Today I’m asking you to help a family that not only needs some kindness, but truly deserves it. You don’t have to give much, even a few dollars will help so much. And if you can’t give at all, I hope you will share this and help me to extend a hand to someone who has done so much for other people in her life.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know and love Joy. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance Joy made you custom bows for your own fundraiser and refused to take any money for them. There’s a chance she made your daughter a bow featuring her favorite cartoon character, or one for you featuring your favorite pro-wrestler. There’s a chance you spent $20 in her shop and then she turned around and spent $25 in yours.
If you’re reading this and you don’t know Joy, let me tell you a little bit about her:
Joy Garcia-Roughton is just about the kindest, most generous person I have ever known. “She would give you the shirt off her back” is often an exaggeration but Joy literally would. She would take it off, fold it neatly, wrap it in colorful tissue paper and mail it to you with a few pieces of your favorite candy and a handwritten note.
Joy and Bob
I could make you a laundry list of ways Joy has helped and supported me over the years – from donating bows to fundraisers for a cancer non-profit I work with to keeping an eye out for my son’s hard-to-find favorite cereal, to lighting a candle for my father every year, remembering someone who I lost and holding him in her heart as if he was her own father. And I’m just one person among hundreds who call Joy a friend. Imagine if we all told our stories how many there would be.
Joy and her husband Bob have raised two incredible kids. The kind of kids who ask for donations to their local animal shelter instead of birthday gifts. No, really. They do.
Recently Joy and her family have been subjected to an unbelievable series of misfortunes and tragedies, starting in November with the passing of Bob’s father. The family barely had time to grieve when Joy’s brother died suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas day.
Just a few weeks later, Bob found himself in the emergency room where he was diagnosed with carotid artery dissection – an uncommon condition that can result in a stroke. The hospital kept Bob for several days to determine the best treatment – managing stress being at the top of the list. Losing a parent is devastating, and having it immediately followed with a loss in your wife’s family would be almost too much to bear.
Unfortunately, there was more. While he was in the hospital, Bob’s mother passed away. Now here is Joy, still mourning her father-in-law and her brother, missing work while her husband is in the hospital. And now this.
Joy and her brother, Al
Bob is a tattoo artist, and has not been cleared to go back to work. Meanwhile, his condition has left him in need of Joy’s care – he has already ended up back in the e.r. twice when trying to take on too much has gotten the best of him. Joy used all of her paid time off between her brother’s death and Bob’s hospital stay and has been forced to take a leave of absence as she continues to care for Bob and their two children.
Joy would never in a million years ask anyone for help. I’m the one asking you for help. Please give whatever you can to help me take one thing off this family’s plate. If you believe in karma in any form, this is the time when Joy’s kindness and generosity should come full circle.
Every time I record a podcast with someone I walk away convinced I’m going to start one. I’ve had a zillion ideas – one where I talk to interesting people about a specific food-related memory, one where my friend Melissa and I talk about shame boners (people we find hot even though they are totally disgusting), one where I just ask Tony questions about things I know he hates. So many ideas!
But the fact of the matter is I am way too lazy to figure it all out, so instead I will continue to be a guest on other people’s podcasts (OPP, yeah you know me). So here I am on Car Con Carne. This was a really quick and lighthearted chat about vegan food, pro wrestling and Killer Klowns from Outer Space!
PODCAST AND DESTROY: A visit with vegan author/personality Natalie Slater - YouTube
I mentioned Chicago French Market in my Chicago Vegan Eats Guide, but beyond the two specifically vegan restaurants inside, I didn’t even know how many options a vegan might find. Recently my friend Melissa and I were given a guided tour and even got to try a few “secret menu” items. But before we get to the food, what is the Chicago French Market?
Chicago French Market is an indoor marketplace featuring more than 30 vendors, with a focus on local foods. If you’ve been to Chelsea Market in New York City or the Ferry Building in San Francisco it’s a similar vibe. It’s the perfect place to bring omnivorous friends because everyone can get what they want – or if you just like to have a side of fries with your raw lasagna and chocolate truffles. You do you. The market is located in the Ogilvie Transportation Center’s Suburban Concourse, so it’s easily accessible by CTA. During the week, the market is open from 7 am until 7:30 pm but lunchtime is slammed. I like to stop in on Saturdays, when they’re open from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm, and not as crowded.
