WEDDING MEAL PREP with VEESTRO
As most of you probably know, we just got married! After 8 years of being in love and putting up with eachother's weird habits, we finally did it. It was so wonderful, and so fun - but the lead up was truly awful. The amount of stress near the end sent me into a anxiety attack - I wouldn't wish wedding planning on anyone...ha! I'm kidding, mostly. I should've hired more help. The one thing that saved my sanity the week before the wedding might've just been these Veestro meals; This is a sponsored post but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Veestro is a plant-based, organic meal delivery service that offers meal packs, juice cleanses and dishes a la carte on it's website. They have several different types of meal packs, including a 21-day kickstart, protein pack and lunchbox pack. I was excited to check out their unique Wedding Prep pack, which normally comes with lunch and dinner for 30 days, for either one or two people. We tried just a 5-day version, but it was so nice to have the option of NOT cooking the week of our wedding! All of the meals are clearly labeled, so I was easily able to avoid the dishes with soy, and the offer gluten-free dishes as well.
The meals are actually quite affordable, starting at $7-8 per meal, and a decent sized portion at that. The meals are shipped on dry ice straight from the prep kitchen here in Southern California. I loved that they came frozen because it gave us the option of picking and choosing, and if you ordered a larger pack - the full wedding pack with 30+ meals, for example - would allow you to save fridge space as you took out and defrost the meals one at a time. We don't own a microwave, so we had to make sure to take our meals out the night before to defrost before reheating the next day, which was the only downfall for us. That said, we were impressed that all of the packaging was either recyclable or compostable ad BPA-free and it stayed frozen, even after sitting on our front step for a few hours.
The meal variety was awesome, though I forgot to tell them I was allergic to soy (I'm still getting used to it!), so more than half of the meals we received became Alex-only meals. He didn't seem to mind! And he really, really loved them. Here's the full list of meals we received: Morccan Melange, Beluga Lentil Braise, Veggie Empanadas, Veggie Lasagna, Spinach Pie, Country Fried Chick'n, Thai Chick'n Stew, Roasted Beet + Kale Salad, Indian Kamut Stew, Portobello Steak Dinner and Raspberry Cheezecake. Alex's faves ended up being the Empanadas, Country Fried Chick'n, and Cheezecake, and I liked the Lentil Braise and Indian Stew next. Next time we order, we'll try different options - there are a bunch to choose from!
These meals are perfect for vegans and non-vegans alike, because the ingredients are simple, clean, and most important: recognizable! Yup, all the ingredients are real , whole foods - things I would cook with in my own kitchen. A lot of the meals come with sauces to spice them up, and it was easy to add our own fresh accents, like cilantro or parsley, when we wanted to make the meal feel a little more homemade. One of my favorite things about these meals were how fresh they actually tasted on their own - it didn't feel like we were being lazy or eating "frozen dinners". The meals were creatively and thoughtfully prepared with health and a real focus on vegetable in mind. Did I already mention there are NO preservatives? Because that's a pretty big deal. That's how you know it's fresh. I was especially thankful for the Wedding Prep pack because it took SO much stress off of me in the week before the wedding. So much less to deal with, plus we didn't want to buy many groceries just to be leaving on our honeymoon days later. Veestro made it easy! And if you're someone who's looking to stick to a lean, plant-based diet leading up to your big day, this may be the perfect option. To see all their menu options and meal packs, head over to Veestro.com!
'Pantry to Plate' Cookbook Recipe + GIVEAWAY!
Chances are, you've been to Heather's beautifully designed website YumUniverse. If you haven't yet, drop everything and GO NOW! Everything she does is gorgeous - including her website layout. So clean and user-friendly, which makes it a perfect extension of her cookbook as a useful tool for creating delicious meals! Her plant-powerful, gluten-free, whole food recipes are always thoughtfully presented and beautifully photographed, and definitely drool-worthy. Her website is a treasure trove of over 500 recipes, meal plans, do-it-yourself projects, and brilliant e-books. Heather is NAILING it! Her new cookbook, Pantry to Plate, is a testament to her skills as a chef and her creativity in creating delicious, exciting new recipes...this time with foods you already have in your kitchen! This book is teeming with 30 flexible recipe templates plus over 100 recipes that show the templates in action and keep a focus on whole foods and flavor. The book is as much a guide as it is a cookbook, with thoughtful substitutions and pairings laid out amongst gorgeous, hand-painted art and beautifully shot photos. With sections like Breakfast Cookies, Bites & Tots, Tacos & Wraps, and Hand Pies there's something for everyone in this book. I made the Sriracha Mac recipe Heather's shared with us below just before we left on our honeymoon and it was PHENOMENAL! Spicy, tangy, cheezy - perfect.
