Friday Five: Natural, Vegan, DIY Treatments That Did Nothing to Help My Squamous-Cell Carcinoma

Before we dive into what I hope you’ve already figured out is my way of dealing with a scary experience by laughing about it, I want to tell you why I’m posting this.

I’m posting this because it’s really easy for us to ignore our health. Taking time out of your busy day to sit around a doctor’s office sucks. A lot of times doctors treat people – especially heavily tattooed people – like our ailments are our own fault, or like we’re drug-seekers. So many Americans do not have health insurance, or have shitty insurance with such high co-pays and deductibles that they’d rather just Google stuff than pay to see a doctor.

There are a lot of reasons to ignore signs that you may not be healthy. But I am here to request that you listen to your body, and don’t ignore your health. Some of you might remember a few years ago when I went to the E.R. because I was having a hard time catching my breath and it turned out I had deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. (You can read the whole story here.) Well, in May I got a little bump on my leg that I thought was a mosquito bite and this week I found out it was squamous-cell carcinoma. (You can read the whole story here.)

I’m totally fine, so no sympathy needed. It’s a really common form of skin cancer and the entire tumor was removed for the biopsy. My doctor said to just keep an eye out for more bumps, but he doesn’t think it will come back. But for months before I finally went to the doctor I tried to treat the bump myself – with natural, vegan products of course. So here are five of them that did absolutely nothing to cure cancer.

1. Quinoa Bath

This is a fabulous scrub that does not cure cancer.

I first noticed a little bump on my right calf while shaving my legs. It hurt when I poked it, and when my long skirts brushed up against it. I’m really allergic to mosquito bites, and oatmeal baths are a good way to relieve bug bites. But I hate oatmeal, so all I had in my house was Toasted Quinoa Flakes. I put them in the blender and took a warm bath steeped in toasted quinoa flour. It smelled nice, and made my skin soft, but it did not cure cancer.

2. Tea Tree Oil

I started suspecting that the mosquito bite had either become infected, or that it was actually an ingrown hair. It was really hard to see because it was on my calf, which is heavily tattooed and also as far away from my eyeballs as it could be, so instead of having it looked at after one entire month of pain I put some tea tree oil on it. I applied it “neat” as they say in the essential oils world, and covered it with a bandaid. It smelled lovely, but it did not cure cancer.

3. Coffee Scrub

By the middle of the second month I’d read everything on the entire internet about ingrown hairs and decided I had probably the worst one in the history of the world. At this point I’d purchased a magnifying glass and enlisted Tony in my bump-poking army. We applied lots of warm compresses, and I started scrubbing the bump, and both legs, every day with a homemade coffee body scrub. Tony would put on his headlamp for camping and peer at my bump with the magnifying glass every night. He googled a bunch of videos about removing ingrown hairs and we prepared to perform at-home surgery if necessary. The coffee scrub made my butt soft, but did not cure cancer.

4. Kale Brightening Mask

I might be the only vegan you’ll ever meet who will tell you with certainty that kale does not cure cancer.

I decided the coffee scrub was too mild and it was time to really show this ingrown hair who was boss, so I grabbed my Pacifica Kale Brightening AHA Surface Overhaul Mask. It smells like a green smoothie, and it works wonders to peel away dull, dead skin on my face so I figured it would work. My leg bump was baby soft and hella shiny, but alas, kale masks do not cure cancer. Still thinking this was a stubborn hair, I gave Tony the green light to hack at it with a pair of pointed tweezers. As you might imagine, this resulted in a bloody mess.

5. Soapwalla Balm

After our failed white trash surgery, my bump was pretty scabby. I wanted to see a doctor at this point, but knew no one would see past this mess of crusty blood and irritation. I’d just received a sample of The Balm from Soapwalla – a repair balm containing moringa oil, arnica, frankincense and a bunch of other skin-loving ingredients. I slathered the balm on the bloody bump and covered it with a band aid for about a week. It did help heal the wound, but it did not cure cancer.

