BBQ Tempeh Vinegar Coleslaw Sandwiches

BBQ Tempeh Vinegar Slaw Sandwich

BBQ Tempeh Vinegar Slaw Sandwich

 

I grew up in North Carolina, so I feel like BBQ sandwiches and vinegar coleslaw are part of my genetic code. To me, there’s nothing better than the tangy taste and cool crunch of vinegar slaw paired with some sweet bbq sauce and warm tempeh. Yum! Here’s my recipe for BBQ Tempeh Vinegar Coleslaw Sandwiches:

First, prepare the slaw:

Vinegar Slaw

Ingredients

1 tsp sugar

1/3 c oil

1 T white wine vinegar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

Dash of all the following seasonings:

Salt

Pepper

Ground mustard

Garlic powder

1 medium carrot, grated

5-6 oz. Shredded green cabbage (I use Trader Joe’s)

Steps

1. Combine oil, vinegars, sugar, and seasonings.

2. Mix in green cabbage, coating thoroughly.

3. Add shredded carrot and mix well.

 

Now you can make the BBQ tempeh. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the dry rub and just fry plain tempeh in oil with some salt and pepper…it still tastes great! You can also make a larger batch of the dry rub ahead of time and have enough for several more meals!

Dry Rub BBQ Tempeh 

Ingredients (I can coat about 10 slices of tempeh with this recipe…enough for about 2 sandwiches)

Thinly sliced 3-grain tempeh (I use Trader Joe’s) (slice however much you want…I use about 4-6 slices per sandwich)

1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce per sandwich (I use something sweet to really contrast with the acidic slaw)

burger buns or sandwich bread, warm

1 T paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp onion powder

Dash of celery seeds

Dash of oregano

Dash of thyme

Sprinkle of ground mustard

Steps

1. Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl. Individually coat each slice of tempeh. Fry the tempeh in oil until it’s slightly crispy.

2. Heat your bread or buns in the microwave for a few seconds to get them warm. Layer the tempeh on, coat with BBQ sauce, and pile on some slaw.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan blueberry muffin

Vegan Blueberry Muffin

I’ve been coming up with my own muffins recipes for about four years now, but I haven’t made any since becoming vegan. This morning I woke up with the sudden urge to make a classic: blueberry muffins.

This was my first attempt at vegan muffins, and I must say, they taste better than the non-vegan version!

Ingredients (makes 6 muffins)

1 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

heaping 1/4 c brown sugar

1 tsp corn starch

1/2 c fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 c almond milk

3 T Earth Balance, melted

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Cooking spray (I use olive oil)

Steps

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add blueberries and mix.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.

4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir (do not over mix). Batter should be fairly thick, but if it looks a little too thick, add a little more almond milk.

5. Spoon batter into muffin pan. Cups should be almost completely full.

6. Bake for 20-26 minutes, rotating halfway through. If you’ve baked them for the full time and they still aren’t golden, spray the tops with a little cooking spray and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Vegan blueberry muffin with earth balance

Vegan blueberry muffin with earth balance

Fried Tempeh Micro Green Salad (Vegan)

Fried Tempeh Micro Green Salad

Fried Tempeh Micro Green Salad

When I became a vegetarian, I noticed that foods I previously would never have even touched were no longer offensive to me…in fact, I enjoyed them! Believe it or not, I had gone 23 years without eating a red bell pepper…now they’re a staple in my diet! When I became vegan, the same thing happened. Foods that were too adventurous for me as a vegetarian are now mouth-watering.

One of those foods is tempeh. I occasionally had tempeh as a vegetarian, but only if it was already prepared or flavored in some way and mixed in with other food. After a fateful trip to Veggie Grill, I realized how much I loved the stuff! I buy it just about every week (my favorite is the 3 Grain Tempeh from Trader Joe’s) and add it into recipes that I think need a little something extra.

My most recent creation is my fried tempeh micro green salad…and I’m obssessed. The savory tempeh, crunchy sunflower seeds, sweet corn, and refreshing veggies make this salad a perfect lunch, appetizer, or main course for any time of the year!

