Monday, February 22, 2016


amazing vegan recipes
Picture via Minimalist Baker

Ever since switching to a mostly plant-based diet five years ago it has been tough at times to find delicious vegan recipes.  It can be difficult at first to transition your whole way of eating…navigating the bevy of meat and dairy substitutions, trying to find recipes that are easy and simple to make, and locating recipes that aren’t filled with preservatives and junk.  Believe or not some vegan food can actually be unhealthy!  So through five years of trial and tribulation I bring you my top 10 sources for wonderful vegan recipes. Get excited to have more energy, acquire clear & glowing skin, and lose weight easily; all benefits of incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet. After checking out the selections below you will be running to your grocery store bursting with vegan recipe inspiration!

best healthy food vegan blogs


Cookie & KateKate and her delicious recipes can do no wrong.  I seriously have yet to make anything from her site that I didn’t love! The photographer and cook based in Kansas City features vegetarian recipes highlighting whole foods. 

Oh She GlowsOh She Glows was the first vegan blog I found as I embarked on my plant-based journey.  And let me tell you, it was love at first bite.  Angela Liddon started Oh She Glows in 2008 when she was amidst recovering from an eating disorder and wanted to share her journey to health and the amazing transformation food had in her life. I have loved being a loyal reader of her blog for years and following Angela along in her successes and now accompanying best-selling cookbook.  Her indulgent recipes are to die for!!

Minimalist BakerOk, talk about food porn…Dana Shultz has some of best food photography I’ve ever seen.  I just drool reading her blog posts.  Her simplistic approach to plant-based eating is presented in her easy to make recipes all featuring 10 ingredients or less and prepared in 30 minutes.  You will be transitioning to veganism pronto after scrolling through her pages.

Love & LemonsAdore this blog for featuring vegetarian recipes that are sure to impress a dinner party.  (I used a couple of Jeanine’s recipes for my annual cookie party last Christmas and even the carnivores were impressed.)  This Austin based blog started in 2011 and with such overwhelming success they’re launching their Love & Lemons cookbook this March!   

best vegan cookbooks


The Kind DietThis book holds such a special place in my heart.  It was the first book I read when I was thinking about transitioning to a vegan diet and Alicia Silverstone’s relatable and easy to read thoughts on living a plant-based lifestyle drew me in.  Not to mention how delicious her recipes are in this book!  Any time anyone questions me about my vegan diet or expresses interest in eating more meat free dishes I direct them straight to this text. 

Moosewood Restaurant FavoritesThe infamous Moosewood restaurant based in Ithaca, NY is only an hour away from my hometown and trust it lives up to it’s reputation.  This comprehensive tome on farm to table eating features 250 easy to make and delicious recipes that are staples at the thriving restaurant.  This is a great comprehensive cookbook for anyone looking to eat healthier and features a lot of education on basic culinary techniques.

If It Makes You HealthySo you may be thinking a cookbook by Sheryl Crow?!?  But hear me out on this one…although this cookbook features recipes for all diet types there are so many vegan standouts that it’s definitely worth a read.  The rockstar pairs up with her personal chef Chuck White in this one and shares the changes she made in her diet and lifestyle after being diagnosed with breast cancer.  There are so many delicious finds in here (the vegan chili is amazing!!) and the book focuses on using seasonally fresh produce.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The WorldYou need this cookbook in your life.  Like yesterday.  If you are looking to expand your baking repertoire to delights sans animal products you will love this, probably just as much as the over 500 five star reviews it has warranted on Amazon.  Featuring over 50 mouthwatering cupcake recipes this cookbook is easy to follow and the recipes include ingredients you will already have on hand.  There is nothing worse that trying to make a vegan recipe and have it splattered with hard to find ingredients!

healthy magazines vegan


Women’s HealthI know most people skim through magazines and never try out the recipes (I used to be one of these people) but you could be missing out on some amazing finds!  I am a loyal subscriber of Women’s Health and have found so many amazing vegan recipes in it’s pages. With a mission statement of helping women to improve their lives and achieve health I am eternally grateful for my favorite Thai basil curry recipe I found nestled inside.

VegNewsWhat can probably be called the mecca of vegan monthly publications, if you are serious about this whole plant-based thing than VegNews will be your jam.  Featuring thought provoking articles, organic beauty reviews, eco-friendly travel, and most importantly savory recipes.  Each month is jam packed with vegan recipes, many of which have become staples in my cooking repertoire.

xoxo Nicole


Sunday, February 14, 2016



My name is Nicole and I admit I am a NARS Lip Pencil addict.  They say the first step to addressing any problem is acceptance, am I right?  My love for the NARS lip pencils knows no bounds and I thought what better time than today, Valentine's Day, to share my top 5 favorite shades from the line.  If you have a hot date you can stick with a creamy nude to cut back on the inevitable smooch smudge, or if spending the day with friends why not rock a fun statement lip. 

