Friday, April 18, 2014

Just in time for Easter...Vegan Deviled Eggs

I've always loved the celebrations the surrounded Easter: spending time with family, a big Sunday dinner, and another excuse to wear Lilly. #yes. 

Another reason to love it? The chance to veganize something that I never thought possible: deviled eggs. 

You read that right. 

While I was never a fan of plain hard boiled eggs (the texture...ick), I always liked deviled eggs growing up. During a few family reunions, I got in trouble for eating only the yolk mixture and leaving the egg white on my plate. (Apparently my parents don't sympathize with my texture preferences.)  Naturally, my jaw dropped to the floor when I found this recipe on the Earth Balance website. Tiny potatoes as a substitute for egg? Genius. And unlike many "veganized" recipes of family favorites, this has zero processed ingredients and you probably have most of them sitting in your pantry/fridge already. 

It's called a win-win, people. 

I have to say, these took about 20 minutes to whip up from start to finish. The few that I didn't consume during the taking of these pictures got chopped up and made into a vegan Cobb salad the next day. #yum. 

12 tiny yukon gold potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup veganaise
2 tablespoons softened vegan butter, like Earth Balance
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Paprika, for garnish

1. Bring a large pot of cold water, potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender (about 10 minutes), drain, and set aside. 
2. Combine the veganaise, vegan butter, tumeric, dijon, nutritional yeast, garlic, sea salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. 
3. Add 4 of the potato halves into the filling mixture and process to combine until smooth. 
4. Once the potatoes have fully cooled, pipe or spoon the veganaise mix on top of each potato half and dust with paprika. (If the potatoes haven't cooled, the mixture will melt all over the place.)

This Sunday I'll be headed to Monroe, NC with Patrick to celebrate with his extended family. (Wish me luck!) How will you all be celebrating?

Cheers to Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Workout Inspiration: More At-Home Barre Moves

Despite the fact that it's cold and drizzly outside, I can sense that summer is around the corner. My to-do list at school is shrinking, the sun's out past 7pm, and it's been warm enough for me to go for a few short jogs.

As we say in the South: Thank you, Jesus. (Though it should sound more like thankyaJESUS!)

I can practically smell the sunscreen and over-chlorinated pool water now.

And while I've steadily maintained my 15 lb weight loss, I've also been trying to step it up to get in tip-top shape before warm weather truly sets in. Luckily, Carolina Barre and Core has recently added a new Cardio Fusion class that I've added my rotation, which will hopefully help me to increase my cardio to 3x week in addition to barre 3x week. (When I get serious about something, I get serious, y'all.) If I'm going to have to buy new smaller clothes for summer, I might as well make it count, right?

For those of you who don't live near a barre studio, I've found a few goodies on Pinterest that will help to get you bikini-ready:

This barre-inspired workout seems pretty straightforward but covers all the bases:

I also found the video below on YouTube. If you can get over the sound of running water in the background and the music blaring over her voice, it seems effective and can help you picture what some of the moves above should look like.

Happy barre-ing!

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Spring Break Staycation

Despite the fact that it seemed like it, Spring Break has finally arrived. 

Commence tribal-like dancing around bonfire. (Or living room.) 

This year, I'll be stay-cationing at my humble abode in lieu of some tropical destination. Upcoming weddings and maid of honor responsibilities have directed my funds elsewhere for the time being, and that's just fine with me. 
As much as I love to travel, it's not always relaxing to be someone's guest or venture someplace new. Most random Tuesdays during the school year, all I want to do is drink coffee in bed, go for a leisurely walk, and bury my nose in a book all afternoon. (Note to self: this could be the reason Bravo hasn't contacted you for your own reality show.) Oh, and be able to wash, dry, fold, and put away a load of laundry in the same 24 hour period. It's the little things, people. 

Besides the fact that teacher funds don't exactly lend themselves to world travel, I'm also the type that would rather take shorter, more frequent weekend trips than one or two weeklong vacations a year.

