Our Wedding Video!
We never planned on having a wedding video made. When we hired our photographer we were on a budget, and video just didn't make sense financially. I didn't think that it mattered to me until the day of the wedding, when all of a sudden I realized I really wanted some kind of video documentation that I could look back on and relive; there's just something about a video that evokes a million more feelings than a photograph could. To my surprise and sincere joy, Alex's brother Spencer had arranged for one of his closest friends, Ryan Todd, to come film our big day. We've known Ryan for years through hockey, so it was amazing to see him there and realize he'd be filming for us. And he killed it! Ryan and our photographer, Natalie, bonded and kind of hung together, catching shots and footage together all day. I couldn't be more thankful! It was the best wedding gift we received, and has made me cry every time I've watched it since. I love seeing all these people we love so much in one place. It was my favorite day ever!
I so hope you guys enjoy re-living a bit of our big day! Special thanks to Ryan Todd for filming and editing the video, to Spencer Owens for making it happen and for generally being the best brother (in law!). Check out both of their sites to see more of their creative work - they both rock. And enjoy the video! ❤️
OUR PLANT-BASED WEDDING: THE DETAILS
If you missed our first post, Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding, go back and start there! I cover booking a venue, picking a theme and colors, choosing a photographer, deciding on food and drinks (including our highly coveted cannabis-infused wedding cake), our FULL playlist, finding a dress and shoes (and the groom's outfit!), and a little sage advice from this happily married gal. There's a ton of great info there if you're planning your wedding - especially if you're looking to keep it plant-based and under $10k! Here I'll break down some of our smaller (but JUST as awesome vendors) and share way more of our gorgeous photos from Like morning Sun Photography. And next week - I'm sharing our WEDDING VIDEO! It'll be like you were there. Except I didn't save you any cake...sorry guys.
We chose to get ready as close (and cheaply) as possible to the venue, so I got ready with my Mom, sister, a few friends, and my hair stylist, Kady, at our small house in Downtown Fullerton. Alex headed a few miles toward the venue to our friend Marce's place to get ready with the boys. All of our outfit info is on the last wedding post, but here is a close-up of Alex's rad Insecta shoes, my gorgeous flower crown and matching bouquet from The Crown Collective, and a sneak peek pf Alex tying his bowtie on the big day. Beneath, a snap of our vow books (I got them on Etsy here) and our matching rings from PointNoPoint Studio - I'm obsessed with their custom, unique designs! The vow books were the most helpful and looked SO much cuter than notebook paper up there at the altar!
Alex's mom helped us hugely with her design skills and essentially created all of the tablescapes and arranged decor for us. She made the space look SO incredibly beautiful - with lots of help from our other friends and family, too! She used a lot of fresh produce and greens cut right from her own backyard. We didn't have a ton of flowers on site, but enough to make the space look beautiful without spending too much money. We found that baby's breath was the perfect accent floral and was really cheap - like 10 HUGE bunches for $100 at our local florist. Jen, Alex's Mom, also used lots of lace and natural color fabrics to accentuate the greenery and our hanging macrame at the altar. Air plants and antique blue glass ball jars studded all the tables. It was gorgeous! I couldn't have designed it better myself. Our altar space stayed empty until the ceremony was over, when we moved our couples table there for the duration of the party, which gave us a great separate place to eat and connect throughout the ceremony. We had gorgeous, hand-lettered signs made by Katie of DottieSoul - everything from our entry sign to our Photo Booth signage, plus a few flavor signs for the donut bar and of course, our instagram hashtag sign! (#mainecalifornia ✨)
In the picture above, Alex and I are literally RUNNING to get food as soon as it was announced to the wedding that it was ready. Traditionally the bride and groom eat last - NOT US! We beat everyone there for first dibs on everything. We love food, and we really love Falasophy - and we wanted to be well fed. Haha. One of my favorite pictures, for sure.
If you're curious about our gorgeous, cannabis-infused wedding cake, you can check our last post for the details. It was AMAZING! One of my favorite parts of our wedding were the giant jenga sets and corn hole game we had. Th giant jenga sets we knew were coming but the corn hole was a hand-made gift from our woodworking friend Eric Gianetti at EricBuilt. Alex's brother Spencer customized them for us with some hand-lettered 'A Team' designs. So cool, and we'll have them for life. One of our favorite wedding gifts! And jenga was a HIT - we've played a bunch now that we have the sets in our backyard, too!
I'm just so in love with all of the photos our photographer, Natalie, took! She is queen of the candids. There are so many great photos of us and our guests. And I find new favorites everytime I scroll through them! She makes our venue, The Riverbed Farm, look even more magical than it did on the big day - and it looked pretty darn amazing. I so hope you guys have enjoyed this little wedding photo share!
The last few photos are the wrapping up of the wedding; a shot of us singing our marriage license with our marriage officiant and my best friend, Devin, on the right and our witness and the person who introduced us, Ingmar, on the left. One of my favorite shots and something I didn't necessarily think would get photographed - but I'm glad it did!
Next, some of our guests - mostly Alex's 'hockey boys' hanging out as the sun set, and some of the early photos from our bumping' reception dance party. Such a blast! The wedding ended before we were ready (isn't that ways the way?!) so we grabbed a bunch of friends and headed to downtown Fullerton to hit the bars with our friends. We ended up at HopScotch, a whiskey bar, until closing time. The after party was just as fun as the wedding - and the perfect way to keep the party going for a few more hours! Plus, we didn't pay for a single drink - perks of being the bride and groom! 😝
What an amazing day! It was the wedding of my dreams, and it stayed within my budget. The sparkler exit may have been my favorite part. In the end, I walked away having married my very best friend! I'm going to call that a win-win-win. Feeling pretty lucky over here that I get to spend my life with such a rad dude. If you missed the planning stages, you can read up on Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding here! My biggest takeaway: just enjoy it. It flies by, and you'll always wish you had more time. Enjoy what you get and cherish those memories!
