Holy crow. It’s the last day of September. I don’t even know where the summer went.
I’ve had a lot of changes going on over here and as I settle into (another) new normal, I’m starting to slowly get into a routine again.
Very slowly. Like, turtle pace slowly.
Since I head into the city twice a week now, meal prepping is becoming crucial. I leave so early and arrive home so late that what I’ve realized is, ‘If I don’t have something ready, I’m definitely not making anything!’ Who wants to cook at 8 o’clock at night??
Well hello! I haven’t done a proper meal prep post in FOREVER! I just started having to go into work again, though, so it’s back to the meal prep routine!
As a recap, I include meal prepping on my eco-friendly blog because I think done correctly, it can help save money and help prevent food waste. This isn’t fool-proof and is definitely something I’m still working on as someone who cooks for one but I’ve seen an overall reduction in my food waste and it’s definitely cheaper then eating out!
The weather here in New England has no idea what it’s doing and it’s leaving me in a huge food funk. Anyone else? Here is what I managed to assemble for this week’s meal prep. Breakfast and lunch are both very budget-friendly if you are looking for some cheaper meal options. All of them are delicious, though!
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal: Sometimes I think, “I’ve had too many oats. I need something different”, so I bake them. And without fail, I always think stove top is better. This recipe is delicious! but, personally, I just prefer stove top or overnight oats. What is your oat preference?
Carrot Cake Baked Oats from Tone It Up
1 cup of oats
1/2 cup grated carrots
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 TBSP maple syrup
2 TBSP pecans
dash of cinnamond
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Blend all ingredients except pecans and pour into an oven-safe container. Mix in pecans.
Bake for 35 minutes or until fully cooked.
Sweet potato and kale “breakfast” hash, eggs and avocado toast: Because God forbid, I don’t have an egg meal, I chose to have my eggs for lunch instead of breakfast. I recently purchased The Whole Food Dairy’s Basic Cookbook and the dessert cookbook, The Whole Treat. I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes from the Treats cookbook but so far, all the recipes from The Basics cookbook are winners. The PB&J Skillet cookie? OMG- I won’t share with you the embarrassingly short amount of time that cookie stayed in my fridge. Let’s just say, though, that it should have lasted me a week and it very much did not. I really like that the recipes aren’t fancy and there are a lot of substitution options if you are missing an ingredients (that’s encouraged! Kezia, the author, is team “Use What You Have”). This recipe worked well for meal prepping. I chose to serve the hash with fried eggs, which I made fresh each lunch, but if you are meal prepping this, you can pair it with hard boiled eggs or leave the egg out and just have it with the avocado toast. If you aren’t eating the egg with it, I’d probably scramble up some tofu or add some beans so you have a protein source.
Also, yes those are Halloween Pyrex bowls that I use year round because 1. you can get them discounted at Target the day after Halloween if you are lucky and your store still has some in stock and 2. They make me happy 🙂 #sorrynotsorry
Rainbow Thai Salad: This salad is the perfect meal prep salad because if you keep it in a well sealed container, it could last you 1.5 -2 weeks. I should know- I stretched mine for 2 weeks! I used this recipe as a bit of a template and didn’t follow it too closely. I added a bell peppers and traded the green onions for a sprinkle of red onion, which I already had in my fridge. When you meal prep, always make sure you keep your dressing on the side.
For week 2, I had two more servings left so I halved it and added some quinoa to each of the 4 bowls. Changing it up stretched it for another week and gave it a little bit of a different texture. Feel free to change up the dressing for a bigger taste difference.
Snack- I still had some of the Mocha Bliss Balls left over from last week so I kept snacking on those. Check out last week’s blog for that recipe.
One of the horrible habits I picked up when I moved out on my own was storing food in the fridge without any covering. Stretch-tight/clingwrap was just an extra expense that I never deemed necessary when I was living on my own in Boston. I also never had a ton of room in my apartments for a lot of storage containers and most of what I had was used for meal prepping. And since I meal prepped, I knew that avocado in the fridge would be eaten for breakfast for the next 4 days so is it really necessary to wrap it up? Or, if I couldn’t find a lid for a storage container, eh. It’ll be eaten in a day or so anyways. No big deal.
My mom, who I have been sharing a fridge with since around the beginning of COVID, would disagree!
If you follow my on Instagram, you’ll know that a few weeks back, I tried to do a quick review of my favorite low waste, clean beauty products that I use for winter skin.
The “quick” round up did not go well. Instragram kept freezing and skipping on me and it took a lot longer than I planned and didn’t get to include nearly as much information as I wanted. SO, I’m including it here as well. These are my top 5 favorite product for dry skin:
Oneka Unscented Lotion: I love this product for a number of reason: it has clean ingredients, it’s unscented, it’s non-greasy and I can buy it in bulk at Cleenland in Boston. I keep mine in a repurposed body lotion bottle. For those not in Boston, you can purchase it here as well. Because it’s non-greasy, I like to use this after a morning shower or as a hand lotion if my hands start getting really dry from too much hand washing. #thankscovid
Oneka is also a Certified B-Corporation, which I want to point out because March is B-Corp month! B-Corps, in short, are for-profit companies that “are using business as a force of good”, according to the B-corp website. These are companies that meet a high standard of transparency, accountability and are trying to make a positive change environmentally and socially. In other words, they don’t put profit over people or the environment. B-Corp is a global, independent certification and companies have to qualify to get their stamp of approval. If you are looking to support companies that are making a positive impact, companies that are Certified B-Corp are a great place to start!