Heather began her journey into healthy cooking and eating as a way to help heal her body of health issues that started in her early 20's. As someone with a lot of unexplained sickness, I totally understand- that's why I went plant-based, too! Heather keeps it real and is super relatable in her writing and her simple approach to creating meals that appeal to everyone. These are meals I feel like I could confidently cook for my meat-eating family with no complaints. Pantry to Plate is more than a cookbook- its a must-have for anyone with a desire to get more of the food in their pantry, and to stay healthy while doing it. Scroll all the way down for Heather's Sriracha Mac recipe AND a chance to WIN her new cookbook!
Get a large pot of water boiling and prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions.
While the noodles cook, combine the squash, water, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt, Sriracha, and ginger in the blender and purée until ultra-smooth. Taste and add more Sriracha if you like. Transfer to a large pot heated to low.
Drain the noodles and dump into the pot of sauce; add the scallions. Stir together, seasoning with more salt if necessary. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil if you like and serve warm.
(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)
My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!
Dealing with Anxiety + Preventing Anxiety Attacks
Last week, I suffered from my very first anxiety attack. Before writing this, I considered the terms 'panic attack' and 'anxiety attack' interchangeable. Turns out, there are subtle differences. For the purpose of this discussion, I will consider my attack that of the anxiety variety, which usually includes a direct stressor - i.e., an event or situation - as opposed to a panic attack, which is often unprovoked and unpredictable.
It was last Thursday, the day before my bachelorette party. I was about an hour out from leaving my house for LAX to pick up the first of the weekend's guests - my cousin, Devin. I had been cleaning the house all morning, wiping up stray water drops and scrubbing things no-one but me would pay attention to. I was already frustrated, knowing how little time I had left to prepare. As a crazy perfectionist, I generally can't relax until everything feels perfect. Which it never does, which creates a really shitty cycle of me hating myself for not reaching impossible expectations I set for myself. That morning was particularly hard, as I was also silently dreading going to my own bachelorette party. Don't get me wrong, because I'd really hate to some off as a bridezilla here; it's not that I didn't feel lucky to be having one, or that I didn't think it was grand enough for my expectations. Rather, as someone who generally considers herself an introvert, I was dreading dealing with the social pressures of making sure everyone at the party was socializing, happy, well fed. Things a host does. Things you'd think, just by following me on social media, I'm probably great at. But that's sort of the wonderful illusion of social media - I can show you everything I want and nothing I don't. And as honest as I try to be here and with this audience, I don't normally advertise how hard it is for me to be social. It feels likes it only makes it harder, pointing it out. And makes me feel awkward. If you're an introvert, you get it. If not - imagine social anxiety as one of your greatest fears in place of heights, spiders, or whatever normally gets your heart racing. That's what it feels like - like something you just would reallllly rather avoid if you could.
So, Thursday morning was stressful and feeling heavy and impending, and I don't remember when I started crying. It might've been after my cousin called saying his flight landed an hour early, it might've been when I realized I was leaving my sweet dog for a full weekend, it might've even been when I started packing my overnight bag. All of sudden, I was just a pile of stress and tears and extreme sadness. I've struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety my whole life, but this just felt different. It was like a wave, overtaking my throat, choking my breath, my tongue getting thick and sluggish in my mouth. My shoulders seized up my body was shaking as I just broke down. I sobbed for so long and so heavily it felt like I would never stop. I couldn't catch my breath or open my eyes, and everything hurt. I moved to the back yard and back into the bedroom, with Alex finally wrapping me in a blanket while I just lay there choking on my own snot. It was a mess. It took me about an hour to calm down, from start to finish, and I still feel nearly a week and a half later like it could happen at any time. I knew immediately it was anxiety attack because I'd seen people have similar instances before, but I really, truly thought that somehow (white privilege? societal constructs? all of the above?) it couldn't happen to me. I like to think of myself as well put together, strong, able to handle my shit - but this kind of rocked me. I hated not feeling in control of myself completely, and feeling like my emotions and stress could overwhelm me in such an abrupt and upsetting way.
I'm working on a recap of the bachelorette weekend now, and it should be ready in a couple of days for you guys. It took me a while to sort through my emotions about it, because it went neither like I wanted it to or like I expected it to. And that's okay, just frustrating. In the meantime, I've been spending as much possible time on self-care and things that make me happy as possible. I wrote a post on instagram about how yoga invasions have been helping me deal with stress lately, but I wanted to give you guys a few suggestions for dealing with your own anxiety and stress and hope you'll give me your suggestions in the comments below as well. I think the best part about this platform is the ability it gives me to connect with so many of you who are in the same or similar situations; We have so much to offer each other in terms of support and education!
