Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What are this?

Answer: Delicious!

So we've been hanging out around Lincoln Center a lot lately, and the concession stand of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center had these little chocolate brownie/cupcake things that were vegan and gluten free!  I'm not sure what I was eating, but it was very rich, velvety, and deeply chocolate.  I had trouble finding more info about Doe Dough Bakery, there was a bakery called Dough, but not "Doe Dough."  Does anyone know what the deal is with them?

Soundtrack to this post:
PS if you didn't know already, chocolate is poisonous to dogs, I only mention because this post is about chooclatey things and there is a dog in the video, people might get confused. Side note, Jenna Marbles is a Wannabegan!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chilly? Warm up with hot chili!

Last night (Meatless Monday!) we were attending a concert at the Juilliard school (Focus Festival going all week long, if you are interested in new music), so we needed someplace quick and nearby to eat since we were coming from work and the concert started at 8. 

So we went to the Upper West Side Blossom du Jour! We go to the Hells Kitchen location all time, but we had never been to this location before.  The UWS Blossom is a little smaller and has less seating inside, but the menu is the same so I ordered the Hells Kitchen Chili and the Buffalo Bites and they were perfect food for warming up after enduring this freezing weather! They were served piping hot and the spicyness was warming as well.  (We like spicy food.)  It's really nice to eat at a 100% vegan place once in a while, I feel very free and open to try anything and not worry about the food contributing to sad animals.  

My husband ordered the Midtown Melt sandwich, which is his regular order (sometimes he varies it with an Avocado Giller), and we also shared a Field of Greens juice (we call it "green drink")

We renewed our Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary membership in December, so when we showed our membership card we got 15% off of the whole meal!

Update: The recipe is over here!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nathalie K is "Really Impressed!" with cruelty free CC Cream

I've been a long time fan of Physician's Formula products.  I started off YEARS ago using their loose powder, then moved to their pressed powders and bronzers, and lately I've been using their foundations, blush, and BB cream as well.  They state, "Physicians Formula Inc. does not conduct tests, or commission any outside facility to conduct tests that involve the use of animals." and they're one of the few drugstore brands that can still make this claim!  

I am currently using the Physicians Formula Super BB Cream (also using their blush, powder, and foundation), and I got both my mom and my mother-in-law using it too (my mother in law just told me this morning she bought three tubes so she has one everywhere she goes)! Like the CC cream there are only two shades (I bought both) but BOTH really blend in well and look natural on my skin.  I use the lighter one all over, and the darker one on my cheeks to subtly contour them).  I was impressed how well the light/medium shade matches both me and my mother-in-law, it is amazing!

Also, a lot of the time there will be coupon stickers on the packaging in the store - usually $3 off or buy-one-get one.

FYI my mother-in-law loves Physicians Formula's cleanser and she's been using it for years (and her face looks amazing!) because it's one of the few products that doesn't irritate her sensitive skin.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

X'ian Famous Foods

Tiger Vegetable Salad

It's been so cold again here in NY, we decided to get some spicy food for dinner tonight and warm up our bellies!  We went to X'ian Famous Foods (the one in Midtown, there are SO many locations now!), and it's not the most vegan friendly place, but the few vegetarian items they do have I LOOOOOOOOOOVEEE.

So EVERY time I go, I get the salad pictured above, the Tiger Vegetable Salad ("L1").  Don't think of it in the context of a regular salad-bar salad, because it's totally different.  The greens are mostly cilantro, shaved celery,  and scallions (they say "green onion") in a very light vinegar dressing, so it's almost like a refreshing pickle-y side dish.  But so delish! My mouth is literally watering writing about it.

Chang-an Spicy Tofu

My other favorite dish out of everything on the menu is the Chang-An Spicy Tofu ("F1").  It's silky tofu in chili oil, also a bit vinegary and has some chopped Chinese pickles in it too.  It's a really nice warming food for weather like this.  And all the food is SO CHEAP!

