Easy Ways to be Sustainable | Earth Week 2019

Woohoo! Happy Earth Week, friends! I can honestly say that I’ve never been as excited for an Earth Week as I am this year. In the past year or so, I’ve tried to make all aspects of my life more Earth-friendly. Since doing so, I feel like I’ve nailed down a few (super simple) ways to be sustainable along with a few inexpensive products that I’ve been using on a daily basis.

grocery store plastic bags

Nothing—and I mean nothing—irritates me more at a grocery store than when the baggers put one item per plastic bag. What a waste! When I was living downtown Chicago, I was super good about bringing my own reusable bags from home with me whenever I went shopping—they’re easier to carry than plastic bags, the City of Chicago charges a “bag tax”, and it’s more sustainable. However, once I moved back home where “bag tax” is no longer a thing and I have a car to take me to-and-from the store, I suddenly stopped using my reusable bags.

Was I proud of myself. Definitely not. So, I decided that I would put a few reusable canvas bags into my car so that I wouldn’t have an excuse of why I wasn’t using one! Since then, I’ve been bringing my bags with me whenever I go to the store. I can honestly say that I’ve probably saved around 30 bags in that timeframe.

Fun fact: Almost every grocery store nowadays sells reusable bags for purchase for no more than 99 cents a bag—what a steal! Plus, if you ever go to any sort of event chances are you have a few reusable bags laying around your house (my family has TONS!).

grocery store produce bags

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we can blame grocery stores for all of our plastic problems. Just kidding, but like, not really. Another grocery store pet peeve of mine are those ridiculous produce bags. If you’re like most people in the world, then you probably wash the produce before you eat it. Which is why using plastic produce bags makes absolutely no sense to me. If you’re someone who washes your fruits/vegetables before you use them, then there should be no fear of the items being dirty by just tossing them into your shopping cart/basket if you’re going to wash them anyways.

I know that there are companies out there that sell reusable produce bags like Ever Eco, Flip & Tumble, and Purifyou. While I personally have not used these before, they’re a great option if you’re someone who is still fearful of just putting your produce (naked) in the cart.

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Yes, I jumped on the Stasher Bag bandwagon. Ever since @shutthekaleup on Instagram featured Stasher’s on her feed, I had been wanting to purchase some. However, at $12/bag I couldn’t justify spending that much as someone who, in college, rarely packed a lunch (since I had time to fix meals at my apartment). But since graduating and now working a full-time job, I pack my lunch and snacks everyday. I knew that I would be wanting to bring fruit, chopped veggies, trail mix, etc. with me to work and I didn’t want to have to use plastic baggies. So instead of being unsustainable, I decided to take out my wallet and invest in a Stasher Bag. I have to say, it was one of the best sustainable decisions I have ever made! I use my Stasher Bag daily to hold my snacks and other food items. Not only do they minimize my use of plastic, but they’re super easy to clean as they’re machine washable and easy to get inside of with a washcloth or a bottle brush.

Stasher Bag Hack: Stand your bag up inside of your car’s cupholder, stick a fork in it, and you’ve got yourself a super clever—if I do say so myself—snacking opportunity!

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you can buy stasher bag here, here, and here

bee’s wrap

When my sister gifted me with Bee’s Wrap for Christmas 2-years-ago, I truthfully didn’t know when I was going to use it. But a day later, I had used all 4 sheets! Bee’s Wrap is another great way to decrease your plastic usage—cling wrap, cellophane wrap, I’m looking at you! Bee’s Wrap is a waste-free alternative to food storage. I’ve used it to cover half-eaten apples, yogurt containers, leftovers, and even to hold celery sticks for snacks on-the-go.

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you can buy bee’s wrap here, here, and here

What ways do you try to live more sustainably? Any product recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Texas Vegan Guide

Yeehaw! It might come as a shock (it certainly was to me) that Texas has an abundance of HEALTHY VEGAN food in the state that is known for BBQ and Tex-Mex. However, after visiting a few times I was thrilled to find that Texas not only has a lot of solely vegan eateries, but also restaurants that have both vegan and non-vegan options. Since my boyfriend (who lives in Texas) isn’t a vegan—or a vegetarian—it was important to me that there were places to eat at that he would enjoy along with myself. Thankfully, there were a lot of places to choose from that didn’t just offer “vegan junk food,” but actually had delicious and healthy dishes.

hg suply co, fort worth

HG SUPLY CO is hands-down my favorite restaurant to dine at in the Dallas/Forth Worth area. For starters, the location of this fine, fine, fine establishment is right along the Clear Fork Trinity River allowing for the best views and most serene atmosphere. HG SUPLY CO has a gorgeous back patio with string lights and wooden picnic-style tables with umbrellas that allow for an unforgettable outdoor dining experience—and no, I’m not being dramatic. While HG SUPLY hit the nail on the head with ambience, their food offerings are also delicious.

