Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Easy Vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwich


  • 1, 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 tbsp vegan mayo
  • 1-2 celery stalks, cut into bite size chunks
  • 1/4-1/2 orange bell pepper, cut into bite size chunks
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • pepper to taste


  1. Mash drained chickpeas in a medium bowl using a potato masher or fork. Mash until beans make a sort of paste with themselves- ok to have some larger chunks.
  2. Stir in vegan mayo, celery, and orange bell pepper.
  3. Mix in smoked paprika and pepper. Add more smoked paprika and pepper if needed. ????
  4. Serve on whole wheat bread or bread of choice with a side salad and your favorite vegetable chips ????


  1. Toasting your bread gives a whole new dimension to your sandwiches; I highly recommend it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to add more smoked paprika or pepper. Seasonings should be adjusted to what you like! ????
  3. Try this between 2 pieces of bread and your favorite melted vegan cheese. ????
  4. Try leftovers on crackers for a snack the next day.
agriculture cows curious pasture
Nutrition and Food

Animal-Sourced Ingredients

Eliminating animal products from your diet is a process. The more you learn the easier it becomes to be label savvy. Here are some common ingredients in some foods that you may not realize are not vegetarian and/or vegan friendly. Checking for ingredients requires reading the ingredients portion of the nutrition label. This is not a comprehensive list of all animal ingredients, but is instead a curated short list for those new to plant-based eating and deciding which category they fall into.


Gelatin is the collagen from animal body parts. Gelatin is used as a gelling agent in foods and also as a thickener or stabilizer. Gelatin can be found in Jell-o, marshmallows, many gummy candies including candy corn, gelatinous desserts, most gel capsule medications, and even sometimes in ice cream and yogurts! Luckily there are vegan and vegetarian friendly options for some of these foods including vegan marshmallows, yogurts and ice creams.


Rennet is found in many cheeses and is derived from the stomach of a calf. It is used to thicken the milk during the cheesemaking process. This means that many cheese options available on the market are not vegetarian friendly. To know if a cheese product has animal rennet or a microbial or vegetable rennet requires reading the ingredients label. If the rennet the cheesemaker used is vegetarian friendly, it will say whether it’s microbial or vegetable rennet. Another tip is that usually if the ingredients label uses the word “enzymes” or simply “rennet”, this is likely animal rennet and not vegetarian friendly.


Honey is produced by honey bees. This makes it an animal product. Bees produce it and we steal it. Therefore consuming honey exploits the work of bees. There’s also issues with how the bees are treated. Many large scale bee operations can harm the bees, which would again be an argument against the use of honey. But within the vegan community you will find that some individuals allow honey. Remember that when someone identifies themselves as vegan, this includes their lifestyle. Like anything in life there are elements that make a vegan lifestyle contradictory, but that’s for another post. I firmly believe that individuals can make exceptions for certain products without being considered fake or not truly vegan. But I digress. For now just know that honey is technically not vegan but is vegetarian friendly.

Shellac / Confectioner’s Glaze

Confectioner’s glaze (also known as shellac) is used to give foods a shiny appearance. Shellac is hardened Kerria lace bug secretions and therefore not vegan friendly. You can find shellac in many candies like jelly beans and malted milk balls. Whether or not this ingredient is vegetarian friendly is somewhat up for debate. Shellac isn’t made from the Kerria bug bodies but from the bug’s secretion. This makes it similar to honey as honey isn’t made from bee bodies but from the work the bees have conducted.

Want more?

Two of the most comprehensive lists I’ve found are available on and Remember that lists of animal products are meant to be a guide and not necessarily a rule. You ultimately decide what ingredients are acceptable for you.

Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake ???? Day?!

OMG, apparently today is Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! I didn’t even know this is a thing, but the timing is perfect! Here is an amazing vegan no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe I followed last week that I highly recommend. It was so good that my husband and I devoured it quicker than I’d like to admit. ????

You won’t be sorry. This recipe definitely requires a good blender though and you all know I love my blendtec. It made preparation really easy. My particular model is full price but Amazon has this model on special for only $259.99 today! That’s almost 50% off!!

