Happy Vegan Easter

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I’ve always loved Easter, but… it’s not the most vegan-friendly holiday. Let’s change that! Here are some ideas to start new Easter traditions in your home.

Decorating 

Painting “Eggs”

I’ll be honest here – I painted eggs with my mom the first 22 years of my life. It was a fun tradition. Then I went vegan. But just like with food, we don’t have to miss out on activities because we won’t support an industry we know to be cruel. So here are just a few of the fun things you can do instead of painting real chicken eggs.eggnots

  • EggNots – These ceramic eggs are dyeable, last forever for a sweet keepsake, and are made in the USA. On their website you can purchase 6, 12, or 18 packs, dye kits, and more.
    • If you’re on a budget (or in a hurry to purchase) you can definitely find ceramic eggs at craft stores. I’ve also heard they’re available at some Dollar Stores.
  • Wooden Eggs – Fun to paint with acrylics, or beautiful as-is. Pick them up at craft stores or on A
    mazon.
  • Papier-Mache Eggs – If you’re crafty and have time, you can make these adorable papier mache eggs. They can even be filled with treats.

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Easter Baskets 

  • Plastic, Colorful “Grass” – I am moving away from single-use plastics – I’ve purchased glass straws and LOVE them -so I’m not a big fan of the shiny, plastic grass that gets immediately thrown away after the holiday (although my mom probably kept that stuff for years in the attic with the rest of the decorations). The good news is you can find recyclable,paper grass at craft stores in the party section, or at natural food stores for Easter.

 

  • Chocolate & Treats – There are so many cruelty-free goodies out there, don’t stress about what to gift in the Easter basket! You can find vegan chocolates at grocery stores, but here are some extra-fun options to order:
    • Sjaaks – Chocolate bunnies & eggs
    • Rose City – Gourmet chocolate miniatures
    • No Whey – Chocolate bunnies & eggs

 

Games 

  • Hiding Eggs – Again, if you’re trying to stay away from the plastic eggs, why not use those ceramic or wooden ones you already painted, and let the kids trade them in for treats?

 

Snacks

My favorite part of any holiday (and basically every day)! Here are some healthy, and less healthy, options to choose from.

  • Watermelon – Use those adorable bunny-shaped cookie cutters on slices of watermelon! It’s too cute, I can’t even handle it. Cube up the rest with some of easterfruityour other favorite fruits.

 

  • Easter Bunny’s Garden – Simply your standard veggie platter with hummus for dipping.

 

  • Potato Angels – A fun alternative to deviled eggs. Use small round potatoespotatoangels and boil or bake until tender. Cut in half and slice a thin piece off the bottom so they’ll stand upright. Scoop out the middle and mix with whatever you want – this could be traditional deviled egg ingredients (like mustard and mayo) or vegan cheese and green onions.

 

  • Cupcakes – My mom and I always made cupcakes for Easter, topped with green icing, and coconut shreds dyed green to look like grass, with jelly beans to look like Easter eggs. Fun, and easy to make vegan! Surf Sweets and YumEarth, both available at natural foods stores, have vegan jelly beans. Jolly Rancher and Warheads also have some vegan jelly beans.

 

 

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Join us at V-Grits for Easter Dinner! We’re celebrating Friday, March 23rd. Our menu includes sweet-glazed ham, savory mushroom pot pie, glazed carrots, macaroni salad, cheesy scalloped potatoes, jello salad with marshmallows and pretzels, and cadbury-style creme eggs.

Get your ticket here: www.vgrits.com/vegan-supper-club/

 

 

Happiness & hummus,

Chef K

Did Someone Say Super Bowl Food?

So, it’s that time of year – a day practically dedicated to eating as much vegan junk food as possible! I even heard there will be a really big football game going on too! 😉 If you’re on the hunt for delicious game day grub, Chef Kristina has whipped up some awesome recipes to make your omnivore friends awe-inspired and begging for more!

Game Day Dip
1 jar V-Grits Soul Sauce (Mild Cheddar or Mozzarella)
2 tbsp buttery spread
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Just mix, and warm it up on the stove top or in the microwave. This dip goes great with breadsticks, onion rings or pretzel nuggets!
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Pimento Stuffed Sweet Peppers

6 small sweet peppers

2 tsp olive oil

dash salt

1/4 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

fresh chives

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1/4 cup vegan beef crumbles

1/2 cup V-Grits Pimento Cashew

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse Veggies.

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Small dice 1/4 cup onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and slice 2 tbsp chives.