Planning our Plant-Based Wedding
It took us eight years to get here, but that happened to be just the right amount of time for us to get it together and plan ourselves a wedding. We were engaged for a total of a 18 months and I felt like planning took up every second. How does that happen?! Weddings are crazy guys, I'm not going to hold any punches there. They're crazy and stressful and beautiful and magic, all rolled into one. But man - am I glad it's over! I didn't start going into full on plan-and-panic mode until about 6 months before the big day. Before that, its hard to get other people interested in accomplishing anything. "It's still so far away!" they'd say, as I'd be obsessively reloading my email hoping for a response from a vendor. Here's my biggest advice for you: DON'T wait until the last second - on anything! The more you plan ahead, the more you can relax on the big day. I wasn't even stressed to get married - that was the best part, to me! Marrying my best friend and biggest supporter wasn't the stressful part - it was making sure everyone ELSE was where they needed to be, and that all the people who needed to be paid, got paid - on time. But they did, and it went off without a hitch! Okay, that's not true. Our speakers blew mid-reception and I literally ended up having to go bra-less, unexpectedly, in my wedding dress all day. But would we even remember the day if everything went smoothly? Probably not as well nor with as much fondness for all of the things that did go right. So without getting into too much madness, I'm going to break down how I planned this crazy thing and in a follow-up post we'll go over the event itself. I've broken up my planning into stages by vendor essentially, since that's how I went about planning. Now, we kept our wedding under 10K. How? Being smart + thrifty, whenever we could, and using any and all resources available to us! My Mom, Dad, and Alex's parents each gave us a little money to spend on the wedding, but we mostly paid for it ourselves. Look, getting engaged is the hardest part - the second is finding a venue. So we'll start there!
The venue was the biggest part for us. The first real decision to be made, and the first expensive thing we'd be paying for. We decided on The Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, CA for three main reasons: first, it was close to where we live, about a 15 minute drive from our house. That made it easy for us to get there for set-up, easier for our friends and family who live nearby to attend, and easy to bail at the end of the night! Second, we'd done a cooking event there months before so we were familiar with the venue set-up and employees. Third, the PRICE! I'm all about being transparent, so I'll be honest when I say we rented the space for just $2,000. Cheaper than almost ALL the places we looked at, and way nicer! We were only the 2nd couple to book a wedding here ever, so the price was still pretty low when we did. No guarantees what it is now - it's become a busy spot since we booked, nearly a wedding each weekend in the summer! We loved this space because as a working hydroponics farm, all vegetables and eggs raised on the property from the roaming chickens are donated back to the community. Schools and church crews regularly volunteer time here, as it's a totally non-profit organization. The space was about half-filled with guests and tables and decor and about half-filled with rows of towering, growing vegetables and ladybugs. We loved it! It was the perfect blend of our Maine and California lives. We set up a dance floor on a deck to the left and set up our ceremony and couples table on the deck at the front of the farm, so we could easily see our guests and socialize between snack breaks. All of the decor in the space was provided and arranged by Alex's Mom, Jennifer. We were so lucky to be able to use her design skills to make the farm into our perfect wedding venue!
PICKING A THEME / COLORS:
This is really a preference things, obviously, but there are a few things to consider before you decide. First, consider your location. If you're having a wedding with lots of green and brown - like ours - maybe you pick a more neutral, earth tones-based palette with lots of wood and natural decor. If you're getting hitched by the ocean, maybe you lean into blues, greens, and glass accents instead. Or maybe your favorite color is pink and you've always envisioned your wedding PINK. Then do that! I wanted to pick colors that both played up our outdoorsy theme and accented my skin tone and dress, personally. I have green eyes, so I wanted some green in there somewhere to help them POP in photos. We got married on June 10th, so I envisioned a light, summery color scheme. It was easy then to add cream and blush pink to our colors, and a bit of dusty yellow and maroon for contrast. I also used gold as an accent - no silver at our wedding. It's just not my fave! In the end, we had a gorgeous palette that wound in colors from from our venue and outfits, and looked beautiful in photos. We stayed as natural as possible with the decor. Since our colors were summer-inspired and our tones muted, we accented with a lot of lace + burlap, as well. We bought a few pieces - garland and hanging things, mostly - from Etsy, but the rest was conceived and brought to life by Alex's Mom, Jen. She's an interior designer, and we were so lucky to have her help decorating the space. She completely handled the tablescapes full of fresh fruit, greenery, blue glass jars and wood accents herself - and we loved how it turned out!
HOW TO PICK A PHOTGRAPHER:
If you can't tell by this post, I LOVE my wedding photos. I'm happy to show them off because our photographer did SUCH a great job! Her name is Natalie, she runs Like Morning Sun Photography, and she's a recent college graduate who lives here in the OC. I found her through Instagram (the best!) and we chatted through email before meeting in person. I found a LOT of great photographers on Instagram, but I was immediately drawn to Natalie's photography because of her unique use of natural light. Her photos are bright and romantic, and she captures candids beautifully. Also, she was affordable. People pay an INSANE amount of money for wedding photos. And I get it! They're forever, and you want them well done. Plus, it is a lot of work for the photographer - they're often justified and fair in their pricing. But we were having a smaller wedding at smaller venue and we didn't need all the bells and whistles (video, 2+ photographers, ect), and we just couldn't see spending more on the photography than we had on the venue + food combined. Nat gave us a fair rate for her work, and then went ahead and exceeded our expectations over and over again. Her shots came out beautifully, and her energy and presence at the wedding were wonderful. Our family and friends raved about her afterward, and I just hired her to do the new shots here for the site. If you're looking for a phenomenal photographer, she's your girl!
