Friday Five: Gifts for Obsessed Pet Parents

I grew up with loads of critters – cats, guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, turtles, ducks, sea monkeys galore and a very lazy chocolate lab named Bailey. But it wasn’t until I got a pet of my very own, my fluffy little princess Lulu, that I became a full-blown crazy pet parent. And while I have commissioned portraits of her, started a hashtag with more than 400 photos of her (#luluslater) and allow her to sleep on my head every  night, Tony’s the one with a tattoo of her so I think he’s actually more obsessed than I am.

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I’d delve into this weird new aspect of my personality with a couple of gift suggestions for others who are just as, if not more, obsessed with their pets.

1. Pet Pop Art

Crazy pet parents, like any parents, always have a photo on deck to show anyone who asks about their furry (or feathered, or whatever) friend. If you have someone like this in your life, help them to take it step further, by turning their pet into art. Pop Your Pup can turn any pet into a work of art or apparel. Just send in a few photos, choose a background (they have tacos!), pick your medium and wait one day for your proof. Revise as needed, and in a few more days you will have the gift to end all gifts. Buying for yourself? Outfit the entire family in t-shirts featuring the family pet and send out the most epic holiday card of all time!

Prices range from $29.99 – $199.99

Giveaway alert: Stick around for the end of this post to enter to win a $150 gift card to Pop Your Pup!

2. 3-D wearable Pet Portraits

There are zillions of ways to immortalize your friend or family member’s pet on necklaces or brooches, but I was instantly drawn to the colorful clay portraits made by NicomadeMe. The process involves no paint – rather, layers of colored clay are sculpted into a 3-D portrait of just about any pet. Lizards, birds, cats, dogs – just scrolling through the gallery made me smile.

Prices range from $40 – $75

3. Matching Jammies

Listen, I am not above wearing matching outfits with my dog, but I understand that not everyone is willing to go there. But, matching pajamas? Yeah, that’s something ANY pet owner can get on board with. Pajamagram offers matching jammies for cats, dogs, and the entire rest of your family. I am especially fond of the Norman Rockwell print.

Prices range from $19.99 – $59.99 per outfit

4. The Gift of Prayer

I have a pretty sweet collection of faux prayer candles featuring everyone from Morrissey to Dita von Teese to …uh, myself. But who better to light a candle to than our beloved pets? I found two really cute options – the really affordable $12 custom pet prayer candle from Erin Kayla Designs, and these options from Go Saint Yourself that allow you to create a candle featuring your friend or loved one and their favorite pet. (Check out the Mother and Father options, swapping in a pet for a kid.)

Prices range from $12 – $25

5. For the True Animal Lover

If the person on your shopping list is a true animal lover, they’ll love and appreciate a donation to a local no-kill shelter made in their name just as much, if not more than, anything else on this list. This gift isn’t limited to cats and dogs, either, there are rescues for hamsters, rabbits, snakes, birds – you name it! So use the Google machine and find a worthy center to donate to.

Please note: The Pop Your Pet giveaway from this post is now closed. Please refer to this Instagram post for the winner’s info.

Friday Five: 5 Step Vegan Lasagna Dip

A couple weeks ago I had a cough that wouldn’t go away, so after days of resisting, I finally gave in and took a couple of Primatene tablets. You may or may not know this about me, but I don’t drink or do any drugs, so cough medicine typically gets me pretty drunk. Needless to say, Ephedrine, which is the active ingredient in Primatene, makes me batshit crazy. It was during this Primatene high that I looked up at Tony – up, because I was laying on the floor letting my dog run all over my face – and said, “I’m gonna make lasagna dip.”

Even though I have since sobered up, and gotten over my cough, I’ve been dreaming of lasagna dip ever since. It just so happens that I have also been plotting a Garfield Halloween costume for weeks, so I thought the party I’m attending tonight would be the perfect time to unveil this stoner creation on the world.

