Traveling Vegan: Airport Hacks

When I first went veg, traveling was the hardest part. I mean, it’s hard enough to find healthy-ish food in an airport, but now let’s find some healthy-ish food that doesn’t have any meat, eggs or dairy… and I’d prefer that it be lightly processed. GOOD LUCK!

As a person who occasionally experiences a mean case of the hangries, it didn’t take more than a couple extended layovers for me to figure out how to eat vegan at the airport.

Before leaving the house, I always pack a few snacks that will make it through airport security (even for short flights, because you never know if you’ll get delayed!):

  • Nuts are high in protein and healthy fats, plus the satisfying crunch can help stave off hunger.
  • Trail mix with salty almonds and sweet dried fruit is great combo.
  • Instant oatmeal packets are a super easy way to get a hot meal! All you need is a cup of hot water, either from a coffee shop at the airport or the flight attendant in-flight, and you’re all set.
  • Fruit: apples and berries are great, bananas are terrible unless you like them smushed.

Once you’re at the airport, and depending on which airport you’re traveling through, it can be a bit tricky to find healthy vegan options. But, tricky isn’t impossible 🙂 here are my go-to foods that you can find at just about any airpot:

  • Not to be redundant, but nuts are delicious and they’re sold everywhere.
  • Salads, hold the cheese/eggs/bacon bits/whatever else is on there that’s not a plant, dressing on the side. Just say no to creamy dressings; vinaigrettes are a safe option. Toss in a few of the nuts you bought 😉
  • Bagels are almost always vegan, and topped with peanut butter they make a meal! Avoid bagels with honey, cheese, and chocolate chips. Check if they have nutritional information available, and avoid options that have cholesterol as there is no cholesterol in plant foods.
  • Some airport markets have those little Sabra hummus and pretzel cups – done. If you can’t find peanut butter, but you can find these hummus packs, bagels topped with hummus is quite delicious.
  • The oatmeal sold at Starbucks can also be made vegan – just ask the barista to use soy or coconut milk, instead.
  • Made-to-order sandwich shops are great if they have avocado – gotta get my protein!
  • If you’re ordering a veggie burger, be sure to ask for no butter on the bun.

There are also a few vegan-friendly airport restaurants, and I’ve noticed more popping up in recent years, like RootDown coming to Denver International Airport – WIN!

What are your favorite ways to eat vegan (or even just eating healthy) while traveling through the airport?

My Colorado Mountain Wedding

August 16, 2015 will forever be my favorite day because it’s the day I said “I do” to my best friend and soulmate! We were lucky enough to have so many friends and family members come into town to celebrate with us, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend. Here are just a few of my favorite moments from our Colorado wedding, and some info about our awesome vendors.

For starters, I’m SO HAPPY that we decided to work with Sarah Roshan as our wedding photographer! The whole process, from chatting about the details before even signing a contract to receiving all the pictures after our wedding, was so simple – which is a huge relief because almost nothing feels simple when you’re planning a wedding. Julian and I met Sarah a few years ago on a styled shoot that we modeled for (ironically, the shoot was at the same venue we ended up getting married at), so when it came time to choose a photographer for our actual wedding, the decision was easy.

We also decided to hire a wedding coordinator, which I would highly recommend to any bride-to-be. While a full blown event planner can be a bit pricey, most planners have a “day-of” package that’s more affordable. That’s what we did, and it was the best decision I made while planning our wedding! We hired Claire of We Tie The Knots (it was a match-at-first-sight when she walked in wearing Chanel flats) – she came in with about 6 weeks until the big day and took over all the major responsibilities like confirming with vendors, putting together a timeline and making sure everyone knew where to be and when to be there. She helped us think about all the little details that you tend to forget about… like the fact that we should probably have a water station at the ceremony of our outdoor summer wedding. Ya, that was a GREAT idea! Her team made sure all my DIY wedding projects looked perfect, and that the entire event with off without a hitch – and on time!

