My Top 8 Vegan Face and Bodycare

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I’m no fan of big label skincare that are expensive. There are ingredients in my kitchen that could also do the job at a fraction of the price. But when I do buy for skincare products, I go for the ones that are made of natural ingredients and vegan, and of course affordable.

Below are the products I’ve bought or made myself that I highly recommend for you. These products are tried and tested over the years and have personally worked for me with wonders.

For the DIY directions below, the amount of oil and astringent are ultimately up to you as each skin is different so feel free to adjust to your preference.

 

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1. Coconut oil as make up remover (among other uses)

Honestly, I think makeup removers are overpriced and they leave my face feeling gross. I use coconut oil instead. I simply swipe a cotton ball in coconut oil and gently wipe on my face. The coconut oil removes the makeup instantly and leaves a pleasant aroma. Depending on how heavy your make up is, you might need to use more than one cotton ball.

Coconut oil could also run expensive so I buy the ones that are in the lower end quality. I save the high quality ones for cooking and baking, but I wouldn’t mind grabbing some in the kitchen if I run out of the cheap kind. I just make sure to transfer to a different container so I don’t contaminate what I use in my food.

Sometimes, I also use coconut oil for my scalp and hair as deep conditioning cream. I’ve been lazy these days to do it but if you are inclined to try, simply dip a comb in melted coconut oil (make sure the oil is not hot), then comb through your hair. Cover your hair and scalp with a plastic bag to conceal the moisture, wait for at least 30 minutes then rinse.  I suggest trying this right before taking a shower.

There are TONS of other uses for coconut oil including: facial moisturizer, body oil, lip balm, etc.

 

tea sugar scrub2. Tea Sugar Scrub

I love tea. I have it every morning as part of my morning ritual. Although I could drink a whole pot to myself, I sometimes end up with leftover.

Instead of throwing it away, I add about a tablespoon of sugar to about two ounces of leftover green tea then I scrub my face with the tea infused sugar.

Tea has tons of antioxidants. In fact, there are fancy skincare lines that brag about having green tea in their products, so why not use the tea directly to yourself and skip the fancy shmancy tea infused skincare?

 

rice lemon scrub

3. Purple Rice Scrub with Lemon applicator

I think I got this tip from famous YouTuber Michelle Phan but instead of using plain white rice, I use purple rice for the extra nutrients.

Simply ground the rice using a food processor. Cut a lemon in half to use one half as the applicator. Gently squeeze the lemon to bring out a little bit of its juice then dab the lemon to about two tablespoons of ground rice. Apply the rice all over your face. To reapply, just keep squeezing the lemon before dabbing on to the rice.

Wait for about 20-30 minutes. It might sting only a little bit at first as the combination dries up on your face. After 20-30 minutes, rinse your face. I highly suggest to do this at the kitchen sink so nothing gets clogged in the bathroom. You will feel your face to be super soft! I usually do this practice every other week.

 

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4. DIY Face Cleanser

This is a simpler, cheaper, and lazier version of the recipe I found on Luminous Vegans (I adore this blog!). Basically, fill up your container 1/2 with filtered water, 1/4 jojoba oil (or almond oil for cheaper alternative), 1/4 castille soap. If you have an oily skin then add more castille soap than jojoba, and vice versa if you have a dry skin.

Shake the bottle before each use. The texture may seem runny but once you apply and gently rub on your face, it’ll be a bit creamy and thick. Rinse and pat face dry.

 

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5. DIY Toner

Just like the DIY face cleanser, the recipe to this is also simple and straight forward. Fill an empty bottle half way with filtered water, 1/4 witch hazel, 1/4 lemon juice. Shake before each use.

I apply this toner after washing my face. I use a cotton ball to apply the toner then I gently dab all over my face, then I apply coconut oil as moisturizer.

