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almond milk

But first…coffee.

It’s 6:30 a.m.

Your alarm is going off and you’ve probably already hit snooze once (Who am I kidding? At least 3 times!).

The dog is snuggled up so close to you that you can’t move without waking him – which you wouldn’t dare do.

The husband is still asleep with his own alarms buzzing as he quickly hits snooze himself.

In your head, you run through all the things you want to accomplish for the day and then it stops.

Immediately you realize, you need coffee.

“I can’t stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing and the walking and the words putting into the sentence doing.”

-Lorelai, Gilmore Girls

Admittedly, I am not a huge coffee drinker.  In fact, most of my habits are on a yearly rotation.  I like coffee for a few months, but then I’ve moved on to smoothies and before I know it, I’m starting my day with tea.  The rotation is a cycle that repeats itself year after year.  In the summer, I love to have an iced coffee most mornings.  That’s another thing – I don’t drink my coffee hot ever, but I will drink my tea iced or hot.  This is a lot to remember if you are married to me – thankfully my husband can keep up!  I haven’t used or purchased dairy milk for any purpose in probably 2 years now.  However, my husband still uses a dairy coffee creamer for his daily coffee.  Since he is a coffee addict, we thought we’d explore some vegan options that are newer to the market.

Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Almond Milk Creamer – Hazelnut Flavor

In early 2017, Coffee-Mate announced that it would be releasing a few vegan coffee creamer alternatives.  According to their website, they make 3 almond milk based versions and 1 coconut based versions.  The flavors are Sweet Creme, Caramel, Hazelnut and Vanilla.  The Hazelnut flavor is a Target exclusive item so we picked one up on our last trip.  Hazelnut is also my husband’s favorite flavor.  I personally feel like I would have to use too much of this to get the flavor I like in my coffee.  I prefer my usual iced coffee with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a little bit of sugar sprinkled in.  We did taste a hazelnut flavor though.  I would like to find the Sweet Creme Coconut based version to try sometime in the future though!  My husband still prefers his non-vegan version that’s a bit stronger so we’ll be on the lookout for more options.

Wannabe Vegan: 5/10 ~ Omnivore: 6/10

 

Califia Farms – Salted Caramel Cold Brew Coffee

Confession time: I have purchased this product several times so I already knew what my rating would be, but I’ve never told you!  I love anything and everything salted caramel flavor.  I love the creaminess and sweetness that this coffee brings to my mornings.  My husband, on the other hand, hates it.  He humored me for this review and did try it though. He did ask where the coffee was in the drink, because he said the salted caramel flavor overpowered the coffee which I don’t mind one bit.  Since this item is a little pricey for an everyday purchase, I do buy it every now and then.   Keep in mind – for companies to keep producing these items, we have to let them know that we want them and like them.  The easiest way to do this is through your purchases.  To learn more, check out their website.

Wannabe Vegan: 10/10 ~ Omnivore: 8/10

 

Ripple – Chocolate Milk

I know there are tons of people out there that don’t enjoy coffee or maybe have kids that need a morning pick-me-up.  We decided to also check out a new line of dairy free milk that’s been released to the marketplace called Ripple.  It’s a pea protein based milk product and all of the varieties offered are vegan!  This product boasts 8 grams of protein, less sugar than traditional milk, and nut free which can be a challenge for vegans with nut allergies.  We weren’t too crazy about this product.  The mouth feel and weight is similar to that of traditional chocolate milk (from what I remember), but it has a protein shake aftertaste that we just couldn’t love.  This is our first experience with pea protein with the exception of the Vega smoothie powder I add in my shakes from time to time.

Wannabe Vegan: 5/10 ~ Omnivore: 6/10

Bye y’all!

 

not your basic pumpkin spice latte

octoberFall is my absolute favorite time of year.  October is especially important to me since I married my husband in October.  This year we will celebrate 5 years of marriage and 14 years together.  During this month, my little family gets to enjoy our favorite time of year and cram activities into every day possible.

I am that crazy, fall obsessed friend.  I love everything about fall – the crisp in the air as the weather changes and summer leaves us, the rainbow of colors that can be seen in the trees, having a bonfire with close friends wrapped in hoodies and blankets, celebrating Halloween with more skulls than you thought one person could own and all things pumpkin and apple.  We already have our annual trip planned to our favorite mountain orchard.  I will be cramming so many apple recipes into our menu plan very soon!

wedding-venue
The farm where my husband and I were married in October of 2011.
halloween-2014-watermark
Family pumpkins that I carved for Halloween 2014. From Left to Right – A photo of my dog (Brodie), a sugar skull and a merge of the Hank Williams Jr. hawk and the Waylon Jennings logo.

