Salt of the Earth Rock Chick Sweet Strawberry Review

Crystal Spring sent me a sample of one of their new deodorants to try out so I wanted to post a quick review of it.  They have a range of Salt of the Earth natural deodorants that are suitable for vegans and not tested on animals.  I always use their Pure Aura Lavender & Vanilla spray deodorant or their Crystal Classic deodorant and love them.  They’re the one brand of natural deodorants that I found to be most effective.

They’ve brought out three new scented deodorant sprays, Pure Aura: Melon & Cucumber, Rock Chick: Strawberry Sweet, and Pure Armour: Explorer.

The Rock Chick: Strawberry Sweet deodorant is aimed at pre-teen girls especially those going through early puberty.  It has a fun and sweet strawberry scent.

I don’t have kids that age myself, but being a mother I think this is a great product for vegan kids who need an effective anti-perspirant and/or want a nice smelling spray.  I mentioned this new product to a few of my vegan friends who have pre-teen daughters and they thought it was a great idea that their daughters would love.

I’m pretty child-like at heart, so I love this deodorant too!  I’ve been using it for the past few days on myself.  I thought it might be a sickly sweet scent, but it isn’t at all.  The scent is quite subtle once it’s on, and really nice.  I also find it a quite effective anti-perspirant and deodorant.  I love that it’s natural so much nicer than using harsh chemicals, which I’m sure people wouldn’t want their kids to use.

Of course it’s wonderful that it’s suitable for vegans and not tested on animals, so is a great product to have available for our vegan kids!  Hopefully they will expand the range even more and I’m looking forward to trying even more of their products in the future.

Salt of the Earth deodorants are available in most health shops and at http://www.crystalspring.co.uk.

*This is not a paid ad.

 

The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids Review

We already loved one of Ruby Roth’s vegan kids’ books, V is for Vegan, so were really excited when she brought out The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids.  It’s full of easy and healthy vegan recipes that kids can make, with just a little help from grown-ups.

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Oran enjoying the Chapati Pizzati

I’ve always thought it’s really good for kids to learn how to cook.  If they can make a few homemade meals then that’ll generally be healthier and it encourages kids to eat healthy food if they helped to prepare it!  My boys are 4 and (almost) 2 and they already enjoy helping me with making food, even if it’s just mixing things in a bowl or putting ingredients into a blender.  It’s lots of fun, really messy, and takes longer to do with them, but they learn something and they always seem really proud to eat the food that they made.

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Cashew Cream Cheese

 

Even though my kids aren’t old enough to make the recipes in the book on their own, or even to read the recipes, there are lots of things they can do to make the recipes with my help.  So I would recommend this book for any age, as they get older they can make the recipes on their own, with a grown-up just doing any more dangerous things, and eventually make the recipes completely on their own.  Even if you just have really young kids, the recipes are mostly suitable for toddlers (or babies who are doing baby led weaning) and all the family can enjoy them.

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Sweet Beet Sauce
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Chapati Sweetati with nut butter and Sweet Beet Sauce

 

It’s a really lovely book with cute illustrations and colourful photos that would really appeal to kids.  It focuses mostly on how the recipes are good for us and the planet, with little bits of information about why vegans don’t eat animal products, explained in a child-friendly way.  It’s really important to me that my kids know why we are raising them vegan so I loved that.

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Rian loved the Presto Pesto in a wrap

 

The book has over 60 recipes including drinks, sauces & dips, smaller meals, bigger meals, salads & dressings, and desserts, as well as an explanation about some common ingredients in vegan recipes and tips about kitchen safety.

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Presto Pesto which is full of spinach and cashew so really healthy!

So far we’ve tried out a few of the recipes like the sweet beet sauce, cashew cream cheese, presto pesto, cheezy sauce, granola crumble, chapati 3 ways, and yam bams!  They’ve all gone down well with the kids, and I really enjoyed them too.  What I loved about them is that they’re so simple but taste great.  I think my kids have pretty simple tastes too so they prefer these to more complicated meals.

