Hi. I’m Natalie. I am the oldest child, I was raised Catholic, and I am Type A AF. So yeah, I’m familiar with anxiety.
Before we get too far into this post I want to be clear that none of my recommendations are meant to treat severe anxiety and/or depression, nor do I wish to make light of those issues. This post is for people who occasionally find themselves overwhelmed or stressed and need more than a cup of chamomile to calm their nerves.
Obviously before I start inhaling or ingesting anything, I first try to remedy the source of my stress. If I’m anxious about an event because there’s so much to do, I ask for help. If I’m worried about something I can’t necessarily fix (for instance, freaking out that all of my friends’ vaguebook statues are about me because they all secretly hate me) I talk to someone I can trust until it’s out of my system. If I’m overwhelmed at work I try to break my big projects into smaller ones, etc. But sometimes I’m just kind of freaked out about a bunch of things and I don’t want to talk about it. So that’s where these other options come into play.
These are all methods and products that I have used and benefitted from. If you have your own recommendations I’d love to hear them in the comments section.
When I first started researching natural remedies for stress, I noticed one ingredient that kept popping up in every stress support supplement – magnesium. Turns out magnesium can suppress ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) – “stress hormones” – in the brain. Some of the most magnesium-rich foods are vegan – spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans – but there are also lots of supplements available. I keep a magnesium supplement (that also contains B-vitamins and Valerian root) on hand for hectic days.
I was on a juicing kick for a while, and I liked to add fresh turmeric because the curcumin it contains is a natural anti-inflammatory. Later I also found out that it can also have antidepressant and antianxiety effects. However, it is a hot mess to juice at home and scrubbing yellow stains off my counter does nothing to improve my stress levels. So, I keep Turmeric Liquid Drops on hand and just throw a couple of droppers’ full into smoothies and other recipes like this Golden Milk Smoothie Bowl.
A friend of mine recommended keeping kava kava tincture on hand for bad days, so I grabbed a bottle at Vitamin Shoppe and gave it a try. Folk tales say that Kava Kava was given to people who were to be sacrificed in order to calm them down, and after trying it a few times I believe it. The tincture I tried was too intense for me – it tastes like tree bark, and it has a syrupy consistency so it’s hard to mix into anything less thick than a smoothie. These days I prefer Kava Stress Relief Tea – it’s blended with cinnamon and other spices so while it’s not delicious per say, it tastes better than the tincture, but it’s still very potent. Fair warning: kava affects people in different ways, so try it sometime when you don’t have anywhere to go. It might make you sleepy, it could upset your stomach, and some people have said it makes their mouths go numb.
I’m not an essential oil expert (my friend Jessica is, follow her) so I’m not going to go nuts here. But, I have tried aromatherapy and essential oils in various ways and found it to be beneficial. The mellowest way to use essential oils to combat stress is aromatherapy – I do this using a USB Essential Oil Diffuser. There are fancier and more expensive diffusers, but the one I use is small so it sits right next to my laptop and blows lavender essential oil directly at my face. My desire to spray this in my mouth and up my nose lead me to looking for more direct ways to benefit from essential oils.
My nail salon uses aromatherapy, and their amazing Wednesday mani/pedi deal was my first experience with topical essential oils. They basically slather your hands and arms in lotion, splash on a few drops of your choice of oil (tips for doing this) and massage your stress away. This inspired me to make temple balm for Tony to help with headaches, and variations for myself for anxiety. Applying essential oils to your skin is often the most effective ways to reap their benefits.
The final frontier for me was actually ingesting essential oils. It’s generally considered safe to put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in water, but I think it’s gross and I just can’t do it. Then my little sister got a MONQ Aromatherapy Inhaler and let me try it. MONQ combines blends of essential oils with vegetable glycerine, all packed into a little cigarette-sized package. You inhale it into your mouth (not into your lungs) and then blow the vapor out your nose. It’s sort of like having a diffuser that you put in your mouth, which as I stated previously, is pretty much what I do anyway.
MONQ actually sent me a set of their personal diffusers and I’m going to be shooting a video with Jessica the oil lady soon, so if you have any questions about essential oils or MONQ be sure to leave them in the comments or hit us up on social media so we can answer them.
Diet and Exercise
Listen, this weekend I laid in bed eating vegan mac n’ cheese and watching Claws. I am no Bad Ass Vegan when it comes to nutrition and fitness. But, anecdotally I can tell you that I joined a gym three months ago, and made some small adjustments to my diet (focusing on nutrient-dense ingredients, cutting back on sugar) and I have not had to take Kava or any of the other more intense supplements since.
