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

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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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Non-Dairy Ice Cream

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...
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Grand Rapids author writes cookbook, I Like Toast

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...
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Happy To Be Dairy Free contest winners announced

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 Summertime Grillin’

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....
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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Breakfast

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...
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Let no good blog go unpublished

A few months ago, we were asked by the local office of a national health insurance company to write a series of guest blogs. We sent off the first post to them and we could not come to an agreement on some of the language, and ultimately, we decided to pull out. It went through just a few minor edits before going before their staff dietician for final approval. It was there that we hit a hurdle. We were asked to change the post to tone down sections that stated plainly that a meat-heavy diet is unhealthy, while a plant-based diet is healthy. After discussing the pros and cons of writing for them and making concessions, we decided that we just couldn’t go down that path with them or anyone else. Compromising our views wouldn’t be fair to ourselves, let alone to you, our audience. We have to stay true to our mission and we know that eating a plant-based diet IS *the* healthy choice. If we aren’t allowed to say it loud and proud, we’re not going to say it at all! While we do respect the stance of the health insurance company, it is another sign to us that big business and big agriculture will be the last ones to figure out what millions of Americans know. Plants are good for you! It seemed a shame to waste the effort, so here’s the article. Plus, we’re sharing our recipe for easy cashew cream. We’d love to hear what you think in the comments. According to just about every poll and measurement out there, the number of Americans cutting meat and dairy from their diets is on the rise. Whether it’s Google Trends, or actual surveys, the interest in plant based diets is through the roof. Many Americans are cutting animal products from their diets entirely, or more often, cutting back in favor of a few meals a week of plant based meals free from meat, fish, dairy and cheese. Eating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains while reducing cholesterol and saturated fat intake can improve your health. More and more people that follow this kind of diet are realizing that it helps them get healthier, lose weight and reduces their risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. However, this kind of overhaul to the kitchen pantry can be daunting for some people. How do you give up...
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10 things that are not vegan you might not know about

As we approach the New Year, chances are there will be some resolutions thrown down to cut back on animal products. Over time you’ll learn to be a voracious label-reader with the eyesight of a red tailed hawk. Until then, there’s a better than good chance you’ll eat something, or use a product you didn’t know wasn’t vegan. Here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years. More often than not, I’ve learned the hard way – by ingesting or using something I thought was vegan only later on to learn was not. I put together this list, hopefully saving you from the same fate! 1. MorningStar Farms Bacon Strips I loved these so much as a vegetarian. Imagine my surprise the first time I read the label after going vegan (and eating them several times) only to find out that they contain egg. Since most MorningStar products contain egg, I just avoid the brand altogether. We now enjoy tempeh bacon on the weekends. Here’s a simple recipe. 2. Buffalo Wild Wings Stop getting dragged here with your friends. There is absolutely nothing you can eat. The black bean burger has dairy and egg in it and there is beef tallow in the fryer that cooks your fries. Even the tortilla chips are fried in the beef tallow oil, so avoid this place at all costs. 3. Nutella Sadly, one of the most delicious products on the planet is not vegan. It’s ok though, just use this recipe and make your own healthier version. 4. Quorn I used to buy a lot of Quorn products as a vegetarian. In fact, I’d argue that they are the most delicious meat-free patties on the market. Since all their products contain eggs, this was another item I had to give up. 5. Fabric softener sheets I’ve never used fabric softener but thought I should mention it because I was shocked to find out that most commercial brands contain animal fats. Why, I don’t know. 6. Dental floss Some contain beeswax which isn’t a problem for all vegans, but some also contain animal fats to make it silky enough to squeeze between your teeth. Try Tom’s or Eco-Dent brands instead of the more popular ones on the market. 7. Plastic grocery bags I know, right? Plastic bags are manufactured using a ‘slip agent’ made of animal fat. So next time you get asked “Paper or...
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The 7 greatest vegan moments in Grand Rapids in 2013