Full disclosure – the title of this post isn’t meant to be misleading, but it might be. I said five steps. I didn’t say five “easy” steps. I didn’t say five “quick” steps. I said five steps. Each step is actually a pretty significant amount of work, so Odie bless you if you actually try and make this beast. Someone already asked if you could make this into baked lasagna, and the answer is yes. Just add pasta, and bake.

1. Make the Meat

I wanted to make each layer from scratch, so I skipped the packaged “beef” crumbles and opted to pulse together a combination of walnuts and cauliflower instead. You could also use lentils instead of cauliflower, but I really wanted the seasoning to come through and thought lentils might cover it up.

Get the Recipe


  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups whole walnuts
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • Fennel to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor until they form a beef-like crumble. Spread onto a greased baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.

2. Sauce it Up

You can easily grab a jar of sauce if you don’t want to make your own, but I felt like being a crazy person.

Get the Recipe


  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp ground pepper Directions: In a medium pot over medium-high heat, stir together the tomato paste, water and olive oil. Bring to a boil, and allow it to boil for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer for 5-8 minutes.

3. A Simple Ricotta

I normally make vegan ricotta from cashews, but since there were already so many nuts going into this dip, I wanted to use tofu instead. I decided not to reinvent the wheel here, and just used Happy Herbivore’s recipe.

4. Tip Top

Choosing toppings is going to be a personal process for you – what do you like in your lasagna? Since I was cooking for a party, I decided not to layer in my favorite lasagna ingredients, but rather to place them on top so anyone who doesn’t like them can bypass them for the rest of the dip. I personally just like some black olives, basil and roasted garlic so I decided to top mine with a vegan pesto, sliced olives and a whole head of roasted garlic.

5. Get Dressed

If you really want to make this a memorable experience, you’ll dress up like Garfield to serve it. I mean, that’s what I’m doing. But, if you want to be lame and just serve it in your lame human form, divide each of the first three components into 2-3 parts and spread them in a shallow glass dish or a glass bowl (so you can see the layers, duh). You’ll see pretty quickly where you might want to add more red or green. I decided to use some ricotta on top so the green pesto would pop.

I know this was a little departure from my usual #FridayFive posts, but it’s what Garfield would want.

Friday Five: All of the Clove

Here’s an anecdote that might lead you to believe I am 100 years old: When I was a kid, one of my favorite holiday activities was making clove-studded oranges. It was a wholesome activity that combined three favorite things: clove, buying fruit and not eating it, and stabbing. Yes, along with licorice, another divisive flavor and aroma I obsess over is clove. So let’s dive into five ways to enjoy this spicy, goth AF ingredient:

1. Clove Essential Oil Hard Candy

I fell down a rabbit hole trying to track down clove gum and ended up in this Etsy shop where I have now purchased clove candies three times. You can request organic sugar, which I guess makes eating sugar and essential oil more adult? Clove oil has a fun numbing effect on your mouth – not so much that you’ll slur or drool, but just enough to feel weird and good. One piece of advice – I prefer the circle shape as the more angular shapes break more.

2. Clove Toothpaste

I used to love Lush’s clove Toothy Tabs but they discontinued them a while back! While they still make other blends (like Oral Pleasure, which I wish wasn’t pomegranate because I’d love to use a Pulp Fiction toothpaste) I now have to get my clove fix in powder form from their Atomic Tooth Powder. It’s made with a bunch of my favorite spicy-spices but most importantly, clove. You can also try Dabur Herbal Clove Toothpaste if you aren’t quite ready for tooth powder.

3. Vlad Dracvlea Soap

There isn’t one god damn thing I don’t love about this soap. It’s vegan, it’s beautiful, it’s evil, it’s made with coriander, blood orange, cedarwood and most importantly, clove, and it comes from my favorite scent blending wizard, Virginia of Bath sabbath. If you have ever wanted to rub Vlad the Impaler on your butt, this is the product for you.

