Yvonne’s Vegan Kitchen at The Honest Beauty Launch Party

When Jessica’s personal assistant and PR rep contacted me to let me know Jessica was a fan of my cheese and treats and asked me to prepare treats for her Honest Beauty launch party, I was so thrilled and, of course, could not pass on the opportunity.

Our companies are both transparent about what we put in our products and listing ingredients on our packaging, and are made with our customer’s health & wellness in mind, and we agreed it was a good fit.

Sweets, treats, and beauty care items are more affordable luxury items, and there are so many of them on the market to choose from. What I love about our companies is that we make them so you have freedom to indulge, whether it be in having fun with makeup or stuffing your face with cookies. Of course, natural beauty and beauty from within is the best kind of beauty, and drinking green smoothies and eating massaged kale salads will bring you optimal health, but enhancing your beauty with beneficial skincare and makeup, as well as eating healthier and delicious alternatives to donuts and cookies is just icing on the cake—it makes life a little better and more enjoyable.

For the Honest Beauty Party, I had free reign. I could make whatever I wanted, as long as the cheese was on the menu, and I had a whole counter to fill. This was for about 100 people. I decided on…

1) A 3-cheese platter (black truffle, roasted garlic, onion and chive, and cranberry dill vegan cashew cheese) with my superfood crackers, grapes, dried fruit, and toasted nuts.

2) Chocolate Pot de Creme

3) Chocolate Covered Donuts

4) Chocolate Chai Cookies

5) Vanilla lemon with raspberry

6) Fruit Tarts

I not only made a dessert table, I was also invited to stay to enjoy the party.  I loved that they served vegan savory items for me to enjoy. They also had beautiful (vegetarian) geode cookies by Good Vibes Cookie Co, had great music, delicious cocktails, a tarot card reader, the most gorgeous flower arrangements, and some amazing ladies—lots of moms, social media and lifestyle influencers, and entrepreneurs.

I had the pleasure of getting my make-up touched-up by a glam team and tried the new Honest Beauty color palette, and other newly-branded and packaged beauty products. It was a great night.

Before transitioning to the vegan lifestyle in 2013, I was very conscious about products I used on my body and, of course, those that I put into my body, like vitamins. I told my 5 sisters about Honest’s different product lines, and we all subscribed. They sell natural and eco-friendly biodegradable diapers, baby wipes, and other non-toxic wellness, personal hygiene, household cleaning products, and now, beauty products!

Honest Beauty does not test their products on animals. They rely on a combination of scientific literature, non-animal testing, raw material safety testing and/or human testing to ensure product safety as an alternative to animal testing. Since my audience is very diverse, I will tell you which products I’ve tried that are vegan, which are beegan (contain honey or wax), and vegetarian.

They are extremely transparent about their products and lists all of the ingredients on their packaging and website. Some of their products contain beeswax, lactoperoxidase (an enzyme derived from milk), and carmine (a pigment derived from insects) for coloring. You can find the complete list of products below… I find this information incredibly helpful and I hope this allows you  to use Honest Beauty products with complete confidence!

The Honest Beauty “Beegan” Products include:

Detox Mud Mask – Manuka Honey

Magic Balm – Beeswax

Y+C Nourishing Lotion – Beeswax

Creme Blush – Beeswax

Cream Foundation – Beeswax

Eyeshadow – Depending on the color, Carmine

LipCrayons – Beeswax +  depending on the color, carmine

Mascara – Beeswax

The Honest Beauty Vegetarian Products include:

Deep Hydration – Beeswax +  lactoperoxidase

The vegan products I have tried include:

1) Everything Primer Matte

2) Magic Balm

3) Makeup Remover Wipes

4) Gentle Gel Cleanser

5) Organic Beauty Facial Oil

The Everything Primer Matte, which I use under my concealer, is light, buildable, & breathable. It’s oil-free and matte, long-lasting and smooth for makeup coverage that is even!

I use the Magic Balm on my lips, and if I have any dry spots it’s perfect for those… even on my elbows. It soothes and softens.

The Makeup Remover Wipes are gentle on my skin and leave me feeling fresh.

The Gentle Gel Cleanser gently cleans and removes makeup and dirt without over-drying. The chamomile and calendula extracts leave my skin feeling calm and refreshed.

I use the Organic Beauty Facial Oil on my fine lines and as a moisturizer. My sensitive skin seems to enjoy it! I also use it on my neck. Remember to moisturize your neck, ladies and gents!

What I love about the new packaging is that it’s so lovely, simple, and clean that the products look great on the counter, left out, and not stored away… you want to showcase them!

Big thanks again to Jessica and her crew for welcoming me into their headquarters and for allowing me to feed your guests, a few who are now my good friends. It was such a pleasure!

