Livie & Luca Vegan Shoe Line

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I’m pretty new to the current toddler fashion scene, since my two youngest children are 10 years apart. The trends from 2007 are not necessarily what’s popular today.

Everywhere I’m turning lately, I’m noticing the most adorable little shoes you can imagine, and I quickly realized that ‘Livie & Luca’ are the brand these little feet are wearing.

‘Livie & Luca’ was inspired by a pair of handmade shoes, along with the purpose to ‘spread joy’! This brand is whimsical, beautiful and oh so comfortable for tiny toes. And I will gladly tell you that the quality of these shoes are top notch.

Livie & Luca continues to hand make every pair of shoes and they are proud to give back to their community.”With every purchase, Livie & Luca donates 10% of net proceeds to non-profits supporting children’s development and well being.”

But the very best thing about Livie & Luca is that they have VEGAN shoes!!! Yay!! And their new spring line is bright, colorful and truly lovely! I instantly fell in love with the “Carta II Mary Janes”! But I’m itching to get my hands on a pair of “Peppy Sunprint Sneakers” as well!

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Many vegans are weary to support a non-vegan company that offers vegan products. This notion is completely understandable. I’m 100% for supporting completely vegan companies. I do however believe in the importance of showing ALL companies that customers WANT vegan options and if they SELL them, we will BUY them. Vegan products are becoming more and more popular among consumers, and companies are taking notice. Let’s thank them and support their efforts!

Check out Livie & Luca’s vegan spring line and take advantage of free shipping and free returns. Sign up for their newsletter and receive 10% off your purchase. 😀

My Favorite Baby Items

Decmber 2015 we were blessed with a brand new bundle of joy and our family couldn’t be happier! Our sweet little daughter has brought us tons of smiles and loads of laughter over the past 12 months, and along with filling our hearts with love, she has filled our house with lots of baby stuff!!

I’m very excited to share my very favorite ‘baby finds’ from my daughter’s 1st year! I have come across some fabulous vegan, hand made and eco-friendly products & companies that really stand out. And I only recommend products that I absolutely LOVE! So please feel confident supporting these companies and buying these items for your little nuggets! 

Let’s start with diapers! You know that you will need them, that’s a given. But the thought of throwing away dozens of diapers each week is kind of tough for me to deal with. Each year parents throw away 20 billion diapers. yep, 20 billion. that’s enough diapers to circle the globe 90 times. And guess how many years it takes for the average diaper to decompose? Um, 500 years! Is that crazy or what?

Disposable diapers are also very expensive, costing between $1400 and $2500 over 21/2 years. You can plan to spend between $300-$500 on reusable diapers.

My top pick for reusable diapers are Charlie Banana‘s 2 in 1 hybrid cloth diapers! They are free from yucky irritants and chemicals, they’re super comfortable and ridiculously adorable. But do they prevent leakage and actually work? Yes, these diapers are the cats meow and I am so very grateful to have discovered them.

The price of a 6 pack of Charlie Banana’s ranges from $120 to $140 for the organic ones. I opted for the organic version.

If you are new to cloth diapering, please don’t be nervous! This was my first time too and I caught on quickly. You will find step by step help on the Charlie Banana website and there are even youtube pages devoted to cloth diaper support.

I recommend a charlie Banana waterproof hanging diaper pail. This is where you will want to store all of your soiled diapers until you’re ready to wash them. They even sell a waterproof tote bag for holding dirty diapers on the go.

Aside from making amazing reusable diapers and accessories, Charlie Banana is a top notch company when it comes to paying it forward.

Some of the places they support include:

Operation Smile, an international medical charity providing free reconstructive surgeries to children suffering from cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.

Project Child Save, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing kidnapping and child abductions.

Healthy Child Healthy World, an organization creating healthier environments for children.

Climate Action, a social enterprise which supports sustainable low carbon, and socially responsible consumer choices.

