Vegan Bites & Brews at Kingma's Market

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I was extremely busy last week because my church was hosting the Midwest Parish Life Conference. So just pretend I posted this sometime last week.

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Saturday was a very happy day! Mumra and I drove over to Kingma’s Market for the Vegan Bites & Brews event hosted by Vegan Grand Rapids.

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I was surprised to see the front of the store was packed with people waiting in line for samples of delicious vegan food. Before we hit the main row of tables, we were greeted by a woman at the door with a big chunk of an EcoTrek Fitness Whole Foods Bar. It had the definite taste of a “fitness” bar, but…it was also chocolate. I made sure to buy one.

It was hard to stop and take pictures of everything because I didn’t want to slow the line, but there were samples of Earth Balance Aged White Cheddar flavored Puffs, and their yummy P.B. Popps. There were also The Redheads brand veggie burgers, made here in Michigan.

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An eggless egg salad made with tofu and Follow Your Heart brand Vegenaise.

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But my favorite was the grilled cheese sandwich. Jon, of Vegan Grand Rapids, whipped these up with Follow Your Heart slices. And instead of buttering the bread, he used Magic Vegan Bacon Grease!

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Kingma’s Market is currently the only place in town selling this stuff, and about $2 cheaper than I’ve found anywhere else.

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Kingma’s is also one of the few places you can find these lovely vegan asparagus tamales by El Cardenal, another Michigan-based business. We actually went back for seconds 🙂 They also make a wonderful salsa. You can find the tamales in the freezer section.

We also found Qrunch Burgers, including the elusive Green Chili flavor! They had a couple flavors of Daiya Cheese, and a big selection of foods made in Michigan, and some right here in Grand Rapids.

OH! I almost forgot to mention The Brinery, based in Ann Arbor, had a table where we sampled their tempeh and sauerkraut (and they make hot sauce!). And everything we tried is available at Kingma’s.

The Qrunch Burgers are overpriced (find them at Meijer or Target for $5-something), but Daiya shreds were only $4.99. Great overall value if you know your prices.

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.

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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.

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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…

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These. So my dad looked at all these fancy flavors, and what does he do?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Harvest Health Vegan Food Haul

Eeeeeeeeeeee, you guys! Last week I was checking out a blog I follow, Genki Kitty, and I discovered a new weird thing to love: Food Haul videos! Yes. People buy groceries, and then make videos about it! They are inevitably awkward (just search YouTube), but so intriguing for a snoop like me. I was shopping at Harvest Health Foods the next day, and next thing you know I’m making my own precious little video 🙂

“Hmmm…what could make my video less awkward?” I asked myself. OH. I’ll put on some Brian Eno in the background. Next I will organize all the food and come up with something clever to say about each item. Wait, it’s groceries. What can I really say? I know, I can make a joke. Oooh, that’s right…I sound exactly the same when I’m being serious as I do when I’m joking. No one can tell the difference. Not even me when I listen to myself.

So anyway, luckily I only bought a few random things, so this is pretty painless. I would love it if each of you made a Vegan Food Haul video to share! What did you buy? Where did you buy it? Why? WHAT IS IT?? OH, A LEMON???????!!

Adventures in Vegan Dining

I almost never have trouble finding something to eat in Grand Rapids, and it’s been years since I had a waiter that didn’t know what vegans do and do not eat. But lately I’ve hit a string of them. I figured most of you can relate. It’s kind of funny, kind of…not.

Kramer

Restaurant #1
Me: Is this pasta vegan?
Her: Sure, I’ll just make sure they leave off the Parmesan.
Me: [thinking she gets it] Great, thanks!
Her: And would you like to add salmon or chicken?
Me: Umm…no thanks, I’d just like to have a vegan meal.
[pasta comes out plated with two big pieces of garlic bread I really wanted to eat]
Me: Oh, is this garlic bread made with oil?
Her: [looking very pleased] No, it’s made with REAL butter!

Restaurant #2
Me: Are the veggie tacos vegan?
Him: Um, I don’t think so because they usually use chicken broth to cook the rice.
Me: [noticing the big green V, indicating vegetarian, next to the tacos] Wait, sooo if it’s marked vegetarian it might still have meat stuff in it?
Him: Vegetarian is different than vegan.
Me: Yeah, but…vegetarians don’t eat meat, either.
Him: [long pause] I don’t know.

Kind of makes me nervous about trying new restaurants, but it’s worth it for the times I end up with great food. Do you still have this issue when you dine out, or do you find most people actually know what “vegan” means?