While this is a pretty thorough round-up of vegan offerings, there are always new vendors and new menu items so don’t be shy about popping in and asking vendors what they can make for you. I’m going to do this alphabetically, but I’ve called out my *personal favorites*.
Aloha Poke Co – Chicago’s Poke craze is in full effect, and even though it’s traditionally made with fish it’s pretty easy to veganize. You can build your own bowl, or veganize any of the house options – the employees have an ingredient book so they can help you choose. Melissa and I tried the Aloha bowl with tofu and agreed we’d build our own next time, but definitely get that sesame vinaigrette on whatever we built.
B.I. Tea – A bubble tea house was my first wholesale customer for Bake and Destroy so I have a special place for it in my heart. The “bubbles” are tapioca, and vegan-friendly. The menu at B.I. Tea calls out the vegan options (Melissa and I squealed to see the word “vegan” on the menu). Just swap almond or coconut milk into any of the milk tea or fruit tea options.
One of us went home with truffles in our pocket. I’m not naming names. Melissa.
City Fresh Market – You’ll likely enter the French Market by walking through City Fresh Market. It’s a produce-heavy market with some grab n’ go options and packaged goods from local brands. If you just need a quick fruit salad or some greens you can get in and out quickly.
Buen Apetito – We didn’t have a chance to try anything here (we were stuffed) but this Mexican food stand has several vegetarian options that would be vegan if you hold the cheese and sour cream.
*Frietkoten* – Gurl those fries, tho! I could not wait to share a cone of these hand cut fries with Melissa. I usually get a side of curry ketchup, but one of these days I’m going to pack my own Just Mayo and live it up. Check out Barnivore’s listings for vegan-friendly Belgium beers before you hit this stand.
Vegan food by the pound is the best idea ever.
Klay Oven Kitchen – This Indian spot keeps local office workers in mind, swapping in olive oil for a lot of cream and butter traditionally used in these dishes – thus preventing a workplace food coma. This also helps us vegans, as we can try some dishes we typically don’t have access to. The menu here calls out vegan items, but definitely check with employees when you order.
*Loop Juice* – When I feel a cold coming on, I head to Loop Juice and order a Cold Fighter with extra ginger. Melissa had the Around the World smoothie. Smoothies are made with 100% fruit, unlike a lot of smoothie places that use yogurt or even sherbert in theirs (wtf?)
Build a bowl at Saigon Sisters
*Pastoral* – I admit to walking past this stand dozens of times because, well, it’s a cheese shop! Little did I know they have a secret menu item for vegans. Order the Farmhouse Veggie Deluxe and swap in spiced almond butter for cheese. It’s delicious! They also seemed very interested in making vegan cheeses, so if you go, let them know you’d buy those!
Polpetti Espresso Bar – It’s pretty hard to go wrong with coffee…but Starbucks finds a way. I didn’t take note of what the non-dairy swap options but I have to assume they have them on hand for soy lattes.
*RAW* – I damn near had to drag Melissa to this one, as a San Francisco vegan she’s had her share of raw food and doesn’t typically love it. But the dishes we sampled here changed her mind – we both loved the Riding the WAve kelp noodles and of course all of the desserts. I was on my own drinking the Spirulina Grapefruit smoothie, but we both walked away converted into raw food believers… who still also eat French fries.
*Saigon Sisters* – This one was a surprise to me, as I am very loyal to my local Banh mi spot in Albany Park. You can get a teriyaki tofu Banh mi, but I recommend the tofu and veggie pho. I believe the owner also said the tofu banh bao and tofu spring rolls are vegan, but it seems like her staff knows their stuff so feel free to ask.
Raw, vegan tiramisu made out of magic and cashews, probably.
*Vegan Now* – Soul Veg lovers rejoice, you can now enjoy this South Side’s greatest hits in the heart of the city. Favorites like mac n’ cheese, broccoli casserole and “drumsticks” are sold by weight, so you can try a scoop of each. There’s a rotating daily menu, so keep an eye out for your favorites. Plus, they offer a Saturday brunch for only $11 featuring tofu scramble, grist, hashbrowns, French toast and more.