I didn’t know how much I missed a good cheesecake until I made this recipe. Not particularly interested in pumpkin spice stuff? Simply follow the recipe as is, omit the pumpkin spice and pumpkin, and use your favorite fruit for the top layer instead! ????

person holding sliced vegetable
Nutrition and Food

Getting Started on a Plant-Based Diet

Switching your diet to being more plant-based can be overwhelming; there are numerous external factors and personal reasons for making a diet and lifestyle change. The first step is to critically analyze where you are with your current diet and decide what your goal is. Check out this post if you want to read a break down of the various types of plant-based diets. One size does not fit all and can even vary throughout our lifespan. 

Do you currently eat a mostly meat diet? Maybe a good start is becoming a flexitarian or pesco-vegetarian. Are you currently lacto-ovo vegetarian thinking about making the switch to vegan? Try eliminating dairy and eggs one at a time rather than both at once. No matter where you are on the plant-based diet spectrum, it’s important to be realistic with yourself and set achievable goals. Know which foods you’re just not ready to give up or try substitutions for.

How I transitioned to a vegan diet

Using myself as an example, I spent over a decade as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I loved cheese and eggs and the substitutions on the market were not nearly as good as they are now. For many reasons I eventually decided that I wanted to eliminate those products from my diet. Having to choose between eggs and dairy, I decided removing eggs first was the best way for me to be successful in my quest to eating a diet free of all animal products. I mean honestly, eggs aren’t very appetizing if you really think about where they come from. But I’ll keep my personal opinions of foods to myself so that I don’t accidentally ruin one of your favorites. The point is I knew that I liked my dairy products more than eggs and wasn’t ready to use plant-based substitutions. Giving up the eggs first enabled me to continue working toward a vegan diet.

I also found it helpful to continuously remind myself why I was choosing to eliminate all animal products from my diet. Remembering your why for changes you’re making in your life helps to keep you going. There will be a time when someone starts asking you why you’re giving up animal products and you don’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to. But if you do, please remember to explain your choice in a kind and non-judgmental way. The pretentious attitude, name calling and judgement that has traditionally been paired with veganism can unfortunately turn many people off from all of it’s good points. Be kind, always.

Is there a shortcut?

By simply increasing the amount of fruits/vegetables/legumes on your plate, you can work toward making plant-based eating your new diet choice. Increasing plants in your diet can mean for you that you’re increasing the quality of the plants you choose to eat. At mealtime take a quick inventory of your plate to make sure you have balance (think vegetables/fruit, protein, healthy fat). Cater your goals to where you are. If you’re still insisting that corn is the only vegetable you’ll eat, maybe start by making your first goal be to try having leafy greens or broccoli instead. Be realistic with yourself; you don’t have to change everything all at once to achieve your goal.

Working on your diet quality along with your diet label goals can help you find your optimum eating style without being overwhelmed. Lifestyle changes aren’t one size fits all; do what’s right for you. I strongly believe that if you don’t like a certain vegetable, you probably haven’t yet had it prepared in a way that you find appealing. Broccoli is a perfect example. Steamed broccoli is boring and gross. But roasted broccoli with some spices and a light amount of olive oil brings out a whole new flavor profile! You might have a new favorite food if you’re willing to try it prepared new ways. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your food.

Find substitutions

Another important strategy is to find plant-based substitutions that you enjoy. Because the demand for vegan options has pushed the food industry to create more palatable options it’s a lot easier now to find one that you’ll like. A few years ago, I remember trying to eliminate dairy products from my diet, but the choices for plant-based milks and ice creams left me with mostly only soy to choose from. Now the options are endless! You can have oat milk, almond milk, pea milk (don’t knock it until you try it), and even hemp or hazelnut milk and the texture of many vegan products is just like the dairy equivalent you’re used to! Keeping an open mind to the options available on the market will improve your chances of success.