Cantina Mexican Grill

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Today Nadira and I celebrated with lunch at Cantina Mexican Grill. I drive past this restaurant about 10 to 12 times a week, but today was the first time I stepped inside. They were very busy, but as soon as one party left they had the table ready for the next to be seated. We got in after just a few minutes, even though the restaurant was packed!


We didn’t actually have the famous bean dip. I’ll have to find out if it’s vegan ’cause if it is, I must try it next time.


It’s so cozy in the main dining area (there’s a basement, but it’s only open for dinner). Each booth is in one of the sort of alcoves in rows on either side of the bar. We couldn’t really see the other tables over the bar, so it felt nice and private. The one problem for vegans is…the booths are lined with what appears to be calfskin. Furry calfskin. I think they also had non-booth seating, might check that out next time. Anyway.


We started our meal with a couple Coronas. I had already looked over the menu and knew I wanted the Mexican pizza, if it could be veganized. The waiter was super helpful and offered to add extra veggies, and add a side of guacamole.


The pizza turned out beautifully. Ranchero sauce with refried beans, black beans, black olives, onions, green onions, tomatos, and jalapenos.


All of this on a flaky, fried tortilla crust. The waiter said he had never seen anyone eat an entire pizza before 🙂 He asked if I thought it was good enough to put on the menu, and I said DEFINITELY! I hope they really do add it.
I’d like to go back again for dinner, check out more of the menu & the room in the basement, and maybe play a game of pool with my dad. I hope I don’t ruin their pool table. Oh, and when it’s not rainy and gray you can sit outside!

Did you do anything special for Cinco de Mayo?

Foraging for Wild Vegan Food in Grand Rapids

Mumra signed us up for a free three-hour foraging class recently. She said it started at 1pm, so of course I got to her house around 5 after. And she still wasn’t ready yet. When we arrived at the park at 1:15, there was a guy in the pavilion talking about organic gardening, but no sign of foragers anywhere. I thought Mumra was going to cry.

I looked up the event to see how many people actually signed up for the class because it seemed weird they’d just disappear in the park. What I saw is there were three different classes, each an hour long, and ours hadn’t started yet!


So naturally we decided to make an ice cream run at Furniture City Creamery. Mumra got the avocado lime, I got toasted coconut chocolate chip…


with caramel sauce. I love that caramel sauce (the chocolate sauce is vegan, too).

We got back to the park just in time for the foraging class. After about half an hour of talking, we were shown four plants…all of them plants Mumra is familiar with because they’re growing in her backyard garden. Oh well.


Since the class ended an hour earlier than planned, we went foraging at Little Africa. We’re familiar with all the plant foods there and know what’s safe to eat (everything).

Bright Thursday at Grand Rapids Natural Health Event & Curry Kitchen


So last night Amanda and I went to a fundraiser at Grand Rapids Natural Health. When I saw they’d be serving raw food, I was imagining something fancy like cucumber hollowed out and filled with tapenade, so at first I was bummed when we walked in and saw platters of fresh fruit and raw veggies. That did not seem very exciting. However…


The fruit was served with a delicious coconut cream that tasted like Cool Whip! And for the veggies there was a cashew “cheese” dip, and red pepper hummus. Later I discovered a bruschetta made with garlic grown in the garden of one of the girls working the event. There was also a really wonderful dark chocolate. And wine! And I have to say, Amanda is a good drinker 🙂


We could’ve also gotten massages and henna tattoos, but we were too busy standing in the corner shoveling in the food and refilling our little biodegradable plastic cups with red wine while we caught up on all that has been happening in each other’s lives since before Holy Week.
All of this was just $10, to benefit Ele’s Place, “a nonprofit, community based organization dedicated to creating awareness of and support for grieving children and their families.”

Afterwards we were this close to going to Founders, but…


we were distracted by the call of fried Indian foods. Sorry this picture is so horrible, I have no idea what I was doing – probably hurrying so I could eat more! We had the vegetable pakora and onion bhaji, plus I got a bowl of lentil soup. I decided the soup worked better for dipping than the sauces.


And this crispy chickpea flour thing, whatever it is. So addicting.
Zohr joined us and had rice pudding, not pictured.


After I dropped off Amanda, Z and I headed over to the church to help set up for a big sale we’re having this weekend. We hand curated a collection of Hipster goods. It was a late night, but we had fun.

Tonight I am hoping to treat myself to decadent tacos…or something.

Bright Wednesday at Stella's

Sorry I’ve been absent for so long, I’ve been so dead tired after Holy Week I didn’t even have a chance to get on here and say…

Christ is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!