Ingredients (This is for a single serving, but all ingredients are too taste…use as much or little as you want!)

1.5 c Iceberg Lettuce Mix (I use Trader Joe’s Very American Salad)

1/4 c Micro Greens

6-8 Black Olives

1-2 T Sunflower Seeds

1/4 c Frozen Corn

5 slices 3-Grain Tempeh (Trader Joe’s)

2-3 T Lemon & Chive Dressing (Annie’s brand) or any other lemony dressing

1-2 T Carrot, grated

Steps

1. Thinly slice the tempeh and then cut it into bite-sized pieces. Fry it over med-high heat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the frozen corn to the pan. Fry until the tempeh is golden brown on both sides.

2. Add your lettuce, micro greens, black olives, and carrot to your serving dish. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with sunflower seeds, and top with the fried tempeh and warm corn.

You can also try it with avocado, bell pepper, or just about anything else you can think of!

Cruelty Free: The Grey Area

I try to be as cruelty free as possible…I only buy makeup and skincare products that aren’t tested on animals, I don’t buy leather, fur, wool, or down, and, after a couple years as a vegetarian, I just became a vegan.

When I buy my makeup and skincare products, I try to only buy from companies that are completely cruelty free. In other words, even if the company itself doesn’t test on animals, I also don’t want them to be owned by another larger company that tests on animals (think Burt’s Bees and Clorox, or NYX and L’Oreal).

I was thinking about this the other day and wondered, “is it really possible to be completely cruelty free?”  Let me give an example: Sephora’s house products are not cruelty free, but their store sells some cruelty free brands. If I buy those cruelty free brands at Sephora, some of the money goes directly to Sephora, and they then use that money to, among other things, make and sell their own line of products that aren’t cruelty free.

So, by buying cruelty free products at a store that isn’t cruelty free, am I indirectly supporting animal testing?

I also recently realized that just because a product is labelled as cruelty free, that doesn’t mean it’s vegan. To me, cruelty free means that no animals were harmed in the making of the product…if it contains animal products, I don’t consider it to be truly cruelty free. Now I look for products that weren’t tested on animals and that are also vegan.

And I could go even further…does buying vegetables at a grocery store that sells meat mean I’m contributing to animal cruelty? If I buy vegan shoes at DSW, doesn’t some of that money go towards DSW producing leather shoes and purses for their Kelly & Katie house brand?

It’s a lot to think about, and I don’t have the answers. All I can do is try my best. For things like makeup and skincare, I can try buying directly from the cruelty free companies (or even try making my own products). Hopefully by buying vegan products at grocery stores, the managers will see that they are in demand and offer more of them. But, the shoe issue is something I’m going to have to really think about…

So, what do you think? Is it possible to be completely cruelty free?

11 Easy Ways to Save Money

I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles about saving money…but many of them involve a lot of effort to save only a little bit of money. I know that every little bit counts, but sometimes saving 10 cents here and there just doesn’t seem worth the time.

But, with a little arithmetic and planning, the savings can really add up. Here are 11 easy ways to save a lot of money:

The savings can really add up by just making a few changes (all numbers are in dollars). Some "Family of Four" savings are adjusted to be more realistic (for example, when you get rid of cable, you save $30 a month even if you have 30 people in your home, and kids clothes may not be as expensive as adult clothes).

The savings can really add up by just making a few changes. Some “Family of Four” savings are adjusted to be more realistic…sometimes having four times as many people doesn’t save you four times as much money (for example, when you get rid of cable, you save $30 a month even if you have 20 people in your home, and kids clothes may not be as expensive as adult clothes).

1. Make your own meals.

If you choose to bring your own lunch to work just two times a week and skip going out for dinner once, you can save (2 lunches x $7.50 + 1 dinner x $15) = $30 per week. Of course, you’d have to replace those meals with things you buy at the grocery store. Realistically, I can make a great meal for $3. So, those three restaurant meals you just skipped would cost (3 meals x $3) = $9. Your actual savings will be ($30 – $9) = $21 per week.

