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Vegan Ranch Dip

Posted by on Aug 2, 2016 in Home Cooking, Recipe | 0 comments

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. If you missed her previous post, check it out. This post takes a vegetable that’s plentiful in Michigan right now and gives you a great recipe!  Fresh and crisp raw vegetables—the amazing flavors of seasonal Michigan summer produce. Sugar snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers are just a few of the vegetables that aesthetically please the eye with their bright colors while the fresh flavors and crisp textures satisfy the tongue just as much. Looking for a flavorful dip for your summer veggies? I’ve got just the one—a tangy and cool ranch dressing made from raw cashews and coconut cream, exploding with the flavor of fresh herbs. Keep reading to the end for the recipe. I made the dip for the first time while preparing for a camping trip this summer. It blew my mind! As soon as I got back from the camping trip, I made it again to enjoy with more fresh veggies from the farmers market. I would recommend it for using as a veggie dip, salad dressing, or anywhere you crave the fresh flavor of ranch…even for dipping vegan pizza into. The original recipe comes from a book that has become one of my vegan cooking resources: The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutes: The Latest and Greatest Methods for Veganizing Anything Using More Natural, Plant-Based Ingredients by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen. Not only does this book suggest substitute ingredients and alternative products for veganizing recipes and dishes, but the authors also provide directions for making these substitutions in your own kitchen. Helpful lists of meat, egg, and milk substitutes are charted out in this book along with recipes and side-by-side recipes veganized from their original animal product ingredients. I’ve found the information in this book to be educational as I veganize recipes and try out their published recipes, including this vegan ranch dip. Give this dip a try! I wasn’t disappointed. It’s another great way to compliment the great flavor of fresh veggies and herbs this summer.   Ranch-Y Dipping Sauce Original recipe from The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutes. Adapted by Cheryl Still. Yield: 1 1/4 cups Ingredients 1 1/4 c. Cashew Coconut Spread: 1 c. raw cashews, soaked at least 3 hours or overnight in water 2 Tbsp. water or coconut water 1/4 c. coconut cream (scooped from the top of an unshaken chilled can of unsweetened full-fat coconut milk stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours before use) 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or substitute 1 Tbsp. organic apple cider vinegar) 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt 1 tsp. onion powder 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh dill or 3/4 tsp. dried dill 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (I omitted this ingredient and did not miss any flavor) 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt 1 clove garlic, grated or pressed Directions Place the cashews in a medium bowl. Cover with at least 2 cups of water. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid...

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Home Cooking, Recipe | 2 comments

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. If you missed her previous post, check it out. This post takes a vegetable that’s plentiful in Michigan right now and gives you a great recipe!  Looking for great recipes to highlight the bountiful crop of zucchinis right now in Michigan? This time of year, I’m on the lookout for recipes that incorporate this highly nutritious vegetable in new ways. Do you easily get bored of straight-up zucchini? These nutrition packed muffins bring a satisfying chocolatey sensation. Instead of tasting zucchini, you taste chocolate.  The applesauce, almond milk, and zucchini provide moisture, and the airy muffin texture is brought through the baking soda and the natural fruit acid from the applesauce. So thankful for more delicious uses for zucchini. Enjoy! Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins Original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. Veganized and adapted by Cheryl Still. Ingredients 3/4 c. oat flour (old fashioned oats ground into a flour) 1/2 c. whole wheat flour 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted (or substitute 2 Tbsp. unsweetened plain applesauce) 1/3 c. agave nectar or pure maple syrup (or more if you desire a much sweeter muffin) 1 tsp. pure vanilla 1 and a half flax eggs (1.5 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 4.5 Tbsp. warm water) 1 cup peeled and shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini) 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce 1/2 c. almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk) 1/2 c. regular-sized or mini dairy-free chocolate chips Directions 1. Stir together the ground flax seed and warm water in a cup and set aside for at least 10 minutes to thicken. 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 3. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. (You could rub the inside of the liners with some extra coconut oil or cooking spray and then dust liners with cocoa powder if desired to enable easy removal from the liners, but this is not a necessary step.) 4.Squeeze the peeled and shredded zucchini of excess water with a paper towel. This is important, so don’t skip this step. 5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat and wheat flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure no lumps are present. Set aside. 6. In separate large bowl, stir together the coconut oil (or substituted additional applesauce), agave or maple syrup, vanilla, and thickened flax eggs. Stir together until combined. Add in the pressed zucchini, applesauce, and almond milk. Stir again until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. 7. Evenly divide the batter into prepared muffin liners. Bake 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean. After cooling 5 minutes in the muffin tin, remove muffins from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy! They disappear...

