nyl skincare: a review

Here’s a little known fact: I love bodycare products. This obsession goes back to my adolescence — a time when I had multiple collections of lip balms, lotions, soaps, and fizzy bath salts. Can’t blame a girl for wanting to smell pretty and have soft skin, right?

When I went vegan, I was happy to discover a whole new world of bodycare products that were much better than anything in the silly little collections of my youth. And even though I have my favorites, it’s always exciting to try different brands.

Recently nyl skincare contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their brand and products. I was familiar with their Gentle Sugar Body Polish (amazing, amazing, amazing!) since it was part of the March Vegan Cuts snack box I posted about earlier, so I gratefully accepted the offer (Thank you, Carol!).

If you’ve never heard of nyl skincare, you’re in for a treat!!! The entire product line is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, eco-friendly, and made with pure and simple ingredients (no icky toxins!). They use the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check all of their ingredients and only use those that rank in the “low hazard” range. In fact, you could eat the products if you wanted to, but then your skin would be sad. What I love about nyl is that their products are handmade weekly in a kitchen, not a big ol’ factory. The point is, nyl skincare makes luxurious, moisturizing products that are good for your body and the earth.

Here is what I received:

nyl group 03

1.) Organic Gentle Sugar Body Polish – A simple, organic blend of unbleached cane sugar, rosehip seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, grape seed oil, and essential oils. I LOVE this stuff! It has a wonderful, uplifting citrus scent and exfoliates and moisturizes my skin really well. A little bit goes a long way, which is a huge bonus.

2.) Organic Whipped Hand & Body Lotion – This magical, non-greasy concoction is made weekly by hand, with the date noted on the container. It’s creamy and absorbs well into the skin. If you have troublesome dry patches, this lotion will be your new best friend. It has the same uplifting scent as the body polish.

3.) Organic Foaming Castile Hand Soap in Fresh Citrus – I’m a big fan of foamy hand soaps and this one does not disappoint. It lathers up well, smells nice, and made my hands soft. The gentle formula won’t irritate your skin, so if you have sensitivities, this is a pure and simple solution.

4.) Velvet Transformative Serum – If you’re looking to fight the signs of aging (I know I am, even though I’m not terribly old… Preventative maintenance!), this serum nourishes and restores balance to all skin types and transforms mature skin. I loved how quickly this dry oil disappeared into my skin. Plus, it’s rich in vitamin C and antioxidants! I mostly use it around my eyes because years of constant scowling smiling have left teeny wrinkles. :) A little dab will do your skin some serious good.

5.) Organic Rosewater Face Wash – Rosewater is known for its astringent, toning properties. The minimal ingredient list in this product = a very effective cleanser that is also gentle and moisturizing. The smell of rosewater reminds me of my grandma, but I promise you won’t smell like an old lady when you use this face wash.

nyl face wash 01

You should definitely check out nyl skincare’s website to learn more about the company and their incredible product line. You can even buy sample sizes for traveling! There is also a starter kit that includes most of the products above so you can try a little bit of everything. Go on, make your skin extra happy.

Thanks again, Carol, for the opportunity to sample your product line. Now I just have to exercise product portion control. :)

A Shredded Review

Last month, Galaxy Nutritional Foods contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying their new line of vegan shredded cheese. I happily accepted their generous offer while simultaneously envisioning pizza, tacos, and quesadillas on my plate.

Now, admittedly, I don’t like vegan cheese very much (crazy nonsense, I know!). Tim and I rarely purchase it because we try to avoid processed foods. But, there is always room for exceptions. Plus, it’s fun to snazz up our meals with specialty items from time to time.

I received two flavors: Mozzarella and Mexican. Both varieties are soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Since I am an enthusiastic snacker, I decided to try the cheese straight from the bag. The verdict? It was powdery and dry. I attribute this to cornstarch, which is one of the main ingredients. I don’t think this is a problem though because most people don’t eat shredded cheese as a snack. The ultimate test was to see if it melted on a pizza:

We used the mozzarella flavor and it definitely melted! Unfortunately, it also stuck to my teeth – a lot. I don’t like it when food adheres my teeth. Pizza is one of my favorite meals and when one of the components sticks to every surface of my mouth, it ruins everything (touch dramatic?). The flavor was mild, very similar to Daiya. I thought this was a plus because when I eat pizza, I like to taste the fresh veggies and sauce.