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Cheezy Sauce made with cashews, nutritional yeast and red pepper, one of my new favourite foods!
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Chapati Pizzati with Cheezy Sauce and Presto Pesto

There are lots more recipes I want to try from this book, and I think we’ll get years of use from it.  It’s good motivation for me to get the kids involved in cooking more often.  I’m looking forward to when they are old enough to make all the meals on their own and can cook for me occasionally!

 

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Granola Crumble, I made it with flaked almonds instead of whole almonds

I’d recommend this book to all vegan families or even non-vegans who want their kids to eat a bit healthier and learn how to cook healthy food.  We can’t wait to read some of Ruby Roth’s other kids’ books soon.

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Yam Bams! with Avo Butter, so simple but delicious!

For more information about Ruby Roth’s books, visit www.wedonteatanimals.com.

 

M&S Vegan Range

I wanted to do a few blog posts about the ranges of vegan food in different supermarkets.  So of course I tried the one that I thought would be most fun first!  I hadn’t been to M&S in over a year and was really excited to try a lot of the newer vegan products.  I wouldn’t shop there all the time, as it’s a bit out of my price range, but it’s really nice to get stuff as a treat.  And actually I found the prices pretty reasonable for specifically vegan products.

I was actually so, so excited to try new vegan stuff!

 

Just a note to say that as far as I know these products are vegan, judging from reading the ingredients, but I apologise if I made any mistakes.  You can find more information here.

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Firstly I wanted to try their plant milks, which I had never had before.  I got this coconut milk and almond milk.  I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have unsweetened versions, since I prefer to buy unsweetened, but these were as a treat so I didn’t really mind.  I tried both of them and they were so delicious.  They are probably the nicest store-bought plant milks that I’ve ever tried.  The coconut milk in particular was amazing.  The kids enjoyed them too.

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I had to try the chocolate soy milk too, which was really good.  Rian really loved it.  He was really excited since he hasn’t had chocolate milk much.  It’s so nice to be able to get nice treats for him.  It has Vegan Daddy’s approval too!

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These soya yoghurts were delicious, kinda like Alpro ones but fancier tasting.  The kids loved them too.  They have sugar in them so I wouldn’t give them to the kids everyday but they are a nice treat and would make a fairly healthy dessert too.  I also liked that they have yoghurt cultures.

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I also got a few of the salads and houmouses.  Unfortunately some of the salads have honey in them so aren’t suitable for vegans so I couldn’t get those ones.  But there were a few that were suitable for vegans.  I got a Mexican Rice, Quinoa & Avocado Salad and a Borlotti, Flageolet & Black Bean Salad.  They were both delicious, as was the houmous.  There were some other dips there that weren’t suitable for vegans, which is unfortunate as I think they could easily be made suitable for vegans.

 

 

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I had to try some of the chocolates because I really love chocolate!  The orange and mint ones were really, really good.  I couldn’t resist trying them before taking the photo!  The one with plantain chips sounded delicious and unusual, and it was.  It’s a little strange but I really liked it.

(Note for any gluten-free readers, in case you assume that these are all gluten-free seeing as I’m coeliac, I noticed afterwards that the plantain chocolate may contain traces of gluten.  All the other products looked ok to me, but be sure to check labels.)

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It was really difficult to choose which nut butter to try.  They had a peanut and cashew butter, which sounds amazing.  I didn’t buy them because they had added sugar and I want to eat less sugar, but now I wish I had bought them just to try.  Instead I got this roasted almond butter, which is really delicious anyway.  Maybe I’ll try the others some other time.

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There was also a dairy-free coconut ice-cream, that sounded delicious, but it would have melted by the time I got it home so I didn’t get it.  I wish I had been more hungry and I would have gotten it and eaten it on the way home.

 

I loved all these products and it’s great that so many supermarkets are selling more vegan food.  There’s a good range of vegan products in M&S, although unfortunately a lot of their products, that could otherwise be vegan, contain butter, cream, cheese or honey, so that does limit you a little.

 

Also the products can be a little expensive, so not everyone can shop there.  But it is nice to get some as a treat if you can.  And there are many other shops that have vegan food.  Vegans definitely don’t always have to buy expensive food.  Like I said above, I found the prices were actually reasonable enough for a treat.

 

M&S also have a great range of fruit and vegetables, and other vegan products.  These are just the few that I tried recently.  I will definitely try some more sometimes, especially that coconut ice-cream!