For me, the real challenge of a staycation is not overscheduling myself. Without work, it's tempting to fill up every hour of the day with "busy", whether it's working out, meeting a friend for coffee, or running errands. The beauty of staying home this week is that I'm supposed to have hours upon hours wherein I simply ask myself: what would you like to do next?

My life may not look like the cover of Conde Nast Traveler, but that's just fine with me. Because at Hotel de Ensley the beds are comfortable, peace and quiet abound, and the margaritas are made just to my liking.

Happy staycation, indeed.

Cheers to Spring Break!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes

There are very few things Southerners love more than sweet potatoes. (Besides maybe moonshine and fried chicken, natch.) We bake them, make french fries out of them, and (most importantly) smother them with pecans and brown sugar for Thanksgiving. Heck, we'd probably mash 'em and rub them all over our faces and hair if someone told us to. (Antioxidants, anyone?) 

Plus, there's that teeny-tiny superiority complex that comes from knowing you're eating a superfood. 

What I personally love about baked sweet potatoes is they can easily be their own meal with the addition of a few extra ingredients, and they feel infinitely more satisfying than a plain ol' white potato. Turns out, they don't need all that (vegan) butter and brown sugar that I mix them with at Thanksgiving and can be perfectly flavorful on their own. 

For this recipe, I baked all four potatoes on a Sunday afternoon, then just assembled and reheated as the week went on. (Without meals like this, I probably wouldn't eat anything other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Monday-Friday.) The slight crunch of the broccoli, the heft of the black beans, and the sweetness of the sweet potato all mingle together so perfectly that, if they hadn't been so filling, I wouldn't have been able to have just one. 

Loaded Baked Sweet Potato

4 medium/large sweet potatoes, scrubbed, rinsed, and dried (no wet skin in the oven!) with holes poked in sides with a fork
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets
Water for steaming (how much depends on the size of your sauce pan)
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 container vegan sour cream, like Follow Your Heart (my neighborhood grocery store now carries this) 
Lemon slices (optional) 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. 
2. Place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. (I then laid down and "rested my eyes" in the living room where I could easily hear the oven timer.)
3. Flip them and bake for 30 more minutes (or 20 if they are smaller than your palm)

4. While potatoes are baking, bring 3/4 to 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan. If you're like me and don't have a steamer, place broccoli florets directly into the water. 
5. Reduce broccoli heat to medium and steam 5-6 minutes, or until you can just pierce with a fork (I like my broccoli on the firmer side). 
6. Remove from heat and drain any excess water. 

7. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool. 
8. To assemble: slice slightly cooled potatoes down the middle, sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of beans, a handful of broccoli, and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. Drizzle with lemon juice if so inclined (which you should be, since it's delicious.)
9. Enjoy! 

Serves 4.

Cheers to healthy meals!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Favorite Tinted Moisturizer

Finding the perfect tinted moisturizer is tough. Finding the perfect tinted moisturizer from a company that doesn't test on animals is even tougher. Besides being hard to find (most drugstore and department store brands test on animals), cruelty-free makeup brands are often more expensive and don't offer samples so that you can try before you buy. 

Enter Paula's Choice. Created by my favorite beauty author (if you haven't read The Beauty Bible, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore), the products are fragrance free (no patchouli oil here) and cruelty-free. While you have to order online, most of the products are available in sample sizes for $0.80. (You read that right.) 

I also have acne-prone, combination skin that doesn't do well with every product. (Acne + dryness? Not a pretty combination.) Finding new skin care products is generally not a fun process. 

Luckily, I discovered her Barely There Sheer Matte Tint SPF 30.  It's sheer, but definitely provides coverage. It was moisturizing but not greasy, and it didn't make me break out. #holla.
{find it here}

I literally went through tubes of the stuff. When I wanted a little more coverage, I'd just use my BareMinerals over it for a more "foundation-y" look. 

Sadly, they've been out of stock of my shade for what seems like months now, but I won't be deterred. I've just been making my own version by combining a few drops of their Best Face Forward Foundation SPF 25 with my Trader Joe's enrich SPF 15 face lotion. (Which isn't too moisturizing for the oily side of my combo skin, FYI.) 