I was really excited to learn about all the options I never knew I had, and hope that you guys will go in and support these vendors who make it easy for us to sample the vegan world under one roof! Did I miss your faves? Tell me in the comments!
Best friends are angels from heaven sent down to share your fries, hate the people you hate, and to re-watch Ghost World with over and over again until even your dog is sick of it. There should be a special day every month dedicated to the people who love and support you, like and comment on all your posts, and who never talk shit behind your back. In honor of them, and Galentine’s Day (Feb 13), today’s Friday Five is dedicated to the Left Eye and Chilli to your T-Boz — your fraaaands.
1. You’re Like, A Good Friend and Stuff
Alex Strangler’s shop is a wonderland of 90s pop culture crossovers and her Princess Beavis and Butt-Head pin set is no exception. It’s the 2018 version of the BFF necklace, you wear one while your bestie sports the other. I also love her Ren and Stimpy Best Friends pin, although if your friendship reminds you of these two you might want to find new friends.
2. Amber D’Alessio Made Out with a Hot Dog
Now I’m not suggesting you actually shit-talk other people with your bestie… but if you’re so inclined, why not record your sickest burns like The Plastics did? Word of advice – use codes in your Burn Book just in case it falls into the wrong hands. Or, be a grown up and use it to write down stories of your friendship instead of mean things about other people. Whatever.
3. Spill the T
The first rule of adulthood is that you cannot possibly have too many coffee mugs. I have probably 20 of them and I just had to take one out of the dishwasher and hand wash it so I could have some god damn tea because they’re all dirty. My personal favorite is my Suck My Balls mug from Daisy and Aster, and if you’re BFF is anything like me, he/she/they will love it too.
4. Fake Food
There are certain joys in this life that your romantic partner simply can’t provide. Only your bestie knows how much you will love and appreciate a macaron that you can hang on your wall. A life-size banana split for the bathroom? That’s something no lover can give you. That’s why the Mini Plaques from Everyday is a Holiday are a perfect Galentine’s Day gift – and only $30!
5. Witchy Shit
Remember when you and your friends saw The Craft for the first time and low key all decided you were witches without having to say a word about it? Commemorate those good times with a box of Spells for Modern Life from last Craft. Ward off exes, unsolicited dick pics and even internet trolls with this magical set. Give them to be used all together, or split them up among your nearest and dearest.
Whether you do it with gifts or not, take a minute to let your best friend(s) know how you feel about them today. Good friends are a treasure – keep them close!
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I might earn a commission that I will most likely turn around and spend on my friends.
If you’ve read any of my posts about cruelty-free skincare and beauty, you know that I am a huge fan of Juice Beauty. It’s vegan, organic, cruelty-free and my god, it’s effective. I was happy just being a loyal customer, so imagine the amount of pee in my pants when a member of their team reached out to see if I’d be interested in hosting an event for them! I could not say yes fast enough, so I hope you’ll join me for this FREE night of mixing and mingling. Here’s the deets:
When: Friday, January 26, 2018 from 4-8pm (open hours) Where: Bloomingdale’s (900 North Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611) Why: To hang out with me, check out this line of vegan skincare and cosmetics and to enjoy more fun surprises details below How: Just show up any time from 4-8! Help us plan by RSVPing here (no tickets necessary)
P.S. There is also limited space for 1-on-1 consultations throughout the day, so please call 312 440-4460, ext. 4233 and ask for Shayla to book an appointment!
Check out Juice Beauty’s line of vegan, cruelty-free skincare and cosmetics, with professional recommendations from their amazing team.
Free gifts with purchase!
How to get there:
From the suburbs: I highly recommend taking the Metra, or parking in a less-busy area of the city and taking the Red or Brown Line to Bloomingdale’s. See below for more info about parking.
From the city: Bloomingdale’s is easily accessible from the Red and Brown Lines (get off at Chicago). If you take a Lyft or Uber to the event and make a purchase, show someone from the Juice Beauty team your ride receipt for a gift!
From outer space: Just land on the roof. When you leave, take me with you.
