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Vegan Ranch Dip

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...
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Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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...
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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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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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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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Buckwheat Corn Cake Recipe

Over the weekend we had some friends over for a Mexican fiesta. The spread was pretty epic, complete with tempeh taco meat, seasoned tofu and Mexican jackfruit filling along side slow cooked pinto beans, Mexican rice, a brussels sprout/broccoli slaw, vegan nacho cheese and all the fixin’s! I usually go overboard and this time was no different. I wanted there to be a little nibble before the main event, so I tried to think of a great way to start a Mexican fiesta. While we were on our European vacation, we had these unbelievable corn cakes (traditionally called Arepas) at Terre à Terre in Brighton, and that’s what I wanted to do a (MUCH) simpler version of. I came across this recipe from Inquiring Chef and adapted from there. With one of the party guests being gluten free, substitutions were made for buckwheat flour in place of regular flour. If you’re not worried about gluten, the 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour can be easily replaced with AP flour. I also added in red bell pepper for some color. It’s an incredibly adaptable recipe. Wanna add some spice? Go with cayenne and maybe add some cumin or fresh jalapeño! I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. Easy and delicious!   Buckwheat Corn Cakes 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 red bell pepper, small dice 2 cups frozen corn 3/4 to 1 cup water 3 Tablespoons canola oil In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Add corn and mix just until combined. Add the water, 1/4 cup at a time, and stir just until the mixture holds together. Create evenly sized cakes (I used a 1/8 measuring cup. Place the cakes on a cutting board or plate. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. I precooked mine, just going about 2-3 minutes, and then reheated later in a 220 degree oven – that worked out perfectly. Serve the corn cakes warm, topped with whatever you like. I went with tofu sour cream and chives, but a guacamole, or fresh avocado would work nicely....
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