Homemade sugar scrub: This product is great because you can make it with what you already have in your home. This particular one is the vanilla pumpkin spice. It has sugar, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla- no essential oils or anything strange. Pinterest is made up of about 80% sugar scrubs recipes so there is definitely something there for everyone, depending on what you have in your house. Keep it simple and #shopyourpantry!
Ethique Butter Bars: The packaging on these butter bars is great. They come in recyclable or compostable paper boxes. I tried the travel-size ones in Sweet Orange and Coconut Lime. I find them a little greasier than the Oneka Lotion so I tend to save these for at night. They are hydrating and still smell great. One of my favorite routine is doing a workout on Sunday night, taking a hot shower and using my homemade body scrub, moisturizing with Ethique and putting on comfy leggings. The next morning, I wake up with super soft skin and can start my week feeling really good. These also travel really well so one less liquid you have to worry about packing.
Sorry the pictures for these aren’t great. All the products on here are well loved and used! The mini butter bars are actually heart shaped when they arrive.
Ethique is also a B-Corp, cruely free/vegan and donate 20% of their profits to charity!
Beautycounter Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm: This is my absolute favorite beauty product right now. I swear, every time I use it, my face looks better. Because this is a balm and not a soap, you take a small amount and massage it on dry skin. Take a warm, damp face cloth and wipe off product. The balm removes make up and dirt and leaves your skin feeling so, so soft but also clean! It’s made up of tons of hydrating oils like jojoba, avocado and apricot, along with other hydrating ingredients like shea butter. You can also put it on and leave it on overnight as a hydrating mask but the balm is so thick I worry it would clog my pores so I haven’t tried that out yet. I use this strictly as a cleanser in the evening.
As for packaging, the balm is in a glass jar. The jar and lid are both recyclable. The jar comes in a box, which is paper and recyclable. Beautycounter is supposed to be rolling out refills this year for their products so I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for that and will let you know when those are released.
Ironically, I was very reluctant to try the Lotus Balm. My beautycounter consultant at the time had to recommend this to me three times before I finally tried it. I had previously tried Lush’s Ultrabland Cleansing balm which is similar to this- massage balm into skin, wipe off with damp face cloth- and I hated it. It left my skin feeling greasy and dirty and I was so hesitant to spend money on another balm. But I love the Beautycounter one! And Beautycounter offers a 60 day return policy if you are hesitant to try it. I actually like their products so much I signed up to be a consultant this year so let me know if you have any questions!
And, you guessed it!! Beautycounter is also a B-Corp. Their ingredients are clean, ethically sourced and they are very big advocates for clean beauty. In the 8 years they have been around, they have helped pass 9 pieces of legislation involving clean beauty.
Lush Let The Good Times Roll exfoliant: This has been a favorite product for years! I may have hated their cleansing balm but Lush does have a lot of other winning products and this is definitely one I continue to buy. The exfoliant is maize flour (aka no microplastics here!) and it has corn oil which leaves your skin so smooth. It also smells like vanilla/popcorn/cinnamon/caramel depending on who’s smelling it but all those are wins in my book.
The packaging is Lush’s black pot which are made from 100% recycled plastic and which you can return to the store and they will clean and reuse. If you bring back 5 black pots to one of their stores, you get one of their fresh ingredients face masks for free. Those are delightful! Especially since they also come in a black pot so you are well on your way to getting 5 more to bring in. I love companies that take responsibility for their packaging.
Beautycounter Resurfacing Peel: If you aren’t feeling the Lush exfoliant (it smells delightful but I know not everyone loves sweet smells or they prefer an acid peel), the overnight resurfacing peel may be more up your alley. I use this twice a week, Monday and Friday (you know I love a routine!), and it helps remove dull skin and shrinks pores without leaving my skin feeling tight or dry. Plus, it does all the work while you sleep which is my type of beauty product. This is probably one of the top 3 products on Beautycounter. I got a mini sample size and it has lasted me months!
Packaging is a paper, recyclable box and a glass, recyclable jar.
Beautycounter Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream: This is the only product on my list which I wouldn’t recommend for all skin types, which is why it’s in the Bonus Section. The Supreme Cream is from BC’s Countertime line which is super hydrating and helps with fine lines. I use this at night after the Cleansing Balm.
This is anti-aging but they’ve gotten rid of the retinol which can make skin irritated and sensitive to the sun and replaced it with bakuchiol and swiss alpine rose, both plant-based.