Here are just a few ways I like to relax + practice a little self-care:
Now that I've had the anxiety attack, the scariest part is anticipating another one. DON'T DO THIS! Haha. It just stresses us out more! If you do feel an anxiety attack coming on try taking deep, regulated breaths (ujjayi breath in yoga), and think about something that makes you genuinely happy. Or just work on clearing your mind - its up to you to find which works best for you. I also try to be super honest with Alex when I'm feeling like this. If you're lucky enough to have an awesome partner, they want what is best for you. Let them comfort you and keep them in the loop when you start feeling more anxiety-ridden so they can help you. If you don't have alive-in partner or aren't comfortable getting super real with them yet, give yourself an outlet. Whether its a close friend or therapist, I'm a big fan of talking it out. Do what you gotta do to keep yourself happy + healthy. And I will too! While I'm sure a lot of stress will leave after the wedding, I'm still considering getting into therapy again. It's so nice to have a neutral outlet when you need it!
So I want to know: how do you practice self-care? How do you deal when you feel an anxiety attacking coming or strike? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️
Top 5 Vegan Finds at the 2017 Cannabis Cup!
Alex and I had the pleasure of attending our very first Southern California Cannabis Cup last weekend at the San Bernardino fairgrounds and had a total blast. We really didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when, after following respected magazine account High Times on instagram, we saw that tickets were reasonably priced. So we bought them! We arrived in the afternoon (the event went 3 pm to 11 pm) and got checked in pretty easily, barely bag searched, and sent in to get wristbands. Anyone could get in with a ticket, but to get into the sampling + smoking section, you had to have proof of your medical rec on you. After getting into the inner sanctum (and the sampling tents!) we started seeing similarities between this event and something like Expo West. It's basically the same idea - an expo of all the growers, sellers, and products hitting the market in one place, for people who consider themselves connoisseurs. There was everything from flower and bud to smoke, to crumble and shatter to dab, to edibles from every corner of the stoner culinary world - including some really great vegan ones! We scoured the show, taking the occasional dab and sucking down CBD water to stay hydrated, looking for the very best, newest vegan, GF, and better for you edibles at the show and found some really great ones. Scroll down for my list of the best in show - you may find yourself a new must-have treat!
1. Mary Jane Juice Co. Fresh-pressed Juices + Nut Milks
We found the Mary Jane Juice Co. nearly last at the show (pictured above 👆), but we're so glad we did! They had a sampling of at least 6 flavors at the show, but these two were the stand-outs for us; the 100 mg Vanilla Almond Milk and the 200 mg Ancient Healing Tea. They're both low-sugar, vegan, and totally raw, plus each packs a hearty cannabis punch to help sure whatever's ailing ya! The milk, smaller in dosage size, was $10 and the tea was $20, but it would also be more than one serving for most people. These drinks are packed with good-for-you-ingredients so you can reap the pain relief benefits of the drink along with the inherent nutritive value of the drink itself. They're guilt-free, great on the go, and taste great - no weird marijuana aftertaste. Find more info on their Instagram!
2. Cheef Naturals Chews + Super Fruit Bars
Okay guys, all terrible branding and racism aside (the name Cheef and their branding at the show -- white girls dressed as Native Americans -- realllllly needs to be reconsidered) these edibles are really phenomenal. They're one of the only edibles I've seen on the market with a focus on being super, super healthy. I'd tried their super fruit bars before and loved how they tasted like a raw, flax-y granola bar. The high was great too, but it just felt so nice to eat an edible that aligned with how I eat the rest of the time. The coconut caramel chews are a new product, very similar in texture to Cocomels, but infused with marijuana. And packing a hearty THC punch with 5 doses (100 mg) per chew! Find more on their products here.
3. Half Lit 25 mg THC Pops
These pops just get cooler and cooler! Not only do they taste great, pack a solid little punch, and are made with organic ingredients, but when you finish this pop you can recycle the stick by PLANTING it! It contains cannabis seeds, so when planted and watered will turn your trash into a big, beautiful plant. I love this idea! Such a clever way to cut waste and encourage recycling. Just make sure that if you plant the stick, you live in an area where you won't get in trouble if you get caught. Be smart friends. (Here in CA we are allowed to keep plants, but please check your laws before you plant anything! Duh. 😝) We picked up a pineapple and watermelon pop for later, and hope to start seeing these at more of our local dispensaries soon! Find out more about them here.
4. Zendo Infused Peanut Butter
This was one of my favorite product from the show, and maybe the one I'm most excited about for other people to try. It's literally just an infused peanut butter, which each packet 1 oz packet containing a 50 mg serving of THC (hybrid strains). It's the perfect healthy snack, literally containing just all natural raw peanuts and cannabis. With no added sugar or weird ingredients, this edible is perfect for people looking to stick to a specific diet or who have to eat healthfully because they're not well. Plus, it packs a great punch of protein! (If you have to do chemo and can't get a lot of food down, this may be a great option as well.) This same company also makes a similar single serving packet of coconut oil, perfect for eating raw or cooking with. I can't wait to slather this stuff all over my morning toast, add it to my smoothie, and make a soba noodle salad using this for the peanut sauce. It's so versatile! Find more at ZendoEdibles.com.
