Vegan Recipes I’ve Tried and Loved | Summer 2017

Happy Food Friday! This past year I’ve spent a lot of time finding easy and delicious vegan recipes online. It can take a lot of searching to get that perfect recipe, so I thought I would save you some time and share some of my favorite recipes with you! If you are looking for some simple vegan recipes that anyone will love, this is the post for you. Let me share with you the delicious recipes I’ve tried and loved this summer.

Super Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe [LINK]

I was never a big chili fan growing up because I’ve always disliked ground beef. Now that I love beans, though, chili seemed like the perfect dish for me! This recipe from The Spruce is really easy and beyond delicious. I do not put in any of the ingredients listed as optional, but otherwise I stay true to the recipe. Plus, this chili freezes really well! I made a double batch and froze half of it so that I could have meals ready to go on busy days.

 

No-Fuss Vegan Cornbread [LINK]

Of course, I had to make cornbread to go with my chili! This recipe from Food52 stays true to its name – it really is no-fuss. I follow the recipe exactly and it comes out really well each time. This cornbread also freezes well, so if you are cooking for 1-2 people just save some of this for later! I’ve always loved cornbread, and this one is absolutely delicious.

Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars [LINK]

Next I tried a breakfast food, and that is granola bars from Minimalist Baker. I’ve never made granola bars before, and this recipe made it really simple. I followed the recipe exactly, but also added in about 1/3 cup of peanuts that I had on hand. My bars came out great, but I used a 9×9 pan instead of an 8×8, so they did fall apart easily in some spots. Nonetheless, they are beyond yummy, and I love pairing a bar with fresh fruit for breakfast.

One Pot Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo [LINK]

Last but not least is my favorite of the bunch, an absolutely amazing Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo from Neurotic Mommy. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and knew right away I needed to try it. I cannot stress to you how delicious this pasta dish is! I’ve already made it twice, and I know it will be a part of my regular dinner rotation. The one change I make to the recipe is that I keep the stove on medium-high as opposed to medium-low when cooking the pasta. Otherwise, the pasta does not absorb the sauce. That being said, if you are craving some creamy pasta, you need to try this now!

That wraps up the new-to-me vegan recipes I’m loving at the moment. I hope you found this post helpful, and that you will give some of these recipes a try. I plan on sharing my favorite recipes with you every season so you can know what I’m loving at the moment. You can also follow me on Instagram HERE to see more of the food I eat on a regular basis!

Have you tried an amazing recipe lately? Please share it in the comments!

Dare to Compare | Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush Royal vs. Insightful

Happy Wednesday! Today I’m excited to share with you a comparison post between two Tarte blushes. Tarte has quickly become one of my favorite makeup brands. While the products are a bit more expensive than I would normally like, the quality is amazing and I appreciate that Tarte offers many vegan products. I recently purchased the No Shower Happy Hour kit at Sephora, and one of the items it came with is an Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in the shade Insightful. I realized this blush looks very similar to Royal, another Tarte blush that I already owned. I wanted to share these blushes side-by-side so you can decide if Insightful is a must-have in your collection.

The Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in Royal was released in the limited edition Sculpted Cheeks set for the 2016 holiday season and is no longer available for purchase. Similarly, Insightful is only available in the No Shower Happy Hour kit. I thought this post would be helpful for those of you who own the Sculpted Cheeks set and may be interested in purchasing the No Shower Happy Hour kit.

When I added Insightful to my beauty stash, I noticed the packaging color was exactly the same as Royal’s. I took a closer look at the blushes next to one another, and while I thought I could see a slight difference, I knew the shades were quite close.

Here are swatches of Royal and Insightful side-by-side. While it is clear they are not exact duplicates of one another, the shades are quite close. Royal is described by Tarte as a Nude Mauve, and Insightful is described as Peachy Pink. I definitely agree that Royal feels like more of a brown shade, while I can see orange undertones in Insightful. That being said, if you do own Royal, I don’t think it’s necessary to buy Insightful. However, if you are wanting to get the No Shower Happy Hour kit to try the other products, it is worth it for the value of the other items included. Plus, both of these blushes are amazing quality. I love how smoothly they apply to the cheeks.