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Navigating Farmers Markets

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in General | 0 comments

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. She offered to share her expertise with you, and we’re thrilled to be able to share it with you.  We are so lucky to live in Michigan and experience all the seasons. From hot summer days to frosty winter nights, Michigan has so much to offer in regards to local fruits and veggies. If you need help figuring out how to enjoy all of Michigan’s plentiful harvests, here’s a quick guide that will help you find farmers markets and shop smarter. Make sure you read to the end to find some recipes for what to do with one of my favorite vegetables! Navigating Farmers Markets Do you have a favorite farmers market? Fulton Street, Ada, Holland, Muskegon, and the YMCA Veggie Van are just a handful of the markets around West Michigan supplying fresh food for individuals, families, and restaurants. With seasonal Michigan produce now in its prime, here’s what you need to know for successful navigation of local markets this summer and fall. West Michigan Farm Markets – This website is a great resource (organized by county) to provide you with farmers’ market names, addresses, directions, dates and hours, and websites. In addition, you will also see if the markets accept Bridge Cards, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project Fresh, and Senior Market Fresh. What’s In Season In Michigan? Buying fruits and vegetables during their Michigan growing season can help you save money and enjoy the pristine flavors of the season. So, how do you know if the produce at the markets is in-season, last year’s crop, or grown in Michigan greenhouses? Here’s a helpful guide from A Healthier Michigan. The article In Season In Michigan provides an alphabetical list of fruits and vegetables and which months they are in season. Last Year’s Crop Some produce at the markets are from last year’s crop. Root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips, onions, and garlic store well over the winter. This enables farmers to provide these items right away in early summer. Other examples of last year’s crops typically include maple syrup and apples being sold in June and July. It’s valuable to remember that fruits like grapefruits, oranges, mangos, bananas, and pineapples do not grow locally in Michigan’s weather. These and other tropical fruits usually come from other states or countries. Look around the market—the only vendors selling mangos in Michigan are grocery stores that ship them in from out-of-state. Greenhouse If you are not sure where produce comes from or if it is in-season, ask the farmers at the market. Some of the produce for sale might be grown in a greenhouse, which enables farmers to sell tomatoes, for example, in June in addition to their July and August Michigan harvest season. Good Tips to Know BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)—Even if the vendor places the lettuce that you purchased in as plastic bag, you will want a reusable or sturdier bag to place your purchases in after you acquire three or four bags. Browse the entire market for the best choice in produce and prices before purchasing. Visit...

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What does it mean to be vegan-friendly?

