DIY Paleo Vegan Cheese 4ever

1. Queso

cheesy-cauliflower-sauce2

I must hand this one to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Who knew cauliflower could emulate cheese so well? Susan Voisin did. From the fat free vegan expert and mentor to bloggers like myself who follow in her trailblazing footsteps, this Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce is a force to be reckoned with.

2. Ricotta

paleo-pizza

Don’t mean to gloat, but I haven’t found a better vegan ricotta other than my own that fits within the paleo vegan realm. For this reason, I have to go with my recipe for this category. Case in point: the kind I used in this recipe.

3. Chili Cheese

LowfatChilicheesefriessignature1

Sometimes comparable to nacho cheese, depending on your point of reference (i.e. mine is stadium hot-dog vendors at sports games), chili cheese often comes from a machine. Speaking from the perspective of someone who has worked at said sports games and hoisted the package of artificially-colored franken-cheese into the machine that heats and dispenses it, my former 14-year-old self would tell you that I’m somewhat of an expert in this particular cheese genre. The thought of chili cheese fries wigs me out a bit, based on the aforementioned experience as well as the fact that I’ve never found it appetizing…but this recipe by Brandi of The Vegan 8 intrigued me, if for not just pure nostalgia and the desire to spread the word about other vegan food blogs.

4. Parmesan

vegan ricotta eggplant

A lot of vegan Parmesan recipes involve walnuts, of which I am very allergic. I don’t recall what a walnut tastes like, nor do I understand why they seem to be the most widely used nut for the vegan imitation of Parmesan—a cheese that often accompanies Italian pasta or pizza dishes as a garnish—when other nuts i.e. pine nuts are a more common ingredient in most nut-based Italian sauces i.e. pesto. Naturally, pine nuts should be the obvious choice for flavor in a faux-parmesan cheez garnish. Granted, pine nuts are expensive. But, so are walnuts. If I want to emulate parmesan, I use crushed pinenuts with a bit of lemon juice and sometimes nutritional yeast. Since I can’t and don’t want to spend $24 on a pound of pine nuts, I usually crush a lot of toasted sesame seeds with a couple of pine nuts thrown in for flavor. With a dash of granulated garlic, this cheez tastes incredible and will blow your guests away whenever you host a party with vegan pizza to non-vegan friends.

5. Mac & Cheese

ppk mac and cheeseOh, PPK. I love thee. The Post Punk Kitchen taught me to be vegan, at 15. I didn’t have the budget for all the packaged vegan things (except for Boca Burger, Silk Soy, Rice Dream, and Morningstar Farms on occasion when they went on sale at Costco). Isa Chandra’s wisdom helped me to realize how insignificant those products are, and helped me to empower myself as a novice vegan on the cheap. One example: the mac and cheese sauce. I actually used this as a topping for cauliflower and brocolli (never macaroni, ironically) but as many things are in this case: Never mind what you top it with; it’s all in the cheese. This one is newer, circa 2013. It involves one of my all-time favorite foods: roasted red peppers—and could possibly be the reining king/queen of all vegan cheez.

…So, what’s your fav DIY vegan cheese / cheez? Let me know what I left out.

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The Cleansing Brush Hype

advanced-cleansing-brushHi, I’m Kelsey and I’m a discount/bargain shopping addict.

I really like buying expensive things at low prices. Ever since I can remember, I’ve shopped at second-hand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Grocery Outlet, Dollar Tree, etc. etc. If it was once priced high i.e. designer or high-end and now priced low, I get a kick out of finding it for cheap. Yes, online sites like Ebay and all of its imitators can also provide a thrill, but the in-person dig takes the cake. It’s almost archaeological, the excavation of all those designer jeans and vintage apparel in the Goodwill bins, the flea market, or the small-town mom-and-pop thrift shop. I’ve found Nikon cameras and Pentax lenses from 1960, jewelry from what looks like Edie Sedgwick’s collection prior to the fire, first-edition books by Kurt Vonnegut, Blue Cult jeans and military boots. I also once found a selection of Time-Life hardcover mint-condition books from the 1950s (that now exist in a trailer somewhere in Northern California, that I think about a lot and really should retrieve) in free box.