4. Elusive Clove Lip Balm

Bonus shout out to Lush’s #BeCrueltyFree shampoo bar – mmm clove hair.

Do you even understand how hard it is to find vegan clove lip balm? Not even Crazy Rumors makes it anymore and they make like 500 flavors! Well after clicking on and being disappointed in about 50 different Etsy sellers (beeswax isn’t vegan, people) I finally found a way to make my lips feel nice and smell spooky.

5. Grocery Store Clove Candle

I thought I’d throw one in that you can probably find at Target. An orange clove candle by Mrs. Meyers, maker of Tony’s favorite cleaning products. It’s a good middle ground if you live with people who aren’t prepared for a woodsier, smokier, all-clove candle. Orange keeps it pretty light and bright, with just enough clove to remind you why you bought it.

Friday Five: Things for Horrible, Awful People

**Breaking News: My husband bought me VIP tickets to see My Favorite Murder live in St. Louis for my birthday!**

A few weeks ago I accidentally told my boss every single thing I know about Richard Speck. It took about 35 minutes. The finale of my story was the fact that the man convicted of torturing, raping and murdering eight nurses was incarcerated 20 minutes from my childhood home, and his ashes were rumored to be scattered in the area.

Let me get something straight. I do not celebrate or admire murderers. In fact, in 1994 when serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed in my hometown prison (are you starting to understand certain things about me?) I asked my mom to bring me to the impromptu party on the prison grounds but she said no. Fuck him, I wanted to shake my little kid fist angrily in his general direction.

I don’t admire these heinous acts, but I am fascinated by how and why they happen. And I gravitate toward other people with the same fascination. (Yes, I am a Murderino, thanks.) About 15 years ago I bought some iron-on letters and made myself a t-shirt that simply read, “Albert Fish” so that I could seek out and make friends with people who wanted to talk about him and all the completely insane things he did.

And that was the inspiration for this week’s Friday Five – morbid, possibly tasteless conversation pieces. Items that, if worn or displayed, will inspire conversations with your fellow weirdos. If this is not your bag, I completely understand and promise to do another list about candy or vegan dog treats soon. If it is, you’re now my best friend, so let’s get creepy:

1. Jim Jones People’s Temple Punch Purse

Let’s start with a bang, huh? I mean… I really can’t tell you how much I want this purse. Do you know how many cool people will talk to me on the bus when I carry this? Jim Jones, for those of you who are not psychos, was a cult leader responsible for the mass suicide of 918 of his followers – most of them died after drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. If you’re interested in cult behavior and need to carry your keys and a lipstick somewhere, this is the purse for you.

2. Pogo the Clown Decorative Pillow

This is the perfect home accessory for folks obsessed with true crime who don’t necessarily want to hang portraits of serial killers on the walls. Kid-friendly murder memorabilia? Yes! Plus, how cute is this handmade throw pillow? Bonus: My (female) dog humps EVERYTHING. I really enjoy the idea of one of my tiny, fluffy dog defiling this absolute garbage pile of a person’s memory.

3. My Friend Dahmer

This graphic novel by a childhood acquaintance of Jeffrey Dahmer, Derf Backderf, was recently adapted for a film of the same name, which is hitting theaters this fall. I hesitate to say it paints a sympathetic picture of the Midwest’s most notorious cannibal, but it does shed light on some the elements in Dahmer’s life that lead him down his dark path. Perfect bathtub reading.

4. Serial Killer Sreen Prints

OK, now let’s say you’re just the kind of horrible person who is willing to decorate your house with a Pogo the Clown pillow AND portraits of serial killers. Well, then might I suggest these 7″ x 11″ prints from FriendPrices? That little girl who wanted to go dance on John Wayne Gacy’s grave in me really loves seeing these monsters cartoonishly represented in a style that sort of reminds me of the temporary tattoos that came wrapped around sticks of Fruit Stripe gum.