They have a full menu on their website, but here's the photo of their menu inside because they actually designate which items are vegetarian with a little green sticker.  I'm pretty sure the two dishes I wrote about and the Cucumber Salad are vegan, because there's no dairy or eggs in there, but I'm not sure about the noodle dishes (A1, A3, N5, Ns5).  I just emailed them to ask and will update this post when I get an answer!

UPDATE: "Most vegetarian things are vegan, yes, but not the new (you might not have seen them yet because they are very new) vegetable dumplings have egg in them."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Green Drink!

I've already written about how much I love the Kale Kolada (which is green), but here's a new green drink that I discovered recently: GTs Enlightened Synergy Organic and Raw Kombucha Green Chia.

It was the weirdest looking drink in the store, and I have to say, that is partially what attracted me to it.  Other things:

  • I have been loading up on probiotics recently (after a stint with antibotics), and this has them!
  • I've been curious about chia seeds ever since I read about runners eating them in the book Born to Run
  • Has Omega-3s, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and It's raw, vegan, organic, blah blah blah.  Basically it has every health-food buzz word out there on the label

I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe the taste.  It tastes good to me!  It is slightly sweet, slightly fizzy and slightly vinegary. My husband tried but isn't into it, so we affectionately call it "pond scum with tadpole eggs."   I guess more notable than the flavor is the texture - the chia seeds remind me of the seeds inside smoothies with raspberry or strawberries in it, except if you took those seeds and wrapped them in bubble tea pearls.  It feels really cool in your mouth, kind of jelly, but also like seeds, you can bite them a little bit or just swallow them all.  This would be a good drink to do that John Kabat-Zinn raisin exercise and practice drinking it mindfully!

The drink is actually quite filling (it has a lot of fiber from the chia seeds, so it will also help you with pooping if that's what you're looking for).  The label says that there is "a trace amount of alcohol" in there, which as someone who is super sensitive to alcohol, I can feel (it reminds me of the holiday party where I got buzzed on the punch that everyone else was surprised to learn had prosecco in it).

Anyway, it's worth a try! It's a fun drink because it looks so novel, and I honestly do think there are positive health effects.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Face to Face: YesTo vs First Aid Beauty face moisturizers +PROMO CODES!


This is a comparison of two cruelty-free moisturizers for the face: Yes to Blueberries Deep Wrinkle Night Cream and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer.

Yes to Blueberries Pros: I've been using this for a while, and it is indeed deeply moisturizing which is exactly why I got it (my Trader Joe's oil-free moisturizer wasn't enough once winter set in with the super dry air).  First of all, "Yes To does not test on animals and is against animal testing," and "Most of our products are great for vegans!" (They're wannabegan, some of their products contain bee products.)  In terms of ingredients, they are petroleum, SLS, & paraben free. 

First Aid Beauty Pros: I bought this as part of a set (I'll review the whole thing at some point!) because I really like the things that First Aid Beauty doesn't include in their products: "FAB products are free of harsh chemicals and known allergens, including parabens, phthalates, alcohol, fragrances and artificial dyes."  And of course, "FAB has never tested on animals and never will, period," and "The majority of FAB products contain no animal ingredients" (duh, or else I wouldn't be featuring their products on this blog anyway). They have one product that contains beeswax, so they're also wannabegan!

Yes to Blueberries Deep Wrinkle Night Cream Pros: This is indeed deeply hydrating - after applying I feel like there is a protective layer on my skin that I can still feel in the morning.  I do think that did help reduce my wrinkles a little bit- I don't have deep creases on my face, just little crinkles due to dryness, and this helped plump those up a bit.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer Pros: For this product in particular, I really liked how easily it applies on my face - this spreads on super smooth without pulling at the delicate skin around my eyes. I also love that it's fragrance-free because fragrance makes me uncomfortable from a potential health hazard standpoint, and also because when my face smells, I can smell it all the time!

