A few weeks ago, I posted a roundup of happenings in my life and kitchen.  I had so much fun writing it that I’m hoping to make this a somewhat regular feature on the blog!

Here’s what’s been going on in my Life & in my Kitchen during the month of July!

Salad Samurai

Since I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my diet, I was {thisclose} to purchasing this new Ode to Salads by Vegan Great, Terry Hope Romero.

…but… my month started out extra lucky and I won a copy from Canned Time’s generous giveaway!  It was also perfect timing since Salad Samurai was also July’s #VegCookbookClub Selection.  

So far I’ve made the BKT Bowl (Bacon. Kale. Tomato) and the Coconut Samosa Potato Saladboth of which were fantastic.  I also can’t wait to make the Backyard Buffalo Ranch Salad which seems to be the VegCookbookClub MVP of the month – several of the participants have made this salad more than once already!

(P.S. The #VegCookbookClub is looking for a new leader – could it be you?)

A care package from Souvenir Finder!

My mailbox has had a completely awesome month.  In addition to Salad Samurai, I also received a thoughtful care package from my blogger-friend Kristin.  Kristin recently took a trip with my friend Amy through several small country towns in Connecticut’s Litchfield County area and sent me some wonderful, artisinal souvenirs.

Kristin & Amy
{photos are Amy’s}


This vegetarian care package included:

    • A giant Anisette Santa Claus (the first thing I ate!)
    • Authentic German Spaetzle Pasta (made with Cage-Free Eggs!)
    • Swedish Pancake Mix
    • Dutch Fruit-tella candies
    • Truly Special Salad Herbs grown at a local nunnery (Kristin raves about their Herb Vinegars, but they were all out till the Christmas season.)
    • And last but not least, Fine English Charcoal Squares (Charcoal is supposedly good for digestion.  Don’t worry, these didn’t taste at all like charcoal – in fact, these were incredibly delicious!  They were so buttery they reminded Mike and I more of very thin shortbread cookies than of crackers.)

Thank you so much, Kristin!!!

Klout Perk 1: Hills Science Diet #PerfectWeight

Lastly, my mailbox also received a couple of freebies from Klout.

Our lovely kitty Maple received a Klout care-package from Hill’s Science Diet with a full-size bag of their Perfect Weight cat food which we’ve been mixing into her regular food with much success.  She also adores the laser pointer they sent her!

Klout Perk 2: Tom’s of Maine #NaturallyGood

Mike and I, on the other hand, have been enjoying a Klout perk from Tom’s of Maine with full-size samples of their Natural Toothpaste & Mouthwash.  I love that the Mouthwash is sting-less and uses natural Zinc to attack bad breath.  And the toothpaste, to me, is not noticeably different in taste or texture from other commercial brands, though the ingredients are far superior.  I plan to buy some more Tom’s toothpaste when I run out.

Recommended Reading: Bonzai Aphrodite recently wrote a very thoughtful post about Tom’s of Maine and why she chooses to promote their brand, even though they are owned by Colgate and do use some less-than-perfect ingredients when necessary.  

She says:

“I may dream of an ideal future, but I am not an idealist. I’m actually a realist, maybe even a radical realist…

And what that means is, I know it would be wonderful if we could all be making our own body care products at home out of coconut oil and baking soda and other simple ingredients. I encourage anyone who has the time and energy to do that, to do that! But not everyone has that kind of time. And for people like that, I’m so glad that they have access to a healthier product like Tom’s.

In my ideal world, we might also all support independent, local artisans. That would be amazing, and for those who can afford it, I encourage you to do so. But again, not everyone has that kind of disposable income.

Not everyone has the means to meet the ideal I am so glad that Tom’s provides a natural choice that’s accessible to everyone.”

Quinoa Intolerance

In less fun news, I also recently discovered that I have a Quinoa Intolerance.

Quinoa has a natural coating called Saponins that will leave a bitter taste on the grain if it is not thoroughly rinsed first.  For me, it was much more than a taste issue – I would get very painful stomache-aches if I ate quinoa that wasn’t thoroughly soaked & rinsed first.  

