Vegan Halloween Tips

Vegan Halloween

If you are raising vegan kids Halloween can seem like a bit of a challenge. What is worse than everyone handing your kid a bunch of brightly colored, perfectly marketed candy that you need to take away since it is filled with animal ingredients?? I think you have a few options when it comes to Halloween that will allow your children to participate, but keep your ethics in tact. I have used each of these vegan Halloween tips over the years and now that my son is 8 we will use a combination of these ideas. This is my all time favorite post to put together…I love looking at all of Trey’s costumes over the years!

Vegan Halloween

SWITCH WITCH

This has been my go to since Trey was 2 years old. Trey goes out and trick-or-treats and I trade him all of his candy for a bag or box of toys. It is really important that these be good toys, remember they are giving you ALL of their candy in exchange. If you are not trick-or-treating at home be sure to bring your Switch Witch bag with you so you can swap out immediately. Several of Trey’s friends have started asking to swap out their candy for a Switch Witch bag which has been awesome.

Vegan Halloween

When Trey was really young I would just give him toys. Now that he is older and sees everyone eating candy I give him candy that I know he will like, but that is vegan and not full of dye etc.

VEGAN CANDY LIST

Here is a handy list of vegan candy from VegNews. I know some vegan families who let their kids keep all of the vegan candy they collect when they trick-or-treat. They take out what’s not vegan and might give their kids some of the extras that they were passing out to trick-or-treaters. Popular candies that are vegan include Smarties, Skittles, Now & Laters, Red Vines, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers and Dum-Dums (refer to list for specific flavors).

Vegan Halloween

I haven’t done this before for Trey because I really hate all of the dye and chemicals in most candies. As he gets older I don’t want him to see veganism as one big boring limitation so I was planning on letting him have some of these candies this year. Last week Trey’s friend gave him a pack of Skittles and since I just read they are vegan I decided to let him have the small “fun size” pack. It did not go well…his body gave them a full rejection! I’ll spare you the details but needless to say he won’t be eating anymore heavily processed candies. The good news is he was able to see how his body reacted to that type of food and he is not looking to repeat that experience.

Vegan Halloween

HEALTHIER VEGAN CANDIES

There are some candies that are less processed than others. If you look at Whole Foods they have quite a few candies that are vegan and also free of dyes and many of the less desirable chemicals. A few of my favorites:

  • TruJoy Fruit Chews – these are an awesome alternative to Starburst. These are my current favorite candy.
  • YummyEarth Lollipops 
  • Surf Sweets Fruity Bears – this is what I’m passing out this year. I was able to purchase them at Target. Check the label on Surf Sweets – they clearly label their vegan candies as Vegan.
  • Go Max Go  – 100% vegan candy bars that replicate popular chocolate candy bars.
  • Cocomels – Delicious, rich caramel with multiple flavor options

Vegan Halloween

This year I am going to use a combination of these healthier candies and the Switch Witch bag for Trey. He will get some candy, but he will also get a new Lego set he has been eyeing.

What is your strategy for a vegan Halloween? Any favorite vegan candies?

Vegan Halloween

Vegan on-the-Go

vegan on-the-go

As I mentioned in my last post we moved at the end of last month. That left me without much time, energy, or in some cases a kitchen for cooking. These transitional times are when being vegan is a bit tougher than being an omnivore. It’s not like vacation when you have time to research new restaurants and then enjoy leisurely meals. You really need grab and go food that you don’t have to prepare, but you want food that fuels you. I thought I would share a few options we relied on for the weeklong period when we were transitioning from one house to the next. These are my vegan on-the-go favorites:

GROCERY STORE FINDS

NuGo Bars: These bars taste good, are high in protein and low in fat. Be sure to check the ingredients as not all of their bars are vegan. Here is a list of their vegan options. My husband likes the Chocolate Mint flavor, while I love the Chocolate Pretzel.

vegan on-the-go

Precut Fruit and Veggies from Whole Foods: This kept us eating fruits and vegetables without having to look for the cutting boards and knives.

Ranch Dressing: I normally make my own dressing, but this is a good option from Follow Your Heart when making your own isn’t in the cards. Trey loved dipping the pre cut veggies in the dressing.

vegan on-the-go

Shelf Stable Hummus & Bean Dip – protein packed dips that work with chips, crackers or cut up veggies.

Gardein Pocket Wrap – my husband loves these. It does require that you have an oven or microwave available, but they are fast and satisfying.

