You may not be aware that September is World Candle Month; an annual opportunity to recognize the amazing candle, its impact throughout history, and the role candles play in our daily lives. This year’s theme is Illuminate Your Life, and is dedicated to the ways candles light up our world and fragrance our homes. Since the earliest days of tallow-based candles to the tens of thousands of shapes, sizes, and fragrances available today, candles have been a source of more than just light. They have provided inspiration, relaxation, and calming sensations that are as welcome today as they have been throughout history.
This year’s World Candle Month shines a light on how much candles contribute to our health and mental well-being, especially during these unbelievably stressful times. The Spa Girl Life, a newly-launched luxury and vegan candle brand, is the perfect solution for anyone looking to unwind and de-stress this fall. For their warmth, glow, fragrance and meditation-enhancing qualities, candles have been part of my daily life for as long as I can remember, so I was overjoyed to recently receive one of The Spa Girl Life’s candles to review for the blog.
The Spa Girl Life offers eight different candle fragrance and stone pairings that allow you to personalize a mind-body wellness experience. Like a Mini First Aid Kit For The Soul, these candle / crystal pairings are a fun, useful, and practical way to make some quiet time for yourself amid the chaos of the day. You don’t need to have a meditation practice in place to use them; just light your candle, sit back, and allow some quiet time and space for yourself. We can all benefit from being calm and centered, and when you can find that within yourself, you will know a sense of peace like no other.
Do you like yogurt? I sure do. As food trends adapt to changing diets, I’ve sampled and reviewed a variety of delicious non-dairy yogurts. While these yogurts are ideal for fans who are lactose intolerant, and also those who follow a vegan diet, the bottom line is that it has to taste great. With nut-derived milks becoming increasingly popular, it makes sense that an almond milk-based yogurt would hit the market. If you’re curious about non-dairy yogurt alternatives, let me introduce you to AYO, a delicious and healthy yogurt made with organic almond milk.
AYO was created by the Billings family, who have been growing almonds on their farm, based in California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, for four generations. The Billings‘ are forward-thinking farmers who are passionate about introducing better-for-you foods with clear traceability, vertical integration and sustainable practices. Their commitment to innovation, and a farm-to-spoon philosophy, created AYO yogurt. From their almond orchards where everything starts, to picking, then churning, blending with organic fruits or organic vanilla, and culturing the yogurt — the result is luscious, probiotic-rich yogurts that taste fantastic.
Since I’ve been working from home, yogurt has been one of my go-to snacks, so I was thrilled to receive samples of all four flavors (Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, and Vanilla) of AYO yogurt to enjoy. Each variety has only 150 or 160 calories per 5.3 ounce cup, so you can stay on your diet as well!
When I opened my first cup, what I noticed right away about this yogurt is its very smooth, almost drinkable consistency. No stirring is needed because the fruit is thoroughly blended with the yogurt, to guarantee that the first spoonful tastes as sweet and tangy as the last.
Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, so I enjoyed this flavor every much. You can see little bits of peach on my spoon. Yummy.
The Vanilla AYO is just sweet enough, but also has the distinctive tangy flavor that tells you that you are eating real yogurt.
You can snack and work at the same time!
When you peel back the lid of the Blueberry AYO Almond Milk Yogurt, guess what you smell? Blueberries.
AYO would be perfect as an ingredient in variety of recipes for healthy shakes and desserts, but today I’m going share with you the most delicious Granola Yogurt Breakfast Popsicle recipe, which they call Gro-Yo Pops. The whole family will love these, as they are great for the summer months and make an easy, nutritious breakfast!
Gro-Yo Pops (Dairy-free, Plant-based, Farm to Freezer Popsicles)
Stir yogurt, berries, 2 teaspoons coconut oil and almond extract together in a medium bowl. Divide among six 3-ounce popsicle molds. Stir coconut flakes, and ground almonds and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil together in a small bowl. Top each popsicle with 1 tablespoon of the coconut almond mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.
Visit This Link to learn more, to find a store near you that sells AYO, and to get money saving coupons to use towards your purchase!
I will be the first person to admit that I am not the most creative home cook, so having seriously-restricted access to restaurant-prepared meals means I am fighting food boredom. While I’m relying more than ever on the amazing frozen food section at my local Trader Joe’s, I’m also exploring my ability to make tasty rice and pasta dishes with minimal effort. When it comes to pasta, the more cheese, the better, so Parmesan cheese is always in my pantry. Now, vegans and others following a dairy-free diet can also enjoy the cheesy, umami flavor of Parmesan with Parma! Vegan Parmesan seasoning.
