Review: Maine-Made, Vegan Goodness by J&K’s Hempworks

Who knew hemp oil was such a wonder ingredient in skincare? Aside from being a do-it-all (have you ever had hempmilk?! There is no creamier non-dairy milk around, making it great for smoothies and coffee), renewable crop, the oil extracted from hemp seeds is a powerhouse for the skin.

For one, the fats, or lipids, in hemp oil are similar to those found in the skin, making it an ideal moisturizer for skin lacking in moisture. The oil is also rich in vitamins A and E, which makes it good at promoting scar-healing, preventing stretch marks on soon-to-be mama’s, and even helping those suffering from psoriasis due to the oil’s omegas content. Let’s just say this: hemp oil is amazing.

That’s where J&K’s Hempworks comes in! We just certified their entire line, and they were kind enough to send a care package of their hemp-based skincare products.

According to their website:

J&K’s Hempworks is a small, hemp-based business focusing on personal care products, lip balms and soaps . . . [and] an environmentally and socially conscious company seeking to educate consumers who may be somewhat apprehensive about hemp based products due to confusion about the differences between marijuana and hemp.

Handmade in Maine, J&K’s Hempworks provides a number of different vegan skincare options, ranging from lip balms and soaps to shaving helpers and lotion bars.

The lip balms, which come in a variety of flavors (we tried Colleen’s Classic and Sunburst, an orange flavor), are one of the best vegan lip balms available in terms of texture. So many vegan balms are either too waxy, where they just drag across your lips, or are too oily, where you probably could have saved your money and rubbed coconut oil on your mouth. These balms are the perfect balance between the two, making them a moisturizing, deliciously-scented, holy grail companion. Also, they’re beeswax free, which is why we mentioned them in one of our earlier Facebook posts (and why they’re Certified Vegan, of course)!

Another great option, especially with the warmer weather coming, are the lotion bars. The bars are solid and buttery, making them a great traveling companion. Body heat melts the oils and butters directly into your skin, where you then gently rub it in. No oily feeling like some lotions, as it absorbs almost instantly! Bonus plus: the lavender scent, I’m Laven It!, would be amazing for the outdoors, as the lavender essential oil will help keep pesky bugs at bay.

All the products we tried are great, let’s be honest. The best multi-purpose one, however, is the liquid soap (which we got in Cranberry)! Similar to Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps, the J&K’s liquid soaps can be used as hand soap, body wash, and even shampoo. The soap is high in moisturizing oils, which makes it a little less suds-y then traditional soaps, but in turn leaves your skin soft, moisturized, and smelling like fall. Plus, we love the art deco design on the bottle!

Thanks so much to J&K’s Hempworks for allowing us to try these amazing, Certified Vegan products! They made hemp-lovers of us, and we hope they do the same to you! Interested in supporting a new, small vegan company and trying out some of the line yourself? Use code VEGAN at checkout to save 15% of your order! We definitely recommend the products we tried, but there are many more to choose from, especially since they’re going to continue expanding their line!


Review: Gluten-Free and HEAVENLY cookies by Maxine’s Heavenly

We understand that some of our lovely vegan friends have stricter diets than others, whether their sensitive stomachs can’t handle gluten very well or they have issues with refined sugar products. So, we are happy to introduce another gluten-free, (mostly) refined-sugar-free, and of course Certified Vegan brand of cookies into our family!

Maxine’s Heavenly has several GF/V flavors of your fav classic cookies. We were lucky enough to try all of them, and can say that, for a healthy cookie, they’re pretty darn good! The only downside is that they are a little crumbly, which isn’t a big deal unless you’re snacking on-the-go. Our favorites are the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin cookies (for our nut-free folks) and the Almond Chocolate Chip! The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies are even made using homemade peanut butter and are extra crunchy from added peanuts…what more can you ask for in a cookie? 

You can get the cookies off their website here: http://www.maxinesheavenly.com/order-now/ or through various locations in good ol’ sunny California (and a few in other states). They also have a “Cookie Club,” where a monthly delivery of baked goodness will arrive to keep your pantry full of cookies everyone can enjoy.

Along with ordering online, you can also read more about the cookies and the company, too!


Natural Sins – The UN-Potato Chip!

“All it takes is two ingredients and our Costa Rican way of doing things for us to steal a few potato chip fans,” Natural Sins promises with their new line of Crispy Chips, which contain flavors like pineapple, mango, coconut and even beet! Their statement isn’t false; the fruit, which is sliced thinly and baked until crisp, mimics the classic potato chip, just without the carb-y, starch-y potato. The resulting chips are delicious, inherently gluten free, and of course, a better snacking option, all while being completely vegan (and certified, of course)!

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We agree that these chips are the “UN Potato Chip” and will be reaching for them when the craving for something thin and crunchy hits. Their Crispy Pineapple Chips are even baked with the rind and core; how many can say they’ve eaten a whole pineapple? We can, and we didn’t want to share the bag either!

Ivan & Andres

The Crispy Coconut Chips were even selected as a Finalist for a sofi Award this year, presented by the SpecialtyFood Association for Outstanding Sweet Snacks. This recognition confirmed that the Crispy Chips are among the Top Three fruit and veggie snacks in the world! You’ll have to try them yourself to see if the claim is true.

Happy snacking and Pura Vida!


Book Review: “How To Be Vegan”

Vegan Action Book Review: “How To Be Vegan” Edition!

Written by VegNews Magazine‘s former editorial director Elizabeth Castoria, the 2014 “How To Be Vegan” guide is one of the most handy resources we’ve seen this year. Castoria provides plenty of information—gearing towards both people interested in veganism and current vegans (a win-win for everyone!)—in a resource full of wit and charm, including (but not limited to): a basic introduction and obvious how-to on becoming a vegan (and why you should!), tips on transitioning, answers to common questions, dietary information and recommendations, meal guides, how to remain cruelty-free while traveling the country and the world, a manner guide (personal favorite section, it’s light-hearted and hilarious, but still super helpful), and even a small section devoted to recipes. The book is also rift with other more extensive resources, such as recommendations for other books regarding veganism, links to websites, and lists that include tasty vegan eateries around the country, animal sanctuaries, and all-vegan vacation getaways (looking at you, bed & breakfast establishments). All-in-all, the guide is handy and adorable, and surprisingly helpful for something so small. The fact that it was published recently is also nice, given that it’s more up-to-date than other “how to” vegan resources that our team has read.

PROS/HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Cute cover, layout, and informational graphics
  • Small size that’s perfect for trips to the supermarket or for traveling
  • Pleasant, funny, and informative tone
  • Helpful for non-vegans and vegans alike
  • Helpful resource guides to finding vegan cosmetics, clothing, cleaners, and accidentally vegan junk food, etc
  • Easy-to-read and easy-to-understand information

CONS:

Some of the recipes may look a little extensive (as far as unusual ingredients or cooking process goes) to those who are interested in veganism but aren’t ready to take the plunge, which could give the impression that meals require more culinary skill than “regular” omnivore dishes (hint: they don’t, promise!)

The guide is available on Amazon and many major book retail stores for $14.95, but don’t forget to check if your local bookshop carries it or could order it for you first (a good Richmond example being Chop Suey Books)!