What I Ate Wednesday: Nu Thai Bistro

Yesterday was the three year anniversary of my stepfather’s passing, so my mom took the day off from work and we had dinner together that evening. In the past we’ve gone to Stella’s, which was one of their favorite hangouts. This year she wanted me to try a restaurant they used to frequent, Nu Thai Bistro. At first I wasn’t sure because I wanted to stuff my face with fried food, but then I remembered: Spring Rolls!!!

One cool thing about Nu Thai Bistro is they were willing to veganize some of the dishes for us (maybe all of them, but we only asked about a few :)). We started with Tom Kha soup without the fish sauce.

A post shared by Katherine (@orthodoxandvegan) on

The soup is made with coconut milk and hot & sour broth, plus lots of veggies, and served in this cool bowl over a flame – click the picture to see the soup bubbling!

Nu Thai Bistro Grand Rapids, Steamed Vegetable Spring Rolls | Orthodox and Vegan
Next, mom went healthy and got the Steamed Vegetable Spring Rolls filled with steamed Thai noodles, carrots, string beans, bean sprouts, lettuce, and basil.

Nu Thai Bistro Grand Rapids, Fried Vegetable Spring Roll | Orthodox and Vegan
I got my fried food fix with the crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls with clear rice noodles, carrots and cabbage. Both appetizers were served with a delicious sweet & sour sauce.

Nu Thai Bistro Grand Rapids, Pad Ped | Orthodox and Vegan
Mom ordered her favorite, Pad Ped, made with red and green peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and coconut milk in a red curry sauce, served with rice.

Nu Thai Bistro Grand Rapids, Peanut Curry Noodle | Orthodox and Vegan
I went for extra protein with the Peanut Curry Noodle: rice noodles with tofu, white onions, green and red peppers, and Thai curry sauce with coconut milk and peanut sauce.

I’m sorry to say we were too full for dessert, but happy to tell you the Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk is vegan! I may stop in to Nu Thai Bistro some time just for Jasmine tea and dessert.

What’s your favorite vegan Thai dish?

Vegan in the Verde Valley, AZ

Thank You to everyone who submitted a city for the “Vegan In [city]” series! Today’s suggestion came from my friend Cody, aka The Wine Monk. We’re looking at the Verde Valley, an area in Arizona that includes multiple towns. Seeing as there are so few options in each town individually, we’ll might as well look at the whole Verde Valley altogether.

I’ve made an alphabetical list by city below, but let’s start out of order with two most interesting: Cottonwood and Sedona.

Vegan in the Verde Valley, Arizona - Cottonwood | Orthodox and Vegan
In Cottonwood you can try Wholesome Fast Foods for smoothies, salads, wraps, and fancy coffee. Happy Cow says there may be whey or cheese in some items, but that isn’t shown anywhere on the menu. Check with your server!

At the Mediterranean Farside Bistro, three vegan entrees are noted on the menu, plus options of regular or spicy hummus, baba ganouj, toom (listed as “Garlic Potato Dip”), olives, and Persian-style pickled cucumber.

For dessert, checkout Paradise Point Cafe for brownies or lemon cookies (there’s also a berry salad on the savory menu, but this is more of a dessert place with three times more desserts than savory items!). Alternative milks are available should you choose to pair your sweet treat with a coffee or tea.

Whole Foods Location
Now in Sedona you’ll actually find a Whole Foods, which means not only a TON of fresh produce and other dry goods for awesome home cookin’, but also plenty of vegan junk food/processed foods…if you’re into that sort of thing. They have pretty much any mock meat you’re into from fish sticks to gyros, including the infamous Beyond Burger. The refrigerated section is filled with every dairy substitute imaginable. If you’ve never been to Whole Foods, give yourself at least an hour to explore. Beware of the salad bar, you can easily spend $15+ on a single (but amazing) salad!

As for restaurants, you have a few options. Chocolatree will probably be the most exciting with its many raw vegan desserts, baked goods, coconut milk ice cream made in-house, and even a vegan mango lassi on the drink menu! Oh yes, and did I mention nearly the entire savory menu is also vegan? Oh, I hadn’t gotten to that yet. Well it is, and everything is clearly marked – just look for the little orange leaf.

Picazzo's in Sedona, AZ (Verde Valley) - Vegan California Pizza | Orthodox and Vegan

Vegan California Pizza from Picazzo’s

Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen will set you back a few bucks, but has a huge variety of vegan options including pizzas made with Daiya cheese at no extra cost. Menu items are clearly marked to indicate items that are already vegan, and items that can be made vegan.

