Relish Tray: Daiya’s Havarti-Style “Cheese” Wedge

relishverb. to delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desires.

daiya havarti

My name is Michelle & I am a Havarti-aholic. It all started several months ago when, upon release of Daiya’s wedge-style flavors, my friend Diva LaVida recommended that I try their Havarti flavor immediately because it was just that good. However, I rarely purchase vegan cheeses anymore. With so many great vegan restaurants in Chicago, I find that I can get my fill of cheesy flavors without adding it to my grocery list. Cut to last week when I decided to pick up a cheddar wedge as a gift for a recently dairy-free client. As I stood in the aisle at Whole Foods, cheddar in one hand, Daiya coupon in the the other, I decided now was as good of time as any to try this Havarti flavor for myself.

With no gluten-free crackers suitable for cheese at home, I opted to try my wedge on apple slices…and proceeded to devour half of the package in one sitting. Thankfully, my consumption has slowed down slightly [and I’ve learned to pre-arrange my slices on a plate to prevent mindless grazing from the package], but I still should buy stock in Daiya with as often as I’m purchasing this wedge. It’s amazing, guys! And for the most part, it’s pretty neutral on the nutrition scale. With a tapioca flour, palm oil & coconut base, it’s soy-free, gluten-free, & of course, dairy-free without too many unnecessary ingredients or preservatives. Overall, I feel okay about getting my apple a day with a side of this stuff…it’ll still keep the doctor away.

Want to go dairy-free, but you’re not quite sure how? As your health coach, I can help.
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Lady Date with Diva LaVida – An Interview

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of recording an interview with my dear friend & former client, Diva LaVida on her podcast Lady Date with Diva LaVida. Tonight, it’s finally online.

lady date with diva lavida


You can listen in on our lady date over on Diva’s site or download the episode on iTunes.

Topics covered include: 
* Website design & digital branding
* How to get glow-tastic skin
* #KaleEveryDamnDay & Vegan MoFo
* My favorite vegan eats around Chicago
* and, of course, Hula Hoops!!!

If you’re interested in the glow-tastic health coaching that I offered to Diva, visit the Health Happiness & Hula Hoops shop for pricing & details.
OR if you’re intrigued with developing your digital brand the way I’ve helped Diva rock hers, you can purchase my branding start-up package in the blog shop.

Want to interview me yourself or just have questions about my services?
Don’t be afraid to ask.

Thankful Thursday: How to Please a Diva [LaVida]

Today is a very special Thankful Thursday, filled to the brim with happy news!

Let’s start things off with some “glowing” praise from recent 6 month program graduate
& supremely talented burlesque dancer Diva LaVida:

diva testimonial

 “I really enjoyed working with Michelle & found her to be a tremendous asset. She never pressured me into wacky diets or asked me to do anything that made me feel less than awesome. Her advice helped to clear up my skin, trim my waist, & got me glowing. Seriously, even my coworkers noticed my positive changes. Woot!”
Diva LaVida

To read even more client testimonials & to find out the details about my 6 month health coaching program visit & schedule your very own FREE health consultation:
click here button

Other things that I’m Thankful for Today:

♥ the amazing, useful, & entertaining eBook that I’m a contributor to hit #3 on the Amazon Best Seller’s list in our category [Kindle – Advertising]! If you want to read all about how I based my business brand on girly magazines + many more stories of self-promotion & starting your own business, you can purchase Self-Promotion Sucks (but it doesn’t have to) on Amazon for only $4.99!

♥ inspired by my first eBook experience, I’ve decided to write my own! You can look forward to my Health is Beauty how-to guide to clearing your skin & getting that glow this Fall! It’ll be a tight deadline for all the information that I plan to include, but I’m putting it out there into the universe & feel determined I can make it happen. [P.S. If you’re excited by this book idea, leave me a comment of support on the Michelle Shea Walker [dot com] facebook page, I’d really appreciate it!]

♥ my boyfriend Nick was featured in The Chicago Sun-Times this week for his Dabble class on How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s always great to see someone so brilliant get the great press that they deserve [especially when it’s the man in your life].

♥ and also, I’m thankful for chia pudding. So. Much. Chia. Pudding. 🙂

What are you Thankful for Today?

Make Something Monday: Yolk on Toast

Recently, I had a [slightly intoxicated] discussion with fellow vegan Diva La Vida about how much we miss egg yolks with toast. We agreed that, overall, we can easily find a substitute for just about any non-vegan craving, except this one breakfast staple. Could I come up with something that would resemble this delicious, runny toast dip?