 

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6. Baking Soda

Like coconut oil, baking soda has so many uses in cooking, bodycare, skin care, dental care, and even cleaning pots, pans, clothes, upholstery, etc.  Not to mention, baking soda is super cheap! I couldn’t believe only few people I know use baking soda. It’s like a miracle product that people tend to ignore.

I use about a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in with a few drops of water to exfoliate my face, paying more attention to areas with black heads.

I also swear by using this in the shower to exfoliate my underarms. I rub baking soda to my underarms and exfoliate well then I do a final rinse. As a result, I leave the shower very clean and odorless. My shower is never without a container of baking soda.

 

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7. Mineral Deodorant Body Spray

I’m very cautious of using vegan deodorants that don’t last long. Unfortunately almost all of the vegan deodorants I know don’t last long.

I remember in the Philippines, Filipinos use a crystal mineral called “Tawas” that act as a deodorant. I have used it before and it didn’t work well for me.

The only brand I could trust is Crystal Essence. I am not sponsored by this brand by the way, they probably don’t even know I exist but I’m telling you to use their product because it works.

Crystal Essence does have “Tawas” crystals but also other ingredients that keep me odor free for full 24 hours. I also like that this comes in a spray bottle. I got this product at Rainbow Grocery San Francisco. I’m sure you could grab one at similar stores like Whole Foods or online.

 

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8. Vegan and Natural Bar Soaps

When I was a kid, my family would use bar soaps as our main soap in the shower. Then on to my teens and 20s, I switched to using liquid body wash and body puff. Now I’m back to using bar soaps but with a little upgrade.

I’ve come to appreciate the natural, fragrant bar soaps similar to the French milled versions. I just make sure they are 100% vegetable oil based and the palm oil is sustainably sourced. Some brands like Pacifica would disclose this kind of information so you don’t have to do the legwork.

Anyway, I’m particularly fond of Rose flavored bar soaps that has a romantic, soothing aroma. Funny thing is, I used to despise this kind of scent because it smelled “old” to me, I guess I am getting old! If you’re not fond of the French Rose scent, I suggest to go with Gardenia, Vanilla, or Coconut.

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I hope you find this list helpful. The list has worked well for me over the years and I hope it’ll work for you.

If you have your own list, please feel free to share. I’m constantly learning and in search for great vegan face and bodycare products.

 

 

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Vegan Soups Collaboration

Aside from this blog, I also share my recipes on my YouTube channel. At first I thought, because everybody uses YouTube I would have instant slew of subscribers watching my cooking tutorials. Little did I know that it takes a lot of hard work to produce a shoot and there’s no guarantee if somebody aside from your family and friends, whom you urged to check out your page, would organically click on your video let alone recreate the dish you’re featuring in the episode.

Despite the sobering realization, I kept at it. Slowly but surely, more folks discovered my channel. After my Sisig recipe, people on Instagram started tagging me showing off the Sisig dish they made from the tutorial. Of course I had to repost! It’s so rewarding and humbling to find out that people have tried my recipes and enjoyed them.

Another great news came when my YouTuber friend, Cobi at Veggietorials, emailed me asking if I’d like to participate in a vegan collaboration on YouTube, called “Soup-er Vegan Soups Collaboration“. I had the least number of subscribers out of everyone invited so once I again I felt humbled and honored.  Of course I said yes to the collab.

vegan soups collab

I knew the collaboration was going to boost my views so I thought I better step it up and produce a great episode with a kick ass recipe.

Cobi was so organized and detailed. She sent us deadlines for the beauty shots, recipe name, etc. Although she was very diligent and on point, she was also very flexible and pleasant, never pushy. No wonder she has tons of YouTube followers, Cobi has a great personality.

By the time we had to decide which soup to make, I chose to stick to what I know best: vegan Filipino. I chose a childhood favorite, rice porridge or Lugaw.  The traditional version is far from vegan. You would think that because it’s rice porridge, it’ll be easy to veganize. After all, similar dishes from other Southeast Asian countries have congee and juk. The Filipino version has great Spanish influence so we had only two kinds: the chicken and the beef kind. I thought it would be fun to do a vegan version.