QUICK RESTAURANTS

Chipotle – savior of any vegan on-the-go. Their sofritas (marinated tofu) are delicious and filling. I like that I can have a salad, bowl, burrito, crispy tacos or soft tacos. Options are helpful since we ate here a few times during the move. I get bored eating the same thing each time.

Veggie Grill – We have a Veggie Grill about 15 minutes from our new house. This all vegan chain seems to be cropping up all over the west coast. My favorite dish is the Savory Kale Salad with tempeh bacon. Trey loves the kids meal options and my husband loves the buffalo chick’n.

vegan on-the-go

 

Spice Kit – This is a Bay Area restaurant with a few locations. Like Chipotle, they have several vegan serving options including salad, rice paper wraps or a bowl. My favorite is the Vietnamese Bowl without the fish sauce. Here is my homemade version.

Subway – The bonus with Subway is that they are everywhere. Their white bread is vegan and they have lots of veggies to load into your sandwich. Here is a guide from PETA highlighting vegan options at Subway. Will this be your most exciting meal ever…no, but it hits the spot when you are tired and hungry.

Ike’s Place – Ike’s is a sandwich shop that started in San Francisco. They are rapidly expanding (they now have locations in LA and Tempe) and have a huge vegan menu. The menu is different in each location, but they have multiple vegan meat substitutes, vegan cheese and delicious bread.

vegan on-the-go

What are your favorite vegan on-the-go eats?

Pacifica Beauty Review

Pacifica Review

One of my new favorite beauty brands is Pacifica. I have been using their lotions for years and I am thrilled that they have been rolling out a complete makeup and body care line. I love that they emphasis that their products are all vegan. All vegan brands make shopping much easier…no need to pour over every ingredient wondering if this one particular product is vegan.

Here is how Pacifica describes their own products:

Pacifica is known as one of the most innovative and sustainable makeup lines on the market today. At Pacifica, we are elevating the experience of natural beauty products and overcoming the common perception that naturals don’t deliver great results.  We make natural products that work as well or better than any non-natural line.  Our mission is complete when we have delivered the best performing products, using the safest ingredients, in recyclable packaging and components to the largest possible audience of beauty consumers. All Pacifica products are gluten-free, 100% vegan, and cruelty-free.

What I love about Pacifica

  • All Vegan – enough said
  • Available at Whole Foods and Target – 2 of my favorite, most frequented stores
  • Non-irritating to my sensitive skin
  • Scents that I actually like and aren’t overpowering

Pacifica Review

Favorite Products

  • Nail Polish – great color selection, excellent wear and 7 Free (Made without parabens, phthalates (dibutyl phthalate), toluene, xylene, camphor, formaldehyde, resin, and animals.)
  • Concealer – Creamy under-eye concealer that does a great job covering up and brightening without sinking into my wrinkles 🙂
  • Lip Gloss – Non-sticky lip gloss that is hydrating and looks very natural
  • Waterproof Mascara – Love the brush in this mascara…absolutely no clumping
  • Ultra CC Cream – A perfect everyday, lightweight foundation with SPF 17
  • Indian Coconut Nectar Body Butter – Nice, thick lotion that smells like heaven
  • Indian Coconut Nectar Soap – Same great smell as the Body Butter and very moisturizing
  • Solid Perfume – I’m not a perfume person but I love this Spanish Amber scent. I also like the solid perfume for keeping in my gym bag or purse.

Pacifica Review

I’ve tried and enjoyed their eye shadow and blushes as well. The blush is a cream blush and I prefer a powder blush so I don’t use it as often as some of their other products.

I’m looking forward to watching the Pacifica line expand. They have a new foundation coming out that I’m anxious to try. I do hope they add more colors for their face makeup. They seem targeted only for people with pale skin and since vegans come in all shades I hope they expand their color selection as they grow!

Pacifica Review

If you like Pacifica I highly recommend subscribing to their list on their website. They send out information with lots of deals – available directly from their site.

Have you tried Pacifica brand makeup or body products? What are your favorites?

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I purchased all of these products on my own*

Petit Vour July – Review

Petit Vour July

Petit Vour is a company dedicated to cruelty-free, vegan beauty. They offer a monthly box for $15 (in the US). In it they include 4-5 samples of fantastic, luxury vegan beauty products. The products include makeup, haircare and skincare items. Here is a bit more about Petit Vour’s background from their website:

Petit Vour is the luxury vegan destination for the decidedly fashionable, inspired by the finer things and curated for the modern, ethical woman. With a deep love for animals, and a knack for seeking the finest, Petit Vour brings you the crème de la cruelty-free. In May 2013, we curated our very first beauty box, filled with little luxuries, offering a taste of cruelty-free to our small membership. We’ve since grown quite a bit, but our values remain the same. Our mission since the idea came to life was to bring two worlds together: luxury and progressive values.

