Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Ultimate Non-Meat Protein Guide!

Hey cupcakes! As I continue on my zero waste journey, I have often thought about trying to stop eating meat. 🥩 It is obviously much more sustainable to not support the meat industry, but whenever I try to avoid them I never get enough protein and end up feeling really sick. To fix this, I thought you all would appreciate a post dedicated to some meat alternatives - by writing this, I hope to inspire myself (and others) to stop eating as much meat. 😃 Let's jump right into it!

1. Chickpeas - I am a sucker for some tasty garbanzo beans. If necessary, I would be able to eat a whole can of these by myself... 😝 You can also buy them dried in the bulk bins, and they are super easy to rehydrate and cook with. You can use the beans as a substitute for meat or as a side dish. My favorite way to eat them is with a bit of balsamic vinegar on top!

2. Tofu - I used to love tofu when I was younger, but then I just stopped eating it for some reason. Now, I absolutely love it again! Tofu has a lot of protein in it, and it can definitely be cooked in a way that doesn't make it soft or tasteless (which are the two major complaints I hear about it). If you are lucky, some international grocery stores actually sell fresh tofu without plastic, so you can bring your own container to be totally zero waste! 🎉

3. Lentils - These are a great meat substitute because they are extremely cheap to buy in bulk bins and aren't super tricky to cook. There are a lot of international recipes that already use lentils instead of meat, so check out Pinterest for some inspiration! 🍲

4. Seitan - This food was a total mystery to me until I tried some this year, and it is actually pretty good! It is made of wheat gluten and can take the place of chicken, beef, or pork in a lot of recipes. While the texture is a little off from the texture of meat, if you season it well it is a really nice substitute! You can also make your own seitan to challenge yourself in the kitchen.

5. Other Beans - Even though chickpeas are my favorite, there are many other beans that can be used to substitute meats. The best burger I have ever eaten was made of smashed kidney beans (and some other vegetables), so I would definitely recommend stocking up on beans in the bulk bins as well. Cheap and delicious!

6. Nuts - While you can't really use almonds in place of chicken in a stir fry (or maybe you could I don't know!), nuts are a great source of protein. I used to absolutely hate the texture of nuts, but I have been pushing myself to eat more of them... And I am starting to really like them! 🥜

What other ingredients do you use as a source of protein?? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Thursday, April 25, 2019

I Gave Up YouTube for 46 Days?! 😲

Hey cupcakes! For Lent this year, I decided to give up YouTube. This was similar to last year where I gave up all social media, so I wanted to share my thoughts on what I learned throughout this experience. 😀

1. It was hard, real hard. I know I also struggled in the beginning of Lent last year, but I wasn't prepared for how difficult this would be. I usually use YouTube to take study breaks so it was hard for me to break this habit (the way to go was definitely getting a website blocker extension on Google Chrome!). However, I am proud to say that I was able to give up YouTube for all 46 days!!

2. My friends were great support systems. I let them know up front that I would be giving it up for Lent, and they were super helpful in keeping me accountable. They would also stop talking about the movie trailers or videos they watched whenever I joined in on a conversation in order to make me still feel included (which was so adorable - they are the best!). Having a good support base is so important when making big changes in your life, so make sure you have people who will call you out if you aren't doing what you are supposed to do!

3. I had SO much more time for other things. I didn't realize how much time I spent watching videos, but I found that during these 46 days I was able to read more, be more social, and spend more time blogging. 😊 These activities are more productive and beneficial to my life, so I'd rather do them than watch a YouTube video any day!

4. I don't NEED YouTube. On Easter morning I logged back into the site, scrolled around, and then decided to log back out. There were no videos that I felt I absolutely needed to watch, which was so interesting to me. Every time I watch one video I end up watching a ton that are usually unrelated (or I find one that is remotely interesting after refreshing the page a couple of times). I think this shows that I am watching videos on YouTube because it is just something to do, not because the videos are super important to me. However:

5. It is still going to take work to stop watching so many videos on YouTube. My goal was to not use the platform for 46 days and then I would be cured of my YouTube "addiction". But even though Lent is over, I have reverted back to my old habits of scrolling and watching and scrolling and watching - which is not good! I am more conscious of these behaviors after the 46 days, but I may decide to block YouTube again if I continue to struggle with this in the future. Overall, this was an interesting experience, and I think it will help me make better choices in the future.