All in all, I hope you found this comparison post helpful if you were interested in purchasing the No Shower Happy Hour kit. I think it is an amazing value for the money, and am so glad I didn’t get a duplicate blush shade. Make sure you buy this limited edition kit HERE before it is discontinued!

What is your favorite Tarte product? Let me know in the comments!

This post includes an affiliate link. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

The Body Shop Haul | Trying New-to-Me Skincare Products

Happy Monday! Today I’m excited to share with you my most recent haul from The Body Shop. I keep a running list of all the beauty products I want to buy so that when I see a sale going on, I can grab everything at a discount. There is always some sort of promotion happening at The Body Shop, but I recently saw a 40% off flash sale on the website, so I picked up everything on my shopping list! Everything I purchased this time around is new-to-me and vegan. As I show you what I got, please let me know in the comments if you would like a full review once I’ve tested the product.

Tea Tree Flawless BB Cream [BUY]

I recently used up the only CC cream in my beauty stash, so I really wanted to get a replacement for it. I love wearing a light base in the summer months, and the Tea Tree Flawless BB Cream sounds perfect for my skin type. This BB Cream is designed to provide lightweight and non-sticky coverage, all while drying to a matte finish. My skin gets very oily throughout the day, so I’m really glad this product is designed to stay matte. I got the shade Light, and I think it will be a great match for me.

Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Makeup Remover [BUY]

I also really needed a makeup remover, as I’ve had a difficult time removing my mascara lately. The Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Makeup Remover should do the trick! I love that it is unscented and suitable for sensitive skin. Plus, it was carefully packaged in a plastic bag during shipping so it wouldn’t spill. I hope this makeup remover will get that mascara off with ease!

Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask [BUY]

The next product is one I also really wanted to buy, and that is the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask. With the summer heat and humidity, my pores definitely get clogged more easily than in the winter. I wanted a skin treatment that would help to clean out my skin without drying it, and this product seems like it will do just that. The mask itself is bright green, so this will be a lot of fun to use!

Seaweed Deep Cleansing Gel Wash [BUY]

Since the sale promotion was so good, I decided to pick up a face cleanser as well. The cleanser I keep in the shower is almost empty, so I’ll be glad to have this on hand. I like using gel cleanser with my FOREO, so that’s the first reason I went with the Seaweed Deep Cleansing Gel Wash. I also like that this product is soap free and oil free, simply providing a gentle cleanse.

Nutriganics Smoothing Eye Cream [BUY]

Last but not least, I decided to purchase an eye cream. While I’ve tried a handful of eye creams in the past, I’ve never found one that actually works for me. The Nutriganics Smoothing Eye Cream seemed like a good fit for me, since it helps fight the first signs of aging. I’m in my late twenties, so I think this will be a nice addition to my skincare routine. In addition, I love that this does not contain harsh chemicals, so I can use this eye cream both in the morning and evening.

That wraps up this haul from The Body Shop! With the 40% off coupon code, I spent $56.10 total, making each item just over $11.00. I think that is a great price point for vegan skincare products that will last me a long time. I’ve had really great luck with products from The Body Shop in the past, and that is why I continue to shop from this store. Plus, I love shopping online so I can earn cash back with Ebates! You can sign up for Ebates for free with my referral link HERE.

What are your favorite products from The Body Shop? Let me know in the comments!

Beauty Empties | Spring 2017

Happy Monday! Today I’m excited to share with you mini reviews of all the beauty products I used up this spring. For the past year or so, I’ve focused on using a smaller beauty collection, and only opening one product of each type at a time. I do have a numerical goal of emptying 120 products this year, but so long as I reduce my spending and focus on simplifying my beauty stash I will consider that a success! Let me show you all of the products I used up in April, May, and June of 2017.

Want to see what I used up this winter? Check out THIS blog post!