Where am I going with this, most of you dear readers must be asking.

Well. At a discount outlet store today I found one of those recently-made-popular facial cleansing brushes. They require 2 AA batteries, they are made of plastic, and cost between $30 and $300. The lower-end version you might find at your local drugstore, while the higher-end must be purchased at “specialty” beauty stores such as Sephora or Ulta.

I found one manufactured by an off-brand called “Fashionista” at the aforementioned discount/outlet store. It comes with two brushes and operates with two settings for “gentle-cleansing” and “deep-cleansing”. It’s purple, which is a color I hate but still it’s a brush for your face and therefore doesn’t have to look pretty. It’s supposed to make you pretty. Duh. I get it that other electronic devices which require AA batteries should be aesthetically appealing, but this is a tool to cleanse your pores and save you $$$.

I really hate the color purple (the actual color, not the book), but the fact is: this one cost a mere $5.99 and works really well. I’ve not tried the fancy $200 version, but something tells me there’s not much of a difference. I’m all for buying local, but clearly both versions are Made in China…so why not go with the bargain-basement imitation?

Lots of things shouldn’t be imitated i.e. meat (it’s kind of gross, and reminds me of meat, so…gross…), non-alcoholoic beer (why not just drink seltzer water?), egg-beaters (I’ve never tried it, but it seems very Franken-egg and that’s just irksome…almost as much as eggs), corsets (just eat healthier food and do some cardio), Hummers (IDK, get your self confidence elsewhere).

So, if a bargain/discount store isn’t within your reach, I recommend hitting up a CVS, or a Walgreens, perhaps a Rite Aid, or Duane Reade (depending on your zip code). You might be able to find one of these on sale for $25, depending on the brand…I think Olay makes one for around $29. I also recently learned that Ulta makes one under its own brand name for $25. I used to make fun of the concept of a vibrating facial brush, but now that I bought one (for $5.99) I’ve learned to appreciate its usefulness. I also like the fact that I can dispel the hype surrounding the $300 versions, because don’t do it…really, the cheap one works just as well and is mass-produced in the same sweatshop as its pricey counterpart.

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Blueberry-Flax Smoothie

flax blueberry paleo

Blueberry Flax Smoothie

Ingredients

3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
1 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 Tbsp natural nut butter (the kind without hydrogenated oils, preservatives, or sugar, etc.)
1 cup water

Method

Blend. If the blender doesn’t cooperate, add more water by the Tbsp.

If you don’t have a banana frozen, you can add a fresh banana and a few ice cubes to compensate…but I highly recommend using the frozen variety. For frozen banana novices: when very ripe, peel and freeze. Be sure to peel it. Removing the skin from a frozen banana is an unnecessary and annoying chore that gives your fingers frostbite.

Benefits of the blueberry include:
High levels of Lutein, Resveratrol, Vitamin K, Vitamin, C, Manganese, Fiber, and Zeaxanthin.

Also, they taste really good.

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Lentil and Flax Crackers

flax cracker

This is another phone-camera photo, since I they don’t sell a compatible replacement battery for the Nikon DSLR in my current location. I might add a camera-battery fund to this blog, because I’m that desperate. I stopped running ads on paleoveganista.com two years ago, but I might have to begin implementing them again. I would prefer not to. They’re annoying after all, for you and me both.

More on that later. Now let’s talk crackers.

Lentil and Flax Crackers

I like flax crackers, but often they contain buckwheat or other grain that I’d rather not consume. Yet considering my upbringing in the states, I ate my share of crackers as a child. We’re culturally-conditioned to enjoy them.

I sometimes indulge in one or five chips at a Mexican restaurant if it’s worth it (if the salsa is good)…but crackers typically contain wheat, excess fat, preservatives, or dairy-derived ingredients. Or they cost $7 per package. As an alternative, I created this recipe. It’s simple, and requires only 5 ingredients. If you’re a fan of slightly-sweet salty crackers such as Ritz crackers, add a very small pinch of stevia extract or 1/16 tsp approx. The recipe includes tamari, which is very salty and you can add more of if you desire.