Would you ever be able to give up YouTube completely? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar

Hey cupcakes! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday if you celebrated Easter this weekend 🐰 I got to spend some marvelous time with family, which was super great to relieve some stress during finals. 😀 At the end of January, I reviewed the Jumping Juniper shampoo bar from LUSH... After finishing that bar, I wanted to explore some other package free shampoos as part of my journey towards living a zero waste life. Ethique has some great zero waste products, so I decided to try out their Heali Kiwi bar. 😁 Here are my thoughts so far:

~Fits nicely in my shower container: I mentioned in my How to Zero Waste Your Bathroom post that I have an Ethique container that keeps my shampoo bars/soaps dry in the shower. I love that the bars from Ethique fit perfectly in this!
~Sustainable: This bar is package free, which is amazing for the planet. I also love that the box it comes in is compostable 💚
~Smells nice: Compared to the Jumping Juniper bar, it smells a bit more earthy - but it still smells really good!
~Larger than LUSH bars and more cost effective: The bar at LUSH was $10.95 for 1.9 oz, which is about $5.76 per ounce of product. Compared to that, the Heali Kiwi bar can be bought on Amazon for $16 for 110 grams (which is about 3.88 oz). This means that you are only paying $4.12 per ounce!

Heali Kiwi (left) compared to Jumping Juniper 

~Doesn't lather as well: I have found that this is a common problem with many organic and natural soaps so this isn't a big deal for me... Just make sure to wash your hair well if you want to avoid grease! 👍
~Seems like it won't last as long: Even though the product is larger than the bars at LUSH, it seems like it won't last as long. The soap is softer than the hard bars of LUSH, which makes it more susceptible to water. Just make sure to keep it out of water to make it last as long as possible!

What shampoo are you currently using? Would you switch to a shampoo bar? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Thursday, April 18, 2019

The BEST Food Network Shows You Need to Watch... 🍴

Hey cupcakes! If you remember my post about why The Pioneer Woman is the best show on Food Network, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of the Food Network. As someone who doesn't have a TV or a Netflix subscription, I stream only this channel online... And I feel like it is getting even better as time goes on! 🤔 While I might be slightly biased, there are so many amazing new shows to watch (including a brand new show with Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss himself!). If you ever feel like watching some great cooking & baking, here is my list of the best shows to watch on Food Network! 😁

1. Spring/Holiday/Kids Baking Championship - As someone with a sweet tooth, I love to watch people bake. The bakers they find for this show are so talented and have such interesting personalities. Plus, the themes are great (I definitely think that the Holiday Baking Championship is my fave)! One baker gets eliminated each week making it the perfect thing to look forward to. 😃

2. Guy's Grocery Games - I think everyone knows the infamous bleached and spiked hair of Guy Fieri - how could you not?! I started watching him on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (a classic), but this show has a bunch of twists. Not only do chefs get to cook in Flavortown Market, they also get some curveballs thrown their way...

3. The Pioneer Woman - If you are looking for a traditional "watch someone cook recipes" type of show, then I would totally recommend The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond is such a happy, down-to-earth soul - see the other reasons why I love her show here!

4. Worst Cooks in America - This show will have you DYING from laughter (especially the first episode). I don't know how people can be that bad in the kitchen, but it is hilarious!! 😂 The people who edit the show also do a great job of adding in animations and additional fun things, so I would definitely recommend... Season 16 of Worst Cooks (this one is a celebrity edition woot) premieres on April 21st!!

5. Beat Bobby Flay - Other than The Pioneer Woman, all of these shows are 1 hour in length. If you don't have time to watch an hour program, I would recommend Beat Bobby Flay. This show has all of the competition of Chopped and some added humor as well. It is more fast paced being only 30 minutes, and it is super interesting to see if chefs are able to "out cook" Bobby Flay with their signature dishes.

Pin this post to read about it later! 

