Craving grilled cheese

There’s a saying, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan.”

I like that expression. It shows that vegan eating doesn’t equal deprivation. It’s also a fun challenge. Case in point: grilled cheese. Cheese is probably the hardest thing to give up–at least it was for me. But you don’t have to give up anything. Well, you might still be addicted to casomorphins, but you won’t be missing comfort foods like grilled cheese sandwiches!

I recently made a deliciously melty grilled cheese using a cheddar-style wedge of Daiya. You can also buy cheddar-style slices if you prefer.

Daiya

I used a hearty bread by Dave’s Killer Bread, and “buttered” it with Earth Balance vegan margarine. Grill it up like you would with regular grilled cheese. Daiya melts like real cheese and is a delicious gooey treat. It’s gluten-free and soy-free so it’s a great choice for people with common allergies.

grilled cheese

Slice and serve with your favorite soup. I made butternut squash but it would be equally delicious with minestrone or tomato. Yum! It’s a great lunch for kids and adults alike.

soup and a sandwich

Daiya vegan cream cheese

I was recently offered the chance to test some products by Daiya. I’d already tried Daiya dairy-free cheese slices and I’d heard about their new spreads, so I eagerly signed up for the job.

Daiya spreads

Daiya is vegan, so it’s naturally lactose- and casein-free. Unlike some vegan spreads, it’s also soy-free, so if you have a soy allergy, don’t worry! I kept things simple for my first tasting: mini bagels and two types of spreads. I wanted to experience the flavor of the product.

The chive and onion was amazing! It’s a smooth, creamy spread and satisfied my bagel-and-cream-cheese craving. The strawberry was a real treat! I bet I could make a great cheesecake with it. The Daiya site has lots of recipes, so you can try new dishes.

chives or strawberry

Daiya is named after the Sanskrit word Dayaa, which means “loving, kindness and compassion.” I love that Daiya Foods is founded on these values. Voting with my dollar is important and supporting ethical companies is something I’m always happy to do.

The thought of giving up cheese is often what holds people back when they contemplate veganism. Well you don’t have to give up anything! You can have the cheesy comfort foods that you’re used to making and you can eat cruelty-free. You’ll also reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet when you ditch dairy.

Look for other reviews. I’m going to try Daiya shreds either on a pizza on in a cheddar beer bread recipe. I’m also going to perfect a grilled cheese sandwich using their wedge.

Have you tried Daiya?

Arbonne vegan skin care

Have you heard of Arbonne? It’s a line of Swiss-developed skin care, cosmetics, and nutritional supplements. They’ve been in the US since 1980 and they’ve been green before green was popular. All products are 100% plant-based (vegan certified) and never tested on animals.

arbonneI was contacted recently by an Arbonne rep and I jumped on the chance to try the products in the RE9 Advanced line, specifically formulated for anti-aging. I got to sample the cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, night cream, and two types of day creams. I love them! They smell wonderfully citrus-y and are so gentle on my skin.

I know it sounds weird, but in just a couple of days I swear my skin looked firmer. It didn’t feel tight though, which can be a problem with some skin firming products. The moisturizers gave me a nice glow and provide SPF 20–perfect for daily protection.

I also tried some samples of the Arbonne cosmetics and I really liked them. The tinted moisturizer had just enough coverage to not look makeup-y, and the translucent powder was really silky.

Needless to say, I placed an order. I want to keep using these products and reap the full benefits. I ordered a couple of masks, and a Vitamin D+B12 spray that tastes like candy! That’s going to be a great thing to use in the gray Pacific Northwest.

arbonne calmArbonne has other lines too. The FC5 and Calm lines are great for sensitive skin and for those with rosacea. I gave some samples of their baby care line to a friend of mine with an infant. They carry a men’s line too, as well as body- and hair care.

Sapha, my Arbonne consultant, helped set me up as a preferred client so I can get 20% off my purchases, points toward future orders, freebies, and other goodies. She can help you too if you’re interested in trying Arbonne. She can ship all over the US, Canada, and other places and she’s more than willing to help you find out what your skin needs. You can reach her at (281)748-7943 or saphaariasyoga@yahoo.com or you can log onto Arbonne and sign up with the code  13728752.

One more thing I liked but haven’t tried is their line of makeup brushes. As a vegan, it’s hard to find high-quality synthetic brushes. Arbonne has them!

If you use Arbonne, I’d be interested in hearing what products you’ve tried.