I’ve tried these crackers with guacamole, and a few different types of raw vegan hummus.

Ingredients

1 cup lentils, cooked until soft enough to mash
1/3 cup flax meal (ground flaxseed)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
red pepper flakes, optional

Method

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

In a bowl, mash the cooked lentils with 1 Tbsp lime juice and 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce. Fold in the flax meal and continue to mash. When the mixture begins to form a dough, roll into balls and spread evenly on the cookie sheet. Flatten each ball of dough into very thin rounds.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, flip each cracker and flatten with the spatula. Don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it. To achieve a thin, flaky batch of crackers, don’t skip this step. I tried this recipe several ways before finding the right balance. Usually I advocate playing with a recipe or customizing it to your liking, but I highly recommend following this one to the T.

Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until crispy.

Store cooled crackers in a tightly sealed container.

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The Chia Pod, and why I’m not a fan

chai podThings I like:
Chia seeds
Coconuts
Cold Brewed Coffee
Camu Camu Powder


Things I don’t like:

New vegan products on the market that look cute and edible but taste ridiculous. As in bad. Ridiculously bad. If these things become popular I will have to throw away my vegan card and use a different word to describe my lifestyle.

Example: The Chia Pod. Ingredients: Chia Seed Gel (Filtered Water, Chia Seed), Coconut Milk, Cold Brewed Coffee, Coconut Palm Sugar, Camu Camu Powder.

I’ve only tried the coffee flavor. I almost always love anything coffee-flavored i.e. non-dairy faux-yogurt or ice cream. As in, I have to restrict myself from eating more than a serving of vegan coffee non-dairy dessert. The chia pod, disappointingly, did not follow suit. The first bite left me confused, and filled with thoughts such as “when did the vegan marketplace make this wrong turn?” and “can I spit this out?” and “why does this taste like a chia egg infused with weak coffee?”.

The second bite? I couldn’t take it. That first bite inspired me to skip breakfast entirely and write this post.

Out in the vegan marketplace, a treacherous territory that exists between Whole Foods and the wee mom-and pop natural foods stores of California circa 1900, we have many products that show our development as a species with a focus in creating products that taste like animal products.

Let’s review:

1898 – The Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company
Founded in Melbourne, Victoria by Seventh-Day Adventists a, protestant denomination of Christianity that discourages the consumption of meat, dairy products, or eggs. In accordance with these principles, Sanitarium did not sell animal-derived products; instead, they promoted the consumption of fortified grain—demonstrated by their flagship product Weet-Bix, the most popular breakfast cereal in Australia and New Zealand today. Other alternatives to animal protein developed and made popular by Sanitarium include peanut butter, soy milk, and TVP (textured vegetable protein, the prototype for most commercially-produced veggie burgers and ground meats in the contemporary vegan marketplace).

Sanitarium opened several stores from 1900 on, but a number of franchise-owners let go of the Sanitarium name in order to run their own natural foods stores. A select few began to sell milk and/or eggs, a move that distanced them from the original Sanitarium model. Some converted from the Seventh-Day Adventist faith, yet others believed that the consumption of eggs and dairy fell within the means of the Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine. This led to a reform movement within the religion, and also prompted more Sanitarium franchise owners to branch off and continue selling vegetarian groceries under a somewhat-different business model.

1900 – Wandervoguls, Fruitarians, and Squatters
As part of the Wandervogel movement in the 1800s, when young adults from Germany left as part of a mass rebellion against bourgeoisie culture, new natural foods stores emerged in California. They sang and played guitar, wore flowers in their hair, and squatted in uninhabited Victorian houses and on abandoned land. The Wandervogel movement split apart when most decided not to be nudists and others refused to eat anything other than foraged fruits, greens, nuts and seeds. Foraging nuts often led to trouble with authorities. Foraging nuts and fruits often involved trespassing into the homes of the New World Bourgeoisie. Berries and greens grew wild, but often left them starving when squatting in uncharted territory.

