Recipe First Impression: Stuffed Acorn Squash

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I recently moved in to my first apartment, giving me the opportunity to try lots of new vegan recipes. So to share my culinary experiments with you, I thought I would create a series of “Recipe First Impressions.” In these posts, I will share a recipe I have never made before, recreate it, and share my finished product and opinion about it.

The first new recipe I am tackling is Stuffed Acorn Squash, using this recipe from The Roasted Root. I decided to veer away from the recipe by filling the squashes with wild rice, cranberries, apples,  pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. When I first picked up the acorn squashes, I was a bit nervous about how this meal would turn out, since they are a bit strange looking! But I found that they were very easy to cut open and cook. The wild rice filling was lovely and fragrant, too.

I enjoyed the combination of the buttery, nutty taste of the squash with the tart cranberries and apples. The pecans also added a nice texture. The only drawback was that I overcooked the squashes! 35 minutes as recommended in the recipe was not long enough, but the 55 minutes I cooked them for was too long. Next time, I will try cooking them for around 40 minutes.

Overall, I really liked this recipe. It was easy to make, delicious, satisfying, and healthy. It makes a festive and pretty autumn meal, and would be perfect for the holidays. I would make this recipe again, and I would recommend it to anyone interested. Below is a picture of how my stuffed squash turned out:

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I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any recommendations for what I should make next, please let me know!

Best,

Leila

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A Small Fall Haul

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The chillier temperatures, changing leaves, and cloudy skies can only mean one thing: it’s fall! I apologize for my absence last month. In the midst of starting my second year of college, moving into a new apartment, and starting a new job, I have been taking some time to figure myself out. But I’m back today to share a few fall-inspired items I purchased recently!

ModCloth Harvest Fest Coat in Vermillion

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Product listing here. And if you are a college student I recommend taking advantage of the 10% Modcloth Student Discount!

This coat was more expensive than I would have liked, but I am so glad I purchased it. Complete with a warm, reddish-orange color, cute toggles, big pockets, and a faux fur-trimmed hood, this is the perfect fall coat. And to seal the deal, it’s non-wool! The proportions are perfect: the sleeves are long enough to cover my half of my hands, and the medium length of the coat is extremely flattering. My only complaint is that the faux fur trim flops over my eyes when I put the hood up, and it cannot be removed. But overall, I could not adore this coat more and can’t wait to wear it all season!

Bath and Body Works Leaves Candle

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Product listing here.

I have heard many people rave about this candle, and after browsing the Bath and Body Works website and reading loads of positive reviews, I decided to give it a try. I love this candle’s pretty leaf-patterned bronze lid, and it has a lovely scent to match. Even when it’s not lit, this candle fills the room with a festive combination of autumn wreaths, cider, spices, and berries. I imagine this scent will be perfect for Thanksgiving time.

Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Pie Candle

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Product listing here.

Candles were 2 for $24 at Bath and Body Works, so naturally, I had to purchase a second one…And of course, what would a fall haul be without a pumpkin scented candle? I picked this one because I thought the picture on the jar was adorable, and who doesn’t want their home to smell like a scrumptious pumpkin pie is in the oven? I love this candle’s a warm, sweet, vanilla scent. My only complaint is that I wish the pumpkin and spice undertones were a bit stronger.

Bath and Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Foaming Hand Soap

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Product listing here.

Since fall is the season of pumpkin-flavored everything, I have to complete my fall haul with one last pumpkin scented item: hand soap! This scent is described as “warm pumpkin, fresh cinnamon stick, & sweet sugarcane,” but to be honest, I don’t think it smells like pumpkin at all. To me, it smells sweet and slightly fruity with a hint of spice, but the soap does the job!

That is my short and sweet fall haul! I hope you are enjoying the autumn season. If you have picked up some fall-inspired goodies lately, I would love to see your hauls too! 🙂

Best,

Leila

Emerging from your Old Skin

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Sometimes, nature teaches you life lessons. Today, I found a cicada’s empty shell in my back yard. Since the outer skeleton does not grow with the insect, from time to time, it crawls out of its old skin and grows a new, stronger, and bigger one. The cicada emerges weak and vulnerable. But without looking back, it leaves its old shell behind and aspires to become something more. I started thinking about the empty skin and realized that it serves as a great metaphor for life.

Right now, I am on the precipice of adulthood. In a couple of weeks, I will be starting my sophomore year of college and moving into my first apartment. Finding a job and saving up for a car are at the front of my mind, as well as declaring my major and pursuing a career after graduation. Choosing your path in life is scary. It means letting go of the past and venturing into the dangerous and unknown future, even though it may not turn out the way you want it to.

