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Vegan Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in General | 1 comment

Thanksgiving can be a hard time for ethical vegans. 45-million turkeys will be killed to celebrate the year’s harvest, and it also marks the start of the holiday season. It’s a long stretch of time where we’re constantly put in tough situations, looking at that once-living-now-roasted holiday centerpiece. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 67-million turkeys will be killed for food. It can be a really tough time of year for those of us who don’t think animals should die for food! At Vegan GR, we show our friends and family that we eat great compassionate meals during the holiday season by bringing delicious dishes to all gatherings we’re invited to. Oftentimes, we get asked for the recipes or told that what we brought is better than the “real” version! Here are a few staples that have made it into our Thanksgiving routine. Vegan GR Recipes Pumpkin Pie Holiday Roast Cornbread Stuffing Easy Mushroom Gravy Looking for more ideas? Here’s a list of our favorite food bloggers. Post Punk Kitchen – Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s PPK claims to be the best place in the world for vegan cooking and baking. We totally agree! Vegan Dad – Mostly original recipes from a vegan father. Lots of great, inventive seitan recipes.We really love his stuff. His blog is not as active as it once was, but the recipes are still great. Chef Chloe – A Food Network Challenge winner, Chloe Coscarelli has a nice collection of creative and easy-to-make vegan recipes. Oh She Glows – Angela Liddon’s award winning website is packed with awesome recipes that work every time. We’re partial to her dessert work, specifically the brownie 3-ways recipe! Veggie Bon Vivant – A spicy ginger and self-proclaimed “vegan-ish” food blogger from right here in Grand Rapids. Have a safe and happy holiday season! We’d love to see you at our holiday party on Dec. 10! Hurry and reserve your tickets today. We’ve got limited seating and we’re getting close to sold out! Click here to...

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Grand Rapids author writes cookbook, I Like Toast

Posted by on Sep 14, 2014 in News, Recipe | 0 comments

Do you like toast? If your answer is no, it’s possible you’re just not making it the right way. To call local author Stephanie Strowbridge’s new book a cookbook is an understatement. I Like Toast is more about the establishment of a morning ritual and starting your day off in a positive direction. Stephanie says that “Every morning is a good morning when we create proper self-care routines and choose breakfast foods that are nutritious and sustaining.” The first chapter dives right into creating that positive morning ritual. Many of your morning behaviors may already start you off on the right track; yoga, walking your dog, grabbing a cup of hot tea, or taking a minute to smell the roses. I Like Toast aims to support those habits and help you set some new ones so that your tone for the day will be a positive one. Eating a breakfast you don’t enjoy will only serve to start your day off on the wrong foot, says Strowbridge. That leads right into the next chapter all about toast. Even if you currently consider yourself a toast-ninja, you’ve got to look through these recipes to realize that you can step up your toast game! You’ll find elegant, but simple recipes such as Berry Elegantly (strawberry / pomegranate chia jam, goji berries, and strawberry slices), Banana Nut Bread (nut butter, cocoa nibs, bananas, and raw cashews), or Tofu Scramble (a recipe that combines tofu, vegan bacon, and greens). There’s another chapter all about jams and spreads, where you’ll find a recipe for chia jam, as well as carrot cake jam, four fruit conserve, and apple spread. We were most excited about the section of recipes full of breakfast sandwiches. You’ll drool over the Avocado Lover’s or Morning Salsa Dance. There are also a few recipes that include tofu scramble (something we start most of our weekend mornings with). If you’ve got questions about any of the ingredients, Stephanie includes information about anything out of the ordinary and provides details on where to obtain those ingredients. Basically, Stephanie has you covered. The last few pages even include blank sections to write your own notes, self care rituals, and recipes. If Stephanie looks familiar to you, you might recognize her as the owner of the former Moxie Beauty & Hair Parlor. Moxie was the only all vegan salon in Grand Rapids. A long time vegan, Stephanie has been a great advocate for healthy living through a plant-based lifestyle. Moxie is sadly now closed, but Stephanie still works in the beauty field as a freelance hair and make up artist and can be reached at Steph.Strowbridge@gmail.com. You can support Stephanie by purchasing a copy of I Like Toast from Amazon for $11.94....