I think I’ve tried almost every vegan option that’s on the menu. Starting with appetizers, their vegan queso is delicious. While it’s not necessarily a health food, we subbed half of the tortilla chips for fresh vegetables to make the dish a bit more nutritious. And if you’re a vegan, I’m sure you’ve been disappointed by fake cheeses a plethora of times (I know I’ve been), but HG does fake cheese RIGHT. Their queso is creamy, tasty, and doesn’t leave you with an unbearable stomachache afterwards.

HG CHIPS & QUESO (Sub 1/2 Tortilla Chips for Vegetables): 10/10

The next appetizer that it’s amazing—and that I’ve actually ordered as my entree—is their carrot hummus (which has been recently updated on the menu to a ginger garlic hummus). Surrounded by fresh vegetables like purple cauliflower, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and carrots, the hummus is drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with crushed toasted almonds. I always ordered the hummus without the extra olive oil drizzle, and let me tell ya, it’s still super creamy and tasty. Unlike other restaurants that offer hummus, HG’s dish is homemade and doesn’t taste like paste. Instead, it’s flavorful, spicy, and the perfect appetizer or entree for anyone who is a big hummus fan, such as myself.

HUMMUS & FRESH VEGETABLES (No olive oil drizzle): 10/10

The next dish that I’ve tried at HG SUPLY CO is their quinoa “meatballs.” I’ve had this vegan dish as a side to complement the hummus, and I’ve also had them on top of the restaurant’s zucchini "pasta.” Made from quinoa and other nuts and spices, these vegan “meatballs” are so tasty and make the perfect vegan protein addition to any of the plant-based offerings that HG has!


The zucchini “pasta” was recently added to the HG SUPLY CO menu as of the last time I was in Texas. I’m a creature of habit, and normally I would have ordered the hummus with the quinoa meatballs out of uncertainty. However, I decided to give the zucchini “pasta” a try. On top of the bed of spiralized zucchini was blistered grape tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, rainbow chard, onions, and sweet peppers—a delectable combination. To be honest, this dish was one of the best I have ever tasted and was full of delicious and nutritious vegan-approved ingredients. For those of you who are pasta lovers, this dish won’t disappoint! It truly tasted like the real deal.


oh my juice, waco

Our pitstop at Oh My Juice in Waco was much needed as we were en route to Austin. On a hot day sitting in the car for several hours, there’s nothing more refreshing than a smoothie or a smoothie bowl. The location itself is a bit odd, as it’s housed with other small eateries and boutiques in a rest stop kind of atmosphere. However, unlike other rest areas, Oh My Juice is 100x better than any McDonalds or other fast food joint that you would normally run into along the highway.

The first time that we went there, my boyfriend ordered the Orange Ya Glad “Muscle” smoothie, which of course, I had to try. Oranges, bananas, cinnamon, vegan vanilla protein powder, and coconut milk are blended to create a thick, creamy, protein-packed smoothie. This menu offering is great if you’re looking for a meal replacement, rather than a snack as it’s full of 20 grams of plant protein!


I have tried two different items at Oh My Juice. The first was the Green Morning smoothie that consisted of cucumber, pear, spinach, avocado, dates, lime, coconut water and vegan protein powder, which I subbed for goji berries. While this smoothie was not as sweet as the Orange Ya Glad shake, it was super delicious and immediately reenergized me.