1920 – The Prohibition Era
A number of former Wandervogels opened natural food stores in California. These stores seemed to piggy-back off the original Sanitarium developed by the Seventh-Day Adventists in Canada, yet they introduced new concepts to their consumers. Although the Wandervogel community had essentially broken apart and dispersed, the ideas remained in the minds of the original members and grew to manifest as philosophies of healthy living. Notable examples include hydrotherapy, fruitarianism, natural hygiene, and a juice fast that permitted no food, substituting tea and lemonade made with maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

1933 – Prohibition Ends, Juice Fasting Begins
A number of people began to experiment with juice fasting in California and in Canada. One person decided to capitalize on it. Enter: the master cleanse.

1936 – Sawall Health Food Products
Frank A. Sawall, who earlier worked with John Harvey Kellogg, began selling powdered mineral drinks door to door and lecturing around the United States on the benefits of vitamin and mineral supplements, before opening Sawall Health Food Products, Inc., in 1936, the United States’ oldest family-owned natural foods store still in existence today.

1940 – The Master Cleanse
Lemon, Cayenne, and maple syrup. Developed by a vegan from Canada, this cleanse grew to popularity in the mid-2000’s. I tried it once, and it worked. However, I did replace the maple syrup with stevia. One of my college roommates tried it the old-fashioned way to no avail. I highly recommend the cabbage soup diet over the master cleanse, but with all due respect, Rest In Peace, Stanley Burroughs.

1950 – Fear of Vegetarianism in the USA

In the midst of TV dinners and spam, the business at natural foods grocery stores from members of the new generation tapered off. Their children didn’t shop at them, because they were often considered kooky or un-American. Who in their right mind would stop eating meat, voluntarily? These people must be crazy. Here’s 30 cents, Timmy. You may use it to buy an eskimo pie or a popsicle at the corner store after school. You must not step foot in that vegetarian store across the street. Do you hear me, Timmy?

1954 – The Birth of the Bulk Bin
In 1954 on the outskirts of Vancouver, British Columbia, vegan pioneer Ella Birzneck founded Health Food Research, a store modeled partly upon Russian “doctors’ shops”, which carried medicines, herbs, and specialty foods.

Also in 1954, JM Swank started a bakery brokerage business featuring dry goods sold in bulk.

1960 – Supplements and Vitamins hit the mainstream
Items manufactured by the Sanitarium Company, such as brewer’s yeast and blackstrap molasses, greatly influenced the new housewives and mothers of the early 1960s. Certain non-vegan products sold at new natural foods stores based on the Sanitarium model but not affiliated with the company, such as cod liver oil, brought supplements and vitamins into the mainstream.

In the 1960s and 70s, worker-owned health food cooperatives emerged, and achieved a growth of popularity during the counterculture movement.

1976 – FDA Reform
Senator William Proxmire, husband of vegan pioneer Ellen Hodges Sawall, campaigned against the Food and Drug Administration’s attempt to define food supplements as “drugs”. The Health Foods community of individuals and small businesses, as well as the health foods industry at large, considered this a great achievement and a step toward creating a healthier society.

1978 – Saferway
John Mackey and his wife Renee Lawson open SaferWay (a name chosen with deliberate reference to Safeway, the then-popular grocery store conglomerate) in Austin, Texas.

1970 – The Sunburger
Created in Baton Rouge, Florida and formulated with soy (TVP, or textured vegetable protein) and gluten (the prototype for seitan, a faux-meat made popular in the early 2000s) the Sunburger would later emerge commercially as the Boca Burger and eventually sell out to Kraft in the 1990s.

Also in the 1970s, another faux-burger start-up called Morningstar Farms hit supermarket shelves after selling out to Kellog.

1980 – Whole Foods Market
The original Whole Foods Market opened in Austin, Texas. Founded by John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy, owners of SaferWay Natural Foods, and Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, owners of Clarksville Natural Grocery, Whole Foods revolutionized the concept of health-food grocery shopping.