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Happy To Be Dairy Free contest winners announced

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in News, Shopping | 0 comments

A big thank you to everyone who entered the #HappyToBeDairyFree contest. The contest celebrated the new dairy-free case at the Knapp’s Crossing D&W Fresh Market. The case is stocked solely with amazing dairy-free items, like Daiya cheese, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, Silk, Blue Diamond, So Delicious milk, and Toffuti cream cheese. We would have had a hard time choosing our favorites, and so we had to rely on a random number generator to help us select the two winners. Congratulations to Kate and Megan! Each wins a $50 gift card to D&W so they can stock up on all their favorites for free! Kate’s winning photo shows her beautiful happy, smiling daughter and her favorite, Almond Dream yogurt.   Our next winner chose the Teese Vegan Cheese Alternative. Check out Megan sportin’ her happy face and showing off that Teese. Congrats, Megan! The new case at D&W Fresh Market marks a huge shift –  a whole case filled with dairy free products at a major grocery store? Can you believe it?! We’d like to thank D&W Fresh Market’s Living Well Lifestyle Expert, Margaux Drake, as she was instrumental in making both the dairy-free case, and contest happen. We want better, healthier choices in all our grocery stores and D&W and Margaux are giving those choices to us. Right now the case can only be found at the Knapp’s Crossing location, but it’s our hope that they will roll these out in all their locations very soon! Thank you to all of you, our awesome Vegan Grand Rapids community for participating, sharing, commenting and doing everything YOU do to help make Grand Rapids a more healthy and compassionate place to live. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at Vegan Drinks in September. If you haven’t grabbed your tickets yet, do it now. They’re almost...

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Vegan Grand Rapids guide to Restaurant Week 2014

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Events | 1 comment

Restaurant Week GR 2014 is here! August 13th-24th gives you twelve days to wine and dine your way through the Grand Rapids culinary scene. Last year’s line up in terms of vegan dishes was pretty impressive. Sadly, that’s not the case this year. Maybe we didn’t eat out enough as vegans last year? Looking through all the options has left us a little perplexed, however. Quite a few restaurants are only offering one, or two courses vegan. Why not go all the way? Hard to understand, as vegans are not likely to flock to your place for a small starter salad and leave because they can’t have anything from the second or third course. We’ve only included one of those on our list, as we feel like the offerings from Rose’s will be a complete enough meal. No matter, check out your options below and be sure to get out there and support these restaurants. You’ve got twelve days to do it! Amore Trattoria Italiana– Located in Comstock Park, Amore is known for having something for everyone. If you get a chance to meet owner and Chef Jenna, you’ll immediately understand that she has a passion for her food and love for everyone who comes through the doors. Known for making special requests to vegans upon arriving, it’s no surprise that her Restaurant Week menu extends to our subset. Warning, you will leave here stuff! Course One: Antipasto, Garlic rubbed crostino topped with savory Sicilian eggplant relish Course Two: Insalata, Baby spinach, Michigan beets, apple, vanilla balsamic and toasted pinenuts Course Three: Zuppa, Cucumber and parsley Gazpacho with fried chick pea garnish Course Four: Bucatini alla Puttanesca – Bucatini in spicy tomato sauce with roasted pepper, caper, onions, olives, basil, garlic and chili pepper flakes. -or- Penne Boscaiolo – Penne with a porcini, portabella and button mushroom marsala sauce Course Five: Sorbetto, Blood Orange Sorbet -or- Michigan Blueberry Bourbon Granita CitySen Lounge – Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, CitySen offered up a great trio of vegan items for RW2013, so we’re glad to see they’re a stand out again this year: Course One: Chili – Stewed tomatoes, hot chili beans, onions, herbs, and spices. Served with jalapeño cornbread. Gluten-free. Course Two: Lentil Loaf – Fresh herbs, rolled oats, lentils, and onions baked and dressed with barbecue sauce. Served with garlic mashed potatoes. Gluten-free. Third Course: Southern Banana Pudding – with Vanilla Wafers. Grove – It’s no secret that Grove is one of our favorite restaurants in Grand Rapids. For Restaurant Week, they’ve gone above and beyond. In fact, there are so many vegan options that we aren’t even going to list them. Your best bet is to look at the sample menu they have up on the Experience Grand Rapids website and then go eat! One Trick Pony – One Trick Pony was a huge player for vegans last year and this year is no different. Check this out: Course One: Chilled Carrot Coriander Soup. Raw vegan  and gluten-free. -or- Summer Salad- Organic farm mixed greens, Michigan berries, Ferris pecans, champagne vinaigrette. Raw vegan  and gluten-free. -or- Chickpea Dip- Mashed chickpeas, onions, celery, dill in a creamy dip, served with farm bell peppers, carrots, and house chips and flat bread. Course Two: Thai Vegetable Pasta- Michigan zucchini and summer squash noodles, carrot, snap peas, and onion in a light peanut soy sauce. Raw vegan and...