My vegan Filipino Rice Porridge:

vegan lugaw side shot

vegan lugawAnd here’s the playlist featuring my vegan Lugaw recipe as well as recipes from Eco Vegan Gal, Veggietorials, Brown Vegan, Vegan Cooking With Love, Fellowship of the Vegetable, Simply Bakings, and Divine Hostess. I hope you enjoy!

 

From this collaboration, I’ve gained at least 80 new subscribers on YouTube. I’ve also seen more than five recreations of the Lugaw recipe on Instagram. The result is very encouraging and makes me very excited about making more videos.

Still, I have to remind myself that even if there’s only person who I’ve convinced to watch and recreate my dishes, then I have made significant progress.

 

Soul Veg, Vegan Soul Food in Chicago

Not so long ago, I went to Chicago for my boyfriend’s sister’s bachelorette party. I was the only vegan in the group but everybody was so nice and they let me break away from the itinerary for a day to meet up with an old friend who lives there. Of course I chose a vegan restaurant to meet up with my friend Joy.  I chose Soul Veg Chicago.

soul veg facade

Soul Veg is an all vegan soul food restaurant in East Chicago that has been around since 1980! I love that it has stayed that long. I could just imagine how tough business might have been for them in the 80s when veganism was not that popular yet.

protein tidbit

As appetizer, we got the protein tidbit with barbecue sauce. The tidbits were made of wheat protein or seitan. They were quite chewy and nicely seasoned.

soul veg tofu

For main entree, I got the Stir Fried Tofu with brown rice. Their tofu was something I never had before.  It wasn’t just a regular bean curd, it tasted peppery savory and was very chewy inside and crunchy on the outside. Their tofu was probably the chewiest tofu I’ve ever had.

The rice was also tasty but a bit dry. I guess they were being health conscious by cutting back on the fat and opting for brown instead of white.

soul veg meat loaf

I was super curious about their Stir Fried steak so we got that too. Instead of rice, we got fries as the side. Actually, the platter was more like a meat loaf, a seitan meat loaf to be exact. My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

soul veg dessert
Of course I had to order dessert especially after seeing their ice cream sundae on the menu. My friend, who is not vegan and had never tried vegan food prior to eating here, said she was very impressed especially with the dessert.

We got the tropical fruit sundae and the chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was quite dense but very filling and delicious. The sundae tasted like guava fruit, yum!

sould veg ambiance

The ambiance had a nice, casual feel. Nothing too fancy, although they also have a banquet hall in another room.

Aside from table service, Soul Veg also has a snack and salad kiosk. My friend and I were too full to order anything from here so I just snapped some pictures.

soul veg salad bar Looks tasty and hearty to me.

soul veg salad bar cu

My friend said after eating here, she has noticed more vegan and vegetarian restaurants in her neighborhood. Sounds good to me! Perhaps I need to come back to explore more of these places.  Chicago is such a beautiful city anyway. I wouldn’t mind going back.

Original Soul Vegetarian
Located at 203 E. 75th street
Chicago, IL 60619. View Map
Phone: (773) 451-9796
Website: originalsoulvegetarian.com

No Bake Lentil Flatbread, Gluten Free and Vegan

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I’m a sucker for lentil chips and lentil snacks so I was looking for a way to create something similar at home.

I’ve tried two ways in making the flatbread: with cooked lentils and with uncooked lentils. Both versions resulted to great flavor and texture. The first version, the one with cooked lentils, reminded me more of a naan bread.  The second version, the uncooked lentils, gave a nice crunchy texture.

My most favorite part about these two recipes is that both are super easy to make- just process the lentils, mix the ingredients and fry. Yup, I didn’t bake the bread but rather fried it using a cast iron pan which gave a nice char.