 

If you have any other recommendations for nice vegan food from M&S, please let me know in the comments.  I always love trying new vegan food!

 

My Favourite Vegan Cookbooks

I really love cookbooks and have a pretty big collection of them that’s growing all the time.  I love food blogs too, but there’s something nice about having an actual book to look through.  So I wanted to share with you my 5 favourite vegan cookbooks (in no particular order).  3 of them happened to be baking (or unbaking) books but who doesn’t love cake!  I just couldn’t choose between them.

 

 

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Keep it Vegan by Áine Carlin 

This is one of those cookbooks where every recipe looks amazing and you want to make them all.  And of the ones that I have made, they’ve been really good!  If you’re going to buy just one vegan cookbook, this is a good choice as it has such a variety of vegan favourites, like curries, mac and cheese, burritos, and burgers.  The recipes are straight-forward and quick to make.  They’re also healthy but there are some sweet treats in it too.

 
My favourite recipe is the Breakfast Brownie with a Strawberry Bottom.

Áine also has a new cookbook out, The New Vegan, which I can’t wait to get some time!

Check out Áine’s blog PeaSoup for more recipes, vintage fashion and lifestyle posts.

 

 

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Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily von Euw

This is an un-cookbook full of amazing raw vegan and gluten-free cakes, cookies, bars and cupcakes.  They taste great and are full of healthy ingredients like nuts, dates, coconut oil and cacao.  They give you a nutrition boost while satisfying sweet cravings.

My favourite recipe is the Cashew Coffee Vanilla Crème cake with Cinnamon Chocolate Crust.

Em also has two other cookbooks, 100 Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks and The Rawsome Vegan Cookbook, which are also on my wish list!

Have a look at Em’s blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life, for recipes, feminism, and body positivity.

 

 

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The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town by Ms. Cupcake

This is a great book for people just starting out with vegan baking.  The cakes taste amazing, and are simple and straight forward to make, using everyday ingredients.  I’ve made so many of the recipes and they all worked out brilliantly.  There are also tips to make most of the recipes gluten-free, which works great.

My favourite recipe is the Jaffa Cakes or the Turkish Delight Cake, can’t choose!

They’re also bringing out a new cookbook soon!  I’m very excited.

You can find out more about Ms. Cupcake here.

 

 

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Vegan Family Meals, Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry

This is such a useful book for vegan families, with veganised versions of lots of family favourites.  There are loads of kid-friendly meals, but anyone would love them.  It’s given me loads of new ideas for meals for my family that we’ll make again and again.

My favourite recipe is the Lasagne Rolls with Tofu Ricotta and Everyday Tomato Sauce.

Ann also has another book, The Real Food Daily Cookbook.

Ann has more recipes on her blog Real Food Daily.

 

 

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Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking by Cara Reed 

This book is full of delicious baking recipes, that are not only vegan but gluten-free too.  There is such a variety of recipes, including cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, donuts, muffins, scones, and loads of things I’ve never tried before like churros and pop tarts, that I can’t wait to make.  I want to make everything in the book, and there is so much!  There are also great tips for making your own gluten-free flour blends, icings, sauces, food colourings and even sprinkles.

My favourite recipe (so far) is the Maple Nut Scones.

You can find more recipes from Cara on her blog, Fork and Beans.

 

 

If anyone has any more recommendations for vegan cookbooks, I’d love to hear them.  Please let me know in the comments.

 

 

Astonish Cleaning Products Review

Astonish cleaning products are well-known to vegans in the UK and Ireland as they’re vegan and cruelty-free and can be bought really cheaply in discount shops and many other stores.  I was in Euro Giant recently and saw they had Astonish products for €1.50 each so stocked up on some.  I had lots of spring cleaning to do so was pretty excited to get lots of cleaning products.  I know, I have a very exciting life!

They had a large range of different products to choose from for all different purposes.  I got the multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, 4-in-1 disinfectant and carpet shampoo.

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I don’t like to use disinfectants too much but sometimes do as we have a dog and two cats, and the veterinary nurse in me comes out.  I was especially happy that they had carpet shampoo for machines as I have a carpet cleaning machine and had been looking for a cruelty-free shampoo to use in it.  A carpet cleaner is a good investment when you have dogs bringing mud in to the house and kids getting food everywhere!