There is extensive evidence that suggests even a small amount of physical activity (a 10-minute walk) can help reduce stress, and prevent anxiety disorders. I personally have found solace in the gym because it’s unadulterated me time, and I found a good no-judgement gym – but, it’s not for everyone. But, even if you hate the gym, and it’s too cold to take a walk, there’s a physical activity most people can agree on – sex. Yep, sex. Even, ya know, by yourself, can help you to better cope with stress.
If you’re a stress-eater like me, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you’re eating because a brain under stress signals your body that you need more nutrients to cope. The bad news is, most of the time we reach for foods that are actually deficient in the nutrients that can help you combat anxiety. Look for foods rich in magnesium (spinach, almonds, avocado). Omega-3 fats (spinach again, walnuts, soybeans), and B vitamins (there are lots of types so read this). So you don’t have to become a raw vegan, but like, swapping in a spinach salad with avocado and walnuts for lunch once in awhile can actually give your body what it needs to deal with stress. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to get a good overview of what I’m eating in a day and I find it really helpful, but you could also informally journal what you’re eating every day and how you feel to see if changing your diet helps you.
Meditating, Weed and Other Stuff
I asked people on Instagram what they did to relieve stress and anxiety and a few things came up over and over: yoga, meditation, and weed. I can definitely say I have seen all three of these work for other people, just not me. Mostly because I am v. jaded and cranky. But the point is, what works for your friends might not work for you, but you should keep trying things until you find something that does. I rolled my eyes about essential oils until I finally tried them, so maybe I’ll end up not hating yoga someday too.
Hopefully I offered a few suggestions you haven’t tried yet – let me know in the comments!
Essential oils (aromatherapy): University of Maryland Medical Center write up on the benefits of aromatherapy
Exercise: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
Nutrient dense diet: Diet and Stress
Please note: I received some of the items mentioned in this post in exchange for my review, but I only wrote about items that actually worked for me and I would recommend to others. Additionally, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking them I could earn a small comission.
Vegan cheese really freaks non-vegans out. It’s a phenomenon that has always cracked me up a little bit. “But, what is it made from?” they ask, faces shriveled with disgust. Uh, it’s not made from a cow’s lactation? It’s made from nuts and vegetables, you friggin’ weirdo. I have conquered some of the greatest cheese skeptics – including my own siblings – with a delicious vegan cheese sauce. My brother happily ate second helpings of my vegan mac n’ yeast, while my sister marveled that my Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce was made from cashews.
So whenever I have a chance to check out a new vegan cheese cookbook I’m stoked, and I was especially excited to receive Jules Aron’s Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious Plant-Based Recipes because she’s a certified health and nutrition coach. Cheese with nutritional benefits? Even better.
But wait… because it gets even more exciting (for me). There is a flipping quinoa cheese recipe in this book, you guys! It’s like the most vegan vegan thing that ever veganed and I love it! If you follow me in Instagram you know I’m up to my elbows in I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa at all times and I love putting it in absolutely everything from cookies to bread to chili. So obvs I wanna put quinoa in my cheese.
Bonus: Toasted Quinoa is pre-washed, so you can skip that step, and it already has a nice nutty flavor, so if you want to skip the flax seeds in this recipe and add a little nutritional yeast for B-12 you can. This is a nice little base recipe that you can jazz up with yellow mustard, chili peppers, you name it.
This recipe is being shared with permission from the author. I was given a review copy of this book, but this is not a sponsored post. Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might earn a laughable amount of money from Amazon.
Spicy Quinoa Queso
By June 19, 2017Published:
- Yield: 2-3 cups
Use this cheese sauce as a dip, or try it over steamed veggies or basked potatoes.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup peeled and boiled sweet potato
- 1/2 cup cooked or canned corn
- 1.5 cups non-dairy milk
- 2 Tbs ground flaxseeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbs chipotle sauce
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions.
- Transfer quinoa to a blender, add the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Serve warm.
- Will keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
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Dude, I’ve been pretty upfront about how I feel about bananas. (They are gross.) But, this negative opinion is solely based on the texture which I find to be slimy and mushy. I like how bananas taste, and I really like how versatile they are in vegan recipes. So, it kinda shocked my husband when I rode the Nice Cream wave, but I am a wild, mysterious woman and he should know that by now.