Add 2 tsp oil to a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and a dash of salt, and sauté.

Add garlic and vegan beef crumbles, and cook to sear. Remove from heat.

Stir in V-Grits Pimento Cashew and half the chives.

Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stuff. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Broil for 2 to 3, to toast breadcrumbs.

Top with remaining chives upon serving.


YIELD: 12 Appetizer-Size Snacks

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Corn & Bean Queso
1 jar V-Grits Mild Cheddar Cashews
1 cup Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Warm it up and grab your favorite tortilla chips!
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Louisville suppliers for all your V-Grits cheese needs include Rainbow Blossom in the Highlands and St. Matthews and Lucky’s in Hurstbourne. Cheeses can also be found at Lucky’s Market in Bloomington, Lucky’s Market in Lexington, The Weekly Juicery in Cincinnati and Lexington, Lucky’s Market in Columbus, Weiland’s in Columbus, and It’s All Natural in Gahanna, OH!
Give these a try and let us know what you think! Other Game Day snacks to go with all that cheesy goodness include fresh-cut veggies with Follow Your Heart Ranch for dipping, Gardein Boneless Bites, classic guacamole, and vegan breaded “shrimp” by Sophie’s Kitchen (found in the frozen isle at Whole Foods)! I’m get hungry just thinking about it! If you test one of these recipes out, or get to experimenting and make your own V-Grits cheese recipe creation, share and hashtag #vgrits so we can see what all our soul sauces can do!
Signing off for the Sentient,
Sammi

Health Benefits of Cashews

At V-Grits, we got a love for cashews that can’t be contained! We’re also pretty passionate about health, so thank goodness cashews exist to make creamy, cheesy, delicious and healthy dairy replacements! Cashews start as seeds that form at the bottom of cashew apples. Crazy, right?

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The US doesn’t seem to love cashew apples as much as they’re adored in Brazil and the Caribbean, but we’re nuts for the seeds! The health benefits of cashews are infinite! They have over eighty different nutrients. They may be known for their still relatively low fat content, but there’s nothing to fear! 82% of their fat is made up of unsaturated fatty acids. Cashews are additionally filled with magnesium and phosphorous which can lessen migraines and lower blood pressure; and copper which is high in antioxidants, works against heart disease and cancer, and protects our skin from sun damage. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, these gnarly nuts even contain zero cholesterol! So grab a bag of cashews as a snack, or get that cashew-based cheese (wink wink 😉 )! It’s only good for you, after all!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Eating Healthy on the Go!

Clean eating is an infamous travel struggle! Here are ten snacks that keep me satisfied and energized when I’m on the go!

  1. Fruit: Fruit is the easiest “fast food” there is. 😉 Wash it, cut it, and package it for the week and you have a quick snack no matter how much of a hurry you’re in!
  2. Clif bars: Clif bars feel like you’re eating a cookie that’s good for you! They’re meant for active people, so they’re especially great for hikers, cyclists and climbers who could use the extra energy & protein boost! Not all of them are vegan, though, so double check the label!
  1. Dates: Dates are also fruit, but especially handy for people in a rush. Dates may dry out a little after a month or so, but it takes them so long to actually go bad that they’re always good to keep in your glove compartment or purse for those unexpected hangry moments!
  2. Homemade trail mix: Dried fruit, nuts, vegan chocolate chips, and pretzels make a delicious and easy to eat snack anytime. Make a big batch and store it in your pantry, or throw a few handfuls into a Ziploc bag on your way out!
  3. Dips: If you have a little time before you’re on your way, quick dip boxes can be filling, healthy ways to rid yourself of some hunger. Slice up pita bread and with a few scoops of hummus, veggies with guacamole, or ciabatta bread with scoops PB&J and you’re good to go!
  4. Seeds or nuts: Seeds & nuts are surprisingly filling. They’re great in between meals, or as the “I’m bored so I’m going to eat something” snack. 😉
  5. Vegan yogurt: Thanks to food science, that yogurt container can still make its way into your lunch box. There are all sorts of vegan yogurt brands out now, from So Delicious to Kite Hill to Trader Joe’s.

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  1. Chia Pudding: Chia Pudding is so easy to make. Add fruit juice and your favorite nut milk to chia seeds in a bowl, leave it in the fridge overnight and you’re set… and so is the pudding! If you’re not up for making it at home, though, there are pre-made chia puddings sold at Whole Foods and Rainbow Blossom!
  2. Kale chips: Kale chips are ideal for long car drives! They’re easy to make, not super messy, and they even sneak greens into your diet! Make them at home, or buy Brad’s Raw Kale Chips in stores (they even sell them at certain Kroger’s)!
  3. Dark chocolate: Many dark chocolates are vegan, but always double check! Dark chocolate is on the healthier side of the sweets spectrum. It has tons of health benefits and can can also help curb a sweet tooth! My personal favorite is from the Endangered Species brand found at Kroger’s!