Bonus: Home-cooked meals are often healthier and take less time that driving to a restaurant and waiting for your order.

2. Do less laundry.

Does that shirt really need to be washed after 1 wear? Probably not. When you change into your pajamas at night, inspects what you wore that day. Check for stains and sniff for any foul odors. If it looks and smells good, hang it back up in your closet! Even Clinton Kelly from “What Not to Wear” approves of this method.

Rather than calculating actual savings on water and electricity, I’ll base the savings on what it costs to do a load of laundry at a laundromat. If you normally do your laundry once a week, it can cost you ($1.25 to wash + $1.00 to dry + $0.15 laundry detergent) = $2.40 per week, or ($2.40 x 4) = $9.60 a month. If you can get it down to once every two weeks, it’ll cost you ($2.40 x 2) = $4.80 a month. That may not seem like much, but those savings are just based on one person. The more people in your home, the more money you’ll save.

Bonus: You’re helping the environment by saving water and electricity and your clothes won’t wear out as fast. You’ll also be saving time by not having to fold laundry each week!

3. Return what you don’t need.

Have you ever bought something and then later decided you didn’t actually need it, or it just wasn’t what you expected? Return it! Don’t let it just sit around collecting dust. If you return just $10 worth of stuff a month, that’s $120 a year.

Bonus: If you notice that you’re returning a lot of stuff each month, you might start thinking more about potential purchases when you’re at a store. Do you really need that cute throw pillow? By buying less in the first place, you’ll be saving even more money!

4. Eat less cheese.

You read that right. Cheese is expensive. By just buying one less cheese item each week, you can save about $5 a week, or $20 a month!

Bonus: The dairy industry is notoriously cruel, so buying less cheese will help out those cute dairy cows! Cheese is also addictive due to the protein casein…after a while of cutting back, you might realize that things taste just fine without it!

5. Buy secondhand.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Instead of buying things brand new, try going to a thrift store, consignment shop, or looking on eBay. I’ve found a lot of great things that are practically brand new but for a lot less money.

For my calculations, I’ll focus just on clothes, but if you have a habit of buying furniture or knick-knacks, make sure to add those as well. Also, if you usually spend more (or less) on new clothes than I do, also make adjustments in your calculations.

If I usually buy about 2 new outfits a month (maybe a blouse, a skirt, a dress, and some sort of outerwear), I could potentially spend ($25 blouse + $30 skirt + $30 dress + $30 cardigan) = $115 a month. If I buy used clothes, I would only spend about ($8 blouse +$10 skirt + $12 dress + $10 cardigan) = $30 a month. So, without even cutting back on the number of clothing items I buy each month, I can save ($115 – $30) = $85 a month!

Bonus: Buying secondhand prevents things from ending up in landfills and will reduce the number of things that are produced in the first place.

6. Do it yourself.

Instead of buying makeup remover, make your own (I just use plain coconut oil…no “doing” necessary!). Don’t buy art to put on your walls, spend time creating your own! Need a case for your tablet? There are lots of great tutorials out there using only felt (which costs a mere 30 cents a sheet). By making things yourself, you can potential save a lot of money.

For my calculations, I’ll just focus on one thing…yep, that’s all it takes! The store bought makeup remover I previously used was $7.99 and lasted me about 3 months, so I had to buy it 4 times a year. That’s ($7.99 x 4) = $31.96 a year. The coconut oil I use cost $5.99 and will probably last me a good 18 months. That means that in one year, I will have used ($5.99 x 2/3) = about $4 worth. That’s savings of ($31.96 – $4) = $27.96 a year. And again, that’s just by DIY-ing one thing!

Other things you might DIY: nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew), art/decor, blush, desserts.

Bonus: By DIY-ing, you get to have fun creating something. You can also customize what you’re making to be exactly how you want it! You now have the power to leave out harmful chemicals, artificial dyes, corn syrup, etc.