See The Goodness. Left: Garlicky Green Parma, Right: Regular Parma
The folks at Sister River Foods, makers of Parma! recently sent me two different varieties of this versatile seasoning blend to review for the blog, and I can’t believe how much I love it. Parma is the original plant-based parmesan; a dairy-free, protein-rich condiment ideal for use on pasta, pizza, salad, vegetables, popcorn, avocado toast and most other main dishes and savory foods. Parma is made from only natural ingredients including superfoods such as nutritional yeast, Himalayan crystal salt, organic sunflower seeds (clearly identifiable in the above photo) and organic hemp seeds, among other healthy ingredients.
Garlicky Green Parma! – Distinguished by a cheesey umami Italian herb flavour complemented by nutritiously delicious kelp, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic SunflowerSeeds, Walnuts, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Dried Garlic, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Kelp Powder, Organic Dried Basil, Organic Dried Oregano.
And two more I would love try!
Better Than Bacon Parma! – Voted Favorite Bacon Flavored Product by VegNews and featuring a smokey cheesey umami bacon flavor. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Ground Paprika, Organic Dried Onion, Natural Flavor, Organic Brown Sugar, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Smoked Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds.
Chipotle Cayenne Parma! – Blessed with a smokey umami flavor akin to the most popular barbeque potato chips, with a slight cayenne kick at the end. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic SunflowerSeeds, Walnuts, Organic Ground Chipotle Pepper, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Ground Cayenne Pepper.
A generous dusting of Garlicky Green Parma!on hot pasta elevates the flavor of your favorite sauce, and creates an exciting contrast of textures as the crunchy seeds mix with the tender pasta. Absolutely delicious.
Here, I have seasoned my breakfast of a cheese omelet and a scoop of cottage cheese with Original Parma! The Parma! was especially helpful in adding much-needed flavor enhancement to the cottage cheese, because I had accidentally purchased the unsalted variety — which otherwise, honestly, tastes of nothing. Thanks, Parma!
Founded in 2004, Parma! has steadily grown to its current status as a leader in the dairy-free cheese alternative arena and a key player in the multi-billion-dollar global vegan food category. Looking back on the origins of the Parma! brand, Sister River Foods’ co-founder and CEO Shannon Schnibbe recalls that it all started as the result of her severe allergies and effort to find foods that might give her relief. Introduced to raw foods, she was soon inspired to begin making what is now Parma! for herself, friends and family. After moving to Oregon and becoming pregnant with her first baby, Shannon decided to combine her passion for healthy eating with her corporate experience and turn her hobby into an actual business. The vegan parmesan revolution had begun!
Find Out more about Parma! and Sister River Foods, plus get Delicious Recipes, at This Link!
Above Image Courtesy of Scout 22 PR. All Other Photos By Gail, Except Where Noted
New York City knows how to do food. No matter what type of cuisine you’re craving, finding a great restaurant is easy. But when you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might end up settling for a place that offers just a few meatless choices, rather than walking into a restaurant where you can enjoy every dish on the menu. And while there’s a Sweet Green or Chop’t on nearly every block, it’s challenging to find a healthy, quick lunch alternative when you are tired of eating salad. This is why the NYC arrival of vegan restaurant chain Copper Branch is cause for genuine excitement!
Copper Branch was founded in 2014 and currently has 50 locations across Canada (and six in Europe), but the chain’s new store in NYC marks its first US location. In mid-September, just a few days after the store opened, I was invited to a private tasting at Copper Branch where guests had the chance to taste not only bite-size samples of many popular menu items, but were also invited to order anything on the menu that we wanted to try. As a confirmed meat-eater myself, what I discovered is that Copper Branch is about so much more than veggie burgers and tofu: this is vegan food that even a die-hard carnivore can get enthusiastic about. Check out just a few of the items offered on Copper Branch‘s very extensive, all plant-based menu.
The satisfying Mushroom Galaxy Burger starts with an oven-roasted portobello mushroom, which is topped with zucchini slices, carmelized onions, vegan provolone cheese, lettuce and aioli sauce. All burgers and sandwiches are served on your choice of organic kamut (an ancient variety of wheat) or gluten-free bun, collard green wrap or organic spelt wrap.
