Who needs a little de-stressing in the midst of all this holiday craziness? We sure do! This month we decided to take a little break from our typical topics like health & skin care and focus on something else we really love, vegan baked goods. We interviewed one of our favorite local vegans, the @chicagovegan about her new baking company, her vegan lifestyle, and she even gave us her go to holiday cookie recipe!
scrub me secret: running a business can definitely have its stressful moments. to decompress we like to get in the kitchen and whip up some tasty baked goods. taking the time to do something non-work related helps us to reset and enjoy our job even more than we already do.
Before we get to baking let us introduce you to the ChicagoVegan. She has some great insights on vegan baking, being a vegan in Chicago, and she's telling us all about her new company!
When did you choose the vegan lifestyle/what made you decide to become a vegan?
I became vegan in early 2011 after being vegetarian for about six years. I chose the vegan lifestyle for the animals. I initially became vegetarian because my younger brother taught me how badly farm animals are treated to produce meat for us to eat. But then years later I became more informed realized that by consuming dairy and eggs I was still contributing to the suffering of animals and I decided to stop eating all animal products, which was the best decision I could have made.
What would you say is the most difficult part of living a vegan lifestyle?
Missing out on little things like eating cake at birthday parties or having to bring my own vegan food to dinner parties was probably the most difficult part of living a vegan lifestyle, at least in the beginning, because it made me feel somewhat excluded. It’s never enjoyable to feel left out but I rarely feel that way now since veganism has gained so much popularity in the past few years. There are so many more options for vegans and everyone in my life understands and knows a lot more about my vegan diet now, which makes being vegan a lot easier and more fun.
What do you find most rewarding about the lifestyle?
Saving animals is definitely the most rewarding aspect of veganism for me. The health benefits of a vegan diet are a nice bonus but I am happy that I can do my part to prevent animals from being harmed. I also enjoy being a guide or even a source of motivation for others who want to adopt this lifestyle. It’s very gratifying when people tell me that I inspired them to become vegan or even to buy cruelty-free products.
Do you have any favorite vegan makeup or beauty items?
Yes! My new favorite vegan makeup product is the Too Faced ‘Better than Sex’ mascara because I’m always trying to achieve full, long lashes and this mascara definitely gives me that. I also love e.l.f. makeup products (especially their foundation and lip glosses), Lush facial products, and scrub me products, of course!
scrub me secret: We had to ask her favorite scrub me™ product! She says, "It’s hard to pick just one but I am addicted to the lip polish! It is the only lip exfoliator that leaves my lips smooth and lipstick-ready so I keep one in my makeup bag at home and one in my purse at all times. I also love that it plumps my lips and makes them look fuller because who doesn’t love fuller lips?"
Do you find Chicago to have a lot of food & shopping options for you? What are some of your favorite places?
Yes, I’m so lucky to live in a city with so many vegan options. My favorite restaurants are Upton’s Breakroom, the Chicago Diner, and Slurping Turtle. Slurping Turtle isn’t an all-vegan restaurant but their vegan ramen noodles are delicious. As far as shopping, I pretty much shop at any store and I just make sure to read the labels on clothes and shoes to make sure they do not contain wool, leather, suede, fur, down, or any other animals materials. I shop at Target and H&M for most of my shoes and clothes and I’ve even found vegan-friendly coats at both those stores.
Do you have a favorite go-to meal or food item?
My favorite comfort go-to meal is the bacon ranch cheeseburger with a side of bacon mac from Upton’s Breakroom but my healthy go-to meal is a fruit and greens smoothie. Smoothies always help me feel refreshed and healthier, particularly during the holidays when I eat so many desserts and indulgent foods.
We heard you’re starting your own baking business, tell us about that!
Yes, I’m so excited! I’ve always loved baking because it relaxes me and it makes me so happy when my family and friends enjoy and compliment my baked goods. I bake cakes for all of my family members’ birthdays and they started asking me to sell them my cookies and cakes and encouraged me to start my own vegan baking business. Soon after, some of my friends started ordering cakes from me and I decided that I should really try to grow my hobby into a business. The name of my baking business is Pink Pastel and I sell vegan cakes, cookies, and cupcakes baked fresh and from scratch. I’m currently working on expanding my menu and anyone interested may submit inquiries and place orders by emailing me at: email@example.com. Nothing makes me happier than to promote veganism by doing that I love: baking!
What makes vegan baking different from regular baking? Would you say vegan baked goods are healthier than non vegan cookies and cakes?
Vegan baking is pretty similar to regular baking when it comes to techniques and methods but it does require some simple substitutions. These substitutions can be as easy as using vegan butter in lieu of regular butter, or using soy/almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Some substitutions are slightly more complex but actually healthier, such as using a flax egg to replace a real egg or beating aquafaba (chickpea water) instead of egg whites to make meringue. In my opinion, vegan baking is definitely healthier because animal products have been shown to cause serious health problems. Dairy products and eggs contain harmful bacteria and other dangerous substances like hormones and antibiotics so leaving those out makes the cookie or cake you’re eating slightly healthier even though you’re still indulging. Not to mention, you can eat spoonfuls of vegan cookie dough worry-free since it won’t contain egg. I’ve realized that there is a high demand for made-from-scratch vegan baked goods, not just for vegans but also for people with food allergies like to dairy and eggs so this is another way in which vegan baking is healthier!
Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies:
1 cup non-dairy butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups raw pecans, finely chopped
2 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat Oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.
Makes: 30-40 cookies
Combine sugar, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix until creamy. After this, mix in the flour until blended.
Results should look like this.
Mix nuts into dough with a spatula.
Results should look like this.
Using a small spoon, scoop small balls of dough. They should be a little larger than a teaspoon.
We got 24 cookies to fit on our sheet and then froze the rest of the dough for another day.
Bake cookies for 30 minutes.
Once the cookies are done baking and slightly cooled roll each cookie in the powdered sugar.
Happy Holidays from us here at scrub me™. We wish you all a happy and a restful new year.