1981 – Toffuti
David Mintz founds a company called Tofu Time, to market soy-based and alternatives to dairy products. In 1984, Tofu Time sells out to Haagen Dazs and becomes “Tofutti”. From 1981 until 1990, Tofutti reigns as the leading name in faux-dairy and egg products.

1992 – Tofurky
Seth Tibbott, who sold tempeh wrapped in banana leaves in 1977 while living in a tent as a “naturalist” along the Nolichucky River in Tennessee, went on to found the Tofurky company in Florence, Oregon in 1980. As he continued to sell tempeh throughout the Pacific Northwest, his company evenually settled in Hood River, Oregon—when to this day it continues to hold the title of 3rd largest tempeh manufacturer in the United States.

1997 – Field Roast
In Seattle WA, a new faux-meat emerged. Very similar to Tofurky and also produced in the Pacific Northwest, it emerged among the mainstream in the mid-2000s, and only in big-box natural foods stores such as Whole Foods. Today, its prestige has trumped that of Tofurky. In other words, one might call it a higher-end version of Tofurky.

2009 – Daiya Cheese
At the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim CA, the world got a taste of Daiya. Three years later, Pizza chains along the Pacific Northwest began to feature it and gain recognition as “vegan-friendly pizza joints”.

I’ve tasted many a vegan pizza, before the widespread popularity of Daiya cheese. I’ve made vegan pizza. I’ve used cauliflower crust, cornmeal crust, and in years past, wheat crust. Those experiences taught me that pizza can taste delicious in the absence of cheese. Honestly, a chief reason for why I went vegan in the first place is that I really don’t like cheese. When it was free, when I worked at an animal shelter in 2003 and before I went vegan, I discretely peeled the cheese off the pizza before I ate it. Like most things, pizza can taste great without it. Examples: Amy’s cheeseless roasted vegetable pizza, or a vegan slice from Pizza Research Institute in Eugene OR topped with marinara, spinach, and a creamy “ricotta” spread that tastes nothing like cheese but something all its own.

Why must we continue to create products that imitate foods suited to the palates of our forefathers?

I don’t mean to seem hypocritical here, because I too have created recipes that veganize “traditional” American fare. But let’s face it. One reason that many of us went vegan has to do with the unhealthful nature of the Standard American Diet. Why imitate it?

The Chia Pod represents a transition from traditional ideas about breakfast. It could evolve and change into something palatable. Whatever the case, I appreciate the effort. I just wish it tasted better. Perhaps add a bit more coconut meat to the recipe. Sure, it would increase the calories from fat—while increasing the vitamin and nutrient content. Balance that by eliminating the sugar. I get it—the sugar is derived from coconuts, thereby making the Chia Pod a “whole food” product. Why not replace it with stevia, which tastes like sugar minus the empty calories?

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I walked away from my book deal

exitLast year, I had a book deal. I worked very hard, but then I bailed. I bailed because of a book called Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones.

I dream about meeting her and asking why she stole my ideas. I want to know why the first sections of her book (where she explains what “paleo-vegan” means) seem stolen paraphrased directly from my blog.

I built what is now the “Paleo Vegan trend” from scratch. I did numerous searches in my college library, the public library, on PubMed and Google Scholar. I looked through Good Housekeeping editions from 1950 to 1970. I read anthropological journal articles in college that didn’t specifically pertain to the research interests I declared. I chose to develop a focus in US-Mexico borderlands and immigration in the context of public health, but still read a lot of archaeological texts and couldn’t shake the idea of “paleo vegan’ from my brain. This was 2009. The terms “paleo-vegan”, vegan-paleo, or pegan (as an MD with a blog recently coined) did not exist. Trust me. I don’t brag about a lot of things, but in terms of library and internet research…I don’t mess around.

I quit working on the book and gave up because I couldn’t justify to the publisher the reasons why I think eating corn is paleo. This was taken out of context, and I couldn’t find a way to explain the entire archaeological record in a Skype meeting with a 60-minute time limit.

