Archive for the ‘Asheville’ Category

Arbonne, vegan and gluten-free personal care products

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

arbonne_logoFirst, let me say that I do not gain, financially or otherwise, from the sale of Arbonne products. A local Arbonne consultant, Sarah Jukes, asked me if I’d like to try some of their products and write about my experience with them on my blog. I’m not a great person to review personal care products because I don’t use very many of them. But I’m always happy to plug new vegan products, especially if they are gluten-free, and only if they are actually any good. All Arbonne products are vegan and gluten-free.

So with that, here’s what I think of the Arbonne products I tried, in order of my enthusiasm for them.

Hair products: No joke, after using either the Nourishing Daily Conditioner or the SeaSource Hair Mask, my hair never looked so healthy in all my life. They both work great as detanglers on my super fine, tangly hair as well. I also tried the tea tree oil shampoo. The smell is great and it works well, although I wish it lathered up a bit more than it does.

Deodorant: I’ve often wondered if different people’s chemistry responds differently to the various deodorants on the market because so many of them don’t seem to work at all. Some even make things worse.  Arbonne’s Pure Mint Deodorant is the first aluminum-free deodorant that seems to actually do its job, even when I’m breaking a sweat. Thumbs up.

Facial products: I’ve been washing my face with my regular soap for years, which means that just about any facial cleanser is going to be a vast improvement, so I don’t think my opinion carries a lot of weight here. But I did like the one I tried – the RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser – it didn’t dry out my skin and it feels like it washes off completely. I tried some other samples of moisturizers, masks, serums, and others, but I so hate putting lots of stuff on my skin that I was never  able to truly give it a chance, so I can’t offer an opinion on those.

Nutrition bars: I don’t delude myself into thinking the various nutrition bars on the market are really that good for me, but sometimes I want a treat and I do think they are far better than what’s in the candy aisle. The Arbonne chocolate nutrition bars taste good and are not overly sweet, which is hard to find these days. But they contain oats, which don’t happen to agree with me, even though they are gluten-free. They also contain a small amount of sugar, which I’m willing to eat on rare occasion, but I am strict about not making a part of my regular diet. If those issues don’t apply to you, you might want to give them a try.

Fit chews: These are little treats that are supposed to stop you from giving in to food cravings. They do that well. Both the chocolate and the lemon taste pretty good too. The chocolate tastes just like tootsie rolls to me. But again, they contain a small amount of sugar, and I’m personally quite strict about that. If you find yourself unable to resist the call of tootsie rolls or some other unhealthy candy, these are a good alternative. Keep them in a cool place so they don’t stick to the wrapper.

Anti-aging stuff: Arbonne specializes in anti-aging products. I’m at a point where I’m starting to notice my age, but perhaps not old enough where these kinds of products show a big enough difference for me to notice in a short period of time. So I can’t really offer an opinion.

In conclusion, Arbonne seems like a high quality product line to me. They are pricier than what you’ll find in the grocery store, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of paying more to get better products. They also have a lot of ways to get discounts. Again, I have nothing to do with Arbonne and make nothing whether you buy their stuff or not.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, contact Sarah. She’s not pushy in the slightest. Just a nice and interesting woman who’s on her own health journey as well.

Sarah Jukes
Arbonne Independent Consultant
ID # 13155218
Tel: 828.707.1610
Sarahjukes@icloud.com
www.arbonne.com

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Dobra Tea: Secret veg, gluten-free restauant

Monday, May 6th, 2013
Dobra Tea

Dobra Tea

Going out for tea has never appealed to me, so when Dobra Tea opened in Asheville a few years ago, I never bothered checking it out. I finally went there this evening at the invitation of a friend and was surprised – no, shocked – to find out that (1) they have food, (2) a lot of it is vegan, and (3) all their food is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Their gluten-free pita bread is delicious on its own. Their hummus is amazing. Yeah, I know, who cares about hummus? But seriously, this is the best hummus I’ve ever had. They have a number of sweet treats as well, and of course lots and lots of wonderful teas. Not all of their vegan options are labeled on their online menu, so go to Dobra and check it out in person.

If you walk on by, like I’ve been doing for a couple of years, you’re really missing out.

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Matching funds for Goat Mountain Sanctuary through March

Monday, March 11th, 2013
goats

Goats at the sanctuary

For the entire month of March, all donations to Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary, near Asheville, NC, regardless of dollar amount, will be matched by an anonymous donor. The sanctuary is one of the few that takes in farm animals and others not typically kept as pets, although they do take some dogs and cats as well.