DECIDING ON FOOD + DRINKS:
This was my favorite part - and maybe one of my biggest stressors in the beginning! As someone who LOVES food, I was pretty set on having really great vegan food at our wedding. We even got a little kickback from Alex's family at first about keeping the food vegan - but we quickly reminded them that it was our wedding, and that frankly, they could choose to eat one great vegan meal or skip dinner - not our problem. And honestly, that's how it has to be; You can respect your guests dietary preferences without sacrificing your own!
Luckily, we're blessed with all kinds of great, plant-based food here in Orange County, so I hit up one of my all-time favorite food trucks, Falasophy, for a tasting. They killed it, and we were happy to hire them to feed our 100 guests. They ended up serving two main dishes, a falafel-stuffed pita bahn mi and spicy falafel tacos, and served them right from the truck. They also provided a range of apps for us and our guests, including tabbouleh, dolmas, pita + hummus, which went straight to the tables.
For desserts we had both a wedding cake and a donut bar. Our wedding cake, something I originally thought I'd make myself, was handmade by Meghan from Dr. Raw Organics. She made us a custom marijuana-infused edible 2-layer white cake with strawberry frosting that she decorated beautifully with edible flowers and topped with a matching garland. I am still OBSESSED with it! We let our guests know it was medicated, should they choose to enjoy some, and also set-up a 6-flavor donut bar across the venue for those who'd rather not indulge in cake. The donut bar was something I saw become trendy a few years ago and loved the idea of. We called up the best vegan donut purveyor in the area, The Caffeinated Kitchen in Long Beach, to help us make it happen. We decided on 120 donuts in 6 flavors: matcha, blueberry coconut, strawberry sprinkled, churro, blood orange, and cookies and cream. Alex's mom set up the table decor and it was simply gorgeous - the donut bar was the busiest spot at our wedding for sure!
When it came to deciding on drinks, we kept it cheap and biased. Haha. We don't drink much alcohol (read: any, really) and din't want to spend a ton of money on it at the wedding since we wouldn't be partaking. So we opted to just buy two kegs of beer (Golden Road Hefeweizen and 805 Pale Ale) and then served Whalebird Kombucha on tap, as well. We let our friends know ahead and a few decided to bring small flasks with them for their own party enjoyment. Since we also had an edible cake and we didn't want everyone getting toooo screwy, we kept the rest of our drinks for the evening non-alcoholic. We had wheelbarrows around the venue packed with ice, bottles of water, HonestTea in two flavors, and fresh juices from 1915 Organic - which kept everyone hydrated and happy in the June heat. My rec: have a variety of drinks! Our friends still drank plenty and we ended up moving the after party to a bar later, anyway. Plus, everyone was well hydrated and no one needed to call a cab. It was a win-win!
It's all about the music! From getting you down the aisle to grooving the night away with your guests, you want music that'll keep the party going all night long. I've included an upload of our full playlist below, but I should note that about 1/2 of our music didn't get played because the speakers blew at our wedding...TWICE. We had a big span in the middle with no music - which no-one seemed to notice except me, of course! We did have a DJ, but I can't really blame him for that. He did a great job getting the party going as soon as the speakers were working again!
In case you don't want to dig through the whole playlist, I'll highlight the best parts for you:
While I walked down the aisle and while we exited after the ceremony, my best friend from childhood, Emma, played live violin to the tune of Jeremih's 'Paradise'. Alex walked down the aisle before me to Childish Gambino's 'California'. Our first dance was to 'Breathless' by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
FINDING THE DRESS (+ SHOES!):
It only took me visiting 4 different salons before I found my dress. That may sound like a lot, but I promise it isn't many. I tried on a few dresses as each place and fit like none of them seemed worthy of the big day. Luckily, I kept searching - I knew I wanted a lace, floor-length dress with sleeves - and found mine at a tiny showroom nestled deep in the Hollywood Hills. Kite and Butterfly is a funky space overlooking the Hollywood Sign and literally own by two sisters named Kite and Butterfly, a set of long-haired whimsical twin ladies with an eye for gorgeous, unique dress designs. Their showroom was full of sunlight and I tried on about 3 dresses before this one. I didn't exactly have a "THIS IS MY DRESS" moment; more like I put it on and was like - yeah! I look good! And these sleeves!! Haha. My dress was handmade and unique in that way, but we customized it a bit more by taking out some of the bottom layer of the dress and lowering the neckline an inch. I ended up losing a lot of weight before the wedding because of the sheer amount of stress I was under, and my last fitting ended up being about 8 weeks before my wedding. I should've waited. On the day of my wedding, I tried on my dress and the bra I had bought to wear with it only to realize that my breasts had gotten SO much smaller, the bra didn't fit any more. I was SWIMMING in that top half of the dress. It was annoying, but I ditched the bra wore the dress by itself on the big day. And it worked out just fine!
The shoes were a little harder to find. I hate wearing high heels, and because of the soft ground at our venue I was pretty adamant about wearing flats or something at least under a 3-inches. I wanted to be able to dance the night away, not complain about blisters and sore feet all evening! I looked online a lot without any luck, and one day while driving through Silverlake realized MooShoes was down the street. I stopped in - no expectations - and walked out with my wedding shoes! They were about $80 and have a low, wooden heel. I liked the cut-out accents and that they matched my dress - PLUS were the kind of shoe I could totally wear again.
And since I know you'll ask: Alex's outfit! He put to together himself, mostly. His pants and shirt are from Zara, the suspenders from Express. He owned the bowtie already, and he bought the shoes super last minute (thanks for the rush shipping!) from Insecta Shoes. They make really cool, unisex shoes that we totally love. He found a pattern with some florals in our wedding colors, and they worked out perfectly. Oh! And the flower crown, bouquet, and boutonniere were all custom creations from The Crown Collective here in LA. Carolyn made them to order based on my descriptions and our color scheme an they literally could not have come out more perfectly. They MADE our outfits!
