Small Business Spotlight: Heirloom

How many people miss going out to eat besides me? I miss going to a cafe on Saturday, getting an oat milk latte in my to-go mug, and being productive. I miss trying new restaurants. I miss meeting people for lunch. I basically just miss pre-COVID life!

Even though it’s harder to do some of those things, I am trying hard to support some of my favorite small restaurants when I can. I am eating out less but when I do eat out, I’m thinking small.

Last year, before COVID shut everything down, I had planned to highlight small businesses that were practicing low-waste, sustainable and/or eco-friendly practices. As vaccines start rolling out and the world *fingers crossed* is getting closer to opening up, I wanted to return to this series in hopes of encouraging you to try small businesses near you and to shop small when you can.

This week, I’m featuring Heirloom Cafe in Danielson, Connecticut. Moving away from Boston and all their vegan/vegetarian eateries definitely had me worried but Heirloom has been my go to place when I want to treat myself.

The Buddha Bowl- Brown rice, chickpea salad, avocado, carrots, cabbage, vegan curry “mock chick” salad, and sesame seeds drizzled with our almond maple sauce

Heirloom is a cafe with a small menu that includes an excellent selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. Currently, they offer sandwiches, salads/bowls and smoothies. They also have a decent variety of homemade gluten-free and vegan treats like cupcakes, oatmeal cream pies and samoa bars. They have paired down their menu a bit during COVID times, eliminating coffee/cafe options and breakfasts, but their menu still contains some favorites and offers a selection. They also have specials each week which are always amazing. Valentines week they offered a vegan, gluten free cheesecake with fresh strawberry puree swirled in it and it was so yummy!

In addition to serving a wide range of foods that I can actually eat (anyone with a dietary restriction know the feeling of only having one thing to eat on a menu), Heirloom also does it’s best to source organic ingredients (between 85-90% of their ingredients are organic) and to source local ingredients. They have tofu from Middletown, CT, maple syrup and honey from Woodstock, CT, cheese from Vermont and more.

Our savory vegan curry “mock chick” salad with all our fresh veggies on a whole wheat wrap

So far, I have tried their vegan breakfast sandwich, the Miso Roasted Beet and Kale bowl (which I may try and replicate as one of my meal preps one of these days), the Buddha bowl, the curry mock chicken wrap, as well as a few sweet treats like the samoa bar, the oatmeal cream pie and a cupcake. The curry mock chicken, which is found on both the wrap and the Buddha Bowl, is one of my favorite things on the menu. All the desserts have been delicious, though the oatmeal cream pie is VERY sweet so heads up if you aren’t a big sweets eater. Everything has been really fresh and loaded with flavor. The bread on the vegan sandwich was out of this world. No matter what you order, I don’t think you can go wrong.

When I ate here pre-COVID, I always received real plates and utensils and they filled my reusable coffee mug. Currently, they offer curbside pickup where you order everything on line and it is brought to your car. They serve the food with no additional plastic utensils, in a plastic, recyclable container and a recyclable, brown paper bag. Obviously, these options are less sustainable but, to me, continuing to support a small vegan restaurant that does their part to support local produce and local companies is very important to me. I’ll create a little trash in this moment to keep this restaurant going, knowing I’m doing my best to reduce waste in other areas.

What are some small businesses that you know about who are showing love for the planet. Leave suggestions here for me to checkout.

Thursday Meal Prep, Feb. 25

Happy Thursday! How are we feeling about the meal prep posts being on Thursday? I think I’m liking it! I did a poll on my Instagram (@trees_and_honeybees, if you aren’t following me yet) asking people which day they preferred meal prep posts and the majority said it didn’t matter because the search for recipes when they go to meal prep. So, as much as I love the alliteration of Meal Prep Monday, I think we are going to continue to try out Thursdays for a little bit.

I’m still trying to be a little more conscious of what I have in my pantry and fridge when I go grocery shopping so this weeks meal prep was based on the fact that I had a fresh batch of sourdough rolls, some dry pasta and some edamame chilling in my freezer.

Breakfast: homemade sourdough rolls with avocado (or hummus), fried eggs and fruit. I rotated between apples and sumo oranges. I’ve loving sourdough rolls lately. I only have one proofing basket and my go-to bread recipe makes two loaves so I just use the second half of the recipe for rolls instead of bread. This week, I did a mix of all purpose, whole wheat and spelt flours. The only thing from breakfast that comes in packaging is the eggs and I buy that at my co-op so they are local and in repurposed egg cartons.