There are some benefits to just mixing my own, mainly being that I control the coverage and can amp it up for a night out. 

And once the Sheer Tint is available again? I'll be smart enough to stock up this time. 

Do you have a particular favorite makeup brand? 

Cheers to cruelty-free beauty!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gluten & Allergen Free Event + Top 5 Vegan & GF Finds

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event here in Charlotte. While I haven't yet declared myself gluten free, I have been researching more how gluten affects the thyroid (I had my thyroid partially removed in 2008) and it ain't good. More on that later.

More than anything, I wanted to find gluten free products that were also available to vegans. Unfortunately, I find that the two tend to be mutually exclusive, and it's difficult to find products and recipes that cater to both. When visiting vendors at the event, I was shocked at how few of them knew whether or not their product was vegan. (Shouldn't you know the ingredients of what you're selling at an allergen free event?) And while many products such as granola bars or cookies were labeled "dairy free", they still contained egg. (Sigh.)

Luckily, there were more than a few great companies that not only spouted off their ingredient list to me, they even told me to avoid certain products of theirs that contained honey. (Now that is understanding veganism.) Of course, there were also a few all-vegan brands where that wasn't a concern!

Throughout the day, I was lucky enough to stumble across 5 brands/products that I'll keep coming back to:

1. Simply Gluten Free Magazine. The editor in chief, Carol Kicinski, spoke at the event and let's just say I was impressed. Also impressive? The magazine labels all of the recipes that are vegan, and provides a substitutions page so that you can easily convert recipes that aren't. Amazing. 
2. Bakery on Main Chocolate Almond Granola Bars. One of the only GF brands I found that was smart enough to use flax seed in their ingredients instead of egg. And these literally tasted like soft chocolate chip cookies. Pretty sure I ate more than one sample. Or three. 
3. Garden of Life Beyond Organic Raw Protein. I'm already a big fan of this brand after having read "The Raw Truth" by founder Jordan Rubin. I currently take their Raw Iron supplement and have used their greens powder in my morning protein smoothie. I'll be picking up a few more individual packs of this protein powder to travel with this weekend. 
4. Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame. All I'll say is this: thank goodness for 100 calorie packs. #yum.
5. Eat Your Vegetables Sea Salt Chips. Chips are something I've tried to clean out of my cabinets, but this snack pack has only 70 calories. A little better than a half a bag of tortilla chips, and can be a treat when I just need a little crunch. 

The beauty of foods that are vegan and gluten-free is that they can be shared by all. You don't have to be gluten-free to enjoy a delicious baked sweet potato, and you don't have to be vegan to enjoy a fruit smoothie. Everyone can eat and enjoy those foods. Hopefully, as people become more aware of the benefits of a vegan and gluten-free diet we'll see more products available that work for both. Until then, I'll keep searching. 

Cheers to health!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fashion Friday: #buymelilly

But seriously, y'all. I like, need this stuff. There's just something about spring that makes me crave Lilly, Lilly, and more Lilly. (Ok fine. It happens in summer, fall, and winter too.)

I made the mistake of trying this dress on in the store, and between the neckline and the spray tan I was rockin' at the time it was perfect. Unfortunately, every event I go to has something to do with a wedding, so I'd never be able to wear it anyways. Sigh.

{Lilly Pulitzer Pearl Shift Dress $278}

With summer (slowly, so slowly) approaching, all I can think about is sipping gin and tonics from these while sitting on my back porch:
{Insulated Tumblers, $25}

Once it's warm out, I plan to start running once a month more often. These? Would totally motivate me. 
{Earbuds with pouch, $28}

And obviously I would be way more organized if I only had these beautiful glass trays to stick keys and mail in. #duh. 
{Glass Catchall Tray, $34}

Considering my lowly teacher's salary, I'll keep dreaming. Plus, I need to be saving for new clothes to fit my newly size 8 bod! 

Happy Friday, y'all!


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