Product Review: PaperlessKitchen Skoy Cloths

Feel guilty about the amount of paper towels you need to use to clean up a spill? Want something easy and reusable to wash dishes with that doesn’t get smelly or worn out like a regular sponge? 

PaperlessKitchen Skoy Cloths

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 PaperlessKitchen sent me a sample of their Skoy cloths a while back, and ever since they have been a big part of my daily cleaning needs.  When dry, they have a stiffer, less flexible consistency, but when doused with water or put on a spill to absorb the liquid, these guys soak up a lot!  Made from cellulose of sustainable plants and water-based inks, Skoy Cloths are eco-friendly and also biodegradable.  According to their website, these guys can decompose in as little as 5 weeks!  Also, each one prevents the use of 15 rolls of paper towels, which when you think about it is a crazy amount of paper towels.  And money spent on just paper towels…
I’ve used these guys to wash dishes, wipe down counters, even clean my laptop screen!  If you squeeze out most of the water, you’re left with a mildly damp towel that can be used for wiping down more delicate surfaces, and that doesn’t leave streaks or residue like a paper towel might.  If your Skoy cloth starts to look a little bit dirty, no problem.  You can wash them, and also microwave them to zap off any germs.  Otherwise, they dry out on their own, and return to their original, more rigedy state and are ready to soak up more liquids as soon as you are.  One other cool feature I noticed was that when washing dishes with food residue left on it (I noticed it mostly with peanut butter), the substance came off of the cloth relatively easily.  I just rinsed it under the sink and it came right out, rather than absorbing into the cloth or making a mess.
If you’re shopping around for a new for a green cleaning product, I really recommend Skoy Cloths. They’re cheap, sustainable, and great for both the planet and your wallet.  Sounds like a great buy to me!

Stay tuned for a possible Skoy Cloth giveaway and coupon code in the near future!

Excalibur is here!

I finally have my Excalibur dehydrator after snagging it pretty cheap on a 4th of July Sale, and for the past week I’ve been experimenting with different raw recipes!

Raw Pizza

One thing that I’ve been eager to make is raw pizza – it looks super pretty on any of the websites I’ve looked at recipes on, and I’m sure it tastes as good as it looks.  Now I can dehydrate crust and jump on the raw pizza bandwagon!  I spent quite a while looking for an easy recipe with relatively few ingredients to try out, and I found one at The Rawtarian. I didn’t have all of the herbs she used, so I added an Italian spice blend from Aldis.  I also added in a few handfuls of hemp seeds, and although not raw, some wheat germ, in an attempt to give it a pizza-doughy flavor.  When I came back to my room after a few hours of dehydrating, my room smelled like fresh baking herb bread! I was nervous to leave it on while I was sleeping, so I unplugged it after they’d been drying for about 7 hours, and turned it back on in the morning for about 2 more hours.  The only thing with the recipe that confused me was that she wasn’t very clear about what temperature to start out dehydrating at, unless I missed it… 😡 But I used 115, and then lowered it to 105 like she said.  With the amount of dough the recipe made, I was able to make 2 medium sized and 3 smaller crusts that were about 1/4 inch thick.  I tried one out with some hummus and chopped veggies, and loved the flavor and the texture – can’t wait to try making some sauce and raw cheese to go along with it!

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Raw Bagels

Along with raw pizza, a dehydrator also means raw breads, crackers and bagels!  I’ve been using Eziekiel bread for the most part, but it can get to be pretty expensive.  Since I usually eat bread in the morning, I decided to give bagels a try as well.  Like pizza, many of the recipes involved a lot of ingredients and didn’t sound good to me.  I adapted this recipe from Women Go Raw, soaking a combination of oat groats, hard wheat berries, buckwheat, and 7 grain cereal overnight. I processed them with the dates, and made them into bagel-y shapes for drying.  They look like they might not cut in half nicely like a regular bagel, but almond butter can definitely still be spread on the top, which is the best way to eat bagels 🙂

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Coconut Milk Yogurt

Like I mentioned in my last blog, I planned on giving coconut milk yogurt a try. Cultures for Health, the company I bought my vegan yogurt starter from, has a recipe right on their site for making non-diary yogurts.  I followed their recommendations, using tapioca starch as the thickener, and my dehydrator as the incubator.  If all goes well, I’d like to strain it with cheese cloth to get a Greek yogurt texture, and maybe add in some agave or jam for added flavoring. For now, I just used 2 cans of a Taste of Thai unsweetened coconut milk.  I read on another blog that when using canned coconut milk in your yogurt, it’s best to choose ones with the full fat content, and that have no added ingredients other than guar gum, which is a thickener.