USE YOUR RESOURCES!
Use who and what you have! Your friends and family are going to be so happy and excited for you - and they'll want to be involved! Give them small jobs here and there to relieve your own stress, and if you have a wedding party (we didn't - oops!) then DELEGATE! You can save a lot of time and money by reaching out to your inner circle before jumping online to try and search through thousand of reviews from people you don't know. Alex's mom ended up decorating nearly our entire wedding and my Dad was totally in charge of arranging the keg arrival and set-up. That doesn't speak to the tons of friends we had helping us arrange pick-ups, set-up, and break-down. It was less for us to worry about, and our parents and friends were glad to help. If you have those people, use them! Then thank them profusely and give them all the hugs for getting you there. We all need a support system, and you'll be far less stressed if you tap into yours early.
Stay tuned for PART 2: Our Plant-Based Wedding!
My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!
Top 5 Vegan Finds at the 2017 Cannabis Cup!
Alex and I had the pleasure of attending our very first Southern California Cannabis Cup last weekend at the San Bernardino fairgrounds and had a total blast. We really didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when, after following respected magazine account High Times on instagram, we saw that tickets were reasonably priced. So we bought them! We arrived in the afternoon (the event went 3 pm to 11 pm) and got checked in pretty easily, barely bag searched, and sent in to get wristbands. Anyone could get in with a ticket, but to get into the sampling + smoking section, you had to have proof of your medical rec on you. After getting into the inner sanctum (and the sampling tents!) we started seeing similarities between this event and something like Expo West. It's basically the same idea - an expo of all the growers, sellers, and products hitting the market in one place, for people who consider themselves connoisseurs. There was everything from flower and bud to smoke, to crumble and shatter to dab, to edibles from every corner of the stoner culinary world - including some really great vegan ones! We scoured the show, taking the occasional dab and sucking down CBD water to stay hydrated, looking for the very best, newest vegan, GF, and better for you edibles at the show and found some really great ones. Scroll down for my list of the best in show - you may find yourself a new must-have treat!
1. Mary Jane Juice Co. Fresh-pressed Juices + Nut Milks
We found the Mary Jane Juice Co. nearly last at the show (pictured above 👆), but we're so glad we did! They had a sampling of at least 6 flavors at the show, but these two were the stand-outs for us; the 100 mg Vanilla Almond Milk and the 200 mg Ancient Healing Tea. They're both low-sugar, vegan, and totally raw, plus each packs a hearty cannabis punch to help sure whatever's ailing ya! The milk, smaller in dosage size, was $10 and the tea was $20, but it would also be more than one serving for most people. These drinks are packed with good-for-you-ingredients so you can reap the pain relief benefits of the drink along with the inherent nutritive value of the drink itself. They're guilt-free, great on the go, and taste great - no weird marijuana aftertaste. Find more info on their Instagram!
2. Cheef Naturals Chews + Super Fruit Bars
Okay guys, all terrible branding and racism aside (the name Cheef and their branding at the show -- white girls dressed as Native Americans -- realllllly needs to be reconsidered) these edibles are really phenomenal. They're one of the only edibles I've seen on the market with a focus on being super, super healthy. I'd tried their super fruit bars before and loved how they tasted like a raw, flax-y granola bar. The high was great too, but it just felt so nice to eat an edible that aligned with how I eat the rest of the time. The coconut caramel chews are a new product, very similar in texture to Cocomels, but infused with marijuana. And packing a hearty THC punch with 5 doses (100 mg) per chew! Find more on their products here.
3. Half Lit 25 mg THC Pops
These pops just get cooler and cooler! Not only do they taste great, pack a solid little punch, and are made with organic ingredients, but when you finish this pop you can recycle the stick by PLANTING it! It contains cannabis seeds, so when planted and watered will turn your trash into a big, beautiful plant. I love this idea! Such a clever way to cut waste and encourage recycling. Just make sure that if you plant the stick, you live in an area where you won't get in trouble if you get caught. Be smart friends. (Here in CA we are allowed to keep plants, but please check your laws before you plant anything! Duh. 😝) We picked up a pineapple and watermelon pop for later, and hope to start seeing these at more of our local dispensaries soon! Find out more about them here.
4. Zendo Infused Peanut Butter
This was one of my favorite product from the show, and maybe the one I'm most excited about for other people to try. It's literally just an infused peanut butter, which each packet 1 oz packet containing a 50 mg serving of THC (hybrid strains). It's the perfect healthy snack, literally containing just all natural raw peanuts and cannabis. With no added sugar or weird ingredients, this edible is perfect for people looking to stick to a specific diet or who have to eat healthfully because they're not well. Plus, it packs a great punch of protein! (If you have to do chemo and can't get a lot of food down, this may be a great option as well.) This same company also makes a similar single serving packet of coconut oil, perfect for eating raw or cooking with. I can't wait to slather this stuff all over my morning toast, add it to my smoothie, and make a soba noodle salad using this for the peanut sauce. It's so versatile! Find more at ZendoEdibles.com.
5. Cali Gold Genetics Cannabis Infused Body Butter
This booth caught our attention as we were walking by because they were one of the few advertising as a VEGAN product - which we loved, and of course stopped to check out. These body butters are made with quality, moisturizing ingredients like cupuacu butter, kokum butter, cannabis infused coconut and olive oils and vanilla infused jojoba oil, and rubs on super thick and emollient, but not greasy. There are 4 different types, all designed to alleviate pain, inflammation and irritation and to protect and nourish your skin. It's amazing stuff! I actually talked to the woman at the booth for awhile about my psoriasis and she explained that she actually started making these salves as an alternative to medicated psoriasis creams for her boyfriend. I've started using it on my psoriasis on my thighs and have been loving the results - super moisturized and no flaking! Find more about their salves other website here.