5. Cali Gold Genetics Cannabis Infused Body Butter
This booth caught our attention as we were walking by because they were one of the few advertising as a VEGAN product - which we loved, and of course stopped to check out. These body butters are made with quality, moisturizing ingredients like cupuacu butter, kokum butter, cannabis infused coconut and olive oils and vanilla infused jojoba oil, and rubs on super thick and emollient, but not greasy. There are 4 different types, all designed to alleviate pain, inflammation and irritation and to protect and nourish your skin. It's amazing stuff! I actually talked to the woman at the booth for awhile about my psoriasis and she explained that she actually started making these salves as an alternative to medicated psoriasis creams for her boyfriend. I've started using it on my psoriasis on my thighs and have been loving the results - super moisturized and no flaking! Find more about their salves other website here.
Vanilla Corn Cake from The First Mess Cookbook + a GIVEAWAY!
Hey guys! Back today with an amazing cookbook that I've recently had the pleasure of reviewing. If you haven't heard of Laura and her gorgeous, super popular blog The First Mess, you're missing out. Her culinary training-backed recipes and photography are next level, and I wish I could both learn to use light the way she does and have half the food styling talent. She's a mega babe and total girl boss and I am constantly enjoying her updates both on her beautifully designed blog and ever growing instagram! Follow Laura if you aren't already for a stream of gorgeous, beautifully-lit photos that feel real and make you feel like you're in the kitchen right alongside her.
I was gifted this book when it came out over a month ago but didn't have a chance to really explore it last week. Wedding planning, ya know? Although I did finally pick out my flowers for the big day, so that feels like a win. As soon as I cracked this book open I got lost in the gorgeous, glossy photos and well designed text. The book is clean, minimalist, and full of recipes that will make you want to hit your nearest farmers market lickety split. I went straight to the Mega Clump Granola (pictured below) after seeing it on several IG feeds this month - and I was so not disappointed. Even my sugar-free version (made with alternative sweeteners from Lakanto) turned out super clumpy and perfect for smoothie bowls, snacking, and even in place of cereal. I have about 15 other recipes from the book flagged, including Laura's Cozy Lentil Soup, Crispy Avocado Tacos and Earl Grey Tiramisu. They all look incredible! Congrats to Laura on creating such a must-have-cookbook. You (and your recipes) rock girl! Lucky for us, we get to share one of her recipes - for Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries - with you all! Scroll down for the recipe and to enter to WIN your very own copy of The First Mess Cookbook!
Before we get to the recipe, a note about the giveaway: the randomly chosen giveaway winner will be notified via email, so please make sure the email you enter below is valid and checked regularly. US + Canadian entrants only. Please scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to enter the giveaway. Good luck!
Now, a few words from the cookbook author, Laura, about this recipe:
I had a corn-based cookie from a wildly popular bakery in New York one weekend, and on the way to the airport to fly home, I had to stop at that bakery and buy up a bunch of those golden cookies to take with me. That trip started my love affair with corn-based desserts. It made so much sense because I had always preferred cornbread with a noticeable sweet edge. I love the slightly crumbly texture that cornmeal brings to this cake. It tastes perfect with the jammy, roasted strawberries, but I imagine you could do this with plenty of other summer fruits.
Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake
¾ cup (175 mL) full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal (not coarse)
1 cup (250 mL) whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (15 mL) aluminum-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) fine sea salt
½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric (optional)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125 mL + 30 mL) pure maple syrup
½ cup (125 mL) sunflower oil, plus extra to grease pan
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract roughly
1 quart (4 cups/1 L) whole strawberries (smaller berries are preferable)
Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271), for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with sunflower oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan and press it in. Lightly grease the parchment, and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the milk can curdle slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, spelt flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and turmeric, if using.
4. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture. Add the maple syrup, sunflower oil, vanilla, and coconut milk mixture. With a spatula, gently mix until you have a smooth and unified batter. Avoid overmixing.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and slide the pan into the oven. Bake the cake for 25 to 28 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).
6. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters (depending on size), and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the strawberries until they become juicy and jammy, about 20 minutes. 7. Serve slices of the corn cake with a few roasted strawberries and some Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271) if you like.
Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright
Living with Reynaud's Disease
My first real memory of dealing with it was when I was about 10 and stayed after school for a soccer practice - or game? Those details are fuzzy. I just remember waiting outside for something organized to start happening and getting really cold - painfully cold in my hands. Soccer is a fall sport in Maine, so it was probably September-October, and probably not that cold outside. But my hands starting HURTING and I started complaining to my friends. By the time the coach came by, one of my hands was completely white in all the fingers with the palm a deep purple, and the other hand was quickly catching up. It totally caught the coach off-guard and I remember him sending me into the bathroom to warm my hands under the water. Which REALLY hurt. And took a while to actually begin to work. I came back out after about 20 minutes with normal looking hands and practiced and was fine. I know - anticlimactic. But it was the first instance I really remember thinking like, why aren't other people's hands doing this, too?