MAKEUP SAMPLES

One thing I’ve been doing to use up my beauty stash is to always use a sample first. I used to save samples for travel or for another special occasion, and they would pile up and expire before I could use them. Focusing on them as soon as I get them ensures I put them to use!

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I liked this primer, and it seemed to work well for me. I got a couple uses out of this sample packet, but I would be open to trying it more in the future. I do like how light it is on the skin!
  • Would I Buy it Again? I would like to try more before I buy the full size.

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I got four samples of this foundation with a Too Faced order, and I enjoyed trying them even though they are all different shades. I ended up deciding the shade Snow is closest to my natural skin tone, but it’s not a perfect match. That being said, I loved this foundation! It reminds me of Kat Von D’s Lock-it, but a bit lighter in coverage.
  • Would I Buy it Again? I would if Too Faced released a better shade for me.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I‘ve loved Smashbox primers for years now, and recently discovered they are vegan! You can check out the full list of vegan Smashbox products HERE if you’re interested. This is a great primer, but I do prefer the Light version, which is more mattifying. Nonetheless, I love this primer as it smooths out my skin and helps conceal enlarged pores.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Yes! However, I would buy the Light version over this one.

MAKEUP

e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara [BUY]

  • Mini Review: This is the second e.l.f. mascara I’ve tried, and it is the second to disappoint me. When I opened this mascara, I knew right away it was going to be bad – barely any product came off the brush! I would describe this as better than wearing no mascara, but that’s about it. Plus, this mascara dried up extremely quickly. It may only be a few dollars, but it was a wasted few dollars.
  • Would I Buy it Again? No!

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear CC Cream [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I absolutely loved this CC Cream! It has amazing coverage, lasts throughout the day, and provides moisturization to the skin without being too oily. Unfortunately, this product is not vegan, so I won’t be purchasing it again. I am now on the hunt for another BB or CC cream.

Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I made sure to use up my travel size of setting spray before it expired. This is a holy grail product for me! I will also keep this container so I can wash it out and reuse it for future travel. It is much more cost effective to decant the bigger size than to repurchase a travel size.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Yes! I’m already using a full size bottle.

e.l.f. Translucent Mattifying Powder [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I got this setting powder to replace my Rimmel Stay Matte, and while it isn’t as good as that powder, it still gets the job done. I love how cost effective this powder is, but I do wish there was less packaging involved. I am going to reuse this compact because it has a nice size mirror inside!
  • Would I Buy it Again? Yes! I’m already using another compact.

SKINCARE

Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes [BUY]

  • Mini Review: You all know by now that I love these makeup remover wipes! I repurchase them because the price point is great, and I love how they work. I am going to try to cut down on how I often I use these wipes, since I’m cutting down on disposable products in general. However, these are great for removing makeup and cooling the skin.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Yes!

The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost [BUY]

  • Mini Review: It took me forever to use up this product! I originally purchase it because I thought it was a serum, but this is more of a primer that you use after moisturizer and before makeup. I did like this product, but I was very glad to empty it because it had been in my collection a bit too long.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Maybe.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I found this scrub at Target, and I really like it! The texture almost reminds me of sand, but it does a nice job at exfoliating the skin without being too harsh. I was ready to try out a new product as I finished this tube, but I’m still happy with how it performed.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Maybe, but I do enjoy trying new scrubs.

Dollar Shave Club Daily Face Moisturizer (not pictured) [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I used up a small sample of moisturizer that I got with a Dollar Shave Club subscription. I apologize that it didn’t get pictured for some reason! I liked this moisturizer a lot, as it has SPF25 and smells amazing. It was a bit too heavy for my skin, but if you like deep hydration, this is a great option.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Perhaps in the winter months.

BODY CARE

Dove Advanced Care Anti-Perspirant [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I finally finished up my non-vegan deodorant stash! I had purchased a pack of Dove deodorant at a box store because this was my go-to for years. This was the only deodorant from the drugstore that I really loved, but I’m now on the hunt for a good vegan option. Stay tuned to find out what my new holy grail will be!