Our venue, Spruce Mountain Ranch in Larkspur Colorado, is a gorgeous indoor-outdoor venue that can actually accommodate more than 150 people! Way more, actually, but we didn’t need the larger spaces. They recommended using Occasions Catering in Denver, which was delicious – we heard from a few of our guests that it was the best wedding food they’d ever had! I’d say that’s a win.

My dress is the Paige gown by Watters Wtoo, and I found it at A & Bé Bridal Shop in Denver. The ladies at A & Bé made the whole process of trying on dresses and veils so much fun! After finding my veil, my stylist brought out a veil by a local Denver designer, Sara Gabriel, and it was the perfect finishing touch.

When I sent a few floral design ideas to Erin at Plum Sage Flowers, I really had no idea what I was doing. I just found a few pictures on Pinterest that I liked, and her team took care of the rest! My bridal bouquet of lavender roses was exactly what I had envisioned, and it matched perfectly with the simple yet elegant white rose bouquets for my bridesmaids and white rose boutonnieres for the groomsmen. Julian wore a matching lavender boutonniere, which was Erin’s idea and I loved it.

I’m definitely a fortunate bride, because one of my best friends is a rockstar Denver make-up artist, Liana Kathryn, and my sister, Jessica Zeinstra Rosen, is an ex-hair stylist turned education manager. Needless to say, I looked awesome.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite pics from our summer wedding in Colorado!

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Anna's Custom Pews Denver

These wooden church pews were handmade by Anna’s Custom Pews specifically for Grace’s Chapel at Spruce Mountain Ranch! They were the perfect seating choice for us, because I has always dreamed of getting married outside, and Julian wanted a more traditional church feel… best of both worlds!

emotional groom wiping tear at the altar

Bride and Groom outdoor wedding summer golden field lavender rose bouquet

bridal party in purple and grey

bridal party in purple and grey

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Bride and Groom outdoor colorado summer mountain wedding

Bride and Groom outdoor colorado summer mountain wedding

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Yep, it rained a bit, but only for about 10 minutes and it was the lightest, warmest, dreamiest rain ever! And it’s ok, because it POURED on our first date, and it rained when he proposed, so it was only natural for it to rain on our wedding. Plus, we had rainbows…

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colorado outdoor summer wedding lake

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rose petal grand exit wedding

30 Hours in Joshua Tree National Park

I’m always down to explore one of our beautiful National Parks, but Joshua Tree National Park is one that’s been on my bucket list for years. Mostly because the Joshua Tree looks like it grew straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, I won’t lie, and also because this desert scene is something brand new to me.

Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

 

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve been spoiled by with sweeping mountain views my entire life; and though views of the Rocky Mountains certainly never get old, there’s something about the desert landscape that just gets me. Maybe it’s the vast, wide-openness that calls to my adventurous side, or the fact that I’m slightly obsessed with cacti (even though I definitely backhanded a cholla cactus… twice). That my parents raised me with an insatiable desire to see, do and learn is definitely a factor 😉

Regardless of the reason, four of us flew to Los Angles, drove 2.5 hours east into the desert, and descended on Joshua Tree National Park for a mere 30 hours. Now, that’s not really enough time to see the entire park, so we picked out our top spots and hit as many as we could, and I’m already planning my next trip back!

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Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Our first stop in Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden, a .25-mile loop through thousands of naturally growing cholla cactus! You’ll want to wear closed-toes shoes, and stay on the trail… fun facts about these cholla babies: they’re also called “jumping cholla” because the spines break off easily and instantly stick to anything that brushes up against them, and the barbed needles to curve are extremely painful to remove.Cholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National ParkCholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park
  2. At our second stop, we walked the 1-mile loop around Hidden Valley. It was a fairly easy hike with tons of rocks to climb and great sites along the way. The valley itself is stunning, surrounded by massive rock walls and filled with Joshua Trees and cacti.hidden valley joshua tree national park top places to visitIMG_4235
  3. We watched the sun set over the Coachella Valley from Keys View, and it was unfortunately super cloudy. And super windy. And super cold. So we didn’t stay too long. I have a feeling that the 3-mile hike up Ryan Mountain would also offer spectacular views!Coachella valley joshua tree national park
  4. The next morning we came back to watch the sunrise and it was, as expected, completely breathtaking. While Keys View or Ryan Mountain (if you can hike in the dark) would be amazing to watch the sunrise as well, we just pulled off to the side of the road and had a perfect view.watching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national park
  5. Of course, we couldn’t leave without climbing around on some of the massive rocks strewn throughout the park!rock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national park

And I already have a few ideas in mind for the next trip back 😉 stay tuned!