Looking for something lighter? Check out the Local Juicery. Most of their items are vegan, but watch out for honey and ghee.

And if you thought a paleo restaurant would be uninviting for vegan diners, think again – Paleo Brio has several vegan options, and a fun build-your-own menu.

The Rest of Verde Valley
Unfortunately that’s it for the really interesting and exciting stuff, but you can still usually find at least one or two vegan options at most restaurants…even those options happen to be fries with ketchup 🙂 Here are a few ideas:

Camp Verde
Speaking of fries, there are tons of fast food/chain restaurants in Camp Verde. McDonald’s fries contain a beef-derived seasoning, but you can try Wendy’s or Burger King. Sonic & Dairy Queen also have vegan onion rings, and you can get a decent cheeseless pizza from Domino’s (make sure it’s thin crust, regular sauce).

Chain restaurant Johnny Rockets serves a Gardein Black Bean Burger, as well as regular fries, sweet potato fries, and tater tots.

Denny’s is also an option, and you can check out my Vegan at Denny’s guide before you head over.

Build your own pizza at the Clarkdale Boathouse. The portobello sandwich minus cheese is also an option, although if the bread isn’t vegan you’ll end up just eating a big ol’ mushroom.

Harry’s Hideaway doesn’t look very vegan-friendly at first glance, but they do offer a vegan ratatouille. The menu also states some of the soups are vegan, and encourages guests to let the waitstaff know if vegan options are needed.

Verde Valley, Jerome, AZ | Orthodox and Vegan

Photo of Historic Jerome by The Wine Monk. Stolen and used without permission.

Haunted Burger – Veggie Wrap with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, green chilies, tomatoes, & guacamole. Found under the “Not a Burger” menu section.

Mile High Grill is probably not the best place to stop for breakfast (although you could possibly do the veggie hash minus cheese), but on the Lunch/Dinner menu they have the Asian Crispy Tofu Salad, a veggie wrap, and a hummus platter.

The Flat Iron‘s menu shows “Gluten Free and Vegan when available” – not exactly sure what that means, but they do have at least one clearly vegan item, the Vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwich.

Lake Montezuma
Alas, I couldn’t find anything special at all in Lake Montezuma, unless maybe the Garden Burger at Cricket’s Sandwich Shop is vegan. Maybe they’d be willing to make a breakfast burrito minus the eggs, meat, and cheese and instead stuffed with all the veggies they offer + fries, topped with salsa or enchilada sauce.

Know of any other great vegan options in the Verde Valley? Comment below!

Rise! Grand Rapids

I had a very special treat last night (and this morning). A long while back I went to the first ever vegan pop-up bakery hosted by Vegan Grand Rapids. Since I follow them on facebook, I knew ahead of time there would be vegan donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids here in Michigan, and that’s what I was looking forward to the most. The event started Sunday at 11am, but I didn’t get there until 12:30 because I waited til after church. Well, after just 1.5 hours, all the donuts were sold out! In fact, nearly everything was sold out, but I think the donuts were first to go, selling out in something like 45 minutes.

Well, there was another pop-up bakery event last Saturday. All the vendors brought more stuff this time knowing how popular it would be, but guess what? The donuts sold out AGAIN! I was disappointed, but not too badly, because….

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
I’d already placed an order for two dozen donuts for a dinner party just a few days later. Since it was an autumnal party, I went with Maple Glazed Pumpkin (left) and Apple Cider with cinnamon and sugar (right).

Here at Rise everything is made from scratch with true and fresh ingredients. We love representing the conscious side of pastry and pride ourselves on creative spin-offs to the classics. We believe that food is at the heart of community, so come as you are. Have a seat at the table.
-from the Rise Grand Rapids facebook page

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
We had a ton of food, so I was too full to eat two whole donuts after dinner…even though I really, really wanted to. I couldn’t choose between the flavors, so I did what any reasonable person would do. Half of each.

Now, I’m not a gluten free person – I love gluten! I think there were only two gf people at the party, and one singular vegan. What if the donuts tasted vegan, or had a gluten free texture? You know, like what if they are weird and gross I think is some people’s fear. Not my friends, though. They’re used to eating all the interesting things I bring around. So, together we ate 19.5 donuts.