I have been collecting the NARS Lip Pencils for a couple years now and my five favorite shades are below.  These lip pencils come in three different formulas; velvet gloss, velvet matte, and satin, and retail for $26 a piece.  The velvet matte are the most drying, so I can’t recommend enough the importance of exfoliating your lips and smacking on some balm before applying.  Nevertheless their staying power is transcendent and my two favorites are Damned (a deep berry perfect for fall) and Cruella (a blue toned red that looks beautiful with minimal makeup and pale skin in winter months.)   Next up is my favorite formula of the three, satin.  These satin lip pencils are probably my most favorite lip product of all time.  (And you would understand the gravity of that statement if you saw my hoarders-esque lip stash.)  They apply like a dream, have amazing staying power, and don't zap your pout of moisture.  I have two in the satin version, Luxembourg (a gorgeous watermelon shade, somewhere between a pink and a red and I'm always getting compliments on this one!) and Rikugien (A NARS cult favorite, this creamy rose nude shade is super wearable.)  And last, but not least we have the Velvet Gloss category.  These are the sheerest of the bunch with the shortest wear time, but don't go overlooking them just yet.  The shade New Lover is all kinds of rose gold fabulous (definitely a go-to summer shade for me) and these gloss pencils are so low maintenance and easy to apply.

popular best selling nars lip pencils swatches

These pencils have a phenomenal shade range.  Between the three varieties I believe there are 38 different colors to choose from.  And although I only have five, don’t think I don’t swoon every time I pass the NARS display chanting to myself I am a financially responsible woman who will not spend her emergency fund on lip pencils.  The shades I have my eye on that will hopefully be joining my collection soon are Never Say Never, Happy Days, and Timanfaya.  My favorite thing about these pencils is their ease in application.  I don’t need a lip liner and they just apply perfectly every time providing a polished look with banging pigmentation.  

Have you tried the NARS lip pencils?  If so, what’s your favorite formula?  And if you are new to this whole arena hit up your local Sephora counter and try a couple shades.  Finding the right one is kind of like dating around to find the perfect mate. (see what I did there?  It's all coming together in the name of love people.)

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and pucker up with someone special, hopefully wearing one of these lip pencils!  Thanks so much for stopping by and love you all <3

Life is too short to wear bad lipstick. *drops mic, wears nothing but NARS lip pencils till Valentine’s Day next year*
xoxo Nicole


Tuesday, February 9, 2016


vegan cheese pizza recipe

Happy national pizza day everyone!  Given that this momentous holiday is upon us I thought what better time to share one of my favorite go-to vegan recipes.  If you’ve been following along with my year of “Choosing the Bigger Life” (you can check out that post HERE) you’ll know that this month is dedicated to getting rid of the junk in my diet, and with that all animal products have gone out the window.  Now while I have eaten a mostly vegan diet for the past four years, vegan cheese is always something that has stumped me.  I have been able to find an awesome dairy substitution for just about everything (shout out to Luna & Larry’s Coconut Ice Cream, you are the bomb!!), but my ventures into edible vegan cheese have been far from successful.  They have been downright awful.  And oh have I tried them all…Daiya, Go Veggie!, $8 for a block of Kite Hill Gouda...I still have nightmares.  So while I went sulking about thinking my future held a cheese free existence, I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to cashew cheese.  I had tried to make cashew cheese in the past and been unsuccessful always ending up with a gritty texture, but the culinary genius that is my friends boyfriend introduced me to a whole new way to make cashew cheese, and guys, it’s AMAZING!!  Seriously, it is so good.  Last winter he was kind enough to bring this recipe to our annual cookie party and it was a raving success amongst the melting pot of diet profiles.  So with his permission I bring you the best vegan cheese pizza ever….

oven roasted tomato sauce

Vegan Cheese Pizza
Makes one 14” pie (Serves 4-6)

For this don’t be an all-star and just pick up some fresh pizza dough from your local grocer.  (Trader Joe’s is my favorite.)  Make sure to let the dough sit out for at least an hour before rolling so it’s easier to manage.  If you really want to be an overachiever this is a great pizza dough recipe though.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
Ladies, we’re better than that canned stuff.  This sauce recipe is so quick and simple and seriously makes all the difference!  It has such a fresh and delicious flavor.

  • 2 lbs. Cherry Tomatoes
  • 4 Garlic Cloves Minced
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • ½ tsp. Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Slice tomatoes in half and add to large bowl.
  • Add all toppings making sure to mix and evenly coat tomatoes.
  • Roast for 30-40 mins on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Once done add roasted tomatoes back to large bowl and pulse with an immersion blender to reach sauce consistency of your choosing.

cashew cheese

Cashew Cheese (The star of the show!)