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Taos Pueblo and Santa Fe Turquoise – A Weekend Trip to New Mexico

At 5am, it’s very dark out and we learned quickly that not every Starbucks is open that early… nevertheless; we hit the road with big smiles and a Spotify playlist. After a few short hours, we made it to Taos and stopped at the Taos Pueblo to see the adobe homes and structures that have survived over 1000 years! They have been living in the same valley since ~900 AD – hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. Learning about this beautiful culture and the immense history while walking around the village was definitely worth the stop.

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Santa Fe Taos Pueblo Adobe

Between Taos and Santa Fe, there are quite a few flea markets along the side of the road with southwestern style home décor, dishes and glassware, planters and even dried chili peppers! I’ll be honest though, the prices aren’t much better than what you find in the cities, and they often aren’t negotiable – we mostly stopped to get out and walk around.

Chili Peppers Drying in Santa Fe

When we finally made it to Santa Fe, we pulled right into the center of town and parked near the Plaza. Most of the buildings in the city mimic the old adobe style, and vendors lined the sidewalks with beautiful artwork, leather goods and handmade sterling silver jewelry set with turquoise and coral. It was a dream!

Top Places to Shop for Turquoise in Santa Fe

  1. Sidewalk vendors – Not only will you find better deals here, their jewelry is often handmade using techniques that have been passed down through generations. I talked to 1 vendor who is a 3rd generation silversmith, and makes some of the most beautiful sterling silver bracelets and cuffs I’ve ever seen! Another vendor was able to explain the process of cutting the turquoise and that triangle pieces are more difficult to achieve – the longer and thinner the triangle, the more easily the stone will break while they buff the stone and set it in metal. He also sized my ring with a wooden mallet, which was pretty awesome.Where to Buy Turquoise in Santa Fe Street Vendor
  2. The Rose’s pawn shop at 117 E. Palace Ave, Santa Fe – you must go here! They have beautiful vintage turquoise jewelry, buffalo turquoise, coral, and other stones, with very reasonable prices. They even have a selection of Fred Harvey turquoise and sterling silver bracelets that are in perfect condition. It was hard to walk out of there without buying up their entire inventory!
    Turquoise Rings Where To Buy Turquoise Sante Fe
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  3. Goodwill – OK, maybe not for turquoise or jewelry, but if you’re interested in leather it’s definitely worth the stop! I found a Dooney & Bourke leather bag in excellent condition for $90, and there were racks of leather jackets (hello southwestern fringe!).

Places to Eat in Santa Fe

I’ll be honest; we were only in the town for about 30 hours so I’m no expert on where to eat in Santa Fe, but we did have some delicious food while we were there! Here are the places I’d go back to:

  1. Go to Tia Sophia’s for lunch and instead of your typical breadbasket, you’ll get a basket of fresh, warm sopapillas with honey and cinnamon sugar. They also have some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had, and I’m definitely close to being an expert on guac.
  2. For dinner, we went to The Shed – the food was delicious, the chili was super spicy, but mostly the margaritas were on point! If the weather’s nice, get there early to snag a table on their outdoor patio.
  3. We grabbed a quick breakfast from one of the few places in town that doesn’t offer tacos and smothered burritos – The French Pastry Shop. It was so good! I love crepes, and they definitely do it right here by loading their giant crepes with as many ingredients as you’d like. Personally, I went with spinach, egg and cheese and was so happy. Just know that they only take cash, so come prepared!

To get a great view of the city, or to watch the sunset in Santa Fe, head up to the Cross of the Martyrs! It’s a quick, uphill walk on a paved path with stairs and benches along the way, so it’s fairly accessible for most.

A quick weekend was just enough time to briefly explore this amazing city, and I already can’t wait to go back.