Lunch: Last week’s curry was so yummy! But, I’m back on the soup train this week. Soup is just so cheap, quick and easy! I noticed I’ve been eating a lot of chickpeas lately so I opted for a cannellini soup this week. This soup really is super cheap, easy and quick. For some reason, I thought it had carrots so I used two that were starting to look a little sad in my fridge. I also used kale instead of spinach for the same reason as I used the carrots. Soups are great for using up veggies on their last leg. Soup is so easy to make low waste as a lot of the ingredients can be bought fresh with no packaging or in aluminum cans.

Dinner: Since lunch felt a little lacking in fresh vegetables, I opted to load up on them for dinner. I did a really simple cold pasta salad with edamame, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms and red peppers with pasta and a sesame ginger dressing. I cooked the edamame and mushrooms just because I prefer the taste of those two cooked but everything else was left raw. I roasted the edamame at 375 for 20 minutes. You could tweak this recipe with whatever vegetables and dressing you have on hand. I had been planning on serving this with a peanut sauce but I couldn’t find Teddie’s peanut butter while grocery shopping so switched to a sesame ginger dressing we already had at the house. Except for that 1 lone serving that has the very last bit of Tessamae’s Buffalo Dairy-Free Ranch. Nothing in the salad has any seasoning so any dressing you like should work. Use what you have! I was able to buy all the vegetables and pasta without packaging.

Snacks: This weeks dessert comes courtesy of The Whole Food Diary- Sourdough Discard Chocolate Cake. My favorite part of this recipe is that it has minimum ingredients and chances are, you already have all of them (if you make sourdough). I didn’t have to buy anything for this recipe which is my favorite kind of recipe! I don’t have ramekins so I opted for a large muffin pan (it may even be called Texas Muffin pan?) and made 4 servings (I definitely ate one before taking the photo!). Mine didn’t come out gooey as Kezia mentions in her recipe but I suspect the change in pans and the increase in servings caused that. The texture was definitely some sort of bread / cake hybrid but it was still very moist and tasty. It’s not very sweet so I like it as a little mid-day chocolate fix. You can increase the sweetness by adding your chocolate of choice, Kezia recommends 2 TBSP of chocolate chips. I had some peanut chips kicking around so I sprinkled a little on the top of the cakes. I should have mixed them in better but they are still delicious. I store these in the fridge. If you do this, you may need to reheat them for about 15 seconds in the microwave before eating.

Additional snack options- I have recently discovered the joys of vegan yogurt in glass packaging. I’ve never been a yogurt fan but the Culina yogurt and the Oui by Yoplait versions are both so good! I prefer the Culina yogurt, though it isn’t cheap so I try to stretch it out by getting two servings from each container. I load it up with nut butter, fruit and granola and get a pretty tasty snack out of it! My fav combo this week is Culina Bourbon vanilla yogurt, apple, peanut butter and a little bit of chocolate peanut butter granola. SO good.

Product Review: Meow Meow Tweet Face Soap

Switching to a clean, sustainably packaged face routine has been a struggle in my 30s. I’ve talked a little about this on my IG but I swear, the moment I turned 30, I went from having oily, acne prone skin to dry, combination skin over night (at least that’s what it felt like!). My prior face wash which I loved and had been using for years, Lush’s Aqua Marina, was now way too drying. I tried a few Lush cleansers after but never really loved them like I did Aqua Marina.

With that in mind, I decided to try Meow Meow Tweets Tea Tree Charcoal face bar rather reluctantly. My first introduction with Meow Meow Tweet was their Rosemary and Avocado shampoo bar and I didn’t like it at all. The smell was too strong for me (the only other option from them was lavender and coconut bar and there’s no way I could walk around with lavender in my hair all day. That’s a 24 hour headache is what that is). Though my hair looked clean, it left my scalp and hair feeling dirty somehow. Honestly, if I hadn’t been placing an order already on Package Free and just run out of face wash that day, I probably wouldn’t have tried this cleansing bar.

Thankfully, this product worked MUCH better than the shampoo bar. The tea tree and the charcoal balance my skin really well, keeping any random acne spots at bay without leaving my face feeling dry. It lathers nicely in my hands and it doesn’t smell too strong.

The ingredients are all clean and natural:

aqua (water), *olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, *+cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *+theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, *helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, ∞sodium hydroxide, *avena sativa (oats), *ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, charcoal powder (from wood), *melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, *eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil

*certified organic / +fair trade / ∞none remains after saponifying oils

The product packaging was super sustainable since it arrived naked! No box here. As for shipping, it shipped from Package Free Shop, which ships with no plastic in recyclable cardboard. Even the packing tape is plastic free so super sustainable!

