The Magical Powers of Neroli

It can be very difficult to find vegan skin care products that are natural, organic and chemical-free. I usually resort to making my own homemade concoctions instead of spending a ridiculous amount of time and money researching, shopping and ultimately being disappointed in the experience. Until now, that is!

I ordered a few products including the Neroli Toning Mist from Annmarie Gianni’s skin care line and not only was blown away by how amazing they are, I also have found a new love – Neroli.

According to the handy information card that is included, Neroli balances natural oils, soothes skin and minimizes large pores. It also has an incredible aromatherapy benefit of enhancing your mood, calming your soul and can be used as an aphrodisiac. Wow!

So I did a bit of surfing to find out more . . . here are the highlights:

  • Neroli is made by distilling oil from the blossom of the Bitter Orange tree
  • Because it is steam distilled (due to the delicateness of the blossom) it takes 1 ton to make 1 quart of oil
  • It has been used to treat headaches, relieve insomnia and reduce nervousness and anxiety

The coolest thing I found out is that it was introduced to the world by Anne Marie Orsini, a 17th century princess from Nerola, Italy. Is it coincidence that another Annmarie, centuries later would bring it into my life and now yours? I think not!

So, now I have it sitting on my desk and every time I need a pick-me-up or my skin feels a little dry, I mist my face and neck, take a deep breath of the sweet, citrus aroma and smile.

If you want to find out how amazing this stuff really is, please visit Annmarie’s website.

Have you used Neroli in your life? Share your tips below!


Tamari or Soy Sauce?

I was recently asked why I use Tamari instead of Soy Sauce and I couldn’t answer. It had been a while since I made the switch and I knew it was for good reasons – just none that I could remember! So I promised to find out.

Here’s the scoop…

Soy Sauce:

  • Made from soy beans, wheat, water and salt; NOT gluten-free
  • Sharper taste
  • A product of China created ~2,800 years ago (wow!)
  • Looses most of its essential flavor (which are aromatic) when exposed to high temperatures
  • In some commercial brands, the soybeans are defatted with hexane; a petroleum derivative (ewh!)
  • Common production shortcuts include artificial fermentation methods using genetically engineered enzymes (double ewh!)


  • Made from soy beans, water and salt; gluten-free
  • Darker color and richer, smoother flavor
  • A product of Japan (evolved from soy sauce)
  • Retains its flavor after cooking
  • Has 37% more protein than soy sauce

I personally use Organic San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari. It contains 25% less sodium and is Certified Organic. According to their website, all of their Tamari is brewed for up to six months using traditional methods passed down for eight generations. They do not add MSG or artificial preservatives to any, and all are certified Kosher, Non GMO Project Verified and Certified Gluten-Free. Impressive!

So, now whenever I am asked in the future, I will be sure to remember the outstanding differences between the two and be able to confidently convince someone they are much better off consuming the obvious winner of this ancient competition – TAMARI!

I feel like taking an intimidating samurai stance with a corresponding scowl as I type this!

Maybe I’ll just stick with kickin’ butt in the kitchen. . .

Do you use Tamari, Soy Sauce or both? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Spiral Diner | A Dallas Delight

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a meal at Spiral Diner in Dallas last weekend on a visit to see my honey, T. It was the first time I had been to the city as a vegan and T had done an excellent job of finding dining options that looked healthy, vegan and yummy. The first on the agenda was Spiral Diner and what a delight it was!

It has the vibe and look of a diner with waitstaff that are also retro and super cool. The menu is fantastic and the self-serve atmosphere makes it fun to mix and mingle with the other patrons enjoying the amazing vegan fare. While you wait at your booth for your morsels of goodness, you can peruse stacks of books of various topics – vegan, animal rights, art, etc.

Eating Animals happened to be near our booth and after me going on and on about how freakin’ incredible it was,  T said he would put it on his reading list. (Read my blog post about this potentially life-changing book if you haven’t read it yet.)

The menu is impressive and extensive. Plus it was such a change of pace to know that I could literally order ANYTHING on the menu. After some pondering, we decided to go spicy and enjoyed Chips & Salsa, The Big Taquito (for me) and The ‘Ate’ Layer Burrito (for T). Everything was incredibly delicious and the service was friendly and efficient.

If you are in the Dallas area, or visiting, I definitely recommend making a stop even if you only can get something to-go. You will surely be delighted with your experience!