Il Mercato Centrale Firenze

We’d heard about this place from a friend who tried to give us directions, but in between taking the 2nd alley on the right, dodging street vendors and us inevitably veering off course, we were about to cut our losses and start heading back in the general direction of our apartment when…

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… the Mercato Centrale appeared. And then we looked across the street and saw Trattoria Za Za, the restaurant we’d eaten at the night before with an entire menu for truffle dishes. I blame that truffle menu for not noticing that we were in the Piazza del Mercato Centrale.

 

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The Mercato Centrale, or Central Market, is a warehouse packed with different restaurants, cafes, butchers and little shops selling oils, vinegars, limoncello, noodles and dried fruit. Right at the top of the stairs, fresh pressed OJ, creamy espresso and endless cases of pastries… so we found heaven.

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Not many of the shops were open in the morning, so we grabbed some fresh fruit and pastries, and found a café that would give us espresso to go. Trust me, that’s a feat.

We came back for a lunch the next day and had a really hard time deciding, so we just grabbed a whole pizza, burrata on toast, sandwiches and a pastry. And this is when I realized that I have food fomo.

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Heading back to our apartment, we ran into these two lovebirds – my sister and bro in-law! Running into Jess and Max in each city was easily one of my favorite parts of this trip 🙂

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That Time My Sister Ordered Fried Brains in Florence

cammillo trattoria florence restaurants the bestcammillo trattoria florence restaurants the best

One of the first things we learned in Italy is to start every conversation in Italian, especially at restaurants and cafes. It’s respectful, but it also makes the people working at the restaurant or cafe more inclined to point out the best things on the menu. Case in point? When we sat down at Trattoria Cammillo in Florence and my dear sister struck up a convo in what little Italian she knew – our servers’ face lit up and he immediately flipped through the menu, pointing out which ingredients were freshest. His recommendation for Fritto il Cervello e Fiori di Zucca sounded lovely, but there was one word that none of us recognized: Cervello. Turns out, the dish was fried veal brains and fried zucchini flowers. A little apprehensive, but following our adventure travel rule of trusting your server’s suggestions, she ordered it with a (large) glass of white wine.

Fun fact about Brittany Zeinstra – 75% of her diet growing up consisted of peanut butter and cheese, and we used to have to bribe her to finish a meal. Now the chick is ordering fried brains in Italian like a foodie pro and putting the rest of us to shame. Because I ordered a truffle pasta with peas. It’s aight though, she can win this adventurous battle 😉

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She was admittedly apprehensive at first, but she loved it.

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Another area to trust your servers is with their wine suggestions. They know a thing or two about their local wines, and even the house blends are phenomenal. You’ll also be sitting, chatting and enjoying your meal for a while, so go with the bottle or pitcher instead of ordering by the glass.

Millennials Expect Brands to Do More Good

While it’s true that the majority of millennials are caught up in their mad selfie game, they’re also becoming increasingly more aware of the good (or lack of good) that their favorite brands are doing! With companies like Toms launching the One-for-One campaign, giving a pair of shoes to children in third-world countries, and Satya Jewelry raising funds for The Manjushree Orphanage and Charity Water, it’s no wonder that 8 in 10 millennials expect their brands to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship!

We want companies that offer stellar products that do more than just smell nice or taste delicious… we want a brand we can stand behind; one that shares our passion for helping the planet and changing the world.

Which is why I have fallen in love with SoapBox Soaps! For every bar of soap or bottle of shampoo that’s sold, SoapBox gives a bar of soap or a month of clean water to a person in need. They take it one step further by marking every product with a Hope Code that allows you to track exactly where you are doing good. My Coconut Shampoo funded the Splash Project in Cambodia, and my Coconut Conditioner provided water to children and families in Nepal!

Plus, it smells amazing and is made with shea butter so my hair is super soft. With brands like SoapBox Soaps making it simple for consumers to make a difference, maybe we really can change the world!

Millennials Expect Brands to Do More GoodMillennials Expect Brands to Do More GoodMillennials Expect Brands to Do More GoodMillennials Expect Brands to Do More Good