HAIR CARE

CVS Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo [BUY]

  • Mini Review: The one non-vegan product I continue to purchase is this medicated shampoo. I thankfully don’t need to use it as often in the summer months, but it gets the job done when I need it. No one likes an itchy and uncomfortable scalp!

ORAL CARE

Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Flouride Toothpaste [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I really liked using this toothpaste! I thought the spearmint flavor would be a bit stronger based on the name, but there’s nothing I really dislike about the toothpaste.
  • Would I Buy it Again? Yes! I’m already using another tube.

SPRING EMPTIES: 18

TOTAL 2017 EMPTIES: 35

All in all, I am very happy with how many products I’ve used up even though I’m way behind on my goal of 120 empties. I’ve done a great job at using up samples, minimizing my collection, and not overbuying products. Plus, I’m at the point where I only have a few non-vegan products left to use up! Once they are all gone I plan on sharing a makeup and skincare collection so you can know what I’m currently using.

What products have you used up lately? Let me know in the comments!

This post includes affiliate links. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

 

Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada Review

Happy Food Friday! After being a huge fan of Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheeze (see full review HERE), I decided to try out the Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada. I was really in the mood for some enchiladas, so when I saw this option at the grocery store I picked it up! Unfortunately, this meal was not a hit for me. Let me tell you why I won’t buy it again.

As with the Rice Mac & Cheeze, the Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada is vegan and gluten free. It contains two enchiladas, with a combined 10 grams of protein. The enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, black beans, tofu, and vegetables. As with all Amy’s products, I appreciate the clear labeling on the box so I know it is certified vegan. It’s always nice when I don’t have to read any ingredients!

Unfortunately, the enchiladas were a bit of a disappointment for me. The main reason is because they did not heat up well in the microwave. Even though I followed the heating instructions, the tortillas were hard as a rock after cooking – I couldn’t even cut through them easily with a steak knife! I also found that the filling was not evenly distributed in the enchiladas. More importantly, the enchiladas didn’t taste all that great to me. They were okay, but they were not as flavorful or filling as I would like. When I pair the lackluster taste with the poor cooking result, I would not buy these enchiladas again, especially considering the price tag of $3.69.

All in all, I’m glad I tried out the Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada so I could share my thoughts on this product with you! I am still a big fan of the Amy’s brand, and will continue to purchase and enjoy other products. These enchiladas just did not work for me. After this fail, I decided to make my own enchiladas, and found THIS amazing recipe from the blog Full of Beans. It was 100% worth my time and effort, and now I have a new recipe to add to my repertoire.

Have you tried the Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada? Let me know in the comments!

5 Ways to Save BIG at Michaels!

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share more of my money-saving shopping tips with all of you. I love going to Michaels for planner supplies, craft tools, and home goods. There are so many fun items to look at, but I always make sure to stick to my budget and only buy the items I really want and plan to use. Luckily, Michaels runs amazing sales and offers coupons on a regular basis, so there is always a way to save money. Today I’ll share how I maximize my savings at Michaels so you can live a fabulous and affordable life, too.

I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Michaels. I simply want to share my money-saving tips with all of you!

1. Always Use a Coupon

Michaels always has at least one coupon available for use each week. You can find the coupons available in your local area by visiting the coupon page on the Michaels website HERE. Michaels also has a free rewards program that sends out exclusive coupons to its members via email and snail mail. I recently received a flyer in the mail that had three exclusive coupons for the month of July. I was able to get 25% off my total purchase including sale items! You can learn more about the Michaels Rewards program on the store’s website HERE.

2. Shop the Entire Store

When I go to Michaels, I make sure to look at every section in the store even if the items I plan on purchasing wouldn’t normally be there. This is because products often get put on seasonal and holiday displays, on the end of aisles, and in hidden clearance sections. For example, I often get asked where you can find the $1.00 sticker books sold at Michaels. Unfortunately, I can’t give you one answer! I’ve found them in the kids section, on holiday displays in the center aisle, on seasonal displaces in aisles, and more. The trick is to look carefully in each section, because you never know where an item will be. Plus, while Michaels will often have a dedicated section for clearance, it can pop up behind the aisles and in the regular sections as well. Keep an eye out for the red and yellow clearance sings, and blue clearance price tags!