7. Shop around.

Watch out for coupons, sales, and special subscription discounts. I always check my Sunday newspaper for coupons and sales, there are websites like coupons.com that let you print out only the coupons you’ll need, Target. JoAnn, Michael’s and many grocery stores let you print coupons from their websites, and online stores like Amazon, Drugstore.com, Soap.com, and even Target.com are now offering subscription discounts. Subscription discounts typically range from 5% to 15% off, and usually you are saving even more by just buying online or in bulk!

I typically save about $10 per month using coupons, $15 a month by using subscriptions and buying online, and about $10 by watching for sales. That’s a savings of ($10 + $15 + $10) = $35 per month.

Bonus: Buying in bulk can save money and reduce the amount of packaging that’s being used (which helps the environment!).

8. Sell your stuff.

Rather than letting old stuff you don’t want just sit around in your closet, try selling it! By just selling a few pieces of clothing a month, I can make about $150. If you’ve got larger items that would be hard to ship, you can also try Craigslist or have a garage sale

Bonus: Selling your stuff will help you get more organized and might make you realize what kinds of things you can avoid buying in the future…like if you notice you’re selling all your red tops, maybe you’ll think twice before buying something red!

9. Buy generic and store brands.

Ibuprofen is ibuprofen whether it comes in a Target bottle or an Advil bottle. It just is. Based on what I’ve seen, store brands are about 20% less expensive than name brands. If I would normally buy $50 worth of name brand stuff a month, buying store brands/generics would save me ($50 x 20%) = $10 a month.

Bonus: Store brands typically don’t have to test on animals because the larger name brands have already done that.

10. Use your library.

You’re already paying for the library through tax dollars…you might as well make use of it! My library gives out a free Sunday newspaper each week (loaded with coupons!), has tons of magazine subscriptions, a DVD collection almost as good as any store, books, and CDs. Not to mention access to loads of online resources (including ebooks, various software programs, and a music download service called Freegal).

If by using your library you can keep from buying one book ($15) per month, one magazine subscription per year ($30) and 6 DVDs a year ($90), you’ve just saved ($15 x 12 + $30 + $90) = $300 a year.

Bonus: By using your library instead of buying your own things, you’re reducing waste (especially with a magazine subscription).

11. Get rid of cable tv.

There are so many things you could be doing besides watching cable tv. And with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and the library, you can probably still watch those shows you can’t live without. Get rid of cable and save $30 a month.

Bonus: With all that extra time you’re not spending in front of the tv, you’ll be able to exercise, DIY, and make your own meals more often!

By just making these small changes, one person can save about $450 a month, or about $5,500 a year. A family of four will save even more, almost $1000 a month, or about $12,000 a year!

How and Why I Went Cruelty Free

I wish I could say that I’ve been exclusively buying cruelty free items my whole life, but I haven’t. In fact, I don’t think I was even totally aware of the fact that animal testing occurred until I was a senior in high school.

Even knowing that animal testing existed, I never really thought about whether or not my makeup or skincare items had undergone testing…and even if they had, was it really that bad to put a little eye shadow on an animal? I didn’t yet know the reality of what really happened behind the scenes.

Lippy Girl and Ecco Bella make some great makeup products, but they can be a little harder to find. I buy mine directly from the companies' websites.

Lippy Girl and Ecco Bella make some great makeup products, but they can be a little harder to find. I buy mine directly from the companies’ websites.

Fast-forward to my freshman year of college. I had just discovered that I had four non-cancerous tumors in my breasts. That’s not exactly something a 19-year-old living in a dorm wants to deal with. Even though my tumors were non-cancerous, it got me thinking about the possibility of breast cancer. That’s something no one wants to deal with.

I started reading about ways to decrease the chance of getting breast cancer. During my research, I read that aluminum in antiperspirants and deodorants may be linked to an increased risk. I started looking into deodorants without aluminum…you know…the “natural” ones. There was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of label reading.

Trader Joe's Unscented Deodorant with Cotton is my go-to brand. It's affordable and works well. It doesn't have aluminum, though, so prepare to sweat while you're still getting used to it.