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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Summertime Grillin’

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in News, Recipe | 4 comments

It’s summertime and that means porch gatherings, pool parties, and barbecues. You’ll probably find yourself surrounded by steaks and beef burgers being tossed over an open flame but that doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun. If you’re in a hurry, you can grab a box of pre-made vegan burgers or hot dogs from the grocery store. If you have time, we suggest making your own. Here are our grocery store picks as well as a couple of our recipes that we use before heading out to party. Burgers: 1. Gardein Beefless burgers – These burgers are soy and gluten based and probably the closest thing we’ve found that’s most like the real deal. Gardein’s meteoric rise backed by big bucks means they’re pretty easy to find nowadays. You can get these at all Meijer stores or Harvest Health. 2. Amy’s Veggie Burgers – Amy’s sells a big variety of veggie burgers that you can also find at most grocery stores (Meijer and Harvest Health for sure). The All American Veggie burger is another soy and gluten based burger and close to the real deal. Kolene prefers the California burgers. Those ones are made up of vegetables, grains, nuts and mushrooms. 3. Boca – An original, Boca sells several kinds of burgers but be careful as not all are vegan! The obvious choice is the “Original Vegan” version. With a soy and wheat gluten base, it might even trick your omnivore friends into thinking you’ve switched teams. If you’re looking for something a bit different, you could also try the Original Chick’n patty. Recipes: Of course, the best option for health (and taste) is usually to cook yourself and this time is no different. What constitutes a good vegan burger is definitely up for debate! Some go nuts, others go mushroom and Jon has a secret recipe of his own that even uses stuffing. Here are some recipes we think rise to the top: Scott Jurek’s Lentil Mushroom Burger Dreena Burton’s Umami, Almond, Quinoa, Sun-Dried Tomato Burger Isa Chandra’s Olive Lentil Burger Homemade vegan burgers that don’t suck from Serious Eats Hot dogs: 1. Lightlife Smart Dogs – Soy based and gluten-free, Smart Dogs were made for grilling. You can’t go wrong with one of these lean protein-packed wieners that as closely mimics the real thing as possible. You can find these at D&W and Meijer stores. 2. Field Roast Sausages -These are better than bratwursts! These vital wheat gluten based sausages can be found at Forest Hills Foods. We like the Smoked Apple Sage variety, but the Italian ones are awesome too! 3. Tofurkey Sausage Links – Tofurkey is best known for their Thanksgiving Feast, but they make some pretty good links too. You can find a variety of these at Forest Hills Foods. Serve these up at your next BBQ and no one will know the difference. Recipes: Again, the healthiest option is to make your own. If you have the time, we suggest this fantastic hot dog recipe from VegKitchen. Toppings: One of our favorite toppings for faux dogs is sauerkraut. We shared our Quick Sauerkraut recipe with Veggie Bon Vivant readers last year. It’s definitely a great recipe during cabbage season towards the end of summer! For spice lovers, if you don’t know Scoville...

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5 Vegan Blogs You Should Be Reading