...tastes like what I remember egg yolks to taste like...

With a little help from posts by Vegan Mischief & Airy Way, I came up with this amazing recipe:


1 tbsp + 1 tsp Earth Balance
1/2 tbsp Vegenaise
1+ tbsp vegetable juice [I used V8, but some other recipes suggest carrot juice.]
2 tbsp vegetable broth
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp arrowroot
pepper & salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Heat over medium heat until melted & stir until combined.
Let cool slightly & serve over toast & jam
[or, if you’re less pressed for time, over fried tofu/tofu scrambled].

7 Questions: Diva LaVida

Diva LaVida (center) as Toad in Boobs & Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque

Burlesque star Diva LaVida of Chicago’s cult favorite Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque was kind enough to answer our vegan questionnaire:

VTB: What made you decide to go vegan?
DLV: I initially became vegetarian for financial reasons. Cutting out meat was just a way to save money. It wasn’t until about 2 or 3 years ago I tried cutting out all animal products to try and lose weight. Losing weight didn’t work out, but it was such an easy choice I just decided to stick with it. Plus the more I learned about how our food animals are treated in this country, the more I wanted to not participate in that. Seriously, when I think about eating a creature’s flesh and bone, it really bothers me now.

VTB: Was it a gradual process for you or an immediate lifestyle change?
DLV: Going vegan was kind of gradual. I was a vegetarian for a couple of years, and initially I thought I could only be vegan for a month or so. At first my goal was to cook vegan, but to eat out vegetarian. And slowly I started making better choices at restaurants too.

VTB: What sort of changes did you notice in your body and in your life from going vegan?
DLV: Physically there haven’t been huge changes. My body was already at it’s “happy weight” but I do think it helped my skin clear up. I have noticed that now, if I do eat meat accidentally (it happens) I’ll break out in a rash. Gross! In terms of lifestyle, I talk about food a lot more than I used to. And I have to be more careful when I go partying. When everyone else is doing a 2am pizza run, I have to weigh my options pretty carefully. Also, I’ve felt like kind of a jerk at many a birthday party and wedding, since I can almost never eat the cake. I like to say this means there will be more for the other guests, so they should stop giving me the stink eye. But for the most part, it hasn’t been that big a deal.

VTB: What was the hardest animal product for your to give up eating? And have you found a viable replacement for that food?
DLV: I don’t miss a lot of foods, since there are so many good substitutes on the market now. I do miss the convenience. I miss experiences, like eating the main course at family Thanksgiving, or sharing chili cheese fries after a great night bar hopping. But not too long ago, I realized that when I’m missing certain foods, I’m really missing the people I used to share those foods with. So having some quality friend time, or even just a phone call, can get rid of the craving.

VTB: What’s your favorite vegan product or recipe?
DLV: I love love love Parma! It’s a grated Parmesan substitute. It’s made mostly of nuts, and while I doesn’t really taste like cheese, the texture is spot on. It tasted like what I remember cheese being. So delicious. Also, Daiya cheeze is pretty amazing. Thanks to cookbooks like the Veganomicon, and Vegan with a Vengence, I have a lot of favorite recipes.

VTB: How do family and friends feel about your choice?
DLV: My family and friends have been super supportive. There’s been some good-natured teasing, but over all, everyone’s been really great about respecting my choice. I think it helps that they see me eat a lot at the same restaurants that they go to. They know I’m not wasting away, or getting sick or anything. My mom was especially worried at first that I wouldn’t be eating healthy anymore, but we both read up on what my diet would need, and now we even swap recipes. It’s pretty great!

The only people I’ve ever gotten real flack from were my former dentist, and one doctor. The dentist said that if I went veg all my teeth would fall out. Clearly, he was a doofus, as I still have all my teeth. I went to one doctor because I thought I had strep throat. She told me that not only did I not have strep, but that due to my vegan diet, I may be suffering from early onset dementia. Turns out all I needed was some cold meds and a nap, not a bowl of icky chicken carcass soup.

VTB: What’s the craziest vegan recipe or product you’ve ever tried?
DLV: Nothing immediately springs to mind regarding crazy foods. When I was an omnivore, I had no fear about food. I was willing to try any dish once. So maybe my idea of “crazy” is a little skewed.