Finally, I made an appointment with a local dermatologist. I explained that I had a gnarly ingrown hair, but when he looked at it, he recommended a biopsy. He didn’t even entertain the idea of it being a hair, actually. He thought it was either a neoplasm – which is a harmless growth some people develop after an injury (again, super allergic to mosquito bites so I thought maybe that was it) or basal cell cancer (which is typically not aggressive or dangerous) but since the skin is tattooed he wanted to remove the entire growth and have it analyzed.

Three days later he called me to say it was Squamous-Cell Carcinoma – a different type of common, and typically non-aggressive skin cancer. Luckily he removed the entire growth (tumor? I don’t know what to call it) to do the biopsy so now it’s just a matter of letting the stitches heal and keeping an eye out for any new ones.

Like I said, this is the second time I had what seemed like a really minor health issue but got it checked out anyway only to find out it was actually pretty serious. It was a huge reminder to me that I need to be my own advocate – whether it’s pushing back on doctors who don’t take me seriously, or in this case, just trusting myself enough to see one in the first place.

So please take care of yourselves because if you’re reading Bake and Destroy you’re obviously really cool and the world is short on really cool people. We need you.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and buy any of these items that definitely do not cure cancer, I will earn a small commission that will go toward the couple hundred bucks I spent actually getting rid of cancer. More realistically, though, I will spend it on food.

 

 

 

Sweet, Savory, & Free: Lemon Streusel Basil Blackberry Muffin Recipe

If you’re anything like me, by which I mean a totally half-assed backyard gardener, your window boxes are overflowing with basil right now and you are all pesto’d out. You’ve cooked all the pasta. You’ve eaten all the fancy strawberry basil salads and you still have so much basil it’s starting to get embarrassing.

Well, let me ask you this, have you tried making it into muffins? Because you can. And you can do it vegan, and without the top 8 food allergens. What? Yeah, you read that right. So go grab your basil and let’s do this using a recipe from Debbie Adler new book, Sweet, Savory, and Free: Insanely Delicious Plant-Based Recipes without Any of the Top 8 Food Allergens.

The streusel topping calls for date paste, which you can make yourself pretty easily.

Date Paste

To make the date paste: Place 10 Medjool pitted dates and 1 cup of water in a small bowl. Let them soak for about 20 minutes. Drain the dates and keep the water they soaked in. Add the dates to a food processor. Puree the dates until combined. While the machine is still running, add the reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dates are combined and the mixture is somewhat smooth. You should only need 2–3 tablespoons of the reserved soaking water.

Lemon Streusel

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup date paste (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free oats,
  • ground (I use a coffee grinder)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Whisk together the coconut sugar, date paste, oats, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

Nutritional info: Serving size – 1 muffin. Calories 70; Total Fat 4.0g; Protein 1.0g; Cholesterol 0.0g; Sodium 50mg; Fiber 2.0g; Sugars 4.0g; Total Carbohydrate 20.0g

Printed with permission from Debbie Adler. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might earn a commission.

Lemon Streusel Basil Blackberry Muffin Recipe

By BakeandDestroy Published: August 28, 2017

  • Yield: 12 Servings
  • Cook: 18 mins

If you're anything like me, by which I mean a totally half-assed backyard gardener, your window boxes are overflowing with basil right …

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. Make the date paste and streusel recipes above.
  3. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, basil, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, guar gum, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.
  4. Add the applesauce, coconut nectar, lemon juice, lemon extract, and stevia, and stir to combine. Add the yogurt and coconut milk, and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the batter is smooth.
  5. Fold in 1/2 cup of the blackberries, and stir to incorporate.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing it evenly. Each cup should be about three-quarters full.
  7. Top each cup with some streusel.
  8. Bake the muffins until they are a light golden brown and bounce back slightly to the touch, about 18 minutes. Rotate the muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking.
  9. Transfer the muffin tin to a wire rack, and let it sit for 10 minutes before removing the muffins to cool completely.

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    Friday Five: Vegan Breakfast Ideas

    My favorite vegan breakfast is a toasted sesame bagel smothered in about 700 calories of extra-salty walnut butter, I’m just going to be honest with you. But, I’ve learned to make that a “sometimes” food when I feel like treating myself. The rest of the time, I look for breakfast options that are quick to make or can be prepped the day before, high protein, and that will keep me full until lunch.