No Bake Lentil Flatbread, Gluten Free and Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup rice flour (or few more spoonful depending on how thin or thick your vegetable broth is)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of curry powder (optional)
  • a tablespoon of cooking oil or less if you’d like a low fat dish

Directions:

Using cooked lentils:

  1. Using a high speed blender or food processor, blend the lentils until they’re creamy.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the lentils, rice flour, vegetable broth, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and pinch of curry powder. The mixture should form a loose dough. If the mixture is too runny, add a few more spoonful rice flour and mix well. If the dough is too thick, add more vegetable broth.
  3. Knead and form the dough into disk shapes or your desired shape.
  4. Heat a cast iron pan or regular pan, pour your favorite high heat oil. Once the oil is hot enough for frying, gently add the dough and let it fry until the bottom side has hardened. If you want it to brown, cook for yet another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Using a thin metal spatula or ladle, flip the bread over to the other side and let it cook for another 5-8 minutes. You may also simply check if the bottom part is done.
  6. Repeat the process for the remaining dough.
  7. Serve with your favorite condiment or jam. I enjoyed mine with strawberry jam and spicy mango jam. Yum!

lentil flatbread medium shot

Using uncooked lentils:

You may also use uncooked lentils. Just grind the lentils using a high speed blender or food processor, then transfer to a bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients. The mixture should be like a creamy pancake mix and not a dough. After heating your pan, gently pour the batter and cook the batter like how you would cook a pancake.

The result gave a nice crunch on the outside and chewy texture inside. I’ve enjoyed it with my breakfast dish: tofu scramble and steamed kale.

lentil flat bread with tofu scramble

I’ve submitted this recipe to the Virtual Vegan -Linky- Potluck. Feel free to check out the rest of the dishes in this party! Click the button below.

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My Top 12 Vegan Food Basics

my top 12 vegan food basics

Over the years, I’ve developed my favorite vegan food ingredients that I couldn’t live without. These ingredients dominate my kitchen, my purse, and my travel bag. These products help me cook delicious food as well as keep me full when I’m on the go. 

If you’re vegan then I’m sure you also have your own list. If you’re not but curious as to what does a vegan eat, or at least what does a Vegan Filipina eat, then please do watch the video below.

I’ve teamed up with Rainbow Grocery, an all vegetarian grocery store in San Francisco, to curate and show you my top 12 vegan food basics.

Although I shot at an all veg market, I still made sure that the products I featured are something you would find at a regular grocery store.
 

I hope you found this video informational. If you’re curious about the vegan lifestyle, please feel free to ask if there’s something I haven’t answered yet on my food essentials.

If you are already vegan and have your own list, please do share! I’d love to hear about your list too!

 

Lentil Coconut Hominy

To further learn and further appreciate vegan cooking, I’m taking an online plant-based cooking course on Rouxbe Cooking School and right now I’m on the topic of beans and legumes. One of the assignments was to create a dish based on a legume of our choice and of course I immediately thought lentils.

Lentils has got to be one of the most versatile legumes out there, it could be used for binding, for providing a nutty flavor, for giving rich texture in curries, and so much more.

Instead of choosing a familiar lentil recipe, I decided to incorporate it in one of my favorite childhood snack: Binatog.

Binatog is Filipino snack with white hominy corn, shredded coconut, salt, and sometimes sugar. For the Rouxbe assignment, I “remixed” my Binatog dish by adding lentils and other seasonings. The result gave a rich, sweet, and nutty flavor. I was amazed by how my childhood favorite could be even better by adding a few more simple ingredients.   lentil binatog 2

Lentil Binatog / Lentil Coconut Hominy

Ingredients:

29 oz white hominy corn (I used the ready-to-eat hominy in can)

8 oz lentils 4-5 tbsp shredded coconut (set a pinch aside for garnish)

1/2 tbsp sea salt (or more to taste)

1/2 tbsp natural sugar (aka evaporated cane sugar)

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

Even though I got the ready-to-eat hominy, I still wanted to cook and reheat them by putting them in a pot of boiling water and let them cook for about 5-8 minutes. Then I turned off the heat and drained out the water. If you’re using dried white hominy, simply soak overnight then add to a pot of simmering water. Let them cook until the hominy have softened. Turn off the heat and drain (basically just like how you would cook dried beans).

