This is the fifth submission (yes, counting mine and Laura’s) to the Vegansaurus June Challenge! I’m so proud! This time it’s Kirstin’s mystery backyard plums! Kirstin writes,
These are the plums that grow on the tree outside our neighbor’s house in the Midwest. I’ve done some urban harvesting before, but the June challenge got me excited about what else might be out there in our college town for ravenous and thrifty vegans to consume! Next on our challenge list: conquering homemade soygurt?
Don’t they look beautiful? Sharing fruit with your neighbors is awesome. It totally makes you feel like part of a community. Oh and Kirstin, if you need tips on making vegan yogurt, we’ve done it!
Please let us know when you take the June new foods Challenge, so we can celebrate your accomplishment with all of Vegansaurus!
Guest post: Finding vegan in the Indianapolis! »
Finding vegan-friendly places to eat in a new city can be a difficult, frustrating affair; though nothing beats sitting on your patio, sharing a home-cooked meal and some family leisure time by the pool, it’s nice to be able to go out for a good meal. I discovered this recently when I moved to Indianapolis, Ind., a city not widely known for its cuisine or vegan-friendliness. Despite its (lack of) reputation, there are many fantastic restaurants in Indianapolis that cater to vegans and non-vegans alike, making them perfect destinations for families whose members have various dietary restrictions. Five of the best I’ve found so far are 3 Sisters Café, Jasmine Thai, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen, Yats, and ‘Za.
Though there are many Thai restaurants in Indianapolis, my favorite by far is Jasmine Thai. Nestled in a shopping plaza on 96th Street and River Road on the North side of Indy, the cozy dining area and friendly staff provide a pleasant atmosphere. Nearly every dish can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and asking for no eggs. Jasmine uses fresh spices and vegetables in all their dishes and will add extra vegetables to any dish for $2, though I found that my Pad Woon-Sen was so jam-packed with veggies that I could scarcely have handled more. If you’re looking for a good, laid-back place to take your family or don’t feel like cooking and are in the mood for some good Thai food, look no further than Jasmine Thai. In addition to being vegan-friendly, it’s a great place to go if you have gluten allergies or celiac disease, because Thai cuisine does not use wheat.
Voted Best Vegetarian/Vegan Option in Nuvo's Best of Indy 2010 awards, Yats is Indy's preeminent Cajun/Creole restaurant chain. With locations in Broad Ripple, downtown, Fishers, and Greenwood, it's easy to find an accessible spot. The menus at each location rotate daily, so it's best to ask which items are vegan, though dishes like succotash are on the menu more often than not. Each dish comes with buttered bread, so letting the staff know that you're seeking a vegan option is recommended. Yats is a great restaurant to take a family if you're looking for a fast-paced, colorful night out. Also, the Broad Ripple location is just half a mile from Cantebury Park, making it a great place to bring take-out and spend some time with your children.
Santorini’s Greek Kitchen
Located in Fountain Square in central Indianapolis, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen is a family-owned authentic Greek restaurant with several vegan-friendly options, including lahanosalata (cabbage salad), soupa me bizelia (split pea soup) and spanakopita (spinach pie—make sure to ask them to leave out the feta). Popular vegan appetizers include hummus, tzaziki, baba ganoush and Santorini tomato balls. Santorini’s is the most expensive of these three restaurants, with appetizers costing around $7 and main dishes running between $12 and $18, but the food is fantastic and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. Why not top off an evening out with the family by visiting Santorini’s? The friendly staff and energetic atmosphere will make you feel like you’re at a family reunion with your favorite family members.
Broad Ripple Village, a neighborhood on the north side of Indy, is a treasure trove of fantastic restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find ‘Za Pizzeria, a small late-night pizza joint that makes their dough in-house and uses all fresh ingredients. Their only menu options are pizza and breadsticks, so it’s very, very niche. They have a specialty vegan pizza, the VeganZa, which uses Daiya and a choice of two toppings for $22 for a 14-inch or $28 for an 18-inch pie. The atmosphere is light, with a small dining room painted in a bright orange. It’s not an ideal place to take a large group of people, but they do offer delivery, so you can easily enjoy some ‘Za in the comfort of your home.
Another gem of Broad Ripple, 3 Sisters Café is a family-friendly eatery established in a beautiful old house. With creaky wooden floors and large windows, you’ll feel more like you’re eating at grandma’s than at a restaurant. The food is absolutely amazing. They serve non-vegetarian and vegan dishes, so you’ll have to pay special attention to the menu when you’re ordering, though vegan dishes are marked. Some of the most delectable available are the multigrain porridge, and the black bean burger. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the food and can help you find what you need.