Margie Broadhead has stepped up the Nice Cream game in her new book Guilt-Free Nice Cream: Over 70 Amazing Dairy-Free Ice Creams. This book is so cute you’re going to want to put it on display in your kitchen, and the recipes inside go way beyond the old blend a frozen banana and call it ice cream shtick.
I chose what I thought was the most over-the-top creative recipe in the whole book to share with you. Just look at these things and tell me you don’t want to serve these at your next party. I also fully support Margie’s suggestion of eating these for breakfast, because how awesome of a way to start your day would that be?
1 handful of fresh raspberries, to fill
For the base:
75 g (2 1/2 oz / 3/4 cup) rolled oats
4 pitted Medjool dates
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder or cocoa powder (optional)
For the lime nice-cream layer:
1 banana, peeled and frozen
1/2 ripe avocado
zest of 3 limes
125 ml (4 fl oz) freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5–6 limes)
For the raspberry nice-cream layer:
1 banana, peeled and frozen
125 g (4 oz / 1 cup) raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp coconut yoghurt or tinned coconut milk, chilled (thick part only)
2 tbsp almond milk
For the mango nice-cream layer:
1 banana, peeled and frozen
160 g (5 oz / 1 cup) mango chunks (about 1/2 mango)
1 tbsp coconut yoghurt or tinned coconut milk, chilled (thick part only)
2 tbsp almond milk
Recipe excerpted with permission from Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $19.99 hardcover. Please note that links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking them I could earn a comission. I was given this book to review, but this is not a sponsored post.
Lime Nice-Cream Slice
By June 11, 2017Published:
- Yield: 6 Servings
From the author: This may not look like your average breakfast but to be honest, there is nothing average about this. Creamy, yet refreshing, bursting with goodness and as pretty as a picture. Obviously you can enjoy this any time of the day, but I do love it for breakfast. Whip this up for a lovely summery morning and enjoy a great start to the day.
- Line the inside of a 21 x 11 x 7 cm (8 x 4 x 3 in) loaf tin with cling film (plastic wrap).
- Blend the ingredients for the base together in a food processor, and press into the bottom of the lined loaf tin.
- For the lime layer, blend together all the ingredients to form a thick and creamy nice cream. Pour into the prepared tin, on top of the base. Pop in the freezer to firm up for 20 minutes or so, then scatter over the fresh raspberries.
- Blend the ingredients for the raspberry nice-cream layer. Spread this over the fresh raspberries in the tin and freeze for another 20 minutes to firm up.
- Repeat with the mango layer, blitzing all the ingredients together and then pouring into the tin, on top of the raspberry nice-cream layer.
- Once all the layers are assembled, stick 6 lollipop sticks into the loaf at equal intervals and sprinkle the surface with the freeze-dried raspberries, raspberry powder and crushed pistachios.
- Leave in the freezer to firm up for a good couple of hours. When ready to serve, slice into portions and enjoy.
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I’ll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn about literally everything in the world. So, what I discuss in this video might not be news to you. In fact, I hope it isn’t. But, if you’re a parent and you consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ community, this might be something you hadn’t considered…
P.S. I realize I used the word “choose” in this in the context of whomever a person might choose to love. Being gay, of course, is not a choice. That’s definitely not what I meant when I said this phrase.
As always, the opinions I express in my videos are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any employer or clients of mine.
I was an ethical vegan before I became interested in the health benefits of a plant-based diet, so the first time I ever heard of The China Study was in Forks Over Knives. Long story short, it’s a fascinating study of how diet affects health. People from different parts of China were studied over a 10-year period, and what they found in the simplest terms was that people in urban areas who were eating a Western-influenced diet heavy on animal products had poorer health over time compared to people in more rural areas who were still eating a traditional diet that was mostly plant-based.
Since the film brought a new audience to the study, there have been lots of cookbooks released based on the whole food, plant-based diet recommended by the study’s findings, including several official China Study cookbooks. I was particularly interested in this one, though, because it was written for families with children. You know, those little creatures who can spot a “green thing” in their food from a mile away? I was curious if I could slide healthy treats past Teno – with no oils or refined sugars?
The day I received my review copy of The China Study Family Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Bring Your Family to the Plant-Based Table I made Blondies from white beans and date paste. I substituted the flour in the recipe with Toasted Quinoa Flakes so they’d be gluten-free, and have a little extra protein. Teno gobbled them up, regardless of the fact that they contained no oil, no refined sugar, and were made from whole food ingredients.
I decided to share this recipe today because 1) It’s hot AF in Chicago right now 2) I love anything with fewer than five ingredients and 3) I have an unbelievable amount of dates and cashews in my house.