It was a big year for vegans living in Grand Rapids. We witnessed some pretty great events this year and we’ve tried our best to highlight the very biggest and amazing things that happened in 2013. Here they are, and happy new year! 1. Big City Pizza Comes to Grand Rapids CVLT Pizza opened its doors in early 2013 adding more vegan pizzas to the small pile of other eateries offering scrumptious pies like Brick Road Pizza and the Mitten Brewing Co. What sets CVLT apart from the others? Their commitment to only use locally sourced ingredients. Calling cofounder Ryan Cappelletti’s commitment to local food impressive would be a massive understatement. You won’t find anything but tomato sauce from local farms (even in the dead of winter – they can all year round) and locally grown veggies, nut sauces, and freshly foraged mushrooms. 2. Vegan Grocery Went Mainstream Despite Treehuggers, one of our favorite grocery stores, closing, Grand Rapids saw a big increase in the number of vegan staples being offered around town. Finding Earth Balance butter no longer feels like something you need a sherpa to do. However, the real winner in our hearts is D&W Fresh Market. This year alone they began carrying, to name a few, Vegenaise, Daiya Cheese, Ferris raw nuts, So Delicious yogurt, and (most recently) Bob’s Red Mill nutritional yeast. 3. The Proliferation of Chilly Vegan Treats Ice cream and fro-yo lovers were treated like royalty in 2013. From Spoonlickers opening in Eastown, Sweet Yo’s two locations, Love’s in the new Downtown Market, and microcreamery options like Furniture City Creamery, it was a sweet tooth owner’s dream-year. While we’ve sampled all of them, we’re pretty partial to Love’s. Usually offering at least two vegan ice cream flavors, this is not your run-of-the-mill ice cream shop. While you might find some classic flavors, you’ll also find some pretty creative ones. We’ve been fortunate to try Cinnamon Roasted Nut (made with their own cashew and almond milk), Coconut Chip, and the Rosewater Cardamom flavors. It may be the dead of winter, but get in there asap! 4. The Vegan Kitchen Takeover Started Invading Restaurants. Two local chefs, Chef JR and Chef Justin, started one of the most ambitious projects this year. Once a month these two super chefs invade a local restaurant’s kitchen to create a unique vegan menu where guests can dine for one...
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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Eating Your Way Through ArtPrize

ArtPrize, the world’s largest open art competition, has descended upon Grand Rapids for the fifth time. Once again the top artist (chosen by public vote) will be awarded $200,000. There are over 1800 artists competing in 169 venues, mostly concentrated in downtown GR. You’ll have 19 days to explore the city, vote for your favorite artists, and of course, find the best places to eat. Ideally, what you’d have below is an assemblage of the finest pieces on display. A preview of top-10 contenders that you can seek out right away to make sure you see the best of the best. But there’s one problem. We don’t know anything about art. But hey, no worries. In lieu of an art degree, we’ve got an honorary degree in exploratory eating which counts for something, right? We’ve listed some cool places to grab a bite while you’re downtown – and just from experience we know the venues that generally are worth checking out. So without further ado, here is our top list of places to go to see some pretty cool, sometimes bizarre, and always interesting art during ArtPrize. If you get hungry, we’ve got you covered there too! UICA | 2 Fulton West UICA is known for displaying some of the top contenders in ArtPrize. This year will surely be no exception. With 13 artists displaying a variety of types of art, you don’t want to miss stopping in here. Woolhouse is a life sized room that was hand knitted. It’s complete with a knitted couch, lamp, and chair. SERIOUSLY. Another interesting piece slated for UICA, is Climb, three fully-playable vintage Donkey Kong cabinets arranged in a geometric configuration. A video screen depicts a hopeless Mario who forever climbs without ever saving his princess. After your visit to UICA, take the short walk around the corner to Stella’s Lounge at 53 Commerce Ave. Stella’s has a decent section of their menu dedicated to vegan dishes. Order a  No Bull Steak (seasoned tempeh, sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms and sunflower vegan cheese served on a baguette) or Hippy Stuffed Black Bean & Lentil Burger with a side of Poor Man’s Wings (breaded potato wedges tossed in buffalo hot, mild, golden BBQ or sweet-chili sauce with the most delicious spicy avocado ranch on the side). To learn more about Stella’s, check the Restaurant Guide. SiTE:LAB | 54 Jefferson Located in the former home...
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