    Sidenote: I wish more than anything I could be a smoothie person, but I’m not. I need to chew food to believe it’s food.

    1. Tofu Scramble

    Hear me out, hear me out. Tofu scramble is NOT a copout. You can do a lot with this high-protein breakfast option, plus you can make a big batch on Sunday night and be super stoked on yourself the next few mornings when all you have to do is warm it up (or not).

    Switch out the veggies and seasonings for a different scramble every time. My go-to is the Non-Cop-Out Tofu Scramble from my book which calls for nutritional yeast, Kalamata olives, spinach, Italian seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice, but the sky’s the limit. Try adding vegan cheese and tortilla chips for Breakfast Nachos or throw it on a biscuit crust for Breakfast Deep Dish Pizza.

    Oh, and if you like your scramble to resemble scrambled eggs, you can use this Savory Egg Mix.

    2. Toasted Quinoa Flakes

    Full disclosure, I work for I Heart Keenwah, makers of Toasted Quinoa Flakes – but I wouldn’t recommend these if I didn’t really eat them. I want to love oatmeal because it’s so easy to make, but there really isn’t much going on there nutritionally and I find that most flavored oatmeals have a ton of sugar. Toasted Quinoa Flakes are a good swap because they cook in two minutes, but they pack in 5g protein per serving and only 1-2g sugar.

    These are a blank slate, so I like to make them into Chee-Zee Quinoa “Grits,” using nutritional yeast, some spices and vegan bacon. If you like your oatmeal(ish things) on the sweet side, try adding 2 Tbs of your favorite vegan protein powder (I like VeganSmart’s BadAssVegan Strawberry Shortcake) and top with some fresh fruit and low-sugar granola. Shout out to my absolute favorite, Michele’s Granola.

    3. Not-Avocado Toast

    Avocado toast is actually a great breakfast, especially if you add some spinach or beans or some other form of vegan protein. For something different, try edamame toast for protein, texture. Or make this easy chia spread and serve it with apple slices and whole grain toast.

    4. Hash it Out

    Similar to tofu scramble, but a little heartier, and if you don’t like tofu, you can make totally tofu-free hashes. I don’t know the official definition of a hash and I’m too lazy to Google it, but the basic idea here is a bunch of veggies cooked with garlic and onions with potatoes or sweet potatoes as the main event. My favorite is Smoky Jackfruit Hash, which you can make from scratch with young jackfruit in brine, or using Upton’s jackfruit.

    Vegetables for breakfast is my favorite in general – so this is a great way to add lots of flavor on a Sunday night and just reheat and eat all week. It might seem weird if you’re used to sweet cereals or smoothies, but a whole bunch of protein, fiber and some fat (try olives or avocado) will give you lots of energy and kickstart your metabolism for the day.

    5. French Toasted Everything

    Yes I am the genius suggesting French Toast as a revolutionary vegan breakfast idea. No I’m not, why don’t you just shut up and read for a sec? OK, so listen – you can French toast anything. And therein lies the genius. Leftover zucchini bread? French toast it. Experimental muffin recipe that didn’t quite work out? French Toast it.

    Just check out this guide I made, keep some stuff on hand, and be a hero in your household when in reality you are actually feeding your family stale bread and/or mistakes: How to French Toast Everything

    What are your go-to weekday breakfasts?

    Friday Five: Five Ways to Combat White Nationalists Without Punching Anyone

    In light of last weekend’s events in Charlottesville – by which I mean a domestic terrorist plowing through a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer – I thought it would be trite to make my second Friday Five about my favorite podcasts or five ways to eat cauliflower. Instead, I’m giving you five ways you can take action against the rise of the alt-right, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, or whatever cute nickname you have for the racist, nationalist trash rising out of the gutters of this country.

    Feel free to add more ideas in the comments, and please note that I will be monitoring the comments because, in case it hasn’t occurred to you already, a vegan feminist blog is not a safe place for bigots.