Trader Joe’s Unscented Deodorant with Cotton is my go-to brand. It’s affordable and works well. It doesn’t have aluminum, though, so there might be an adjustment period while your body gets used to it.

I had also read that other chemicals like parabens and artificial dyes might not be that great for my health either. I started weeding out everything in my cabinet that I was worried about. I think I was left with about 3 “safe” things. The next step was to find replacement products.

I started looking online. One thing I noticed about these more natural companies is that most of them advertised that they were cruelty free and didn’t test on animals. Animal testing must be worse than I thought if companies were going out of their way to advertise that they don’t test, right?

BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) makes some great products, and they obviously are made without animal testing! You can find BWC on Amazon and Drugstore.com.

BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) makes some great products, and they obviously are made without animal testing! You can find BWC on Amazon and Drugstore.com.

I did some research, and that’s when it hit me. The reality is, animal testing isn’t just painting a rabbit’s nails or shampooing a monkey. It’s a barbaric process that puts animals in an unbelievable amount of pain and ultimately leads to their deaths.

Physician's Formula Organic Wear, The Balm cosmetics, and Tarte cosmetics are some of my favorite makeup companies, and all are cruelty free. You can find them all at Ulta.

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear, The Balm cosmetics, and Tarte cosmetics are some of my favorite makeup companies, and all are cruelty free. You can find them all at Ulta.

From that point on, I only bought cruelty free makeup and skincare items. I even feel awful using soap in public restrooms because I know it’s probably not cruelty free (not to mention the artificial dyes and perfumes). I’ve converted my mom and dad, too. I also have my cruelty free tote bag that I try to use as often as possible…maybe it’ll get someone else thinking about animal testing.

EcoTools make my favorite makeup brushes. They're ridiculously soft, last a long time, and aren't made with animal hairs.

EcoTools makes my favorite makeup brushes. They’re ridiculously soft, last a long time, and aren’t made with animal hairs.

Thankfully, finding cruelty free items has gotten a lot easier just in the last 5 years. Target now has an entire aisle with cruelty free brands (their “natural” aisle), and places like Whole Foods, and Sprouts only sell cruelty free.

Alba Botanica is one of my favorite skincare lines. Their products are available almost anywhere, including Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Ulta.

Alba Botanica is one of my favorite skincare lines. Their products are available almost anywhere, including Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Ulta.

But I still have to be careful. Some companies might not perform animal testing, but the company that owns them does (e.g. Burt’s Bees and Clorox, Tom’s of Maine and Colgate-Palmolive, or NYX and L’Oreal). I didn’t immediately eliminate those types of brands because I wasn’t aware of what was going on, but today I only buy products from companies that have no connection to other companies that perform animal testing.

Tom's of Maine doesn't test on animals, but it's owned by a company that does (Colgate-Palmolive).

Tom’s of Maine doesn’t test on animals, but it’s owned by a company that does (Colgate-Palmolive). If it’s a choice between buying Tom’s of Mine or a product from a company that directly tests, Tom’s would be the better choice. Just be aware that some of their profits will be going to the larger company that owns them (and tests on animals).

It wasn’t an overnight thing, and I still make mistakes sometimes. But it’s about doing what you can. Not everyone’s perfect, and it’s impossible to go through life without ever harming another living thing (bugs, for example), but we can try. And that’s all that matters.

There’s a lot more I could go in to…like avoiding Palm oil to save Orangutans and using only vegan products…that’ll be another post! Thanks for reading!

Brands I recommend: Alba Botanica, Ecco Bella, Tarte, Trader Joe’s brand, EcoTools, Desert Essence, Physician’s Formula Organic Wear, BWC Beauty Without Cruelty

Aveda products are "people tested" and not tested on animals.

Aveda products are “people tested” and not tested on animals.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Shopping at Plato’s Closet

I’m all about shopping and finding clothes that make me happy. But, I don’t want to feel bad every time I think about my bank account.

