Tulum: Plant-based Paradise

We recently returned from Tulum; where we got married! It was our second time visiting the beautifully romantic Mexican beach town and the once again, the food is amazing. I am continually impressed at the selection of vegan and vegetarian options available there. Here is a quick rundown of my favorite selections, which is just the tip of the iceberg!

  • Mamasan– for only $5, you can enjoy deliciously prepared bruschetta. Shown in photo. I ordered two days in a row- that good. Make sure to grab a juice and smoothie. I also have had their vegan macaroni which is SO GOOD.

Located on the Tulum beach strip. They have a fantastic rooftop where you can enjoy views of the jungle.

Straight from the menu; Red pesto made from heirloom tomatoes, Genovese basil, peanuts and fine herbs on Multigrain German bread with macadamia vegan “cheese”, Mayan style pumpkin seed tabouleh, avocado and a dew of Lebanese extra virgin olive oil.”  

  • Burrito Amor– for under $4, you can get a vegan burrito. I like to order in a bowl and they bring a coconut tortilla on the side. The mojitos here are the best I’ve ever had. You will not regret this choice!

Located in the Tulum City Center right off the main road.

Straight from the menu; “Vegan nopal (cactus) & chaya (mayan spinach) grilled w whole black beans, amor rice, pico de gallo & avocado. epazote dressing.”  

  •   Ziggy’s– while it isn’t an exclusively vegan or vegetarian restaurant, I do enjoy the options here! The quinoa salad is utterly delicious and satisfying.

Located on the Tulum beach strip. They are right on the beach and the ambiance is very relaxing.

Straight from the menu; Mix of quinoa, beet, sunflower seed, green raisins, Jamaica flower reduction, macerated grapefruit and coconut cream.”

  • Raw Love Cafe– the best. I particularly love their breakfast bowls. We also love the beach club where this is located at so I always order and then stick around to play in the water and lounge. Additionally, you can order from the actual Beach Club that they are located. I always get the grilled veggies and french fries from there!

Located on the Tulum beach strip. They are at the Ahau Beach Club right on the beach.

Order it all!

Whenever in doubt in Tulum, trust that there is avocado toast everywhere

What are y’all’s favorite Tulum spots?

 

Raw Bars

Made these bad boys the other day in order to have some healthy snacks around the house. Since I work from home, I find myself wandering into the kitchen more often than I care to admit.

For these bars, I used steel cut oats, but next time will be subbing in old fashioned oats as the steel cut made for a crunchy rather than chewy texture.

I used this recipe from Song of Style’s youtube channel. Like I said, I swapped in steel cut oats (was out of old fashioned oats), added some flax seed and agave syrup to her original recipe.

RAW BARS

  • 1 cups oats of your choice
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp. of agave syrup (if desired)
  • Handful of dried cherries (if desired)
  • Chopped almonds or walnuts (if desired)

Mix thoroughly, spread mixture of oats, coconut oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seed,  and hemps seeds on parchment paper and cook on 350° for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, mix in dried cherries, agave syrup, any chopped nuts and place in parchment-lined loaf pan.

Freeze for 1 hour, remove and slice into bars!

ENJOY! What are your favorite raw bar recipes?

Roasted Chickpeas

So.Addicting.

Make sure to look at the nutritional facts on the chickpeas can first. Don’t be like me and eat the whole can after you’ve roasted and then decide to look at how many calories there are!

These are SO easy and quick. They are quite fabulous by themselves, but also make excellent salad toppers.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 tbps olive oil
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Open chickpea can, drain, rinse and dry with towel
  • Remove any outer skin that has shedded from the chickpeas during the rinsing and drying process
  • Combine olive oil with spices in bowl
  • Stir in chickpeas
  • Place in oven on baking sheet
  • Bake for 25-30 min with a 3 min broil at the end (or until golden brown).

The Rise of Meatless Patties – Fast Food Edition

Once I heard that Carl’s Jr. had launched the vegan Beyond Meat Burger, I rushed out to get one. The only hiccup… no Carl’s Jr. nearby… I settled my craving for a New Years Day hamburger with the local chain P.Terry’s vegetarian patty- completely worth it. While the patties are vegetarian, they are not vegan (as I learned later). Their recipe consists of; brown rice, cream-simmered crimini mushrooms, black beans, oats, two-kinds of cheese, fresh-cut parsley and a special spice blend. 

