Vegan Eats: Part 3

IMG_3015

 

Hello, hello everyone!

This post marks the final installment in my mini-series “Vegan Eats”. In case you’re new to the site, my last two blog posts have been about have to find great vegan replacement foods for those day when you are missing your old favorites. If you’re looking for some recommendations/inspiration, check out my last two posts which can be found here and here!

califiafarmsalmondmilkfeature

1. Califia Farms
This brand is probably the one that I have the least experience with, but I have only good things to say about it. They make plant milks, coffee creamer and coffee itself. And everything is plant based! My personal favorites are the Toasted Coconut Almond Milk and the Vanilla Almond Milk. I love to use them for oatmeal in the morning. Even though I’m not a huge coffee drinker, I’m also a fan of their Salted Caramel Cold Brew Coffee. Overall, If your looking for a good replacement milk, Califia Farms is a great place to start out.

 

EB-Family-Group_sm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Earth Balance
I have been eating Earth Balance products for years. I remember when I first was introduced to them. I was in high school and I was vegetarian at the time. My step-dad had issues with high cholesterol, so he wanted to stay away from real butter. My mom picked up Earth Balance Butter from Whole Foods, and the next thing I knew, that was all either one of them was eating. They both loved it. I was against it at first, thinking that nothing could be as good as real butter, but one day I decided I would try it anyway. I was blown away, and from that day I have not eaten regular butter.

71vO82RkUaL._SX355_

Since then, I have tried a lot of their products, and now it is one of my most trusted brands. I really love their Vegan Cheddar Puffs, Cheddar Squares and their popcorn. Something else that I really like about this brand is that their websites offers vegan recipes, and info about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. It is truly a great resource from an awesome brand. Check out the website here.

 

 

tres-pupusas-2

3. Tres Pupusas
This brand is not entirely vegan, however it deserves a mention on this list because the vegan products they do make are wonderful. For those of you who don’t know, a pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish of a thick corn tortilla filled with various ingredients. In short, they are deliciousness wrapped in more delciousness. My Father’s family is from El Salvador, so I was excited to see a vegan version of a traditional dish that I usually had to stay away from.

Tres-Pupusas-2-2

Tres Pupusas offers two vegan options: Black Bean and Sweet Corn and Kale and Pinto Bean. My personal favorite is the Black Bean and Sweet Corn. These have become a staple in my household because they are delicious and super simple to make. They are perfect for nights when I don’t know what to make, or I don’t have time to cook. I love these little guys, and I don’t know where I would be with out. Thanks, Tres Pupusas, for looking out for us vegan Latinas.

 

And, that concludes this mini-series! I had a lot of dun writing it, and I truly hope that it will help you in your vegan journey. As always, please feel free to ask me any questions that you may think of after reading this. Also, feel free to leave suggestions for future posts and other mini-series. I would love to hear your thoughts.

As always…

Stay Fabulous!

 

-Gianna

Vegan Eats: Part 3

How to Pick a Fabulous Hostel

Hey everyone!

Today I want to discuss something I love: hostels! I love travelling and a big part of that (for me) is getting to stay in hostels. They are cheap, you meet awesome people, and the staff generally know a lot about the city you’re in. However, if you’ve never searched for or stayed in hostels it can be pretty overwhelming. Fear not! I am here for you with a step by step guide to finding a great hostel.

Before we get started I want to say a few things about hostels. First, if you have this image of hostels as gross and noisy places, you’re wrong. It’s really not hard to find a hostel that isn’t dirty or that is more chill/quiet if you want. Second, staying in a good hostel can totally change your experience in a city, so I recommend keeping a good budget for hostels. They often have free activities and kitchens so you can save money elsewhere. Let’s get booking!

So when booking hostels I like to use the HostelWorld app. They also have a website but I don’t think it works as well as the app. That is why I use the app and why my tutorial will be based on app, but the same ideas apply to this or other websites.

 

 

 

The first step is to open the hostel world app. This is what it looks like on the iPhone as of the end of April 2017. Pick your destination, the nights you want to stay, and the number of guests. Time to search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next step is to click on the filter button in the bottom right of the screen (see right.)

 

 

 

 

 

Next, pick the filters you want to use. Personally, I recommend sorting by rating and by limiting your search to hostels. You could also do a price maximum but I usually do not, just to see everything. Apply the filters and go back to the search.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, look at your results and find a hostel that has an interesting price/rating. Click on it and now we will look at the rating. As you can see on the right this hostel has a great score of 9.3/10. However, what does this score break down to? To find this out click on the overall rating to see the breakdown.