I often regret backing out, because I could probably own a yacht right now had I bitten the bullet and said “oops, my mistake, I’ve become so much more profound a scholar since the days when I ate corn. I no longer think it’s paleo…haha…next question? I’ll take my $25,000 up-front payment now, thanks.”

The thing is, I still eat corn. Not corn products i.e. corn-derived ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, or byproducts e.g. maltodextrin, but I eat purple corn. I sometimes eat hominy. But I really frickin love grilled corn, husked and cooked on a flame, by a woman in Guatemala who sells them on the street and serves them in the husk, with a slice of lime. It’s perhaps literally my favorite thing to eat in the world, so to denounce corn in my book would not seem genuine.

I sort of regret not selling out, but in most ways I don’t. Even though others have literally paraphrased my words, and I essentially lost the book deal of a lifetime, I’m still the original paleo-vegan. I hope to find a way to connect with someone else who offers me a book deal—someone or some entity who listens when I send them academic documents and journal articles as evidence to prove my point about corn.

Sorry for ranting, but I needed to.

Please comment, dear readers. I think I need your input during this time of frustration.

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Shampoo + Conditioner Myths Revealed

shampoo conditioner mythsFor shampoo, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for years. Shampoo is basically glorified soap with a higher price tag. It strips your hair of its natural oils. Just as soap strips your body of its natural oils. Shampoo is glorified soap. I cannot stress this enough.

When I had dreadlocks, I used Dr. Bronner’s because my dread-expert travel companion (who installed the dreads in Ecuador in 2010) told me to. After I cut them I thought about the chemicals in the shampoos I used. With the dreads I could only use Dr. Bronner’s. Before, I tried a multitude of natural shampoos from Whole Foods in California and the natural foods co-op near my college campus in Oregon. Before that, I used John Freida Brilliant Brunette shampoo, and before that, John Freida Sheer Blonde. For conditioner, I dyed my hair so often that the packets of conditioner to “color protect” that came with the box dye lasted until my next chemical hair treatment.

When I stopped dying my hair or getting it cut (apart from DIY maintenance with a sewing scissor) I started to use Garnier Fructis products again. I used it in high school, with favorable results. Granted, in high school I flat ironed my hair so religiously that I’m surprised the curls came back when I stopped. I used a lot of hair serums also, until 2007 when I learned how ridiculous they are.

In high school I used Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine fortifying conditioner for “frizzy, dry, unmanageable” hair. This worked really well for taming my lion’s mane of frizzy, untamable curls.

Post college, when I worked at a music festival and couldn’t deal with hair in my face, I bought a bottle of the conditioner from Garnier Fructis’ “natural” line called Pure Clean that was “92% biodegradable, with Acerola Berry Antioxidant for stronger, healthier hair with no weigh-down”. The label also states that it contains no parabens, silicone, or dye. I was sold, since even though my job often entailed scrubbing floors and refrigerators, I had to meet and greet celebrities and drive them to the venue. It seemed important to look good and professional, since the list included Willy Nelson, Bill Cosby, The B-52’s, Ziggy Marley, Amy Mann, Brandi Carlile and Ray Lamontagne, Gwen Stefani’s ex who I can’t recall the name of, etc. etc. Curly, frizzy hair seemed unprofessional to me. Driving 12-passenger vans terrified me. Having a stick-straight A-line haircut and wearing all black with combat boots and a radio that resembled a cop radio…I thought this look defined professional. I did yoga before work every day, but not until I’d consumed an entire french press of strongly-brewed coffee and straightened my hair.

The job was very interesting. I drove Slightly Stupid to a birthday party that turned into a house party. I sweated bullets, trying to get them back to the venue in time for sound check. Despite the incredible stress, it makes for a great story at dinner parties.

This is not a dinner party, so back to conditioner.