Create a community

Talk about your plant-based diet goals with your friends and family or others who may be supportive. Share with people why you want to make the switch, what changes you’ve made, and how you plan to keep yourself accountable. Talk about the awesome new products you found at your local store. Making permanent big lifestyle changes is less difficult when you have a solid support system.

My husband is a perfect example of the importance of keeping an open mind to new products. He refused to have vegan dairy products after he once caught me giving him Daiya shredded cheese in a quesadilla. No matter how much I tried to convince him that there might be another brand he would enjoy, he refused to try another vegan cheese. He insisted that all vegan cheeses are “gross”. I continued to buy dairy products for him and vegan dairy options for me. But I wasn’t giving up, and the day came that I decided to try being sneaky again. I made both of us vegan grilled cheese sandwiches and didn’t say anything. He thought it was so delicious that he didn’t believe me when I told him it was vegan cheese. The power of being open and not giving up after one bad experience can make all of the difference. For those curious, the grilled cheese that changed his mind was made with Miyoko’s pepper jack cheese.

Be kind to yourself

Remember that making any change requires patience. It takes time for your new diet and lifestyle changes to become your new habits. Don’t berate yourself if you make a “mistake.” No one is perfect and you’ll learn strategies and words along the way that will minimize plant-based diet blunders. You decide what plant-based diet works best for you and how to best incorporate it into your life.

Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Banana Nice Cream


  • frozen banana ???? chunks
  • 1-2 tbsp of your favorite plant-based milk (I really like Ripple) ????



  1. Place frozen banana chunks ???? in your blender (I recommend a Blendtec and I use the twister jar for this recipe). The quantity of banana pieces you use depends on total servings you’re trying to make. I recommend using 1/2-1 full banana per serving. For example to make enough for 2 people use at least 1-2 frozen bananas worth.
  2. Add about 1 tbsp of plant-based milk ???? of your choice to the blender. 
  3. Select the “batter” setting on your Blendtec and rotate the twister jar lid counter clockwise while it blends. Make sure to apply enough pressure to keep the lid on. If you don’t have a Blendtec, you can accomplish this step by blending your banana pieces ???? and milk ???? on a setting for your blender that effectively incorporates the 2 ingredients. Total blending time is about 45sec-1min but can vary depending on serving size, blender, and texture you’re trying to achieve.
  4. Blend until desired consistency is reached. You may need to take breaks and scrape the sides of the container. If the mixture is too thick, add more plant-based milk- but remember you can always add more plant-milk, you can’t remove it. If you find that you’ve added too much and now it’s too runny, add more frozen banana chunks to thicken it back up. I like to sometimes leave a few larger chunks of frozen banana just to give a nice chewy texture to the ice cream.
  5. If you’re using a powder mix-in like PBfit chocolate peanut butter ???? , mix that in now before removing everything from the blender. If you forget, you can always mix it in by hand later with a spoon.
  6. Once your desired consistency is reached, divide portions into your bowls or containers of choice. ????
  7. Add in any mix-ins you may like. I recommend Ben & Jerry’s vegan chocolate chip cookie dough bites ???? with a scoop of natural peanut butter ???? and some pretzel pieces ???? , but the sky’s the limit! Mix in anything you normally like in your ice cream and enjoy!


  1. Freeze the bananas in chunks. Don’t try and blend an entire frozen banana- trust me.
  2. Add any solid mix-ins by hand after you’ve portioned out the banana ice cream.
  3. If using a powder mix-in, adding while still blending is easiest.
  4. This nice cream is best consumed immediately after making.
items organized on shelves
Nutrition and Food

Let’s Talk About Diet Quality

Many foods have a health halo thanks to wonderful marketing teams. We’ve all seen the phrases like “super food” pasted all over the front of the food’s packaging, as if that phrase has any scientific meaning (it doesn’t). Having the “vegan” label on foods is also sometimes given that same health halo. It’s as if you are to believe that as long as a food product is free from animal products that it is inherently better for you.

Let’s talk about food deserts (???????? not ????????)