I was officially diagnosed with Reynaud's Disease in high school, but I struggled with it for years before I was given an official diagnosis. It's less of a disease - poor naming?- than a medical condition, in which small artery spasms cause episodes of reduced blood flow to the fingers, toes, and less commonly the nose, ears and lips. These episodes result in the fingers, toes, or affected areas turning white, blue, and finally a deep purple color. Usually numbness and pain accompany the reduced blood flow, and as blood flow returns to the affected areas is turns red and burns. Sometimes it lasts minutes, sometimes hours, and there is no cure or real treatment. It is usually triggered by cold and sometimes even emotional stress.
It is suggested that about 4% of people have the condition, of which there are essentially two types; the first, Reynaud's Disease or Primary Reynauds (which I have), affects mostly women with an average onset between 15-30 years. Secondary Reynauds, also called Reynauds Syndrome, is often seen in older people or as a result of another condition. Both forms are far more common in cooler climates. I'm 26 now and still deal with it constantly. It's a pretty low-key issue, which selfishly speaking is really nice. People don't usually know when it's happening unless I point it out and I can circumvent the issue oftentimes if I'm paying attention and am properly prepared. I've never had a time when I felt like emotional stress triggered an attack, but I can think back to being in situations of extreme stress and absolutely remember numbness in my fingers and toes, I just had never really known the two were related.
Growing up in Maine was tricky. I ALWAYS wore gloves and doubled up on wool (I know, but this was pre-vegan) socks in my 'bean boots. We spent a ton of time outside in the winter, but it was never weird that we were freezing afterward because everyone was freezing afterward. I spent a ton of time in hockey rinks in high school and just always thought I was more prone to the cold than anyone else. It wasn't until about my Junior year after a serious soccer concussion that the doctor told me that on top of being out for the rest of the season, he thought I might have this thing called Reynaud's because my fingers were cold, purple and swollen the whole time I was talking to him and we were inside. Go figure.
I moved to California not long before I went completely vegan, so I'm sure the control of my condition is due to a combination of the two lifestyle changes converging. For one, I'm rarely in very cold weather anymore without being ready for it. That said, I had a terrible foot injury a few years back where a doctor again confirmed my diagnosis. On top of wearing more supportive shoes, she suggested I started wearing warm socks again. Until that point, it simply had never occurred to me that by ignoring the condition, I could be doing real damage. I love walking around barefoot, even outside, and even when I know my toes are too cold. If persistent and ignored, Reynaud's can cause gangrene and ulceration of the fingers and toes. The lack of blood can lead to chronic infection under or around the finger or toenails. Southern California's warm weather definitely keeps me out of year round mittens, but I still have to often wear a fleece headband on runs - no matter the temperature - so that my ears won't ache, and always wear socks and a sweatshirt around the house when its anything less than 60 degrees.
While thought hereditary, people with Primary Reynaud's have seen relief by avoiding the cold (duh), eating a healthy diet with regular exercise, and avoid things like caffeine and smoking, which affect blood vessels. There is a hormonal component, and some people report birth control swaying it's affect on them. I personally haven't noticed, and I am on a low dose IUD. As someone who follows a clean, organic, vegan diet, I also avoid sugar, caffeine, and preservatives, and try to take in plenty of fresh, raw veggies. I workout regularly, including lots of yoga to help improve blood circulation and prevent numbness and tingling sensations. Even though I do my best to counteract it, sometime it just hits and your hands are tingling and number before you can do anything about it. On a recent trip we ended up having to take a pretty lengthy midday break because I had lost a glove and done a single run with no gloves; that was a big mistake. I was miserable and in pain while I worked the blood back into my hands swollen hands in the lodge. I won't be doing that again!
Even in photos, most especially our initial engagement photos, I'll notice that my hands are swollen and red - especially if we've been outside. We were snowshoeing in Mammoth when Alex proposed, so I had my gloves off in the snow for photos and kisses. My hands were getting super red and swollen - so much so that I thought the ring was going to be a tight fit, when it actually ended up being about a size and a half too big when my fingers went back to their normal size that night. I still look at those pictures and notice how red and puffy my fingers looked. Since I have Primary Reynauds, things like that are something I'll need to deal with and be aware of. I'll stay warm and eat healthily to combat any triggers within my control. And maybe keep my creepy hands out of photos.