5. My Favorite Murder Stickers

Finally, four low-key ways to identify members of our tribe. These stickers feature some of my favorite quotes from the My Favorite Murder podcast, my all-time favorite being, “You’re in a cult, call your dad.” If you’re uncomfortable wearing or displaying the likeness of an actual murderer, but still want to rep true crime, stick these on your phone cover or laptop and be prepared to exchange knowing glances with other people who know to stay out of the forest.

Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might earn a comission.



Friday Five: Black Licorice Lovers Unite

vegan black licoriceWhether you call it anise or licorice, being pro-this-flavor is one of the most polarizing opinions I have. Black licorice. It tastes like medicine. It smells like Halloween. It makes my mouth numb. It makes people who don’t like it actually get angry with you that you do. I love it. So here are five ways to let your flavor freak flag fly, celebrating anise in all it’s shiny black glory.

1. None More Black Licorice Perfume Oil

Bath Sabbath gets the #1 spot this week because Virginia is my #1 babe. Her soaps and scents are the things of metal dreams, and she is a wizard putting together spicy, woodsy smells that are anything but rosy. I especially love None More Black – a dram of pure, no fucks given black licorice scent with just a touch of saltiness.

2. Jingles-ish Cookies

You guys know Jingles? They’re the Keebler cookies your grandma buys for Christmas and no one eats them. No one but me. Until I went vegan. These days I have to make my own crispy anise cookies but when paired with a cup of spicy cinnamon tea they’re well-worth the effort. Just use this recipe and sub vegan margarine for butter. For an authentic experience, top with vegan decorating sugar.

3. Absinthe Lip Balm

I could probably do a whole separate post about how weird it is to be straight edge and obsessed with absinthe (it’s just so wonderfully GOTH) but instead I will tell you about my favorite lip balm. It’s from a vegan company called The Quixotic Eye. She makes lots of fun scents so I like to place big orders and spend weeks trying them all. The green fairy won’t disappoint, though.

4. Anise Toothpaste

I admit that I first bought Uncle Harry’s Anise Toothpaste at a vegan market just to make everyone in my house yell at me and tell me I’m gross. But this totally weird toothpaste, made from anise, eucalyptus, clove, bentonite clay, and other all-natural ingredients really makes my teeth feel smooth and clean. (Aaaaand it makes everyone yell at me and tell me I’m gross.)

5. Licorice Chews

Last but not least, eat the licorice! My favorite soft licorice is Newman’s Own Licorice Twists. Partially because they have a nice texture and strong, but not bitter flavor – and partially because Paul Newman was such a babe! Even in his 80s he still coulda got it. Damn.

What shall I tackle next week? Tell me in the comments!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click and purchase I might earn the tiniest commission you can possibly imagine.

Friday Five: Vegan Chocolate Attack

I was super sad to learn earlier this week that longtime vegan marshmallow maker Sweet & Sara is closing up shop. I placed an emergency “last order” of my favorite Peanut Butter Smore. They’re still filling orders for the next few weeks so get on it! And, please enjoy this #FridayFive of five vegan chocolate treats I’ve been into lately.

1. Sweet & Sara Peanut Butter Smore

I mean. I literally just said it. Why would it not be on the list? A big, fat homemade vegan marshmallow smooshed between honey-free graham crackers, a slathering of peanut butter and dunked in chocolate. I always say I’m going to eat half and then eat the whole thing. Order it.

2. Espresso Chocolate-Covered Cocomels

I was already obsessed with Cocomels’ soft coconut milk caramels, then they went and dunked them in chocolate. Then-then they went and added espresso beans to the mix. Find them.

3. Caramel & Sea Salt Coconut Butter Cups

My L.A. friends laugh at my love of Erewhon grocery store, but I am telling you that for this Midwestern vegan, it was a wonderland. I went last fall to pitch I Heart Keenwah and ended up spending like $500 on raw vegan tacos, kombucha (which I don’t even like) and these coconut butter cups from EatingEvolved. Find them.

4. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Chocolate Quinoa Puffs

I mean, obviously I’m going to include I Heart Keenwah in this list. But legit, they’re like vegan malt balls made with Fair Trade organic dark chocolate. But instead of whatever the hell malt balls are made of, they’re made from quinoa so you get 3-4g of protein per serving. Order them.

5. Lemon Cheesecake Caramel Chocolate

Loving Earth sent me some of their chocolate bars earlier this summer and this flavor blew my mind. Made with raw cashews and lemon essential oil, it really does remind me of cheesecake, but with the added bonus of really good chocolate. Order it.

Please note: I received some of these items for free in exchange for an honest review, but this is not a paid or sponsored post. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I may earn a comission.

Friday Five: Cheap Thrills of The Week

You know those obnoxious people who can tell you the exact date when they were last sick because they have such magical immune systems that no common cold can take them down? Well I am one of those people, and I’m sorry. But this week karma caught up with me in the form of some kind of barfy head cold that has made me sad all week.

One thing that’s made me feel better, though, is actually five things – a couple of little purchases I made that have cheered me up while I sweated through my pajamas. I figured if you’re here you and I have similar taste, so I hope you find something fun that will give you cheap thrill.

1. Vegan Oxfords

My favorite shoes are a pair of silver Matt and Nat oxfords I picked up at MooShoes for $120, but I recently picked up a pair of faux patent dupes on Zulily for $17. No, they’re not as comfortable as Matt and Nat, and they won’t last as long, but a week in I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of them. (Items on Zulily come and go, but I check every day because they often have cute vegan shoes and accessories. If you’re new to the site you can get $15 off your first order when you sign up with my link.)

2. Type O Negative Enamel Pin

I’ve written about my Type O fandom in the past, so it’s been exciting to see so many options pop up as the enamel pin craze continues to grow. This Hey Peter pin from Depression Pin Co. is exactly what I’ve been waiting for – the color is spot on, it’s just the right size, and it was only $8.

3. Pig Island T-Shirt

Yep, I’m plugging my own shirt, but I was genuinely stoked to receive mine. If you’ve been vegan for more than five seconds, someone has probably asked you what you’d eat if you were stuck on an island with nothing to eat but pigs. For some reason in this scenario you can’t eat what the pigs are eating, and there is no other vegetation on the entire island. Just you, pigs, and sand. It’s a stupid question, and I’ve always wanted a vacation shirt advertising this stupid, stupid place so now I have one. From my own shop. $15.49 and up, available on a wide variety of colors, sizes and styles.

4. Dayglo Frankenstein Print

Yes, I know that’s the doctor’s name, not the monster’s name. Either way, I ordered this print from FriendPrices as soon as they were available in his online shop. The print was only $18, but I’m warning you in advance that if you’ve never checked this shop out you’re going to buy 3-5 things. It’s like Target for scumbags.

5. Stamped Forks

I’ve known Christine from The Family Vegan for some time now, and have recently become a collector of her hand-stamped forks. She “rescues” them from thrift stores and yard sales, and stamps them with cute little messages. I love that she’s upcycling, and that I can use a “vegan” or “meat is murder” fork in my instagram photos. Prices vary, but most are only $3 each. DM her on Instagram to order.

Money can’t buy everything, but it can buy cheap thrills that cheer you up when you’re sick.

Friday Five: Vegan Staples You Can Make At Home

Tonight I’m attending a fundraiser for Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary, an organization that works to protect and conserve more than 50 hectares of rainforest land in Sumatra. This land, and the wildlife that calls it home, are all endangered due in large part to the palm oil industry.

Palm oil. It’s the problem vegans don’t like to talk about, because palm-based margarine and oils make or lives so much more “normal,” and avoiding them is a challenge. (It’s also prevalent in non-vegan foods – start reading labels and you’ll see it everywhere.)  Lots of products now claim to use “sustainably sourced” palm oil, but many vegans are choosing to opt out altogether.