But at times like these, I think we all could channel the courage of a cicada. We can’t remain complacent and comfortable in our old  skin. We must aspire to grow and move forward, even if it means taking a risk and leaving familiarity behind. That moment when you first emerge from your old skin, unsure of whether you will ever find your new beautiful armor, must be tough. But like the cicada, we need to have faith in who we are meant to be and keep flying.

Best,

Leila

April Favorites

It has been a long time since I published a favorites of the month post. I have been enjoying a few things this month that I think are worth sharing, so let’s get into them:

Beauty

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow

IMG_1848With the warmer spring weather this month, I have been using my Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Playa del Pink. It is a very nice metallic rose gold shadow that wears well as a base or on its own. Wearing it underneath shimmery champagne shadows gives an intense and radiant look. Best of all, this shadow is super light, natural, and cruelty-free!

Yes To Tomatoes Acne Cleanser & Yes To Cucumbers Body wash

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I have also been loving Yes To products this month. Their tomato acne cleanser is very nice and has been helping clear my skin. I switched from their scrub to the gel because I learned that the beads found in exfoliating products are too small to be removed by water filtration and often end up in local bodies of water. When aquatic animals as fish and turtles ingest the pellets, they may accumulate in their stomachs, causing them to die of malnourishment. I also found that the harshness of the exfoliating beads irritated my skin, so using a clean washcloth to exfoliate is kinder to both the animals and your skin.

I also love the cucumber body wash. It is gentle for sensitive skin and smells super refreshing. It is a great cruelty-free and natural dupe for Dove’s Cucumber Green Tea body wash.

Fashion 

I purchased a few items at winter clearance sales that have become staples this month.

First, I have been loving these strappy heeled booties. They are very versatile and comfortable. I also love the texture of them. They are some of the nicest vegan leather shoes I have come across.

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Second, I have been enjoying incorporating this crescent moon pendant necklace into my outfits. If you wear a lot of black like I do, a silver pendant like this one adds an eye catching touch of detail and texture.

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Third, I have been wearing this black kimono style top often this month. I love the delicate crochet sleeves and long fringe detail at the bottom. It is light and comfortable and adds a bohemian vibe to any outfit. I pair it with high waisted shorts and black maxi-skirts.

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Food

I have been eating strawberries like crazy this month. I like snacking on a bowl of them for dessert or between meals. They are also great chopped up in a bowl with bananas.

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Those are all of my favorites for this month! I would love to know what you have enjoyed during April. Hope you have a lovely May!

Best,

Leila

Vegan in College: What I Eat in a Day

what I eat in a day veganA common question among prospective vegans or students heading to college soon is, “What the heck am I going to eat?” If you eat all of your meals at a dining hall like I do, this question can be even more concerning. To hopefully provide some insight, I am going to show you everything I ate today as a vegan college student.

Breakfast

For breakfast, I ate a bowl of pineapple and strawberries, half of a grapefruit, and a banana. I also drank a glass of water. Typically, I like to have peanut butter toast, but I wanted to go running and was too drowsy to wait until afterwards to eat breakfast, so I opted for a light and energizing all-fruit  breakfast.

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Snack

After I finished my run and had gotten ready, I went to my favorite coffee shop to study for an exam. I drank a peach iced black tea and ate a banana and an apple.

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Lunch

For lunch, I ate a spinach, tomato, cucumber, mushroom, and hummus sandwich on wheat bread. Tip: hummus makes a great substitution for cheese on sandwiches and adds flavor so you need not add any additional sauces.

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I also ate a plate of veggie sushi, which contained carrots, cucumbers, and avocado.

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Another tip: Whenever I visit the dining hall, I like to take some fruit, such as apples and bananas, with me and keep them in a fruit bowl in my room. Then, if I am hungry during the day or after the dining hall closes, I have a snack on hand. I recommend keeping only healthy snacks in your dorm room so that when you are up late studying for exams or working on projects, you won’t be tempted to binge eat junk food. Am I the only one whose inhibition takes a nosedive after midnight?

Dinner

As a vegan in college, there are bound to be days when the vegan options at the dining hall are far from ideal. Today was one of those days. The only vegan entrees the dining hall in my residence hall was serving were tater tots, fries, and orange sauce. 😦 Here’s a tip for turning a tight situation around: Check the menus at other nearby dining halls (my university has an app for this). That way, you can scope out some tastier, healthier vegan options and avoid having fries for dinner.