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I was able to make the pizza crusts at school, but I decided to wait until I was home for the weekend before trying out the bagels and the yogurt.  Mainly it’s because I don’t have a food processor anymore (I killed my $10 one trying to make brownies…oops), and I also needed to buy a candy thermometer so I didn’t culture the yogurt at the wrong temperature. Even vegan bacteria can spoil, apparently..

I will be honest that my percentage raw dwindled quite low for a few weeks, with a camping trip, hormones and cravings, grad parties and other summer festivities.  The last week or so I’ve been doing a pretty good job at eating more raw foods, and mixing random things from the fridge, like a zuchinni noodle, avocado, cucumber, sprouted lentil and chick pea mixed salad with hummus for a dressing.  When I go home for the weekend I try to clean out or eat as much as I can, so I decided to throw a bunch of things together for lunch Friday.  I was surprised at how good it tasted!  I’ve been using Oasis hummus lately, and I really like that it’s so low in calories and fat.  Normally I’m skeptical of such things, but I noticed that tahini is surprisingly absent from the list of ingredients, which is where a lot of the fat in hummus comes from.  It doesn’t have such a creamy texture, but I think the flavor makes up for it.

So far, I’m impressed with my Excalibur, and excited to try out more recipes.  I think kale chips might be my next experiment with it. Kale salad is great, but anything in snack form is always better.

Coocoo for Coco(nut)

It’s hot.  It’s been hot for days, and it’s going to keep being hot.  (New York hot, I should add – not Arizona hot…so I shouldn’t really be complaining.) With the amount of rain we’ve had – enough to cause detrimental, home-destroying floods- you’d think that there’d be enough water to go around; however, my school is actually on a water conservation order because of a water main break.  Ironic timing.  The heat and humidity make it more important than ever to make sure you’re getting enough hydration to help keep a clear, healthy mind and body.  At this point, I feel like there is not enough time in the day or room in my stomach to drink as much water as my body feels like it needs.  This afternoon, I decided to go for some super-charged hydration with a coconut water, cucumber, and strawberry smoothie.

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My cucumbers haven’t been put to good use this week, so I decided a smoothie would be a great way to eat them before they go bad; plus, they add even more water and hydrating benefits.  I’m on a strawberry kick it seems, so I decided to throw in 4 or 5 fresh strawberries as well.  Also, I feel like lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had as much time to prepare and eat as many fruits and vegetables as I would like to.  This smoothie also solved that problem, giving me a serving of fruit, vegetables, and some potassium from the coconut water.

Speaking of coconuts, I recently gave Greek Style coconut yogurt a try, vegan but not raw, and I was reminded of how much I love and miss yogurt.  However, after eating a Chobani yogurt at a friend’s house, I came to terms with the fact that my stomach has re-adjusted to disliking dairy – a good thing
in my book, because that means I’ve been doing a good job
at avoiding it.

coco-yogurt-greek-plainCoconut milk yogurt is a great alternative, but at Hannaford’s where I found it, it’s $2 for that small, single serving container.  It would cost me $14 a week to have one every day, and even if I only bought 3 it still doesn’t seem worth it for the amount you get.  I did my research, and discovered that Cultures for Health has a vegan yogurt starter for $8.99.  Each box comes with 8 packages of yogurt starter, and each package makes 1-2 quarts of yogurt.  I can make up to 16 quarts of yogurt for less than it would cost me to buy 7 small containers of So Delicious that would only last me a week!  Once my Excalibur dehydrator arrives (more about that once it gets here, but I’m excited for new recipes!), I plan on using that to incubate the yogurt.  Mix in some fruit, and it will be a home-made, vegan yogurt treat!  And one less thing to cheat with dairy for! (I need to start finding good raw ice cream recipes, that’s my only remaining weakness.

Stay posted for a blog on my dehydrator, product reviews, and yogurt making soon!

Beauty Without Cruelty

Being vegan is not necessarily just a characterization of what you put into your body, but also on it.  There are a variety of harmful chemicals that we apply to our skin in our makeups, lotions, soaps and other beauty products, and many of them are derived from animal sources.  Also, before many of these products are approved for testing, they are tested on animals, who are subjected to the physical effects of these toxic substances before humans are.  I  could spend quite a long time talking about the various examples of animal cruelty in both the food and health industries, but instead I am going to talk about a company, Beauty without Cruelty that markets its products as 100% cruelty free, meaning that none of them have been tested on animals. PETA-Cruelty-Free-LogoIf you check out their site, you will see that they have a wide variety of entirely vegan and cruelty free color cosmetics, hair, skin, and body care products. Not only are they good for the animals who they are sparing being tested on, but these products are also free from synthetic and engineered fragrances, parabens, and several other chemicals that are harmful to our skin. Because I wanted to show how being vegan isn’t just about what you’re eating, I decided to give this brand a try – they were even nice enough to send me one of their lip glosses free to review for you!