I tried Delon conditioner with argan oil for HEALTH AND SHINE AND INSTANT ABSORBTION because it isn’t tested on animals and it’s made in Canada. I was using the aforementioned argan oil because it was cheaper than “Brazilian Oil” yet the ingredients are literally the same on the labels of both products. That aside, this conditioner seemed to work well. After a few weeks of using it I began to wonder why my hair looked brassy. I’d grown out my dyed and chemically-abused hair to let my natural roots grow, but something seemed off. My hair had begun to turn gold-ish, and due to the coloring of my skin and my eyecolor, I’ve never looked good with “warm” tones. I then looked at the label to find that it contained FD&C Yellow 6 (CI 15985) and Yellow 5 (CI19140).

After this I turned to Giovanni “eco chic hair care”. I later learned it’s not as natural as its marketing purports it to be. It contains a lengthy list of herbs, which would seem appealing to most consumers—including me. I think it’s on the less-toxic end of the hair conditioner spectrum, but the first 17 ingredients listed involve unpronounceable chemicals.

If natural products don’t work, then what should we turn to? I’m rather certain my ex-boyfriend never used conditioner and his hair looked great. Do most men use conditioner? Probably not. Conditioner is marketed strictly for women, and it’s just another way that corporations can delude us into buying their ridiculous products.

I started to use shea butter for conditioner, and vow to never dye my hair again.

Main points of this post/posed argument:
1.) Shampoo is glorified soap
2.) The concept of shampoo is a marketing tactic
3.) When you have a frizzy mane of curly hair, don’t straighten it. Rock it.
4.) Conditioner is ridiculous. Use shea butter.

The one hair conditioner I recommend is Aubrey Organics, which is “great for color-treated hair”. The brand was created in 1967, and its ingredients actually don’t contain parabens, unlike other “natural” conditioners.

Ingredients:
Coconut fatty acid cream base, coltsfoot extract (not literally extract of colt), horsetail extract (not really from horses), organic rose hip seed oil, St John’s Wort oil, amino acid complex, evening primrose oil, extracts of fennel, hops, balm mint, mistletoe, chamomile and yarrow; rosemary oil, sage oil, aminobenzoic acid, carrot oil, citrus seed extract, and vitamins A, C, and E.

But seriously, shea butter works too.

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Meal for 3 > $2

meal under 2

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch. I made it for breakfast this morning, and saved the extra portion for tomorrow’s lunch. It’s filling and energizing. As I blog about it now I’m thinking about eating an apple, but only as something to look forward to rather than in response to a blood sugar crash. I highly recommend this, and I’m glad I photographed it this morning before I left the house. I literally just threw together 1 bag of frozen peas, a can of artichokes, a tomato, and an onion. I don’t have salt or pepper, or any other spice right now. The artichokes add salt and frozen peas typically have added salt, and the recipe “as is” worked perfectly even though I invented on demand. I’m not currently backpacking, but I could see this as a very good addition to the Paleovegan recipe collection for backpackers. In the states, for $1 and 75 cents per serving this recipe yields three serving. That’s one meal for 3 people, or 3 meals for 1 person. I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to eat again today until late evening, so I ate 2 servings for breakfast. For those who have lunch breaks, 1 serving at breakfast should tide you over until lunch, allowing you to walk past the vending machine without so much as a glance.

Meal > $2

ingredients

1 16oz bag frozen peas – $0.90
1 can artichoke hearts -$2.50
1 roma tomato – $0.10
1 medium red onion – $0.20

Total price: $3.70
Price per serving: $1.85

Method

After chopping the onion and tomato, add the peas to a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir consistently, to defrost and cook the peas. After 1 minute, when at least 1/2 the peas have defrosted, add the chopped onion. Continue stirring. After 1 minute, add the chopped tomato and stir. If necessary, add water to the skillet in increments of 2 Tbsp. In a bowl, slightly mash the artichoke hearts. Turn off heat, and add the slightly mashed artichoke hearts gradually, stirring to combine with the pea-onion-tomato mixture. When thoroughly combined, cover. Let sit for a minute, and serve.