  • ¾ cup Raw Cashews
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 3 tsp. Tapioca Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp.  Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

  • First thing you want to do is boil cashews for 10 minutes in a small pot with ample water to cover.  Once cashews are done boiling, drain and add to a food processor.
  • Add one cup of hot water to food processor as well. (You can use the water you boiled the cashew in, but be sure to measure it!)
  • Add the rest of your ingredients and blend for a good minute or so, you really want to give ample time to let those cashews be thoroughly pulsed. 
  • Once blended add mixture back to your small pot and let simmer 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring often to give the cashew cheese time to thicken.

vegan cheese pizza

Now it’s time to assemble your delicious pizza.  Roll out that dough, slather on your delicious homemade sauce, and you can drop your vegan cheese right on top using a spatula to smooth it out.  Bake at 425 degrees farenheit for 15-18 minutes and you’re done!

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe, I was so excited to share it with all of you.  Seriously if you’ve eaten as much crappy vegan cheese as I have over the years you would understand my enthusiasm over finding an awesome cashew cheese recipe.  And I’ve found the trick with this recipe that makes it so great is the boiling of the cashews.  Most recipes I’ve seen suggest soaking them overnight to soften their texture, but I’ve found the boiling technique really contributes to an out of this world creaminess.  Hope you guys enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

xoxo Nicole

Sunday, February 7, 2016


February blog links favorites
Is everyone excited for the Super Bowl tonight?  Confession: I am not a big sports fan.  So while everyone is consuming dips galore I will be watching Gossip Girl on Netflix, drinking peppermint tea, and tuning it at halftime only to watch Coldplay and Beyonce kill it.  Have you guys seen the video for her new single "Formation?  What do you think?!  Ok, so back to today's post...these link posts are some of my favorite to write because I love compiling all of my favorite findings around the internet.  I feel like I take in so much information everyday from all the products I try and blogs I read that I can't wait to share what stood out with all of you this month.  Hope you enjoy and had a fabulous weekend!

Links I've been loving:
  • This article, tackling the question of why generation Y yuppies are unhappy was a favorite read this month.  I thought it was so well done (loved the infographics) and it just explained so well the difference between our generation and our parents.  I have sent this to so many people and everyone has loved it. 
  • With my month of clean eating underway I was thinking of extending that non-toxic philosophy to some of my beauty products.  Dying to make this Chai Sugar Scrub from blog Gimme Some Oven, I bet it smells amazing!
  • We could all use some help in the productivity department.  Social media is distracting when trying to get work done, am I right?  This article offered so many great tips that sound easy to implement.
  • Was introduced to artist Ruth B through Mimi Ikonn's blog, gave her a listen, and oh wow guys she's amazing.  Check out her video for her single "Superficial Love."
  • Has wanderlust set in?  Check out this article from the NY Times featuring the top 52 Places to Go in 2016
  • Beauty babes the wait is over, Sephora is finally stocking the Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipsticks.  We should make cupcakes. 
  • A very refreshing read on how networking has changed in recent years, and why we should all stop asking people to coffee.  I have so been guilty of this!
  • How cute are these new Ivanka Trump heels?  I want a pair in every color.

Products I've been loving:
  • The hunt is over, I have finally found the perfect purple nail polish for spring.  This quest was not without sweat, tears, and many trips to Ulta.  But OPI Purple Palazzo Pants is the perfect pastel purple that still has some edge with a slight grey undertone.
  • There I was traipsing about life with smudged screens, not knowing the easy solution was in a pack Well-Kept Screen Cleansing Towlettes.  These lifesavers are only $6 and clean my personal tech devices to perfection.
  • Ok, so I know everyone was ready to sell their first born child for a bottle of the infamous Luna Sleep Night Oil by Sunday Riley last season, but have you tried Juno?  A couple weeks ago I got a sample from the brand rep when I was in Sephora and have been loving it.  The hydroactive cellular face oil is packed full of antioxidants and has been doing wonders for my skin.  Would highly recommend. 
  • Guys, my obsession with Jo Malone has gotten out of control.  I bought Dark Amber & Ginger Lily last year (love) and was recently gifted a bunch of samples from the brand when I made a beauty purchase in Nordstrom.  Omg do any of their scents not smell amazing?!  My standout from the ones I've tried has to be Blackberry & Bay though.  I would bathe in this fragrance if I could. 
  • And last, but not least is this adorable Queen Bee Notebook.  My Gossip Girl obsession may be infiltrating to all aspects of my life, but this journal is so Blair Waldorf.

xoxo Nicole