janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘review’

Green Zebra Kitchen Review

In Book Review on September 2, 2014 at 6:19 AM

In case you haven’t noticed, the past month has a whirlwind. An international trip, an international move, an international exam, while beginning a new job with many hiccups along the way (the funeral, the delayed pod, the broken car, the broken ankle, oh yeah). Suffice it to say, I had lots of things on my mind. I had to focus on other things and thankfully, I found a fabulous vegan delivery service to help take care of keeping me well fed.

Green Zebra Kitchen is a Toronto meal delivery service that comes to your door. All meals are vegan and gluten-free and they use only organic, whole foods with as much local, seasonal produce as possible. Run by brothers Gregg and Dan, they both trained at Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and know how to cook. Let’s just say I was blown away by their creations. Delicious, creative and healthy. I think I even learned about new ingredients (how could that possible be? – but it is true! Have you heard of nepitella?).

There are a few plans you can purchase, but there are always 3 mains and 3 sides and you can swap any in/out if any do not appeal to you. Furthermore there are extras if you would like breakfast items (ie granola, oatmeal, smoothies) and extra sides (sauerkraut, flatbread, kale chips, hummus) or dessert (like dark chocolate almond butter cups). I ended up with their Plan B, meant to serve 3-4 meals.

Let me share with you the delicious meals of the  week:

Green Zebra Kitchen Review


Blue Tortilla Lasagna with Black Bean, Butternut Squash, Corn, Pickled Jalapeno, and Cashew Cheese

I am sorry my picture does not give it the credit it deserves because it was delicious. Blue corn tortillas were used to make a Mexican-inspired lasagna with a vegan cashew cheese sauce.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Blue Tortilla Lasagna with Black Bean, Butternut Squash, Corn, Pickled Jalapeno, and Cashew Cheese


Which was paired with: Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Edible Flowers, and Lime Vinaigrette

Nice and light, this was a simple (and delicious) kale salad.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Edible Flowers, and Lime Vinaigrette


Tuscan Chickpea Tempeh Bowl with Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Mushrooms, Olives, and Nepitella

I originally thought there would be chickpeas and tempeh in here, but it was tempeh made form chickpeas. I didn’t even know that was possible but it was delicious. I only wish there was more tempeh!

Green Zebra Kitchen - Tuscan Chickpea Tempeh Bowl with Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Mushrooms, Olives, and Nepitella


Which was paired with: Yellow and Green Bean Salad with Beets, Roasted Chickpeas, and Italian Vinaigrette

This is where I got my chickpea-fix along with all the other beans. Nice and light, it paired well with the more flavourful quinoa bowl.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Yellow and Green Bean Salad with Beets, Roasted Chickpeas, and Italian Vinaigrette


Massaman Thai Curry with Tofu, Red Pepper, Tamarind, Lime Leaves, and Coconut Milk

I found this a bit too sweet for me, but Rob loved it. He was bothered that there were no peanuts. Apparently peanuts are a quintessential ingredient for Massaman curry. That was Rob’s complaint the last time we tried making Massaman curry at home, so at least he is consistent. 😉

Green Zebra Kitchen - Massaman Thai Curry with Tofu, Red Pepper, Tamarind, Lime Leaves, and Coconut Milk


Which was paired with: Red Rice Salad with Shredded Broccoli, Carrots, Cashews, Cilantro, and Miso Ginger Dressing

Again, this was a nicely flavoured salad with not too much dressing. The ginger and miso were merely shades in the background.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Red Rice Salad with Shredded Broccoli, Carrots, Cashews, Cilantro, and  Miso Ginger Dressing


Red Pepper, Walnut, Pomegranate Dip

AKA Muhammara. Delicious.The best of all the meals, and it wasn’t even a meal. I have made muhammara before and forgot how wonderfully delicious it can be.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Red Pepper Dip


Carrot Cake Balls

The next day, I accused Rob of stealing a ball but here I can easily tell he didn’t swipe one – I started out with 5! These were nice. A bit more moist than my typical dessert balls, but nice and light without being too sweet.