 

 

 

 

The image to the left shows the breakdown of the rating. The main things I look for are location, cleanliness and security. My preference is hostels in a good location because even if the atmosphere isn’t a 10/10 at least you’re in a great spot! Next, I read some of the reviews. This gives me a feeling for the “vibe” of the hostel and what to expect when I get there. This is hard to teach to someone else but just read them and see how they make you feel about the hostel.

 

 

Next, I take a look at the facilities of the hostel. There are a few non-negotiable things for me when it comes to facilities. I want:

  • Free wifi (for obvious reasons)
  • Linens included: I don’t bring sheets with me when I travel
  • Towels for free or for hire: same as above, do not travel with a towel.
  • Security lockers: I need lockers to lock up my stuff, no desire or time to get stuff stolen.

I also check for 24 hour reception for times when I am arriving at the hostel late. If you plan on cooking many of your own meals, check for a kitchen.

Lastly, I just take a look at all the information included about the hostel. If it has what I want, is a reasonable price, and has the right vibe, I am happy to book it. To do this either book on HostelWorld or try and book directly with the hostel. HostelWorld charges a 10% fee on top of the cost of the hostel so you can save money by bypassing them. I often book with HostelWorld because all the information about your booking is easily accessible in the app. Additionally, when booking a bed I would recommend a room with 4-8 beds, more than that can be really overwhelming, but is not the end of the world.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions. Good luck and have a nice  trip!

How to Pick a Fabulous Hostel

Living Radically: Graduating Early

Hey readers,

This past weekend, I graduated college! Well, almost. It’s story time.

Three years ago, I graduated high school with every intention to either, A) Travel the world on my own, or B) Move across the country and attend college on the west coast. Instead, I ended up going to college fifteen minutes down the road from my house.

My father is a professor, which means an opportunity for a debt-free education. He works at a business school, which while great, was never a path I wanted to go down. What’s more, I wanted to adventure!!! But with no money saved up and no other prospects, I went to the last place I wanted to be on earth–school with my parents and living at home.

18618214_212691339239105_1763087777_o

I have always been the type of person to make the best of any situation, and that is exactly what I did. Freshman year, I joined clubs and found my place learning Mandarin Chinese with an awesome group of people. Sophomore year, I got a job as resident assistant, which allowed me to fulfill my dream of living on campus. That really changed everything, because up until that point, I was trying extremely hard to make friends on campus. The good friends I made in freshman year had graduated or left altogether and like many college students, I had to find some more. While being a resident assistant put me on campus full-time, I can honestly say it is the reason I made my next move: graduate college one year early.

flag bearer

They say that your vibes attract your tribe, and in my case, I was trapped in a bubble were there were either zero vibes or I wasn’t vibing right. Either way, I didn’t make anymore strong connections at school, and I decided to make the most of my college opportunity in a new way: use my free tuition to take a ton of extra classes and be done with school forever. And so, I did it. I found my class of 2018 gear and changed it all to 2017. I made school about classes and not about making strong connections on campus, and I spent more time on projects like Feminine Boutique (which is way more fun than school).

18557287_10154746352597582_6324950571648228118_n

Finally, this semester came around. It was the hardest yet, probably because I was so close to the end, and also because I was amidst lining up a job for after I graduated. I kept my head down, worked hard, and managed to make the honor roll for every semester since the beginning of this ride. I chugged through the busy work, the work that actually mattered, and then some. And now, with two summer classes left, I can already say I have crossed the stage and truly took advantage of every opportunity given to me. And, in about two months, I get to finally pursue that dream of traveling the world by serving in the Peace Corps with my partner in crime.

18641198_212691342572438_1630666611_o

Moral of the story? No matter the cards you are dealt, keep playing the game. Keep trying, and keep hacking at whatever wall stands in your way, because most walls are worth knocking down. Remember, you are in charge of your destiny.

Living radically,

Marta

Living Radically: Graduating Early

NYC Soho find

For the last one and half years, my staple breakfast food has been a good old egg and cheese sandwich. I’ve probably had it every single day.

My friend was visiting NYC for the last couple of days and recommended that we go to Egg Shop. At first, when I looked at the menu, I was very confused. There were strange mix of foods and stuff that I had never heard of before. I almost asked her to change or reservation. However, I am so glad she didn’t budge.