It is suggested that a diet rich in Omega-3's, Vitamin B, and Calcium + Magnesium to your diet can help to increase circulatory blood flow and reduce stress within the body, thus counteracting some of the effects of Reynauds. I also read an interesting article about how a raw food diet could help in several ways; first, that eating raw foods forces the body to work harder to break them down, thus increasing internal heat and blood flow within the body. Second, that certain raw foods are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals and have the ability to improve oxygenation and overall circulation within the body. While I agree that this is probably true, and I'm all for working more raw foods into my diet, I also love cooked foods and am definitely not afflicted badly enough to need to go completely raw. Otherwise, all I can do is stay warm and keep eating well and working out! As I get older it will probably get a bit worse, but I just hope it doesn't work it's way to my nose too - my fingers, toes, and ears are PLENTY, thanks! 😝 Do you have Reynauds Primary or Secondary? How do you deal with it? Are there triggers for you I didn't list here? Let me know!
5 BEST Vegan Medicated Edibles!
About 4 months ago I officially came out of the GREEN CLOSET with my review of Dr. Raw, a Medicated Edibles company that makes a bunch of great, vegan options. This post, like that one, will quickly become one of those 'if you don't know, now you know' posts. For some of you, it'll be more like uhm, duh! If you know me personally, it's probably the latter. Before I totally shock you with my grand exit from the green closet, let me just remind you that this is my choice. You can make yours. I am very pro-choice, and I want to offer these reviews both for people who may medically need the products and would like an honest review before they try 'em, and because medical marijuana is now legal is 28 states and DC and frankly, it seems like everybody's enjoying it. One more quick note - this is very much a safe space for questions and discussion, but no hate. I'm happy to indulge curiosity but never douchebaggery. If you're more comfortable asking me privately, please feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do whatever I can to help you and/or answer your questions.
Now, if you're new to the edibles game or you're just looking for more information, let me tell you that I've tried 'em all. Well, just about. I have a great relationship with marijuana and use if often for pain relief, so I'm always trying new products to see what the best options are. Lucky for me, I live in Southern California - where there are no shortage of dispensaries to buy what you need in a safe, healthy environment, much like a doctors office. I've narrowed it down to what I consider the 5 BEST Vegan Medicated Edibles on the market right now! They may only be available in Southern California (or another weed-friendly state like Washington or Colorado), but it's always good to know what to keep an eye out for, and it's fun to see the latest stuff on the market! Now - here's where we get real: I'm surely not promoting drug use for people who shouldn't be using, but I'm also not here to judge friends. You do you. That said, a few notes before we move on.
1. KNOW YOUR DOSAGE. Start small. Most people should start with a 5-10 mg dose of THC and see where that takes them. For many, that'll be plenty. I personally have a tolerance that allows me to take something more along the lines of 50-60 mg of THC to feel really "high". Work your way to that point. Weed won't kill you, but a bad trip is a bad trip, man.
2. Know what you're eating! THC and CBD are different types of cannabinoids. THC is the one that'll make you feel 'high' - spacey, munch, maybe a little paranoid. CBD is all about pain relief, and won't actually get you 'high' at all. This is the most common type used in things like balms and lotions, specifically targeted for topical use.
3. Once you start talking THC, there are two main types within that category to be aware of; first, Indica, the strain type that will make you feel sleepier, hungrier, lazier. Great for movie nights, help with sleep, relaxing, looking generally 'stoned' - haha, and by that, I just mean melting into the couch with red eyes. Second is Sativa, most people's daytime go-to and the strain that gives you more of a get up and go feeling after using. Most people who actively smoke or ingest marijuana would probably say this one is the more 'productive' of the two, as it usually gives you energy and motivation - the opposite of indica in that way.
4. Don't be an idiot, follow the law. I mean, I won't tattle but you're also totally on your own if you fuck up, kids.
Okay, I think that's it! For more background on why I use marijuana, you should start with our review of Dr. Raw's Edibles. Otherwise, read on to find my Top 5 Favorite Vegan Marijuana Edibles. Happy eating friends!
1. Dr. Raw Organics Candy Hearts
I knew I was going to love Dr. Raw Organics from the second I saw their booth at the Women Grow convention I went to in LA. It was a small event, and their smiling faces and yummy-looking candies, labeled VEGAN, immediately caught my attention! I'm so glad I found them. They make a range of products, but these cute, simple candy hearts are probably my favorite. They're such a simple, discreet way to get your needed dose, and they taste delicious! Plus, if you smoke or have a cold and get a scratchy throat, they give perfect relief - plus a slight numbing of your sore throat. Their hearts come in two dosage sizes, one a little more CBD focused, which is perfect for starting slow and working up to a bigger dose as needed. They have a range of baked goods, including a few vegan ones, and also have yummy low sugar, raw Date Balls - which is an especially great option if you're health conscious or using marijuana for the health benefits. See all their products and use their product locator here.