New Products + New Favorites from Expo West 2016!
Expo West 2016 has officially come and gone and OH MAN were there some awesome things to see and eat! I spent 3 full days there this year - one more full day than last year, and it was so worth it. I feel like I saw nearly everything possible and tasted everything I wanted to - some things more than once. Here I've rounded up the best of the best (in my humble opinion) and the best of the newest products at the show to share with you guys. Some of the products are on the market already and some will be coming out later this year.
My top favorite of the show - the STUNNER - was the brand new vegan aquafaba-based mayo from Sir Kensingtons. It comes in a regular and a chipotle flavor, an it is TOO DAMN GOOD. It's totally soy-free, which is perfect since I'm off soy completely now, and tastes bette than any other vegan mayo I've tried...which I think is nearly all of them. It's my new fave BUT won't be on the market officially until summer. At Expo they were serving to with French fries, which was absolutely delicious, but I can't wait to try it in potato salads, on sandwiches, and in dips and sauces! Seriously, my fave new product at this year's show. I seriously cannot wait for you guys to try it!
I've really been trying to eat a few less desserts and watch my sugar intake lately, so seeing these new tart flavors but Hail Merry made me SO happy! Their mini-tarts are rich in healthy fats and flavor and have half the sugar of the regular tarts, plus are bite-sized for easy portion control. The Strawberry Rhubarb was my favorite flavor, but they were all quite good. Hail Merry also debuted a new Salted Brownie macaroon bites flavor and two new bean-free hummus's made from the nuts they also use for the tarts. I loved meeting the people at their booth, they were all so kind and made me feel even better about supporting them. They rock! Also - how rad would those sweet potato tarts be for Thanksgiving? Dessert = made!
My favorite drinks from the show were a toss-up between these new Matcha Almond Milk and Ginger Almond Milk drinks from Califia Farms (left) and these new Fermented Botanical drinks from Clearly Kombucha.
The drinks form Califia Farms are creamy, rich, and a delicious and brilliant alternative to regular nut-milk flavors. The matcha is my personal favorite, but the ginger is a very close second. They are light and sweet and for someone who doesn't regularly drink bottles of nut milk, I love these flavorful alternatives. There is also a thick coconut version, but it didn't taste extraordinary to me. These are available NOW so keep an eye out for them!
The new botanicals drinks are the perfect fermented drink for someone weary of the strong flavors of kombucha or the caffeine in iced tea. They are lightly carbonated and sweet and taste so great - there's nothing else like 'em. Clearly Kmobucha knocked it out of the park on these ones. My favorite flavors were the Lemongrass and Strawberry Milk Thistle but they come in at least 4 more flavors. Look for them on shelves soon!
These products were our favorite unexpected finds of the weekend. The products from Yai's Thai were so incredibly spicy and delicious. They all had a unique flavor and great heat to them, and we fell so in love they let us take a few sample bottles home. These sauces are better than literally ANY other Asian hot sauce (you know the ones) on the market right now, but only for those who really truly LOVE the spice of a good Thai chile. We later found out they started in Maine, my home state, which gave them extra bonus points in my book. Worth buying for sure!
Sheese is a soy-based cheese (off limits to me, but I tried it anyway) out of Scotland, that I;ve seen all over the internet but never in the US. Turns out they just don't have great distribution here yet (hence why they were at the show), but their products are all really good. They come in a variety of flavors and types, and they've really got a great product. Request it in your local stores!
Upton's Jackfruit has been on the market since last year, but this new curry flavor they're releasing is a delicious addition to the family! Its a flavor I would've been hesitant to try on my own, but I love how they paired it with simple brown rice at the show - it would make an easy weeknight meal for sure.
Upstairs, Gardein was sampling their soon-to-be-released breakfast pockets made with Follow Your Heart's vegan egg and Field Roast's chao cheese. They were so good - I would definitely eat them regularly if not for my soy-intolerance. They would be a perfect on-the-go hot breakfast! Look for them this summer.
These were two totally new to me drinks. First the Sapp brand: maple water is seeing a surge of popularity in the market the last two years since coconut water has come out and become so popular. They are similar in texture and lightness of taste, and are equally hydrating. Like maple and coconut water, birch tree water has its own healthful properties, and has a super lightly sweet flavor - much like the Sapp brand name suggests, it tastes reminiscent of tree sap, but in the best way. I really enjoyed these drinks and the packaging and would definitely buy them in the future.
Teaonic is a line of cold tea drinks designed to aid in healthful bodily function in some way or another. They offer a drink for digestion, skin, liver, adrenals, weight, hair and nails, and the brain, as well as a femininity tea. I got the gut version, made with chai tea, since I always seem to have stomach issues. It was unsweetened, which I preferred and was a smaller bottle, so I didn't get stuck drinking it all afternoon. It was actually really good, and did seem to make my belly feel nice after drinking it, though I'm sure I'd need to keep it up for long-term effects. I'd try it again!
These drinks all fall into the category of things I've tried before, but love too much not to share. Farmhouse Culture makes some of the best sauerkraut on the market - their smoked jalapeño flavor is life-changingly good. Their Gut Shots are equally as awesome, and a smart way to use the healthy, probiotic-packed juice from their fermented products instead of dumping it down the drain. The liquid is filled with a ton of good-for-you bacteria and has a yummy, spicy kick that makes your whole stomach feel good after drinking it. I drink a shot every morning before breakfast and whenever my tummy feels a bit off. It is my GO-TO probiotic product!