Next, we sampled the Mexican flavor. Tim and I both love tacos and quesadillas, so we made both over the course of a few weeks. You can see how well the cheese melts in this spinach quesadilla:

A few days later, we made tacos. We just sprinkled the cheese on top, so it didn’t melt:

I was expecting the Mexican variety to taste different than the mozzarella but it tasted exactly the same. The ingredients for both cheeses are very similar. The only noticeable difference is the color. I was bummed because I really wanted a spicy kick to my quesadillas and tacos!!

Overall, I was disappointed with Galaxy’s new shredded cheese. Maybe I am fussy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that both cheeses melt so well and are allergen-free. I also fully support more vegan food products on the market. But, I just can’t get past teeth coated in cheese glue. I will “stick” to making my own cheeses or occasionally splurging on Follow Your Heart brand.

I would like to thank Galaxy Nutritional Foods for sending me samples of their new shredded cheeses. Despite my review, I think everybody has their own preferences and tastes. Please don’t hesitate to give these new cheeses a try for yourself.

Scentaholic (and a giveaway!!!)

A few weeks ago Soy Candles by Phebes contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of their candles. I was delighted at the opportunity considering I had a bit of an obsession with all things scented when I was an adolescent (ooooh, scent is the latter part of adolescent… Nifty, no?!). I was keen on scented erasers, lip balms, pens, candles, lotions, and stickers (remember scratch-n-sniffs?). I’ve grown out of that phase, but do still enjoy lighting candles when the need to relax makes itself present.

I received two candles from Soy Candles by Phebes (thank you, Mike!!): clementine and lavender. When I visited their website, I discovered that there are around fifty different scents available. Fifty! You are guaranteed to find at least a dozen that will float your boat. Plus, they are hand-crafted, made-to-order, vegan-friendly, and generously sized at 8.5 ounces (in a nice, sturdy glass jar). There is no room for disappointment!

I excitedly opened the boxes my candles came in and sniffed, sniffed, sniffed. The lavender candle immediately took me back to my childhood. My grandmother had this wee oval tin with a scented candle inside that smelled almost identical to the Phebes lavender candle. She kept it in a drawer and whenever I visited her I would take the tin out of the drawer and smell the candle. My grandmother passed away almost a decade ago so I no longer have the ability to rummage through her drawer just to sniff my favorite candle. Needless to say, I lit the lavender candle first. The scent is soft, delicate, and soothing. It isn’t overpowering like some candles; instead it filled my apartment with a light cloud of lavender aroma. I love it! Even Tim, whose is obviously a dude, likes the smell.

The clementine candle smells just like it should: fruity, citrus-y, vanilla-y. Since the clementine is one of my favorite fruits, I was mighty happy with the aroma wafting from the jar. I haven’t burned the clementine candle yet, but when I do, I will be eating a bowl of clementines!

Do you like candles? Does your home stink? Do you need some relaxing scents drifting about under your nostrils? Well guess what? The generous and kind folks at Soy Candles by Phebes are giving one lucky reader a free candle (of the winner’s choice)!! Yeah! All you need to do is visit their website and leave me a comment telling me what scent you would like to receive. Easy as heck! I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, June 28th. Good luck!!!

And, if you read one of my previous posts, you will know that I am taking part in Portland’s 2010 Run for Congo Women on June 26, 2010. I am only $155 shy of my goal (which is $500). If you want to donate funds to a great cause, please consider helping me reach my goal. I would be most appreciative!!! It is a challenging 5K run on a forested trail and all money raised will help the women of the Congo and also raise awareness of the devastation occurring in the Congo. I am running with a small team of vegans and we have raised over $1,600 so far!!! Yeah!!! Thank you in advance if you make a donation. And thank you to the folks who have already donated – it means so much to me!

Demand Chocolate!

A few years ago I wrote a post featuring a raw chocolate agave spread from Love Street Living Foods. Tim and I were immediately smitten with the rich, dark, delicious concoction. After dipping spoons into the jar, we added dollops to a batch of cupcakes. The result was pretty fantastic. Who wouldn’t want a wee chocolatey surprise in the center of their cupcake?