Please note that this is an open event, meaning you can come and go as you please – you don’t have to get there by 4 or stay until 8! You don’t have to buy anything to attend, but if you do, you’ll get gifts. Please feel free to bring your friends!
2017 was arguably the Year of the Instant Pot, especially for vegans. Effortless rice, beans, slow-cooked meals? Who wouldn’t want one? And even though the Air Fryer made its rounds in my personal circle of vegan friends before the Instant Pot overshadowed it, I believe 2018 will be the Year of the Air Fryer, partially thanks to Kathy Hester.
Before I talk about Kathy’s new book,Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer: 75 Incredible Comfort Food Recipes with Half the Calories, let me fill you in on what an air fryer is, and why you need one. An air fryer is a countertop appliance that cooks food by circulating extremely hot air, resulting in a crunchy exterior similar to deep fried food, only without the use of oil. Tater tots, tofu, even dessert will come out just right in minutes, all without ever heating up your oven.
Tony and I have been using ours daily since we bought one about a year ago, but I really didn’t know how versatile of a machine it was until I started paging through Kathy’s cookbook. This book does not ease you into things like, “Oh, you can make French fries…” No. You knew that when you bought this machine, let’s get serious here. Kathy is like, “Hello, welcome to my book, did you know you can make your own frigging tomato powder in this thing?”
I instantly gravitated toward the dessert section and was excited to find I already had all the ingredients on hand to make this Carrot Cake in a Mug. (Note for folks with specialty diets, Kathy has notes on each recipe for those of you who are gluten-free and/or oil-free.) The cake baked perfectly, tasted amazing, and I was a god damn hero for serving everyone warm mugs of cake on a freezing winter day. Hey moms of pre-teens, get this: TENO ASKED ME TO MAKE IT AGAIN THE NEXT DAY!!! If you have ever faced the utter indifference of a twelve year old boy you understand how remarkable this is.
Oh, and P.S. There’s a quote from me on the back, so there you go. Recipe by Kathy Hester. Reprinted by permission of Page Street Publishing. Please note that some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I may earn a commission.
I’m not sure how it started, but at some point during our 25+ year friendship, my dear friend Jenny and I became fully obsessed with nachos. If I had to guess, I’d blame Beavis and Butt-Head and the fact that we became friends in the 90s. However it happened, our never-ending pursuit of vegan nachos has led us to a tradition hereby known as Nacho New Year. Every New Year’s Eve, whether we spend it together or not, we eat nachos. So, on the final #FridayFive of 2017, I thought I’d show you how to have a Nacho New Year in just five steps.
How to Have a Happy Nacho New Year:
1. Base It, Nachos Rule
Nachos need a base, otherwise they are just a mess of cheese, sour cream, and random vegetables. Most people opt for tortilla chips, although in my world there are a few other acceptable options. For instance, tater tots. However, if you use tater tots as your base you are required by law to refer to your nachos as totchos. Failure to do so will result in you sucking. If you want to keep it classic, I ask you to please seek out legit tortilla chips and do not buy Tostitos as they are a crime against nature. Nacho cheese and toppings are also a great addition to, well, literally everything. For instance:
Nacho Pizza – smother your favorite par-baked crust in nacho cheese, top with black beans and pop into the oven – top it with olives, jalapeños, sour cream, etc and slice
Nacho Tofu Scramble – make tofu scramble and then pretty much do what I just described for pizza. See how easy this is?
2. Cheese Louise, Nachos Are Swell
I have known two types of nacho lovers, the sauce people and the shreds people. Shreds people top their chips with shredded cheese (Follow Your Heart makes tasty vegan shreds) and pop the whole thing into the oven until the cheese melts, then they add the cold toppings. The result is warm chips (bonus) and stretchy cheese that reminds me of pizza (also bonus). This is typically the most attainable type of nachos to make at home, so it’s probably a little nostalgic for those of you who enjoyed nacho night as kids. Cheese sauce people tend to prefer the bright orange sauce one might find at a carnival, baseball game, or you know, 7-11. I am one of those people. Luckily, it’s really easy to make vegan nacho cheese sauce at home. Here are a few favorites:
Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce – mostly nutritional yeast based, with a small amount of cashews for fat, and a chipotle pepper for spice
Nacho Cheese on the Cheap – This one skips the cashews and uses less nutritional yeast, leaning more on carrots and potatoes for texture and color
Mild Chee-Zee Sauce – If you love nachos, but can’t handle the spice, try this nut-free, nooch-based cheese that gets its tang from yellow mustard
Spicy Quinoa Queso – OK listen, queso is not nacho cheese, it’s more like a cheese dip. People get really weird about queso so I just wanted to make that clear. This one has quinoa in it so it is the most vegan thing on the god damn earth
One time I ate raw nachos. It was the most vegan thing I have ever done.