I learned about Petit Vour from my favorite resource for vegan beauty tips, Vegan Beauty Review. Vegan Beauty Review’s curator, Sunny, highlights vegan beauty products from all different companies. She covers everything from high-end makeup to drugstore finds. If you haven’t checked out her site, be sure to do so.

I ordered the Petit Vour July box for the first time. Now that I have had some time to play with the products I thought I would share my review with you.

Petit Vour July

Aila Nail Polish: The polish color is a fun coral color called Doolish. It is perfect for a summer pedicure. I wore my pedicure for several weeks and was impressed with the polish’s staying power. I received tons of compliments on the color. Aila nail polish is free of Parabens, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Toluene, Dibutyl phthalate (DBT), and Camphor.

Petit Vour July

Luxe de Mer Gentle Face CleanserI have incredibly sensitive skin and almost every cleanser I have tried over the last few years has irritated my skin. The one product I use all the time is a rosewater toner. I was thrilled with the results of this cleanser. It is very gentle and the rosewater is calming to my hyper-sensitive skin. I’m looking forward to trying some of Luxe de Mer’s additional vegan products. It looks like they have a great selection of high quality skincare products with minimal ingredients.

Petit Vour July

Routine De-Odor-Cream: This natural deodorant smells great and is made without any aluminum zirconium, aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, triclosan, or propylene glycol. I have been experimenting for years with natural deodorants with VERY mixed results. Recently I have been using JK Naturals (available at Whole Foods) and that has been working really well for me. I like the smell of the Routine Cream, which they call Sexy Sadie. It has a woodsy, vanilla type smell and it worked well. I will use the whole sample and consider ordering some in the future. I do hope they come out with a “stick” form, since I don’t love rubbing the deodorant in by hand.

Petit Vour July Nubian

photo credit: Nubian Heritage

Nubian Heritage Mango ButterI enjoyed all of the products in this month’s box, but this was the winner in my book. You may notice I don’t have my own picture of the body butter above and that is because Trey snatched this body butter as soon as he smelled it. The Mango Butter has a delicious orange scent that, according to Trey, “smells like orange ice cream”. The body butter contains a mixture of shea and cocoa butter and is incredibly moisturizing. I will be ordering more of the Mango Butter and a few of Nubian Heritage’s other body butters. The Frankincense & Myrrh Shea Butter sounds heavenly.

THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. I PURCHASED THE PETIT VOUR SUBSCRIPTION BOX ON MY OWN.

Plant-Powered Families Giveaway & Review

**Giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to Susan on her copy of Plant-Powered Families!**

As I have mentioned Dreena Burton is one of my all time favorite vegan cookbook authors.  Her Vive Le Vegan cookbook was one of the first vegan cookbook’s I purchased that seemed written just for me.  Her cookbooks always include a variety of breakfasts, snacks, main dishes and desserts.  She uses healthy ingredients, but doesn’t sacrifice flavor.  Last week Dreena’s latest book, Plant-Powered Families, was released.   I received my copy from Amazon a few weeks ago and have had a great time cooking through the book.  I love the book so much I would like to offer a copy to one of my readers.  The contest details are below.

Plant-Powered Families (1)

The first thing to know about Plant-Powered Families is that it is much more than a collection of recipes. This is really a resource book for people looking for more information on raising vegan or plant-based children.  You don’t have to be a committed vegan or vegetarian.  Dreena provides excellent general advice on getting your kids to eat healthier foods, especially at lunch.  Her lunch box ideas are fantastic if you are looking to add variety to your children’s lunch.

Dreena provides sections that address some of the challenges vegan families may face.  She discusses how to feed picky eaters and how to plan and attend parties as a vegan.  The party section in particular is very helpful.  Her idea of serving pizza and hot dogs for parties really resonates with me.  Children’s parties are not the best time to try out your new kale and quinoa saute!  Keep it simple and serve vegan hot dogs or pizza…food that the kids will understand.  Your goal with a child’s party is to celebrate your child, not convert kids to healthy living in 2 hours or less.

Recipes

As always Dreena’s recipes do not disappoint.  Recipes are broken down into several, easy to reference sections: Breakfasts, Lunches, Salad Dressings & Sauces, Dinnertime and Desserts.  Each of these sections is further broken down into categories.  For instance the Dinner section breaks recipes into: Soups & Stews, Pizza & Pasta, Burgers n’ Fries, and Casseroles & One Dish Wonders.