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Don’t listen to the rumors, eating vegan doesn’t have to be inconvenient! 🙂 We hope you give some of these snacks a try on your next busy day or roadtrip!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Compassionate Cookies for Santa

I’m sure we’ve all heard by now about vegan santa: the one who lets reindeer come along for the ride in his solar powered sleigh and refuses to eat cookies that hurt the reindeer’s animal friends! Luckily, the list of compassionate cookie choices for vegan santa is so long, he might even want to check it twice! Here are some of our favorite cruelty-free cookies!

  • Oreos
  • Chocolate chip cookies made from Half Peach cookie dough
  • Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, or Peanut Butter cookies made with Hampton Creek cookie dough

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  • Lemonades from Girl Scouts
  • Peanut Butter Patties from Girl Scouts
  • Thin Mints from Girl Scouts

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  • 7/11 Fudge Mint Cookies
  • Vegan Gingerbread house from Big Lots
  • Trader Joes Speculoos
  • Homemade cookies
  • Chocolate Chip cookies from Flora (or seasonal toaster pastries/meringues if you want to switch it up for Santa) found at Quills

Don’t forget to leave out a glass of almond milk and some oats for the reindeer, too!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

Five Ingredient Hot Chocolate

Holiday season means it’s getting a little too cold for comfort, but nothing is better than coming home from the chilly weather to homemade hot chocolate! Here’s a recipe so easy, it’ll knock your fuzzy socks off!

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What you’ll need:

  • Chocolate Syrup (Hershey’s Syrup, Organic Santa Cruz Chocolate Flavored Syrup, or a mix of Date Syrup & Cocoa powder)
  • 13.5 FL OZ of sweetened cashew or coconut milk
  • Vegan whipped cream (Soy Whip & Rice Whip are found at Lucky’s Market Louisville) or Dandies’ Vegan Marshmallows
  • Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips
  • Dash of sea salt, cinnamon or cayenne (optional)

Start out by heating the milk on low in a pan. When the milk gets hot, squeeze six squirts of chocolate syrup in the pan, add spices and stir. The hot chocolate should be a rich brown color. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug,  top with whipped cream or Dandies Marshmallows and chocolate chips, and serve! Popcorn and Oreos make the perfect accompaniments. 😉

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Herbalicious!

Herbs make the perfect addition to any dish, or even beverage! There are so many that it can get a little overwhelming to find out which herb matches up with your latest recipe idea, but we’re here to help! Here are some of my favorite herbs and foods they seem to pair nicely with!

Sage: Sage just might be the prettiest of all the gorgeous herbs out there! Sage goes great in typical western comfort food, like Thanksgiving stuffing or an earthy casserole. It also can be a great compliment to sweeter dishes, with vegetables like butternut squash or a creamy pasta dish.

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Mint: Mint is light and refreshing. It adds a yummy twist to lemonade, or makes the perfect finishing garnish for any dessert. Mint can brighten a salad or a vegan yogurt sauce. If you want a simple snack, top a bowl of watermelon with some fresh mint leaves.

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Basil: Basil is commonly associated with Italian cooking, and can be used in a tomato soup or tomato salad, and goes great on top of pizza. This herb isn’t just for savory items, though, it goes great on top of strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruity desserts too. Asian Basil can additionally be used in curries or fried rice, or an asian-inspired tofu dish!

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Rosemary and Thyme: Rosemary and Thyme are other herbs popular in Western cooking. The combination of thyme, rosemary and salt taste good on practically any vegetable. Add them to potatoes done any kind of way (roasted red potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries) or root vegetables for a delicious side dish.

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Lavender: Lavender is one of the most floral herbs. It puts an elegant and classy twist on fruity drinks. Lavender can be detoxifying paired with hibiscus, charcoal, or lemon water and it has many medicinal properties.

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Cilantro: This herb might have a bad reputation with some folks, but if you aren’t one to find the taste of cilantro soapy, cilantro is so versatile! Asian and Latin cooking tend to be heavy handed with cilantro. It can pep up a spicy curry or add a nice tang to a mango salsa.