Copper Branch also offers a delicious Spicy Black Bean Burger (which I tasted but neglected to photograph) and a Beet Burger, bites of which are pictured above. I love beets, so I really enjoyed this item, which is served as a patty comprised of beets, organic brown rice, pea protein, sesame seeds organic hemp seeds, sunflowers seeds and lemon juice. These sample bites were dressed as the burger is, with sprouts, caramelized onions, shredded lettuce and Dijon and maple ‘vegenaise.’ I would definitely go back for this burger alone!
Beet fans can also enjoy organic Beet Hummus served with house-made Blue Corn Chips!
I know there’s a lot of greenery here but underneath fresh lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes is one of Copper Branch‘s tasty specialties: Shiitake Teriyaki Mushrooms, which can be served as a Sandwich or a Burger. The taste and texture is comparable to teriyaki chicken.
Pictured above is a bite-size tasting of the Zucchini Noodles with Italian-inspired ‘Coppernata‘, a take on Caponata, the delicious Sicilian eggplant dish. This combination is available in one of the Signature Bowls for a hearty, healthy vegan meal that you won’t find anywhere else in the city!
Do you like Nachos? Who doesn’t! Featuring black beans, vegan cheese, jalapeños, olives, tomatoes, vegan sour cream and guacamole piled onto organic blue corn chips, at Copper Branch, you can enjoy this Mexican favorite guilt-free!
Soy-based Spicy Buffalo Wings (served with sriracha cole slaw and a choice of dipping sauces) could please the most discerning palate. They taste just like your favorite spicy wings and they even look like chicken on the inside.
Also on the menu are oven-baked Copper Cubes (made with white potatoes) and Sweet Potato Copper Cubes as a popular and health-conscious alternative to french fries.
You can make you own bowl or choose from a selection of Copper Branch‘s own creations, such as the Asian Fusion Bowl seen above, which features edamame salad, organic kimchi, lettuce, beets, spiced chickpeas, carrots, broccoli and non-GMO General Tao sauce. The bowl above was customized with the addition of Tofu Scramble.
Image Courtesy of Scout 22 PR
A breakfast menu, featuring Copper Branch Blueberry Cocoa Waffles, is served all day!
Image Courtesy of Scout 22 PR
Copper Branch will cater your next event or office party!
There’s also a selection of house-made vegan desserts, like this most and decadent Chocolate Zucchini Brownie!
And now, dear readers a Special Offer: To further celebrate Copper Branch‘s New York City location, the restaurant is offering a FREEGeneral Copper Bowl or a Black Bean Burger — two of their most popular menu items — to both new and repeat customers at the Greenwich Village location for one day only! The General Copper Bowl is a specialty that features General Tao tofu, fresh avocado, sriracha coleslaw, steamed broccoli and organic brown rice. The Black Bean Burger is a classic, featuring a black bean and sweet potato patty, tomato, lettuce, vegan Southwest sauce, all on an organic Kamut bun. This special promotion will be held all day on Friday, October 25th, 2019. Store hours are 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The offer is valid for one item per customer and it cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Tell them Worleygig.com sent you!
Copper Branch NYC is Located at 195 Bleecker Street (Between 6th Avenue and Macdougal), in New York’s Greenwich Village. For More Locations, Menus and Other Details, Visit Eat Copper Branch Dot Com.
It’s hard to believe, but we are now half-way through summer. If you aren’t already deeply-immersed in the weekend picnic and backyard BBQ scene, it’s time to step up your game! Traina Foods has just introduced Home Grown; a new line of healthy dried fruit snacks and gourmet condiments that makes it easy to bring the taste of summer to your table right now!
One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh summer fruits that you can find everywhere — from the grocery store to your local farmer’s market. But, as silly as this may sound to some, there are those who miss out on fresh summer fruits because the time and effort it takes to wash, peel and cut up the fruit is just too daunting. With a plant-forward approach to eating in mind, Traina Home Grown introduces Fruitons, a delicious, convenient way to help you meet your overall healthy diet needs with perfectly portioned snack bags of their naturally sweet California sun-dried fruit. Sun-dried fruit is nutritionally equivalent to fresh fruit, being high in fiber, healthy nutrients, and antioxidants. Good to know!
Traina Home Grown Dried Apricots
Not only are Fruitons a tasty, grab-and-go snack, but they can also be a versatile ingredient in creative meal preparation. I’ve been taking Fruitons to the office and adding them to the morning oatmeal I buy in the cafeteria.
More and more it seems, food allergies or intolerances to commonly used ingredients such as nuts, wheat, soy and dairy no longer have to keep you from indulging in your favorite foods. For example, Yogurt lovers who have been missing out on this creamy treat due to a lactose intolerance can now enjoy healthy and great tasting Good Karma dairy-free yogurt, which I recently had the chance to taste test at home, after first meeting product representatives last summer at a food show.