One of the best things about fall in the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.  Once I started this vegan journey, I learned that this seasonal, delicious treat didn’t meet my requirements anymore.  Last week, I found the answer for me!  Califia Farms has created a large line of non-dairy vegan beverages like coffee blends, non-dairy milks, coffee creamers, juices and seasonal favorites like the Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Holiday Nog.  My favorite product by Califia Farms before today is their Salted Caramel Cold Brew Coffee with almond milk.  YUM!  It is seriously drool worthy.

pumpkin-spice-latte-watermark

Below I have created a chart comparing the nutrition and ingredients list of the Starbucks and Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte.  To compare apples to apples, I used the standard setting on the Starbucks latte as using 2% milk and having whipped cream on top of a Tall (8 oz.) order.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks

Califia Farms

OZ Size

8

8

Calories

210

90

Total Fat

8 g

3 g

Saturated Fat

5 g

0 g

Trans Fat

0 g

0 g

Cholesterol

35 mg

0 mg

Sodium

120 mg

170 mg

Total Carbohydrate

27 g

15 g

Dietary Fiber

0 g

1 g

Sugars

26 g

12 g

Protein

7 g

1 g

Starbucks

Califia Farms

Ingredients: Milk, Pumpkin Spice Sauce [Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% Or Less Of Fruit And Vegetable Juice For Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Salt, Potassium Sorbate], Brewed Espresso, Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Milk, Mono And Diglycerides, Carrageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)], Pumpkin Spice Topping [Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfiting Agents]. Coffee (Water, Coffee Extract), Almondmilk (Water, Almonds), Pure Cane Sugar, Pumpkin Puree, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavors, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Ginger, Nutmeg, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum.

*All information was compiled from the Starbucks and Califia Farms websites.

It should also be noted that Califia Farms uses non-genetically altered almonds in their products.  I have been paying more and more attention to this as the labeling on all products has recently been updated to show this fact.  If you have noticed, it seems like pretty much every product in my pantry carries this label now.  Just look at the difference in the number of ingredients of this one drink!  I would much prefer to keep my processed ingredients to a minimum.  The Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte wins in pretty much every nutrition label category including taste!  I can’t wait to enjoy this for the remainder of the season!

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 9/10

Omnivore Rating: 2/10 – He wanted you to know that he really doesn’t like pumpkin spice!

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 2

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

Part 2 of this mini-series addresses the second fear from last week’s post which you can see here if you missed it.

Are you scared of being deprived?

At first, I was worried about missing some of my favorite comfort foods – mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pizza and buffalo wings.  All of these things were in my top favorite foods.  I felt scared thinking that I could never have those things.  Boy, was I wrong!  There are so many alternatives available to you.  There are alternatives for cheese, butter, milk, sour cream, pepperoni and even wings!

Here are some of my favorite comfort food recipes or products that I have found and enjoy.

Mashed potatoes can be easily made vegan.  In my house, my husband is the mashed potato maker.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never had the magic touch that is required to make really good mashed potatoes.  In the past, we used butter, sour cream, salt and pepper.  To make them vegan is so simple.  Just replace the non-vegan products with vegan alternatives.  Vegan butter (Smart Balance or Earth Balance) and Tofutti sour cream are easily found in most grocery stores.  I also like to add chives to my potatoes.

 

earth-balance-watermarkI feel like macaroni and cheese is a staple comfort food for everyone.  I traditionally bake my macaroni and cheese with jalapenos and chipotle breadcrumbs.  It was a staple in my house.  In order to get that cheesy comfort in a quick fix, I turn to Earth Balance macaroni and cheese.  It comes in cheddar and white cheddar flavor.  I have tried both products and they are excellent replacements for that quick dinner side dish.  I do prefer the white cheddar flavor.  The instructions couldn’t be easier and all you need to add is vegan butter and your non-dairy milk of your choice.  I prefer to cook with oat milk or unsweetened almond milk.

 

Pizza.  Everyone loves pizza.  If they say they don’t, I’m pretty sure that can’t be trusted. What’s better than pizza? Having it delivered to your door.  There are a lot of options when it comes to pizza.  PETA’s website is a great resource if you are ever in doubt of which crusts may or may not be vegan.  Follow this link for tips if you are dining in at your favorite pizza joint.  I don’t have access to a lot of these restaurants so I usually opt to follow this link for common pizza delivery options.  The crust is the biggest concern since ordering no meat or cheese is a easy decision.  My favorite crusts are Domino’s thin crust and Pizza Hut’s Thin ‘N Crispy or Hand Tossed Crust.  I have never been a fan of meat on my pizza.  Pretty much every time I have ordered pizza it has been full of veggie toppings so it was a pretty easy transition to just get used to no cheese.  If you are eating at home, you could add some vegan shredded cheese or vegan pepperoni and broil the pizza for a few minutes.

 

cauliflower-watermarkBuffalo wings were always my favorite happy hour bar snack.  When we lived in the city, a local bar that we visited frequently happened to have a vegan chef where I tried cauliflower wings for the first time.  I haven’t had chicken wings since that night.  Now the restaurant serves theirs deep fried, but this baked recipe is even better with less calories!  I follow hot for food’s cauliflower wing recipe pretty closely.  You can get the recipe here.  For the sauce, I use one part of Frank’s Red Hot and three parts of a honey or sweet barbecue sauce.

Hopefully this shows you that you can still have your favorite comfort foods – cruelty free!

Bye y’all!

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