Please stop by CharlieBanana.com and also check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

If you are concerned about the yucky chemicals that may be lurking in your baby’s clothing (and you should be), you may want to opt for organic outfits. I have come across a fabulous company that was created by a fellow mom, Monica Royer. She wanted to make better clothes, with better fabrics, and I am so grateful that she did!

 Monica + Andy makes baby clothes and blankets that are certified organic, free of lead, phthalate and flame retardants. So you can feel confident that your little dumpling is not being wrapped in toxins. They offer sizes newborn through 5T.

Monica + Andy sells newborn footie pajamas, bodysuits, onesies, shirts, pants, blankets, cuddle boxes and the prettiest dresses that you have ever seen. In fact, I had my daughter’s 6 month portrait taken in a mint green ‘Little Belle Tulle Dress’. It was comfortable, breathable and oh so gorgeous!  Stop by their website to see the beautiful organic dresses, you will want to order one in every color! 

Follow Monica + Andy on Facebook & Instagram.

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Aside from organic dresses, every baby girl needs some sassy bows! I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money trying to find bows that are comfortable, beautiful and of good quality. Most bows I’ve found are too tight and fall apart. Luckily I stumbled upon a bow maker on Etsy who makes the greatest bow headbands on earth. The business is called ‘Your Final Touch’, and the owner is a stay at home mom with a passion for handmade creations.

Claudia creates hair accessories and clothing using amazing workmanship and quality. Her bows come in dozens of colors, and if you are like me, you will order again & again. Please show your support for this small business and Claudia’s handmade accessories! And her prices are incredibly affordable, so you can buy a variety of colors & styles! 

Check out Your Final Touch On Etsy

My daughter wore bows from ‘Your Final Touch’ for her 6 month and 1 year portraits.

I’m very excited to share a new, completely Vegan baby and toddler shoe company called ‘Baby N’Anya’. This 100% cruelty free company believes that babies should enjoy the comfort and support of soft sole shoes as they begin to walk. They also believe that animals should not have to die in order to create amazing shoes. Bravo! 

I can’t tell you how much I adore these shoes… but I’ll try! They are comfortable and don’t leave a red ring around my baby’s ankle. They are soft, adorable, and not leather! Baby N’Anya is a company that you WANT to support whole heartedly. There are many shoe companies that offer vegan options, but very few that do not exploit animals at all. 

My daughter has 2 pairs of Baby N’Anya shoes and I’ve received no less than a dozen compliments since she started wearing them. I highly recommend buying at pair or two! Stop by their website right now, they are offering 20% off for a limited time!

Also Check out Baby N’Anya on Facebook & Instagram

Last spring my daughter began eating solid baby food. I pride myself in homemaking most of what she eats, but when we’re on the go there is nothing easier than a baby squeeze pouch. With so many baby food pouches on the market, its not easy to know which ones are the best. I have done quite a bit of research and narrowed it down to what I feel are the best two baby food brands on the market. 

Ella’s Kitchen offers delicious baby food that my little munchkin loves. It’s USDA organic and free of GMO’s, additives, added salt & sugars. At the moment our favorite snack when we’re on the road are Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers. The ingredients include organic whole grain oats, organic malt extract, organic raisins, organic dried apples, organic dried pears, and organic dried strawberries. Delicious and healthy!

Check Out Ella’s Kitchen on Facebook & Instagram.

Once Upon A Farm baby food was created by a busy mom who wanted high quality, fresh, local, organic food for her child without having to spend all her time in the kitchen. Cassandra was unhappy with most of the baby food found on store shelves and felt that her daughter deserved better.

Once Upon A Farm makes their food using HPP or High Pressure Pascalization and sources local, organic, non-GMO ingredients from farmers that they know and trust. There are never added preservatives or sugars.

My daughter goes crazy for the mango pouch! It’s her absolute favorite! 

You can find Once Upon A Farm on Facebook & Instagram.

 

I hope you check out some of my favorite baby products and companies! Do you know of a fabulous product that is vegan, eco-friendly or handmade? Let me know about it!