    1. Support the Victims

    There is an official GoFundMe benefitting the victims of Saturday’s attack. It has surpassed it’s original modest goal, but imagine the medical expenses that 19 people who were hit by a car are racking up. This fundraiser has been cited on many reputable news sources, so I feel confidant that the funds raised will go to the appropriate people. I have also seen GoFundMe campaigns for individual victims.

    2. Educate Yourself

    I’ve seen my Google analytics. I know that the majority of people who read this blog are white women. To the people of color here, none of this is news to you, feel free to call me out if I fuck it up. Being an ally goes beyond acknowledging your privilege. Being an ally does not mean posting memes or photo ops at a rally. While you should acknowledge your privilege, and sharing ideas online and attending rallies are all good things to do – don’t expect a trophy for being “a good white person.”

    That being said, don’t count on people of color to educate you. It’s not their job. There are plenty of lists out there about books you can read to be a better ally to people of color, to women of color, and to the LGBTQ community. Read them. Bonus points if you read them without Instagramming them next to a matcha latte or whatever.

    Also in this category, I’d say to my fellow white people – don’t get offended. There are going to be generalities spoken and if they don’t apply to you, don’t get riled up about them. If someone says “white people are racist” but you aren’t racist, it’s not about you, move on. If someone says “white women voted for Trump” but you did not, no need to wave that flag, just keep on keepin’ on. You don’t have to tell people you’re one of the good ones – prove it. Oh, and if you do get called out on something by a member of a marginalized group, take the time to try and understand why.

    3. Engage With Real, Actual Humans

    Fighting with weirdos on the internet is super fun, I’m not going to lie. But as satisfying as it is to sick burn an egg avatar on Twitter, it’s futile. Instead, combat prejudice in your own social circle, and in your family. Don’t let racists jokes slide at Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t let your aunt use the phrase “those people.” Compare Islam to Christianity when your dad starts going on about terrorists, show him that the similarities outweigh the differences. The most important thing you can do, and maybe the best use of white privilege, is to stop those microaggressions, and stop normalizing hatred and fear.  Yes, it will get awkward. Yes, your mom will probably get mad at you. But the people being dehumanized by those microaggressions would take feeling awkward over being afraid any day – so stand up for them.

    4. Build Your Community

    After the election, local government bodies across the country saw a surge of interest from women. The same should be true in times like this. Whether you go through the steps of actually running for office, volunteering for a candidate you believe in, or you find your local chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, or Black Lives Matter, or any grassroots organization – your hands and mind and body are needed! If marching through the streets isn’t for you, volunteer your time in after school programs that help to shape kids into compassionate people. Bonus: volunteering your time is an excellent way to alleviate that feeling of helplessness that can overtake you when it seems like the whole world has lost it’s damn mind.

    5. Give What You Can

    A t-shirt featuring a snarky comment about the president is fun to own, but consider instead throwing that $25 toward any of the numerous organizations that are working to combat hatred, defend the innocent, uphold our constitutional rights, and reform those who have been swallowed up by hate groups. There are so many I can’t list them all here, but a few you may not know about include Southern Poverty Law Center, Life After Hate, and Indigenous Environmental Network. Like I said – there are SO MANY amazing organizations, these are just a few. Feel free to comment about your favorites.

    This really only scratches the surface, guys, but I’ve seen so many friends already talking about feeling drained and emotionally spent and not knowing what to do – so here’s a start. Whenever you start feeling drained, keep in mind that just because this fight is new to you, doesn’t mean marginalized people have not been fighting it for decades and decades. Because they have. So chin up, dudes. Let’s do this.

    Event: Sumatra and the Money Tree Fundraiser for Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary

    Less than 500 Sumatran elephants exist in the wild today. Due to the devastating impact of the palm oil industry, Sumatra’s rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate, causing the loss of natural habitat for many wildlife species, and creating easier opportunities for poaching.

    They are now critically endangered, and palm oil is largely to blame. Because of all this, places like the Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary have become a necessity in order to help protect land and wildlife.