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
Here’s what we decided:

-No weird texture, we wouldn’t have known they were gluten free
-No weird “vegan” taste. Just GOOD.
-Really good.
-Especially impressed with texture of the Apple Cider donut. It was just a little crunchy and slightly browned on the outside, and perfectly soft and light on the inside. Everyone agreed the crunch was a plus, it was perfectly done.

Now, this morning they were day-old donuts. Were they stale? Not one bit! The crunchiness of the Apple Cider donut was gone, but it was replaced by a wonderful slightly-burnt caramel taste, probably caused by some of that sugar coating melting into the browned parts. I seldom drink coffee, but this was the perfect breakfast.

Lots of people were interested in ordering their own donuts, and I hope you’ll be interested, too! Rise also does cakes (including special occasion cakes) and cupcakes. And not only do they have delicious sweets, their customer service is wonderful. Great communication.
To see some of the lovely donuts and cakes that have come out of this brilliant little home-based bakery, visit the Rise Grand Rapids facebook page. Should you decide to place an order (DO IT), contact information is provided in the About section.

Donuts for Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!! Where’s your favorite place to get vegan donuts?

Like Donuts? You might also like:
Donut Sandwich
Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Qrunch Donut
Red Rabbit Bakery in Austin, TX

2015 Portland Vegan Food & Beer Festival

Herbivore Clothing Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival

At the Herbivore Clothing booth!

FINALLY sorted through my tons of pictures from the Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival from September 26th! If my BFF has to live on the other side of the country, I’m glad she picked a super vegan-friendly place 😀 I was due for a visit and this seemed too perfect.

We were lucky enough to win tickets, but even if you paid, it was a decent price and for a good cause – with a $25 non-drinking ticket you got admission to the event, three concerts, and unlimited pours of kombucha. For $45 you got the same, plus unlimited pours of beer. For the $65 VIP ticket you got the same, but you also got in an hour early to beat the crowd and not have to wait in line, and you got access to the VIP lounge. There was also a designated driver ticket, I think it might have been $35? It’s the same as the non-drinking ticket, but with VIP access. And proceeds went to Out to Pasture Sanctuary. Sure you still had to pay for food, the vendors have to make a living!

Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival
We arrived early and I knew exactly what I wanted before anything else…

Doomie's at Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival
I was reading about Doomie’s on facebook during the couple weeks before the festival. Do you know what they were selling???

Doomie's at Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival
VEGAN BIG MACS. In case you can’t read the sign, the price is $15. This thing better be good.

Doomie's at Portland Vegan Beer and Food Festival
Here’s the Big Mac work station where they make a million at a time.

Doomie's Vegan Big Mac
It got a little scrunched because they cut it in half for us – it’s big enough to feed two!

Doomie's Vegan Big Mac
The buns were well toasted, a little charred. They spread a “special sauce” on the buns and a vegan cheese sauce on the burgers, then added lettuce, pickles & onions. It was wonderful. L said she wouldn’t have known it was vegan, except, ya know…we were at a vegan food festival 🙂

Sizzle Pie at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Next we got a big slice of Spiral Pizza from Sizzle Pie – I love their “Death to False Pizza” slogan! Delicious tomato sauce swirled with caramelized onions. We were pleased.

Grilled Cheese Truck at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
So this is another one I checked out before the festival, the Grilled Cheese Truck. They’re not a vegan food truck, but they went vegan for the festival and I’m so glad! The menu was awesome, but I could only eat so much.

Grilled Cheese Truck at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
I went with the “Chicken” and Waffle Melt. I think they used the original Chao flavor for the cheese, it was very tasty with the maple syrup – my little cup tipped over in my dish and soaked one half of the sandwich, and I didn’t mind at all.

Heidi Ho at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Next, BFF wanted nachos so we headed over to Heido Ho. I’ve seen their stuff at Whole Foods and tried one of their chia cheeses. It didn’t really taste like cheese to me, but it was really good and really addicting.

Heido Ho at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
We had the same reaction to the nachos. Not really like cheese, but still delicious.

Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Okay, now this time I was bad. I found a place selling beautiful doughnuts, really, really beautiful – vegan and gluten free. And they had my old favorite, apple fritter. I forgot to get the name of the place, and…I was so happy to eat an apple fritter again, I didn’t even bother taking a picture. It’s not that I forgot, either. I just didn’t want to waste any time. But anyway, there were doughnuts. And lots of other great looking pastries I would’ve loved to try if I could fit them in my belly.