GuruNanda Essential Oil Diffuser

I have recently become quite a fan of diffusing essential oils. I use them for everything from cold & flu prevention to helping me fall asleep at night. For those of you who love 100 percent pure essential oils and diffusers as much as I do, you know they can be a bit pricey. I’ve been on the lookout for an essential oil bargain, and I got my hands on one!

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I offered to review a GuruNanda Essential Oil Diffuser kit which comes with two, 100% pure essential oils, lavender and peppermint. If you can believe it, the kit costs just under $20. No, I’m not kidding. Only thing is, it’s being offered exclusively at Walmart stores and you only have through November to get your hands on it. You better move quickly, they are selling out!

Here’s a quick review of my GuruNanda kit.

The diffuser is amazing! The mist is very strong and does not weaken the way my more expensive diffuser does. This diffuser fills a large room with heavenly aromatherapy and changes colors, which is quite beautiful!

The 100% pure lavender essential oil smells incredible and makes me feel calm & relaxed. I love diffusing it before bed.

The 100% pure peppermint essential oil is invigorating and perfect for the holiday season! And of course you can diffuse all of your favorite oils in this GuruNanda diffuser!

I highly recommend this product and I hope you add it to your holiday wish list this year!

 

The Squeeze Juice

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I have been lucky enough to come across an amazing company based in NYC., called ‘The Squeeze Juice’.

They offer fabulous cold pressed juices and raw meals and snacks as well. You can check out their website to order online or to find their locations.

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I tried out four of their rawlicious snacks and each one was healthy & more importantly, very tasty!

If you’re in the mood for a chocolate chip cookie, but not in the mood to eat lots of sugar, white flour and other unhealthy stuff…the ‘Tollhouse Nookie’ is the way to go. It makes a perfect midnight snack!

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I really enjoyed the Mac ‘N Cheese Kale Chips. The flavor was intense and you get the enjoyment of a chip without the guilt!

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The granola bites were great and I think kids especially will go crazy for these! They are bite sized and make a great on the go snack.

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Last but certainly not least I tried the FUNonion Rings.  OH MY GOODNESS…THESE ARE GOOD! I should have shared them with my kids, but once you eat one, you need to eat them all!

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So seriously, check out ‘The Squeeze Juice’!  Good for your health and even better for your tastebuds!

“Straight From The Earth” Cookbook Review.

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I have recently been introduced to a cookbook written by a health minded mother & daughter duo named Myra & Marea Goodman. Their book “Straight From The Earth” offers dozens of plant based recipes that utilize whole foods to create meals that are nothing short of amazing. You will find recipes for ‘Hearty Beet Soup’, ‘Cabbage & Carrot Crunch Salad’, ‘Grilled Fig Sandwiches’ & ‘Plantain Tacos’, just to name a few. The recipes were created & tested by these two talented ladies, and their passion for food is apparent on every page.

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Here are two recipes that I have recently made for my family. Enjoy!

Barley, Quinoa, and Cannellini Bean Loaf (or Burgers)

I prepared this delicious loaf while my kids were at school. I had a nice, quiet kitchen and I enjoyed the entire process of creating an amazing meal for my family.
The ingredients for this recipe are packed with nutrients & protein, and the flavor of the mustard & spices is simply phenomenal.
It takes a bit of prep time to make this loaf, but I assure you that it is well worth every minute. This would be a wonderful meal to make for an everyday family dinner or a celebration with friends.

Serves 6

3 cups/720 ml low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup/100 g hulled or pearled barley, rinsed
Salt
½ cup/85 g quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, small dice
2 medium carrots, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups/255 g cooked cannellini beans (rinsed and drained if canned)
⅔ cup/80 g dried whole-wheat bread crumbs
¼ cup/30 g pine nuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups/600 ml of the stock to a boil. Add the barley and ½ tsp salt. Return to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes (or for just 15 minutes if using pearled barley). Add the quinoa, return to a simmer, and cook covered, for 15 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, but leave the grains in the pan.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Generously grease a 9-by-5-in/23-by-12-cm loaf pan and set aside.