The second time we stopped at Oh My Juice, I decided to give one of their smoothie bowls a try. For the base of the bowl I ordered the Under The Sea smoothie which was a blend of pineapple, grapes, blue majik (spirulina), and coconut water. For toppings, I chose fresh strawberries, raspberries, and goji berries. While the consistency of the bowl wasn’t as thick as I normally like, there’s just something so satisfying about eating a smoothie with a spoon—I think it’s because it makes the deliciousness last longer!


mudhen meat & greens, dallas

When we visited downtown Dallas, we were in search of a restaurant that had both vegan and non-vegan options. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how exactly we stumbled upon Mudhen Meat & Greens, but I’m so glad that we did. Near the Dallas Farmer’s Market, Mudhen Meat & Greens resembles a large (very well decorated and aesthetically pleasing) warehouse. Inside, there are long wooden tables topped with glass bottles of water and flowers, and there are wooden benches for seating. The building itself is gorgeous and it was the first thing (besides the menu) that really caught my attention.

Since we went on a Sunday, Mudhen unfortunately was only serving their brunch items. There were a lot more vegan offerings on their normal lunch/dinner menu, however, I still made it work. I ended up ordering their vegan Collard Spring Roll. Carrots, avocado, cabbage, and kelp noodles were stuffed inside of hearty pieces of collard and complemented by a sriracha vinaigrette. I’ve tasted plenty of vegan spring rolls/raw burritos during my time as a vegan, and these were hands down the best I have ever had!


Along with the spring rolls, we also ordered some of the restaurant’s kombucha on tap. While I’m a GT’s Kombucha fan girl through and through, I always love tasting local kombucha. The flavor that we ordered was floral (I don’t remember the exact flavor) with a hint of fruit. It was quite sweet and not carbonated enough for my liking, however, it was super refreshing and made for the perfect addition to my spring rolls!


The next time that we go to Mudhen, I’m for sure going to try some of their other vegan options like their vegan Mushroom Bolognese Pasta (roasted tomato sauce with cremini mushrooms, quinoa, kelp noodles, and macadamia nut ricotta).

5 points local, san antonio

Out of all of the restaurants in Texas, 5 Point Local has to be my absolute favorite. Weirdly located in a neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown San Antonio, 5 Points Local truly is a hidden gem. We ate at this restaurant three times during our 2 day stay in San Antonio, and it was delicious every time. The first day, I ordered the vegan Baked Bowl which essential was a baked oatmeal made of warm grains and spices, dried fruit and nuts, topped with cashew cream and a grilled banana. Yes, it was just as delicious as it sounds. It was the perfect warming dish for an early dinner, and was super satisfying and kept me full for hours!


The next day, I ended up eating at 5 Points twice because the 5 Points Granola bowl was crazy good—yes, I had the same thing twice in the same day. The 5 Points Granola bowl is their homemade granola made from grains, dried fruit, coconut, and nuts and finished off with homemade coconut milk. On the side, I ordered both their fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and fresh squeezed orange juice. The granola bowl was so delicious and surprisingly filling that I knew I had to celebrate our last day in San Antonio by ordering it twice—it didn’t disappoint.


flower child, austin

To be quite honest, there wasn’t many places in Austin that appealed to me (perhaps I wasn’t looking at the right places, but there just wasn’t much I found—let me know in the comments below what your favorite vegan restaurants are in Austin!). However, I had heard so many great things about Flower Child from the bloggers that I follow who live in California. When I found out that there were locations in Texas, I knew I had to go. If you’re from Chicago, then you probably know of/have been to True Food Kitchen. The interior of Flower Child is very similar to True Food’s: open, airy, minimalistic, and full of hanging and standing plants. The concept, however, is different from True Food. At Flower Child, you order at the counter and then sit down and wait for your food to arrive—I got major Panera vibes.

Since we were only in Austin for a day, choosing what to order was difficult because I wanted to try all of the vegan offerings! After much deliberation, I decided on the Vegan Ingredient Salad with the lemon tahini vinaigrette on the side. This salad had a base of delicious greens and was topped with cauliflower, avocado, roasted corn, baby tomatoes, kalamata olives, and sunflower seeds. This salad may sound simple and boring, but the dressing really elevated the dish. My goal? An attempt to recreate the delicious tahini dressing!


Have you ever been to Texas? If so, what are you favorite vegan places to eat at? I’m looking for any and all recommendations!