As for the company, Meow Meow Tweet was founded in Brooklyn in 2009 by Tara Pelletier (she/they) and Jeff Kurosaki (they/them). The team started by making soap and have now expanded to deodorants, face care including oils, cleansers and toners, shampoos and conditioner, sunscreen, bug repellent, etc. All their products list out the ingredients and almost every ingredient is natural and clean. Every product also details what to do with the packaging after you are done, including sending the pumps from their bottles back to them so they can recycle them with terracycle. They do offer bulk in some items. For those items, Meow Meow Tweet takes back the entire bulk containers, sanitizes and reuses it. So, if you try a smaller size and realize you love it, you can keep your regular container, order a bulk products and refill your container a few times before sending the empty bulk container back. When purchased in bulk, the product tends to be 15% less per oz. I haven’t tried this system yet but I love how thoughtful this company is with their packaging and looking to keep as much as they can out of landfills.

My Meow Meow Face Bar after 7 months. I cut it in half and keep half by my sink and half in my shower

I think the biggest seller for me on the Tea Tree Charcoal Face wash is that it lasts forever. I received this bar in July and it’s still going strong! I started using it twice a day and am down to just the morning with it. In the evening, I use the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm as it’s more moisturizing for the winter months. The comments on the website range from 6 months for those that use it religiously twice a day, to about a year for those that use it once a day. I’m at 7 months and, if I’m honest, probably have another 2 or 3 months left. That’s $12 for 9 months of a product! Any product that doesn’t make me have to replace it every month is a win in my book.

Meal Prep Thursday?

I’ve been toying with the idea of moving my meal prep posts to the end of the week when people are starting to make grocery lists and plan their meals for the following weeks. I go back and forth on whether Monday or Thursday is better. I like the alliteration of Meal Prep Monday but Thursday might just work better for people’s schedules. Do you have a preference?

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Monday Meal Prep, February 8

Happy Monday, once again, friends! This is sort of an anti-meal prep Meal Prep post.

I decided this week that I had way too much stuff in my pantry and the last thing I needed to do was go grocery shopping! So I decided this week would be a leftovers/ shop your pantry week. My shelf is a mess and I need to work through some of what I have and I’m not always great at doing that. So, #usewhatyouhave is this week’s theme!

So, first up, for breakfast I made smoothie packets. I didn’t have enough ingredients to do the same smoothie each day, like I normally do. Instead, I pulled out the frozen fruit and vegetables I had in my freezer and made a bunch of different flavors.

Monday: Strawberry Banana

Tuesday: Cherry Almond

Wednesday: My go-to Chocolate Mint

Thursday: Pineapple Matcha

None of these followed a recipe. I tried to do my best to stick to the base recipe I have for my Chocolate Mint which is: 1 c. cauliflower, 1/2 c. zucchini/summer squash, 1/2 c. greens, 2 TBSP flaxseed, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 c. non-dairy milk, then I’d add in fruit and extras based on what I had. That didn’t last long though. I think I only had cauliflower and greens for 2 smoothies each so I mixed them up to give a variety of nutrition per day. I’ll post what is in each smoothie on my IG story for those interested. My IG is trees_and_honeybees.

Today, in the spirit of trying to get rid of items that aren’t staples, I swirled some Granola Butter into my smoothie instead of peanut butter. I’m not a huge Granola Butter fan- it’s REALLY oily- but it worked well in my smoothie and froze really nicely when I mixed it in the smoothie so it was sort of like having a fudge swirl in my breakfast. Kind of? Ice cream for breakfast? When it’s all fruits and veggies, why not??

For lunch, I wanted to use these homemade pitas I made last week for a breakfast sandwich. I had a bunch left over so I’m doing sandwiches all week for lunch. Today and tomorrow, I am doing a salmon “BLT” (pictured above). I had 1 salmon fillet frozen in my freezer and I paired that with a tomato, the last of the lettuce in my fridge, some vegan bacon, avocado AND a little dairy-free ranch- all things I had in my fridge.

I only have enough of everything to make 2 Salmon BLTs so I also cooked up some dried chickpeas and will make some smashed chickpea sandwiches. TBD on the recipe for that because I’m not 100% sure. That’s what happens when you shop your fridge.

FYI- I ALWAYS keep my fresh breads in the fridge or freezer. When you make fresh bread for only one person, there is no way you can go through it before it goes bad.

For dinner, tonight I am having some leftover soba noodles. I paired the noodles with some frozen edamame, corn and leftover carrots and some ginger sesame dressing.