 

I usually try to buy more natural and eco-friendly cleaning products than these, when I can, bonus points if they are a local company.  But they can also be quite expensive and sometimes I don’t have the money for them.  That’s what’s great about Astonish products.  They are so affordable (€1.50 each).  It shows that you don’t need to spend a lot to get products that aren’t tested on animals and that being vegan doesn’t have to be very expensive.

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They also have the Leaping Bunny symbol and the Vegan Society logo so you know for sure that they are vegan and not tested on animals.  You can tell from a glance without having to look it up.  I know a lot of non-vegans who tell me that they’d like to buy products that aren’t tested on animals but don’t know what to buy, so I think it’s very important to tell people that these products are available.

I tried out all the products I bought, and they all work really well.  They work a lot better than some other brands of a similar price and I really couldn’t fault them in that way.  The carpet shampoo in particular worked really well and my carpets look much brighter and cleaner.  They’re definitely worth a try for anyone trying to avoid products that are tested on animals.

You can find out more about Astonish cleaning products and see their full range of products here.

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Dee’s Wholefoods Vegan Sausages Review

Dee’s Wholefoods started out in Dee’s kitchen in West Cork, Ireland, making vegan burgers for local farmers markets.  They now have a range of vegan products including sausages, burgers, quinoa pots and veg pots that are available in shops throughout Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands.

All the products are suitable for vegans, made with natural and organic ingredients, and free from gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, artificial additives and GMO’s.

I’ve tried a lot of Dee’s products and loved them all, but in particular I really like the sausages and get them all the time.

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Dee’s vegan sausages with tofu scramble, baked mushroom, cherry tomatoes, sautéed spinach, avocado and toast

 

There are three different flavours of sausages, Traditional, Roast Garlic and Mushroom and Leek and Onion.  All of them are delicious but my favourite is probably the traditional ones, that taste very like non-vegan sausages, except much better.

They’re made with pea protein and beans so are high in protein.  They contain Irish dulse seaweed which is very nutritious, contains iodine, iron and vitamin B6, and I think gives it the amazing flavour, along with the herbs and spices.  Iodine can be hard to get in a vegan diet and seaweed is a great source of it.  They’re more nutritious and less-processed than a lot brands of vegan meat substitutes.

They also have a great texture, a lot better than some brands of vegan sausages that I’ve tried.

I also love that they are gluten-free, since I have coeliac disease, and it can be really hard to find products that are gluten-free as well as being vegan.

My kids really love them and I’m happy for them to eat lots of them since they contain so much goodness and are quite low in salt so suitable for babies and toddlers.  We had them for breakfast today and my three year old ate loads of them, and my 11 month old loves them too.  My kids also love to have tortilla wraps with homemade houmous and Dee’s sausages, sliced into bite-sized pieces.  It’s so nice to be able to buy a vegan convenience food that I know is healthy and I can give to my kids.

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Dee’s vegan sausages in tortilla wraps with houmous

 

I love them as part of a full breakfast, for dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, in a sandwich, or even chopped up and put in a pasta sauce or a stew.  They add a lovely flavour to meals, make them more interesting and are very filling.

They’d be great for people who are newly vegan and missing sausages, since they really do satisfy that craving.  They’re a lot healthier than processed meat sausages, and better for the environment, as well as being cruelty-free.

I’ve heard some people saying that they had trouble with them sticking while cooking.  While they are a bit delicate, it’s really easy to cook them once you get used to it.  I cook them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius, in a non-stick baking tray, for 20 minutes, with either a tiny drizzle of olive oil or no oil, and they always turn out perfectly.  Make sure they have a little space between the sausages so they don’t stick together.  I’ve also cooked them on a camp fire and on a barbecue and that works great.

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The only way I could fault them is that they’re a bit expensive at about €3.99 for six sausages (price from Tesco Ireland, May 2016), though I’m willing to pay that much since they are made with such good quality ingredients, and are so nutritious and yummy.  It’s definitely worth getting them as a treat or for a quick and easy meal.  I really recommend them.