Lately, I’ve been getting these stomach-aches even when using the store-bought pre-rinsed quinoa that used to digest perfectly for me.  Upon doing some googling, it seems that while quinoa intolerances are still relatively uncommon, I have one.  From what I read, I believe my body started associating the discomfort from the saponins with the quinoa itself, and now my body reacts to even the purest, cleanest quinoa as if it were covered in saponins – just in case, I guess?

This is especially frustrating now that Quinoa is so trendy that it’s literally everywhere!  Bye-bye Quinoa TacosQuinoa burgers, Quinoa Tabbouleh, Groovy Plates with Quinoa Pilaf and Veggie Quinoa Chili :-( 

Vegan BBQ Birthday Bash

I also went to two amazing outdoor foodie events this month – a Vegan BBQ Bash at my cousins Evie & Jerry’s place, and a Vegan Brunch Picnic with my PPK friends. 

Evie & Jerry, pictured with the amazing food they served


Evie & Jerry put on a fabulous Vegan BBQ for their daughter’s 3rd birthday.  The menu included homemade Beet BurgersGrilled Portobellas which Evie recommended mixing & matching on the buns.  She also made Potato Salad with Just Mayo and a Top-Your-Own Thai Peanut Noodles station with cut-up cucumbers, radishes, and cilantro on the side.

They also outsourced a huge platter of Aztec Quinoa Salad (which I couldn’t eat!) from Native Foods and a super moist Strawberry Cake from Chicago Diner filled with a lovely strawberry jam.

PPK Brunch Picnic

For our PPK Brunch themed picnic, we had a very small group, but a very enjoyable time!  Nissa, Megan and cooked and were joined by Mike and a furry-little-beggar.  We did not give in to the squirrel’s polite requests, but sadly we saw several other park goers feeding her junk food :-(

We had:

  • Blueberry Hibiscus Coolers – very refreshing and pretty easy (brought by me)
  • The Classic Broccoli Quiche from Vegan Brunch – I’m biased, but I thought this quiche was fantastic! (brought by me)
  • Apricot Scones & Blueberry Scones in a lovely picnic basket (brought by Megan)
  • Orange Cinnamon Rolls from Vegan Diner (brought by Nissa) (tip – the recipe is in the Amazon Look Inside preview!)
  • Zucchini Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins, made with Market Zucchini (brought by Nissa)
  • Homemade Vegan Sausages (brought by Nissa)

Everything was so delicious, but I have to say that Nissa’s Vegan Sausages were the best dish of the Potluck.  Mike (a non-vegetarian) even asked me if I had the recipe for them and said they were better than any veggie sausages he’d had in any restaurant.  Thankfully, Nissa was willing to share the secret formula she used for these sausages:  Isa’s Sausage Base + the spices from Vegan Diner’s Herbed Breakfast Patties.

Learn a Language (for FREE) with Duo Lingo

Mike and I are both loving Duo Lingo a FREE Language Learning software that also has FREE apps for iPhones & Androids.

As owners of Rosetta Stone, we find Duo Lingo to be of a very similar nature and quality and I highly recommend you try it out!

…Afterall, even if you aren’t able to master the language, your brain will reap huge benefits from having even tried.



Vegan is the New Black

If you’re a fan of Animals and/or a fan of Orange is the New Black, please check out this new “Vegan is the New Black” video inspired by the popular TV show’s opening sequence.  

I promise the video is very short and not graphic, though I can’t promise it won’t make your heart hurt for all the lovely creatures in Animal Jail.

Upcoming Event: Chicago Veggie Fest

Who else is psyched for Chicago’s Veggie Fest?!?  My favorite weekend of the year is now less than two weeks away.  The festival will take place in the Western Suburbs the weekend of August 9th & 10th.

This year, I’m so excited to see demos by vegan cookbook authors Ellen Jaffe Jones & Alan Roettinger and for another performance by The Giving Tree Band.

You can check out my recaps of the festival from prior years here and here.

Upcoming Event: New House!

And lastly, I’m expecting some big changes in my personal life kitchen next month.  If all goes well, Mike and I will be closing on a lovely house in Evanston next month.  I’m more than a little bit excited about my future kitchen :-)

I’d love to hear from you!

What’s been going on in your life & kitchen this month?

Have any tips for a first-time home owner?


Note: This post contains Affiliate Links, however it is not a paid post and all opinions are my own.