Plant-Powered Families French Toast

The first thing I made was the Cinnamon French Toast.  The french toast was completely delicious and very easy to make.  From start to finish we were eating within 15 minutes.  My kind of weekend breakfast! Fun and fast.

Plant-Powered Families Baked Tofu

I also made the Simplest Marinated Baked Tofu.  This recipe is a winner for both ease and versatility.  With just a few ingredients you can bake a batch of tasty tofu to use all week.  My son loved it in his sandwiches and I loved it on salad.  This is a recipe I’ll plan to have on hand most weeks.

Plant-Powered Families Teriyaki

The Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry was a big hit after a cold baseball practice one night.  It was easy to throw everything together and the sauce had a ton of flavor.  Next time I will be adding chili flakes to the sauce, as we like spicy food.  If only a few of your family members like spice you could definitely add chili flakes or sriracha on top, as we did last week.

Plant-Powered Families CC Bars

My favorite Dreena recipe is her chocolate chip cookie recipe.  While this is not in her new book I am compelled to share it, as it is my absolute go to.  I have made it a hundred different ways at this point.  Last week I used half brown sugar and half white sugar in the batter.  I added 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels and then poured the batter into an 8×8 greased pan.  The bars baked for 15 minutes and were totally delicious.

Giveaway

**Giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to Susan on her copy of Plant-Powered Families!**

Since I love Dreena Burton and have found her recipes and ideas so inspiring I want to share her newest creation with you.   I will be giving out one copy of Plant-Powered Families to a reader in the US (sorry international folks).  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  You have 3 ways to participate: like Vegan Gretchen on Facebook, follow @vegangretchen on Twitter, and/or leave a comment below sharing your favorite author’s name.  The giveaway runs until 12:00 AM on May 26.  Thanks for participating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*This is NOT a sponsored post.  Vegan Gretchen will be giving away one copy of Plant-Powered Families independent of the publisher*

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Can I shop vegan at Safeway?

People always ask me if they have to shop at Whole Foods if they want to be vegan.  Since I shop at Whole Foods I really had no idea.  10 years ago you definitely couldn’t find many vegan specific products (meat alternatives, cheese, non-dairy milk etc) at a “regular” grocery store.  I live in the Bay Area and the big supermarket here is Safeway.  Most of my friends shop at Safeway, so I decided to see how much of my typical shopping I could do there.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  You most definitely can shop vegan at Safeway!

As with my post on vegan finds at Target I was looking for vegan speciality items.  Safeway has a large selection of produce, pasta, grains, beans, bread and nuts.  Most every grocery store carries those items meaning you can technically shop at almost any grocery store as a vegan.  However, I like to add some fun vegan items into my weekly routine. It turns out Safeway carries many of those items.

Vegan at Safeway Store

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Vegan Cuts Beauty Box Review

I absolutely love makeup and beauty products.  Starting in middle school I would spend/waste most of my money on makeup and bath products.  I loved the drugstore stuff and department store finds.  I especially loved the department store makeup when I found out you could return what you didn’t like.  I would try out new makeup for a few days and bring it back if I didn’t like it.  I am pretty picky about colors and I have very sensitive skin so I returned a lot of product!  I’m sure the women at the makeup counter loved giving free makeovers to a 14 year-old who bought one product…and then returned it a week later.

Nowadays I focus on makeup and beauty products that are cruelty free.  Fortunately that market is expanding rapidly.  10 years ago the options were few and far between.  Now there are many cruelty-free choices in a wide range of prices.  My favorite brands are Pacifica and Tarte.

Vegan Cuts Beauty April

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Premium Chocolatiers Review

A few weeks ago I was looking at the Fork and Beans blog.  Cara is an incredibly creative blogger and I love to look at her creations on her blog.  I do definitely mean look at her creations.  While I am beyond impressed with her creations I do not have the patience to actually recreate her masterpieces.  Unfortunately I have no patience. Any type of painstakingly detailed work like hers is my idea of personal torture.  A few weeks before Easter Cara posted these adorable Easter Almond Baby Chicks.  She mentioned that she used white chocolate and linked over to the vegan white chocolate sold by Premium Chocolatiers.  Trey has been asking me about white chocolate for a few years since he sees it in non-vegan foods.  I tried another brand of vegan white chocolate chips last year, but I really hated the flavor.  Once I saw Cara used these Polar Dream bars from Premium Chocolatiers I decided I needed to give them a try.

Premium Chocolatiers Order

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