June 07, 2013
My morning smoothie tastes so much better now that I can have it in a VVC mug. The mug was part of the enormous amount of swag we were handed when we signed in for Vida Vegan Con at the art museum in Portland. The bag was just the first collection of goodies we received — samples kept coming all weekend. Venders had samples, people handed us samples as we walked outside the museum ("would you like to try some vegan snacks?"), there were bags of treats on our chairs at the Battle Royale trivia contest — see what I mean?
This is what the collection looked like spread on the floor when I got home. Not all of it is in the photo, of course, because, well, some things may have been eaten. My husband was at the conference, too, so he also had a bag, but most of his things have mysteriously disappeared. We also received a nifty toiletry bag from Susan Nichole, and my husband was particularly excited about this, because his old bag was in tatters, and he left it behind in the trash.
I've been tasting and testing some of the products since we returned home, and am going to present a little review of some of my favorites so far.
I've always been a fan of Hail Merry macaroons, and was excited to see a bag in the collection. I can't show what they looked like because ... because they are so good they don't last long enough to photograph. They are magic and just disappear. The kale chips, on the other hand, I forced myself to photograph before they, too, disappeared.
I think the kale chips were my favorite snack I've tried so far. These are the best kale chips. The best. They are organic, gluten-free, raw and of course, vegan. They're made in Portland, and you can read all about them here. So good. I want more.
I think I found a new favorite boxed breakfast cereal. We had full-sized boxes of the cereal in our swag bags, and I ate some dry for breakfast one day in Portland. I also munched up a bowlful after I snapped the photo. It tastes like toasty buckwheat and is all crunchy and delicious. Attune foods is the company behind Erewhon supergrains. This morning I had it with almond milk and blueberries, and loved it even more.
Dang. Today I tried to buy a box at Whole Foods and was so dismayed by the $5.99 price that I bought Bob's creamy buckwheat cereal instead.
Here's an interesting little snack. It's chewy, spicy, salty and satisfying, and it's made from soy curls. You can find purchasing information here. I believe my sample came from Vegan Cuts.
Booda butter is an all-purpose body moisturizer that smells divine and leaves me with the light fragrance of a chocolate macaroon. At first I didn't like it. I applied it to my face after a shower and an hour later I had to blot it so I didn't look like a grease ball. After blotting, I applied very light makeup and my skin looked much dewier than usual, and felt very soft. Then I smoothed a tiny amount on my hair to tame some frizz — perfect. Today I used it as a body lotion after showering and although it doesn't sink in as quickly as some lotions do, it was very moisturizing, and I loved the feel of it on my skin. I gave my face some extra time to soak up the booda butter and I didn't need to blot. And the smell is so gentle and pleasing. I think it's going to become a favorite.
Can you believe this? A kombucha starter kit. Now I just have to find a one gallon glass jar and work up the courage to try it. Has anyone tried a kit like this one? Any advice? Here's a link to their Web site if you want more information.
When I first looked at the tomato chips I wasn't impressed — not the most appetizing-looking snack I've seen — but by the time I'd finished the package I was hooked. They were spicy and cheesy, and I kept checking the package to see if I'd missed any crumbs because I wanted more. You can see the ingredients, here.
When I checked the safety of the BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) shampoo and cream rinse on Skin Deep, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) ratings of body care products, I was dismayed to find a rating of 3. I like to stay within a safety rating of 0 to 2. But I confess I really like the way the extra body shampoo and cream rinse leave my very fine hair with more body. I liked the way the product worked, and the fact that it's cruelty-free, but some of the ingredients may be a concern. Still, I might buy some.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the Earth Balance Puffs. In fact, we ate quite a few sample bagfuls in Portland and back at home. Non-GMO and gluten-free, the crunchy, flavorful puffs left a cheesy/powdery residue on my fingers exactly like cheese puffs/cheese curls used to. And I had to lick my fingers just like in the old days. They are beige rather than day-glo orange, and they don't have real cheese. The first two ingredients are corn and navy beans. And they don't contain palm oil. Earth Balance claims to use "responsibly harvested" palm oil for their other products but it still makes me nervous to find that ingredient in my food. (You can read more about the negative impact of using palm oil, here.)
Lush nuts are a sophisticated snack of dark cocoa, sugar and chili-coated Spanish peanuts. They are sweet, spicy and surprising. I think they came in our Vegan Cuts snack bag — not your ordinary peanut.
How cool is this? Along with all the samples — and filled with some! — was a great toiletry bag from Susan Nichole. It was given to us when we checked into our hotel.
Whew. This post is longer than I thought it would be when I started, and I've made barely a dent in my bag of swag. If you've read this far, you now have a chance to grab a little VVC souvenir of your own. Amey, from Vegan Eats and Treats, assembled a cooking zine with a favorite recipe from many of the presenters at VVC 2013. She's illustrated it with her wonderful, humorous cartoons. I bought a bunch to give out as souvenirs, and I have two for my blog readers. Just leave a comment and I'll randomly select two people to receive one. You have until Monday, June 10 at midnight to leave a comment. So what are you waiting for? (U.S. and Canada.)
And BTW, if you already have the zine, don't want one or are Amey, just put a minus (-) at the beginning of your comment and I won't include you in the drawing!
THE CONTEST IS NOW ENDED BUT COMMENTS ARE STILL WELCOME.