I’m also giving away a copy of this book to one of you – if you live in the U.S. or Canada please enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click & make a purchase I could earn the tiniest amount of money you can possibly imagine.
4-Ingredient Cheesecake Pops
By June 4, 2017Published:
- Yield: 9 pops
I was an ethical vegan before I became interested in the health benefits of a plant-based diet, so the first time I ever heard of The …
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- Put the cashews and dates in a bowl, cover with water, and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. Transfer the cashews and dates to a blender, along with the berries and lemon juice. Puree until smooth and creamy, adding enough of the soaking liquid to make a creamy consistency.
- Spoon the puree into freezer pop molds, cover, and place craft sticks in the molds.
Freeze until firm, about 3 hours.
- To remove the pops from the molds, rinse the molds under cool water for 30 seconds, remove the lid, and gently pull the pops from the molds. Serve immediately, or store frozen in zip-top bags.
- RECIPE TIPS
To make vanilla cheesecake pops, leave out the berries and add 2 tablespoons more cashews, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract to the blender.
Sugar-free desserts may not taste sweet enough for those first starting to eat a healthier diet. It can take several weeks for your taste buds to down-regulate. If your kids, or you, are not enjoying sugar-free choices like this one, start by replacing half of the dates with an equal amount of maple syrup and then slowly reducing the amount of maple syrup while increasing the amount of dates in subsequent batches.
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This is my third year attending the Sweets & Snacks Expo, but the first time I’ve ever done a write-up of stuff I found rather than just posting it on social media. To be honest, most years I go, get totally overwhelmed by how many people there are, am shy because I’m always the only “weirdo,” and I leave without taking any samples or talking to anyone. But, I do a lot of these shows now for my company I Heart Keenwah, so this year I wasn’t shy and I actually found some cool stuff.
I started the day by interviewing Joy Bauer from the Today Show on Instagram live. Her company Nourish Snacks just rebranded with bold new packaging, and she reformulated her granola bites. Since the interview was live, it’s lost in space now, but the folks who were able to tune in got to hear Joy talk about how she chooses beneficial ingredients for her vegan-friendly snacks. Sarah from I Heart Keenwah and I also chatted her up about the healthy food biz and she was extremely gracious and generous with her time. I love meeting people like that in this business!
OK, onto five of the best things I tried at the show:
- Cocomels were sampling their new chocolate-covered coconut caramel bites so you know I got all up in that. I was a weird little kid whose favorite candy was Rolos so these things are near and dear to my heart. For Christmas I got my mom a subscription to Vegan Cuts and anytime Cocomels is in that month’s box I get a very happy text from her, followed by a complaint that my nieces ate them all.
- A Swedish company called Candy People was on hand with an elaborate display of gummy candy. I almost walked right past when I noticed they had “gelatin-free options” on their sign so I stopped to see if that meant vegan. It didn’t, as many of the candies contain carmine, but they did have clearly-marked vegan options like Sour Vikings. They taste like Sour Patch Kids, only they’re huge! It takes 2-3 bites to finish one, which in my opinion is a good thing.
- I’m honestly more of a savory snacker than a sweet one, so I was happy to see a brand called Green Mustache with a vegan, gluten-free take on the Goldfish cracker. Their Mustache Munchies are light and crunchy, and are made with chickpea flour, kale, and chia, so they’re actually nutritious. I tried the Cheddar-ish, but they also had Spicy-ish and Parmesan Rosemary (now that I think about it I have no idea why I didn’t try this one as it would have been my favorite, I’m sure.)
- One trend that I really loved at the show was seeing companies making whole, healthy foods snackable. Oh Snap Pickles had little snack pouches of pickles, plus new pickled veggies to snack on like carrots and string beans. My beloved Oloves was there with their delicious olive pouches, too. Those things save my life in the airport on a regular basis.
- The most interesting snack I saw all day came from a company called Porta Bela. They’re, you guessed it, a mushroom company, and the snack I tried was their new Porta Bela Chips – mushroom chips! These are so new they aren’t even on the company site yet, but the folks at the booth told me all the flavors were vegan – and I spotted a guacamole bacon and a blue cheese onion flavor so that’s pretty rad.
This show has hundreds of exhibitors, and while a lot of it is still pretty gross and weird to someone used to the natural food space, it’s awesome to see brands like Dandies, Hungry Buddha and Beanfields holding their own in a sea of cheesy poofs and sugar bombs.