I've said it a million times on instagram, but I'll say it here too: I love me some Mamma Chia! They make the best chia-packed drinks out there, and these energy drinks are an excellent addition to their line, They're a little tangier than the regular drinks and are a great coffer-free alternative to that afternoon slump.
Daily Greens makes some really fantastic green juice. They have a bunch of flavors, but this Renew flavors packed with watermelon juice + greens, so it not only tastes great but is super hydrating. Plus, the packaging is lovely. You can find these at Whole Foods and Sprouts for sure, and hopefully more chains in the future!
I had seen the Bixby Bar once or twice at Fresh 'n' Easy before they closed them all down here, but had never tried one. As soon as I realized they were made in Rockland, Maine I knew I HAD to get my hands on one. This bar was TOO GOOD. Salty and sweet and rich - super indulgent and satisfying. Also totally GF and organic. They come in several flavors and I would definitely buy them again. I think they're available at Whole Foods!
Oh Alpendough...so good, so only available in Colorado. I'm really hoping they get their distribution opened up because it was AMAZING, especially since it was all gluten-free as well. Big fan, and will be a big customer when it makes its way to California!
Organic Gemini has taken a little-known tuber, the tiger nut, and turned it into a soon-to-be-sensation and one of my favorite products at Expo two years running. They 'milk' the nuts into a creamy, rich, lightly-sweetened drink and add cinnamon and one of 8 flavors. They are MIND-BLOWINGLY good. And super good for you, too! We have a recipe for a Chocolate Mocha Smoothie made with tiger nuts if you're looking for a recipe to try for yourself.
Rawpothecary is another juice company we love that is all about drinking straight from natures pharmacy. Their creative juice blends taste incredible and began as a treatment for her fathers illness. The Holla Pîna flavor is my favorite!
LoveGrace is a juice company based in New York. I happened to meet the owners at a vegan party in the Field Roast suite after Expo one night, and they hooked us up with some of their juices and smoothies. The Cacao Smoothie was super good - rich, sweet, satisfying - like a healthy milkshake! But ever more I loved the Yerba Mate Herbal Energy drink. It was mixed with nice so it was sweet and tasted like a spicy lemonade, but gave me a ton of morning energy - which was exactly what I needed to get through day 3! They have a ton of juices in their line and ship to your door, or you can visit one of their locations in NYC!
Temple Turmeric is a company I really love. They make a great product and turn turmeric into a normal, taste-good drink. I love all their flavors, but could;t get enough of this spicy Pure Fire Tonic. It has a billion (literally - it say so on the bottle) probiotics in it, and wakes your digestive right up. My insides felt clean and refreshed after drinking it, and I daresay it even gave me an energy boost. I'll definitely be buying these regularly!
I know that these Chia Pods are a tad expensive to always have in the fridge, but I got to take home these free ones from Expo this year and I am loving them! They're great on the go or when you just don't have the time (or enegery) to make your own chia pudding - even though its pretty easy to DIY. But these awesome little snacks come in 8 flavors and are easy lunchbox food, which sometimes is the only think you want to eat. Yum!
I had heard about Little Secrets dark chocolate candies (super similar to M+M's) all over expo and told I had to get over there. When I finally did I tried like 4 of the flavors before realizing only 3 of them were vegan. Whooooops. Anyway, the dark chocolate ones are totally vegan and totally delicious. Again, had to go easy on them because they do contain soy, but they tasted so much like the real thing - but way better and less full of artificial ingredients. I would definitely use these for entertaining non-vegan guests - they'd never know the difference!
Last party attended at Expo was at the Hope Foods booth. They were debuting their new green chile guacamole - which I can confidently say is the ONLY packaged guac I'm comfortable eating - and sharing mini margaritas with everyone. I'm not a big drinker but definitely needed one after walking around for 10 hours at Expo. Also - the people at their booth were so FUN! We even got hat that read 'Nice Spread'. Ha! 😉
Overall it was an excellent experience. I got to bring some friends along this year and show them the ropes, plus I met a ton of great people working for great companies that I am really happy to support. Oh yeah, and I think I visited the Daiya booth at least 6 times for snacks - you can see their mac 'n' cheese samples below. And Tim (@veganfatkid) is also down there. Expo is like the biggest blogger get-together ever, we all have way too much fun hanging out together and munching the day away. Plus the after parties are rockin'! We're talking full vegan taco bar, here. We can't wait until next year! Until then, which products are you most excited to see hit the shelves?
Last Friday we held our very first, soft-opening of our new plant-based taco pop-up, Tacolepsy! Held at Green Bliss Cafe in Downtown Fullerton, we started at 7 pm to a line out the door - which was FANTASTIC! We were serving up 3 specially plant-based tacos, fresh from the oven Mexican chocolate cookies and fresh cantaloupe aqua fresca. I started prepping the food the day before, but did most of my chopping and prepping that Friday, so the food was as fresh as could be. It was certainly interesting making such a large amount food for one event - we made enough to serve up about 300 tacos and sold out around 10 pm. Glad we didn't have too many leftovers, though!
So what'd we serve up? Here was our official menu for the night. Everything was gluten-free (except the cookies), and the hit of the night was definitely the Jackfruit tacos, with the Loaded Potato following closely behind.
Since we were so busy and didn't get to snap a ton of pictures, here are some great shots of the tacos from people who came and shared on instagram. Follow us @Tacolepsy to stay up to date on upcoming events + future menus!
My favorite part? Having all my favorite people there to help + support me...oh and of course, eating tacos! We had a blast hanging out and serving up tacos to old and new friends with hearty appetites, and we can't wait to do it again. We're planning on starting a once-monthly pop-up in the same location starting again in April, but of course we'll keep updating our social media pages to share upcoming events. For the latest, you can follow us @Tacolepsy on Facebook + Instagram. And if you're ever strolling around the OC and spot the below sign -- you found us! Thanks again to everyone who came out, we can't wait to do it again soon!