Egg Shop is a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Elizabeth Street. Just a five minute walk from the Spring St. subway stop (6 train). They serve their coffee in transperant mugs, the coffee was great btw! I ordered a custom egg and cheese sandwich with Vermont white Cheddar and caramelized onion aioli, on a paninni roll.

IMG_6322

To say that I was impressed and satisfied is an understatement. The bread was soft and warm and egg whites fluffy. There was just the perfect amount of cheese and onion aioli, giving the whole sandwich an extra something.

Definitely recommended for a quick, wonderful, and filling breakfast!

 

NYC Soho find

Vegan Eats Part II

IMG_3280

Hello Everyone!

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy as I was gearing up for finals. Unfortunately, that meant that the blog had to take a back seat, but I am happy to say that I am back! Before I took my brief hiatus, I started a mini-series where I list some the essential transitioning vegan food. This list is intended to guide you to some great tasting food for those times when you’re missing your old favorites. I do want to say that most of these foods are not part of what I would call a “healthy” vegan diet, because most of these items are processed. The healthiest vegan diet is the one that pretty much entirely made up of whole plant foods. But, everything in moderation, am I right?

coconut bliss

1. Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
In my last post, I mentioned “Yours Truly” by Toffuti, and how it’s some of the greatest vegan ice cream known to mankind, I have to say that Coconut Bliss is pretty high up there on my list too. I really like this ice cream because not only is it absolutely delicious and comes in a wide variety of flavors, but the ingredients list is also pretty simple.

That means that when you eat this product, you’re not ingesting a bunch of crazy chemicals. It’s mainly just coconut and agave and whatever else is needed for the flavor itself. My favorite flavors are Chocolate Peanut Butter and Ginger Cookie Caramel, but you’d be safe buying any one of these flavors. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

 

Field-Roast-sausages

2. Field Roast Sausage Links
I’m just to go ahead and say that these right here are the best vegan sausages I have ever had. These are my go to 100% of the time now. As far as I know, they are only available in three flavors: Mexican Chipotle, Smoked Apple Sage and Italian.

My personal favorites are the Italian flavor and Mexican Chipotle, but Smoked Apple Sage is delicious as well. Field Roast as a brand is absolutely wonderful because I haven’t had one product I didn’t like. Their meats are so flavorful, I guarantee you won’t miss eating the real thing. I highly recommend any and all of their products, but especially the sausage!

0042272000100_A1A3_ItemMaster_type_large

3. Amy’s California Veggie Burger
I mentioned in my last post that I have invested a lot of time in finding good veggie burgers. Today, I am proud to present to you another great veggie burger for your consideration. When I first bought these, I hadn’t heard anything about them either way. But after trying them, they quickly became one of my go-tos and favorites. What I love about these burgers is that they have a wonderful flavor on their own, but you can easily put any kind of toppings you want and it will be good. Anything you throw at these burgers will be great.

fullsizeoutput_11a

4. Gardein Ch’kn Strips
Last, but certainly not least are the Gardein Ch’kn Strips, which is some of the best tasting fake chicken I have ever had in my life! This company had a very impressive range of mock meats, and their “chicken” is some of their best. I honestly don’t even know if I would know that this wasn’t real meat if nobody told me! I know many vegans now who have made this product a staple in their diet because of how remarkable it is. If you’re a huge fan of chicken and you miss the taste, look no further, because Gardein has got you covered.

So that concludes my post for this week! I hope you all enjoyed it and found some of these suggestions helpful. Also, please keep in mind that I’m suggesting all of these products because of personal experience, and you may find that you like other products better. That’s totally fine! This list is meant to be a guide if you are having trouble finding things you like, or you feel stuck in a rut. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Thank you all for reading.

(P.S. The top I am wearing in the first picture was made by Feminine Boutique’s own Marta! She is quite talented, and these tops are perfect for the summer. She wrote a post about her new business not long ago and I highly recommend checking her tops out.)

Stay Fabulous!

Vegan Eats Part II

European Backpacking Packing List

Since I am currently travelling in Europe for the month of May, I decided to write about more travel tips this month. Below you’ll find my tried and true packing list for backpacking through Europe in April-August. I pack all my things in my travel backpack and use compression packs to help with organization. Look out for a post in the near future reviewing these! Also if you decide to read nothing but the intro, I want to stress something to you: if you don’t wear it/use it at home, don’t bring it.