540v00Because lip gloss and chapstick is so easily absorbed into your lips, and often taken into your mouth when you talk and eat, I am more picky about what kinds I use.  I’m also big on natural looking make up, so I decided I’d try their neutral Apricot Shimmer shade.  I think that it’s not as dark as it appears in the picture, and a bit more shimmery, but I didn’t have a problem with that.  It matched my natural lip color quite well, giving it an added shimmer.  The consistency is not super glossy, which I also like because it stayed on longer than something wetter might have.  Also, I’m not a fan of super-shiny lips.  I brought it along with me on a week long camping trip (that’s where I’ve been all this time X: ) and found that it didn’t make me look over done for the setting.  The tone matched well with my Physician’s Formula nude palette, so if you use similar colors in your eye make up, then this lip gloss matches perfectly.  While this one is great for every day use, they also have it in six other shades – perfect for any occasion.

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 If you’re interested in using your buying power to support cruelty-free products that are also healthy for your skin and body, give Beauty Without Cruelty a try.  Their items are a little bit more expensive, but for the quality product you are getting, they’re definitely worth it.

I’m Gonna Pop Some Raw Food Tags – Only need $49 in my pocket

Macklemore-Thrift-Shop-e1349215609811Hey Macklemore, wanna go raw foods shopping?
What what? What? What?
(Ditch the fur fox skin though, plz and I’ll pretend that’s beet juice you are drinking).

For a while, I had a problem shopping at Forever 21 online without justifying the ‘Free Shipping on orders over $50’ thing to myself; why not get some more clothes with that $7 shipping, even if it means spending more money overall?  Okay, so it doesn’t make perfect sense, especially in terms of trying to save money.  But now that I’m going high raw, I’ve discovered Vitacost and it’s magic ‘Free Shipping on orders over $49’ rule, and my cart quickly has gone from raw nori wrappers and more kelp noodles to…a raw food party. I’ve traded in and out a variety of items, from black sesame seeds to shredded coconut and garbanzo beans.  I’m still not completely decided on what I want to get, but as my pantry starts to drain after almost 3 weeks, I’m starting to realize it’s better to buy larger quantities, even if it means more money, because things will last longer.  Also, some of the things I bought at my local health foods store cost dollars more for less weight of product than on Vitacost!  My biggest surprise was hemp seeds, which I paid $9.99 for an 8 oz bag of Nuvitas Naturals.  Vitacost brand certified raw organic hemp seeds cost $8.88 for a full pound!  No hesitation there. Same thing with Chia seeds – $9.99 for 8 oz.  Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds are $9.99 for a full pound as well.
The first bag of kelp noodles I bought were from Amazon, and I paid $6.99 for a 16 oz bag.  At Vitacost, I can get a 3 pack of Sea Tangle’s 12 oz kelp noodles for $12.27 – 36 oz of noodles for $12.27 versus 32 oz for $13.98 (if I bought two bags of the first kind I tried) – more noodles for your dollar!
Because I’ve been a little too enthusiastic about raw desserts in my first two weeks (none this week – trying to recover from a graduation party this weekend that was a a vegarawatarian failure…), I’m running pretty low on agave.  I originally bought this 11.75 oz bottle from my health foods store for $4.29.  I will be getting 2 bottles of that size for $7.18.  It is worth noting that the company does make bigger bottle sizes; however, the next biggest size is 23.5 oz, the same size as two smaller bottles, and at my health foods store the larger bottle costs almost $8.  Not a huge savings, but anything counts!
I’ve still got about $10 to go until free shipping, and I’m not sure what to use it for.  This is one of the times where my brain tells me I’m better off just paying the $4.99 shipping and saving $5 since there is nothing else I really want.  Whenever I pay for shipping I feel like I’m paying for air, which is wrong of me because I know that it costs a lot of money for those things to travel to me, a lot of gas, a lot of emissions put into the atmosphere, so really I am paying to put more bad things into the air.  But if I buy an extra product, I’m still stimulating the economy in some confusing, complex way, aren’t I?