More on the Honest Company…

They manufacture their own natural products and sell them on their site. Or, find them at Target or health-focused markets. The company offers subscription delivery services, wherein you pay a monthly fee to have an assortment of products delivered to your home on a monthly basis, like a “Family Essentials” bundle. You can also buy products at your own pace.

They do NOT test on animals, and they even use renewable or recycled materials in all of their packaging, shipping, and office products. They donate money to good causes, too! Read about their extensive sustainability efforts on their website! In addition to their 100% plant-based baby care, cleaning, and personal care products, their “Honestly Free Guarantee” promises that their products are free of:

phthalates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, PVC, parabens, benzene, chlorine, synthetic fragrances, triclosan, formaldehyde-based preserving agents, nanoparticles, TEA, MEA, phosphates, polyethylene glycol (PEG), quaternium 15, DMDM hydantoin, 1-4 dioxane, bisphenol-A (BPA), alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs)/nonylphenol, BHA, benzalkonium chloride

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Savory Char Sui Maitake Bao & Sweet Ube Siopao featured on VegNews

Very thrilled to be a contributor in VegNews‘ May-June travel issue.  In this issue, I veganized recipes I grew up loving, mixing a few popular flavors from my Filipino-Chinese heritage.  I ended up with Savory Char Sui Maitake Bao and Sweet Ube Siopao.  Steamed buns, also known as bao and siopao, are stuffed with sweet and savory fillings, making it a common and portable snack eaten every day and originally found all over South East-Asia.  Growing up, we ate these for breakfast or as a snack.  It was such a treat.

Since my friends at VegNews were so kind to feature my recipes, I am going to hold-off on giving the fillings recipes for now, so you can subscribe or pick up an issue at your local health food store.  I am going to wait about a month to give out the entire recipe.  So, please hold tight if you’re not able to get a hold of the issue right now.  For now, since I made a version in the magazine that uses regular wheat flour (which is just like the original bao I grew up loving), for my gluten-free readers, I have a bun recipe for you, below.

After several attempts at making a bouncy gluten-free bao bun, I unfortunately wasn’t able to achieve the signature bouncy, spongy attributes the original wheat flour version possesses, BUT! When eaten minutes after steaming, it does have more of a bounce, so make sure you eat them minutes after steaming to get somewhat of a bouncy feel. Otherwise, if you wait and let them sit, they will feel heavier and dense.

In preparing for the feature, I was asked a few questions about my recipes and how they are relevant to my multicultural background.  They ended up not making the cut, but that’s ok.  This is why I have a blog!  I share the questions and answers, below.

 

What’s your personal relationship to this recipe? 

As a child, going to Woo Chee Chong Market, which at that time was the only Asian market in my hometown, was definitely a treat for me and my sisters. While my mom shopped for her essentials, my sisters and I would slowly peruse every aisle with wonder–inspecting, observing, and smelling all the foreign and exotic ingredients, spices, beautifully packaged and prepared foods.  Our favorites were the red and green boxes of Botan Rice Candy that melted in our mouths, and watching the part-time teenage workers in the kitchen use a super sharp cleaver to slice the most delicious bright red char siu pork, and packaging it in a to-go box with chow mien for us to take home. I don’t have a memory eating it at home because once we would get home, it would be gone in .03 seconds.  It was so delicious—tender, sweet, savory, and spiked with spices I couldn’t even name or identify.  Char siu is definitely ingrained in my taste bud memory.

Around this same time, my grandmother would make the most delicious steamed buns called siopao.  We would eat them piping hot right out of the bamboo steamer. They were beautiful little, bouncy, sponge-like pillows filled with juicy, flavorful shredded meat, and egg.

I created a vegan version of it without her direction, as she has since passed.  I decided to create a char siu-style siapao.  Instead of using pork I used maitake mushrooms, which create a meaty texture and hold flavor quite well. I made this in classic Yvonne-style, making it gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic, and yet very flavorful.  The sweet ube bao recipe is reminiscent of all the Filipino desserts I ate growing up–ube ice cream, ube cake, and the blob of ube on top of my halo-halo dessert!

Both recipes are reflective of my childhood and Filipino-American heritage.

Why is this recipe special in the culture it represents?
Every culture seems to have some sort of small, succulent parcel encased in dough and wrapped. Mexicans have tamales. East Indians have samosas. Filipinos have lumpia, empanadas, and siopao. Chinese have eggrolls, wontons, and bao, which actually means “wrapper” and is referred to being steamed stuffed buns.  In ancient Chinese history, bao went by different names, and was said to be created by different people for many reasons–to help keep the poor warm and fed in the winter, and to cure soldiers from plague.  Today it is definitely a popular food.  Bao is a common and portable snack eaten every day mostly for breakfast and found all over South East-Asia.