If you know where to go, Indianapolis has a wide variety of fantastic restaurants that are suitable for both vegans and non-vegans, making them ideal places to take mixed groups. If you live or travel in the Indianapolis area, give each of these places a try; they all bring something unique—and delicious—to the table.
Joe Baker is a health fanatic who hates anything processed. His hobbies include adventure racing, Krav Maga, and horseback riding. Eating right makes these possible, so do it.
[“View of Indianapolis” by Edward Sachse, 1854, via Yale Digital Commons]
Beer-battered tofu with vegan buttermilk ranch dressing from Meagen of Vegan Food Addict! These are AMAZING, right? Did you want her recipe? Because it’s here! I am in awe of these things, they look so good.
Meagen will compete in the Chicago Vegan Chef Showdown on Saturday, which you should definitely attend if you’re in the area. This event is FREE and ALL-AGES at the Funky Buddha Lounge (728 West Grand Ave.) from 3 to 7 p.m. and is co-sponsored by Mercy For Animals and Upton’s Naturals. Seitan! Chicago! At a bar so you can buy booze! If Chicago in July weren’t like literal hell on earth, I’d be totally envious of you guys. Hey maybe you want to show your support for the Vegan Food Addict with one of her vegan Cafepress designs?
Good luck, Meagen! Have fun, Chicago!
Guest post: Vegan Cookie Connoisseur Kelly Peloza goes to Mad City Vegan Fest! »
The first-ever Mad City Vegan Fest was held last month in Madison, Wis., and I was lucky enough to be there doing a baking demo and speech. Over 1,300 people attended, and there were so many fantastic, inspiring presenters: Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House spoke about food activism; Terry Romero made chipotle seitan potato tacos; Kenny Torella of Mercy For Animals spoke about everyday compassion; and there was a nutrition talk, yoga session, and raw food demo! There were lines wrapping around the exhibitor room full of people eager to get their hands on lunch from local Midwest vegan food vendors like Dandelion Food Cart (I got a breakfast-y tofu ciabatta sandwich and it was yumz), Ste Martaen Vegan Food Truck, and a whole host of tables offering samples. A smashing success, and everyone was extremely friendly and super awesome.
It gets even better! There were Vegansaurus Happy Veggie Kids at the vegan fest! My friend Marla of Chicago VeganMania was there with Justice. Then I recognized Ayame, who sat in the front row at my demo and volunteered to be one of my cookie-decorators. I clearly need to be best friends with more eight-year-olds because Ayame said she loves cookies and bunnies, and OMG me too! I went vegan when I was 14 and grew up very much involved in the vegan community, and it’s wonderful to see these awesome vegan kids being a part of such a wonderful community at such a young age!
For my demo, I talked about cookbook-writing and the greatness of microplane zesters, then made Shirley Temple Cookies. They are a delicate, shortbread-like citrus cookie topped with cherry grenadine frosting, garnished with a cherry, candy straws, and a cocktail umbrella—just like the drink. Get the recipe here.
Sandi and Ayame and I piped frosting and garnished the cookies with all sorts of fun stuff. The audience also got samples of Chocolate Peppermint Cream Bars (such a summery recipe, I know!) and Hypnosis Cookie Lollipops. Jasmin commented that my dress matched the cookies—when you spend all your time making cookies, at some point desserts become your (subconscious) fashion inspiration. The demo went smoothly and everyone was gobbling up cookies by the end of it!
The after-party was held at High Noon Saloon, with pizza and cupcakes galore (the only food groups you’ll ever need)! My friend Jessica of Compassionate Cake baked a huge selection of GORGEOUS cupcakes, in flavors like Chile Chocolate, Death by Chocolate, and Maple Vegan Bacon, topped with intricate fondant and chocolate sculptures. I had met Jessica a few days prior to the event, after seeing her cupcakes and deciding we needed to be friends immediately. She is just starting her catering business and she’s an amazing lady. Just look at these cupcakes!
I always go home happy and inspired from vegan fests and other events, and Mad City was no exception (well, 8 a.m. class the next day was kind of a drag). I met so many wonderful people, saw some good friends, and made new ones. Go get your vegan fest on in a city near you, or get involved with starting one! Something about putting hundreds of like-minded people with great ideas and enthusiasm all in one place all day makes awesome things happen!
Kelly Peloza is the author of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which is great. Find her at The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and Seitan Beats Your Meat online, or all over the place in real life! Thanks for the post, Kelly!