It had me wondering how many more fast food chains are going to be taking this approach of providing veggie patty options. Burger King offers a Morningstar patty and White Castle has veggie patty sliders. With the exception of Carl’s Jr. rolling out the Beyond Burger and local chains like P.Terrys Burger Stand, the options are few and far between! Many of the vegetarian options at fast food, consisted of fries slathered in cheese sauce.

Beyond Meat touts itself as the future of protein”The Beyond Burger consists of 20grams plant protein, no soy/gluten, and no GMOS! They applied to list on NASDAQ at the end of last year which will make them the first vegan company to go public.

With the rise of vegetarians, and big named investors (Bill Gate and Leonardo DiCaprio to name a couple) backing the company, the potential in companies like Beyond Meat is hard to ignore.

Where did all the protein go?

Where will you get protein from? That was the one question I heard over and over after going vegan. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to answer! While I knew there were numerous options available (besides animal products) I wasn’t sure how to incorporate them into my every day diet.

The Dietary Reference Intake suggests 56 grams of protein/day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams of protein/day for the average sedentary woman. Key word: sedentary- think about how much more you need when you’re active! To check your personalized protein needs, use this calculator.

Here are some suggestions for quick protein options to spice up your salad and get the necessary protein!

  • Beans/Lentils
  • Chia Seeds
  • Plant-Based Patty
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Nut Cheese
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu

Vegan Restaurants – Austin, Texas Addition

Austin, Texas is surprisingly progressive when it comes to the selection of vegan/vegetarian restaurants! I have been using the app, “Happy Cow” to locate all of these amazing spots.

I recently visited the incredibly aesthetically pleasing vegan restaurant, The Citizen Eatery (only to get take-out and miss out on the atmosphere). I can confirm, it tastes just as good out of the box. I ordered the Citizen Power Bowl, consisting of quinoa, avocado, marinated kale, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower seeds, red peppers, tomato, and citrus vinaigrette. I couldn’t leave without indulging with some fries, I left with….a whole lotta them – the mixed basket gives you their house style fries, texas tumbleweed and yuca fries. So. good.

Some other places I cannot wait to visit:

What are your favorite vegan/vegetarian spots? Austin or elsewhere!

Oat Milk

Oat Milk has been around for decades in Scandinavia, but has had a slower rise in the United States. Many people are making the switch after reports have surfaced that indicate Almond Milk uses 6x the amount of water in production than Oat Milk.

What is it made of?

Oats and water! Some brands will add canola/rapeseed oil to increase the fat content. Additionally, it must be fortified with vitamins and minerals such as; calcium, potassium and vitamins A, D, B12 and riboflavin. If you’re gluten-free, make sure you get a gluten-free brand as there could be cross contamination in some production facilities.

How does it stack up to almond milk?

Oat milk contains 2x protein and fiber than almond milk, but it also has 2x calories and carbohydrates. Because of all the natural fiber oat milk contains, it is THICK; perfect for adding to coffee or using in baked goods. The buttery-ness of the milk is reminiscent of milk that has been soaking with cereal. A nostalgia moment.

Where to get it? 

I been using the Swedish brand Oately at Whole Foods lately and would vouch for it! Their products are 100% free of any Glyphosate, aka Roundup. It’s used to kill weeds in the crops, but we definitely do not want our Oat Milk with a side of Roundup.

What is your favorite plant-based milk?

Is Wine Vegan?

Ever heard of fining? Neither had I until coming across vegan wine at the grocery store. Embarrassingly enough, I thought to myself “Isn’t wine was already vegan?”

The process

Fining has to do with clarifying the wine. Why do they manually clarify wine instead of leaving it to the wine’s natural process? Because people want that clear, beautiful, dark red that is so admired. The natural murkiness/haziness of a young wine is caused by different tannins, proteins, tartrates and phenolics. Gradually, during the life of the wine, the murkiness would subside, BUT companies want to speed up this process- that’s where fining comes into play.

Why isn’t wine vegan?

Many of the fining agents can be animal-derived.

  • Blood & bone marrow
  • Casein – a milk protein
  • Chitin – fiber from crustacean shells
  • Egg albumen – from egg whites
  • Gelatin – protein as a result from boiled animal parts
  • Isinglass – gelatin from fish bladders
  • Fish oil

Sounds fishy, no?

When the fining agents are added to the wine, the molecules contributing to the murkiness coagulate around the agent. Wine makers are able to remove the large bits, but it is natural for them not to get everything. Which, in turn, makes wine not vegan.

