Four Food Brands Worth Checking Out

Oh hey…I still exist. Just in case you were wondering.

Things here have been running at the continued frenzied pace of “omg hold on for dear life.” And I’ve loved every second of it.

Seriously, my love for this city sometimes utterly overwhelms me. There is no where else in the world (yes, the world) I’d rather be than in NYC. Even with the many bumps an bruises that came along with this move, I’m just so utterly at peace, finally. And yes I know it sounds counterintuitive to find peace in the city that never sleeps but for me, it just works.

All that being said, I must concede one point to Boston – VegFest. I’m officially counting myself a VegFest connoisseur at this point given that I’ve literally been to events up and down the eastern seaboard (ok ok…from Boston to DC). And to this day, Boston still wins. In fact, after having attended NYC’s this weekend, I can definitely say that there is no place like Boston…for VegFest. And VegFest only. Lest there be any confusion about my true affiliation. Winking smile

Even disregarding the fact that NYC’s is a ticketed event (thankfully they do $5 end-of-day tix for the last 2 hours), the choice of vendors…ok. It was fun to see all of the local brands but there weren’t a ton of commercially available products (read: no coupons). There’s obviously positives and negatives to both of this and I don’t want to get into the debate at this moment, but given the fact that we are, indeed, still on a budget, buying my goodies exclusively online (without a discount) just isn’t totally practical. I also didn’t think there were nearly as many hot food vendors as at other shows…

Plus, why is it in the middle of winter? Ok the end, but still…having to lug my coat was a PITA. Yes I know…I’m a spoiled New York-er. Get over it. Winking smile

Like I said, I did discover some fab brands that I’m excited to share with you today. Many of these do fall into the “can’t buy in stores” category but they are so worth sharing about because they rock.

Nuttin Ordinary
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I know that making cashew cheese is a fairly simply process. But the price of buying nuts in bulk still gives me a heart attack and honestly I usually just end up using them to make raw desserts. Enter Nuttin Ordinary. First of all, I ❤ their name. Secondly, their Spicy Cheese Spread has such a great kick to it without being overwhelming. And when they told me to think of their products as vegan goat cheese…and then it tasted like vegan goat cheese…for much less than the cost of Kite Hill or Treeline…I was hooked. Oh, and they’re a New Hampshire-based company. Love my New Englanders!

Right now their products are only available in NH, Brattleboro, VT, and Western MA. But they’re obviously expanding and I can’t wait until they’re more readily available!

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I was a little confused on these at first…and honestly had already spent a lot of money on chocolate. Shh, don’t tell! But alas I was hooked from first bite!

The best way to think Mountain Morsels is as chocolate-drenched trail mix. Do I have your attention yet? They’re mixtures of dried fruits, nuts, and spices all smothered in dark chocolate delicousness. And they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. Win win win.

And since I’m clearly on an I<3theNortheast kick, I’ll add that each Morsel flavor is named after a part of the Appalachian Trial. A fact that my ego would like to inform you I figured out all by myself after seeing the name of one of the peaks the beau and I climbed several years back. Ego aside, love that this Bronx-ite is also a NH-native and is giving a delish shout-out to her roots!

Unfortunately, these goodies aren’t available in any stores but will be at NYC farmer’s markets. I win. Smile with tongue out

https://i2.wp.com/organiclivingsuperfoods.com/themes/current%20shop%20theme/images/OLS_logo_120H.pngSource

First up, I really hate the name of this company. I know – not a good introduction. But it’s a) bulky and b) contains the word “superfood” which I generally dislike

All that aside, OLS’ stuff effing rocks. Like I sampled about 10 different things (I also was trying to shove as much food in my mouth as possible in the 75 minutes I had to see the whole damn expo) and proceeded to buy three of their products. They offer a ton of different products ranging from dried fruits (you know things like goji berries and mulberries), trail mixes, nuts, energy squares (omgosh so damn good) and my fave: Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Chunks. Which taste like a mounds bar except a million and one times better because its real chocolate and not a bunch of fake stuff.