Mix the chia seeds with the remaining ½ cup/120 ml of the stock and let them sit. The seeds will become thick and gelatinous (this is our egg substitute, which also adds great nutritional benefits).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the oregano, ¼ tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the beans to the pan with the grain mixture. Mash the mixture with a potato masher until the beans are partially broken up. Add the sautéed vegetables, bread crumbs, pine nuts, chia seed mixture, parsley, and mustard and stir until well combined. The mixture will be thick like cookie dough and a bit of a challenge to stir. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, press down and smooth out the mixture, and bake until the top is firm and golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow the loaf to rest for 15 minutes before cutting it into slices and serving.

1 Serving: Calories: 320 | Fat: 11g | Carbs: 46g | Protein: 10g | Sodium: 480mg | Dietary Fiber: 44% |
Potassium: 13% | Vitamin A: 70% | Vitamin C: 10% | Thiamin: 50% | Riboflavin: 15% | Niacin: 10% |
Vitamin B6: 10% | Folate: 15% | Calcium: 10% | Iron: 20% | Copper: 15% | Phosphorus: 25% |
Magnesium: 25% | Zinc: 15%


Sesame, Orange, and Hazelnut Cookies

These cookies are like nothing else I have made before. I can’t believe that I never thought of adding sesame seeds to cookies! Now I’m going to be throwing them into everything I bake! The flavor of the orange zest is a wonderful addition. Once you make these cookies & realize how simple and tasty they are, you will make them every time you have company over. I know I will!
I actually doubled the recipe and put the extra dough in the freezer. 😉

“I’ve always loved sesame candy, so I wanted to create a cookie that featured sesame seeds as a predominant ingredient. These crunchy cookies are packed with sesame seeds, enhanced by the flavors of orange, hazelnuts, cinnamon, and ginger, and adorned by a hazelnut in their center. These cookies aren’t too sweet, and sesame seeds are a good source of many minerals and fiber, so they are a relatively healthy choice. If you’re serving a Mediterranean meal, like Three-Color Hummus and Baked Falafel Pitas, this would be a perfect dessert.” —Myra

Makes 30 cookies

2 tbsp ground flaxseed
¼ cup/60 ml very hot water (about 180°F/82°C)
1 cup/200 g packed light brown sugar
½ cup/120 ml melted coconut oil
¼ cup/60 ml pure maple syrup
1 orange, zested
1 ½ cups/210 g whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup/140 g sesame seeds
¾ cup/105 g hazelnuts, skins removed, 30 whole reserved, the rest chopped medium fine
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground ginger

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 325°F/165°C/gas 3. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flaxseed with the hot water. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens (this is our egg substitute). Whisk briefly, then whisk in the sugar, oil, syrup, and zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sesame seeds, chopped hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out 30 heaping tablespoons of cookie dough. Roll the dough into balls, then arrange fifteen on each baking sheet, spacing them about 1 in/2.5 cm apart. You should have three rows of five cookies on both sheets. Press down on each ball until the cookie is about 1/3 in/8 mm thick. Place a whole hazelnut in the middle and press down so it’s snug.

Bake until the cookies are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before transferring directly to the rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

1 cookie: Calories: 140 | Fat: 8g | Carbs: 15g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 25mg

Pipernilli Vegan Cookies!

Pipernilli Vegan Cookies!

 

I have recently been introduced to a cookie that hands down takes 1st place in cookie deliciousness.

In fact they are so delicious, you will truly want to savor every bite.

Pipernilli cookies are baked fresh daily in Brooklyn NY. using fruits & veggies such as sweet potatoes, bananas & carrots. They are soft and moist with incredible flavor. 

My favorites are Banana Chiffon & 14 Karat Cake. 