Living in the US, it’s pretty easy to have a nutrition-lacking diet. Many packaged/convenience foods are full of calories but void of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients our bodies need. Unfortunately some Americans live in what we call “food deserts” where access to fresh, whole foods is scarce. Hopefully that doesn’t apply to you, dear reader, but the reality is that many Americans only have liquor stores and quick stop shops to purchase the food they need. It is likely that individuals living in food deserts have a diet filled with processed, packaged foods and only minimal intake of nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. (If you can’t stop thinking about desserts, then I have you covered).

For some of us, we don’t live in a food desert, but we still choose to consume highly processed fast foods for other reasons. My point today is that you can’t decide to start a plant-based diet assuming that it will “fix” the way that you eat. It’s very easy to eat a plant-based diet that is full of non-nutritious foods (like vegan protein bars), just like it’s easy to have a flexitarian diet full of overly processed foods (like cheez-its and cheetos). There are a ton of foods that are vegan that don’t provide a lot of nutrition (like oreos and vegan toaster pastries). If the bulk of your diet is filled with highly processed foods, it doesn’t matter what type of eating style you choose. Your body is starving for more nutrition.

What’s my point?

The take-away for going plant-based with your diet is that you should bring an awareness of the type of fuel you are putting into your body. I like to think of the human body as a high-end luxury car- because it is! Our bodies do amazing things every day and deserve to be treated well! You don’t want to put the cheap gas in a Ferrari, right? So then why would you put anything less than the best fuel into your body? Respecting yourself and your body enough to fuel it properly is a good foundation for any diet, whether you continue to include meat or exclude it completely (and you can eat healthy either way!)

So the next time you’re grocery shopping, take a moment to inventory your cart. Are the foods you’ve selected mostly whole and minimally processed? Are they something that someone from another culture would recognize as food? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably on the right track with your plant-based journey.

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Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Vegan Quiche


  • 1 pre-made vegan pie crust (I like to use Wholly gluten free 9″ pie shells)
  • 14oz block firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-3 tbsp unflavored plant- based milk
  • 1c dairy or non-dairy shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 medium white onion chopped or diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 medium/large carrot or 6-10 baby carrots (whichever you have on hand) diced or sliced into bite size pieces


  1. Press the tofu block to drain as much liquid as possible. I usually press for ~20min
  2. Remove frozen pie crust to allow to thaw for ~10-20min or per package instructions.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  4. Add tofu, nutritional yeast, turmeric, lemon juice, and salt to high powered blender. Blend until smooth. If your mixture needs help mixing add in 1tbsp of plant-based milk at a time to assist in blending.
  5. By hand, stir in the onion, carrot (or other vegetables), and cheese of choice.
  6. Spread mixture into pre-made crust.
  7. Bake for ~40-45min or until crust sides and top of quiche are golden brown and filling appears firm.
  8. Slice and enjoy!


  1. You can use any vegetable you like. Carrots and onions are a little odd I know, but the flavor is really good and gives a great crunch texture. Be creative and try asparagus, mushrooms, parsnips, spinach, potatoes, any vegetable you like!
  2. Draining the tofu block is key! If your tofu is too watery this won’t work well- trust me. Consider buying a tofu press if you don’t already have one. I bought this one on Amazon and it makes draining tofu a breeze.
  3. If you’re feeling adventurous you can make your own pie crust instead of buying a frozen store bought option. 
  4. Sprinkle some hemp hearts on top for an extra dose of protein and omegas.
  5. I recommend a really good blender for this recipe. You all know I love my blendtec. I use it as a blender and a food processor. Check out the link if you’re interested in the model I use.
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Amazon Prime Day Favorites

UPDATE: Prime Day is over. See you next year!

Today is Amazon Prime Day! Check out my favorite deals below!

I love my Blendtec! This one is on special for almost $100 off the usual price! I can’t say enough good things about my blender. My exact model can be found here and unfortunately is not part of prime day. But all Blendtec products are amazing. Once you know, you know.

Another kitchen appliance that I love is my Instant Pot! The 3qt size is more than half off right now and the Duo Crisp 11 in 1 with air fryer is $60 off!