If you’re using dried lentils, put a pot of water to a simmer then add the lentils to the pot. Let the lentils simmer with lid on until the lentils have softened. Turn off the heat and drain out the water. If you’re using canned lentils, you could skip the simmering.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Season to taste.

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the rest of the shredded coconut. You may also drizzle more maple syrup. lentil binatog This dish is best served warm.

I have to say that this recipe beats my childhood favorite and I couldn’t wait to make Lentil Binatog again!

Vegan Yema Recipe

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Yema is a Filipino custard caramel candy.

Veganizing Yema took the most tests of all the recipes I’ve ever veganized. After all, it’s a sweet custard candy that consists of (and is popular for) two main ingredients: egg yolks and condensed milk. In fact, 95% of the traditional recipe is egg yolks and condensed milk. Heck, the word Yema itself is Spanish for egg yolks! (Philippines was once a colony of Spain and most likely Yema was a Spanish influence).

After many failed attempts in the kitchen, I remained undeterred. I grew more motivated if anything, sort of like gambling when you want to play more when you’re just on the verge of winning. I justhad to get it right.

Once I’ve finally achieved the taste, it was the texture that proved to be more challenging. The Yema wouldn’t stick up, it was too soft. I told this problem to my mom who then said, “Try constantly stirring until almost all of the liquid has evaporated”. Lo and behold, my vegan Yema has become a reality! My mom was correct (duh). I should have asked her sooner.

wrapped yema close up

SWEET, CUSTARDY, VEGAN YEMA

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz cashews, soaked in water for at least four hours
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch or arrow root powder mixed in one 1/4 cup water
  • 3 pinches of black salt (and 3 more later)
  • 1 tbsp. chickpea flour
  • 5 tbsp. coco palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp. natural sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly salted and roasted peanuts, grounded using a food processor

Notes:

It’s important to get the consistency of the Yema the thickest you can by constantly stirring the mixture over low heat for at least ten minutes. You’ll know you’re done when the Yema has fully solidified and looks like a big lump of dough.

yema wide

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Using a high speed blender, puree the soaked cashews with 1/4 cup of water. Set aside.
  2. Heat a small sauce pan over low heat and add the cashew cream, corn starch or arrowroot mixture, chickpea flour, coco palm sugar, natural sugar, and black salt.
  3. Stir constantly using a wooden spoon or spatula until the texture has become thick like a chewy candy. It’s important to reduce as much liquid as you could so the yema will form a hard texture.
  4. Add the ground peanuts and another 3 pinches of black salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Turn off the heat and let it cool before forming a mold.
  6. Once it’s cooled down, using your hands, grab a chunk of yema and form it into a ball or a pyramid shape. I grew up eating yema triangles so triangle would be my choice of shape but forming a ball proved to be much easier by simply rolling the chunk with the palm of your hands.
  7. Have a small bowl of water close by so you could dab your hands and fingers when the Yema gets too sticky.
  8. To wrap the Yema triangles or balls, cut out a cellophane or saran plastic into triangle shapes and wrap the Yema. The measurement of the cutout depends on how big the Yema is -but rule of thumb is to always make the wrap a bit bigger so there’s extra wrap sticking out on top when you’re done.
  9. Put the wrapped yema in the freezer and freeze for at least four hours. Serve and enjoy!

Btw, don’t forget the HodoSoy giveaway is still going on, where you get to win 5 HodoSoy products of your choice. Details here: HODO SOY GIVEAWAY.

I hope you win the giveaway. Kain na, let’s eat!