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in General | 6 comments

While we cook quite a lot in our house, recipe blogging is not a skill we have. I mean, who has time to take pictures and write stuff down when there’s food to eat?! Thank goodness the world is full of others who are not afraid to write their recipes down, supplement with gorgeous pictures, and share them with the rest of us. Here are a few or our favorites from west Michigan helping to spread the vegan love one blog at a time! The Vegan Belle is a food, lifestyle, and parenting blog, with a focus being on vegan cooking. The author, Kate, is from Chattanooga but now calls Grand Rapids her home. The goal of The Vegan Belle is to prove that you can cook delicious food without animal products. The website is gorgeous and the pictures of Kate’s food will have you drooling. They are so perfect you can almost smell the aromas coming off the dishes!  You will be wowed with such recipes as her Pistachio Crusted Tempeh Filets with Pumpkin Sauce or, if you need something for the kids, Easy Peasy Mac and Cheese. What do you get when you put one busy “veganish” redhead in the kitchen? A collection of (mostly) quick recipes that anyone can follow. That’s Veggie Bon Vivant. Adrienne’s recipes are usually adapted from one of her favorite cookbooks, like this recipe for Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup that can be made in the crock pot. One of our favorite recipes that we found on her website is for Peanut Buttercream frosting. To veganize it, just substitute So Delicious plain greek yogurt in place of the heavy whipping cream. It’s best with just about anything! 86 Lemons features not just vegan food recipes, but also DIY projects and shopping finds. The recipe sections is where this blog shines! Gorgeous pictures highlight Livvy’s recipes, from sloppy Joe’s to pumpin oatmeal cookies, this blog really has something for everyone. Kind of Hilzey is written by Jessica and she knows her way around the kitchen. She is not afraid of, well… ANYTHING. We’ve seen her make her own kombucha, nut cheeses, and skin care products. He blog is chock full of all the fun projects she takes on. Not only does she share recipes, but she also shares her favorite grocery store items and other goodies. One of her most recent posts was a recipe for Baked Vegan Falafel Wrap with Micro-Greens and Pro-biotic Pickles. Slow Your Style is a fashion, food and lifestyle blog about living the SLOW life. It started as a project for Rachel, the writer, to spend a year buying nothing new and less of it. The result is a fashion blog rich with vintage goods and thrift store finds. While not technically a food blogger like our other picks, Rachel is always mindful of her eating choices as a vegan and occasionally talks about her meals about town. If you’re at one of our events, you might catch Rachel with her camera in hand covering everything going...

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Paul Shapiro from HSUS to speak at Wake Up Weekend

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Events | 1 comment

Each year we’re excited for Wake Up Weekend, a celebration of compassionate living in Grand Rapids. The 2014 version is coming up April 24-26th, 2014. In its 7th year, there’s always a great line up of events, including wonderful speakers. One of those is Paul Shapiro, the Vice President of the Farm Animal Protection division of The Humane Society of the United States. Paul’s presentation is Forward Progress for Farm Animals: How and why the animal movement is winning.  Do not miss Paul speak at Calvin College in the Commons Annex Lecture Hall on Friday, April 25 at 3:30 pm. I had the opportunity to interview Paul and talk with him about his upcoming visit to Grand Rapids. Tell me about yourself. In what ways were you raised to treat animals humanely? Like a lot of kids, my family always had dogs and we were taught to treat them as family members, not just as pieces of property. As a child, I had a real fascination with animals, so much so that I really just wanted to be around them all the time. I also hated bullying; the thought of anyone dominating someone else simply because they were weaker immensely bothered me. Whether it was on the playground between kids or it was in human-animal relations, the “might-makes-right” mentality was so offensive to me that I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves. And of course, there’s hardly anyone weaker than nonhuman animals. Do you currently have any pets? Three felines: Emma, Calvin and Sam. They’re like three little insatiable monsters. How long have you been vegan? Just over 20 years. I know—that makes me sound pretty old. I used to joke when adults lamented that they don’t know where the years went. Now I know what that’s all about! What was the catalyst that inspired you to adopt the vegan lifestyle? I saw a video of what happens to animals—on factory farms, in slaughter plants, on fur farms, in circuses, and more. It shocked me, and I knew my life would change as a result of it. Out of a desire to avoid supporting such violence and cruelty, I decided to adopt a live-and-let-live mentality toward other creatures as best as I could, starting with my diet. That’s the power that just one video can have on someone—it’s really incredible. What advice do you have for vegans who want to effectively educate others about living a compassionate lifestyle? Well, first and foremost, be compassionate yourself. Being judgmental, critical, and rude isn’t likely to yield good results for animals. It may make some people feel good to put others down, but it’s not what’s actually effective. We should lead by example and strive to be the kind of people that others both like and want to be like. What is your response to people who say that “real men eat meat?” If physical strength is the measure of manhood people who make this claim are using, they needn’t look further than the cadre of vegan NFL and NBA players, ultimate fighters, professional wrestlers and more. But no matter how you define “manliness,” real men use strength to protect the vulnerable, not to abuse them. If you could give one piece of advice...

