reality, and my latest trip to the beach has just solidified my belief. While I enjoyed having family and friends around, relaxing and having a good time, it was almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to eat vegan. We visited Outerbanks, NC, where it seemed like iceberg lettuce was the healthiest item on the menu. Needless to say I was sick most of the trip from the seafood or starve atmosphere, and I can’t be the only vegan out there struggling, so here’s what to know before you go or your loved ones and/or friends take your next vegan trip to a southern beach!

  1. Bring your staple items from home
    1. There is no guarantee that the grocery store near your favorite southern beach will have the plant-based items you are looking for, mostly based on the shoppers demographic. For this reason, be extra cautious and bring with you your favorite must-have foods/condiments.
  2. Grocery shop immediately
    1. This seems like a no-brainer and usual beach protocol, but we always forget something, just human nature, and the last thing you want to do is worry about nothing having something to make your tasty vegan meal or snack, so be sure to hit the grocery store as soon as you’ve put your bags down and groceries in the fridge. This way the rest of your stay will be comfortable and food-stress free!
  3. Bring pre-made meals
    1. Bringing a few pre-made meals will save you a lot of stress and stomach aches. Breakfast was not very difficult to accommodate for due to everyday vegan items like syrup, oatmeal, grits, pancake/waffle mixes, toast, fruit, etc. Lunch and dinner, however, a lot more difficult!
    2. You can choose to eat slightly before everyone leaves for the restaurant and just grab a drink and a side while you’re there, to still be a part of the experience. Or, if you’re feeling bold, you can pack your meal and take it right with you to the restaurant
  4. Research vegan friendly options in the area you plan to vacation
    1. This was my NUMBER ONE MISTAKE! I did not properly research my area before I arrived and ended up having to unhappily “cheat” a lot. I usually am very easy going about restaurant choices because I can typically modify or find a least one item on the menu, but boy was I wrong here. I thought the first time was a fluke, but after the second visit I began to know better and really menu surf before eating out!
  5. Lastly, Take a sigh of relief for desserts!!!
    1. I found lots of non-dairy ice cream options! Other desserts, not so much, but there were lots of sorbets and simple fruit-based dishes, so breathe easy because an ice cream trip with the fam does not have to be anxiety provoking!

Vegan Skincare For Oily/Acne-Prone Skin

So, I mentioned a while back that I had been struggling with an AWFUL bout of acne. I mean when I say awful, picture a little 12-year-old boy that just hit puberty. I mean, it was BAD! I tried all of the products below, but finally I had to go to a dermatologist to get everything under control. It turned out that since I had been having some gastric issues my face had begun to show. If you didn’t know, your face can show signs of gastric problems through acne, blemishes, etc. if you become sick or begin altering your diet in any way that may cause you to become malnourished.

Now, don’t get angry, I am a very healthy vegan and being malnourished was NOT my problem (the blood tests proved it)! When done right, being a vegan is the healthiest diet for a human being, and I highly HIGHLY recommend the transition!

I did, however, have to go on antibiotics for a bacterial infection that had arisen in my skin, due to my stomach problems, and have since been using behind the counter prescription medications to maintain my clear skin. Now, for me, my skin is just way too sensitive at the moment to go without medication. There is not currently anything vegan on the market that can contain my acne and give me continuously good skin, and as you’ll see I have tried A LOT of products. So for those of you that really struggle I would look to a dermatologist first to see if there are any underlying health issues. I would then look to use the below products to maintain clear skin once you have solved your core problems, if there are any. Hopefully, in the future there will be something vegan that can really get at the root of oily/acne-prone skin issues!

That being said, for those of you with moderate to very occasional acne, I say shop away! Consider my recommendations carefully and purchase as you wish! There are some really great alternatives out there for you! Keep in mind I am NOT a dermatologist, but just your everyday girl (adult really *rolls eyes*) with acne issues. Feel free to comment or e-mail with any questions and I hope this is helpful for all our vegan acne sufferers out there, regardless of skin-type!

Hylunia_3-Step Acne Treatment System
1) Hylunia 3-Step Acne Treatment System – $118

  1. This product is good for those with small breakouts every now and then. I had a face full of acne, everywhere from my forehead to my chin, and although this product helped some it was not effective in removing my acne. However, because it did at least help some I would recommend it for those who get a few pesky pimples at one time, and helping to get rid of and prevent those from occurring.

NOW Foods Solutions Dark Spot Serum
2) NOW Foods Solutions Dark Spot Serum – $15.99

2) This product is good for those with small breakouts every now and then. I had a face full of acne, everywhere from my forehead to my chin, and although this product helped some it was not effective in removing my acne. However, because it did at least help some I would recommend it for those who get a few pesky pimples at one time, and helping to get rid of and prevent those from occurring.

Derma E Wipes
3) Derma E Hydrating Facial Wipes with Hyaluronic Acid – 25 Wipes – $7.99

3) These wipes are a staple in my skincare routine. I use them every evening when I come home, to clean my face from all of the oils and dirt that have accumulated throughout the day. Because it does not contain oils it is the perfect purchase for someone who is incredibly oily like I am.