Meal > $2 – Nutrition Facts

175 Calories, >1g fat, 16g total carbohydrate, 375mg sodium, 13g sugar, 15g fiber, 15g protein

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Backpacker’s Guide: Hair Care

cooking-oilWhat’s the best hair product in Guatemala or Mexico? Vegetable oil, hands down.

Usually canola mixed with soybean or sunflower oil, it’s the most commonly sold and works the best. Seriously, forget coconut oil. Before I lived in Mexico for the first time, I was in a staunch raw-food phase and only in the rarest of circumstances would I go so far as to eat steamed vegetables. During that phase I made a lot of raw chocolate with agave nectar (at this point, I had yet to discover stevia).

To make the raw chocolate I used extra virgin coconut oil, which cost something like $13 with my Whole Foods employee discount. I have a distinct memory of attempting to sell coconut oil to a customer when they asked me where to find moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and a natural alternative to the silicone hair serums used at salons. Coconut oil works for all of those things. The body care department manager at the store I worked at stepped in to inform the customer that eye makeup remover, hair serum, and moisturizer are three very different things. Lesson learned. Or not.

I loved working at Whole Foods. I worked there for 6 years, from high school through college. I would have stayed a seasonal employee had transportation complications not prevented me from returning to California to fulfill my shift. Without a doubt, I really loved working there—but this isn’t about that. The point I intend to make concerns the multi-functionality of coconut oil as a body care product, eye-makeup remover, and all-around genius alternative to any hair product I’ve tried. If that sounds cool, just wait. There’s more. When in Mexico, or Guatemala, or anywhere else in the world for that matter: should you happen to come upon the unfortunate realization that your suitcase landed in an entirely different continent much to your inconvenience—take a deep breath. There is no need to fret. If you’re in Latin America, don’t go to the Superama for hair serums and moisturizers. Go to the Superama for canola oil and eucalyptus oil. I would recommend tea tree if you’re in the states, but 70% of my travel experience pertains to Mexico and Guatemala—and I have never found tea tree oil in a Superama. Eucalyptus is similar and slightly milder, but has the same effect on things like acne and has a similar scent. It’s an astringent, that I guarantee will render obselete all of your Proactiv bottles of “toners”, “cleansers” and “pre-cleansers”, or the Proactiv spin-off, X-Out. I know acne can be genetic, or something you can “grow out of” but unless the universe played a significant trick on me when I was 13 I imagine that tea tree (or Eucalyptus) can legitimately cure acne. Unless it was just stopping meat-eating or dairy consumption. I imagine those were also influential factors. Only buy the pure kind, steam-distilled from leaves of the Eucalyptus or Eucalipto tree. It also works as a repellent for most insects, almost as effectively as DEET—minus the threats to your genetic makeup and that of your future children.

Finally: canola, or sunflower, or combonation-vegetable oil (and even safflower oils) literally function just as well as coconut oil, as an eye makeup remover, hair serum, or body moisturizer. The effects of ingesting specific types of oils might have differences among them, but in terms of hair care and body care–trust me. Anything sold as an “edible” oil or otherwise sold for food with the word “vegetable” in the title will work perfectly. I can see how this might seem sarcastic, but trust me. It’s not.

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What Does the World Eat for Breakfast?

I shared this because I’ve worked with and lived with people who identify with other nations, cultures, and subcultures of the world other than that of the mainstream i.e. Slovenia, Mexico, South Korea, Guatemala, Spain, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecudador, Peru, Colombia, Germany, Lebanon, etc. Granted, what you eat for breakfast doesn’t distinguish you as ordinary vs. radical. For all anyone knows, you might hunt deer on the weekends but really enjoy eating an apple for breakfast and skipping lunch. I’m not trying to analyze anyone, but I found this [stereotypical breakfast montage regarding stereotypical ideas about breakfast in various countries and regions] very interesting.

*Note: I’m not trying to promote Buzzfeed. I want to share this video because it resonates with my experience.

I had it posted here but it kept crashing my server, so I deleted it. To view the video, go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ry1E1uzPSU0/

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