Have you been to Spiral Diner? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Forks Over Knives | A Must See!

Thanks to Netflix, I finally saw Forks Over Knives! It has been on my list for a while and I am so happy I watched it. It is chock full of great information in an easy-to-understand presentation. This movie will appeal to newbies and veteran plant-based eaters alike.

If you want to see the trailer and learn more, the website is a great source of info. Check it out!

“To accept the factory farm feels inhuman.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals has been on my list for a while and now that I’ve read it, I wish I had not taken so long. But a part of me must have known it was better that I waited – until I was truly ready.

This book has shifted my world and it has been a disturbing and revelatory journey. I can feel the seeds that were planted while reading his stories, experiences and conclusions slowly growing inside this little noggin’ of mine and I’m quite terrified of what is going to come of them!

Seriously – there is some pretty heavy stuff that has been floating around in there since I finished this book!

As upsetting as it was, I am so glad that it was Jonathan who guided me through the rationalizations, philosophies and astute observations in such a way that I could finish what he had started.

My heart and stomach cannot take much – if any – of the graphic details that are so prevalent in the conversations about factory farming but somehow he was able to present it in a way that I knew it was important that I know it, not just for shock value, but as building blocks to seeing the bigger picture.

Now that I have seen that picture, and recognize that I am not behind the camera observing but participating – by my action AND inaction – I realize I must act. Inertia, complacency and neutrality are not going to cut it when you are dealing with people who see everything as a commodity – who see animals and humans as expendable.

Everything is Illuminated Mr. Foer – and it’s all your fault!

Have you read Eating Animals? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Do You Believe in Promises? Kathy Freston Does.

I just finished reading Kathy Freston’s book Veganist and wanted to share with you the promises she makes to those who choose to ‘lean into’ a vegan lifestyle and my thoughts about the book.

The 10 promises are discussed in each chapter and are:

  1. Your body will find and maintain its ideal weight – effortlessly.
  2. You will lowers your risks for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes – and even reverse diseases already diagnosed.
  3. You will live longer and better.
  4. You will take yourself out of harm’s way.
  5. You will save money.
  6. You will radically reduce your carbon footprint and do the single best thing you can for the environment.
  7. You will be helping provide food to the global poor.
  8. You will reduce animal suffering.
  9. You will following the wisdom of the great spiritual traditions.
  10. You will evolve and take the work with you.

Although some of the promises may seem a bit of a stretch, she does present the evidence she used to come to these conclusions quite clearly. Her talking points are simple and very easy to understand. So if you’re new to the whole vegan idea, you will find it a pleasant introduction.

What I liked the most was her nonjudgmental style. Her suggestions and personal stories ease you into understanding the issues and are especially helpful for those who may be hesitant to adopt something that seems so radical – at first.

Even though I am someone who has already adopted the lifestyle and doesn’t need convincing, I still found myself saying, “That’s a great way to explain it.” and know I will be using some of her explanations in conversations with people about being a wannabe vegan.

Have you read Veganist? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness Book Review – Part II

The second chapter of Robert Cheeke’s Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness book is a personal journey shared with the reader. Robert takes us through the years from when he was a child as he worked toward his goal of becoming a bodybuilder. The photos, exercise journals and media appearances help to show how his transformation occurred over the years.

“Bodybuilding didn’t come as easy as I thought it would.”

Robert talks about consistency being the cornerstone of any endeavor. He also highlights the importance of having a detailed vision.

His formula for success is:

  1. Create a detailed vision for success based around something you’re passionate about.
  2. Embrace your vision with enthusiasm and be consistent with your efforts.
  3. Allow adaptation to occur.
  4. Improve as a result of your consistent and dedicated actions.
  5. Succeed and share your success with others, inspiring other to be remarkable.

This formula is useful to everyone; not just bodybuilders. I found it very inspiring to see how dedicated he was for so many years despite the hurdles that presented themselves along the way.

“Potential counts for a lot; but heart, desire, and will can take a dream from potential to possible.”

Also in this chapter is the story of how his company; Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness began and has evolved over the years. It is now a great resource for others who are interested in being vegan bodybuilders.

What I liked the most in this chapter is Robert’s outlined methods for helping others figure out what they want to do and why they are doing it so that success is much more likely. He even includes his Top 10 Reasons to Begin Bodybuilding – something everyone who has a goal should read.

Have you read Robert’s book? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.