I have decided while I really love keeping vigil on Holy Friday and will probably do it again next year, I’m too old to make do with one hour of sleep! I think I got a total of four hours of sleep over two days.

Anyway, I actually went to Stella’s on Bright Monday, but late at night (11:30!!) it’s too dark to get good pictures. I happily returned last night with my dad and Tete.


I think Whiskey Sour is my new favorite drink. I picked this old school cocktail both Monday & Wednesday because I’m still rocking my Paschal Beehive!


Poor Man’s Potato Wings in mild BBQ sauce, with a side of house-made vegan avocado ranch. They are so crisp and crunchy on the outside, and nice and soft on the inside. I think I’ve tried every sauce now and they’re all great.


Delicious beer-battered onion rings, made vegan upon request. Also served with a side of vegan ranch, but I like to alternate between that and ketchup.

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And finally a grilled cheese sandwich with pesto, onions, tomato, and fresh spinach. The vegan version replaces cheese with avocado. I asked to add Daiya, next time I’d leave it off unless they promise to melt it! The sandwich was still very good, though. And it came with a side of my favorite fries…crack fries! I love those skinny, spicy little things.

Tonight I’m going to a special Girls Night Out fundraiser event where there will be raw food & red wine, manicures & massages, and probably lots of blabbing about ex-boyfriends (there will be some sort of relationship specialist there).

How are you celebrating Bright Week?

Vegan at TGI Friday

Those of you that follow me on facebook may have seen the picture I posted recently from an allergen menu. The menu was from TGI Friday, and it is cray-cray. You would think the menu is showing all the different ingredients each dish may have possibly come into contact with, and it seems like that’s the case, but it actually says…

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
These items contain the following. If that is true, it’s mind-blowing. Let’s take a look…

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
I do think it’s great they have an allergen menu to begin with, it makes it easier to order even if it’s difficult to find something that is both vegan and also somewhat satisfying.

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
So, on the first page, vegans cannot have:
Appetizers
Soups & More
Salads (unless you omit the meat and cheese and eat it with NO dressing)
Sandwiches
everything on the Taste & Share Menu

But that’s only the first page.

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
You are in for a treat because on page two there are ALL KINDS of vegan options. And by all kinds, I mean there are two things. Skip over all the main dishes,

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
and you can have a side of fresh broccoli or ginger lime slaw. But if you have a sympathetic server,

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
she might let you order a double portion from the kid’s menu, even though it’s technically only for those 12 and under. Here we have the possibility of pasta with marinara (maybe you could add a side of that fresh broccoli from the grownups menu!), a fruit cup, or mandarin oranges. My little nephews did seem to enjoy the fruit cup.

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
The prices aren’t bad, either.

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
While my family enjoyed their appetizers, I had a tiny side of ginger lime slaw. I couldn’t taste any ginger or lime, but with a little salt it wasn’t bad. I was thinking of doing the pasta and broccoli for my dinner,

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
but then I saw this and figured I could just have chips & salsa with guacamole. The chips came out warm like they were freshly fried, but they didn’t have any of the greasiness of just-fried food, so I dunno…if they were fried I’m sure it was in a shared fryer, but the server didn’t mention it.

Vegan Menu TGI Friday
Not much to get excited about here. The guacamole wasn’t bad, just needed a little salt (doesn’t everything?). The server brought me out another little side of guac with about half the amount as the first – I think she felt sorry for me.

I think it’s kind of sad they obviously are aware there are people who need to avoid all these things, but then they don’t even bother to add at least a couple suitable menu items, or at least make it clear which items “may contain traces of” which some people wouldn’t find too objectionable. What’s the deal, Fridays?

Although the service was good, I would definitely recommend vegans avoid this place if at all possible. It’s just too hard to order. When we finished hanging out with the family, my brother and I headed over to Stella’s where I happily ordered vegan onion rings with vegan ranch dressing, and vegan Poor Man’s Potato Wings along with MORE vegan ranch dressing! I hope Fridays gets with it.

UPDATE: The Fridays in downtown Grand Rapids, MI is closing. Bet they would have gotten a ton more business if they were more vegan-friendly like so many other restaurants in our lovely city :p

UPDATE #2: Vegan @ TGI Fridays UK
I didn’t know Fridays is an international chain. I just looked at their UK menu and was surprised to see at the bottom of the page they have symbols for “suitable for vegetarian” and “suitable for vegan”. Now, if they have a “suitable for vegan” symbol you’d expect to see it next to a few vegan options, right? Well, sorry to disappoint. They have a vegan symbol, but no vegan options! I couldn’t the symbol actually used anywhere on the menu. Is this a joke???