What is your favorite cooking show? What other shows do you enjoy on Food Network? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

8 Tips & Tricks for Minimalizing Your Closet!

Hey cupcakes! When I started my journey towards zero waste, I spent a lot of time reading books about sustainability, zero waste, and slow living, so minimalism often popped up in these books. I don't think I would ever consider myself a full on "minimalist", but I definitely have been doing a lot of sorting to figure out what I can repurpose or donate. In terms of clothes, I think it is such a great idea to get rid of the things you never wear... This is easier said than done, so I wanted to share my tops tips for minimalizing your own closet; let's jump right into it! 👗

Pin this to save for later! 😀

1. Take EVERYTHING out of your closet and dresser: Yes, even all of your socks! When you take everything out at once, you will realize just how many clothes you have in your wardrobe. Hopefully this gets you into the decluttering mindset!

2. Prepare yourself mentally: Go into the decluttering experience with the mindset that you will be getting rid of whatever you see fit - don't go into it thinking that you will just rationalize why you own every piece of clothing before putting it back in the closet/dresser. That's definitely not going to get you anywhere!

3. Try EVERYTHING on: If it doesn't fit, then donate it! If it won't take much to tailor it, keep it and get ready to practice your sewing skills! Why hold onto baggy clothes? Why hold onto clothes that are too small?

4. Make three piles - keep, reconsider, donate: After you try something on, put it in the correct pile. You will probably find that the reconsider pile is the largest, so when you are completely done (including putting all of the "keeps" back in the closet/dresser and putting all donations in to a bag) go through all of them again and see if their classification changes... I bet it will!

5. Think about where you got the item: If your answer is high school (or even middle school), it is probably time to let it go! 😜

6. Make sure you keep the basics: A minimalist wardrobe must have basics, so make sure to check out my posts 10 Basics Every Woman Needs or Closet Essentials for a College Girl to see what I think are essentials to keep.

7. Don't have any repeats of the same thing: Do you really need four colors of the same shirt?

8. Extra challenge = Pick a number!: If you really want to minimalize your closet, try picking a number and donate that number of pieces! If you can't decide on the number yourself, try asking someone for a number between 0-20 (or even 30 if you are feeling brave!).

What are your tips for minimalizing your closet? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Recipe: YUMMY Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Hey cupcakes! One of the things I am looking forward to after graduation is the fact that I will be able to start cooking for myself again 👍 Through my experience living in my own apartment last summer, I learned that meals that are quick, easy, and delicious are some of the best things to cook! As an Italian, I pride myself in being a pasta lover, so I wanted to share a mac and cheese recipe with you all today. Bonus - you only need one pan (and of course, it is super tasty)!

What You Need:
-1.5 cups milk
-1 to 1.5 cups of water
-8 oz. of macaroni noodles
-.5 tsp salt
-A dash of ground pepper
-4 oz. of shredded/grated sharp cheddar cheese

What To Do:
1. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, combine milk, 1 cup of the water, macaroni, salt and pepper.
2. Bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently (which prevents the milk from boiling over and making a mess).
3. Once it is simmering, reduce the heat to low. Stir continuously until the pasta is cooked to your liking (usually about 8-10 minutes). If the pasta needs more liquid, add the rest of the water in small increments while your noodles are cooking.
4. When the pasta is done and the sauce is creamy, remove the pot from heat.
5. Stir in the grated cheese a small bit at a time until everything is nice and gooey.
6. Add more salt and/pepper to taste. Enjoy! 🍽

What is your favorite Mac & Cheese recipe? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Zero Waste Your Bathroom 🚽

Hey cupcakes! For the second installment of my "How to Zero Waste Your [insert room here]" series, I thought that I would tackle the bathroom. 😁 On my journey towards zero waste, I have found that this room has some pretty easy switches to reduce your impact, which makes it a great place to start when trying to make your home more sustainable. Let's jump right into it!

Beauty & Bath Products
-Purchase bar products!: Instead of buying soaps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc. in plastic bottles (in hideous bright colors I might add), try buying them in bar form! These can be purchased at LUSH, Ethique, and many local places... I have found that they work extremely well 👍

Check out my review of LUSH's Jumping Juniper shampoo bar
-Buy yourself a safety razor: This is super easy and will let you never use another disposable razor again! I was a bit scared at first, but shaving with a safety razor is incredibly easy.