I’ve noticed this problematic ingredient most often in vegan pantry staples such as cheese and margarine so I thought I’d dedicate today’s Friday Five to some ways you can make those items at home.

1. Vegan Cheese

Honestly just buy it. Trust me.

Making your own cheese sounds terrifying, I know. But with the right recipes and a few simple ingredients it really is possible. Rather than re-writing a bunch of things that have already been written, I’m going to link you to some excellent resources. The first of which is Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamery fame. If you’re lucky, you can buy her cheese and vegan butters in a Whole Foods Market near you, but do yourself a favor and get this book. The recipes are easy (I promise) and none of the ingredients are difficult to sources thanks to the Internet.

Now here are some vegan cheese recipes anyone can make:

  • Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – nutritional yeast, cashews, and a handful of other ingredients come together to spice up your nachos and tacos. Refrigerate and use it as a cheesy spread on sandwiches, or as a base for your cheeseless pizza.
  • Cheddar Sauce – Another nooch-based cheese that is liquid when hot and spreadable when cold. Makes awesome mac n ‘cheese and tastes awesome on veggie burgers.
  • Vegan Mozzarella – This is similar to a buffalo mozz, meaning it’s not going to melt or stretch, and in my opinion, it’s best served cold. This recipe was adapted from one of Miyoko’s, and in her book you can also find recipes for cheese that will, in fact, melt and stretch.

That’s just a handful to get started – but cheese lovers take note: you can recreate literally every cheese. I’ve even seen creepy, moldy, vegan versions of blue cheese. The sky’s the limit.

Food Hack: In a pinch, I’ve replaced cheese with other fats like avocados. I know that sounds hella vegan of me, but it’s true. Try avocado, basil and tomato on crusty bread, drizzle it with balsamic and tell me it isn’t just as good as traditional caprese.

2. Non-Dairy Butter

Eventually every vegan adds one entire bucket of coconut oil to his or her Amazon cart.

This is the biggest struggle for a lot of vegans – what can you use besides store-bought margarine that is typically made with palm oil and loads of other oils that are probably not so great to eat? Listen, I’m not going to tell you that I don’t still buy Earth Balance, but there are some other options I’ve tried that I can recommend:

  • Artisan vegan butter – Yeah, it’s Miyoko again. What can I say? She knows her stuff. This recipe calls for refined coconut oil, which doesn’t taste very much like coconut at all, whipped together with a few other ingredients you can easily find in health food stores. In addition to spreading it on toast, you can actually bake with it!

I’m filing frosting under “butter” because it’s the question I get most often when I start lamenting the evils of palm oil. But how can I make vegan buttercream? The answer is, it’s never going to be the same, but if you’re willing to adapt to a new flavor and texture, there are a few solutions I’ve tried and liked.

  • Tofu frosting – It’s better than it sounds? This recipe is easy to mess with to make it exactly the way you like it. And tofu doesn’t taste like anything, it just provides texture.
  • Coconut oil – Again, use refined so it doesn’t taste (as much) like coconut. Note that this frosting will melt SO FAST if it gets warm so keep it chilled!
  • Cashew icing – Not the cheapest icing you will ever make, but a little goes a long way.

Food Hack: If you tend to use margarine (or butter) to add a little fat, salt and flavor to things – for instance grilled cheese – you can easily substitute other fats and add a dash of salt. I grill thick slices of bread with a drizzle of olive oil and just a sprinkle of salt and I don’t miss the butter at all.