Vegan Oktoberfest 2015
Last weekend Alex and I were lucky enough to attend the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Vegan Oktoberfest! Last year when we went (you can read about that here) we had a very different experience. Not better, for sure. Last year the event was held in Santa Monica, basically on the strand, and was kind of a disaster. People had trouble parking, the event was really overcrowded and hot, and tickets were oversold so the fire marshall ended up capping the number of people allowed inside the gates and people who paid for tickets were getting turned away. A lot of people were mad about it, but I can understand the logistics of assuming it would be a relatively small event and being way overwhelmed. It was their first time! Plus, we got in and had a blast, so I hold no grudges. This year, we weren't sure exactly what to expect, but it ended up being a THOUSAND times better. The people behind Vegan Oktoberfest definitely heard last year's complaints and made an effort to prevent all of last years problems and prevent any new major issues. This year they moved the event to the much larger LA Center Studios in Downtown LA, which had tons of paid parking around to use and a much larger space capacity for people. Last year we waited in line for an hour to get in, but this time we strolled right in. There was a decent crowd when we got there, but not overwhelming. We showed up pretty early on in the event, but it never seemed to get overwhelmingly busy at any point this year. It was actually really nice to be able to stroll around with Alex and hear each other talk, and since the lines weren't very long we were able to spend more time hanging out and less time waiting in separate lines for food and beer.
Our first stop was to one of all-time faves, the Sage Truck! Sage has three locations plus the food truck, and they all serve up some of the yummiest vegan food EVER. We shared a pretzel with sriracha mayo + honey-free mustard and an order of the Chili Cheese Fries, and Alex used his first drink ticket to fill up his mug with his fave alcoholic ginger beer, Royal Jamaican. I don't really drink, so my mug was mostly empty, but Alex was able to try a few beers as we walked around. It was of course nice to see my home state of Maine represented with both Shipyard AND Seadog Brewing in attendance!
Our next food stop was at the Blode Kuh cheese booth. We're good friends with Doug + Maxie, the couple who runs the vegan cheese company, and we were so happy to catch up with them for a few minutes. They were selling an ah-maz-ing traditional Bavarian cheese platter with 3 different cheeses (including BEER CHEESE!), homemade brown bread + potato salad. I love eating little bits and being able to try smaller portions of more foods, so this plate was perfect for me. Plus, the gals at Blode Kuh wore traditional Dirndl dresses which was super cute and festive! There were at least 20 food vendors, and while we definitely didn't stop at every place, we definitely felt like we ate a TON. We tried to go to new places and get our very favorites rather than trying to squeeze something from every single place in.
Our last big savory food stop was at Broke Hungry Vegan's booth for a Seitan Bratwurst with housemade kraut and grilled onions. It was Alex's favorite stop and I was alllll about that kraut. They did an amazing job recreating a traditional sausage, and I love that they didn't shove it in a huge bun, you could really taste all the great flavor! Plus, I finally met Brittany, the face behind BHV, and she is totally rad.
We were ready for sweet treats after so much delicious and filling savory food, so we hopped in line at Divine Dips for a small cone of their Rastaberry (raspberry) flavor. It went with the whole t-shirt theme AND tasted amazing and refreshing after a lot of heavy, fried foods. Next time I NEED to try that Maple Cardamom flavor...YUM!
We finished off the event with a slice of German chocolate cake (naturally) + maybe the best jelly-filled donut I've EVER had from Ridiculous Baking Company, and of course grabbed a few take-home donuts from Donut Friend, including my absolute fave the 'Custard Front Drive'. We had met up with tons of vegan blogging friends and eaten our respective weights in fried foods and ice cream, so we headed home about an hour before the event ended. I think overall this year was way more effectively planned and executed, and I hope that now that they've proven they can do it, more vendors will come back. We had a blast either way + can't wait for next year! Keep up with the latest news from Vegan Oktoberfest, including details on next year's event on Facebook, Instagram + at VeganOktoberfest.com!
Top 5 NEW Faves from Expo West 2015
It was our first year tackling the monster that is Expo West this year- and I had a goddamn blast! There were tons of products to see, people to meet, and of course samples to eat. I spent 2 full days there and still feel like I missed seeing half the vendors. It was madness! We got bags and bags of samples, found a bunch of new products to love, and met the faces behind some of the products we already love. We dug through our goodies, used most of them, and then decided to share a few of the favorite NEW products we found at the show. Not all of them are on the market yet, so you're even getting a little sneak preview of some products that'll be hitting shelves this summer. We can't wait for Expo West '16!
1. Sriracha Sunflower Seeds from Hail Merry
Jackie from Vegan Yack Attack and I were walking around the Expo when we spotted these on a corner table at the Hail Merry booth. The ladies there were all really sweet in indulging us by opening the bag, letting us try them, and them giving us each bag for later. They were so good! I'm already a sunflower seed fan- I love the crunch and getting a little extra protein in salty snack form- but these elevated the seed game for sure. They're just the right amount of spicy, without being too greasy or sticky to eat. Of course they leave a little spicy orange residue on your fingertips- just lick it off! These seeds are low-temperature dehydrated, then covered in spicy sriracha powder. They're not only vegan but gluten-free, non-GMO, and paleo-friendly, too! These aren't on the market yet- but they'll be here soon! Kept eye out for them here.