Butternut Squash Queso – Also not nacho cheese, and actually a bit to thick to pour so bust this one out if you have any super healthy werido vegan friends coming over for nachos
3. You Can’t Top Nachos (But You Totally Can)
A few years ago, Tony got me a three-compartment crock pot that Jenny and I have dubbed the Nacho Machine because it has only ever been used for our build-your-own nacho parties. I fill one compartment with cheese sauce, one with beans or faux meat and the third usually stores some guacamole (not hot, obvs). If you’re hosting a nacho party, prep all the toppings and have them out with spoons so your guests can go to town. My favorite part is the end of the night when Jenny and I are literally just dipping chips into the cheese and eating olives with our bare hands. If you like your nachos meaty, here are a few ideas:
Oat Crumbles – These are easy and inexpensive to make, and you can swap seasonings to make them more or less “nachoy”
Walnut “Meat” – This is a raw option, and yes, you can totally make raw nachos with dehydrated flax chips
Jackfruit – A little fancier, but upon special request (from Jenny) I have been known to make a batch of smoky jackfruit for Nacho New Year
Sour Cream Rules Everything Around Me. If you can’t find vegan sour cream in the store (or, like me, if you think all the store-bought versions are barftastic) I will share with you the greatest vegan sour cream I have ever made. It’s so good, I’ve actually packed it with me when I knew I was going somewhere to eat pierogi or tacos.
It’s gift-giving season and although vegans have come a long way, baby, some of our friends and family might be a little behind on the times. If you find yourself staring down the barrel of a leather-and-fur-laden wish list this year, check out these five animal-friendly alternatives to popular holiday gifts.
1. Animal Cruelty is Fugg
I never understood the Uggs phenomenon – are there not cuter boots that are equally warm? Whatever the reason people want them, you can’t argue with the cruelty that goes into making them. You can find cheap, accidentally vegan knock offs on Zappos, and even at Target, but I encourage you to avoid “fast fashion” as it’s detrimental to the environment, and to the people forced to make cheap clothes and shoes. Instead, go for a quality pair that will last for years.
Why Not to Buy: Shearling is a pretty word for an ugly material – what it really is is sheep fur with the skin attached. So yeah, Uggs = murder. (Warning: graphic video exposing the cruelty behind Uggs.)
Instead Try:Snug Boot by Vegetarian Shoes – these Ugg lookalikes are manufactured ethically in Portugal with cruelty free faux suede and fleece lining. Price: $145
2. Fur is F**ked
You can’t throw a rock in Chicago without hitting some yuppy in a Canada Goose coat and it drives me insane. Do you think they know their coat is stuffed with feathers plucked from tortured, live ducks and trimmed with fur from murdered coyotes? Do they care?
Why Not to Buy: On their website, Canada Goose barfs some nonsense about ethical standards in sourcing their materials, but the bottom line is, you can’t get feathers off a goose without pulling them off, and you can’t get fur off a coyote without skinning it.
Instead Try: There are LOTS of great vegan alternatives from brands like Patagonia and North Face, but I recently picked up a long winter coat from Save the Duck and love that animal welfare is at the forefront of their message. Prices vary, but you can grab deals on sites like Shopbob.
3. Woold You Not Wear Wool?
Handmade wool socks and mittens are a classic holiday gift, and “luxury” wools like angora and cashmere hide the cruelty of their industries under a layer of fluffy softness. There are tons of alternatives, of course!
Why Not to Buy: Whether it’s clipped, shaved, or in the cruelest cases, pulled out by the root, there is simply no cruelty-free way to remove fur from a live animal. Plus, think about it – they don’t shave a goat once and then let it live a peaceful life. It’s a commodity. Those animals are kept in horrible conditions, and used over and over again until deemed no longer useful, then sold for meat.
