Favorite Things: Aurorae Aqua

You might recall that a little over a year ago I had the chance to try out the Aurorae Yoga Mat (and some lucky reader got a free one!). A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted again and asked if I would be interested in trying out the Aurorae Aqua towel.

Yes, please!

First, a bit of background information about the towel. It’s described as a beach/swim towel, but when I received it beach/swim season was over for me. You could argue that beach/swim season was still on a few weeks ago, but I would tell you that the pool water was in the 80’s meaning I was not going in it. I had to find other ways to test out the towel which I will get to.

The towel is extra long which I love. It’s 32″ x 68″ so you can wrap yourself up in it. It folds up super easy and would be simple to take to the pool or the beach or anywhere you wanted it to go.

I took my towel to the car. I know, such an exciting life I live.

But my rationale was that I needed a towel after class. Even when I wipe myself off in the hot room, I continue to sweat all the way home. I needed a towel that I could put on my car seat. The Aqua Towel worked perfectly for that. Since it is over-sized, it easily covered the back and bottom of my car seat.

The towel is also microfiber and, I was told, was going to be super absorbent. Absorbency is key here since I had put the towel on my car seat.

So, how did it work?

Well, first let me start by saying that in the past I have put a normal beach towel on my car seat. I gave this practice up years ago because I just ended up sitting on a soggy towel. Also, the towel got bunched up from time to time or slipped down the back as I was driving. As my car got older and older, I decided I didn’t care anymore and just forgot about using the towel. I’m not sure it was helping anyways.

The Aqua towel doesn’t do any of those annoying things. First, the towel covers the seat AND it stays in place. That alone made it far more comfortable right off the bat. Second, even though I keep right on sweating after class the towel seems to pretty much stay dry. I’m not sitting in a soggy pool of wet towel when I get home, and that is awesome.

I have used the towel to wipe myself off after class. We all know how gross we can be after class! The sweat came right off and the towel felt dry. It basically just sucked up my sweat and took it to a better place.

Want to give it a try and see if you agree? The nice people at Aurorae are giving away one free aqua towel to one of you! The towel comes in eight colors with each color being connected to a beautiful waterfront location (I have Mediterranean seas).

So here’s what to do….

  1. head over to the MBYL facebook page.
  2. Look for the post on the Aurorae Aqua towel
  3. in the comments section of the post, just say enter!

One person will be drawn at random. You must live in the continental U.S. to enter (sorry). You will be able to enter until noon on Wednesday, October 7th. Drawing will occur sometime that afternoon.

Good Luck!

 

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Favorite Things: Kosha Mat Bag & Tote

Two weeks ago, I told you about my experience with Kosha mat covers. Today, I want to tell you about the two other products I got to try: the mat bag and the tote.

The Mat Bag

The mat bag is up first because it’s pretty straight-forward. I didn’t do any experiments on it to see if I could make it stink. It works just like the description says it does – you just roll up your mat (with the cover on it), put it into the bag, and then roll on out the door! The bag is stretchy and definitely has some give to it. You also wash and dry it just like you do the mat cover. Washing/drying is no big deal as this mat bag is very lightweight (all of Kosha’s products are very lightweight and should not do any damage to your washer or dryer).

The mat bag.

The mat bag.

I did not use my mat bag a lot because, at the time, I had a mat cleaning service. I only needed to use it when I brought my mat and cover home to wash and then back to the studio. I found it easy to use and a nice way to get my mat from Point A to Point B. The mat bag takes up zero space as it folds up very easily and will get just about as tiny as you want to it.

The Tote

Oh my gosh, let me tell you about this tote. It’s my absolute most favorite tote bag in the world. Why?

  • It effortlessly holds a full  32 ounce hydro-flask. I love my hydro flask, but I hate dragging it around with me. It’s heavy! Putting it in a bag has never made it any easier – until I got this fabulous tote. I am assuming that because there is bounce and stretch to this tote, it makes carrying a full hydro-flask no big deal. The first day I used the tote I had it filled up with my hydro-flask AND clothes AND shoes and it was not at all a big deal to carry around.
  • It totally won’t get stinky. At all. Ever (well, from what I can figure out).
I've got everything but the sink in that tote!

I’ve got everything but the sink in that tote!

Like the mat cover, I was also on a quest to see if I could make my tote stink. The best way I knew how to do this was to leave stinky yoga clothes in it all day. Now, you might think this is not a realistic thing to do, but it totally is. You see, there were days when I would go to class in the morning and then go straight in to work. My yoga clothes stayed in a bag all day in the car. That is just never pretty folks. Never.