-Basically, purchase things in glass or metal containers: Try to avoid plastics as much as possible when buying bath, body, and beauty products. If you feel comfortable, you can even DIY your own!

Shower Curtains and Other Bath Accessories
-Get an apartment with a shower door instead of a curtain: Most curtains are made of plastic and have to be replaced every once in awhile, so do the planet a favor and use shower doors! If that isn't an option, there are some other options: organic cotton, hemp, and biodegradable curtains (but, these tend to be a bit pricey!
-Purchase a bar soap/product saver: Letting water eat away at your bar products is just wasteful, as you are losing valuable product. I personally have a soap container from Ethique that I absolutely love! It has openings in the bottom to let water out and air in (to dry the bars), and after a few years of use it is compostable 😍 I suggest purchasing a similar container, avoiding anything that is plastic.

You can purchase this soap saver for only $15 HERE

-Replace those loofahs: Loofahs are plastic (so avoid please), but you can find many sustainable alternatives! Try getting a natural loofah or a bamboo brush (or refrain from using a loofah in general, which is what I do).

-Avoid plastic toilet wands: Just like with loofahs, there are many bamboo alternatives that can be composted after use. 🎉

This one can be found on Life Without Plastic

-Make your own cleaners or use natural brands: The chemicals that are used to clean bathroom are both smelly and bad for you (and the environment), so try something a bit more natural! There are so many DIY cleaner recipes out there, as well as brands that strive for low impact (like Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's).

Toilet Paper
-Use natural and unbleached toilet paper: Toilet paper is bleached to be white, which makes you poor butt exposed to some pretty harsh chemicals. Look for unbleached toilet papers (like Who Gives a Crap) and try to use a decent amount instead of ten squares each trip to the restroom.
-Try a bidet: If you are super ambitious, try getting a bidet attachment to replace toilet paper completely! 😉 I know this might not be for everyone, but it is super sustainable!

Towels and Bathmats 
-Use towels from relatives: Many people buy way too many towels in their lifetime, so see if any friends and/or family are about to replace theirs. This is cheap and extremely low waste!
-Buy natural fabrics: Organic cotton, hemp, and any other sustainable fabrics are what you should look for. Also, don't buy more towels than you actually need!

General Water Usage
-Take short showers: I have mastered a full shower in about 6 minutes, which leaves me more time to do other things when I am getting ready for the day or getting ready for bed!
-Don't run the faucet when brushing your teeth, etc: I feel like this is pretty self explanatory...

-Use the saying, "If it's yellow let it mellow" in regards to flushing: This might not be everyone's style, but for someone who lives alone this would totally save water!

What are your tips to reducing waste in the bathroom? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Recent Reads & Movie Reviews 📗🎬

Hey cupcakes! While I have done separate posts for book and movie reviews in the past, I thought it might be easier to combine them all in one place... Let me know if you like this format better! 😊

Pin this picture to read my reviews later! 

Recent Reads
~The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

HeLa cells have helped scientists with a lot of things: the polio vaccine, cloning, genetic mapping, toxin testing, growing viruses, etc. They are the oldest and most commonly used cells in science, and they were taken from an African American women without her knowledge. This book tells the story of first and foremost Henrietta Lacks, the woman who gifted science with these incredible cells. It then discusses the importance of the cells as well as how these cells have affected the Lacks family (whom got no money for any scientific usage of the cells). As someone who is not into science at all, I thought this book was amazing! You should definitely check it out 👍
Rating: 10/10

~Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

As I am on a journey towards living zero waste, I figured a book about fast fashion would help me understand the implications of the stores we all know and love... And let me tell you I will try to avoid any type of clothing store again. This book was quite eye-opening on how messed up the fashion industry is (and how unsustainable it is!), so I will definitely be thrifting even more now.  A lot of the things Elizabeth brings up are super obvious, but I think we as consumers tend to ignore them because of how much of a "deal" we are getting with our cheap clothes. 🤔 This book also inspired me to practice my sewing skills - so I hope to share some easy tips to mend/alter your garments with you all soon!
Rating: 8/10