My style tends to change pretty frequently. Some days I go for a polished and girly look, other days I’m happy in a plaid shirt and jeans. I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes every time I change my mind about what’s “me”…that’s where Plato’s Closet comes in.

Rubbish Plaid Button Down Shirt ($10), Wilfred Free black flowy pocket tank ($10), BDG mid-rise Alexia jean shorts ($8)

Rubbish Plaid Button Down Shirt ($10), Wilfred Free black flowy pocket tank ($10), BDG mid-rise Alexia jean shorts ($8)

Plato’s Closet is a relatively small store that manages to be packed with hundreds of different items. They buy and sell gently used items (sometimes I even find things with the original tag!) that are geared towards high school and college students. I’m neither of those, so I have to do some digging when I go there, but I’m almost never disappointed.

PrettyGirl high-waisted burgundy paisley midi skirt ($10), Forever 21 green blouse (my own)

PrettyGirl high-waisted burgundy paisley midi skirt ($10), Forever 21 green blouse (my own)

Reduce: By shopping at Plato’s Closet and other consignment or thrift stores, you can reduce the amount of clothes that go to waste. You’ll be buying gently used items that may have otherwise just been sitting in someone’s closet for an eternity. You’re also reducing the amount of money you spend on clothes! :)

Reuse: One man’s (or very stylish woman’s) trash is another’s treasure. Maybe someone got rid of those shorts not because they were out of fashion, but because they just didn’t fit anymore. Reuse someone else’s stuff!

Recycle: Got something that just isn’t “you” anymore? Take it to Plato’s Closet and let someone else get some use out of it. Take the cash you earned and buy something cuter!

Old Navy green striped tank ($2.40), BDG high-waisted sailor shorts ($6)

Old Navy green striped tank ($2.40), BDG high-waisted sailor shorts ($6)

Obviously, there are tons of other places where you can buy used clothing…but I have a soft spot for Plato’s Closet. The location I go to (Bellevue, WA) is super organized and has a lot of great brands. It’s fairly close to shopping districts in Seattle, so a lot of great stuff always finds its way into Plato’s.

Forever 21 faux leather jacket ($9.60), BDG plaid button-down ($8), BDG twig jeans (my own)

Forever 21 faux leather jacket ($9.60), BDG plaid button-down ($8), BDG twig jeans (my own)

Prices at the location I go to typically range from $6 to $25. I’ve found things from Aritzia, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People, along with tons of Forever 21. Occasionally I’ll spot a TopShop or J. Crew item, but it all depends on what stores are in your area. If there aren’t any Urban Outfitters near you, you probably won’t find a lot of their stuff at Plato’s Closet.

Maeve gold lace dress ($16), Forever 21 lace scarf (my own)

Maeve gold lace dress ($16), Forever 21 lace scarf (my own)

So, why do I like Plato’s Closet so much more than places like Goodwill? Plato’s Closet employees are trained to only accept items that are still in great condition and considered fashionable. That means I don’t have to sort through hundreds of stained items from 1996. Granted, I still have to search for things that I think aren’t too “young” for me…that means weeding through all the super short Forever 21 dresses and ripped jeans to get to the good stuff!

Wilfred tribal print tank ($9), BDG black high-waisted shorts (my own), Mix No 6 black strappy sandals (my own)

Wilfred tribal print tank ($9), BDG black high-waisted shorts (my own), Mix No 6 black strappy sandals (my own)

I hope you enjoyed looking at the outfits I put together using my recent Plato’s Closet purchases and that you’re inspired to check out Plato’s Closet or go thrift shopping! Let me know which outfit is your favorite or share a recent Plato’s Closet experience in the comments section! Thanks for reading!

Rubbish 3/4 denim moto jacket ($9.60), Bar III bunny dress ($12.00), Guess red ballet flats (my own)

Rubbish 3/4 denim moto jacket ($9.60), Bar III bunny dress ($12.00), Guess red ballet flats (my own)

Other places to try: eBay, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, Value Village, locally owned thrift stores