The first stink test came on a day just like I described. I did my class (as normal), and then put my stinky clothes in my yogi bagi as I normally would. I then put the stinky clothes in my Kosha tote. I had my car parked (with the stinky clothes inside) by 11:30. They stayed there until about 4:00.

019The first thing I noticed when I got in my car was that there was no smell. There is ALWAYS a smell when the clothes have been in the car for a few hours. Additionally, I want you to know that I had put my tote in the passenger seat. Normally I put the stinky clothes in the back. No smell.

However, I also park in a garage. So, to truly put the tote – and it’s non-stinky claims – to the test, I redid this test but this time left my stinky clothes (still in the yogi bagi inside the tote) sitting in the front seat of my car parked in my driveway directly in the sun from 11:00-5:00.

That’ll do it, right?

Guess what, no smell at all in the tote.

I kept on using my tote to haul stinky yoga clothes around in, but I refrained from washing it for an entire week. I asked random people to smell the tote (including The Boyfriend) and to explain what they noticed. None of these people knew about my tests or why I would ask them to sniff a tote. No one could say anything except that it “smells like a bag” or “smells like nothing.”

I use this tote for everything. EVERYTHING. I haul stinky yoga clothes around in it, clean clothes, food, my hydro-flask, and basically anything I feel like putting in a bag. I’m not limiting this to just yoga. It’s an item I cannot live without.

Want To Try It?
Interested in trying a Kosha tote or mat bag? You can go here and grab one! Kosha also sells the Ultimate Bikram Yoga Package which gives you all the items I’ve shared with you here.
And remember Kosha is giving you 20% off any and all of their products. Just use mybikramyogalife as your coupon code when you check out!

Favorite Things: Kosha Covers

Recently, I got invited to try out a several new products from Kosha. The main draw was the chance to try out an item called a mat cover. It looks like this:

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The idea behind the mat cover is simple: You take your standard sized rubber mat and place it inside the cover. There is a zipper on the backside of the cover (about halfway down) that allows the mat to remain enclosed and stable. Once you have your mat inside, you do your practice on top of the mat cover. No towel needed!

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Zips across the back of the cover.

Now, I’ve tried out various products that don’t require towels. At the time I was asked to review this I was already using a mat that did not require a towel at all. So while the idea of not having to use a towel may appeal to some, that wasn’t the big draw for me. Kosha made some claims about their mat cover that really excited me. They were:

  • anti-bacterial
  • odor-resistant
  • water absorbent
  • slip-resistant
  • machine washer/dryer safe
  • eco-friendly

All of these appealed to me, and I was very interested about the odor-resistant claim. While I do have several mats that do not require a towel (and one that I am only supposed to wash one-two days per week), they all stink at some level. Even the one that I am not supposed to wash every day always gets a little funky.

I was very excited then to try to make my Kosha mat stink. In fact, my number one goal was to make this mat cover stink.

In talking with Ash, the founder of Kosha, my initial understanding was that I could practice on the mat for about seven classes before taking the over off and washing it. I spent the entire week set up in the swamp section of the room. As luck would have it, I was practicing during a heat wave which resulted in the room being anywhere from 105-110 degrees and 40-50% humidity.

I sweated all over that mat cover.

For the first few classes, I found that the cover absorbed buckets and buckets of my sweat. It was also not smelling. Each day I would return to the studio and sniff my mat (actually I would inhale it). At some point I started asking other people to smell it. I’m sure everyone thought this was very strange. But it really didn’t smell!

Around class four or five, I started noticing puddles forming on my mat. By class seven I was laying in a small river. The mat cover still did not smell.

I shared my experience with the puddling with Ash who responded:

I have had one other person tell me before how the cover would start to puddle, and I too noticed that on mine, but that was when I once waited 2 weeks to wash it. I believe with people who sweat a lot (or like you being in a part of the room to make yourself sweat as much as possible to test 🙂 ) than washing needs to be every 2-3 days because of the level of coating we use. When the other person who told me that and myself started washing after 2-3 sessions, we did not have the problem anymore. 
1. When did you notice the puddling? On day 3 and than continued to stay puddle for the rest of the days? 
The absorbency has to do with the coating, we used a level 3 for our covers to satisfy the masses. We are going to come out with a level 4/5 for people who sweat a lot more soon to help with that problem! 
So, with the above in mind I went back for a seven day retest. This time around, the heat wave had ended and class was at it’s normal 105/40%. I still practiced in the swamp though. This time I wasn’t interested in trying to get the mat to stink (I had given up on that), and was focused more on the puddling issue.
Under normal Bikram conditions, I did not notice any puddling until the end of class five. Even then, it was very slight. I washed the cover and the puddling stopped. My conclusion is that Ash was right. If you notice a puddle at the end of class, just take it home and wash it and then it will go back to not puddling. You should be able to get at least four solid classes out of it before having to wash it. And no, I never got the mat cover to stink.
Other Things I Loved
While my main goal was to make the cover stink, it never started to smell. That’s awesome! But here are some other great things you should know about it:
  • once the rubber mat is inside the cover, you do not have to worry about it. it will not get wet. I know, I unzipped mine in the middle of class to check. even when I had the puddling issue, the mat still did not get wet.
  • washing and drying the cover are super simple. The cover can be washed in any kind of washer because it just folds up and goes in like a towel.
  • it will not bang the crap out of your washer and dryer. it’s far too light to do any damage
  • you can clean your cover between sessions. I explained to Ash that I had the studio clean and store my mat and she said:

Yes, it is okay if the studio sprays down the cover as long as the spray does not have bleach or harsh chemicals in them (they will destroy the product’s longevity). All of our products can be spot cleaned with only soap and water, or natural oils, in between washings.

Ash also said that you can hang the mat to dry, and it will typically dry within an hour. I didn’t know that because I spoiled myself with a mat cleaning service.

Some More Fun Facts

I haven’t said much about the eco-friendly aspect of the mat cover. Probably because I was so hung up on the fact that I couldn’t get it to smell! In creating the cover, Kosha worked with a company that would not bring any harm to the environment. In discussing their approach to creating the cover, the Kosha web site states:

Kosha fabric is a bamboo polyester blend.   Besides being a natural resource, we also choose to use our trademarked fabric for the following reasons:
1. Kosha fabric   is highly water-absorbent taking in 3-4 times more moisture than cotton.
2. Kosha fabric is a natural fiber, meaning it has been grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
3. Kosha fabric is very lightweight and strong.
4. Both the bottom fabric and coating are highly specialized and free of toxic chemicals.

It’s a bamboo/polyester blend (read even more here)!While this is great for the reasons they cited, do you know what else is great about it? The mat cover is super soft. I had several people stand on the mat cover (and some who just wanted to fondle it!) and everyone agreed on the softness of it. Another nice thing I noticed is that the rubber mat inside the cover does not move at all once you get it in, and the cover does not bunch up or slip on the floor.

All my other mats bunch up to some extent. In fact, the one I had been using prior always bunched up during the warm-up series. I had this habit of jerking it back to straighten it out when we got to party time. I jerked my mat cover to straighten it out (out of habit) and the only thing that happened was I jerked the whole thing across the floor and looked rather silly. It didn’t need to be fixed at all.

My Conclusion

This mat cover may be the best thing since sliced bread. It is truly amazing. You can use it for days on end, and it will never smell. At all. Not even the tiniest bit. It’s super soft and easy to wash and dry. It doesn’t slip or bunch up. This is the first time I have never had an issue with my mat. It seems like I always have a slight issue – be it bunching or a slight odor after a few days – but this mat cover has taken all that away.

Want To Try It?
Interested in trying a Kosha mat cover? You can go here and grab one! You’ll notice that they have other products besides the cover. In two weeks, I’ll be sharing with you my experiences on using their mat bag and tote (LOVE!). Kosha sells the Ultimate Bikram Yoga Package which gives you all of this.
And good news! Kosha is giving you 20% off any and all of their products. Just use mybikramyogalife as your coupon code when you check out!
Enjoy!

Favorite Things: Quinoa Skinny Sticks

“What ‘cha got?” The Boyfriend asked.

I had a bowl full of Quinoa Skinny Sticks. “These are…” I paused not sure how to explain what I was eating.  “These are made from quinoa.”

He scrunched up his face in a way that said he wasn’t interested.

“It’s a sweet onion flavor. Go ahead. Try one. I think you’ll like it.”

“No thanks,” he said.

We sat down on the couch and he stared into my bowl. “Why don’t you just have one?” I asked. “They aren’t weird. I think you will like them.”

He continued to stare at them.

I shoved the bowl in his face. “For God’s sake just take one. One will not kill you.”