I love New Balance clothes for working out, and they have a ton of items on Prime Day. This is my favorite jacket. It’s super warm and comfy and comes in so many colors

Orgain makes some of my favorite vegan protein powders. Then chocolate flavor is almost half off today!

I love to read. For the longest time I was against any kind of e-reader. My husband bought me the new paper white a while back and it has changed my life! It’s on sale for $50 off today! If you buy a kindle today, make sure to also check out the app Libby for borrowing e-books from your local library.

New to working out at home? Resistance bands are a game changer. This set is on special today for only $23.00.

Trolls. That’s all you need to know. One of the greatest movies ever. Sequel on special today. Need both movies? Click here.

The entire Parks and Recreation series for only $28.99?! Yes, please.

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Nutrition and Food

World’s Healthiest Diet?

Once again scientists have agreed that a diet rich in plant foods with minimal processed foods, some fish, and minimal red meat is the healthiest choice for humans! Check out this article authored by Jessica Stillman on Apple News for the full story.

There’s no big news to announce but the reminder that eating more plants and whole foods is better for our bodies. Eating plant-based doesn’t mean you have to be vegan, so feel free to experiment with what works for you! Just remember to always include those veggies.

balance body exercise female
Personal Care, Product Reviews

Natural Deodorant Reviews

Everyone has their own reason for trying to make their beauty regimen more “green” or “less-toxic.” My personal reasons are many but ultimately led me down the path of wanting to find a natural way to deal with my sweaty underarms. When I say I have sweaty pits, I mean sweaty. I’m definitely not one of those women who can run for miles and still smell fresh as a rose garden and look like they’ve barely done any work. Not only do I sweat heavy when I’m exercising, but my anxiety causes me to break out into sweats at all sorts of inopportune moments. Consequently I have used an anti-perspirant/deodorant combination for years. The quest to find a “cleaner” alternative was on.


Schmidt’s Deodorant was the overall best natural deodorant I tried. Smells nice, application was easy, vegan product, no skin irritation regardless of how many times I reapply during the day.

Over the course of a year I tried a few different natural deodorants, free from aluminum and other antiperspirant ingredients. I should start by saying that there’s no such thing as a “detox” period for your sweat glands. Many brands say that their products will work better after your sweat glands have “detoxed” from antiperspirants for at least 2 weeks. I can’t find any legitimate, credible science to support this concept. The human body is incredible and can “detox” itself quite well.

Antiperspirant vs Deodorant

It’s important to keep in mind that switching from an antiperspirant/deodorant combination to a deodorant only means that your experience is going to be very different from what you’ve become accustomed to. Specifically, antiperspirants work by doing just that, they’re anti-sweat. These wonderful sticks usually use an aluminum based ingredient to help tell your sweat glands to stop producing sweat. This combined with the deodorant helps you feel dry and smell nice. Deodorant only means that there is no antiperspirant properties- you will sweat. At first, just getting used to your sweating can make you feel self conscious. You are the only one who’s noticing and honestly, it’s only because you just made the switch to deodorant without antiperspirant. Over time you will notice your sweat less and less because it will become normal again for you to be sweating. You’ll also find that reapplication becomes an important criteria for how much you like a product.

I’ve ranked each deodorant that I tried below by specific categories. Continue reading for full product reviews. Please note that all of products I tested were either vegan or cruelty free. The 2 brands that are cruelty free only but not vegan were Curie and Best Deodorant Ever- both products contain beeswax.

Best scent: Love Beauty and Planet ylang ylang scent

Best application process: Kopari

Best for reapplication: Curie white tea

Best overall: Schmidt’s

Alaffia- lavender and charcoal scent

I was excited to try this brand because it’s easy to find at your local health food stores and Amazon, and it had the familiar application experience I  was used to. This was the only brand I tried that uses activated charcoal. It glides on easily without needing to be warmed against your skin and is smooth to the touch. Unfortunately for me, this product combined with my sweat smelled absolutely terrible. Nothing improved it and no amount of reapplication reduced my odor. A positive was that no amount of reapplication irritated my skin, but it also didn’t help improve the product effectiveness. Despite all of its good qualities, this one was a no for me.

