My Take on All-Natural Deodorant

So the last post about bottling and tasting our home brew was supposed to be posted on my other blog–the one where I actually talk about our home brewing and terms like hydrometer, ABV%, etc., actually make sense! We do love our little brewing operation, such as it is. We’re at dopeydogbrewing.wordpress.com if you’re interested, but I’ll get back to the regularly-scheduled program now.

Suddenly, it seems to be summer in the Northeast. At least for a few days, we have bypassed Spring and gone right from winter to hitting nearly 80.  I was worried about snow a few weeks ago; now I’m worried about sunburn.  But now that it’s warming up, it seems like a good time to talk about something we really need in summer–deodorant.

As I mentioned before, when you decide to go vegan, or even just to live a more natural life free of chemicals and other weird products that our body probably wasn’t made to process, you start to question all of the things in your life. In particular, I really like to try making things at home that are normally full of chemicals and all other kinds of nasties. This led to my experience with making my own deodorant.

I found a recipe that used coconut oil, some Benzonite clay, essential oils…it smelled soooo good and was really easy to make!  I would love to say that this stuff is the best and I loved it and I’m never going back.  But honestly, using just deodorant without antiperspirant was an epic fail.  The smell was fine in cooler weather, but I was starting to notice it not being so fine with the warmer temperatures.  Plus, without antiperspirant, my sweat was leaving nasty yellow pit stains on my clothes!  I was turning into a dirty hippy, yikes!!  I’m fine being a hippy, just not a dirty one!  We use an all-natural laundry detergent that is not so great at getting out stains, keeping whites white, or keeping colors bright, so the stains aren’t going to come out in the normal wash.  While my clothes feel amazing, I’ve had to get used to a certain amount of not looking totally crisp and bright.  But pit stains are not something I plan on getting used to, so my options were to use a harsh stain remover or throw my clothes away.  Seeing as how neither one seems all that environmentally friendly, I must sadly go back to my regular antiperspirant that keeps me dry and smelling like baby powder.

I hope others have more success with make-your-own deodorant than I did.  But for now, I’m telling myself that doing the best I can doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly.

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Spring has sprung with Neuaura shoes

Finally, we’re seeing some warmer weather in the Northeast!  It was so wonderful to spend some time outside, get the garden ready, see friends and neighbors outside, and let the boys play at the park.  It also means it’s time to put away those heavy winter clothes and get out those warm-weather sun dresses and pastels.

As I transition my wardrobe, I realize how little thought I’ve given to my clothing and accessory purchases. When I decided to become vegan, I first thought it was all about eating and food.  But as I move further into it, I realize that it’s a whole lifestyle change–shoes, clothes, makeup…everything changes.  To that end, as I move from my winter wardrobe to my spring clothes, I’m moving away from leather shoes and, if necessary, replacing them with shoes that reflect my principles and ideals.  On the other hand, I live on the Main Line (think Grace Kelly).  I really don’t want to always look like the super-crunchy hippy I am at heart!

Luckily, my cheapness seems to have paid off in that area, as I discovered that many of my shoes were already not leather 🙂  Also luckily for me, my pair of very cute leather flats turned out to not only be incredibly uncomfortable, but they were also totally falling apart (note to self:  don’t buy shoes that have elastic at the back unless you want to be uncomfortable and have your big toenail create a hole in your shoe, even with going up a size).

To replace them, I wanted to buy shoes that weren’t just vegan because they were cheap.  I wanted shoes that were going to be purposely vegan, good for the environment, and would hold up for more than just a season. After a lot of research, I found these beauties shoes

shoes2

They’re from Neuaura, a very cool line of shoes from a lady right here on the East Coast.  The information I found on them says they’re out of New York, but the phone number has a New Jersey area code, so it was a no-brainer to buy super-cute shoes from a fellow Jersey girl!  From what I could tell, they only come in full sizes, but these were on sale so I could be wrong.  I’d say they run a little big, but after the foot-crushing, blister-inducing shoes I had previously, a little extra room is quite welcome.

In addition to being comfortable, they are so cute!  They match pretty much everything and are so perfect for spring.  I love the stripes, and the faux suede is wonderfully soft.  Even my mom said, faux leather and suede have come so far in the past few years, why bother getting the real thing?  When it looks and feels like this, why bother indeed!

And then there’s the quality.  I’ve had them for a few weeks now and they still look great.  I’d read some questionable things about the adhesive used, but I haven’t had any problems.  The construction is great and I see myself wearing these for years.

When you decide a lifestyle that is out of the mainstream, it takes a good bit of time and effort to make the transition…and I am by no means done!  But when your research yields these kinds of results, it’s totally worth it!!

Intention, Not Perfection

I read an article in Vegetarian Times that quoted a woman saying veganism is about “intention, not perfection.”  I am trying to take this to heart as I recover from a weekend of unhealthy and not-entirely-vegan eating.  While many people would consider my diet this weekend to be fairly healthy, after several weeks of eating an entirely plant-based diet, I felt tired, bloated, and just generally terrible. I guess transitioning to a vegan diet has had more effect than I even realized, and I was already realizing that I was feeling pretty great.  I haven’t had a food coma in ages.  Imagine living life without food coma!  You CAN have a meal and not feel like you’re about to pass out afterwards! It’s a beautiful thing.