Green Zebra Kitchen - Carrot Cake Balls

Mango Lime Green Smoothie with Collards and Banana (unpictured)

I have a picture of the smoothie at the top. It was sweet but I would not have known there was collards (or any greens) hidden in it by the taste. It was green but did not taste green.

The menus change weekly and all orders need to be received by Friday for Monday delivery. I have spied other meals including, but not limited to:

Tempeh Reuben with Cauliflower, Potatoes, Garlic Scape Dill Kraut and Cashew Cheese

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Red Lentils, Preserved Lemon, Olives and Zhoug

Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Yams, Roasted Cauliflower, Basil and Fresh Tomatoes

Biryani Bowl with Tofu, Chickpeas, Broccoli and Tamarind-Coconut Curry Dressing

Coconut Corn Chowder with Oyster Mushrooms, Potatoes and Chickpeas

Baked Falafel Bowl with Broccoli, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Quinoa Tabouli and Tahini Dressing

Overall, I highly recommend the food. The meals are healthy and totally Janet-friendly.

As advertised, it easily feed 3-4 people and even more if you supplement with additional quinoa/rice/etc from home to stretch the meals further. The diversity is vast and truly, the only thing keeping me from ordering every week would be the price ($62+tax for the plan B). I wish they would open a restaurant so I could get a quick fix at random times throughout the week.

Have you ever used a meal delivery service? I think it is great for times when you don’t have time to cook or if you are travelling to Toronto for business and don’t have time to make/find your food or you want some great vegan options should you host a party (if you do that, please invite me over!).

Note: I was provided with a week’s worth of eats for my review. I ended up loving it so much I bought it the next week, too.

The Best Vegan Lip Balms

In Beauty, Favourites on March 2, 2013 at 7:37 AM

I should probably call this “My Favourite Vegan Lip Balms”. This isn’t an exhaustive review of all vegan balms, but I definitely feel like I have some winners I wanted to share. With this cold weather, I have been evaluating my lip balm stash.

As I investigated vegan beauty products while making my bathbomb cupcakes, I became interested in vegan lip balms. A recovering long-time lip balm lover, I thought about making my own. Then I reasoned there are such great products out there, why experiment with expensive ingredients when others have already made the perfect formulation? So I broadened my lip balm search beyond my long-time favourites.

First of all, why bother with vegan balms? As something you place on your lips, you are bound to ingest it, too. 7 lbs worth according to Dr. Oz. When you look at it that way, maybe all those chemicals aren’t the best option.

What makes balms NOT vegan? PETA has a good list of animals ingredients, but the worse culprits are lanolin (sheep oil), tallow (beef fat), and casein (milk protein). Honey and beeswax are controversial topics for vegans. I don’t eat honey because it is a high-glycemic sweetener but less antsy about using beeswax. However, in my research, I found I preferred the balms without beeswax. And the more I looked at the ingredient lists of my balms, I thought the same methodology I employed for my cooking (unprocessed whole foods) would be better than balms filled with wacky ingredients as preservatives and dyes.

Without further ado, here are my favourite vegan lip balms (pics courtesy of originating websites).

1. Orange Thymeorange thyme  vegan lip balm

Rachel makes possibly my favourite lips balms. They are homemade in small batches with natural ingredients. The balms literally melt into your lips and moisturize them for hours. I love these. She has a wide variety of flavours but so far my favourites are pomegranate chocolate, marshmallow hot cocoa and Meyer lemon cupcake (yes it smells like a cupcake). As a small, independent retailer, my only problem was receiving a balm that had melted into the cap, likely knocked over during productive, which was not replaced. Quality control beforehand would make this a fool-proof item.

Ingredients: avocado oil, cocoa butter, candelilla wax, shea butter, natural and essential oils.