For now, I’m going to go and figure out how to spend my last $10 (and get Thrift Shop out of my head).  Keep checking back – within the next month I will be reviewing some vegan beauty products and other eco-friendly goodies!

Muesli Problem

I think I like muesli too much, to the point where it could become a problem.  I first had it quite a few years ago out of a box from Price Chopper, and because it can be pricey I have only gotten it on random occasions, despite the fact that I could probably eat it for all three meals.  Within the last few months, I bought Bob’s Red Mill Muesli – about $4 for an 18 oz bag.  It’s amaazing with almond milk! 1183C18_s_hr
On my first week going raw, I realized I had a bunch of nuts, berries, seeds, and oats that could combine to make my own muesli – yum yum.  So why not make my own? At first, I just mixed enough for my breakfast that morning, but then I decided to make a bigger batch of it.  As always, I just dump a little bit of each into the bowl, mix it around with my hands, eat some also with my hands, and then store for later!  Easy, cheap, and can be made a variety of ways – also a great afternoon snack.

  • Rolled oats
  • Goji berries
  • Dried cranberries
  • Golden raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried coconut
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In the future, I’d also like to try making it with some chopped almonds or walnuts, and experimenting with different grains. I’ll have to start looking into that.  

I made a big batch last night to have for the week, and to take on a camping trip with me next week!  But who knows if it will last until then…

Butterflies and Kelp Noodles – A Day of New Things

IMG_0621IMG_0620prd_018968When I signed up to help plant lupines with The Nature Conservancy at the Rome Sand Plains at the end of last week, the forecast seemed a little iffy; I was really thinking we’d get rained out.  (Good thing it wasn’t today – the forecast is calling for floods).  But thankfully, yesterday was the first sunshiney day Upstate New York has seen in quite a while – sadly enough for the middle of June.  So rather than heading over to the science building to read more about lead, I joined my biology professor, another student from my project, and about 15 other volunteers in planting lupines to help sustain the frosted elfin butterfly population in this unique ecosystem. Not the prettiest of the butterflies, but still a cute little guy!
My project partner and I helped one of the women from the Nature Conservancy pick up trash down by a small pond that people party near.  The plains are often used by ATV-riders, who kick up the sand to make banks to ride on, shoot clay pigeons, and leave beer cans everywhere.  In just a couple hours, we were able to clean up two bags of trash while the others planted about 100 lupine plants!  It was a very successul, fun morning, and I met some very sweet, diverse people.  In September, they are going back to clean up more trash and check on the lupines, and I plan on joining them again.
When I got back to campus, I found that the Gold Mine kelp noodles and RAW Protein Powder I ordered from Amazon had arrived in the mail, so my day of trying out new things continued into my dinner preparations!  IMG_0624
While waiting for soil samples to be analyzed, I looked around for some good Asian-inspired kelp noodle sauce recipes that I had the ingredients for.  It seemed like I had a pieces of all of them, so I decided to combine and make my own!  When I first opened the noodles, I was pretty nervous.  They looked and tasted like plastic; I told my boyfriend that it was like eating a rubber band, and he laughed at me for eating them anyways. Before using them, I rinsed them really well with warm water, and then let them soak while I was making the sauce.  I grabbed whatever pieces of recipes I had, and threw them all in the food processor.  I am not big on actually measuring ingredients, but rather eyeballing what I think will taste good/be enough for me, so my recipe went something like:

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  • almond butter
  • coconut oil
  • fresh ginger
  • tamari
  • water
  • sesame seeds
  • raw honey
  • lemon juice

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I originally didn’t add any honey, but when I tasted it, there was a bitter taste that I didn’t like.  I mixed in a bit of raw honey, and the problem was solved! Once I drained the noodles, I mixed in the sauce, some chopped bell peppers, carrots, some bean sprouts, and leftover Almond Parmesan cheese from my Mac n’ Cheese recipe, and had a yummy, filling, kelp noodle dinner!

I went online to see about ordering more noodles in bulk, but after reading the Amazon reviews I was directed to a video that showed how kelp noodles are not as raw, natural, or safe as people think they are.  I decided to do some hunting today on my own and found that I’m even more confused now; Sea Tangle’s FAQs seemed to put my worries to rest, but how do I know that they’re being honest about how they produce their noodles?  Why do they look, taste, and smell like plastic before you do something with them?  I am a little bit skeptical to finish the pack that I have and to buy more, but…they were so good!

Note: The picture of the flowering lupines is courtesy of the Nature Conservancy’s website and is not mine.  The rest are!