2. Organic Soda Syrups from Organic Fair
This is one product that I knew I was going to love as soon as I saw it and now I can't wait to order more! The booth was tucked away on the top floor of the event and had some of the friendliest guys behind the booth. Organic Fair makes simple syrups for soda out of organic, vegan ingredients like raw cane sugar, spring water, citrus, hibiscus flowers, molasses, herbs + spices. They're what soda should be, frankly. And they taste way better! I haven't had traditionally commercially made soda in years- its just bad for you, and we all know it. So this was a nice treat! I was able to buy a little sparkling filtered water down at Trader Joe's, pour about a tablespoon of syrup into a glass, and add the water. Ta da! Soda. I loved the earthy, lemony lavender flavor best, and Alex was really diggin' the ginger ale. We will definitely be buying more- its the perfect cure for a sweet craving and a great thirst-quencher on warm days!
3. Haunted Ghost Pepper Tortilla Chips from Paqui Tortillas
We stumbled upon the Paqui table on Day 2. The bright green cilantro tortillas (some of the best tortillas I've EVER HAD) caught Alex's eye so we wandered over and started grabbing chips. The guy at the table was super friendly and after we chatted about our mutual affection for super spicy foods, he pointed us toward the end of the table with a scary looking black bag labeled 'HOMEMADE HORROR'. Naturally, we were intrigued and had to know what was in the bag. Turn out, Paqui is the only company making tortilla chips dusted in a heavy orange GHOST PEPPER powder. Yup, ghost peppers- one of the spiciest peppers in the world and ranking at nearly a 1 MILLION on the Scoville Scale. And that sweet sweet goodness is spread all over these bad boys! Don't get me wrong- they're super fucking hot. But if you like really spicy food, this may be just the snack to for you! Also, would make a good (and also awful) prank food for someone. We like them best dipped in a bit of cold, fresh guacamole to mellow out the spiciness. You can order them here, but be aware that not all the other flavors are vegan-friendly.
4. Cheezy Mac in 3 flavors (Boxed) from Daiya Foods
ON MAN. This one's a game changer. After trying the Earth Balance Boxed Mac last year I was left disappointed. It lacked the flavor and texture of the boxed mac I grew up with, so when we saw samples of this new shelf-stable boxed mac with cheese sauce- I was hesitant. Luckily, I'm not one to let free samples go uneaten, so I grabbed a little cup of each flavor and tiny spoon and gobbled 'em up. I liked them all, but the alfredo was the cheesiest and yummiest. They're easy to whip-up and I can't wait 'till they hit shelves this summer. They're the perfect after-school snack or comfort food to munch!
5. The Neat Egg from Neat Foods
I was pretty excited to try this product after having tried their amazing neat meat- a meat alternative made from just a couple pronounceable ingredients like nuts + beans! No weird fillers here. And the neat egg? Literally just CHIA SEEDS and GARBANZO BEANS! Can it get any better than that?! We've used it as a binder now in cookies, waffles, and a loaf of banana bread with great results. We're big fans of this eggy alternative! Look for online and in stores soon.
Last Saturday, October 4th, we were lucky enough to be hanging out at LA's first Vegan Oktoberfest! It was amazing. Rows of beer tents, adorable tasting steins, German-inspired vegan food, and THOUSANDS of other vegans. A place I wish I could hang out ALL the time, frankly. We're pals with the folks who ran the event and they hooked us up with preferred parking so we could get in early and munch, meet, and photograph everything.
After a warm but not overly unexpected 20 minute wait in line upon arrival, we got our tickets scanned and were given our adorable 4-oz beer-tasting stein. We entered the gates and were amazed. So many vegans in ONE PLACE! And so much BEER! Seriously, paradise. We would've been happy with the food options alone! Your beer stein could be filled (presumably) an unlimited amount of times, all you had to do was wait in line. The food lines were considerably longer and slower-moving than the beer lines though, so often one of us would wait in line for food and the other would run around getting beer samples.
There were several food trucks (including the Grilled Cheese Truck & the Green Truck) selling Germain faire like veggie brats & sauerkraut-filled sandwiches, and a number of booths selling baked goods, non-dairy cheeses, vegan ice cream, lemonade, pretzels, and fried dough.
They're were some awesome outfits to be seen at the 'fest, both homemade and otherwise. These cute couples were adorable AND willing to let me photograph them. They rocked. And seriously- coolest outfit ideas!
We tried the 'Sloppy Otto' jackfruit, sauerkraut, and grilled onion sandwich, a Field Roast veggie sausage with spicy mustard and pickles, some 'bierocks'- ground Beyond Meat sausage crumbles cooked with carrots and onions and seasoned, plus some seriously AMAZING 'beer cheese' from Nary Dairy. For dessert we noshed an apple cinnamon raisin roll with glaze from Life is Sweet Bakery and some dairy-free blueberry ice cream from Kind Kreme. Oh, and a lot of beer- but after so many taster cups, I vowed to not even try and remember which one had been which.
And in case you couldn't tell from our Homemade Chick'n Salad recipe, we LOVE LOVE LOVE Beyond Meat. They're an awesome company making amazing meatless meats, and they're pretty damn friendly too. We met up with our friend Justin, head of their Twitter account, and ate some of their beer-soaking bierocks, a puff pastry filled with faux meat crumbles (pictured above). They were handing out coupons and chatting up visitors, and we were happy to have stolen a minute of Justin's time to hear about some new products they've got in the works. All we can say is...GET READY. Beyond Meat is about to take it to a whole new level!
After all the beer and food, we were stuffed. Though there ended up being a bit of an oversold ticket problem, the people in charge offered refunds to anyone affected promptly. And just look at all those beer-drinkin' vegans! Our only suggestion for next year? A bigger venue. LA has so many people willing to come eat delicious food and drink delicious beer, imagine how crazy awesome an extra couple thousand people would be?! SO MUCH good vegan press! All we can say is...PROST!! For more on the event and next year's ticket sales: VeganOktoberfest.com.