Packaging is a paper, recyclable box and a glass, recyclable jar.
Bee Balm / Booda Butter : I use these two chapsticks interchangably. They are both made with minimal clean ingredients and both are in paper packaging with no plastic. Bee Balm, I think, is made in the Boston area but I can’t find a website to confirm that. I bought mine at Cleenland. Booda Butter was purchased at the Williamantic Co-Op.
Breakfast: This is my ride-or-die breakfast when I can’t eat oatmeal or smoothies anymore – Sourdough bread of some sort (I used sourdough rolls this week though you could also substitute an english muffin, bagel or slice of sourdough. The link is the same youtube video I’ve shared about 100x. Sorry about that!) with miso hummus and everything but the bagel seasoning (I’m a big miso fan but not a big tahini fan so this recipe was a win for me); 2 fried eggs (substitute hard boiled if you need to make them ahead of time) with just the tiniest bit of Tessamae dairy free dressing drizzled on top; and an orange. Sorry no picture! I had it four days in a row and I was certain I took pictures but alas, here we are! I’ve shared VERY similar pics in the past, though,
I don’t know why I love this meal so much. I guess it just hits that savory and sweet combo.
Lunch: Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Lentil Moroccan Stew with basmati rice. When you’re vegan, it’s always difficult to find new and exciting recipes to try. I was skeptical of this dish having had chickpea stew a number of times. The spices, namely the cinnamon and turmeric, are so yummy and warm, though! I paired this with some basmati rice. Full disclosure though, it makes more than 4 servings! Pairing it with rice I got closer to 7. I would imagine without rice it would be between 5-6. It’s really hearty! Also, I swapped out the butternut squash for sweet potatoes because that’s what I could find package free in my grocery store.
Dinner: Work Week Lunch’s Salmon Teriyaki Poke Bowl (except I substituted tofu for salmon). So, I don’t have a recipe to share with you for this because Talia, the owner of WWL, released several top recipes last year as a one week special. I saved them and have been slowly trying them throughout the year. To replicate this without her recipe (though I highly suggest you follow her on IG for Meal Prep inspiration and other free recipes), I would marinate your tofu in your favorite bottled teriyaki sauce (she makes her from scratch and it’s Yummy!) for about 20 minutes. Sautee your marinated tofu in a pan. To assemble your bowl, use noodles/grains as your base (I used a combo of bow ties and mini shells #usewhatyouhave). Toss with a little of the teriyaki sauce. On top of the noodles, add your fav poke bowl ingredients + your sautéed tofu. For my toppings I chose- cucumbers, carrots, quick pickled red onion, mango and roasted edamame. You could also add avocado, red peppers, wanton strips, greens, etc. Basically, anything you want! To keep it a little healthier, I always make sure I have more vegetables and protein than pasta, though. That’s just my preference.
Snacks: Double Chocolate Banana Bread. This bread was so good! I warmed it and then added a little peanut butter. SO good. For the chocolate chips, I swapped them for 1/2 cup of chopped up Tony’s Chocolate Bar. Tony’s had a promo to bring awareness to slavery in chocolate and was selling their version of well known chocolate bars like Kit Kats or Twix. I bought both because I like Tony’s and I like Kit Kats and Twix but the Tony’s version was almost inedible! I was so disappointed. The ‘caramel’ wasn’t caramel at all but bits of toffee mixed in. It was also way, way to sweet. And I almost NEVER say that. Because I couldn’t eat the bars straight, I chopped up some of the “twix” bar and added it to the bread instead of chocolate chip. It was much more edible when baked into banana bread!! Just a good hack if you have some extra chocolate laying around after easter or any holiday!
**Honorable Mention** I usually meal prep enough to get me through Friday or Saturday and then try to use what I have to get through the weekend. I have to give a shout out to this #usewhatyouhave recipe because it turned out really well and it’s a good Friday Night meal.
sourdough discard pizza dough and “use what you have” veggies: This recipe was 100% based of what I needed to get rid of in my fridge. I had some fresh sourdough discard and veggies that needed to be used! It ended up coming out really tasty, despite the fact that it had sugar snap peas on it. Who knew??!
For the crust, I used the Sourdough Discard Pizza Dough recipe from Zero Waste Chef. The recipe can be chilled in the freezer or frozen. As it makes 2 crusts, I used one and froze the other. If you are cracking open some pizza sauce for this recipe and don’t want it to go bad, you could pop that in the freezer too so your crust and sauce are ready the next time you have vegetables going bad. The crusts are on the smaller side, or I’m just really bad at stretching pizza dough. I got 4 large slices out of the crust. If you are meal prepping, you could make the pizza ahead of time and pair it with a side salad throughout the week.
This particular pizza athad BBQ sauce (I’m not a tomato sauce fan), roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, red peppers, snap peas (I know, weird but it’s what I had!), a tiny bit of vegan cheese I had kicking around and nutritional yeast. It was surprisingly really good!
St. Patrick’s Day is next weekend. Are you guys planning anything special?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂 **