Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary

On Saturday, Rob and I visited the Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary.  This wonderful place is a haven for rescued animals of all kinds. For more information on who they are and what they do, please visit them at

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a young deer grazing in the meadows.  The folks at the sanctuary say that wildlife feels safe there, too, so they frequently have deer visitors.

Donating 50% of their proceeds to the sanctuary, the Randy Radish was there for the day.

Rob got the vegan Mac & Cheese, and I got the Jackfruit BBQ sandwich.

This 4 year old short hair sheep loved me. (The animal crackers I had in my bag might have helped.) She was born blind, and her mother rejected her.  The farmer didn't want to invest the time needed to bring her to the age of slaughter (for sheep, usually about 4 months) so he dropped her off here.  Now, even though she is blind, she can live a long and happy life!

Rob was entranced by the fowl.  We hope to foster rescued turkeys at our house one day.  Some of the birds didn't want to come close, but others, like the young turkeys, loved to be held and petted.

Quite a few pigs live long happy lives here, Rob was really surprised at how big they were.  My favorite pigs were some youngsters that were just rescued last month!  They were really fond of eachother!

What Vegans Eat: The Angry Baker, Columbus, OH

So, we'd intended on stopping here on our way out to Kansas City, but since we left early, they weren't open when we passed through Columbus.  Luckily, we had to return home, so on our return trip, we stopped in Columbus, OH, for a vegan breakfast that couldn't be beat!

I'd already scoped the menu prior to our visit, so I knew what I wanted!!!  I ordered the Vegan Sausage and Grits, and Rob ordered the Tex Mex Tofu Wrap.  Apparently they also have good vegan options for lunch, but I was set on those grits from the letter G.

While ordering, since we were getting our food to go and rushing back onto the highway (had to get home in time to get the pups from the kennel!), I also ordered one of each of the vegan baked goods they had to take home & try.

We ate the Vegan Trail Mix Cookie later that afternoon- it was nice, lots of nuts, seeds, and berries!  Not too sweet- it tasted healthy, but not dry.  Very yummy in my book, that's what I want a cookie to be.

I finally ate my Vegan Mixed Berry Muffin yesterday morning for breakfast, and after 6 days of being in a paper bag in the fridge- it was still delicious!

After I ordered the muffin and cookie, I asked the gal at the counter if there were any vegan goodies I was missing- she pointed out the brownies, which she highly recommended!  I shared the brownie a few days later with Mia, and we both agreed that it was worth the recommendation.  

This is a small cafe- with a bar and a few tables, but a nice patio out back.  I loved that they also offered soy milk for their coffee, and had vegan options clearly marked.

Here's what my Vegan Sausage and Grits looked like- Yum.  The sausage was a seitan base.  There were vegan deviled "eggs" which were a little odd, but fun to contemplate.  Their grits were fantastic, I think they mixed a little nutritional yeast into them, which gave them a cheesy flavor.  The chives and hot sauce on top were a really nice touch.

What Vegans Eat: Cafe Gratitude in Kansas City

After our Brewery tour at Boulevard in Kansas City, we went to get some lunch.  Since I was the Designated Driver, and token Vegan, I got to choose the restaurant.  We were headed somewhere different, when I recognized Lulu's from a previous trip visiting Jeff & Rachel.  I then spotted Cafe Gratitude on the corner, a place I'd heard local vegans raving about, so we peeked in to check it out.

Upon entering, my brother, Tim, announced that it smelled amazing, and we should eat there!  Hooray!  Generally when I'm with the big family, I try to stick to vegan-friendly locations, but Cafe Gratitude is 100% plant based, and with many gluten free and raw options on the menu!

All of the items on the menu have amazing names.  We started with an appetizer- Honoring, which was live nachos with a spicy sunflower pate, guac, salsa, and chives. This was fantastic, and we asked for more crackers. 

My dad really liked the sunflower pate, which came across as very bean-y.  The nacho cheese on top was nut based, and this whole plate was raw.