3. Become Familiar with Sale Promotions

My next tip is to familiarize yourself with the sales that Michaels runs each week. Even if you don’t plan to shop, take a look at the weekly ad. Michaels tends to recycle and repeat its sale promotions. For instance, washi tapes often go on sale for 50% off, and a few times a year they are 60% off. If you know that you want to pick up new washi tapes, wait for the sale to take place. Once you know what the regular Michaels sale promotions are, you can time your purchases so they line up with the sale. Of course, if you need to buy something at the last minute, this tip won’t be as helpful. Thankfully you can still use a coupon!

4. See if You Qualify for a Special Discount

Michaels also offers special discounts for teachers, members of the military, and senior citizens. You can learn more about these special discounts on the Michaels website. Click HERE for information on the teacher discount, HERE for information about the military discount, and HERE for information about the senior discount. What’s even more exciting is that sometimes you can stack this discount with a coupon! Make sure to read the fine print on your coupon for any exclusions.

5. Use Ebates to Earn Cash Back When Shopping Online

If you can’t get to a Michaels store in person, you can shop online now! Michaels does offer cash back through Ebates. You can sign up to Ebates for free using my referral link HERE. If you have any questions about Ebates and how it works, check out my blog post HERE.

That wraps up my shopping tips for Michaels! I hope this post helps you to save some extra money at your next Michaels shopping trip. As always, if you have any more tips, please share them in the comments!

Want a savings guide for another store? Let me know in the comments!

Does Natural Deodorant Work?! | Tom’s of Maine Natural Long Lasting Deodorant Review

Happy Wednesday! Today I’m excited to share my thoughts on the Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant with all of you. I’ve wanted to switch to a natural deodorant for some time now, and even tried doing so a couple times in the past few years without any success. However, now that I’m vegan, I’ve noticed that the majority of vegan deodorants happen to be natural as well. I figured I would finally commit to going natural, as there are some concerns that the chemicals used traditional deodorants and antiperspirants can lead to cancer (more information on that HERE). I decided to give Tom’s of Maine a try, since this is a brand readily available at drugstores. Does this natural deodorant work? I’ll let you know what I experienced!

Tom’s of Maine has a variety of deodorants from which to choose, and I went with the Long Lasting Deodorant in Unscented. This deodorant claims to have 24-hour odor protection, and I love that it is cruelty free and doesn’t contain any animal ingredients. This product also does not contain artificial colors, flavors, fragrance, or preservatives. There is no aluminum in this deodorant either, which is the controversial ingredient in the majority of deodorants on the market today.

I’ve used this deodorant for about two months now, and overall I’m really enjoying it. This is not an antiperspirant, so it does not prevent you from sweating. However, I haven’t had any issues with sweating more than I did with chemical deodorants, nor have I noticed any sweat stains on my clothing. That definitely makes me wonder how well the chemical antiperspirants worked in the first place!

Of course, the more important factor when it comes to natural deodorants is how well it prevents odor. I will tell you right away that this does not live up to the 24-hour protection claim. I would say the deodorant provides about 10-12 hours of odor protection, as I apply the deodorant in the morning, and when I sniff my armpits at night I can tell the deodorant has worn off. That being said, this deodorant is amazing at neutralizing odor. If my armpits are smelly, I can reapply the deodorant and the smell immediately disappears. Thus, even though the deodorant is not as long-lasting as it claims to be, I love that I can reapply it throughout the day for odor protection.

All in all, I am very happy with the Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant. I do wish it would last the full 24-hour period, but I have no problem applying it twice per day if needed. I have repurchased this deodorant, but I do plan to try out other natural deodorants to see how they compare. I love the Tom’s of Maine brand, as it is widely available and on the affordable side. This deodorant retails for about $4.79, but is often on sale. I even got $1.00 cash back using the app Ibotta recently. You can purchase it online HERE from Target, or at your local drugstore or department store.

Do you have a favorite natural deodorant? Let me know in the comments!

This post includes an affiliate link and referral link to Ibotta. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Erin Condren Sherpa Throw Review | Floral Ink Design

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share my thoughts on the Erin Condren Sherpa Throw blanket with all of you. Erin Condren is my favorite place to purchase planners, and the company has expanded to offer more products for the home including art prints, accent pillows, and throw blankets. I decided to purchase the Sherpa Throw in the design Floral Ink, because I absolutely love blankets and needed a new one for this past winter season. Now that I’ve used the blanket for a few months, I’m ready to share my full review!

The Sherpa Throw currently comes in 15 different designs. I purchased the Floral Ink pattern because I love the color scheme and gorgeous florals. The throw is also available in two sizes: 50″ x 60″ at $55.00 and 60″ x 80″ at $75.00 I went with the smaller size blanket, and it appears to be the average throw blanket size. In the photo above, the blanket is folded in half and draped over a couch. The product is 100% polyester, and is machine washable and dryable.

The difference in blanket color is due to the lighting in each photograph. The blanket did not change color after being washed.

The Sherpa Throw shipped to me from a third-party, and separate from the other Erin Condren products I ordered at the same time. I was disappointed that I did not receive a tracking number for the blanket, but it arrived quickly and in perfect condition. The blanket was beyond luxurious when it first arrived. I loved how soft and fluffy the underside of the blanket was, and the top felt so velvety and smooth to the touch. The Sherpa Throw is also really warm and cozy – just what I wanted for the cold winter months! Unfortunately, I did notice a big change in the blanket after washing it. Despite following the washing instructions exactly, the once-fluffy underside became matted after its first wash, and a bit more matted after its second. The top also lost its velvety smooth feeling. While the blanket is still in great condition and extremely warm and comfortable, I am disappointed that it lost all of its fluffy texture. Nonetheless, I still think the Sherpa Throw is beautiful, and I will happily continue using it.

All in all, I think the Erin Condren Sherpa Throw is a great product, but I do think the price tag is too high when I think about the comparable products that can be purchased at stores like Marshalls and Target for more affordable prices. Of course, I also think it is disappointing that the texture of the blanket changes so much after each washing. In the end, I do recommend this product if you are able to afford the price, or if you get it during a sale. I still really love my Floral Ink throw, and I would consider purchasing more in the future if I wanted a specific design for a room in my home.

Save $10 off your first Erin Condren purchase by using my referral link HERE.

 

Vegan Banana Applesauce Muffins Recipe

Happy Food Friday! Today I am excited to share a recipe with all of you. I recently ended up with an overripe banana, and that meant it was baking time! I did a search of the web for some banana muffins, but all of the recipes I found required at least two bananas, and I only had one. I decided to create my own recipe based off of THIS simple one from PETA. I’ve made these Vegan Banana Applesauce Muffins a couple times now, and today I’ll be sharing this easy and delicious recipe with you!

This recipe is not only simple to make, but it uses ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. What’s great about using applesauce in baking is that it works like an egg to hold the batter together, and it also keeps the muffins really moist. You do not taste a strong apple flavor in these muffins. Instead, they taste just like traditional banana bread! These are a great breakfast treat for anyone, whether you are vegan or not. I love enjoying them with my morning coffee!

Print Recipe
Vegan Banana Applesauce Muffins Recipe
Delicious banana applesauce muffins made from simple ingredients. These are perfect for breakfast or snack time, and are great to bring for brunch! Even your non-vegan friends will love these muffins!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Servings
Muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Servings
Muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 360º.
  2. Mash banana in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add applesauce, vegetable oil, and sugar to banana and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until blended.
  6. Pour batter into a greased or lined muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Share this Recipe

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Vegan Banana Applesauce Muffins! If you try this recipe, I want to know. Tag me on Instagram HERE so I can see your photo.