Instead Try: I’m not a knitter per say, but you can find lots of luxury, vegan wool alternatives on Vegan Yarn. Prices vary.
4. Compassion is Punk AF
In high school all I wanted was a leather motorcycle jacket so I could look like The Ramones. If I only knew there were cruelty-free alternatives! Now I rock my vegan leather jacket all year long.
Why Not to Buy: Leather is cow skin, obv. I’ve never seen a cow willingly give up it’s skin, but let me know if you have.
Instead Try: This is another one where you can find tons of cheap “fast fashion” vegan jackets – but for quality, and ethical manufacturing, I recommend The James from ethical vegan coat designer Vaute. Price: $398
5. Be Pretty on the Inside
Make up is ALWAYS on my wish list but navigating the complicated world of parent companies and import-mandated animal testing can be tricky. I tend to skip the whole headache and only shop 100% vegan brands that do not sell in China – side-eyeing you, MAC.
Why Not to Buy: I think it’s pretty obvious why, so instead I’m going to tell you how. Avoid these brands.
Instead Try: Again, there are lots of options! My personal favorites are Lunatick Labs (100% vegan), Kat Von D (cruelty-free with lots of vegan options) and Colourpop (also cf with vegan options). Here’s a list of cruelty-free make up brands, too. Prices vary.
After eleven years of blogging I guess there are still firsts to be had! I’ve never really done a full-blown review here (that I can remember… it’s been a long time!) But, We Love Eyes eye makeup removing oil and eyelid wash are products that I actually buy and use so if anything is review-worthy I figured this was. Long story short, I have a history of eye problems. It’s hereditary, but the older I get the worse they are.
One month, I received a sample of We Love Eyes makeup removing oil in my Petit Vour subscription box and a week into using it, my long-problematic eye cleared up. I’ve been hooked ever since. While I did receive free product to make this video, I am a customer. Please note that some links are affiliate links, too. The sound on this is really low, so please hit the “CC” option for captions.
We Love Eyes Vegan, Natural Make Up Remover Review - YouTube
About We Love Eyes
From safe makeup removal to relief from dry eye & blepharitis symptoms, We Love Eyes is there to do the dirty work. Tea tree infused eye makeup removing oil and eyelid washes remove stubborn eye makeup, and reduce the inflammation caused by these irritants. We Love Eyes products are all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate free, fragrance free, retinoid free and free of artificial colors. Need more info? Check out these peer-reviewed studies about the benefits of the key ingredients:
I took a break last year because I felt like with all the turmoil around the election, and all the fundraising civil rights groups were doing it would be hard to compete. But I’m back this year fundraising for Grind for Life, and their new initiative Grind for Life Wellness House.
For those of you who are new here, I’ve dedicated seven birthdays to fundraising for Grind for Life, a cancer non-profit started by skateboarder Mike Rogers, with a mission to help people with cancer. I ask my friends and family, and a lot of generous folks on the internet, to donate instead of buying me a birthday gift. Over the past several years we’re raised more than $15,000 together. (You can take a peek at my last fundraiser here.)
The last few years, we’ve upped the stakes by working with some generous brands, artists and makers to come up with a fun list of prizes to give away to random donors. (Again, check out my previous fundraiser to see how the prizes work.) So right now I am in prize-gathering mode – that’s where you come in!
I’m asking all makers, crafters, business owners, artists, etc. to think about what you might be able to offer as a prize. I generally ask for things that can be shipped (U.S. addresses only), but if you offer a local service (baked goods, hair styling, tattoos, etc) I can do a special drawing for donors who live in your area. In addition to being a great person who helps a great cause, you will also be well-promoted across all of my social media channels.
Interested in donating a prize? Click here to fill out this form! (Feel free to contact me if you have questions about donating, but if you’re ready to offer something, please use the form because this is how I will keep track of what gets promoted!)
Once I have a solid list of prizes in place I will kick off the fundraiser! Thank you so much!
Skateboarder MIke Rogers Beats Cancer & Grinds For Life - Rise Above - YouTube