Vegan-friendly and free of major allergens, Good Karma is versatile, creamy, fresh and delicious. This dairy free yogurt is made with flax milk (derived from cold-pressed flaxseed oil) which is a rich source of Omega-3 healthy fats. Each serving of Good Karma contains 5-6 grams of plant-based protein, plus 7 live and active cultures to aid digestion. Even better: each 6 ounce serving has only 90 calories!
As you can see by the photo above of the Blueberry variety spooned into a serving dish, Good Karma is very creamy in texture and not at all gelatinous, as is Greek-style yogurt. The fruit is already blended in, rather than being at the bottom of the cup, so you get a very consistent fruit flavor in every bite.
Good Karma Raspberry
Using plant-based milks, the company’s goal is always to create a delicious yogurt that gets as close as possible to a traditional dairy yogurt, while also being free of all major allergens, with added protein and a tangy, fruity taste that makes you smile!
Besides these three luscious fruit flavors, Good Karma dairy free yogurt also comes in comes in Plain and Vanilla varieties.
I tasted the Vanilla Good Karma at the aforementioned food show, where I was served a tasty fun yogurt parfait recipe that knocked my socks off! Find out more about Good Karma dairy-free products (made with Flax Milk, which, as you can see below, they also offer), plus get recipes like the one you see above, and download money-saving coupons good towards your first purchase of Good Karma, at this link!
Good Karma Non-Dairy Yogurt and Flax Milk Products!
There is no denying that Pasta is a popular go-to ingredient for creating quick, versatile and delicious meals to please any palate. For Pasta Lovers who may have had to eliminate this tasty staple from their diets due to a gluten intolerance, there are now many gluten-free pasta options on the market that make it possible for everyone to indulge. Explore Cuisine has a line of organic pastas made from beans and other plants that are a great place to start when you want to prepare a tasty, healthy meal for yourself or your family. Take a look at a few of the super quick and easy dinners that I’ve recently prepared for myself with Explore Cuisine Pastas and absolutely no advanced planning!
I bet that you had no idea that Edamame, familiar to most as the little green soybeans that everyone likes to nosh on before the meal at Japanese restaurants, can be use to make some of the most delicious pasta you will ever taste. Explore Cuisine makes a few different varieties of Edamame pasta, including everyone’s favorite; spaghetti.
Edamame Spaghetti can be used in all of your favorite recipes as a substitute for wheat-based pasta. You might find that you like it even better, and it’s good to know that Explore Cuisine’s Edamame Spaghetti contains nearly half of your daily protein and fiber requirements in just one serving!
I made an easy and scrumptious Primavera by adding frozen mixed vegetables that I had on hand, and tossing the pasta in butter, salt and pepper to taste.
Then I covered it with cheese, which is how I like my pasta!
Explore Cuisine also specializes in a line of Pulse Pastas; a term that may be unfamiliar to you. Pulses are part of the legume family, and the term ‘pulse’ refers to the dried seed. Dried peas, dried beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fiber, antioxidants, and low in fat! This where Explore Cuisine’s Organic Chickpea Fusilli comes in.
Chickpea Fusilli is a healthy and delicious mealtime choice that contains only four organic, whole food ingredients. This pasta also contains 11g of protein and nearly 20% of your daily dietary fiber requirement per serving. With its soft and supple texture, and mild taste, Chickpea fans will be in Heaven!
Since this pasta is a bit more sturdy than the spaghetti, I topped it with Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs and jarred sauce. Delicious and satisfying!
Red Lentil Penne is also a pulse pasta. With the smooth texture of flour pasta and the benefits of lentils, the Red Lentil Penne is a fantastic choice for any penne based pasta dish. Comprised of only two ingredients, Red Lentil Penne pasta is protein rich and a good source of fiber. Organic, gluten-free and free of GMOs, it’s pasta reinvented!
Here is the penne topped with a light tomato vodka sauce and a dollop of creamy cottage cheese (you could also use Ricotta, if you had that on hand). Out of this world delish!
Explore Cuisine’s Italian style pastas were created in the Apulia region of Italy, which is famed for being the home of pasta. Explore Cuisine worked side by side with pasta masters and professional chefs to deliver the authentic taste and texture of the best Italian pasta but made with the goodness of chickpeas and lentils.
Learn more about Explore Cuisine foods, and get recipes, at This Link!