What do you make with overripe bananas? Let me know in the comments!

This entry was posted in Food.

5 Reasons to Read the Balance Keepers Trilogy by Lindsay Cummings

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share with you one of my new favorite book series, the Balance Keepers by Lindsay Cummings. I’ve followed Lindsay’s YouTube channel for years now, and when I found the first book in this series at a library book sale, I knew I had to scoop it up. I don’t read a lot of middle grade novels, so I was nervous this wouldn’t be the series for me. I am so happy to say I fell in love with the Balance Keepers, and I hope to encourage more people to pick up these books. Here are five reasons why you should read the Balance Keepers trilogy by Lindsay Cummings!

The Balance Keepers trilogy is a middle grade fantasy series consisting of The Fires of Calderon, The Pillars of Ponderay, and The Traitor of Belltroll. You can read my full, non-spoiler review of the first book in the series by visiting my Goodreads page HERE.

1. Imaginative Magic System

The first reason I love the Balance Keepers trilogy is the unique magic system. This series takes place in the underground world known as the Core, which works to ensure the Earth above is safe from danger. Our protagonist Albert is a Balance Keeper, and he must work to restore any imbalance in one of the three realms to keep Earth safe. Each Balance Keeper gets one magic power by diving underwater to retrieve a tile with a symbol on it. Whenever you wear your tile in the Core, you get to use its magic power! There are tiles that allow you to speak with animals, tiles that give you an incredible memory, tiles that help you swim, and many more. I loved seeing this magic system come to life, as it encouraged the characters in the book to work together to solve problems.

2. Strong Friendship

Speaking of the characters, another reason to read this trilogy is the strong friendships represented in the story. Albert is put onto Team Hydra with a boy named Leroy and a girl named Birdie when he arrives to the Core. These three become fast friends, and it is wonderful to see how much they care for one another. They work as a team to keep the Core safe, but they also support each other and build each other up if one is feeling sad. It’s also wonderful to see Albert, Leroy, and Birdie grow as friends throughout the trilogy!

3. Exciting Adventures

Another reason to read this series is the aspect of adventure. In addition to competitive training simulations, Team Hydra is always on the move around the Core to discover more information and learn all they can about this new place. Each book also ends up with a trip inside a magical realm, where Albert, Leroy, and Birdie must figure out how to deal with the realm’s unique geography and creatures to help restore its balance. I really enjoy adventure-filled stories, and the Balance Keepers trilogy always keeps me turning pages for more!

4. Magical Creatures

If you are an animal lover, you are going to adore this trilogy! In addition to a wide variety of interesting creatures, this series features a special dog named Farnsworth. While he looks like any normal dog, Farnsworth can actually live for many, many years, and he also has flashlights for eyes! Farnsworth is Albert’s companion creature, and goes with him everywhere he possibly can. It’s so sweet that Farnsworth plays such a big role in the series, and I loved reading about him and the other creatures of the Core.

5. Strong Writing

Last but not least, I think this series stands out because Cummings has a great writing style. This trilogy is aimed at middle grade readers, so it does cater to that audience in terms of the tone. However, the writing can definitely appeal to adults as well. I was very impressed with how Cummings weaves her storylines together. While there is one over-arching plot in the Balance Keepers series as a whole, each book also has a smaller plot that concludes nicely. In addition, I found the series to be quite unpredictable. I could never guess what was going to happen next, and that kept me wanting more. I’m also inspired to read more of  Cummings’s books now that I know I enjoy her writing!

  I hope this blog post introduced you to a new series, and that you will give it a try! These are just some of the reasons I adore the Balance Keepers trilogy, but there are many more, including the character of Pap, Albert’s adorable grandpa. Whether you are already a fan of middle grade fantasy, or you are looking for something out of your comfort zone, I think the Balance Keepers will keep you entertained from start to finish. Please be sure to let me know if you read the series!

What is your favorite middle grade fantasy book? Let me know in the comments!

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