    Come join Hiraeth Diaries on September 8 at Slate Studio for a fundraiser event. Complimentary drinks and snacks will be provided, all palm oil-free. Images will be on display and for sale, and raffle prizes will be available as well. The night will end with a presentation featuring images and stories captured in Sumatra, giving you a deeper look into the affects of palm oil, the stories of people fighting to end deforestation, and learn more about what you can do to help.

    All proceeds will be donated to the Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary. Tickets are limited, so reserve your seats today!

    15 Minute Vegan: Edamame Beans on Toast

    Sunday night is meal prep night in my house. It’s a lot less daunting than it sounds. We take a few minutes after dinner and before Game of Thrones to wash the produce we’re going to use for the week, chop a few things, maybe whirl together a vegan cheese sauce or salad dressing, and then it’s off to see what Jon Snow is up to before bed. The rest of the week, thanks to those couple minutes of prep, we’re generally able to pack a healthy lunch and throw together a quick dinner without much hassle.

    Katy Beskow has a similar philosophy on her blog Little Miss Meat-Free, and now in her new cookbook 15 Minute Vegan: Fast, Modern Vegan Cooking. The book is filled with smart short cuts to make filling breakfasts, sides, entrees and even desserts. It’s a no-presh intro to vegan food for beginners, and a “ah-hah” book of new ideas for old pros.

    I chose this breakfast recipe to share because so many healthy breakfast options require loads of prep – whether it’s pressing tofu or making puff pastry, and this one takes literal minutes.

    Recipe excerpted with permission from 15 Minute Vegan by Katy Beskow, published by Quadrille July 2017, RRP $22.99 hardcover. Please note that some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you click – but this is not a paid or sponsored post. 

    Edamame Beans on Toast

    By BakeandDestroy Published: August 13, 2017

    • Yield: 2 Servings

    Tip from Natalie: Throw a little nutritional yeast on these babies and go to town.

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. In a pan, heat the olive oil and edamame beans over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and quickly stir-fry for another minute.
    2. Reduce the heat to low-medium. Add the lemon juice to the pan. Stir the chives through the beans along with the salt. Cook for a further minute and then smash the beans roughly.
    3. Lightly toast the bread until crisp and golden. Pile the beans high on the bread and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for an added fruity flavour, if desired. Top with tomatoes before serving.
    4. TIP: Frozen edamame beans are available from many large supermarkets. They are very versatile, so keep a handy bag in the freezer.

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      Friday Five: Healthy Snack Obsessions

      Hi. How are you? Welcome to Friday Five. I’ve been listening to a lot of Podcasts lately so I thought that would be a good way to intro this post. If it was really a podcast I’d talk for like, 20 minutes about some bullshit before I start actually talking about the thing you want to hear.

      Anyway, this is Friday Five. It’s new. I wanted to have a place where I could shout-out random stuff I’ve been into lately so this is it. Sometimes it’ll be food, sometimes TV, sometimes cosmetics, maybe sometimes it’ll be something you don’t expect like my five favorite cannibals or five of the best public restrooms in Chicago, who knows?

      Today it’s food. Specifically, healthy snacks. Tony and I have been on a fitness kick since about April, and ever since we started using MyFitnessPal to track what we were eating we realized we were eating like two dumpster rats. So I’ve been on the look out for snacks that fit my super unscientific criteria of:

      • not a lot of sugar (<10g)
      • not too many carbs (I don’t really know what this means)
      • not too much fat (again, no idea what that means)
      • protein
      • not popcorn, because popcorn makes me fart

      So here are five snacks I’ve been digging lately:

      1. Munk Pack Vegan Protein Cookies

      If you’re portion controlling be aware that one cookie = two servings, but on run days all 360 calories are exactly what I need. These are a little harder to find than Len and Larry’s vegan protein cookies, but I prefer them if for no other reason than the ingredient deck is short and simple. They’re also a little lower in sugar and carbs than Len & Larry cookies. I’ve tried all of them and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip is my fave. Your best bet is to grab a 6-pack on Amazon, hopefully they offer a variety pack soon.