Yes to Blueberries Cons: There is fragrance in this product, which is actually pleasant (and doesn't give me a headache like some other fragrances do) but still, I'd prefer if it was fragrance free. They just started a separate fragrance free line, they must have heard me!   Also, I'm left with a ever-so-slightly sticky feel to my face after application, which is good when I'm using it as intended (at night) but want something I can use all the time.  At night it was fine because it felt like a really moisturizing protective barrier, but for day I'd prefer something lighter.  Also, I occasionally felt like the texture was a bit tacky, so when I applied it it would pull my face around a little bit.

First Aid Beauty Cons:  I haven't found any cons to this, the closest I can get to a con is comparing it the the Blueberries moisturizer, I would say I wish it were a little heavier for night time, but then I would't like it as much for the day.

Winner: Originally I thought this post would declare on product superior over the other, but I'm now realizing as I am reading the manufacturers description of these two moisturizers that even though both are for face and are packaged in almost identical pump bottles, they are for two totally different skin types and needs!  The FAB moisturizer is meant to be light where the YtB moisturizer is thick and heavy.

My Conclusion: use the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer in the morning so you look fresh throughout the day and have a nice surface to layer makeup on (if you're wearing makeup), and then use the Yes to Blueberries Deep Wrinkle Night Cream at night (duh) to lock in moisture and undo wrinkles while you sleep.

I found TWO promo codes for you! "YESTO35" = 35% off at and "FABULOUS" = 30% off at, plus free full size Lip Repair Therapy with $75+ purchase.  Git it!  That fragrance free line from Y2 I mentioned earlier is also on sale, I think I'm going to try Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Intense Hydration Night Cream as my replacement for the blueberry one.  From FAB, I want to try another kit: their FAB Daily Dose kit. PS I've been using that Lip Repair Therapy (and putting it on my husband too), my lips are in great shape now!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Scream for Coconut Sorbet!

I KNOW it's winter! But....
1) My husband said that he has a weird perversion where cold weather makes him want to eat ice cream.
2) My husband is lactose intolerant.  He doesn't take those tablets, he just "gets farty for 2 days" when he eats normal ice cream.
3) We've been staying at my mother-in-law's apartment while she's been out of town, and raiding her fridge and freezer.
4) My mother in law is also lactose intolerant, so she avoids dairy completely.  She's a Wannabegan!
So after dinner last night, we were rummaging in her fridge for a treat to enjoy while watching a little TV before bed. In the freezer we found:

Sharon's Sorbet in Coconut, and it is amazing!  First of all, I have to say, it's NOT what I traditionally think of as "sorbet," which in my mind is an icy, frozen scoop of fruit juice.  As soon as I dipped my spoon in the carton (yes, we ate the whole pint) I could tell the texture was smooth and creamy, not icy or hard at all.  There are tiny shreds of coconut in it which gives it a really nice texture in contrast to the smoothness of the sorbet. You already know that I love coconut, so this was divine for me!

My husband is sold and said he has no reason to eat normal dairy ice cream ever again (he's already excited about trying the Dutch Chocolate flavor).  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Free Shipping code for Alba Botanica!