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in General | 1 comment

I’m very proud to announce that Jon and I are featured in this month’s Grand Rapids Magazine article Vegan-Friendly and Getting Friendlier. The piece is a great look at the overall vegan movement in Grand Rapids, and touches on many of the people working hard to make our city the best it can be. The thing I love the most about the article may be the title itself – it really embodies a belief on which my vegan activism is based; friendliness. I believe that by being open, understanding, and inviting, I can have the most effective and open conversations with people who don’t see things exactly as I do. I’ve never found vilification to be an effective method of activism. In fact, it stops dialogue dead in its tracks. Much of the success we’ve had with Vegan Grand Rapids is proof that being open and friendly works. The only way we are ever going to reduce meat and dairy consumption is through steady, incremental change. Some of those changes may be bigger leaps forward, but most unfold slowly. The truth is, progress in any movement always takes time. It may feel frustrating to inch our way forward, but progress is progress. Once you move to a vegan lifestyle, you pretty quickly realize that it’s not a big sacrifice at all. In fact, it can be hard to understand as a new vegan why more people don’t connect the dots as you just have yourself  – if you can choose a diet that doesn’t hurt the planet, your body, or an animal, why wouldn’t you make that choice every time you sit down to eat or purchase a pair of shoes? I’m passionate about helping the planet and I recognize that meat and dairy farming is a major contributor to climate change and pollution. I understand that a meat-free diet is healthier for our bodies and could help people live longer and help us save billions of dollars on health care costs. Vegans, by definition, are also passionate about ending the suffering of the billions of chickens, cows, and pigs tortured every year in this country to become food. It’s easy to become angry over this inescapable fact when you know how easy it is to live a vegan lifestyle. We can choose to eat with regard to the health of the planet, our bodies, and the animals, or we can choose to disregard all of that. Sadly, only a small percentage of Americans consistently choose the path that offers the least amount of suffering. It is downright maddening to see people (even people in our lives, including loved ones) blatantly disregard the truth about what’s on their plate. I am just as angry and saddened as anyone to be a vegan in this omnivore world when the choice seems so easy to me. Jon and I started Vegan Grand Rapids a little over five years ago solely as a restaurant guide. It very naturally and quickly grew in to so much more than that and before we knew it we were hosting events all over Grand Rapids. To our surprise, most of our event attendees weren’t vegan at all. A small percentage were, some were vegetarian, and some didn’t know what they were – they just wanted to hang out, have a good time, gain exposure to...

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Sustainability needs to extend to the menu

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 in General | 0 comments

Have you seen the documentary Cowspiracy? It’s an informative, well produced film and is widely available on streaming platforms such as Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, carve out some time this weekend. I had the chance to see the film again recently as part of WMEAC’s Film Series. I was again reminded how powerful the narrative is in this film. If you have seen it, you know the drill. To save the planet we need to take action individually in our own lives. Yes, we need to be conscious of our water usage. Yes, we need to consider alternatives in transportation, and find other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our daily choices. But most of all, eating a plant-based diet easily has the biggest impact that we, as individuals can have on the environment. I won’t go into all their facts as to why in this post, but watch the movie and check out the site where they lay it all out. Sustainability is quite the buzz-word these days. Visit many of our wonderful local businesses in GR and you’re sure to hear it. Let me be clear about this before continuing this post. I truly believe that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Meaning that any steps to help the environment are great, but if a business is going to tout themselves as sustainable, we need to understand what that means and they should be held accountable to that standard. The impetus for this post comes from a wonderful article in the most recent edition of Rapid Growth Media. A local entrepreneur, Stanley Samuel, has come up with an ingenious way of helping smaller craft breweries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are produced naturally as part of the brewing process. Awesome! Love to see Grand Rapids become greener. There are plenty of ways we constantly hear local restaurants getting “greener.” You produce zero waste…. Wonderful. You’ve reduced greenhouse gasses released at your business to zero…. Amazing. You installed a rain garden… Fantastic. But here’s the thing. If you’re serving 20,000 cheeseburgers every year – even from a local, “humane” farm – you’re not an environmentally sustainable business. Period. Eating one pound of beef is equivalent to showering for ONE YEAR. And a new study shows that you’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm. More than one of our local breweries, companies that are likely working with Dr. Samuel (and presumably spending a pretty penny to tout the reduction in these gasses from their operations) are serving so much meat and dairy they have an enormous carbon footprint and they’re ignoring that part of their sustainability story entirely. They’re not adding in the results of the consumption of their animal agriculture in their sustainability reports and that’s wrong. Sure, sending your spent grain to feed cows is great, I guess since that grain doesn’t end up in a landfill. But surely we can find other ways to turn that spent grain into something useful, instead of attempting to justify an insatiable hunger for meat? These businesses also might try to tell you that they’re “offsetting” the agriculture emissions by saving in other areas, but that’s just willful ignorance. Also, in case you think grass-fed cows and carbon sequestration is the future, there’s plenty of evidence that shows that...