The rest of the week, I have some frozen homemade sweet potato gnocchis I think I’ll be eating.

Of course, meal prep would not be complete without something sweet. I have a few Tony’s chocolonely bar kicking around that I can certainly snack on. If you are looking for ethical chocolate for Valentines Day, Tony’s is on a mission to make the chocolate industry slave-free and free from child-labor, which is all too common in the majority of chocolate. Check out their mission page for more information and if you are looking for some really food chocolate, I like the dark chocolate, the salted almond and the pecan coconut flavors! (the caramel is more like a toffee, just an FYI)

I also made Oat Flour Brownies from The Whole Food Diary. I love that they make a smaller batch because sometimes I just don’t want 16 brownies laying around! Kezia, who is the brilliant mind behind The Whole Food Diary, is also one of my Beautycounter mentors, which is very exciting for me because I love her recipes and her blog. I didn’t have any eggs so I substituted a flaxseed egg. These brownies came out VERY chocolatey because I maybe decided to throw some cut up chocolate bar in there and it melted into the brownies and made them very ooey-gooey. Whoops! I popped them in the freezer to help solidify them a little more and I’m sure that they will be delightful anyway! You can’t go wrong with chocolate.

What is on your menu this week?

As this week is very unconventional, definitely follow me on IG to see what I’m eating when everything isn’t planned out and I’m trying to work through leftovers. Don’t be surprised if you see popcorn one night for dinner.

Let’s Talk About Dryer Balls

When I created this blog, it was so I could help people weed through the growing number of zero-waste products that were on the market. What items are worth buying and which aren’t? For the most part, I have had great success going zero-waste. I love shampoo bars, organizing my closet help me reduce the amount of clothes I was buying and I even figured out how to reduce my waste when it came to oral care, which was by far, one of the areas I was most worried about.

There haven’t been many fails on this blog but boy-oh-boy do Dryer Balls make that list.

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Ethique Product Review

Goodness! It feels like it’s been a while since I did a product review, doesn’t it? These are one of my favorite features of my site, though, because I know everyone is in a different place geographically, financially and in their zero-waste journey. I like to provide feedback on zero waste products so that there is something for everyone.

Today review is on a few Ethique products I ordered. Ethique products have started popping up at Target, which makes it easier for everyone to try, and why I wanted to get a review up for them. For those of you who have no problem doing all of your shopping right from the comfort of your bed (oh hi, that’s me!), Ethique offers a wide range of products so you can do all your shopping in one place if you are interested. They offer shampoo and conditioner; washes, moisturizers and scrubs for both body and face; kids products; pet products and home cleaning products. They also offer bars and concentrates, which I will talk about more below.

The first thing I have to say about Ethique is they offer sample sizes for a reasonable price, which I LOVE. For anyone going zero-waste or shopping for products with cleaner ingredients, you know the struggle! Shampoos that don’t suds up, deodorants that leave you stinky, toothpaste tabs with weird tastes. Then, you are left with an expensive product that you have zero interest in. I have been there! It’s the entire reason I started this blog!! So the fact that Ethique offers mini sizes in almost all their products is hands down the best feature of their brand. It says so much about the confidence in their products and their commitment to getting the right products in their customers’ hands. I would highly encourage you to take advantage of this and try out a few of their products if you aren’t sure where to start.

For me, I purchased the pinkalicious shampoo bar (full size), the tip-to-toe shave bar (full size), butter bars (minis) in Orange Vanilla and Coconut Lime and a Deep Green face wash (mini). All the products, even the minis, are packaged with zero plastic. The products are wrapped in paper and then placed in a paper box. The products are also shipped plastic free in cardboard, with paper “bubble wrap” and no plastic tape. Everything is home compostable. The company also is conscious of their water consumption, recycling and recirculating it, allowing them to use significantly less water in the creation of their packaging.

Yes. Please.

In addition to considerate packaging though, the company aims to be Carbon Positive by the end of 2021, offsetting 120% of their net carbon emissions. You can read more about that here and what they are doing to stay on top of their carbon footprint.

As for the products, let’s start with the shampoo as I believe, that is what is most readily available at Target for those who aren’t inclined to shop on-line. The pinkalicious bar is grapefruit and vanilla scented and made for ‘normal’ hair.

This shampoo bar was sizable. It lasted me about 4 months. It is one of the best lathering shampoo bars that I’ve tried. I would say this may be the closest I’ve gotten to a traditional lather since giving up traditional shampoo. With that said, all the bars I’ve recommended on this site (hibar and Lush specifically) have all lathered really well. This one just seems to have a little extra oomph!