Potency: 100 mg THC | 5 mg CBD (LEFT) 50 mg THC | 50 mg CBD (RIGHT)
2. Utopia Farms Medicated Macaroons
Also at the convention, these guys are coming out with more vegan products everyday. I tasted some of their stuff to come at the show - including soft and hard vegan caramels - and was blown away. I haven't seen any of that stuff in my local dispensaries yet but I do keep seeing (and loving!) their macaroons. They have them in at least 2 flavors - vanilla and raspberry - and they both taste great. Most edibles will taste and smell at least reminiscent of marijuana, but these macaroons are really on the low end there. They certainly don't look like what most people think an edible looks like either. These are the perfect dosage size for me - about 50 mg per - but if you're just starting out, I'd recommend trying a half or less to start. Love that these are raw, gluten-free and vegan, the perfect option for health-conscious eaters and people looking to keep their habit as healthy as possible. Also, if you are using marijuana for wellness, chances are you're avoiding extra sugar anyway - these are the best option I've found without going homemade. You can find info about Utopia Farms and check out their product locator here.
Potency: 200 mg THC (50 mg per macaroon)
3. KIVA Tangerine Dark Chocolate Bar
An oldie but a goodie, these bars are one of the first I ever found when I started exploring dispensaries. I actually tried this tangerine-infused chocolate for the first time in San Jose and totally fell in love with how incredibly not like an edible this bar was. The tangerine really helps to mask the marijuana scent and taste in the bar, which makes it easy to eat. Be careful! This is where edibles sneak up on you. It tastes so good you just keep eating and before you know it, you've overdone it! (If that ever DOES happen, drink a big glass of water and go to bed. You'll be fine.) KIVA is a great company, known for their innovative, high-quality products. Their bars are consistent and they offer 5 flavors that are vegan, not including their new mints and chocolate-covered coffee beans. If you're a connoisseur, this bar brings the taste and the solid dose you're looking for to be impressed. Worth picking up if you see one, for sure. The dosage squares are a little large, start small. Find all their product info and locator here.
Potency: 180 mg THC per bar
4. Korova Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
Korova makes the best TASTING edible for sure. Like a vegan millionaire bar, this bar is three layers of goodness starting with a cookie crust, filled with a crunchy peanut layer and topped with a smooth, fudgy layer of chocolate. It is TOO GOOD. And another one where you can go overboard if you're not careful! Luckily, they keep this bar vegan, gluten-free, AND low sugar, so no guilt if you go a litttttle overboard. Oh, and this edible is totally ORGANIC! Not something most companies seem to strive for, so it's definitely nice to see. I've also had very pleasant, though sleepy, highs with this bar.Also, their logo is so wacky and wonderful - I love it! Find more about their products and where to find them here.
Potency: 300 mg THC | >36 mg CBD per bar
5. 420 Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bar
This is gourmet dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt - an edible for the adult with a refined palette. Made from 61% cacao, this bar is just the right amount of salty sweet and is broken up into convenient serving-sized squares. It does have a bit more of the marijuana scent and flavor than some of the other edibles, but it's parent company VCC Foods is known for making consistent, high quality edibles and this bar won't disappoint. I took about a third of this bar before a red eye, overnight flight to the East Coast and was happy to fall asleep promptly and sleep soundly until I landed comfortable in Boston. They even make this bar in 3 different flavors, if you like it. For more on their products and where to find them, head here.
Potency: 180mg THC | ≤ 10mg CBD per bar
Juicero Organic Juice Press Review
If you haven't heard of Juicero yet, listen up - because this thing is AMAZING! I was sent one to review, but I wasn't compensated. I just love it! With my wedding quickly approaching (115 days people! 😬), I have been looking for a way to commit to my morning green drink routine, and have also been totally avoiding sugar. It's tricky business, and it can be hard when you're busy to commit to buying and hauling home enough produce to make a morning habit routine. Plus, my regular juicer has been on the fritz for months and cleaning it is such a pain in the butt - I avoid using it for that very reason. And that sucks!
Juicero is juicing made smarter - quite literally. This app-based juicer is clean, quick, and couldn't be easier to use. When the juicer came, it came wrapped in a big sturdy box. It was fun to open it and I immediately fell in love with how clean it was. All of the wrapping it came in - and ALL of the juice pack - are completely recyclable. That was a main concern of mine before starting, but I was reassured that all of the cardboard, paper and plastic used are 100% recyclable. Not perfect, but a fair trade for the convenience. The process from delivery of the machine to your first glass is juice is simple. Pre-selected packs you order online or through the app are delivered to your door in refrigerated, well wrapped packaging - again, totally recyclable.
We got a mix of organic juices over the few weeks including the Greens, Sweet Greens, Spicy Greens, Root Renewal, Granate Glow, and Beta Glow. My very favorite is the Spicy Greens - with a kick of jalapeño - for its flavor, and the fact that it only contains 12 natural sugars. Alex is more partial to the sweeter Beta Glow, but we've both been loving waking up and enjoying a glass before we eat breakfast. It gives me little more energy during my morning workout and helps to stave off my hunger for a little longer. It can be hard to get the full 5 cups of fruits and veggies recommended into your diet every day but drinking fresh, cold-pressed 100% juice is a great way to infuse a daily diet with more fresh fruits and vegetables - so if you're on the fence, this may be the perfect solution. Juicero has engineered the first home, cold-press juicing system that makes raw, organic juice at the touch of a button.