Acure Wipes
4) Acure Organics Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes Fragrance Free – 30 Towelettes – $6.99

4) These wipes ended up making me break-out even more than I already had. Argan oil has a history of working well on acne and facial issues for many people, however, if you have oily skin like I do added extra oil to the mix does not help.

Derma E Eye Cream
5) Derma E Evenly Radiant Dark Circle Eye Crème – $29.95

5) While this product is quite expensive it works wonders under my eyes. As a graduate student with a full-time job and several internships, sleep is not regularly on my agenda. I used to have circles under my eyes that had begun to become discolored, but this crème was senstivie enough to not cause any irritation while also reversing the damage I’d done.

(Not Pictured) Derma E Hydrating Facial Treatment Oil with Organic Argan and Marula Oils – BAD

Terrible for oily skin! This was by far the worst decision I made to try and treat my acne. I have incredibly oily skin and by adding these oils to my daily routine I went from maybe 5 pesky pimples to a face that was so covered at times I looked swollen.

Tea Tree Breakout Blaster
7) Skin by Ann Webb Tea Tree Breakout Blaster – $8.09

7) I really loved this product. I used it before I had my large breakout and it was amazing at zapping zits overnight, and was great for during the day use. It helped to target acne that was arising through the dirt and oil that was accumulating during work and other daily activities.

Alaffia Facial Cleanser
8) Alaffia Skin Recovery Formulas Facial Cleanser Neem & Shea – $13.99

8) I purchased this product because it is specific to oily and acne-prone skin. It is by far the best product I have ever purchased. It is absolutely amazing for those with oily skin and is harsh enough without being overbearing, even in the winter months. I still use this product every day, and plan to continue with it as my staple face wash.

Charcoal Mask
9) Daiso Japan Natural Pack Charcoal Peel Off Mask (4 Tubes) -$19.99

9) Now everyone is talking about these charcoal peel masks, so I had to try them, and believe the hype! While seeing what’s pulled out of your skin is absolutely disgusting, it’s better than leaving it in there. I use this product twice a week, as not to over expose my face and it has helped tremendously!

Live Fresh Natural Blotting Papers
10) Live Fresh Natural Oil Absorbing Blotting Sheets – $5.99

10) These papers, while they only come one pack at a time are incredibly large. One sheet of LiveFresh is equal to two sheets of the Tarte blotting papers. These papers also leave the face with a nice matte finish, and feeling incredibly clean. These are prefered over the Tarte blotting papers, but the Bamboo Charcoal blotting papers are the most effective with the best value.

Pretie Blotting Papers
11) Pretie Asian Bamboo Charcoal Facial Blotting Paper (x2) – $10.85

11) These blotting papers, while not large do coem with two packs. I only ever need one sheet, which is amazing considering how oily my face is. Charcoal has an great effect on pores and skin, so having charcoal infused blotting papers helps tremendously.

Aztec Secret Face Mask
12) Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Deep Pore Cleansing – $14.42

12) This is by far the best face mask I have ever used in my whole life. It is salon quality and incredibly strong and useful for my above averagely oily skin. I only use this mask once a week, on Sundays to get any left over oils and dirt from the other 6 days of the week. I recommend this mask to anyone with incredibly oily and acne-prone skin, such as my own.

Queen Helene Face Mask
13) Queen Helene Facial Masque, Mint Julep – $6.38

13) This masque is great and really strong, but if you use it too much your skin will habituate to it and it will stop being effective. I suggest using this mask less or not at all, if you have a dire need for something to pull dirt and oils from your face.

tarte Blotting Papers
14) tarte Not So Slick Oil-Absorbing Blotting Papers – $4.99

14) These are great for your average oily skin. The absorption of these sheets is not as great as some of the others I’ve used. It’s not worth the money in my opinion, as I’ve found better cloths for a better price. The sheets are small and I have to use a minimum of two on my face to get all of the oil off at once. This can get quite pricey if you have a really oily face.

Desert Essence Oil Control Lotion
15) Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Oil Control Lotion – $9.47

15) This lotion is very effective, but has no SPF coverage. It works well, but for those who live in locations where the sun shines often this may not be the lotion for you. I prefer to use a lotion that also has a high SPF so that I don’t have to overly clog my pores by putting more products than necessary on my hair.

Papaya Enzyme Mask
16) Papaya Enzyme Mask – $47

16) I use this mask every day. It serves as my daily exfoliator. I will use this product after I wipe my face with my facial cleansing wipes. This product restores the skin and hydrates the skin in a way that leaves it nourished, but not oily and pores not clogged. I do plan to try other vegan exfoliators, so I will add those to this list as I experiment with what works best for me!