I took a trip to another dining hall that had a rad pasta bar. I got mine with broccoli, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, marinara sauce, and soy cheese.

IMG_20150424_170406622I also ate a plate of grilled asparagus.

IMG_20150424_171232233For dessert, I ate a bowl of pineapple and strawberries.

IMG_20150424_172010634Snack

For a study snack later that evening, I ate a cashew and almond mix.

IMG_20150424_194517419That’s what I ate today! I hope that this helps to answer the question of what vegans eat, and what to eat in college.

Best,

Leila

Jaunary Fashion and Beauty Haul

IMG_20150131_201210161I did some shopping this month and picked up some cute fashion and beauty items. I am excited to share them with you, so let’s get into the haul!

Fashion

Black Dress

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I found this cute black dress at PacSun. I love the flowy, off the shoulder sleeves. The dress is quite loose, but still flattering. The buttons and the thin crochet insets give it an element of dimension. I love the way this dress looks with black tights and black boots.

Black Long Sleeved Tee

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PacSun was having a buy one get one free sale, so I got this for free along with the dress. I probably would not have purchased this otherwise, but after trying it on at home I was very glad I did. I love the way the loose fit and tighter sleeves complement each other. I adore the elegance of the neckline as well.

Beauty

Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions

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Finding cruelty-free and vegan acne fighting products can be difficult, but I really like this product. It contains salicylic acid and willow bark to help speed the healing of acne, yet is also natural and gentle, making it suitable for sensitive skin. I have been using it for a week and it has been helping heal the acne I already had and has prevented new break outs. Hopefully it helps me get my skin under control!

C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve

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This was a repurchase. This salve is has been a staple for me and I have used it nearly every single day since I last purchased it. The first tin lasted about a year. The skin on my lips can become a bit dry during the wintertime, so I like applying this at night. When I wake up, my skin is soft and smooth.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

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I have heard amazing things about this liner, which is cruelty-free as far as I can tell. (Kat Von D herself is vegan!) Hopefully, this product lives up to my expectations.

NARS Lip Pencils

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I got these lip pencils as a birthday gift from Sephora. It was a pleasant surprise, as my birthday was over a month ago. I was worried the gift would be a from a company that tests on animals, but I was happy to find it was cruelty-free. The colors are Rikugien and Cruella. I love how creamy and smooth these lip pencils are, though they are not long wearing. I have been wanting to try a matte red and mauve pink for a long time, so this sample was perfect.

That’s everything I picked up this month! I hope you enjoyed this haul. If you have done some shopping recently, feel free to share your finds with me. I would love to know what you have been enjoying! 🙂

Best,

Leila

January Outfits of the Week

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There’s no better way to kick off wool-free winter than with a week full of fun outfits! In this post, I will share the outfits I wore each day of the week, Monday through Friday. (No, I won’t be showing you the super fashionable sweat pants and tee shirts I wear over the weekend!) Of course, all of the outfits are vegan because animals are meant to be loved, not worn! So here are my outfits of the week:

Monday

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On Monday, I wore a black long sleeved tee shirt underneath this adorable jacket. I love how it is has the comfort of a sweat shirt with the put-together look of a denim jacket. I paired the jacket with a pair of distressed black jeans. I am also wearing a pair of crew socks with my trusty black combat boots (which will be glued to my feet all winter).

Tuesday

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On Tuesday, I wore my adorable elephant tee shirt with a long gray cardigan. For bottoms, I wore a pair of dark washed jeggings, a pair of crew socks, and my favorite shoes 😉 .

Wednesday

IMG_20150114_173536714On Wednesday, I wore this adorable 3/4 length tee decorated with unicorns, bunnies, kittens, and puppies having a tea party under a tree. What could be better than that? Hopefully, the adorable shirt distracts from the fact that I wore the same cardigan two days in a row :P.  I tucked the tee into these dark indigo high rise jeggings, which match nicely with the design on the tee. And of course, I had to wear socks and boots again!

Thursday

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Thursday’s outfit was a bit more casual. I paired a cream colored shoulder-studded sweater with simple black leggings. I wore brown and white mottled socks today with my boots (of course).

Friday

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For my final outfit of the week, I wore a gray cable knit sweater paired with a turquoise and blue infinity scarf. I paired this with dark wash jeggings, pale blue crew socks, and boots.

Those are the outfits I wore this week! I hope this gave you some cruelty-free winter fashion inspiration. I would love to know which outfit was your favorite. Have a relaxing weekend! 🙂

Best,

Leila