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Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro to speak in Grand Rapids at Science on Tap event

Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in General | 0 comments

Few people can claim to be as successful in their activism as Paul Shapiro. Currently he serves as Vice President of Farm Protection for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he has been a leading force in bringing about positive change in the treatment of farm animals. His work at HSUS involves legislation aimed at forcing farmers to treat animals better, and consumer side efforts that force companies to demand change from their suppliers. Recently Paul’s team helped usher in a game changing moment for the movement when McDonald’s announced they would only source eggs from cage-free suppliers.  He’s an inductee of the Animal Rights Hall of Fame, and is the founder of Compassion Over Killing – leading the once High School club into a major national force for farm animal protection. On top of it all, he’s a helluva speaker. We’ve been lucky to see Paul speak a couple of times, and when we had the opportunity to bring him to Grand Rapids, we were all over that! We’ve partnered with Science on Tap Grand Rapids for this very special event. If you’re not familiar with them, Science on Tap, “is an opportunity for conversation, debate, and interaction between scientists and the public while drinking a beer.” Sounds pretty good, right? Throw in some great vegan food options at the SpeakEZ Lounge, and it’s going to be a great night. What: Science on Tap in Grand Rapids When: October 26th, 7pm Who: Paul Shapiro, VP of Farm Protection, HSUS Why: Because it will be awesome Where: Speak EZ Lounge. 600 Monroe Ave NW. So please, RSVP to this event and get it on your calendar. It’s free, and tickets are not required. You’re not going to want to miss this...

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The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop-up Bakery a Smashing Success!

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Events, General, News | 0 comments

The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop Up Bakery was a great success, with hundreds turning out to drink great coffee and eat awesome local vegan baked goods.

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Keeki Pure and Simple

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in General, Shopping | 0 comments

Finding health and beauty products that fit our ethical standards can be tricky for vegans. Luckily for us, Natalie Bauss of Keeki Pure and Simple wants consumers to know that you don’t have to sacrifice your ethics or health for beautiful skin, lips, and nails. Keeki offers a variety of products for face, skin, nails, and lips that are cruelty-free and earth-friendly. They are also locally produced, being based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They never test on animals and are Leaping Bunny and PETA certified as well. I recently sat down with owner Natalie Bauss, and asked how she got started. Natalie is a mother of two who lives on an organic farm in West Michigan. She told me that her daughter Kiana (nicknamed Keeki), like many young ladies, was constantly painting her nails, and this left Bauss concerned about the chemicals that she was being exposed to. You probably know the overwhelmingly noxious smell of nail polish and remover. That can’t be good for you. Knowing what she put into her children’s body in terms of food, she discovered that what they put ON their bodies was just as important. “Our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs up to sixty percent of what we put on it.” Bauss explains. She decided to take matters into her own hands, and her daughter’s namesake company was born. “I started out creating recipes in my kitchen from things we’d grown on the farm, just experimenting,” she says. Her daughter Keeki now develops, tests and critiques all products before they hit the shelves. Here are some of my favorite Keeki products: 1. Nail Polish:     I was impressed by how quickly the polish dried, but the most amazing part was when she told me to smell the nail polish. The normal chemical fume smell of nail polish was non-existent! They come in many colors, named after delicious treats. Note: Be sure to use their nail polish remover, because it took quite a bit of elbow grease to get it off with the traditional remover I had at home. 2. Day Rejuvenating SPF 15 Lotion & Night Rejuvenating Serum:   I absolutely love this dynamic skincare duo. They are made with high quality, non-GMO ingredients like walnut oil, pomegranate oil, and aloe vera, and green tea. I used this for a month and wanted to share my before and after photos with you. My skin feels softer and smoother than before, but I see a noticeable difference in the acne scars on my cheek. The first photo was taken April 23rd, 2015 and the second on June 17th, 2015. I do have eye makeup on in the second photo but no concealer, etc. 3. Sunscreen:     Their sunscreen (available in 15, 20, and 45 SPF) is vegan and I really liked how easily it went on. I have tried other natural sunscreens in the past that went on thick and seemed impossible rub in all the way, leaving me looking “ghostly.” Keeki’s sunscreen smells great (reminiscent of Banana Boat), was absorbed quickly and works well. I wore their SPF 30 to Cedar Point recently, and left the park completely unscathed by the sun that was beating down that day. Natalie is heavily involved in research and development and has many more products in...