Books You Need to Read this Summer

My love for reading has fluctuated over the years. When I was younger, I despised the reading log calendars that we were forced to fill out merely to win tickets to see the Kane County Cougars. As I got older, I enjoyed reading quirky romance novels and teen reads like The Clique, the Princess Diaries series, Camp Confidential (if you know of this series, you’re a REAL one), and of course, Twilight. But since being in college the last four years of my life, I rarely had time to sit down and read a novel. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted to. But balancing school, and internship, and somewhat of a social life didn’t leave much room for just-for-fun reading. Since graduating, I have been attempting to make an effort to read at least one novel every two months. Normally, I can fly through a book in a matter of hours, but since my time is limited I have been sticking to reading a chapter of a book each night.

There’s nothing worse than dedicating a half hour or so to reading each night, then finding out a few chapters in that the book you decided to venture into actually sucks. Trust me, I’ve been there. Since summer is slowly (but surely) approaching, I decided to put together this blog post of the FOUR books you need to read as the weather turns warmer and vacation season approaches.

Here are my top three reasons why you need to reach these books:
1) I’ve already read them all and I can vouch that they’re actually good reads.
2) They’re the perfect combination of light-heartedness + good writing.
3) They’re all under 450 pages. Ideal for when you don’t have a lot of time, yet want to finish a whole book!

One Day in December, by Josie Silver


I’m aware that it’s not December. I’m also aware that if you live anywhere it snows that the last thing you want to do is think about December. However, this book is at the top of my list because it was just that good. While I’m not going to do a whole book review on this post (let me know in the comments below if you’d enjoy reading detailed book reviews), I do have a few things to say about this novel and why you need to pick it up from your local library/book store ASAP.

When I find books to read, I often browse the “popular reads” section of my library because looking through the normal fiction shelves is way too overwhelming for someone as picky as I am when it comes to books. I decided to pick up One Day in December because I really loved the cover art…and I’m a sucker for eye-catching book covers. The front of the book displayed a paint-like winter scenery that couldn’t be ignored. After snatching it off the shelve and reading the back cover, I decided that this would be the book I was going to read.

The plot revolves around two best friends in London, an undercover love triangle, and a storyline about friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness. Sure, this sounds dramatic, but I can assure that you won’t be disappointed.

When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger

If you’re not a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, then who even are you? Just kidding. But no really, it was about time that Lauren Weisberger made a spinoff of her popular fashion industry novel. And it’s safe to say that if Hollywood doesn’t create a movie version of this book that I will be thoroughly disappointed. However, I knew that I had to read this book because I have seen The Devil Wear Prada movie at least 10 times—not exaggerating. I’m always down for a romantic comedy—on-screen, in-print, or otherwise—and after reading the back cover of When Life Gives You Lululemons, I decided that I would give it a try.

Unlike some books that drag the first few chapters, Weisberger wasted no time diving right into the plot and developing the characters. If you remember from The Devil Wear Prada, Miranda Priestly had an assistant before Andy (Anne Hathaway) came into the picture: Emily. Well, well, well, Emily makes her return in When Life Gives You Lululemons, as this book revolves around her and her life after Runway.

This spinoff novel is full of drama, romance, humor, and all of the lighthearted goodness that makes it the perfect summertime weekend read. And just for reference, the book isn’t about Lululemon.


To All The Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy, by Jenny Han


Not to toot my own horn, but I’m definitely a trendsetter. I remember reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before a few years ago before it ever became popular. I’ve been a huge fan of Jenny Han ever since reading her The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy (If you haven’t read this series yet, you are missing out!), and as soon as I got wind that she was releasing a new series of YA romance novels, I knew I had to check them out.

If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy young adult reads…then who even are you? Just kidding. But seriously, Jenny Han has a way of writing her novels that makes them sound mature (but not too mature for a romance novel, if you know what I mean), yet still enjoyable and fun to read.

I don’t want to ruin too much of this book for you, but here’s a little rundown of the premise. Girl in high school isn’t super popular, girl in high school writes letters to all of the boys whom she thinks never notices her, said letters get mailed to all of the boys, the boys find out, the rest of the story is a hot mess—to say the least.

As an added treat, Netflix came out with the movie version of the first novel in the series (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and the second movie is currently in the works. But, do yourself a favor and read the book before you watch the movie, I promise you’ll love every second of it!

What book recommendations do you have? I’m always on the hunt for a captivating read (romance, comedy, murder mystery, or otherwise), so let me know in the comments below!