Follow Your Heart at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
That was all we purchased, but there were also a bunch of free samples. We visited the Follow Your Heart booth and tried a cheese sample. We also tried a raw cheesecake place that was great, and I found some curry flavored popcorn. And there was more than food for sale.

Panda with Cookie at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
We checked out some awesome plushies from Panda with Cookie. We actually won a free ticket to the festival from Panda with Cookie, yay!!! I bought a special gift here for my nephew, but I can’t say what it is because we haven’t celebrated his birthday yet!

I also got a lovely pair of laser cut deco-style earrings from Salty & Sweet <—-You can see all their cute earrings (and other stuff) on their website.

Oh. Did I mention…

Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
We also got unlimited pours of kombucha and beer?! I guess I did, but here’s proof. BFF was happily checking off all the many kinds of beer she sampled (I think I had three) while I tried as many kinds of kombucha as possible.

At one point we heard this music start up. “Ha. It sounds like a marching band.”

Go Go Marching Band at Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Well actually,

Go Go Marching Band Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
it IS a marching band! The Love Bomb Go-Go Marching Band. So that’s why we saw people walking around dressed like they were from outer space in the 1960s.

So it was the first ever Vegan Beer & Food Festival in Portland. Did many people attend?

Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
There were a couple.

Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Maybe a few.

Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival
Maybe a few thousand??

Portland Vegan Food & Beer Festival

In front of the giant chalkboard

I’m not sure what the actual count was, but I’m glad I could be numbered among the throngs of the weird vegans of Portland. I hope this is what our VegFest is like in Grand Rapids next year.

What vegan vendors would you like to see at a Vegan Food Festival?

Grand Rapids VegFest 2015

Well, last week Grand Rapids had its first ever Vegan Festival, VegFest. It was a tiny thing compared to the ones held in bigger cities that have been held for years now, but we still had fun! Two vendors cornered the food market at the festival – Shimmy Shack and Love’s were the only ones selling food. And Love’s is just ice cream and cookies, so if you wanted a meal, you were going to Shimmy Shack. Pretty much everyone wanted to get in on it, and we waited in line for an hour.

Grand Rapids VegFest Shimmy Shack
I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the truck or the line that formed in front of it, it was just too crowded! But don’t worry, I took pictures of all the food Mumra and I ordered. We tried to hit as many menu items as we could possibly fit in our stomachs.

Grand Rapids VegFest Shimmy Shack
First, Mumra ordered the Classic Burger and Chili Cheese Fries (half white & half sweet potato) with a side of garlic sauce. The housemade burger was bigger than a slider, but much smaller than a Boca burger; however, the little guy packed a lot of flavor. I kind of wished I would’ve ordered one for myself. And fries soaked in chili, yeah, they were good. Could’ve used a little more salt & hot sauce, but then again, that’s probably what the dipping sauce is for. The garlic sauce reminded me of toom, thick and creamy. The Daiya shreds melted on top were good, but in this form I think they work better on pizza. For fries, I’d melt the shreds into a sauce with veg milk and spoon it on so you can still pull the fries apart easily. And yet…we ate them all.

Grand Rapids VegFest Shimmy Shack
I ordered nachos, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter shake, and a Shimmy Coney – a chili dog. Everything was as expected. My only issue is the LightLife dog was a little over cooked and a little tough. And again I probably would’ve added a little salt and hot sauce to the chili. It was still very satisfying, though.

Grand Rapids VegFest Shimmy Shack
Oh. And Mumra also ordered a cup of Curried Chickpea Gazpacho. I was surprised to find it actually tasted like the dressing on the tomato salad from Little Africa! I think it was the lemon and garlic, it was wonderful.

Grand Rapids VegFest Little Africa
Speaking of Little Africa, we ran into the infamous Lou(l) while stopping by the Culinary Expedition booth of chef Elizabeth Suvedi. Elizabeth offers vegan cooking classes and private cooking events. Sounds like fun!

Grand Rapids VegFest The Brinery
The Brinery was there giving out samples and selling their wonderful fermented foods, along with a bunch of other vendors. I didn’t have the patience to wait for good pictures at all the booths!

Grand Rapids VegFest
There were a few different lectures throughout the day. We sat through part of a cooking class where we watched tofu bacon being prepared.

So once I walked off my coney dog, nachos, and milk shake, what was next?