2. Hurrawhurraw vegan raw lip balms

Raw and vegan lip balms. I picked up my first Hurraw balm at the Veg Fest after a stranger whispered they were the best balms ever. I agree, I love these. Luscious and moisturizing. A bit firmer than Orange Thyme balms, but long-lasting. I only put them as #2 since they cost more and difficult to find in Canada. My favourite flavour (so far) is the Moon Balm (extra thick with vanilla and undertones of chamomile).

Ingredients (Moon Balm): Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, Euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, Rosa rubiginosa (rosehip) seed oil, Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, Tocopherols (vitamin e), Vanilla planifolia (vanilla) bean, Myroxylon balsamum (peru balsam) oil, Matricaria recutita (blue chamomile) flower extract

3. C.O. Bigelow (from Bath & Body Works)mentha vegan lip balm

While not all my (previous) favourite balms are vegan (the Lemon Balm has beeswax but still awesome), others are vegan like the mentha lip shine and the mentha ultra lip shine. I don’t always like all the goop, but these tend to be very smooth and moisturizing without being tacky. I find I go through them pretty fast, though, which sucks because they can be pricy. Check to see if each balm is vegan, YMMV.

Ingredients (Mentha Lip Shine): Polybutene, Petrolatum, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Menthyl Lactate, Octyldodecanol, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Saccharin Propylene Carbonate.

4. Crazy Rumorspeppermint crazy rumors vegan lip balm

Another all-vegan line-up of lip balms. They are a bit more solid than the other balms but slide on smooth. They have lots of flavours (which don’t particularly enthuse me) but some flavours are more mellow like peppermint twist.

Ingredients (peppermint twist): Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Macadamia Seed Oil, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Candelilla Wax, Soy Wax, Jojoba Oil, Carnauba Wax, Natural & Organic Flavors and/or Pure Essential Oils, Vitamin E, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Natural Stevia

5. Bare Englishbare english vegan lip balms

A brand new entry into the vegan lip balm market, Bare English is local to boot. Meshell has a great review here. These balms are tea-infused and glide on smooth, but firmer than my favourites. I don’t find they last as long as my favourites, either.  The best part (other than this being a Toronto company) is that they are reasonably priced and definitely easier to find in Toronto (also in NYC) and they will ship for free anywhere in Canada. They only have 3 flavours for now: coco-mint, vanilla coconut and raspberry pear.

Ingredients (coco-mint): Candelilla wax, cocoa Seed butter, Peppermint leaf infused olive oil, castor seed oil, coconut oil, shea butter, mint flavour oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil, vitamin E

6. Aqua Blossomaqua blossom vegan lip balm

Another etsy shop with nice vegan balms. Again, all-natural, homemade in small batches, Ashley doesn’t make balms, though, she makes butters. They are very luscious, thick and glossy. I thought they would last longer but they seem to get absorbed fairly quickly. I am loving the vanilla mint and pumpkin cheesecake butters, though.

Ingredients: Shea butter, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, candelilla wax, coconut oil, kokum butter, soybean oil, essential and/or lip-safe fragrance (flavor) oil, vitamin e oil

Do you have a favourite lip balm? Is it vegan? Have you tried these balms yet?

Here are some others that I have been meaning to try:

Epically Epic Soap


Meow Meow Tweet Vegan Balms

None of Your Beeswax Lip Balm or Ultrabalm from Lush

Vegan Balms by Merry Hempsters

Peppermint Chocolate Balm from Canfield Crafts

Whipped Lip Butters from Live Beautifully Body (the all-natural balms contain beeswax)

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balms

Long Winter Farm (all natural but contains beeswax)

Little Batch (all natural but contains beeswax)

Petite Threla (all natural but contains beeswax)

Country Blossom (all natural but contains beeswax)

La Curacio Lip Balm from La Bella Figura (all natural but contains beeswax)

This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays.

best vegan lip balms