He took one. And then another and another and so on…

“Let me go get some more,” I said. At this point I wasn’t actually eating any of them. He hopped off the couch, got the bag, and took out a bowl. “Just use my bowl,” I said.

“No. I want my own bowl. I don’t want to have to share these.”

quinoaMy Skinny Quinoa Sticks were an impulse buy from a recent trip to Fresh Market. I had no real reason for buying them except they just looked interesting. It’s not something I see at a typical grocery store. Plus, I was curious as to what a snack made from quinoa would taste like.

Turns out pretty darn good. So good in fact that The Boyfriend had to get how own bowl full.

These are Nong-GMO, Vegan, and gluten-free. They are also made from actual food. I knew what each of the ingredients are (which includes quinoa flour and chia seeds). You can go here to learn more about what’s in them.

They claim to be “super high in taste,” and I’m going to agree with that statement. Although I’ve only had the sweet onion (and it tasted just like I thought it would), I would be interesting in trying other flavors. The sticks also have a nice crunch to them.

So if you see them, grab a bag. And maybe hide them somewhere safe in your house. Apparently not everyone wants to share these.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

Favorite Things: Pan-Fried Kale

Recently, I found myself in possession of some left-over kale. I had bought some to make chick-peas and dumplings (from Thug Kitchen). I noticed it hanging around in the drawer and thought I should do something with it before it needed to be tossed out.

So easy to make.

So easy to make.

I remembered I had a recipe for pan-fried kale that was super simple so I went with that. I made a couple of modifications to the recipe. First, I always add in lemon juice at the end and let the kale simmer in it for a minute. Second, I decided to start sprinkling the vegan-cashew Parmesan I made. Both of these are excellent things to do with your pan-fried kale.

Once I had used up my left-over kale, I realized something: I am now addicted to pan-fried kale! Seriously, it goes with everything!

Making a vegan grilled cheese? Pan-fried kale goes with that!

Iced in and making a ton of risotto? Toss some pan-fried kale in your risotto!

Remember, if you make this, that you probably need more kale than you think. When you cook it, the kale will wilt and you will end up with less than you realized. This is, without a doubt, one of the easiest and best ways to eat kale. Also, it’s one of the easiest ways to eat your greens and make a quick and healthy side dish!

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

 

Favorite Things: Nuts.com

Last summer, I made a vegan cashew cheese for the first time in my life, and used it to make a vegan grilled cheese. You can read about that here. It was yummy. It was really more like a spread/dip, but it involved me going to Whole Foods and buying cashews in bulk. Cashews are not cheap at the store my friends. No they are not.

I really like the cashew cheese I made, and I started to acquire other recipes that called for cashew-based cheeses. I knew that going to the store to buy them was not the most economical thing to do. So I finally got off my butt and started looking around online. That’s when I landed on Nuts.com.

I have some cashews.

I have some cashews.

Nuts.com sells nuts in bulk. A five-pound bag of cashews goes for about 50.00. I looked back at how much the cashews cost at Whole Foods last summer. According to my post, they were 13.99 a pound. So five pounds will put you around 70.00. Clearly cheaper to buy in bulk online.

I ordered my bag on a Thursday and it arrived on Saturday! I was so excited I didn’t know what to do. So of course I went ahead and made a really simply vegan cashew cheese. The Minimalist Baker has a great vegan Parmesan cheese recipe which is where I started.

The recipe calls for four ingredients: cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt. You can get nutritional yeast at Whole Foods or a comparable store. You can buy it in bulk there. Note that the recipe says nothing about soaking the cashews. Normally, vegan cheese recipes will tell you to soak the cashews. I found a comment clarifying not to soak them. That is correct.

So there’s not much to do here! For my first foray with my cashews from Nuts.com I simply dumped all the ingredients into a food processor and whipped it up. Takes about two minutes to do. Before I knew it I had my vegan Parmesan cheese:

 

vegan cheese parm

 

Did it work? Yes! I was nervous about what the taste would be and the whole not soaking the cashews thing, but it turned out great. I have added it to my Caesar salad that I have been making courtesy of Thug Kitchen. Before, that salad either had no cheese on it or it had actual cheese and was vegetarian. Thanks to these cashews, and this recipe, I am rocking out a truly vegan chicken Caesar salad.

My little bag of cocoa nibs.

My little bag of cocoa nibs.