With the money raised from this fundraiser, Goat Mountain will be able to expand it’s fenced pastures and shelters in order to take in even more goats, sheep, pigs, large birds, ponies, donkeys, and other animals in need. They already have many acres of land going to waste, which can be converted to living and grazing land with your help.

Donate this month and let this generous donor double your money!

Donate to the sanctuary here

Read more about this fundraiser here

Visit the Goat Mountain Ranch Sanctuary website here

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New brunch menu at Plant

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
French toast at Plant

French toast at Plant

Plant introduced a brand new brunch menu today, and it is fabulous. If anyone else was unimpressed with Plant’s old brunch menu, make sure to go back and give them another chance. They have many more options that are gluten-free, and they are far more interesting.

The two best items, in my opinion, are the hemp bread french toast and the summer crepe (hold the soysage). The crepe falls apart a bit when you eat it, but it taste great. It reminds me a little bit of the vegan omelet that Laughing Seed use to have, but this is better. The french toast is made with a hemp bread and comes loaded with fresh berries, but the sugary vanilla-orange cream destroyed any illusion I might have had that this was a healthy breakfast.

Summer crepe at Plant

Summer crepe at Plant

Ironically, the one thing I really wanted to try on my recent trip to Montreal, was a vegan crepe. Couldn’t find one anywhere. Then as soon as I’m back in Asheville, I finally come across one. It’s good to be home.

Also, the mate latte, with coconut cream, was sensational.

Brunch at plant is every Sunday, 11am – 3pm. They are located at 165 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville.

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Chai Pani kills off the best simple vegan meal in Asheville

Monday, May 21st, 2012

There are plenty of vegan-friendly restaurants in Asheville that I enjoy. Only one has – had – a meal that I frequently craved, especially on a particularly draining day. A vegan, gluten-free bowl of rice and daal from Chai Pani could always fill my belly, lift my spirits, and soothe my tired soul. Even better, it was a simple, healthy meal that I felt good about eating.

So naturally, Chai Pani changed their recipe so that their daal is no longer vegan. And I was told that while there was some talk of offering a vegan version, they decided against it. Thanks.

Don’t get me wrong – Chai Pani still has a couple of good items on their menu and their food is still good. But nothing I need to go out of my way for like that heart-warming, soul-soothing daal. That magic is gone from Asheville.

The next runner up for that kind of simple but satisfying vegan, gluten-free, healthy meal would be Laughing Seed‘s Harmony Bowl. I recommend getting the sauce on the side.

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Brother Wolf Run for the Paws 5K

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
A couple of runners not taking the race very seriously

A couple of runners not taking the race very seriously

The Animal Hospital of North Asheville gave away a registration to the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue‘s 5K, which happened this afternoon. I was the lucky “winner” of the vet clinic’s prize.

There was no time for training or preparation since I only found out I was running 3 days ago. Shear force of will and my desire to believe I’m still 20 years old got me across that finish line in just over 44 minutes. I managed to run for most of it, taking a walking break for about 1/2 mile in the middle.

Dogs were encouraged, and all seemed to be having a total blast. It wasn’t the most exciting event, but the weather was perfect, the people and dogs were friendly, and the race course was nice and easy. I thoroughly enjoyed the excuse to get outside and get some serious exercise.

If you’re looking for a new companion or a place to volunteer or donate, check out Brother Wolf. They’re a great organization.

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100% Vegan Bakery from Black Mountain visits my neighborhood

Saturday, April 21st, 2012
Mixed berry pie by I Heart Veg

Mixed berry pie by I Heart Veg

Black Mountain has a new 100% vegan bakery, I Heart Veg! Jeannie, the owner of the bakery, brought her baked goods right to my neighborhood farmer’s market (not to mention a few others) this week. You can “like” their facebook page to find out the next time they take their baked goods on the road. The bakery itself is on demand / by appointment only – not for walk-in customers.

They don’t have gluten-free options, I’m sad to say, but they do have some spelt items for those who can tolerate a small amount of gluten. I didn’t get to try any of those this week, but Jeannie promises to bring some to next week’s farmer’s market.

I tried a sample of the banana bread which was sooooo moist and delicious. And I took home a little mixed berry pie. Flakey crust, not overly sweet, strong fresh berry flavor – everything one could ask for in a little pie. What really shocked me, though, was my boyfriend’s response to it. I was expecting something along the lines of “I wish you wouldn’t bring junk food home.” What I heard instead was a 5-minute soliloquy on how this perfect pie reminded him of a simpler, better time. Honestly, I’ve never heard him go on about dessert like that.