OLS sells their goodies at over 50 locations in Boston. <—wait how the heck haven’t I seen them at Boston VegFest before?! What the what?!


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Last but not least – my new fave bar. My previous fave bar decided to stop being peanut-free which broke my little heart…I found out at VegFest and lodged as formal of a complaint as possible before taking my money back. Soooo sad…but thankfully Amrita (which apparently means ‘immortal’ in Sanskrit) was there to be my rebound. #allhail

So as you can see these bars are all fantastically allergen free (and utterly delish) which is great because finding a vegan bar that isn’t made in a facility that processes peanuts (and isn’t just a shit ton of soy protein isolate b) is kind of hard. And by hard I mean “nearly impossible” and “outrageously expensive.” These bars unfortunately still fall into the latter category but they are available in stores throughout the Tri-State area. And sometimes its worth spending a little more so I can kiss my beau without worrying about brushing my teeth or potentially killing him because I just wanted a damn larabar.

My favorite part of NYC VegFest was the fact that my beloved Emmy’s was back. Yes I could buy these down in Balto but you know what? There’s nothing like stuffing yourself with unlimited samples of your fave macaroons and then buying a few bags for half the grocery store price. Sooo perfect and amazing.

Yoga/beauty/yum,

Kait xo

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A Saturday of Food

DC VegFest was this weekend.

I happened to be visiting my friend in DC.  <–see I was totally meant to be a plant-strong foodie.

I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed.  No free parking (no cheap parking either..the $20 lot was the cheap one) like in Boston.  Fewer take-home food vendors, more restaurants (and non-profits).  Different companies, including more processed foods than ever and fewer whole foods vendors (and dessert vendors…I was definitely missing Emmy’s and Theo like WHOA).  I expected differences but to be honest I wasn’t impressed with some of the fill-ins.  Oh well.

It also didn’t help that the weather decided to be almost summer-ly and I had only brought black jeggings with me.

Oh well…at least I looked cute while having my first ever coconut experience.

I ❤ my “Ask me why I’m a vegetarian” shirt.

This was by far my favorite part of the fest.  Or maybe my 2nd…but since the triple chocolate donut I savored (and for reals…it took me an hour to eat it because I just wanted to enjoy every glorious bite) didn’t get photographed, we’ll go with the coconut.  <–plus I got to ask the girl I was buying said donut from if she would “hold my coconut.”  Tehehehe  Seriously though, you need to go get a coconut (and a machete) and try this.  The machete is so you can open it with a super-cool swish/swish!

I also got some pretty decent swag:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the first 1,000 to arrive (see aforementioned note re: parking) but the bag + swag only cost $5.  <–also a tax write-off since it’s supporting a non-profit. #win  What you don’t see are the coupons…there’s a decent amount of them, including enough Earth Balance ones to replenish my stash which is expiring at the end of this month.  That totally counts as another #win.

After the Fest + some bonding time with my bestie (who I was visiting), I headed off to the happiest place on (my) earth: the Glut Food Co-op.  This place is like my heaven…its filled with just about every bulk item you can want, including liquid bulk items like tahini, tamari, and maple syrup.  The prices are ridiculously affordable…$3.52/lb for tahini, <$10/lb for raw organic nuts, etc.  And you don’t have to be a member to shop there or get the discounts.  Its owned by the people, for the people.  And it is simply amazing.

I had pictures of the liquid bulk items to insert here but I accidentally deleted them…think the giant things you usually see lemonade in…except rectangular in shape…and filled with deliciousness.  <–you get what I’m saying, right?  😉

Nom/nom/nom,

Kait xo

The Big Bday Recap, Pt 1

Happy Monday lovelies!  I hope you spent your weekend being productive, relaxing, and spending time with the ones you love.  🙂

For those who missed it, I turned 24 last week (Tuesday, to be exact)!  I spent the entire week celebrating, starting with Worcester VegFest and ending with a night out with my girls.  I can hands down say that this was the best birthday ever!  Thank you to everyone for your well wishes and for coming out and celebrating with me.  🙂

Last Sunday (April 15) was the Worcester VegFest.  Think great food, great company, and an absolutely awesome photographer. 