Grand Rapids VegFest Love's Ice Cream
ICE CREAM. It’s totally different than a milkshake.

Grand Rapids VegFest Love's Ice Cream
It was root beer flavored! I was a very happy girl this day.

Grand Rapids VegFest Harvest Health
A ton of vegan food options were on display at the Harvest Health booth, and even better…

Grand Rapids VegFest Harvest Health Chao Cheese
they were giving samples of Chao Cheese! I already had all three flavors at home in the fridge, but Mumra tried it and enjoyed it. Although knowing her, she’ll just figure out how to make it at home 🙂

Vegan Pizza
And after eating all the good food, I came home and found my dad had ordered a pizza for me!

Anyway. Now that we know 1500+ people in the Grand Rapids area were interested in a smallish VegFest, I have a feeling next year will see way more food vendors, and vendors in general. It will grow and it will be awesome. But I can’t wait til next year to go to a big, awesome vegan festival, so I’m going to one later this week – the Portland Vegan Beer & Food Festival! Flying out to spend time in OR with my BFF. Also hoping to hit up Next Level Burger for the grand opening of their Portland location, and stop in at Food Fight! Grocery, and maybe grab a slice of cheesecake at Sweetpea. And if I really feel like being edgy, maybe I’ll get a new vegan tattoo at Scapegoat :p

Vegan at Denny’s: Amy’s Burger and MOAR!

Vegan at Denny's - Build Your Own Amy's Burger!
Yes it’s true, this gorgeous vegan burger can be found at America’s Favorite Diner, Denny’s! I discovered the existence of this menu item while scrolling through pictures in my favorite facebook group, What Fat Vegans Eat. I was really excited because Tete is always wanting us to have lunch together, but it’s hard for us to find a place we both enjoy. My favorite is Little Africa, hers is Bob Evans. But now I know how easy it is to be vegan at Denny’s, and everyone is happy!

I contacted Denny’s to try to get an idea of what other vegan options they have. They forwarded my email to a company nutritionist, and I waited for a response for about a month and a half. I finally got a response after sending a second followup email. I don’t like to give up! I wanted this information so badly just so I could share it with all of you…and so I can stuff my face properly next time. So without further ado, here are the things you can order to make a complete meal for yourself – this is like my dream combo of diner junk food, the best you could expect from a non-veg restaurant, anyway:

Fit Fare Veggie Skillet minus the eggs (comes with side of salsa)
Santa Fe Skillet minus meat, eggs & cheese
Loaded Veggie Omelette, minus eggs and cheese – really! Basically just grilled veggies, and comes with side of fruit or English Muffin
Still hungry? Add
-Apple Sauce
-Seasonal Fruit

Amy’s Burger on a White Sesame Seed Bun*** (wheat contains honey) topped with…
Sauteed Mushrooms
Sauteed Onions
Black Beans
Standard burger veggies (lettuce, onion, tomato, etc)
*For a little extra, you can request multiple patties on your burger!
***UPDATE*** I went to Denny’s tonight (1/30) and discovered the vegan sesame seed bun was replaced with a brioche sesame seed bun. . . . Okay, I emailed Denny’s, and the brioche bun is actually vegan! It is safe. They also re-confirmed wheat contains honey.

Side of Hash Browns, French Fries, or Seasoned Fries
Or for a lighter side…
Fresh Sautéed Zucchini & Squash
Fresh Steamed Zucchini & Squash
Red-Skinned Potatoes
Whole Grain Rice

You’ll have to veganize the salads by requesting no meat, cheese, or eggs (all contain one, both or all three). Top with:
-Balsamic Vinaigrette
-Italian Fat Free

Apple Pie without Caramel Sauce
*The peanut butter sauce appears to be vegan, but it’s not that great on the pie

Have you tried the vegan burger at Denny’s yet? What did you think??? If you love the idea of having vegan options at Denny’s, and would REALLY LOVE them to have a vegan menu available for easy ordering, I encourage you to email Denny’s. Even though they are very slow to respond, they do at least see the emails. Let’s thank them for the great options already available, while slipping in a request for a few other things we’d like to see…a vegan cheese for the burgers (Daiya, Chao?), Just Mayo, dairy-free onion rings, margarine or coconut oil for our grits and oatmeal. Maybe a non-dairy milk? OH, or non-dairy ice cream so we, too, can enjoy those shakes???? PLEASE, Denny’s!!!!!!!! Please. We will love you forever. Send an email or snail mail and make it known: We love being Vegan at Denny’s!