      2. Candy Bar Smoothie 

      Yeah, that’s right. My own friggin’ recipe and you know what? It’s goooood. Whip one up when you’re craving a bowl of ice cream and you’ll be surprisingly satisfied. Add a scoop of your favorite vegan protein powder to this and it’s a complete breakfast.

      3. Teff & Almond Butter Cookies 

      Dude I’m so spoiled to live so close to Oromo Cafe! Their pastry case is filled with all these nutritious, vegan and gluten-free treats – and don’t get me started about the house-made pistachio milk. But my favorite nom is the Teff & Almond Butter Cookie. It’s just sweet enough to hit the spot, with a soft, crumbly texture that just begs to be eaten slow and savored. I couldn’t find an exact match online, but these Peanut Butter Maca Cookies sound pretty dope, too.

      4. Ziyad Dark Chocolate Dates

      These are also delicious, but I forgot about them until I wrote all this other stuff. Oops.

      Hey – yeah, I could make these myself. Easily. I can also walk next door to the international market and buy a bag for $6 so don’t vegan-shame me. It’s an almond, wrapped in a date, wrapped in vegan dark chocolate – basically a vegan turducken. Throw some coconut oil in there and it’s what vegans are made of. These little gems are only 45 calories each, and under 3g sugar. They’re a little bigger than a bite size candy bar, and to these vegan tastebuds, they taste just like a Snickers bar.

      5. Nachos, Kinda 

      Guess what I found out? My Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce recipe is healthy AF! It makes about three cups, which is about 12 servings, each of which is only 106 calories and 1g fat – but 7g protein! Yeah bitch, you can eat nachos alllllll day. Ok so tortilla chips maybe aren’t the best, but you could swap in some gluten-free bean chips or shoot, just dump it over your favorite nacho toppings and eat it with a fork, who needs chips? I’ve been using this recipe as salad dressing because nacho cheese > salad dressing forever and I keep some in the fridge whenever I feel like having a savory snack – it’s pretty rad with baby carrots!

      OK dudes, that concludes my first Friday Five, I hope you liked it! I think next week I might talk about TV shows I’ve been binging on lately, but feel free to request topics in the comments!

      Please note: This is NOT a sponsored post, I purchased and used these products and this is my honest opinion of them. Some of these links are affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase I might earn the smallest amount of money imaginable.

      Vegano Italiano: Spaghetti With Pureed Tomatoes Recipe

      In Italian cooking, there is beauty in simplicity. Zucchini blossoms dusted with parsley, salt, flour, and fried until crispy. Fresh, crusty bread swirled in olive oil. Salty olives roasted with garlic and rosemary. A perfectly ripe cherry tomato dipped in salt.

      My mom’s stories about my great-grandpa Teno’s onion sandwiches with black pepper and mayo set the stage for my life-long love of those simple pleasures. When you let fresh, seasonal ingredients do the talking you don’t need any fancy tricks or frills.

      For those reasons, I was excited to get my hands on Rosalba Gioffré’s Vegano Italiano: 150 Vegan Recipes from the Italian Table. The recipes are divided into seasons, so you can skip right to your current season and cook with the ripest, freshest ingredients. Summer happens to feature lots of veggies and herbs that many of us have growing in our backyard (or in my case, back porch) gardens.

      For this recipe, pluck those vine-ripe tomatoes, basil and green peppers or chili peppers and enjoy this simple meal that celebrates the summer’s bounty.

      Published with permission from the author and publisher. Please note that some links on this site are affiliate links, andI could earn money if you click them and make a purchase.

      Spaghetti With Pureed Tomatoes

      By BakeandDestroy Published: August 7, 2017

      • Yield: 4 Servings

      In Italian cooking, there is beauty in simplicity. Zucchini blossoms dusted with parsley, salt, flour, and fried until crispy. Fresh, …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. Put the tomatoes, a few leaves of basil, chili pepper, salt, and plenty of oil into a blender. Blend on the highest setting until you have a red sauce. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the whole clove of garlic.
      2. Cook the pasta in a large pot - be sure to salt the water. Drain when al dente, and toss it in the tomato sauce.
      3. Add more basil and olive oil, toss, remove the garlic clove, and serve.