I should be professional photographed all the time, no?  😉

I met T. Colin Campbell, bought some awesome gear, saw old friends, made new ones, and ran into this other (awesome) girl named Kaitlyn who also lives in Worcester.  The beau enjoyed every second and there was lively conversation all around.  I, admittedly, was a bad food blogger and have no pictures but will happily fill you in on my newly discovered obsessions.

I have a confession to make: I think Daiya tastes like plastic.  These Shreds on the other hand…to-die-for.  You can bet I’ll be doing a giveaway with those soon!  I’ve sent e-mails to all my local natural grocers (and by local I mean those local to me currently in MA, those soon-to-be-local to me in CT, and those kinda-soon-to-be-local to me in Baltimore).  They are the closest thing to real cheese that I have ever tried and I am so excited to make Averie’s Mango Basil Personal-Sized Tortilla Pizzas.  Especially since this guy was one of my bday gifts:

Yes that is pizza stone you see…

My love for Theo runs so obviously deeply that they asked me to be the rep at the CT VegFest this upcoming weekend.  Unfortunately, I’m a busy Passion Diva and have not one but two parties to do.  <–Like that’s a bad thing?!  Plus there’s that pesky little thing called moving.  Ugh.  Anyway this is new bar and it was outstanding!  Nice and dark with a little saltiness to calm even the most angry/tearful/frustrated/etc/etc/etc PMS-er.

Ok so I admit: these kind of suck.  They don’t do a good job of grabbing on to things but at the end of the day I’m still happy I invested in them.  Its an easy and cute solution to remaining sustainable while eating on the go.  And it comes with chop sticks.  Need I say more?

Monday was Patriot’s Day aka Marathon Monday aka a day off.  <–I’m going to miss this random MA holiday!  It also happened to be warm (hot?) and sunny and perfect.  I relaxed and cooked and started packing and went to yoga and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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April Adventures, Weeks 1 and 2

adventurous april
You might have noticed a new addition to the sidebar.  No, not yet?  That’s ok, I can wait while you peek.
What the heck are Adventurous April pants?  Well let me tell you!  Back at the beginning of the month, the lovely Janetha challenged us to go out of our comfort zones and get Adventurous in April by trying at least one new thing every week.  I read her post after returning from Baltimore and discovered that I had already started down this path with a number of my food purchases. Like two pounds of Brussels Sprouts…

 

…and these awesome products:

 

Clockwise from top left: Trader Joe’s corn pasta, Zima Tomatoes, lots of beer samples the night before Easter, my new fave drink, and my first attempt at growing my own food.  Not pictured: Justin’s Chocolate PB and Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas <–obsessed!

In addition, after three years, I finally signed up for Zumba teacher training.  I tried new recipes, as always, and started taking probiotics.  I reunited with my long-lost love, overnight oats, which served as the perfect vehicle to spoonanother new food into my mouth:

Nutella…its been nice knowing you.  But its officially over.  No no…its not you, its me.  I swear.  😉 
I have a couple of big adventures coming up this week in honor of my birthday week.  <–yes I’m that friend of yours who spends the week celebrating.  I frigging LOVE my bday!  You’ll have to wait to hear about those, but I promise they’ll be juicy.  Tehehe
Have you had any new Adventures recently? Do you enjoy going out of your comfort zone?
Have a wonderful weekend.
Yoga/beauty/life,
Kait xo

Looking Forward: Kitchen Edition

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In case you haven’t heard, I’m moving to Baltimore in less than 4 months.