P.S. During the time I was fretting over the bun situation (the waitress couldn’t tell me if the brioche bun was vegan, and brioche generally is Not), someone suggested get the Amy’s Burger on an English muffin. That sounds like a great idea for a breakfast sandwich!

You can use the form letter on their website to contact them, or send an email to
guest_call_tracking@dennys.com . Call 1-800-733-6697 8am to 8pm Monday thru Friday, or send snail mail to:

Denny’s Call Center
203 East Main Street P-7-3
Spartanburg, SC 29319

San Chez Tapas Bistro

Last night was such a fun night! I had dinner at San Chez Bistro with three other lady bloggers from Michigan. While their successes make my tiny blog seem rather…quaint…I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to our next meeting. Not only that, I enjoyed a wonderful meal from the vegan menu at San Chez. Believe it or not, they actually have ELEVEN allergy menus! This has to be the most thoughtful restaurant ever. It’s a great idea for customers, and a wise move for restaurateurs.

Now, to be honest, I had dinner at San Chez back in June with a group of friends from the Parish Life Conference, and I never got around to writing about it. I wanted the flavors to be fresh in my mind, so I ordered a nearly identical meal last night – except last night, I found out about the vegan dessert! It’s not on the vegan menu, but it’s right at the top of the dessert menu and clearly marked Vegan. Did I tell you this place is great?

Vegan Gazpacho from San Chez Tapas Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
I started off with Gazpacho, pretty straight forward – chilled tomato cucumber soup. The soup is blended superbly to give it a velvety-smooth texture, and although you can taste the individual ingredients, they still come together perfectly.

Vegan Pan a la Plancha from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
Next was the bread course. Vegans have two options, and I went with the Pan a la Plancha, a grilled whole wheat bread slice with tomato garlic spread, dripping with golden olive oil. I enjoyed this so much back in June, I ordered it again last night but got two pieces instead of one. I probably should have tried at least one piece with the salsa verde option, but I just really wanted more of that tomato garlic spread! You could seriously make a meal of this and the soup, but why stop there?

Vegan  Verduras y Tortas from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
For my first “small” plate (it’s actually a pretty good size for a small plate), I tried the Verduras y Tortas, black bean and quinoa cakes served over roasted vegetable with an avo-ziki sauce (a veganized tzatziki). Now, I’m not a huge fan of the sauce on its own, but it is magically transformed when you dip a piece of the black bean cake, or a veggie, in it. Not only does it taste wonderful, it’s such a visually appealing dish.

Vegan Tostones Fritos from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
The Tostones Fritos – fried plantains – could *almost* pass for a dessert, or would be great for breakfast. They’re served with an avocado relish, and vegans can enjoy the dish with jalapeno agave instead of honey. They reminded me of upscale pancakes, and I do love pancakes.

Vegan Pistachio Rice Pudding Dessert with Ice Cream from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
Last but not least, last night our very helpful waitress pointed out the lone vegan item on the dessert menu, which I missed last time because I’d only looked at the vegan menu (the dessert menu is separate for everyone, not just vegans). And lucky for us, it’s really like two desserts in one – Pistachio Rice Pudding with Medjool Date Ice Cream, and a chili quince glaze.

First I tried just the pistachio rice pudding. You know, when you’re a kid pistachio pudding is the least favorite. The only cool thing about it is the weird, bright green color. But now that I am sort of somewhat of a grown up, at least in the eyes of the law, I am finally able to appreciate its subtly sweet flavor. The rice is extra sticky and firm, so it’s like a very soft rice cake. But if you prefer a little more sweetness in your desserts, do not fear! Simply run the pudding through a bit of that glaze before you take a bite. And don’t forget the medjool date ice cream! I could eat a whole bowl of that.
One tip, though: Do NOT eat the little lemon peel garnishes by themselves! They are so dang salty, but somehow perfectly complement the ice cream IF you eat them WITH the ice cream. How did the chef know this would all work together so well?

Needless to say, I was stuffed by the end of evening. I hope to get back to San Chez soon so I can try the rest of the items on the vegan menu, and maybe a few cocktails (strictly for work-related purposes, of course). Not only is the food great, and plated beautifully, I love the feel of the restaurant – the simple little tables with brown craft paper draped over them, perfect for scribbling a note, and brightly colored decor. And everyone we dealt with on the waitstaff was so friendly and polite.