Aquafaba has to be the biggest revelation to vegan cooking and baking since, I don’t even know what… the internet? Somewhere along the line, some genius figured out that the cooking liquid from beans is a near-perfect match for egg whites and vegan food has been unstoppable ever since.
Aquafaba has quickly becoming one of the it-ingredients, right up there with nutritional yeast and jackfruit – and for good reason. It whips into perfect peaks, bakes into airy meringues and macarons, binds in baking, fluffs falafels, churns into cheese and so much more.
I personally have two cookbooks based on the stuff, the latest of which is Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba by Rebecca Coleman. This book runs the gamut from sauces to savory to dessert, giving lots of uses from this unlikely ingredient.
Today I’m sharing the recipe for S’Mores Cups because one of aquafaba’s many talents is making vegan marshmallows and marshmallow fluff. If vegan graham crackers are tough to locate in your area, you can make your own. And, if you don’t have whole vanilla beans on hand, you can also use vanilla bean paste – but you really want to use one of the two instead of vanilla extract for the most marshmallowy flavor.
A note to aquafaba beginners: It is literally the cooking liquid from beans. Light-colored beans like chickpeas or Northern beans tend to be the most popular. You can reserve the cooking liquid when you cook beans, but the easiest way to get it is to buy a can of low-sodium or no-salt beans. Drain the can and reserve the liquid – that liquid is aquafaba! There are tons of tips for making your own, freezing it, storing it, making a concentrate, etc. in this cookbook so if you’re curious, pick it up!
Courtesy of Aquafabulous! 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba by Rebecca Coleman © 2017 www.robertrose.ca. Available where books are sold. Image credit: Colin Erricson.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
Vegan S'Mores Cups
By May 7, 2017Published:
- Yield: 6 Servings
Aquafaba has to be the biggest revelation to vegan cooking and baking since, I don't even know what... the internet? Somewhere along …
- 1 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup chopped dark vegan chocolate
- 3 Tbs Unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1/4 cup aquafaba
- 2 Tbs granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp vanilla bean seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Grab a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and if you have one, a kitchen torch.
- In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.
- Place 2 Tbs of this mixture in the bottom of each lined muffin cup and use the bottom of a glass to press it down.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. In a heatproof metal bowl, combine the chocolate and nondairy milk. Set the bowl on the saucepan so it doesn't touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth. If it's thick, add a bit more milk.
- Spoon 2 Tbs of the chocolate mixture over each graham cracker base, and shake the pan so form an even layer. Allow this to cool for 30 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the aquafaba, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla bean seeds. Beat with the hand mixer on low for two minutes. Then turn the speed up to medium and beat 2 more minutes. Crank it up to high speed and whip until fluffy and peaks form, about 4-6 minutes. It will look like marshmallow fluff.
- Spoon as much fluff as possible into each cup, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but preferably over night. (Bonus: You'll probably have leftover fluff.)
- Just before serving, pop the cups out of the pan and peel off the paper. Use a kitchen torch to toast the tops, if desired.
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Mansplaining. It’s a word that induces cringes from coast-to-coast… mostly in men. Unfortunately it’s a reality for many women – and also unfortunately – it’s often misused, rendering it meaningless to those who need to understand it the most.
Mansplaining is not when a man explains something to a woman. Mansplaining is when a man condescendingly (“well, actually”) explains something to a woman who is just as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable on the topic as he is. Mansplaining stems from what I call the “Prove It” Culture – the misogynistic tendency of men to refuse to believe or accept that a woman could be knowledgable about a traditionally male topic. Sports, heavy metal, comic books, video games, cars, etc.
Here is an example from third grade: It was the height of the Bulls dynasty. My mom was a Bulls fanatic, and my little brother an aspiring basketball player. Basketball was the topic of conversation around the dinner table more often than not. I went to school in a Chicago Bulls t-shirt and was immediately confronted by a male classmate, who challenged me to “name three players.” When I was able to (duh, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Horace Grant were gods in the Chicago suburbs) some other insult was hurled my way.
As as adult I have been challenged to “prove it” over my love of thrash metal, professional wrestling, and mixed martial arts. I have yet to meet a man who has ever had to prove that his interests were genuine. In fact, when I jokingly challenged a male friend to “name three Venom songs” when I first posted this video, he actually did it because he didn’t realize I was kidding. No one had ever done that to him before.
