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Cocozia coconut water review

At the end of last year, Cocozia contacted me and asked it I’d like to review their coconut water. I like coconut water and theirs is organic and non-GMO so I was definitely interested!

cocozia organic coconut water

First, let’s talk about the benefits of coconut water in general:

  • more potassium than a banana
  • a good source of anti-oxidants
  • also a source of sodium, magnesium and calcium
  • while it might not have enough sodium to be great for you after a strenuous workout, it should be enough to replenish you after a light to moderate workout

Now, coconut water does have some calories. The Cocozia I tried has 70 calories per container. So you probably shouldn’t down these like water. But, I really enjoyed it as an alternative to water cold out of the fridge just after a run. The coconut taste is very light so you might still like it even if coconut isn’t your thing.

About a week ago, I felt like I might be coming down with something. I took oregano oil, echinacea and goldenseal to help my body fight it. And I still had some coconut water so I had a bottle. Thankfully I never came down with that cold. I”m not sure the Cocozia helped any more than drinking water, but at least it was an alternative to the water and tea I’d been drinking, helped mix things up a bit. I haven’t heard of coconut water being particularly good for a cold or flu, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

Right now I’m not drinking a lot of cold smoothies with frozen ingredients, but when the weather is warmer, I’m going to try freezing the Cocozia in ice cube trays to add to my smoothies. I bet that’ll be extra refreshing.

The only weird thing about the Cocozia is the extending straw that comes attached to the box. It doesn’t seem to seal properly so when you use it it’s like using a straw with a hole in it. So I’ve just been pouring it in a glass or  it also has a foil covered spout where you can tear off and drink out of the box. That works fine.

Full disclosure: Cocozia did send me free product to try for this review and I am linking to it with an Amazon associates ID which will give me a few cents if someone buys it through that link.



Eating Vegan on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

royal caribbean ship selfie

Cruises are known for their elaborate spreads of food with people piling up plate after plate of food from the buffet. But how does that work out for a vegan? This is my experience of eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Some things have changed since the first Royal Caribbean cruise I went on in 2008.  The main thing to note is that I didn’t see any of the vegan margarine that they had that first time. Availability might depend on where they pick up supplies, or maybe their vendors changed. Finding peanut butter on the buffet was hit or miss this time around. If they don’t have it out on the buffet, you can always ask. They usually have it in back.

We always had dinner in the dining room together at a table at our appointed time. There are also buffet options if you don’t want to do that. If you do eat in the dining room, the first night get acquainted with the head waiter. He is your best friend. Ask him all of your questions. He will make sure you get what you need.

There is a set menu for each evening. You can try to order off of that. Often you can cobble together vegan or easily made vegan items from it. We had 5 vegans in our party, so each night we would order for the next night. We’d look at the regular menu to see if we could eat anything on it. And then we’d have them make something we requested. We had an added challenge – one of us was also gluten free. Most nights we ended up having some kind of Indian food. And then they’d also bring a plate of tofu and vegetables for us to share. The last night they had soy chicken on the regular menu. The head waiter took a picture of the package and it said vegan right on it! While I do like Indian food, it was getting a little old so the soy chicken was awesome.

Every night, they will come around with a bread basket. Ask about the breads, but there is a sourdough that is vegan. If they don’t have the vegan margarine, ask them to bring some olive oil to the table for you to dip your bread in.

Desserts ended up being variations of rice pudding. One night we had carrot halwa. On a previous cruise, they made a chocolate soy pudding one night that was awesome. We got vanilla pudding one night this time.

This is the meal we had the last night. Salad, chilled mango soup,  soy chicken and carrot halwa, an Indian spiced dessert. The vegetables on the plate with the soy chicken were from the big plate of veggies they brought us every night.

vegan salad on royal caribbean

vegan chilled mango soup on royal caribbean cruise

vegan soy chicken on royal caribbean cruise

vegan indian spiced carrot dessert on royal caribbean cruise

Breakfast and lunch we would have at the buffet. When you sit down, a waiter will come by and you can ask him or her for soy milk for your coffee and/or cereal. Do that first before you hit the buffet because they may have to go seek some out. There’s always a ton of fresh fruit out. You’ll find fried and roasted potatoes. They have a miso soup station where you can get some tofu cubes. I just assumed the miso soup wasn’t vegan since it traditionally isn’t, but I didn’t ask. There will be some stir fried veggies and rice. There is almost always some Indian dish like chana masala.

Here’s one of my breakfasts from the buffet at the Windjammer. Yeah, I ate chana masala over potatoes for breakfast. I ain’t skerd. Also we scored an awesome window seat.

vegan breakfast on royal caribbean cruise

The lunch buffet was even easier. More vegetable options appeared. You could make a salad, the raspberry vinaigrette is vegan, or make a french fry sandwich. It’s really your choice. As you can see, I took the less fried route. Here are a couple of my lunch plates from the Windjammer buffet.

vegan lunch on royal caribbean cruise

vegan lunch on royal caribbean cruise

Anyway, the point is that a vegan won’t starve on a Royal Caribbean cruise and you can actually put together some healthy, tasty meals. Or you can be a junk food vegan and eat cheeseless pizza and Johnny Rockets (costs extra) streamliners every meal. We’ve also been to some of the specialty restaurants in the past and they took care of us there too. So don’t let vegan food worries keep you from going on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Oh, and you can even find good vegan food in some of the ports. See my previous post about St. Thomas to find out about options there.  On this trip, we stopped in Cozumel which is a 45 minute water taxi ride away from Playa Del Carmen. There is so much awesome vegan food in Playa Del Carmen that I have several posts about it from a previous trip.