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The Ghosts in Our Machine free viewing

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Events | 0 comments

The Ghosts in Our Machine is a powerful new documentary by Liz Marshall that aims to highlight the lives of animals that are used for food, fashion, entertainment and research. The film asks the question: Why do we value domestic and wild animals over others? It’s something I, along with many others have tried to figure out over the years. I see all creatures as equal and my best answer when asked why I don’t eat meat is simply this; I love all animals and don’t want to eat my friends! Many vegans turn to a plant-based lifestyle because of these reasons. If you need affirmation about your decision, this is a great opportunity to be reminded of this. If you want to help a friend understand your decision, this is a wonderful chance to open their eyes. We have a chance to see the film locally, for free, at the Fountain Street Church on Wednesday, April 30 at 7 pm. There are only 150 seats available so you must claim a free ticket from EventBrite. A discussion will follow the movie. Do not miss your chance to see The Ghosts in Our Machine!...

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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Breakfast

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in News, Outings | 7 comments

Like our shopping guide, we’re planning to keep this page up to date. So if you’re a lover of all things brunch, you might want to bookmark this page and visit often to make sure you never miss an update. I haven’t had an egg in…3 and 1/2 years? I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss omni-breakfast a little bit. I’ve always loved the ritual of heading out on a Sunday morning with the paper for an omelet and coffee. Thankfully, we have some great vegan brunch options in Grand Rapids where that ritual can live on (sans the omelet of course). In order of our favorites: 1. Bartertown – Since the diner opened the doors in 2011, Chef Onya has been putting out some of the best tofu scramble on the planet. Add tempeh bacon, legendary pancakes, tofu rancheros, biscuits and gravy, and amazing coffee (among other things – see the menu here) and Bartertown’s breakfast is truly special. The menu recently changed up and now has a Biscuit Sammie, Breakfast Tacos and a new “standard” breakfast with rice and beans – fans of the original standard, fear not, it’s still available. BT also has some nice GF options. Served Saturdays from  9 am to noon and Sundays 9 am to 2 pm. Bonus: A vitamix station means great green smoothies made from what’s fresh and in season. 2. Brick Road Pizza – It was a tough call to pick a favorite between Bartertown and Brick Road Pizza. Brick Road’s all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch is unique, always delicious and a crazy deal for less than $10. In fact, it’s so great that getting a table at times can be tricky (it’s only available on Sundays from 11:30 am – 2 pm). Along with the buffet, you may order their insanely good breadsticks (regular or cinnamon) at no additional cost. The same with the vegan chocolate chip cookies. The menu on offer is always a nice mix of savory and sweet with items such as breakfast enchiladas, mac and cheese, french toast, quesadillas, and breakfast hash and gravy. Random pizzas also hit the buffet. Bonus: BRP also has a full bar which means mimosas and bloody mary’s. 3. Marie Catrib’s – The East Hills favorite puts up some of the best food out there for lunch, dinner and through their to-go deli. They don’t disappoint for breakfast, but they don’t quite rank as highly as the two previous joints. Marie’s Breakfast special is good – tofu scramble, vegan sausage patties, potatoes and toast (no vegan butter, jam only), but we’ve found sometimes the tofu can be a bit on the greasy side. “Jill’s Breakfast Burrito” is vegan hash, garlic lime vegenaise and avocado in a las brazas tortilla. Again, a good choice, but can be on the spicy side depending who’s on the grill. Standout is definitely the stuffed french toast, the vegan version rocking caramelized banana and peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bread. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 am to 11 am, and Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm. Bonus: Hot and sweet turkish coffee. 4. Stella’s – As we say on the review of Stella’s on our restaurant guide, it’s really a place where you can’t go wrong. The brunch menu items follow the lead of the rest of the...

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August’s Kitchen Vegan Chef’s Table, May 4

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Events | 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 May 4 at 6 pm. Seating is limited to 16 and will sell out quickly, so be sure to get your reservation today! The menu for the “Chef Inspired Vegan Dinner” includes 7 courses and is just $50 per person. Here’s what you’ll get: Belgian endive tapenade amuse bouche Celery root soup with granny smith apples (recipe by Tal Ronnen) Potatoes & shallots with rosemary & thyme (recipe by Peter Berley) Vegan “meatloaf” with mushroom ragu gravy (recipe by Kevin Dunn) Cole slaw (recipe by Juliano) Sourdough wheat rolls with garlicky tofu spread (recipe by August Treu) Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce (recipe by Peter Berley) 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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