You can check out the Allergy Menus at San Chez here.

Check out my Vegan in Grand Rapids page for more of my reviews of local vegan restaurants, or see the list of restaurants from VeganGR.

Propaganda Doughnuts 

So last night I mentioned the lady that choked on a doughnut right in the middle of National Doughnut Day, and said I was going to play it safe by not eating a doughnut. Well friends, that was a lie. The truth is I wasn’t too keen on driving downtown by myself at night, but I really, really wanted a doughnut. So badly. And Propaganda Doughnuts had a vegan supply.

Well, when a girl wants to feel safe, who does she call? DAD. At first he said he was too tired, but an hour later he called back and said he’d go if I’d drive. “I’m not going to eat any doughnuts,” He said. “But I’ll go so you don’t have to go alone.”

I called ahead to make sure they still had the vegan doughnuts, and they put four aside for me (thank you!!!!).

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts
So we pulled up to this cute old storefront you could easily miss from the road, thank goodness Siri was looking out for it. It’s right next to The Bandit Queen, the ramen place I’m hoping to try soon.

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts2
They had vegan ice cream to go with the doughnuts! Love’s is that ice cream I showed you in my cheezy food haul video, it is delicious. If we’d been eating in I would have definitely splurged and gotten a scoop of ice cream on my doughnut.

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts3
I couldn’t get a full picture of the day’s menu because a group of hipsters were standing in front of it stuffing their faces – I don’t blame them, I wanted to immediately begin eating every vegan doughnut in the place. Man did it smell it good in there. Anyway. The only vegan thing was the yeast risen doughnut. The non-vegan options included Blueberry Jam Shortbread, Chocolate Stout with Potato Chips, Smoked Whiskey with Torched Coconut, plain glazed, sprinkles, cinnamon & sugar…

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts4
These. So my dad looked at all these fancy flavors, and what does he do?

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts5
He ignores all those doughnuts on the counter and points to these big, fat, puffy doughnuts back there on the third rack from the top. “I want one of those!”

Guess what? That’s the vegan yeast raised doughnut. He picked the only vegan doughnut in the place. So then of course he had to get a second kind, probably in case the vegan one was no good.

2015-6-6 Vegan Propaganda Doughnuts6
But we discovered the vegan doughnuts are DELICIOUS. They are so light and airy on the inside, and a crispy on top with a thin layer of sweet, sugary glaze that breaks apart when you bite into it and melts on your lips and tongue. And there’s just this tiny little hole in the middle, it’s like getting bonus doughnut.

I ate one before I remembered to take a picture. I might use another one to make a breakfast sandwich. So much for making Sunday my fat day, I think I’m having a fat weekend.

Vegan doughnuts are not available every day, so check the Propaganda Doughnut facebook page to see what’s offered daily. I think they also sometimes have gluten free options!

Hospital Food: Meijer Heart Center

Yesterday I spent most of the day visiting someone in the Meijer Heart Center. Around lunchtime we went down to the first floor to find something to eat, and the differences between the two cafeterias we checked out was…interesting. First we visited the Fireside Grille.

2015-5-27 Meijer Heart Center Restaurants
“Make any burger a double.” In other words, “Come back real soon!” I didn’t see much for vegans on the menu here, let alone someone trying to eat healthier so they might avoid ending up in the Heart Center themselves.

On the other hand, we have the Mehney Terrace Bistro. They have a great selection of healthy/healthier choices on the made-to-order menu, and there were so many vegan options ready made I had a hard time deciding what to get.

2015-5-27 Meijer Heart Center Restaurants2
I ended up getting the curried veggie wrap, which is actually two delicious wraps (saved one for later) filled with couscous, chickpeas, peas, carrots and cranberries warmly seasoned with curry and lots of garlic; a chia parfait, a package of two gluten free vegan oatmeal raisin cookies by Liz Lovely, and chocolate almond milk.

2015-5-27 Meijer Heart Center Restaurants3
The chia parfait, made with vanilla almond milk, really freaked out my family because, well, chia pudding just looks weird. But I never see chia pudding around here, even in restaurants known for having good vegan options. It was kind of comforting 🙂 And those Liz Lovely cookies were excellent – super soft, and with a the perfect hint of molasses. Each cookie is considered two servings, and luckily I had three people to share them with.

There are a couple other places to eat at the Heart Center, but hopefully I won’t have occasion to try them anytime in the near future.