3. Egg Substitutes

A few years ago I made a free download that contains a lot of these, but as a refresher – there are lots of ways to replace eggs in various recipes. Some of the packaged ones might contain some questionable ingredients, so here are some homemade options:

  • Tofu  – Duh? But seriously, you can scramble it for breakfast, use it in baking, whip it into dressing. I always have tofu in it least three forms in my house.
  • Aquafaba – The cooking liquid from chickpeas (or other mild-flavored beans) replicates egg whites so well it’s scary. There’s lots of info on the internet about how to use it, but again, it’s a cheap and easy solution to a lot of vegan conundrums.
  • Flax eggs – Mix some ground flax and warm water and you’ll get a goopy substance that acts as a binder in heartier recipes like brownies and breads.
  • Bananas – You can replace 1 egg with 1/2  mashed banana in lots of recipes, just know that it’s going to taste like banana.
  • Non-dairy yogurt – You can also make this at home, but I kind of think yogurt is gross so I don’t consider it a staple personally. Either way, 1/4 cup can replace 1 egg in a lot of baking recipes.

Food hack: If you’re using aquafaba or tofu to substitute eggs in a recipe where eggs are normally the star (think breakfast sandwiches or quiche) consider adding a dash of Hawaiian Black Salt. It smells “eggy” – so much so that Teno and Tony both yell at me when I use it.

4. Meatless Meat

A lot of new vegans find themselves spending the bulk of their grocery budget on faux meats, and not only are they inexpensive to make at home, but you can avoid the whole conflict between wanting to buy Beyond Meat burgers but not wanting Tyson to get 20% of the money (one example – start digging and you’ll get super bummed super fast about how many vegan “meat” brands have tested on animals or are secretly owned by animal agriculture brands). Here are some easy versions you can make at home:

  • Seitan – I hesitate to say it’s like making bread because then people are like, “Oh my god, I can’t make bread!” But really, it’s easy. Stir things together, cook the things, eat the thing. Plus once you’ve figured out the texture you like, just switch up the seasonings to make chick’n, Thanksgiving “turkey,” etc.
  • Chickpea seitan – Like seitan, but a bit less of a gut-bomb, in my opinion. Another easy one to make and to switch up the flavors.
  • Tempeh – A bit more complicated to make yourself, but as far as questionable ingredients are concerned, I’ve yet to find a store-bought tempeh that had anything in it that made me question whether or not I should buy it.

Food Hack: OK now is the part where I get super vegan and annoying on you, but get this through your head – vegetables are good. You don’t need “fake meat” to eat a satisfying meal. There are lots of whole veggies (and even fruits) that can be prepared similarly to meat – try jackfruit, cauliflower, or mushrooms.

5. Creamy Condiments

vegan ranch dressing recipeAnother area of the supermarket where palm oil tends to lurk is in the pre-made salad dressings, mayos and vegan sour creams. But those are all really easy to make at home, so here are my favorite subs:

  • Vegan sour cream – Yes, it does call for a lot of cashews but if you buy them in bulk it’s not so bad and plus, how much friggin’ sour cream are you eating?
  • Vegan mayo – I like this recipe because it calls for aquafaba, which makes sense because real mayo is made from eggs.
  • Creamy salad dressings and dips – Surprise! You just learned how to make them. Just add your favorite spices and seasonings to either of the above two recipes and you’ll have creamy ranch dressing and yummy onion dip in no time.
  • If you feel more comfortable with a recipe, this one for vegan ranch dressing is easy and tasty.

Food hack: Sorry to keep doing this to you, but in a pinch avocado strikes again! Mash one into your salad or blend it up with some lime juice and seasonings for dips.

Bonus: Milk & Cream

Listen, I’ve made my own nondairy milks and coffee creamer a few times and just not found it to be worth the effort – but I totally understand why someone would want to. A lot of the easy to find and affordable store-bought options are owned by some truly shitty companies. So here are some options:

  • Coconut oat vanilla coffee creamer – Kathy Hester is the queen of DIY vegan solutions, especially when it comes to coffee.
  • Nut milk – Heh. You can make milk from pretty much any nut and they all work kind of the same way.
  • Yogurt – I mentioned before that I don’t consider this a staple because I think yogurt is gross, but for those of you who do, well, here you go.

So there you go – way more than five, but kind of five vegan pantry staples you can make yourself. Enjoy!

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 …



  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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