Our favorite was Kaxapa Factory, so we all hopped on the water taxi and headed over for Venezuelan noms. Heed my warning, the water taxi ride is pretty bumpy. I highly recommend taking Dramamine in preparation for the trip. When we got off the taxi, our first stop was a pharmacy for some aptly named Vomisin. The ride back was much easier because of it.

I was feeling traditional and went for the black bean, plantain and avocado arepa. Fabulous as always.

vegan arepa at kaxapa factory playa del carmen

While there is a Starbucks on board, extra of course but at least they have soy milk, nothing beats Ah Cacao’s espresso frappé. Three shots of espresso, ice, sugar, blend.

ah cacao espresso frappe playa del carmen

We may have cut it a little close getting back to the water taxi. Thankfully we made the last boat and got back on the ship in time.

So that’s about all I’ve got to say about eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I’ll just leave you with this sunset as we passed down the coast of Florida.

caribbean sunset

Get organized with reusable, waterproof labels

Every once in a while, a company contacts me about reviewing a product. When the Kidecals folks wrote me offering to send me some of their products for free, it took me a while to get back to them because I wasn’t sure at first that I could use them for anything.

Kidecals are reusable labels you can stick on water bottles, food containers, clothing, walls, etc. Their main product is a pack of personalized labels in all different sizes that you can stick to your kids stuff as they carry it off to school, soccer practice, whatever other places kids go. The idea is to get your kid’s name on all their belongings so they don’t go astray. But I don’t have kids and I don’t go anywhere requiring labels.

What I could use though is a little organization in the kitchen. As someone that likes to cook and bake, it’s overflowing with ingredients, many poorly labeled. And the fridge ends up full of unidentifiable leftovers. Okay, now I’ve got a starting point. So I picked out a couple of label sheets and ordered them.

The first sheet is Kidecals set of pantry labels. You can customize what each label says to meet your unlabeled pantry item needs.

kidecals pantry labels

Most of Kidecals labels are printed, but they also have chalkboard labels that you can write on, clean off and use again. These are perfect for labeling containers of leftovers in the fridge.

kidecals chalkbaord labels

At the bakery, we labeled things with masking tape and a Sharpie. And I carried this habit home. It works, but it’s not pretty.

labeled mason jar

And here it is with my new label. Much prettier on the shelf!

kidecals mason jar label

The chalkboard labels are definitely limited by my horrendous handwriting. Protip: put the label on the container, then write on it otherwise you’ll probably smear it like I did. No big deal though, you can clean it and rewrite it.

kidecals chalkboard labels

The labels are supposed to stay on containers on the top rack of the dishwasher. And they’re supposed to be removable. To test this, I left the label on a a leftover bucket and sent it through the dishwasher. The label definitely stayed on the container through the wash. I tried to peel the label off while it was still warm from the dishwasher and it was sticking. So you probably have to let the dishes cool completely before trying to take labels off. Or just take them off before washing. It’ll stick to something else.

All in all I think these are pretty cool. Being cheap, I’d probably stick to my masking tape/Sharpie labeling method for my purposes, but if I had to keep track of a bunch of kid’s stuff, the Kidecals label packs would be super useful.

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins for World Vegan Day

Happy World Vegan Day!

To celebrate, I’m going to share another recipe from Dough, vegan Pumpkin Walnut Muffins. This was one of our most popular muffins at the bakery and while we made it year round, it’s particularly suited to this season.  And bonus, these muffins don’t require any weird ingredients. It’s all stuff you can get at any grocery store.

vegan pumpkin walnut muffins

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose & half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin (just pumpkin, not pie filling)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup chopped walnuts plus one walnut half for top of each muffin

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl. In a another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed. Stir in chopped walnuts.

3. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 with batter or if you have one with #12 scoop. Put a walnut half on the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

vegan pumpkin walnut muffin closeup

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

When I saw that Califia Farms had a vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte almond milk coffee blend I got pretty excited. Sure, there are plenty of recipes online for making one at home. But a jug of it already made is, well, already made. Then you don’t have to think about partial cans of pumpkin, etc.

Soon enough, it was spotted in Atlanta and Kevin picked me up a jug because he’s cool like that. So I broke into it pretty quickly. It’s pumpkiny, spicy and not too sweet unlike most of the other holiday drinks out there. But where’s the coffee? I can’t taste it at all. I had a glass before dinner a few times and never felt the caffeine either.

califia farms pumpkin spice latte

Not enough coffee, hmm? The next thing I tried to do was pour it into my coffee like a creamer. That wasn’t good. I’ve used their regular almond milks as creamer just fine, but this wasn’t fatty or creamy enough.

coffee in mug


So I finished off the rest just as a drink, usually before bed as an after dinner snack. Sadly, I didn’t like it enough to get any more. Oh well, next new vegan product, please!

P.S. Why yes, that is a Jeannette Zeis vegan mug that I’ve had forever. I think it was a second but around here it’s my first.

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