What to do?

The industry seems to be paying more attention to the demand for vegan wine and alternatives are being used for fining agents. These include;

  • Carbon
  • Bentonite clay
  • Limestone
  • Kaolin clay
  • Plant casein
  • Silica gel
  • Vegetable Plaques

Some winemakers are even taking steps to let their wines self-stabilize, meaning they do not use additives to alter the appearance. Usually these wines will be labeled with a “not fined or filtered”.

Smaller wine shops and co-ops will have great recommendations on what wines are vegan friendly. I have yet to find a wine with a nutritional label on the back, but there is lobbying taking place to make this change! So TBD on that. Some bigger grocery stores have started advertising on their store labels.

PETA recommends the this website for a comprehensive list. It is perfect when standing in the wine aisle trying to make a decision!

Vegan Wine
Meiomi California Wines – a great vegan option!

Animal friendly alternatives to everyday beauty products

This is Part II of 5 beauty products that contain animal products. Read Part I first! After I wrote the post, I wanted to dive deeper into what you can do to replace these items in a bathroom/makeup bag.

  1. Perfume – we talked about how some perfumes contain castoreum, a beaver secretion. Research your perfume before hand! Many perfumes use synthetic castoreum which is great! This perfume ingredient list was extremely helpful in determining what could be in your perfume based on the key notes.
  2. Nail Polish – buy without guanine, (fish scales)! Ask your salon what brands they carry before your mani/pedi. Companies like Wet n wild and NCLA are both cruelty free options.
  3. Lipstick – beetles may be tinting your favorite lipstick- yikes! Pacifica and Kat Von D are two of my favorite brands that offer vegan lipsticks.
  4. Moisturizing Serums – with many moisturizing serums containing Hyaluronic Acid this was a difficult one. I have suffered for years from skin issues; acne, rosacea, unevenness and redness. Hyaluronic Acid has always improved my skin color and any acnes scars. Youth to the People is a brand that is using  100% Vegan ingredients for their hyaluronic acid. I can’t wait to try this!
  5. Shampoo – can contain so many animal products, but luckily there are amazing solutions. Only Buy Vegan did an extensive write-up on these. I personally will be testing out the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shampoo. For blondes out there that are looking to tone down brassy tones, I would recommend ORIBE Bright Blonde Shampoo.

Personally, I have found the process of researching vegan products quite daunting. Even with the amount of information out there, there is so much to take in and keep in mind when making mindful decisions shopping. I hope these posts help you as much as they are helping me!

Cheers,

Alexandra

 

5 Beauty items that contain animal products

I started my research on this subject at the one and only PETA. Quite honestly, I was shocked at the amount of everyday beauty products that contain some form of an animal product. While I do not plan on clearing out my already purchased shampoos and perfumes, I do plan on using PETA’s list to make more informed choices when shopping for these products. The more you know!

  1. Perfume – contains castoreum. What’s that? Beaver anal secretions used with urine to mark their territories. When the secretion is diluted in alcohol it begins to smell musky and fruity. Fun fact: it is also used to waterproof their fur. Mental Floss had a great write up on the substance: “Beavers are generally no longer hunted for their pelts or castoreum, so to acquire the sticky stuff, beavers must be anesthetized and the castoreum gland milked by a human…Due to the inconvenience and expense of harvesting castoreum from live beavers, the substance is now seldom used…the annual industry consumption is very low—around 300 pounds—whereas the consumption of natural vanillin is over 2.6 million pounds annually. When castoreum is used, it’s far more likely to be in the profitable fragrance industry rather than in the foods we eat”.
  2. Nail Polish – contains guanine or “Pearl Essence” which is a material obtained from fish scales. When used in nail polish and cosmetics it gives a pearly iridescent effect to the product. Alternatives are leguminous plants, synthetic pearl, and aluminum & bronze particles.
  3. Lipstick – contains carmine which is a red pigment and dye derived from female cochineal insects. It is said that 70,000 beetles must be used to achieve 1 pound of this dye. Beet juice & alkanet root are good alternatives.
  4. Moisturizing Serums – potentially contains Hyaluronic Acid. This is a protein that is found in umbilical cords or around the animal’s joints. Alternatives for you include synthetic hyaluronic acid, plant oils.
  5. Shampoo – contains Keratin which is ground-up hooves, feathers, quills and various hair from animals. Alternatives could be almond oil and soy protein.