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Dill: Dill is almost lemony, and goes great with citrusy dishes. It also goes great mixed into a creamy dip like ranch, or topped on some vegan seafood! Dill is also great with starches and grains like potatoes and orzo.

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Chives: Chives are the classic baked potato topping! They’re great snipped as a garnish or mixed into a vegan herb butter.

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Parsley: Parsley is typically found in Mediterranean or Italian Cooking. It gives a bright pop of green to grains like couscous, mixed into creamy hummus, or to top your spaghetti.

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Now that you know the herbalicious details of some of those most popular herbs, it might be time to get experimenting! Happy cooking!
Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Cruelty-Free Fried Chicken Joint

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The world just got another fried chicken restaurant…

Oh wait, except this one is entirely cruelty-free! Temple of Seitan is taking on the inevitable first all vegan fried chicken joint!  That’s right KFC, be very afraid!  This new spot makes their vegan chicken out of seitan, a gluten-based alternative. Temple of Seitan will be putting their chicken in everything from subs to mac and cheese, and serving their plant-based chicken popcorn style and family style! The only bad news? This fried vegan chicken is calling our names all the way from across the pond! London was lucky enough to get the first vegan chicken joint, but hopefully America will get the memo and be next for a store-front of this juicy, breaded, fried deliciousness! I might just have to book a flight to London soon if not!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Kombucha 101

It’s not quite soda, it’s not quite beer, and it’s definitely no kind of juice; what is this crazy stuff?! Kombucha, or fermented black tea, was introduced to me a couple years ago when I just started to dive into the health scene. It has a pretty intense taste on its own, but its typically mellowed out with some type of sugar, fruit, herb or even a root like ginger. Kombucha was definitely like nothing I had ever drank, I just knew it did some gnarly stuff for my body. It took me a second to get used to the unfamiliar taste, but now I am so hooked on kombucha that it’s a hassle for me to drink water! Like anything, kombucha is good in moderation. It’s the perfect probiotic to start the morning to wake up your digestive system. It’s brewed with a live culture, otherwise known as a scoby, derived from an ancient Chinese recipe. The vinegar, probiotics, enzymes and different acids also improve energy, detoxification, immune support and joint pain. I would describe it almost as a healthy, earthier tasting soda, and it’s hitting stores everywhere! Even mainstream grocery stores like Kroger are starting to catch on to the new trend. Lucky for fanatics, Louisville has two amazing local kombucha companies! Kentucky Kombucha and Elixir Kombucha have spread to different cafes, markets and stores around town; both with yummy unique tastes that are great to wash down some delicious vegan noms with! Owners of Elixir have taken note of the new-found interest in fueling your body with the right products.

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“There’s kind of an awakening going on in regards to food and beverages,” founders say. “Folks are moving away from conventional beverages like sugary sodas and energy drinks, most of which are devoid of any nutrition and they are moving toward functional and nutritious beverages like coconut water, watermelon water, cold brew coffee and kombucha. We love brewing kombucha not only for the taste but for its wide range of health benefits. We’ve seen first hand it’s impact on friends and family with gut and autoimmune issues. It’s the real deal. We hope kombucha becomes a household product. Gut health for all!”

We couldn’t agree more! The whole V-Grits team is made of avid kombucha drinkers, and we think they’re the perfect pair with our vegan cheese creations! Both V-Grits and Elixir will be sampling Saturday at the Rainbow Blossom off Bardstown Road on Saturday from 11am-2pm. Stop by and get your fix! See you there!

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Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Sports Bar Goes Vegan Friendly!

When I make my weekly trip to Cincinnati, there hasn’t been one visit where I didn’t pass the sports bar chain, Yard House; little did I know they have an entirely vegan friendly menu! They list it as their “Gardein” Menu, and thankfully they skipped out on the infamous vegetable plate! 😉 Vegan options include a Thai “Chicken” Pizza, Chicken wings, hummus, a Blackened Chicken Torta, and a vegan burger! Almost everything can be made vegan on the menu, just double check with the servers about condiments. I was accompanied by omnivores who were floored by how much of the chicken wings tasted like chicken! I ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizza as an entree (and brought a jar of V-Grits Mozzarella for them to top it with) while others ordered the non-vegan version, and even the servers had to double check which pizza was free of animal products! I was ecstatic to see a classic sports bar making some vegan gains! Way to set the bar for the rest of them, Yard House! If you ever spot a location or are in the Cincinnati area, I would definitely recommend checking this place out! I’ve been craving those wings ever since!

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Sugning off for the sentient,

Sammi