Dee’s Wholefoods products are available in Tesco and select Supervalus in Ireland, in Holland and Barrett in the UK and in Jumbo in the Netherlands.  You can find out more about Dee’s Wholefoods here.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart ‘VeganEgg’ Review

I was so excited to try the Follow Your Heart ‘VeganEgg’.  I had seen videos online of people making scrambled “egg” with it and it looked great so was waiting patiently for it to come to Ireland.  I’ve been vegan for 12 years and have never tried a product like this that can replace eggs not only in baking, but scrambles and omelettes as well.  There are so many vegan products nowadays, it’s amazing.

I’ve tried the Follow Your Heart ‘Vegenaise’ and ‘Vegan Caesar’ salad dressing before and they’re really delicious, so had high hopes for the ‘VeganEgg’.

I love making vegan alternatives to egg dishes like tofu scramble and vegan frittatas.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had actual eggs but thought it’d be really fun to try the VeganEgg and see how it compares.  It’d also be great for people who are newly vegan but miss the taste of eggs.  I had loads of ideas for it, scramble, omelettes, French toast, frittatas, quiches, so many ideas.  So I had a look through my vegetarian cookbooks at the recipes with eggs that I had always skipped over and decided on a few things to try out.

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I thought the packaging is really cute, mimicking an egg box.  It makes it feel like it’ll taste more like real eggs.  One box is about the equivalent of a dozen eggs so I could make a few different things with it.

When you open it up, it’s actually a powder, that you mix with water to replace beaten eggs.  When you’re mixing up the powder and water it smells surprisingly like eggs!

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I decided to make scrambled egg so I could see what the flavour is like on its own and because it’s one of the few things I could actually cook before going vegan!  It was really easy to make, just blend up the powder with water (the pack says using a blender makes the eggs fluffier), pour into a frying pan, stir it up and cook for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally.

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The Vegan Egg had a mild eggy taste, not too strong.  This makes it really versatile for baking or using in sweet dishes like French toast without being too strong tasting or too salty.  For scrambled egg it was slightly bland so I added some salt, pepper and drizzled it with basil oil, served it with asparagus and that made a lovely simple dish with nice flavours.  Some people who have tried it have said they wanted a more eggy taste so added extra black salt.  I don’t think I would have wanted too much of an eggy taste since I haven’t had eggs in a long time.

The texture of the scrambled egg is soft and creamy and makes a convincing replica of it.  I ate some of it after it had gone cold and it had firmed up quite a bit and was very egg-like!

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I also tried the egg in some pancakes and a few cupcakes with what I had left.  I was very surprised since I haven’t baked with eggs for so long, that the pancakes and cupcakes were really light and fluffy with a lovely slightly eggy taste.  The pancakes were less stodgy than my usual ones and tasted more like non-vegan pancakes.  I think it’d be really good in waffles, bread or scones.

 

I was also very impressed by this Eco Fact on the packaging that says “100 VeganEggs can be made with the same water used to produce just 1 chicken egg.”  That’s really amazing and shows the difference we can make by choosing vegan products.  The carton is also made with recycled cardboard and water and is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.  They think of everything!

 

Some tips I would give for using the VeganEgg is to use a blender to mix the powder and water.  My eggs turned out very fluffy this way!  Also use a good non-stick frying pan since it can stick a bit otherwise.  For baking use a non-stick cake tin or silicone cupcake cases.  And it takes longer to cook than regular eggs do so give it some extra time.

 

The VeganEgg would be really handy to have in the cupboard for when you need a quick meal.  It’s a little pricey so this might not be something that I eat every day but I would definitely get it as a treat or if I wanted to veganise a recipe.  And when you consider that it can replace 12 eggs then it doesn’t seem too expensive.  It’s definitely worth trying if you miss eggs, if you’re into baking or want to try a few new dishes.

 

It’s amazing that there are products like this now.  When I first went vegan I could barely find soy milk and I never imagined that ten years later I could have vegan scrambled egg!  There really is an alternative to everything and that’s so good for new vegans or people who want to go vegan.

 

You can find out more about the VeganEgg and where to buy it at http://www.followyourheart.com and http://www.artofzenfoods.com.