Best Deodorant Ever lavender and peppermint scent

LIES! This was by far one of my least favorite of the natural deodorants I tried. I was so excited because this product is local and smells so fresh without being overpowering. Product is cruelty free but not vegan. This product contains beeswax. From the moment I started to apply, I knew it was going to be a rough trial. Not only did this brand not glide on smoothly, I found it easier to just stick my finger into the stick and then rub it into my underarm area. If your nails have any length at all, you end up with product underneath them. It was also challenging to not over apply and end up with giant deodorant pills in my arm pits. The scent was fresh and nice, but after about 30 min of sitting at my computer on a summer day, I noticed a smell. That smell was me. Unfortunately this was not going to work.

Curie -white tea scent

This was a total gamble. FabFitFun had this product as part of one of their edit sales for only $5. I took a chance. I would recommend this one with reservations. Note that this one is not vegan but is cruelty free. Their ingredients include beeswax. Application was easy and similar to what I was used to using antiperspirants, and the scent was fresh. I did feel like this one required re-application throughout the day to stay fresh. The scent was clean but a little too subtle for my liking. This is one that I continue to carry in my purse to have on me “just in case” but is missing a certain something for me.

Green Goo – wild rose scent

This was the only aloe based deodorant I tried. I’ve found that it has enough power to keep me fresh as long as I’m not doing anything. Otherwise, this wasn’t a strong enough option. This brand didn’t cause any irritation issues though so it was okay to reapply multiple times throughout the day. Smells amazing- just like you’re in a rose garden. Because it’s aloe based it does have a bit of a sticky feeling when you first apply it, but the stickiness goes away quickly. I still use this deodorant occasionally during the winter after I’ve worked out, showered, and am just lounging the rest of the day. This brand might work well if you’re not a heavy sweater, but if you’re like me you’ll want to reserve it only for days you aren’t moving around much and the weather isn’t too hot. Or just skip it and use something else.

Kopari- original scent

One of the most popular brands I tried. And it smells so good that you want to keep sniffing yourself. The application process was easy, required no time heating under my arms and it glided on like butter. I tried this deodorant for some workouts at home before being confident enough to try it while exercising in a group setting. This deodorant successfully kept my smell away and I swear only made their scent stronger as my body heated up. So I’m sure you’re thinking, “well then Kopari must’ve been your favorite!” and the sad answer is unfortunately no. While my body responded well to this brand’s ability to cover my smell, my skin revolted. This product gave me a pretty gnarly rash that took a few days to start but made my underarms felt like they were on fire. To add to my pain, this meant I had to take a couple of days off of any underarm products to try and let my skin heal. Not ideal.

Love Beauty and Planet- ylang ylang scent

From the moment I put this on I was in love. Application was smooth and the scent was to die for. Unfortunately for me, this product also gave me an incredibly painful rash. Another no for me, but might work well for someone else’s body. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could use this one.

Schmidt’s- rose and vanilla scent

I was perusing my local Costco and saw a 3 pack of the Rose scented Schmidt’s deodorant priced so well I was willing to roll the dice. You can also find this brand at most Target stores, Amazon, and other online retailers. This product required a short warming period in my underarms to help it glide on easily. Like many of the heavier deodorants, it was easy to apply too much and cause pilling in my underarms. The scent was amazing without being overpowering and was able to decently stand up to a workout. I still sweat because this is not an antiperspirant. But this product found a combination of scent and other ingredients that didn’t irritate my skin or assault my sinuses with a deluge of offensive smells. This has been my go-to deodorant ever  since. I have tried multiple scents from this brand and have had no adverse reactions to my skin. I still sometimes struggle with application and put too much on, but it’s easy to rub any excess into your skin. Additionally I’m able to successfully reapply this product throughout the day as needed without causing skin irritation. I don’t think it quite earns 5 stars though, and that’s because I have noticed my white shirts have a slightly discolored underarm area requiring a good soak in oxiclean before washing.