A few other thoughts about transitioning to a plant-based diet:

1. I think I would prefer to call my new lifestyle “plant based,” as opposed to always worrying about whether something is totally, truly, 100% always vegan.  I’m doing my best, and that’s good enough for me.

2. Veganism is easier in places like Los Angeles or New York, where people are always on some sort of special diet.  I live in a town known the world over for it’s cheesesteaks, for goodness sakes!!

3. I really hate wasting food, so much so that I have decided to allow myself a transition period to eat some of the things that we still have in our freezer/pantry that contain animal products but can’t be donated.  No food pantry is going to take a partially-used bag of frozen shrimp, or the remains of my can of anchovies, or my 1/4 bottle of Worcester sauce that is getting used up at a snail’s pace.  But they’re still fine and I’m too cheap to throw them out.  So be it.

This weekend, that last part meant that I prepared a roast chicken for my mom’s birthday.  It’s one of her favorites, there’s no way to donate a frozen chicken, and I wanted it out of the house. So for her birthday dinner, we had the roast chicken and vegetables, sautéed broccoli, and mashed potatoes and celery root.  The next day, I felt like crap.  Complete and total crap.

When I mentioned to my husband that I was feeling bad after eating so badly, he was really shocked.  He thought we’d been really healthy–roast chicken, veggies…what’s wrong with that?  That’s when it hit me how much my body, and perspective, have changed over the past few weeks.  Most people share my husband’s view–that was a healthy dinner.  But once you start eating vegan, you really learn what it is for your body to feel healthy.  I haven’t lost all the weight that vegan books promise, and I don’t feel like I walk around glowing in some euphoric, blissed-out state, but I just FEEL better.  I’m not tired, I’m not cranky (well, not as cranky), I have energy, I can think again.  And now I realize the difference between “low-fat” healthy and vegan healthy–your body just works when you eat plants.  When you eat animals, you can be thin, but you’re never really firing on all cylinders.

Our Sunday night dinner of adzuki beans and kabocha squash with glazed daikon radishes (both from The Kind Diet cookbook) set me straight and I’m feeling so much better.  This week, we’re having tofu and bok choy with ramen, vegan mushroom stroganoff, and kabocha soup.  I raise my cup of kukicha tea to our good health!

A review of my visit to the Upper Darby H Mart coming up!

One Badass BLT

Fall is definitely upon us in the Northeast—even the sunny days have a chill to them, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red and yellow, and the nights are chilly enough for a fire in the fireplace.  I love the fall!

But being vegan in the fall can be a little difficult, I’m finding.  In the summer, all of those light meals made mostly of vegetables are so welcome after a sweltering day, but cooler weather seems to enlarge my stomach and make it hard to fill.  My husband has all protested against “all vegetable” meals so there always has to be some dish that feels like a main course, but he doesn’t like tempeh or seitan and I can only feed my family so many beans before the roof blows off the house 😉  Life with boys!!

The sandwich I made for lunch today definitely solved that problem.  We received a bunch of green tomatoes in our CSA box this week and there doesn’t seem to be much to do with green tomatoes but fry them up. Most recipes seemed to call for eggs, and the vegan recipes I found online seemed like SOOOO much work!  Enter Ian Knauer’s The Farm.  I found his cookbook way discounted at Williams Sonoma a few weeks ago, before I decided to try my hand at vegan again.  He created his recipes after living for a year on his family’s farm in Lancaster County, and given that we belong to the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, it seemed like something that would be particularly applicable and it does not disappoint.  His recipes are all veggie-forward, so even though he uses a lot of animal products, you can easily modify them to make them vegan and still totally delish.

Anyway, he had a fried green tomato recipe (in the fall section, no surprise) of just dipping the slices in a mixture of cornmeal, cayenne pepper, S&P.  Fry them up…yum!  Stick them on some baguette with a few slices of tempeh bacon, some romaine lettuce, and some whole grain Dijon mustard, and you have yourself one badass vegan sandwich.

VeganBLT

I envisioned this sandwich saying all sorts of things to the other sandwiches.  Mostly “that’s right, I’m vegan mofo.”  Or, “I can totally kick your ass, you wussy BLT.”

RECIPE for 2 BLGTs (bacon, lettuce, green tomato)

6 slices tempeh bacon

1 large green tomato

1/2 c cornmeal

cayenne pepper

2 pieces Romaine

Dijon mustard

Baguette or sandwich bread of choice

Fry up the tempeh bacon in a little olive oil, just enough to coat the pan.  Set the  bacon aside but leave the oil in the pan.

Slice the green tomato into approximately one inch slices.  Mix the cornmeal; cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste in a shallow dish.  Dip the tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture, making sure each side is well coated with cornmeal.  Add a little olive oil to the pan as needed–just enough to cover the bottom and nicely crisp up the cornmeal, not enough to really fry them.  Cook the tomatoes about 2-3 minutes per side until the crust is nicely browned and the tomato is warmed through.

To assemble the sandwich, divide the tomato slices between the two sandwiches and place on the bottom (trust me, I did the reverse order and it was messy!!).  Then add the tempeh bacon and romaine lettuce.  Top the sandwich with Dijon mustard to taste, you can also add some veggie mayo if you like.  Enjoy!

I entertained the idea of adding capers…maybe next time.