 

*All pictures were taken from Amazon and did not come from the brand, nor did I receive any compensation for my reviews*

Tofu Ricotta-Stuffed Pasta Shells

Recipe Brought to You by One Green Planet and Rana Yassine

Recipe modified to my taste – as seen in picture

Usually I will make one or two large meal on Sunday nights to last me throughout the entire week. It’s my way of cutting down the cost of being vegan, while also respecting my wallet and not eating out too often! This dish lasted me one full week, and I did not make nor use all of the shells and mixture that I had cooked. This would be a great meal for a vegan family to eat off of, or for my vegan followers who, much like  myself, are trying to stretch meals throughout the week! So of my non-vegan friends and family tasted the dish and found it to be both filling and delicious – Enjoy!

INGREDIENTSIMG_9078

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 14-ounce package of firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 medium portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 large onion, cut finely
  • 1 bag of Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella
  • 1 jar of organic marinara pasta sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

PREPARATION

To Make The Shells:

  1. Cook shells according to package until slightly underdone. Drain and rinse with cool water to prevent sticking
  2. In a pan, cook the onion, portobello mushrooms, and parsley until golden. Once done season with salt and pepper and let sit until cool
  3. Preheat oven to 355°F

To Make The Ricotta:

  1. Put vegan mozzarella (to your liking), onion, portobello mushrooms, and parsley into a large bowl with tofu and use hands to mix together
  2. Mix contents until it consists of small crumbles and all contents are distributed evenly
  3. Put olive oil on the bottom of the rectangular pan, to make sure pasta does not stick to the bottom
  4. Use small spoon or fork (depending on your preference) to fill shells, and place side by side in the pan until the bottom of the pan is completely covered
  5. Sprinkle any leftover “cheese” over the top of the pasta
  6. Pour sauce in the dish to just cover the pasta
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dish is to your liking

Can I Get Some Bacon With My Eggs, Please

Everyone LOVES breakfast! Before I became a vegan breakfast was the number one meal I looked forward to actually having time to make on the weekends. From crispy bacon to eggs, pancakes, and hash browns, it all just sounds so mouth watering! I’m sure not to your surprise however, once I became a vegan it was increasingly hard for me to enjoy my favorite meal. Oatmeal became the staple with toast and fresh fruit. Which sounds amazing when you only have to eat it every once and a while, but when you force yourself to eat it almost every day it gets a little tiresome. So what I did was set out for some vegan breakfast alternatives to bring some excitement back to my breakfast menu. Now, I preface this by saying I suggest these with no dietitian license, but based solely on the recommendations of others, my individual tastes, allergies, health needs, and enjoyment!

What I did first was look on the PETA website. They have some great lists for vegan items you can easily find at your local grocery store. There are bagels, pancakes mixes, bread brands, etc. that are easy to make, find, and low cost. I recommend Melt vegan butter and Follow Your Heart vegan cream cheese, as well as Tofutti vegan cream cheese as basic refrigerator essentials. I’m going to do another post on vegan cheeses, because I have put a lot of work into this search, but one thing I will tell you is that in my opinion, for the new vegan and for many other vegans, Daiya is not a good tasting cheese. It melts very well, but it does not taste good, again in my opinion. I was very disappointed when most of the websites I looked on suggested Daiya and upon purchasing it I had to throw it away, because I just could not eat it. Oh well! A story for another day!

vegan-rice-paper-bacon-3
Image From Shannon @ Yup, It’s Vegan

But two sites that have helped me tremendously with my transition are Vitacost.com and Vegan Essentials. They are both online grocery stores that carry vegan items. Vitacost also carries regular groceries and non-vegan products, but gives you the option to shop explicitly vegan, which I love! Vegan essentials is exactly how it sounds and carries everything from food to clothing, all vegan! I wasn’t too excited when I became forced to start getting a lot of my non-refrigerated products from online stores. I thought the prices would be out of this world, and for Vegan Essentials it is very pricey to shop, but I get most of my items from Vitacost which is very cost effective for the vegan on a budget, like myself. Pictured above we have The Vegg French Toast Mix, which for the price gives you 235 servings of delicious french toast. It is also very easy to make by only using 3 ingredients.

Next, you see Follow Your Heart’s vegan eggs. I was skeptical about this product at first, but now I find that I can’t live without it! The eggs take a little longer to cook, but are incredibly delicious and genuinely comparable to actual eggs. Last pictured above are 3 slices of vegan bacon by Lifelight. Now, when I tell you I am a bacon expert that is no exaggeration. I have tried every type of bacon from Turkey to thick maple, and when I gave up meat I never thought I’d find something even remotely close to my one true love. Guess again! Smart bacon, while different from turkey bacon by having to be cooked on the stovetop, takes just like turkey bacon! Now, if you never liked turkey bacon then I would continue looking for another substitute, but for those of you that do enjoy it look no further!

Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive just because you’ve decided to do your part in saving the world 😉 . It can be exciting and tasty just as it was before, and I’ll be here for new vegan’s in search of advice on transitioning and product/food replacement to help along the way. I thank you for your sacrifice and pray for your good fortune and that you always remember to just Be You.!