Perhaps just as important as the tasty treats, was meeting Jeannie. We spent a good while comparing notes on how open and welcoming the people of the Asheville area are, especially compared to where we each came from. And how much there is to do and enjoy here, especially for such a small city. Jeannie is my kind of people, and I Heart Veg is your and my kind of bakery. So go check out their goods with a couple of friends and give them your support.

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Local raw chocolate mmmmm…..

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Sinless raw chocolate

Sinless raw chocolate

I’ve been sampling some amazing vegan raw chocolates this weekend from Sinless. Vegan, raw, gluten-free chocolate, made right here in beautiful Asheville. Without even opening them up, they filled my kitchen with a strong chocolate smell. Yum.

Sinless is $8 a bar, but that’s not as expensive as it may seem. For one thing, they are good-sized chocolate bars, not skimpy. For another, they are so rich and filling that 2 segments of a bar (each bar has 10 segments) is about all I could eat at one time. Each flavor has a silky smooth consistency and a rich cacao taste. It’s neither bitter nor overly sweet. Here are the flavors I tried:

  • ultra dark raspberry – Nice. The raspberry is subtle.
  • ultra dark original – Tastes like a fudge brownie in chocolate form. This might be my favorite.
  • ultra dark crunchy nib – Or this might be my favorite. Simple chocolate flavor, love the nib crunch.
  • original peppermint – My boyfriend said it was “like a junior mint.” It is a lot like that although I think he forgets how overpowering and artificial the mint flavor in junior mints are. This chocolate is not like that aspect of it, but it does have a good mint kick to it.
  • original almond – big pieces of almond aren’t my thing, but it’s good if you like that.
  • ultra dark sea salt pecan – big pieces of pecan are better to me than almond, but it’s the sea salt flavor that makes this one extra good.

I didn’t try the ultra dark coconut flavor this weekend, but I remember trying a free sample of it at Green Life Grocery a while back and I vaguely remember it being the most delicious chocolate I have ever eaten. Although I’ve eaten so much chocolate today that I might just be in a swoon at the moment.

While Sinless might be on my mind right now, that shouldn’t take away from a couple of other amazing local chocolate companies that I’ve enjoyed.

I went through a phase of eating a couple of UliMana chocolate truffles every morning for about a month, until I realized they were causing my brain to become too unfocused to get work done. I save them for special occasions now and often give them as birthday gifts to friends.

Raw Shakti Chocolate is another definitely worth trying. Especially if you enjoy combining unusual flavors. Loco for Coco, with coconut and Hawaiian black lava salt, is a particular favorite of mine.

Yeah, 3 kick-ass raw vegan chocolate companies in one little mountain city. Life is good.

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Sunny Point Cafe breakfast now even worse than before

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Sunny Point Cafe Tofu Bacon

Tofu bacon, the only reason to go to Sunny Point Cafe

I never really understood why the wait to get into Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville was always so long and why they always win “Best Of” awards. I figured maybe people like their eggs. I almost never go there, but on occasion I’ll go just because they are one of the only vegan-friendly-ish places in Asheville that opens early for breakfast, and they are very close by.

They had 2 vegan breakfast options which made it a tolerable place to eat. Sadly, I went in this morning looking forward to the vegan cornmeal hot cakes, which are so delicious but not the healthiest thing in the world, only to find out that they removed it from their menu.

That leaves only the Huevos Fucheros (vegan option) which isn’t that great but it’s filling and fairly healthy. It’s a tolerable option if you’re dragged there by non-vegan friends.

The only item on the menu that makes Sunny Point worth going to at all is their side of tofu bacon. It’s nothing like bacon at all, but it has to be the best tofu in town.

We figured out today that Green Sage opens for breakfast at 7am. Next time we’ll try there instead.

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Macaroons at West Village Market

Monday, January 16th, 2012
Macaroon from West Village Market

Macaroon from West Village Market

I’ve been eating very healthfully for many weeks so today I decided to indulge in a treat. But only one, so it had to be good. A gluten-free, vegan macaroon at West Village Market caught my eye a couple of days ago, and that was what I wanted today.

I’m very happy with my choice. It’s a large, coconut chocolate chip macaroon that was freshly made somewhere nearby. In other words, not in a package or full of preservatives. Very soft. Very filling.

For a small, neighborhood grocery store, West Village Market does a pretty good job keeping their store stocked with exciting vegan (and gluten-free) options.

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