~The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy by Paige Williams

I've been a fan of dinosaurs for quite some time, so I thought this book would be any interesting read... and it was! The book focuses on the story of Eric Prokopi and evolution of his fossil business, which was ended abruptly with a T. bataar skeleton that caused controversy across the globe. I found it so fascinating that Mongolia has such a problem with people (and "scientists") stealing the dinosaur bones that can only be found in certain regions of this country. The book does an excellent job of developing the characters (aka the real people!), and I would definitely recommend it if you are into science, dinosaurs, or good crime reads.
Rating: 9/10

~Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book was a super easy and fun read. Tina Fey tells hilarious stories about her career and experiences growing up and gives practical advice to readers on how to be the best person they can be. It was much shorter than I expected it to be, but I found it quite relatable... Plus, it definitely made me laugh!
Rating: 9.5/10

~Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse

Y'ALL, if you have been following The Chic Cupcake for awhile (which if you haven't, you should definitely hit that subscribe button) you will know that I am not a huge fan of superhero movies... But this movie was AMAZING! I watched it twice in the span of three days, so you know that it has to be good 😛 The animation is just incredible, the plot is super clever, and I laughed so hard way too many times throughout. Basically, you need to watch this if you haven't seen it yet. End of story.
Rating: 11/10

~No Impact Man (Documentary)

No Impact Man (the novel) was the instigator that got me started on my zero waste journey, so I decided I should probably watch the documentary... It was pretty good, but it wasn't anything special. I finally got to put some faces to names, but I feel like it was more of a "vlog" style movie instead of being informative like the book.
Rating: 6.5/10

What having you been reading and watching recently? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Shopping in Bulk: My Favorite Stores!

Hey cupcakes! Since starting my sustainable journey in May, I have been dabbling in bulk shopping in an effort to reduce the plastic packaging of certain foods. As I am still in college (in a dorm with a dining hall), I haven't been doing much bulk shopping recently... But I will be doing a lot of it after graduation and when I have my own apartment! 🎉 I found quite a few quality bulk stores during my internship last summer, so I wanted to create a post dedicated to the best bulk stores (those I have visited and those that I can only dream about haha). 💚

If you are interested in learning how to shop in the bulk section (it is super easy!) make sure to check out that post (Shopping in the Bulk Bin Section 101) also!

1. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market - This was the only store that had a lot of bulk options in the city I was in for my internship, so I shopped here often! 😀 I also loved this store because they sold mainly organic foods, so I knew that the food that I was buying was better for the planet. While this store has a large bulk section (including a lot of candy, spices, and liquids like honey and oil), I found that it was missing pastas and snack foods. Certain bulk options would also be on sale often, which allowed me to save money on the already good prices!

2. Whole Foods - While Whole Foods has a reputation for being a bit pricey, they have a HUGE bulk section. As you save by purchasing only the food that you need when you buy in bulk, I can justify spending a bit more for the options that they have. They also have things like tea which is super awesome ☕

3. Local Co-op and Organic/Natural stores - Most local organic/natural stores have a bulk section. While there may not be as many options, it helps support the local businesses of your town! Plus, they will be more likely to allow you to bring your own containers, jars, and bags to fill (as some chain stores are not as accommodating).

4. Bulk Barn - This is a Canadian company, and I am honestly so jealous that I don't have access to one! This store is ONLY bulk bins, and it carries absolutely everything and anything you could ever need. It even has soap berries that I mentioned in my How to Zero Waste Your Laundry Room post; I would definitely check out their website to see all the cool options they carry 😊

5. Winco - This store has both a bulk foods and a bulk liquid center, which is awesome! It is mainly in the West Coast, so definitely check it out if you live in that region of the US!

6. State and Local stores - If you want to see if there are any other bulk stores specific to your region, I suggest checking out this lovely zero waste "Where to Shop" guide on litterless.com. You can click on your state and each city has a list of the bulk food stores with links to their websites - so nifty!

Where do you like to shop? Comment below and don't forget to follow The Chic Cupcake to never miss another post!


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