One of my favorite things about the Juicer really is all the technology; first, the packs all contain a QR code with information that the juicer reads at each press. It send info about the juice, what farm the produce was collected on, and when to enjoy your pack by right to your cell phone. Expired packs won't be pressed, so you'll never have to guess at the freshness of your packs. Sure you can't SEE the produce inside, but it come out tasting AMAZING! And actually CUTS DOWN on waste because of the lack of food scraps and ability of the packaging to all be recycled again. You can personalize your weekly orders so you're getting a different range of juices each week if you like. Then you just pop your pack in the press, press the button, and watch as your juice is delivered fresh from the Juicero to your glass. You can even open the package up and use the pulp, if that's your thang!
I have totally loved using the Juicero and will definitely continue use it - at about $7 a pack it costs me the same as going out and buying a green juice, but is absolutely more convenient. Plus, just this morning I saw they added a NEW Mini Greens flavor that I have to try. Juicero isn't available everywhere yet, but it will be soon - get more info + order at Juicero.com. Use code AP10 for 10% OFF!
**Full disclosure: I was given this product for FREE to review. I was not otherwise compensated in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Brentwood Home - $275 Sleep Wellness GIVEAWAY!
Brentwood Home is a Los Angeles-based team of artisans and fabricators making some really healthy, comfortable, ethically-sourced products. I fell in love with them originally when I stumbled upon their meditation pillow and then got it for Christmas. It's filled with buckwheat husks and is seriously the most comfortable thing - it totally aligns my spine and has made me meditation practice something I actually look forward to! When they reached out about trying their all-natural pillows, I was SO down! Brentwood Home has been making home and bedding essentials in Los Angeles for over 30 years. From design to development to manufacturing, they handle it all. From natural latex to organic cotton, they make sure your home is taken care of. Think about it, friends – we spend about 1/3 of our lives in our BEDS! To me, it’s important that they’re as natural as possible. Many mattress and bedding companies use chemical fire retardants, phthalates, and heavy metals when manufacturing and processing their products. Those can’t be good to breathe in through the night, right? The good news is Brentwood Home doesn’t use any of them, and that makes me feel like I can sleep safe and sound. Even better? Their products have a 120-night sleep guarantee and a 25-year warranty! That's why I've teamed up with the folks at Brentwood Home for this awesome $275 Sleep Wellness bundle giveaway, with bedroom essentials that’ll change the way you sleep. Read on to win!
We all know that getting a good night's sleep is a necessity for boosting your mood and banishing under-eye circles, but did you know it can also improve your memory, help curb inflammation, keep a healthy weight, and can even help you live longer? Most of us aren't getting enough, and the sleep we get is disjointed and full of tossing and turning. If your pillows and mattress suck - and more often they do than don't - then it's time to upgrade! In this sleep wellness bundle, you’ll receive four pillows that will have you more excited than ever to jump into bed! Two Latex/ Kapok pillows are filled with all-natural latex ribbons that have a responsive feel that provides uplifting support, combined with a silky-smooth plant fiber called kapok. They’ll be the perfect fit for people who switch between multiple sleeping positions, as they easily mold to your neck and head. The cover is made of organic cotton, grown without toxic pesticides or fertilizers, so you can sleep safe and sound. The winner will also receive two Molded Latex Pillows that are bouncy, resilient, and molded to perfectly contour your head and neck. They’re made with healthy materials for your sleep, like a 100% organic cotton cover, and they’re certified free of synthetic materials by the Eco-institute. While Alex prefers the latex/ kapok combo, I've been seriously loving the next support of the molded latex version. It's so nice to have pillows we can BOTH finally enjoy!
Plus, I love that Brentwood Home keeps their production process as close to their home in California as possible. They operate their own factory, which gives them complete control over the production process. From design to development to manufacturing, everything they do is in-house and up to their own standards. By eliminating middlemen and shipping directly from their factory to the customer, they’re able to cut manufacturing costs and pass the savings on to you and me. I also love how much California inspires the actual design of their products. It’s clear in the neutral colors, modern design, and eco-friendly materials, plus almost everything is named after a West Coast staple or landmark. California has always been first in line when it comes to environmental regulation, implementing policies that are eventually followed by the rest of the country - nothing says California living like being green!
So, want to WIN these awesome pillows for yourself? You can enter by simply entering your email below! We'll choose a winner and email a winner on Wednesday, 2/8 - so be sure to check the email you provide! International entrants welcome. Good luck!
Whether you win or not, be sure to use Brentwood Home Discount Code OURHOME on your next purchase for 10% OFF!