So on Black Friday (seems soooo long ago!), I was super nerdy and went looking for deals on all my fave stuff.  I love Alba Botanica and I've been using their products for years!  This sounds so odd, but lately I've been buying products/brands based on what ingredients they DON'T have in them.  Here's what I like about them:
"Our products contain no meat or by-products of animal killing. We also reject all cruelly obtained animal ingredients, even if an animal is not killed. We limit our use of animal products to ingredients that are naturally created by and have no future use to the animal such as beeswax.
Alba Botanica® products are formulated without: parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, propylene glycol, aluminum, mineral oil, petrolatum, oxybenzone, PABA, nano-particles, DEA, MEA or TEA, PEGs and PEG derivatives, ethoxylated ingredients associated with 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde donors."
So I totally stocked up and got:
  • NATURAL VERY EMOLLIENT BODY LOTION Unscented Original - 32 oz - I've been using this for a really long time and I love it in all seasons (love it in both summer and winter) and all over (face, body, hands, feet, etc).  Sometimes I'll even take a dab and run it through my hair as a detangling/smoothing product (sometimes I mix it with a little coconut oil to make it a heavy-duty leave-in conditioner).  I love the pump too, it makes life so much easier, although once you get to the very end the pump stops working even there's a half-inch of lotion left in the bottle and I have to come up with all kinds of creative ways to get out every last drop!
  • pore-fecting papaya enzyme
  •  - This is a clear-ish gel that you leave on your face for just 5 minutes (of course I always leave it on longer) and it dissolves all the gunk in your pores.  I love it!  Masks are so nice for forcing yourself to relax for a few minutes. 
  • ACNEDOTE face & body scrub - This is a really invigorating scrub that smells great - kind of a minty orange.  I use it on my face and body to help keep large/clogged pores, flakes, and acne away.  On body use it all over just to feel energized, super clean and tingly!
  • VERY EMOLLIENT SUNSCREEN fragrance free mineral broad spectrum spf 30 - I was hoping this would arrive in time for my trip to Jamaica, but it didn't so now I have to wait until summer to use this!  Oh well, I've used it in the past and it's great, the active ingredients are minerals (zinc and titanium dioxide) instead of those horrible hormone disrupting chemicals. Plus it is fragrance free, so even better! 
Between now and January 31st, 2014, you can get free shipping on orders $35+!  See promo code above.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wannabegan, wannabeWARM

**Note: I started drafting this post several days ago, breaking my 15 minutes per post self-guidelines. It's gotten warmer since but the thoughts still apply**

OMG it is so cold, SINGLE DIGIT temperatures here and across most of the country, if not negative temperatures!!

I'm going to make a huge reveal here- one of the things that inspired this blog was reading an article at appeared in Elle magazine, where the writer was really conflicted about wearing a fur coat that her grandmother gave her back in the 80's.  Eschewing fur is one of the easiest "no brainier" decisions for me, and whenever I see someone else wearing fur, I think how brutal that person looks. It's basically draping corpses around your body, and that's just too morbid for me (I don't like skull motif attire, or any of that kind of thing either).  If you want something warm and soft to snuggle with, adopt a cat or a dog!  Don't skin some poor creature that lived its entire life in a horrible cage (and PS, did you know that some FUR SOLD IN STORES IS MADE OUT OF DOGS?).

Anyway, I read this article and on one hand, I was like, 'Ugh! Fur! How incredibly sad!" and on the other hand I heard a message loud and clear that I have identified with for most of my entire adult life: "I'M COLD."  For me, a big part of the animal rights movement is about compassion, and I'm trying to also be compassionate to my fellow humans.  So when I hear about this woman struggling to stay warm, like I used to, I just wanted to help her!  Because the truth is, you don't have to wear animal bits to stay warm, and people just need to know about all the amazing warm (and cute and comfortable) things. I don't even buy down or woolen items anymore, because I have found all these great alternatives.

So when I read this article when it first came out, I wanted to write the author a very kind letter (I'm sure she's getting enough attack mail) helping her overcome the core problem that she has- she just wants to stay warm and doesn't know how!

Here are my tips and picks for ways to stay warm, even in a POLAR VORTEX!

1) Make sure you're healthy.  Get your circulation checked out, find out if you're anemic, make sure your thyroid levels are where they should be, and everything else a doctor can do to help you figure out why you're always cold.  Sensitivity to cold can definitely be a symptom of many things.  I was diagnosed with anemia (and this is as an omnivore) a few years ago, and since then I take an iron supplement (accompanied by a vitamin C tablet, which is supposed to help it absorb better).  My pick for iron supplement is NatureMade, because some of the other brands I tried coated their tablets in blue/green/black dye (I think to discourage kids from thinking it is candy).  I don't have kids in my home, and the tablets were staining my tongue and teeth! These tablets are small, easy to swallow, and don't stain my mouth.