The smell was quite nice and it didn’t linger in my hair, which is a plus for me. If you follow this blog you know for the most part, I try to steer clear of strong scents since they give me a headache. This shampoo smelled nice while in the shower but didn’t follow me around all day. It cleaned my hair really well and I was able to wash my hair every third day. It did tend to make my scalp a little bit dry, so if you have a sensitive scalp, I would definitely recommend checking out the Heali Kiwi bar instead. I think I will be trying that next time.

Next up is the Tip-to-Toe shaving bar. Again, this bar is sizable. Again, I’m on month four and still going. I use this roughly once a week. Ok, Maybe, once every week and a half…or two. Come on- It’s winter!! This bar is actually advertised as a shampoo & shave bar so if you are looking to minimize your life, this would be a great option, especially if travelling. Honestly, I haven’t tried it as a shampoo though so I can’t speak to it’s shampoo-ing abilities.

My complaint about my last shave bar was that it didn’t lather well and so I couldn’t always tell where I shaved, despite my best efforts. Since this bar doubles as a shampoo, it’s definitely has better sudsing power. I find it works best when you run it under water and get the lather going in your hands first. The scent is a minty citrus, which is really refreshing and again, doesn’t linger. I use this with my Leaf razor and it gets a close shave and is moisturizing. I am definitely planning on purchasing this again.

Next up is the Deep Green facial mini. This was my least favorite product out of the batch I tried. In fact, it’s been a struggle to get through my little sample size. This product is advertised as for oily to normal skin with no drying. I have combination skin with dry patches and areas that are acne prone so finding a good cleanser is a struggle. I felt like this left my skin feeling tight but also resulted in breakouts. I found I never used it more than a few days before switching to my tea tree and charcoal bar to help clear up my zits that popped up. I just don’t think this was the right product for my skin.

Lastly, I tried two different butter bars- orange and vanilla and coconut lime. I knew my skin dries out in the winter so wanted to have these on hand. I love the size of these minis for travelling! They take up less space and you don’t have to worry about carrying liquids. They do get soft in warmer temperatures. You’ll notice that after a hot shower, your bar will be a bit softer. Keep this in mind if you live in a warmer climate or are having these shipped in the summer months. I don’t think they will melt but the website says you can pop it in the fridge for a few hours if you are shipping this in the summer and it arrives soft.

Despite them being hydrating, they did leave my skin feeling a little greasy. So I opt to use them in the evening. I love using a sugar scrub in the shower and following it with one of these butter bars. I’ll put soft, cozy leggings on, crawl into bed and wake with super soft, hydrated legs. The bars were a little hard to use but it was more because of the small heart shape of the minis. I suspect the full size bars will be far easier. The scents linger a little better with these but again, not nearly as bad as traditional products with ‘fragrance’. This is good for me but I know some people do like using moisturizer as a sort of perfume. I think I liked the coconut lime scent the best but both were right up my alley. I can’t say how long they last as I have the smaller sizes and I only use it about once a week or have saved them for travel.

If bars seem too intimidating, Ethique recently launched a line of concentrates. The concentrates launched right after I made my purchase so I haven’t had a chance to try them but they look really cool. They are small, solid bars which you mix with boiling water to create a liquid. So if you want to ditch plastic shampoo bottles but don’t love shampoo bars, you can purchase the shampoo concentrate and make your own liquid shampoo. I think that is so clever and accessible! All their household cleaning products are sold as concentrates and I’m itching to get my hands on them once I work my way through my current products.

Overall, I was really excited about Ethique, as a company, and enjoyed the majority of the products I tried. I will be restocking the butter bars and trying the Heali Kiwi bar and some of the household cleaning products in the future. I’ll update the review when I do!

If you try any of these products, let me know what you think!

**as always, these products were purchased by me and this post is not sponsored or an ad in anyway. I’m just sharing my experience! 🙂 **

Lets Talk About Low Waste and Budgeting

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought toward budgeting and eco-friendly products and going zero-waste. I’ve recently switched my skincare over to Beautycounter, a company that advocates for cleaner beauty standards by banning 1800 potentially harmful ingredients from their products and fighting for updated legislation. They are also working on switching over their packaging to become more sustainable, offering refills for products starting this year and switching many of their packaging over from plastic to glass. Their products completely saved my skin from dryness which I had been suffering with for over a year straight. But, they are also pricier. Which is how I started looking at my spending. Can moving toward a low-waste life style be earth-friendly AND budget-friendly?

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