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        Current Fave Vegan Hair Care Products

        I’ve written a few posts about my favorite vegan and natural skin care products, and I even wrote about my favorite natural remedies for stress. So I figured name-dropping some of my tried-and-true vegan hair care products only made sense to do. Please note that these are products I’ve used on my own hair, which is naturally very straight, color-treated, but generally healthy. If you have textured hair I can’t make any promises, but I can direct you to The Sistah Vegan Project for some of her favorite products.

        Wash

        I’m not going to lie, I’m a real shampoo tramp and it’s hard for me to be loyal to just one. However, I received a set of EVOLVh UltraShine Shampoo and Conditioner in my Petit Vour box a while back and actually repurchased. Those of you who receive sample boxes know that it takes something special for that to happen. Obviously I like that it’s vegan and cruelty-free, but I also thought the shampoo did a good job of removing product and sweat without stripping my color-treated hair.

        When I’m having a little Lush splurge, I always grab a bar of New Solid Shampoo. I’m obsessed with all things clove, so this spicy scented bar smells good enough to eat. P.S. If you know of ANY clove beauty products please tell me in the comments. I’ve started making my own at home because there is a serious clove shortage in the beauty world. Solid shampoos are cool, just remember to make the lather in your hands and then rub that into your hair – don’t rub the bar on your head or you’re going to damage your do.

        My fave solid shampoo from Lush

        Another request – if you have a dry shampoo you love I want to hear about it. My hair is so fine and dark I’ve never found one that doesn’t show. I’ve also been told by my stylist that the best way to use it is on clean hair – kind of like putting deodorant on clean pits. That way it can absorb oil as your scalp makes it, rather than trying to sop up oil that’s already there. I’d love to hear your tricks if you have them!

        Hair Color 

        My hair is box black and has been for years (this is my natural color if you’re curious). If you want to go the totally natural route, henna is a great, but messy option. You should know, however, that once you’ve used henna on your hair you pretty much have to grow it out because it goes insane when you try to lift it – and yeah, you can lie to your hairdresser about that, but they’ll find out soon enough when you have some kinda clown massacre under those foils.

        If you’re looking for something natural (aka a color that could feasibly grow from a human head) you’ll find options in your local Whole Foods Market or health food store, I’ve personally never used those as I mentioned, I go for vampire black. For that, Arctic Fox’s Transylvania is a great semi-permanent option. Not only is Arctic Fox vegan and cruelty-free, but they also donate 15% to help animals (read more). It’s a little messier to use than what you might be used to – so buy a hair color mixing bowl and a brush, and be sure to rub some coconut oil on your ears and around your hairline so you don’t dye your skin. It’s really inexpensive, creates less waste than boxed hair color, and like I said, no bunnies were harmed, so I think it’s worth a little effort.

        My hair is Black No. 1… I really just wanted a reason to put this picture of Peter Steele on my blog.

        To keep my blue-black looking sharp between coloring, I use Overtone‘s Extreme Blue daily conditioner, and once  week I throw on the deep conditioning treatment. (Use my affiliate link for $10 off your first $30+ purchase.) Overtone is cool because if your hair is light, you can actually color your hair with it, and you can use it to tint medium shades. For dark hair like mine, I use it as a toner. As I mentioned, my hair is blue-black, but dark purple is also a nice tone to use with black hair. It’s a quality conditioner, to boot, so your hair will feel great. Do be aware that it can stain your hands, so keep a pair of plastic gloves in the shower.

        Treatment

        I mentioned Overtone’s weekly conditioning treatment in the paragraph above – that’s an easy way to keep my color fresh and give my hair some love. In a pinch, I also sometimes wet my hair, apply coconut oil, top it off with a plastic cap (real talk, I never have one, so I end up with a Target bag on my head) and let it sit for 20 or so minutes before shampooing it out. I’ve also massaged straight avocado into my hair – this is actually a good use for avocados that are too ripe to eat. Why waste them?