I’m all sorts of excited and terrified.  It means I will quit my job (which I’ve outgrown), leave my current apartment (my first…and you always will have fond memories of your first, right?! 😉 ), move away from my family, and go back to school.  It also means I get to move closer to other friends and have the opportunity to experiment with a whole host of new thing.  Shockingly, many of these experiments will occur in the kitchen.

Since I love making lists (I pretend like they actually help me get stuff done) here, presented in no particular order, are the Top 10 hings I’m Looking Forward to Experimenting with in My Baltimore Kitchen:

  1. Crock Pot cooking.  This is a skill I will need to develop but cannot wait to try recipes like this and this.
  2. Non-stick cookware.  I love using stainless steel now that I’ve learned how but it does take longer to clean.  Since saving time will likely be of the utmost importance, being able to wash and go will be a beautiful thing.  I intend on investing in these.
  3. Using a rice cooker.  Another make-my-life-easier appliance.
  4. Using my George Foreman again.  There will be many a summer dinners of “grilled” veggies + tofu on top of salads.  Its easier + faster than turning on the stove.
  5. Not having to share my kitchen.
  6. Having newer appliances…including an oven that doesn’t take 20 minutes to boil water or run 15-30 degrees under.
  7. Shopping at a year-round farmer’s markets.
  8. Shopping at Costco.  There is one right on the outskirts of Baltimore (er…it looks like the outskirts to me!).  Nature’s Path cereal, MaraNatha almond butter, Alexia frozen fries, 13 lb bags of baking soda, bottles of spices (and pure vanilla extract), bananas and nuts galore!
  9. Shopping at Glut.  Not technically in Baltimore, this amazing, fantastic, food-gasmic, life-changing co-op is high on my list of places to visit again and again.  Bulk everything including liquids + carob-covered amazingness + non-sulphered dried fruits at reasonable prices.  Because its a bit of a drive, I’ll probably do a stock-up monthly.
  10. Exploring all of the awesome sauce veg and veg-friendly restaurants and cafes.  Look at this list of places within 5 miles of JHSPH.  *sigh*

I want to address the likely question of why I cannot use the items listed in numbers 1-4.  Depending on how much you’ve creeped this site, you may know that I share living space with this little menace.

Kaybird!

So the short answer to the question is because of Kaybird.  The long answer is this.  The chemicals released when non-stick coating is heated include some nasty buggers called PFTE and PFOA.  The safety of inhaling these in humans is currently being explored by the EPA.  While I don’t exactly entrust my safety to government agencies (see here) and nothing may come of it, the fact that they are examining it says something.

Nevertheless, it has long been known that inhalation of these chemicals by birds is fatal. While the jury is still out on the coating in rice cookers and crock pots, my roommate prefers that any and all non-stick coating be avoided.  Since I am in love with Kaybird (you thought I was going to say my roomie for a minute there, weren’t you?  creep.  😉 tehehe), I’ve learned to cook with stainless steel and live without the other appliances.  This is fine but let me tell you…I really can’t wait to get perfect rice and meals that cook overnight or while I’m in class etc.

For more information on non-stick cookware, click here.

#6 is, of course, dependent on where I end up living but let’s just say, for now, that it looks promising.  🙂  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I’m also eager to see how I’ll do sticking to a food budget. I apparently thrive on challenge!  Who knows….maybe I’ll end up teaching my fellow grad students a thing or two about saving $ while eating green.  I’d actually love that very much.  Caring is sharing, right?

Over the next couple of months I’ll be updating more about my move to Baltimore, my bucket list of experiences to have before leaving, etc.  I’m so excited to still be on an adrenaline rush to be walking with you into this next stage of my life!  I’ve already contacted other HLB members and made connections with friends and friends-of-friends in the area.  I’m heading down for the JHSPH Open House at the end of March and hopefully will find an apartment then.  I’m in get-it-done mode which is good for the move but not-so-good for current stuff (like, ya know, work and working out and all those other things that are important currently).  Don’t worry…you can expect to hear all about it!