We each ordered an entree, and then shared tastes all around.
I chose Fabulous, a raw lasagna with olive tapenade and pesto, with mixed greens and served with cashew ricotta cheese. This looked like a lasagna, but tasted like a garden.  The olive tapenade was a little overpowering for some at the table, but I really enjoyed it.  This was also a raw dish.

Rob ordered Yo Soy Feliz, which was two tostadas with black beans, portabella mushrooms, and a very spicy mexican coleslaw that reminded me of kimchee.

Tim ordered Humble, this was my other favorite dish from this restaurant- it was curried lentils, rice, and sweet potatoes, served with sprouts and a coconut mint chutney.  I would eat this dish all winter long. Maybe I need to learn how to make it here before the weather gets cold.

My dad ordered Warm-Hearted, which was polenta served with spaghetti squash- very Italian in flavoring.  Not sure if my dad liked the polenta, though.

Cafe Gratitude also had a wide assortment of desserts- so we each had to pick one!  I knew dinner would be slim pickings, and we'd done a 5k that morning, so didn't mind filling up on lunch!

Rob ordered a raw bar- it was the healthiest dessert with bits of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a bit of dark chocolate- but amazingly tasty.

Not as healthy as Rob's, but I think my favorite of the dessert picks, I ordered the blueberry cake.

My dad ordered a nut butter chocolate ball- it used hazelnuts and almonds, but was almost a healthy tribute to a peanut butter cup.

Tim ordered the Hazelnut cheesecake- this dessert is so popular, it is the only one that they keep on the dessert menu year-round.

All in all, I was so excited to have stumbled on this beautiful little restaurant, and would absolutely return there!  The server was nice, the restaurant clean and homey, the food delicious, and all vegan.  Which means I get to try EVERYONE'S food!  Even yours, if you are there, too.

Vegan eating and family fun in Kansas City

We planned on leaving early Wednesday morning, but ended up leaving Tuesday night and driving through the night.  This meant that a) we were exhausted when we arrived, and b) we got extra Jeff & Rachel time.  If you can't guess, b beats a in a fight any day. Road food included some cherry muffins I made, a stop at Sonic for flavored sodas, and the breakfast of champions: orange juice, a banana, and french fries. We'd planned on stopping for tasty vegan breakfast in Columbus, OH, on the way, but passed by before it was open. (Spoiler alert: we hit it on the way back home!)

Related? Nah....

On Thursday, Jeff, Rachel, Rob & I went out for Thai lunch- I got a  great vegan pad thai, which ended up being just as delicious cold on the way home.  We also stopped by a Natural Grocers to pick up vegan goodies for my stay.  For Thursday evening, when the rest of the fam started to arrive, Jeff cooked out burgers and hot dogs.  He cooked up some vegan burgers and Field Roast sausages for Mia and I (And Rach had one!) Rachel also made me some tasty vegan no-bake cookies, because vegans like cookies, too.

We stayed with Jeff & Rachel while we were there- which was awesome because I could make my own vegan breakfasts- here's what I ate in the AM on our stay: Tofurky breakfast sausage, Ezekiel bread with avocado or Dayia cream cheese (or both) and some coconut water.

Friday, Rob and I toured the Roastarie, the local coffee roasting factory, and drank some lovely coffee.  We then went down the street to check out the Boulevard Brewery, but tours were booked up, so we made plans to return on Saturday. We met the fam for a picnic lunch by the WWI memorial museum (Rob and I got lost- hence the fountain picture- we passed it at least four times). After lunch, Rob and I checked out the Hallmark factory, and then went to the Great Wolf Lodge to play at the water park (or take a nap next to the pool, as you were....)
That evening, we all met at Minsky's Pizza, where they had gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options!  I got a vegan pizza with Daiya cheese & artichoke hearts. YUM.

Saturday, we started off the day by running the Legendary 5k at the T-Bones Stadium.  Lots of fun!  Then Dad, Tim, Rob and I went on the brewery tour, and had lunch at Cafe Gratitude (see forthcoming blog post).  That evening we had our annual theme night at the baseball game.  This year's theme was sandwich ingredients- Mia and Ryan were pretty clever with their shirts.  He was Kevin Bacon, and she was Mia Hamm.