How is this recipe originally made and how did you veganize it?
These recipes are originally made with shortening, meat, dairy, sometimes egg, and lots of refined sugar.  I veganized it by replacing the meat with maitake mushrooms, ube, and using vegan milk and coconut sugar.

Cha Siu Maitake Bao

Makes 10 bao

[SF]

Ingredients

Dough:

1 ½ cups unsweetened vegan milk, lukewarm (100- 110 degrees F)

3 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons coconut sugar

1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons oat flour

1 cup potato starch

3 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

 

Filling: 

2 maitake mushrooms (8 ounces)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon minced peeled ginger

2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coconut sugar

2 tablespoons mirin (or rice wine, dry sherry)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 ½ teaspoons ketchup

1 ½ teaspoons hoisin sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon 5 spice powder

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

Directions:

  1. For the dough, in a large bowl, whisk together warm vegan milk, coconut sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until bubbly and bloomed. Add the grapeseed oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients then add to the yeast mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms, then turn dough out onto a lightly oat-floured surface. Knead until smooth. Return dough to large mixing bowl, coated with cooking spray, and lightly spray the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place (85 degrees F) for 1 hour or until doubled in size. As it rises, prepare the filling.
  3. For the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except maitake mushrooms and arrowroot powder, and stir to combine. Break maitake apart from the roots, to pieces, and into the sauce, and stir to coat. Place covered saucepan over medium-low heat for 17 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in arrowroot powder, and set aside uncovered to cool.
  4. Divide dough in half. Cut each half into 8 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Cover dough balls while working with one dough ball at a time. On a lightly dusted (with oat flour) surface, roll ball into a 4-inch circle using a rolling pin. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and twist to seal in filling. Place each bun onto a 2 ½-inch parchment square with the pinched seal at the bottom while you finish the rest of the buns.
  5. Spray a multi-layered bamboo steamer with cooking spray. Place the steamer on top of a large saucepan, and pour in water to several inches below the steamer. Bring water to boil.
  6. Working in several batches, place 3 or 4 buns into each steamer layer without letting buns touch each other or the edge of the steamer, about an inch apart. Cover steamer. Let buns steam over medium-low heat until puffy and the dough is springy. About 15-20 minutes per batch. Cool for at least 5 minutes and serve warm.

 

Ube Siopao

Makes 16 siopao

[SF]

For the Dough:

Use dough recipe, above.

 

For the Filling:

1 ¼ cups steamed ube (purple yam)

¾ cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup monkfruit sweetener (or 1 cup sugar)

1 cup shredded young coconut

¼ cup sliced jackfruit (optional)

 

Directions:

1. Prepare dough as explained, above.

3. For the filling, in a blender, combine all ingredients except for shredded young coconut and jackfruit, adding the coconut milk first, and blend completely using a tamper or spatula to ensure a smooth blend.  Do not blend for too long or the filling will become pasty. Stop blending once thoroughly combined.  Fold in shredded coconut and jackfruit. 

4. Divide dough in half. Cut each half into 8 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Cover dough balls while working with one dough ball at a time. On a lightly dusted (with oat flour) surface, roll ball into a 4-inch circle. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top.  Pinch and twist to seal in the filling. Place each bun onto a 2 ½-inch parchment square with the pinched seal at the bottom while you finish the rest of the bun.

5. Spray a multi-layered bamboo steamer with cooking spray. Place the steamer on top of a large saucepan, and pour in water to several inches below the steamer. Bring water to boil.

6. Working in several batches, place 3 or 4 buns into each steamer layer without letting buns touch each other or the edge of the steamer. Cover steamer. Let buns steam over medium-low heat until puffy and the dough is springy. About 15-20 minutes per batch. Cool for at least 5 minutes and serve warm.

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What’s Up? Magazine Feature – Morning Tonic Recipe & App of the Week

whatsupMorningTonic

I am delighted to have my Morning Tonic recipe featured in What’s Up Magazine’s Food Newsletter Column by Rhea Torreon, and named Drink of the Week!   This special hot beverage is something I enjoy almost every morning.  It’s my version of warm lemon water, but cranked up a notch with the addition of turmeric and cayenne pepper.  There are so many benefits to drinking warm lemon water.  In doing so, it initiates the production of digestive juices and gives my digestive process a nice kick start for the day.  Learn about the many benefits one can receive from my special concoction in her article, and get the recipe too!  Click here for the article.

Another exciting tidbit.  With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I failed to notice that the My Eclectic Kitchen App was also featured as the App of the Week in December by What’s Up? Magazine!  I was very pleased about the write up. See why the My Eclectic Kitchen App was named App of the Week in the article, here!

whatsupmagAppoftheWeek

Photos by Rhea Torreon.  To subscribe to Rhea Torreon’s Food column, go to www.whatsupmag.com, click on the subscribe link at the top, then click on the E-Newsletter link, and finally enter your email and check the box for What’s Up Food.

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