Now that I’m older, and have established myself pretty well as a person knowledgable about the things I speak about most often, I get less “prove it,” and more “well, actually.” This happens most often in my profession. I’ve spent the last 10 years as a marketing professional – specializing in social media strategy. Despite the fact that I’ve grown various brands’ I’ve worked for’s social media following by more than 600% in a period as short as six months, I still get social media bros “well actually-ing” me about everything from the best way to run an Instagram contest to the most effective hashtag strategies.
This is a really long intro for this video, but I know this is a subject people are very confused by, so I wanted to give it some context. When I recorded this Instagram story a few days ago I’d had two mansplaining incidents happen to me in a row and it was just too much.
Please be aware that I cuss like a sailor in this video (I was so, so mad) and, as always, the opinions expressed here are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of any of my clients or employers.
What do you think about mansplaining? Has it happened to you? Have you done it to others? Tell me in the comments!
Hey guys, who isn’t stoked about celebrating Mexican army’s victory over the French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862? I know I am! That’s why I did the unthinkable – two new posts in one week!
If there’s one thing everyone knows about me, it’s that I love beer-fueled social gatherings, so let’s get this party started! Before we begin, let’s do a little housecleaning. First, please answer the following questions:
- Are you a non-Hispanic person planning on wearing a sombrero to this evening’s festivities?
- Will you at any point tonight refer to the day as Cinco de Drinko?
- Will fake mustaches be involved in your gathering?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you should be aware that you’re on the verge of acting like an asshole. But, I’m here to help.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy here. I know people just like a reason to party. So, if you don’t want to be an asshole this Cinco de Mayo, here are some things you can do:
- Celebrate at local, family-owned Mexican restaurants
- Do not wear anything that mocks or co-ops Mexican culture
- Stay home, make delicious Mexican food and watch Mexican wrestling
- Donate to non-profits that work with Mexican immigrants (like Border Angels or the National Immigration Law Center)
My friend Kelly posted something yesterday on Seitan Beats Your Meat that you may find helpful – everything from how to order vegan food at local, Latinx-owned restaurants to how to respectfully celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I suggest you read it!
P.S. If you are staying home, here are some recipes you might want to try out:
- Vegan Ranch Tacos
- Cheap Vegan Nacho Cheese
- Nacho Chee-Zee Quinoa Casserole
- Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
- Smoky Tofu Mole Tacos
- Vegan Chilaquiles Verdes
- Taco Lasagna
I hope the past 10+ years of me doing this site has helped change the way people think about Chicago. Yeah, we love deep dish and hot dogs piled high with green relish and tomatoes (no ketchup, I swear to god we will hurt you) – but we also have a bangin’ vegan scene. We have tons of vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants with awesome vegan options, an action-oriented community with tons of pop-up markets and dinners, organized protests and meet ups, and, plenty of vegan cookbook authors, too.
One of those authors is Heather Crosby, creator of YumUniverse. Three years ago Heather released her first book, which was filled with healthy, gluten-free and vegan recipes and she’s back with a creative take on vegan/gf food once again. In her new book, YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have!, Heather offers up templates for recipes you can personalize a million and one ways.
For example, the Cheesy Comfort Food template offers up a mix-and-match of essentials for recipes featuring vegan cheese – veggies, cream.aromatics, acid, funk and extras. Using this template, you can customize your dream cheese using your fave ingredients – or whatever you have on hand – and then use them any way you like. She also includes recipes with each template to get you started (you know, if you went to Catholic school and like rules, like me).
I’m sharing her recipe for Sriracha Mac, which can be found in the Cheesy Comfort Food section – and inspired by the template idea – I’m noting here that if you don’t have or don’t like delicata squash, you could use another squash, sweet potato, or even cauliflower to make this sauce.
Recipe from YumUniverse Pantry to Plate © Heather Crosby, 2017. Photographs copyright © Heather Crosby, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
Vegan Sriracha Mac
By May 3, 2017Published:
- Yield: 4 Servings
I hope the past 10+ years of me doing this site has helped change the way people think about Chicago. Yeah, we love deep dish and hot …
- 1 12 oz package of macaroni noodles use gf, if desired
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced delicata squash steamed
- 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews soaked 4-6 hours, drained & rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp Sriracha plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground
- 4 scallions sliced
- toasted sesame oil opptional
- Boil a large pot of water and prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package directions.
- While the noodles cook, combine the squash, water, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt, sriracha and ginger in your blender and puree until very smooth.
Taste, and add more sriracha if needed.
Transfer into a large pot and heat over a low flame.
- Drain the noodles and add to the pot of sauce; add the scallions. Stir, and season with more salt if desired.
- Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and serve warm.
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