I was very pleased with the quality of my cashews and the price I paid for them. In addition, Nuts.com sent me a little free bad of cocoa nibs. Yes, they are strong, but you can use them a number of ways. There are many recipes online for them, but you can also just shoot a handful. Have a headache? Need caffeine? Want chocolate? Do a shot of cocoa nibs and you’ll likely find yourself feeling better and super alert.

Anyways, I’m excited about Nut.com. I’m going to see how long a five-pound bag lasts me.  They have a 25-pound case for 200.00. That might sound expensive, but it comes out to 7.99 a pound which is super cheap. We’ll see how fast I go through this bag. I’m looking forward to making a lot of vegan cheese and sharing it with you all!

 

 

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Favorite Things: Thug Kitchen

You might have noticed I haven’t been sharing any recipes lately. That’s because back in November, for my birthday, my brother got me a copy of Thug KitchenThug Kitchen is an amazing vegan cookbook that brings you simple, easy recipes using stuff you are already have in your kitchen.

I’ve made several items from it already including:

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Delicious, yummy croutons. Croutons are simple to make. TK gives you a great recipe for adding some flavor to them. I buy two loaves of french bread from the restaurant next door to my studio and make them all at once (one loaf of bread at a time – takes about 30 minutes to do from start to finish). I then put these suckers into Tupperware containers and toss them in my pantry. These are croutons – they are not going to spoil. And while I put these on salads and in soups, I also just randomly snack on them. Do I look weird dragging loaves of bread with me into the yoga studio? Probably, but not as weird as when the place next door has a half off wine sale and I drag 4+ bottles of wine to class with me. Remember, there is no judgement in yoga.

I’ve also made the chickpea and dumpling soup:

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I know, that sounds weird, right? Well, it did to me. I know what chicken and dumplings are, but chickpeas and dumplings? The soup also has kale in it. I thought it would either work out well or it would just be weird. Turns out it is amazing!!! If you make this, I suggest doing a double batch because it is so delicious and it freezes well.

The dumplings are not hard to make. Here are some of mine in action:

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I made them the day before and tossed them in the freezer. The next morning (or maybe it was a couple of days later), I put them in the fridge to thaw and then made the rest of the soup from there. You can make it all at once – it’s not that complicated, but you can also do a little bit of advanced prep if you so choose.

Finally, let me show you a picture of the tortilla soup alongside a vegan Caesar salad:

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The salad features the croutons from earlier as well as a Caesar dressing featured in TK. The dressing is not hard to make. It uses almond slivers that I bought in the baking section of the grocery store. You do need a food processor. I’ve recently started adding Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken to it as well. I love a good chicken Caesar salad, and TK has helped me figure out a way to make it vegan.

And FYI: The tortilla soup, like the chickpea and dumplings, also freezes and reheats well. I’ve also made the root veggie fries. This is a matter of identifying a root vegetable, like a potato, and turning it into a french fry. TK has a great recipe for doing that that uses the oven. I’ve made it with carrots and parsnips. If you want a great dip for your veggie fries I recommend this roasted red pepper-walnut dip.

So, as you can see, I’ve been busy making a lot of food lately. I keep the croutons and Caesar dressing on hand all the time. In fact, I make a double batch of that dressing each time. It seems to hold up well in the fridge for a week to a week an a half. And you can probably see I’ve gone a little nuts over the TK cookbook.

You might be thinking that I love this cookbook so much because I’m already used to eating vegan. The real test then comes with what The Boyfriend, in all his meat eating glory, thinks. And you know what he thinks? He flipping loves every single thing I make out of this book. In fact, he is asking for the chickpea and dumplings again. He’s been asking for a month now. I promised him we’d do it next weekend. If TK had a recipe for how to cook up a piece of cardboard, I’m pretty sure The Boyfriend would eat it if I told him it came from TK. He so thoroughly believes in TK that he will eat anything that I cook that comes out of the book. He’s also addicted to those parsnip fries, and prior to me making them he did not know what a parsnip was.

The book is humorous and written in an easy to understand way. There are some items you will have to purchase for some recipes that you might not have heard of before – like nutritional yeast – but they tell you exactly what it is. Actually, to date I have only needed items that you can get at a typical grocery store. But anything else you can probably get at Whole Foods.

If you only buy one cookbook this year, it should be this one (or, even better, get someone to get it for you as a gift!). I eat something from it every single day!

Check out their promotional video (explicit language).

They also have a FB page where they share recipes. You can take a look and get a sense of what the book will be like. Note that most of the recipes on their page are not in the book. The book is its own thing.

 

 

 

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