If you are looking for a special Vegan treat for your Valentine, you may want to buy some Pipernilli Cookies!

A Review Of “Raw Star Recipes” Organic Meals, Snacks & Desserts In 10 Minutes

Apparently the universe has been listening to my constant jibber jabber about my desire to incorporate more “fun” raw food recipes into my family’s life. We do eat lots of raw fruits & veggies, and gallons of homemade green smoothies, but nothing too exciting… I picked up a raw foods cookbook a few months back, but most of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which I have had sitting in my Amazon.com cart since last summer. Yeah, yeah, I’ll get around to buying it one of these days.


A couple of weeks ago a friendly, cookbook author & Eco Chef named Bryan Au contacted me, and asked if I would test out some recipes from his Award Winning cookbook “Raw Star Recipes”, and give my opinion. Of course I happily agreed since this was the extra little push I needed, to come out of my Vegan comfort zone and try something new.

Over the past week I have made Fruity “Tuna” Wraps, Carrot Ginger Soup, Energy Bars, Spinach Herb Dip, Chocolate Shakes & Cinnamon Donuts! And YES all of these recipes are completely RAW!!

I love the fact that Chef Bryan uses organic ingredients, most of which are completely whole & in their natural state. A majority of the recipes do not call for any appliances other than a blender. Each meal can be prepared in around 10 minutes and costs somewhere in the $10 range. This is music to this mom’s ears!

Energy Bars

I began my raw food adventure with “Energy Bars”. I combined nuts, seeds, dates, buckwheat groats & goji berries to create yummy & healthy snacks for my family. They were quick, easy & totally yummy! I will surely make these again soon!

Carrot Ginger Soup

My favorite recipe is the “Carrot Ginger Soup”. The zesty flavor of the fresh ginger combined with carrots & chickpea miso is incredible! I basically threw the ingredients into my Vitamix, and I had a healthy & delicious lunch for myself. This is a great soup that you can throw together quickly, that will wow your house guests!

Fruity "Tuna" Wraps

Fruity “Tuna” Wraps, was the first recipe from the book that I made for my husband. He is a huge hummus fan, but he doesn’t love cauliflower, which is a key ingredient. I knew that he would enjoy the texture, but I was not sure about the flavor. Surprisingly, blended with the walnuts, lemon, miso & spices, he didn’t even notice the cauliflower and he ate 4 wraps! I garnished them with yellow pepper & crunchy apple. So Good!

Spinach Herb Dip

Guacamole lovers will go crazy for this flavorful “Spinach Herb Dip”! Avocado blended with spinach, herbs & spices make for a delicious dip experience. I strongly recommend dipping and array of raw veggies. This may be the perfect way to get your kids to eat raw broccoli, it worked for me!

I was really excited to make raw “Donuts”! The recipe shows how to make cinnamon, chocolate & glazed varieties. I stuck with cinnamon, but I will be trying the other two very soon. I think I whipped these up in about 5 minutes and I made a new best friend along the way.. “Coconut Nectar”!! Have you ever tried this? It’s not quite as sweet as Agave, but much better for your body. I drizzled it over the flax & banana donuts, along with lots of cinnamon. I ate them for breakfast and had no guilt, because they were incredibly healthy and very,very, yummy!

Chocolate Shake

The last recipe that I made was a “Chocolate Shake”. It actually calls for carob powder, but you would never know it from the look on my kid’s faces after they took a sip! I never let it slip, that their creamy, delicious, chocolate shake, didn’t actually contain chocolate!! That was priceless!!

Eco Chef Bryan Au has created an amazing array of raw meals that will delight & entice your entire family. If your children are hesitant to eat raw foods, give this book a try. The health benefits of organic, uncooked, plant foods are practically endless, and all human beings will benefit from adding more raw foods to their diet. These recipes are good for our bodies, friendly to the planet and safe for kids to help prepare! 🙂

 Be a “Raw Star” and buy this book!!

Visit Bryan’s website at www.rawstarrecipes.com 

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