Clothing/Outerwear: When choosing what clothes to bring, I recommend picking clothes that all go together so that you have a wide variety of outfits. If that shirt only goes with 1 other item, then probably not worth it. Please note: this list is really tailored to going to Europe in Spring or Summer. Adjustments will need to be made for other times of year.

4 short-sleeve shirts or tank tops: Pick tops that go with everything

1 or 2 long sleeve shirts: This depends on if you’re going somewhere colder, but I’d still recommend bringing one even if you’re going to be somewhere warm.

1 sweater: I highly recommend packing the smallest yet warmest sweater you can find. Another option is a nano-puff jacket that folds up small. Sweatshirts take up a ton of space in bags, if you’re not going anywhere cold consider not bringing a sweatshirt. I did not bring one on my first trip to Europe and was totally fine as I was there in July and I had a long sleeve shirt and rain jacket.

2 pairs of pants: I recommend bringing a pair of leggings and a pair of linen pants for warmer destinations. For colder destinations, I recommend a pair of warm leggings with jeans (or more leggings). Leggings are great because they are comfortable, don’t take up a ton of room in a suitcase, and are mostly fuss free.

2 pairs of shorts: I mostly bring jean or dark colored shorts as these show signs of dirt much more slowly.

1 dress: I don’t personally bring a dress as I don’t wear them at home (pro tip: if you don’t wear it at home don’t pack it). However, they are a very nice addition as they are easy to look put together with, don’t take up much space, and are great for warm destinations.

2-3 bras: I recommend taking a normal bra, a sports bra and then either an extra comfy bra or a bralette. Between these 2-3 bras you should be set for a long time. You can also get quick dry bras that are easy to wash if you are concerned and want to wash your bra between most wears. I find washing them weekly when I do laundry is enough for me.

4 pairs travel underwear: There is nothing I can recommend more than buying some pairs of travel underwear to save on space and for ultimate comfort. I own 4 pairs and they are my favorite underwear ever, they’re super comfortable and you can wash them in the sink with soap or shampoo and they will be dry in a few hours.

5 pairs noncotton socks: I highly recommend noncotton socks as they are much easier to wash in sinks. Cotton socks don’t dry and really don’t get that clean when washing in the sink.

Bathing suit: even if you don’t plan on going somewhere where you will use it I recommend bringing a bathing suit just in case as they are small to pack anyways.

Sneakers: You’re going to be doing a lot of walking, I can guarantee it, so a pair of sneakers is awesome. I bought a pair of all black Nikes that go well with a lot of things and aren’t horribly ugly and they work great. You might not be the most fashionable person ever but just remember no one knows you and you can be fashionable at home 😉

Sandals: these are super important for many reasons. First, you need something to walk around the hostel in. Second, some days it’s just too hot for sneakers so sandals are ideal. And lastly, you might be going to the beach where you will need sandals. I recommend getting a pair of multifunctional sandals that you can both wear out places but also get wet. I have a pair of yoga mat sandals and I love them.

yoga sandal

Rain Jacket: Bring a rain jacket! They are multifunctional because they keep you dry but can also keep you warm, and they fold up really small.

Small Scarf: This is optional but if you are going somewhere cold or are constantly cold this might be a good idea.

Hat: only if you will wear it! I bring a baseball cap as it is great for the beach or really sunny days.

 

Toiletries: as you may know by now, I am a makeup FIEND. I love it, but I chose not to travel with it. Makeup is a hobby, a hobby I can easily do at home so I chose to not bring it so I can focus doing things I can’t do at home. Additionally, my skincare routine is very “extra” but again I chose to travel with the bare minimum skincare wise as I travel with a carryon only. Lastly, some stuff you can just buy once you’re at your destination especially if you’re travelling with one or more people, as you can just share them.

Toothbrush

Floss: Be honest with yourself, if you don’t normally floss don’t bring it.

Travel sized toothpaste: I recommend trying to find a 2-3oz travel toothpaste so it can hopefully last you the whole trip

Travel sized bottles: I bought mine from Amazon and I use these to bring my necessities with me. I have 3 bottles, 1 for face/all over body lotion, 1 for shampoo and 1 for conditioner. I am allergic to fragrances so I have to bring my own supplies, however if you are fine with a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner totally get that to save on space! It’s not the best but also not that bad for a few weeks.

travel bottles

Deodorant

Bandaids: highly recommend investing in hella expensive blister bandaids. They are amazing/game changers if you get blisters.

blister bandaid

Hairbrush/comb: I bring a comb as it works for my hair and it smaller.