2) Wear layers. I personally am addicted to and compulsively hoard UNIQLO Heattech clothing.  These have been a game changer for me, I don't know how I would have survived this long without it.  They are these amazingly thin, stretchy, smooth, lightweight, cute, and comfortable pieces that I wear underneath EVERYTHING, EVERY DAY. They use this weird techno material to make socks, pants, tops, accessories, and all kinds of things, and I have tons of them because I love them so much!

3) THIS COAT!  In the past, I've worn down coats and mourned the birds that died to make the filling.  I would look like a giant puffy marshmallow blob, the weight of the coat would make my shoulders hurt and my body tired, little feathery bits would eventually appear floating around me, and at the end of the day, I still wasn't warm.  Then I found this amazing coat that now makes me feel invincible: Arc'teryx Women's Sylva Parka.

I have this coat in the this color (on mine the zipper color matches), which is a beautiful greyish purple that people compliment me on all the time! Seriously, random people tell me they love my coat! The coat is slim and flattering, and I actually have a defined waist when I wear it. I bought it online and when it arrived, I didn't think the package could possibly contain my coat because it was so small and light.  But it was and I've been wearing it ever since.  My friend who lives in Cleaveland (currently 20 deg F) bought one because she liked mine so much, and I myself bought an extra one for myself (both of ours are in "Royale" purple) just because I never want to be without this coat. My friend texted me to say, "got the coat and love it! I can't believe it's soooooooo light! Thx xxoo," then again later "loving the coat!"

This coat makes me feel invincible!  Some of the features that make it extra warm are the cuffs, which adjust and can seal really tight, the really nice fitted hood, which I wear up often, the length, and the "Windstopper" fabric, and of course whatever miracle synthetic insulation they put inside.

Synthetic insulation is better than down because:

  • It retains its insulating properties even when wet
  • No feathery bits that escape and fly around and stick to things
  • No allergy inducing feathery bits
  • Easier to wash, dry, and maintain
  • No birds suffered (do a google search if you want to see the horrible things that happen).  I generally like the brand Patagonia, but the fact that they feel obligated to make statements like, "Patagonia Traceable Down Is Verified Non-Live-Plucked, Non-Force-Fed" makes me say "Yikes!" about the whole down industry.  Kind of like blood diamonds vs being in the same market as "conflict-free diamonds."  I prefer to just steer clear of that whole mess.

4) Insulate your extremities: As a great complement to the coat above, I also love the following: Easy Spirit Knotme wedge boots (synthetic, not leather and ON SALE as I write this!) and EMS Women's Hyland Fleece Convertible Mittens.  I have a previous season version of these boots (same minus the buckle) and they are SO COMFORTABLE (they come in wide sizes too!), they are light, hold up really well in the rain.  I wear a pedometer sometimes so I'm not exaggerating when I say easily walk 5 miles in these boots on a daily basis, and my feet feel great.  The mittens are wonderful, they are surprisingly warm (warmer than some ski gloves I wearing before) and so convenient how they fingers can be uncovered for phone calls, zippers, digging around in my bag, etc. I'm a big fan of hats too, but don't have one that I am obsessed with like all my other stuff, so let me know if you have a fave cruelty-free style in the comments!  

5) Drink Tea! Hot tea is warming, obviously, but there are certain varieties that I find especially warming.  Here are my favorites, all caffeine-free: Yogi Egyptian licorice, Mu 16 , Ginger, and Chamomile.  Sometimes I just put a dash of cinnamon or a squeeze of fresh lemon in hot water and drink that.  Yum!  Sometimes I just drink hot water!  Ahhh!  One thing I do avoid when it comes to tea in winter is mint tea- it makes me feel cold.

6) Snuggle!  My darling chihuahua loves to be zipped inside my hoodie while I'm wearing it, be on my lap, or under the covers with me.  She's the perfect little hot water bottle and we sleep curled up together every night.  My husband lets me put my cold feet on him too (somehow he's always hot) even though they can feel like ice daggers.  He is also really good about putting his arms around me and lending me his sweater/coat/socks/whatever.  Wannabegans gotta stick together to stay warm!