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Worcester Weekend Discoveries: Life Alive, Mezcal Finds, and More

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It was another (mostly) great weekend in the Woo.  I love finding new places or just exploring new experiences at well-loved places.  My goal when I moved here was to really get to know the city and everything it had to offer.  Luckily for me, that was one goal I found easy to keep!

Life Alive Urban Oasis & Organic Cafe, Lowell and Cambridge, MA

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When my good friend and Passion Parties sponsor Vanessa and I finally set a date to meet and catch-up, we first had to figure out where the halfway point between Worcester and east-you-know-what New Hampshire (I honestly can never remember the name but I know its out there…she told me so!).  Thankfully, she trusted me to pick the restaurant, something more and more friends are learning to do.  Love you guys!  Lo and behold, I discovered this gem.

I was drawn in not only by delish looking menu, but also by their beliefs and goals.  From the website: “Our mission is to feed the vitality of the world . We do this by providing healthy fantastic food for people on the go, while honoring and protecting our environment.” 

Yes please!

We spent about 20 minutes deciding what to order and just exploring the little place which was pleasantly packed in a city not really known for having a good “scene.”  We jammed to the live music, explored the different products available (essential oils, natural H&BC products, incense, etc), and asked a million questions about the food.  I cannot speak highly enough of the staff at Life Alive.  They answered our questions knowledgeably, patiently, and in detail.  It was clear that everyone there was passionate about the restaurant, its mission, and its food.

Turns out, Vanessa and I soon were too!

Warning: drooling may commence.

Thrive Alive juice and The Goddess warm meal

I ordered a taster plate of The Goddess and a Thrive Alive juice.  The former, “a nurturing blend of smoked tofu, short grain brown rice, [lightly] steamed carrots, beets, broccoli, and dark greens surrounded by our zesty Ginger Nama Shoyu dressing” (source), is Life Alive’s signature dish so I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  I subbed quinoa for the brown rice, added garlic, and received kale as my dark greens.  I love eating cooked kale that someone else makes.  For some reason, I can never seem to get it as tender without getting it water logged.  #needasteamer

I soon discovered that the salad was, essentially, raw.  Thankfully I wasn’t kissing anyone later that night.  The kale was super tender and flavorful, the beets were delish and eating them lightly steamed was a totally new experience, and the dressing was a perfect balance of smooth and spicy.  I later discovered that the steaming is the only form of cooking used at Life Alive.  See my # above!

The juice contained beet, carrot, and apple.  I love this combination so much!  It is a bit earthy but since giving up most sugar, my taste buds have come to the point where it is pleasant-earthy rather than gag-me-earthy.  Beau started making beets in 2011 and we both became obsessed.  Preparing them, however, still intimidates me so I was super excited to get my beet on someone else’s time.  <–Yes I just made a corny joke.  😉

Next!

The Romantic

Nessa ordered The Romantic and a Superhero Alive juice.  The Romantic has “Hass Avocado (when available), shredded cheddar cheese, broccoli, garlic, nutritional yeast and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos all embraced in a soft whole wheat tortilla” (Source).  Her juice was made with carrot, apple, ginger, spirulina, cayenne, garlic, apple cider vinegar, honey, and water and had a bit of a kick at the end.  This also was to-die-for as we, obviously, exchanged bites of each others’ dishes.

I also bought a 1/2lb of their organic granola which is specially made for Life Alive, uses honey as the only sweetener, and is chock full of dried fruit.  It is amazing and I had to really think hard about my food budget to stop myself from buying it in super-duper bulk.

Perhaps my favorite part of Life Alive is how good I felt after.  I was so vitally energized and ready to go, a huge feat after working 10 hours in a windowless office.  In fact, some would say I was hyper, but those who know me best know better than that!  😉  The feeling lasted during our bar stop and my entire hour drive home.  It was amazing.

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