Sunscreen: do not forget this!! Very important, but can also easily be bought once you’re at your destination which I sometimes do.

Razor: I personally am able to shave without shaving cream so I don’t bring any. However, to save on space you can shave using conditioner or just normal soap, so keep that in mind.

Body soap: personally I prefer bar soaps so that is what I bring, however even if you prefer liquid body soap you might want to opt for bar soap as it is not a liquid.

Hair Elastics

Chapstick

Nail Clippers

Prescription Medication: make sure it has the prescription label attached

Other medication: bring any other medication you take. I also suggest bringing some Advil with you just in case.

Makeup: bring any makeup you want but pack this last as it is the least “necessary.” I personally bring an eyebrow pencil, dark circle corrector, eyelash curler, and a lipstick.

Makeup remover

 

Other Items: important stuff like passports!

Inflatable neck pillow: I did not have this on my first trip but oh man on my trips since this has been a game changer. I often take overnight buses or sleep in airports or on airplanes and having a neck pillow makes the experience so much better. I recommend one you can inflate so it takes less room.

neck pillow.jpg

Reusable water bottle: save money on water bottles by filling up your own. Water is safe in most places so tap water is totally drinkable! Also, great to fill up once you pass security at the airport.

Padlock: bring your own padlock so you can actually lock your stuff in lockers at hostels.

Passport: please be sure to check your passport is not expiring soon and that you have any visas if you need them.

Phone charger/Adapter: make sure to check the countries you are going to and that you have the right adapters.

Tablet: I do not personally bring anything other than my phone as I can do everything I need to do on there while travelling, but if you know you need a tablet bring one.

Headphones

Handwashing Laundry Soap: I order this off Amazon and it is awesome in a pinch.

handwashing soap

Credit cards: My recommendation while travelling is getting a credit card that does not fee you when you are travelling/spending money abroad. This is the best exchange rate/deal you will get and most places do take card. I personally have two credit cards now for when I travel alone in case one does not work. The key with credit cards is to not spend more than you have.

Debit card: talk to your bank and see where you can withdraw money abroad with the least amount of fees.

Photocopies of important documents: if you lose your passport but have a photocopy your life will be much easier. I also keep photocopies in my drive so I can view it from anywhere.

Ziplock bags: you will probably need these for a variety of different reasons, good to keep them on hand.

Sunglasses

European Backpacking Packing List

Living Radically: Starting My Own Business!

Hey everyone!

Last time, I talked about my (possibly) crazy decision to cancel my phone plan. You can read it here. This week, I will be talking about why I started my own business!

I had been working a new job for about a month when one week they took me off the schedule and sent an ominous email to call them when I was available. And then… well, for the first time in my entire life, I was fired. I had already gone through three jobs in less than eight months, and the world of employment was beginning to look bleak. The thought of going through yet another pile of applications to work was soul-crushing. I then decided that I was done with it. I was going to pursue a bucket list item: start my own business.

final logo

I have always been quite crafty, and love creating artistic products. I decided to combine my skills in crochet with my passion for creating stuff, and came up with Crochet All May. In one evening, I made a crop top, and the next day I posted it on social media. I wasn’t sure what to expect–Would people be willing to buy my stuff? Things I made myself?

crochet top.PNG

The response was astounding. People loved it! I took in four orders in less than three days, and was crocheting every spare minute I had. The next week, I created a new design: a bikini top. Crochet is trending, and so many people were interested in this. Now I am working on designs for bikini bottoms, clutches, beach bags, headbands, and any other bohemian item I can think of.

bikini top.PNG

Being in charge of my income is especially empowering. Being in charge of a very small business is incredible. I have pride in what I create, and connect with my very own clients. I am even fulfilling a long-time dream: being an entrepreneur. All I had to do was get fired (check), create something of value to others (check-check), and go for it (triple check). I get to challenge myself everyday, apply my business education, and do something I love for hours on end.

My end game here is this: if you are thinking of starting a business on your own, go for it. Put yourself out there, because you will never know if it will work if you never try. So far, I have found my own little success, and I am enjoying every second of this new project.

Living radically,

-Marta

P.S. If you need some motivation, read/watch Girlboss. The main character, Sophia, becomes 10x more relatable when you start doing your own thang. 😃

 

Living Radically: Starting My Own Business!