Since that post, I haven’t had the yummy spread. Luckily a representative from Love Street Living Foods contacted me recently and offered to send samples of their products for me to try and review. I’d be silly to say no, so I said yes (and please and thank you)!!!

I received two different spreads from Love Street Living Foods: a raw chocolate spread (the same spread that I mentioned above) and a raw chocolate coconut spread. Needless to say, the spoon dipping started almost as soon as the lids came off the jars. Not only are these spreads raw, but they are 100% organic and gluten-free too!!! The ingredient list is short and clean. Both are thick, smooth, and deeply chocolatey. The spreads are handmade too (in PA, my home state!!!).

Love Street Living Foods also generously sent me some chocolate bars to sample as well:

Oh my goodness, these bars were absolutely amazing!!! Despite their petite 1-ounce size, each bar was perfectly satisfying as an after dinner dessert for two people. They are made to order, so you are guaranteed super fresh, organic chocolate. And, like the spreads, the ingredient lists are short. Tim and I had a difficult time choosing a favorite among the four samples we received. We finally decided that the Coconut Crystal Chocolate bar was tops. The coconut is subtle and the crystals add crunchy bits of texture. The bars are wafer thin, smooth, and don’t have the bitterness present in lots of other dark chocolates. To quote Tim: “They tasted so flippin’ good!!!!”. I agree. Without a doubt, these bars rank high on my list of chocolate favorites. I already want more!!

The super sweet folks at Love Street Living Foods are offering blog readers a deal you shouldn’t pass up:

Receive 10% off your entire order plus 3 free samples at Love Street Living Foods. Make sure to enter this coupon code: TahinitooLoveSt. This deal is valid from Sunday, March 21 – Thursday, March 25.
Please write in the “Order Comments” box during checkout which samples you would like from the list below it. *Please note: this discount is not valid on equipment.

This is a great time to try out some fantastic chocolate (or any of the other yummy products on their website). I am pretty sure I will be placing an order myself because chocolate is integral to my well-being.

Thanks again to Love Street Living Foods (Hi Aparna!!!) for sending me samples!!

“X” is for Xagave


I really thought it would be difficult to come up with a post featuring the letter “X”, especially one relating to vegan food. But then I received an e-mail earlier this month from Robyn at BetterBody Foods & Nutrition offering to send me a sample of Xagave, an organic, raw agave nectar. I love agave nectar and happily accepted her generous offer (who wouldn’t, right?). Within a week, my sexy UPS man delivered a package to my door and I opened it with enthusiastic glee.


Here are some cool facts about Xagave:

1. It is a blend of both blue and white agaves.

2. It is raw and organic.

3. It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that makes your lower intestines and immune system happy, plus it increases the absorption of calcium.

4. It contains calcium, vitamins, and minerals too – which occur naturally in the root of the agave plants.

5. It mixes well with both hot and cold liquids.

There are a ton more wonderful benefits/properties of Xagave and I encourage you to check out the website if you want to learn about them.

My bottle of Xagave is nearly empty now because Tim and I used it in a variety of applications. First, I baked some Almond Orange Sweet Rolls (which I recently blogged about here):

Almond Orange Sweet Rolls 3

The recipe for these rolls already uses agave nectar, but they are the most delicious rolls in the world and I had to make them with Xagave. The result was an incredibly fluffy, soft, buttery, golden treat. If you haven’t made these rolls yet, you should. Xagave lended itself perfectly to this recipe.

We also drizzled Xagave over granola and hot cereals for breakfast.

Buckwheat Almond Raisin Granola

It was a nice addition, but not necessarily needed.

I stirred some into a spicy tomato-based soup to help cut the acidity. It worked!

I used it when making the rye bread I featured in this post, adding it to the yeast and water mixture. Even lil’ yeasties love Xagave!

I used it when making cupcakes. The flavor is very mild and works wonderfully in baked goods.

Kind Cupcake 2

Annnnnnnnnd finally, I stirred Xagave into countless mugs of hot bevvies, like green tea:


Xagave is a gentle sweetener with a mild, smooth taste. I love that it is raw, organic and can be added to both sweet and savory foods. It is reasonably priced too. Tim and I usually buy our agave in bulk at our local food co-op and since Xagave isn’t available near us (yet perhaps?), we will continue buying ours in bulk. If you happen to find Xagave at a local store near you though, I suggest giving some a try! Thanks again Robyn!!!