Nasoya giveaway

Who wants to win a couple of jars of Nasoya? One lucky person will get to try the same products I used to make my mock tuna salad and my banana muffins (not the same jars though–you’ll get a new set!).

Nasoya

All US residents are eligible. All you have to do is leave a comment below, leave a comment on the Sunshine and Slaughter Facebook page, or tweet me @jeaniebellini. Or, raise your odds and do all three!

I’ll keep this giveaway open until June 30th, when I’ll pick a name at random. I’ll put the winner in contact with the generous folks at Nasoya and they’ll send two jars your way. There are tons of recipes on their site, from potato salad to chocolate cake–or you can spread it on a sandwich!

July 1st update!

I used an online random name generator and the winner is:

winner of Nasoya draw: uglicoyote

Congratulations uglicoyote–I’ll email you for next steps!

Vegan banana muffins

When I received my jars of Nasoya for the recipe challenge, I thought I’d be trying the products in a savory way (the mock tuna salad). I had no idea I could use a mayo substitute in a dessert.

I found a banana muffin recipe on the Nasoya site and it called for Nayonaise. Perfect! Like Nayo Whipped, it’s a healthy, vegan product and a great source of B12 and omega 3s. How would it fare in muffins?

muffins in tin

Well, awesome! It was a simple recipe that called for ingredients that even me, a very occasional baker, already had in my cupboard.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Nasoya Nayonaise Original Spread
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 or 3 medium)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour (2/3 C whole-wheat, 1 1/3 C all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla, chopped peacans or walnuts

Preparation Method:

In medium large bowl beat bananas. Beat in sugar and Nayonaise (add the vanilla and or nuts if using). Stir in flour, soda and salt just until moistened. Fill muffin cups and bake them in the oven at 350° F for 20 – 25 minutes.

I added chopped walnuts. And since I can’t follow a recipe to save my live, I tweaked things slightly. If cooking is an art, baking is a science. And it’s best not to mess with scientific formulas! All I had was whole wheat flour, so I used only that and no all-purpose flour.

I also know that ripe bananas are best for baking (and more nutritious!) so I made sure I had a very spotty bunch.

The muffins turned out perfectly!banana muffins

I ate two warm, right out of the oven, and so did my husband. We saved the rest for work snacks. The muffins were moist and delicious and tasted great warm and room temperature. They didn’t dry out, even on day three. We ate them rather quickly so there was no day four.

The Nayonaise essentially replaced any eggs or butter that one might use in a recipe like this. So you can have a cruelty-free, healthy snack that’s easy to make.

Mock tuna salad

I was lucky to meet a couple of people from Nasoya when I was at the vegan bloggers conference in May. I was given a friendly challenge of making a couple of recipes using their products. Challenge accepted!

Two jars arrived in the mail a few days after I said I’d try my hand at some cooking: Nayonaise and Nayo Whipped. They’re both healthy, vegan alternatives to mayo and are a great source of B12 and omega 3s.

Nasoya

For this first challenge, I tried a recipe from their site called Tu-Na Salad. I have to say, it’s was quick and easy to make. Like five minutes quick. That’s my kind of prep time!

True to my rebellious nature, I altered the recipe a bit. But only because I have fresh chives growing in my garden. So I used those instead of the green onion the original recipe called for.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Nayo Whipped
  • 1 (19 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained
  • Fresh dill
  • Celery, chopped
  • Green onion, chopped (chives, in my case)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Preparation:

Use a food processor or potato masher to break up the chickpeas until they are crumbled. Do NOT over process.

I mashed the chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans) until the mixture was flaky. Just enough to break up each pea, not so much that it created a purée. I toasted some hearty bread (Dave’s Killer Bread–my fav!), spread some Nayo on it for good measure, and piled on the tu-na.

mashing chick peas

Wow! Was it ever delicious! The Nayo Whipped is tangy and lemony and added a great flavor to the topping. I’m going to use this recipe regularly from now on. I haven’t had actual tuna in a lo-ong time, but I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t fool someone in a blind taste test. It does, however, hold its own as a great tuna substitute. True test: hubby. He loved it too–and had seconds!

tu-na sandwiches

Next time I’ll stuff this blend in a pita or roll it in a wrap and add tomatoes and lettuce. Mmm.

This recipe makes enough for four sandwiches. Let me know if you try it. And come back soon for a little Nasoya giveaway I’m planning!