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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Posted by on May 30, 2015 in News | 12 comments

Did you know that 75% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance? That statistic, combined with the millions of Americans kicking dairy to the curb because of ethical and health concerns, has ice cream shops stepping up in a big way to meet the demand. We’re not talking about sugary sorbets or fruit based slushies either. Some ice cream shops in Grand Rapids are serving up some seriously creamy vegan ice creams to help beat the summer heat (not that we’ve avoided the stuff in the middle of winter either!). Here are the (non-dairy) cream of the crop.   Love’s Ice Cream – We’ve said it before and we stand behind it: Love’s Ice Cream makes the best ice cream, dairy or not, that we’ve ever had. Located inside the Downtown Market, Love’s creates small batches of artisan ice cream by hand. Everything at Love’s is made with quality ingredients that are local, healthy, and organic whenever possible. For instance, one of our favorites, the Cinnamon Roasted Nut is made with a combination of cashew and almond milk that they make on site. There are usually 3-4 vegan flavors at any given time. You won’t find boring flavors at Love’s. Some others favorites include the Coconut Chip, Cherry Amaretto and Rosewater Cardamom gelato. They also have chocolate covered Michigan shaped pops! Furniture City Creamery – Furniture City Creamery is located in the beautiful, walkable Cherry Hill shopping district. Everything is made from scratch using carefully crafted recipes in small batches. Furniture City Creamery also has something we’ve found at no other local ice cream shop – vegan waffle cones! All the toppings at Furniture City are also vegan, including the caramel and chocolate sauces. This wasn’t by accident. The owners want everyone to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor equally! There are usually 2-4 vegan flavors at anytime, like Salted Caramel, No-Bake Cookie, Mint Chocolate Chip, or the ever popular Peanuts and Cracker Jack Porter  (made with beer from The Mitten Brewing). Furniture City also has vegan baked goods you can take home or toss in a bowl and serve your ice cream on! Jersey Junction – Jersey Junction has been an icon in East Grand Rapids for over 50 years. When you enter, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There’s a large ice cream counter and walls full of candy. Even though the atmosphere will conjure up those nostalgic feelings, they’re progressive enough to know that they need to cater to those wanting dairy-free ice cream. When their 2015 season began, they proudly started displaying large and prominent signs declaring their vegan offerings. Behind the ice cream counter, you should be able to find 3-4 choices, like strawberry, chocolate or coconut. They also carry So Delicious Ice Cream bars in the freezer section! Frosty Boy – We have to be honest , we haven’t made it in to Frosty Boy yet, but we wanted to include them. The shop was just taken over by new owners to kick off the 2015 season, and they made sure to include dairy-free options. They are carrying vegan soft and hard ice cream made by Palazzolo’s out of Fennville. Soft serve option are chocolate, vanilla, and twist. The hard serve option are strawberry and mint chocolate chip. All of their...

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August’s Kitchen Vegan Chef’s Table, February 22

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in General | 0 comments

Every month, Chef August “Auggie” Treu of August’s Kitchen creates a special dinner for a small group in an intimate setting. The Chef’s Table event is special and only a handful of people have the opportunity to experience it. Chef August’s last vegan event featured such delicacies as Tofu Tom Yum soup, Eggplant Gratin w/ Mushrooms & Artichoke, and a delicious CranApple cobbler for dessert. MI Local Food Beet wrote about the dining experience here if you’re interested. Chef Auggie learned about vegan food from Chef Kevin Dunn at GRCC, who introduces many of his students to vegan cooking. Many of Chef Dunn’s students have ended up embracing vegan cuisine and incorporating it into their post-college careers, like Chef Auggie. His next vegan dinner will be February 22 at 6 pm. Seating is limited to 16 and will sell out quickly, so be sure to get your reservation today! The menu includes 6 courses and is just $50 per person. Here’s what you’ll get: Grilled Fig & Radichio with Balsamic Reduction Soup of the Day Fresh Baked Bread with Herbed Tofu Spread Ratatouille with Soba Noodles Nathan’s Greens with House Dressing Peach Cobbler Tea, coffee, and water will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own beverage as well. Bring your own bottle of wine or beer! Chef Auggie will provide wine glasses, beer glasses, and a cork screw if you need it. To sign up, please call (616) 340-1160. Payment is due on the day of the event. Cash or check only. August’s Kitchen is located at 1604 Diamond NE in Grand...

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