        There are two other products that I use religiously to treat my hair. One is Hair Revive Oil by French Girl Organics – another company I discovered in my Petit Vour box. I actually just read their instructions and realized I have been using it incorrectly for years, but it works for me so whatevs. I put literally ONE DROP in my hands and rub it on the ends of my dry hair – then whatever is still on my hands gets smoothed over the crown of my head where all my frizz lives. I’ve had so many friends tell me how soft and shiny my hair looks and this is 100% why. I’ve had one 2oz bottle for more than a year now so it’s well-worth the $38 investment.

        This stuff is magical.

        I noticed that my stylist always uses leave-in conditioner on my hair before she blow-dries it and I always thought it was overkill since we obviously just conditioned it when it was washed. But, I couldn’t deny that it was always smoother and less frizzy when I left her chair than when I do it at home so I grabbed some Giovanni Direct Leave In Treatment Conditioner at Whole Foods. I just use a little bit on my wet hair whenever I wash it (which is not suuuuper often) and it helps keep it smooth and prevents tangles while I blow dry.

        Styling

        I realized after I created this category that I actually only own one styling product because I have a super low maintenance bob. That’s Max Green Alchemy Texture Paste, if you’re curious. Otherwise I just smooth on some French Girl Organics Hair Revive Oil and I’m done. But, if you need more product to make your hair big, smooth, curly, bouncy, or what have you, some good brands to check out include:

        Also, don’t be shy when you’re visiting the salon – tell your stylist you don’t want to use products containing silk, collagen, keratin, or beeswax and request that they use synthetic brushes. More and more high end styling products are going vegan and cruelty-free these days so it shouldn’t be tough for them to accommodate and if it is, see if you can bring your own products for them to use.

        Finally, see if there are any cruelty-free salons in your area – lots of salons are starting to set themselves apart in this way. In Chicago we have Starship Salon, Black Hearts Hair House and Fix Hair Studio, just to name a few.

        Your Turn

        So those are my favorites – I’d love to hear yours! Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget – if you have hot tips for using dry shampoo or know of any great clove-scented cosmetic products let me know!

        Disclaimer: Please note that I purchased all of the items mentioned here, and did not receive any of them for free, nor did I receive compensation for this post. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, I will earn a commission.

        Frugal Vegan: Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats Recipe

        I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’d love to go vegan but it seems expensive. I get it – if you were to load up on cashew cheese, fake meats from the frozen aisle, or just go to restaurants all the time it really would be. But shop the produce aisle, and keep a couple of staples on hand and all of the sudden you’re eating vegan for just a few bucks a meal.

        In their new book, Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Vegan Cooking, Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee of Well Vegan show you how it’s done. This cookbook features tips for smart shopping, and creative recipes that call for inexpensive ingredients that pack a flavorful, and nutritional punch.

        I’ve mentioned a few times before my struggle with breakfast. I’ve overcome the battle to find something healthy and easy by just doing some prep work on Sunday night. You could easily prep the filling for these Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats ahead of time and then just throw them together on weekday mornings.

        From Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Allie Lehman

        Please note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase.

        Sweet Potato Breakfast Boats

        By BakeandDestroy Published: July 23, 2017

        • Yield: 2 Servings

        From the author: Sweet potatoes are a delicious and versatile, yet often overlooked, breakfast food. They can stand in for toast when sliced thin, cooked on a cast-iron skillet and topped with avocado, and they offer a healthier way to do hash browns. Here, we make them into boats we can fill with our favorite toppings. We went with a Southwest theme for this recipe, but you can really use anything you have sitting in your pantry or fridge. Chickpeas, broccoli, bell pepper, spinach—get creative!

        Ingredients

        Instructions

        1. Using a fork, poke holes all around the sweet potato. Place it on a paper towel or microwave-safe plate and microwave for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
        2. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then, with the fleshy parts facing up, cut a slit lengthwise down the middle of each half. Use a couple of forks to split open the sweet potato halves so you’re left with little pockets.
        3. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the cumin and cayenne. Then, fill each sweet-potato boat with the avocado, followed by the black beans, corn and salsa. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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