Top 5: Vegan Musikfest Food 2016

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For a list of even MORE vendors, take a peek at our 2014  Vegan Musikfest post, with a  walk-through of the entire fest. Most vendors are still here in 2016!

>>Vegan Guide to Musikfest 2014<<

And for more Lehigh Valley + Eastern PA vegan things, check out:

Top 5 Vegan Musikfest Foods 2016

1 . VEGAN TACOS – Ticas Tacos, near Volksplatz, North Side

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Hello, lover. Unofficially touted as “The Best Food of Musikfest 2016” by vegans and non-vegans alike, if you only get one stop, make it Ticas Tacos. This is fresh, thoughtful food with a ton of flavor. The standard vegan taco comes with: black beans, hominy, sweet plantain, pickled red onion, pineapple pico, and chipotle vinaigrette. Order one or ten, sold individually at 4 Tickets ($4) each.

Order Tip: Can also be made into a large BURRITO. Or ask for vegan “loaded fries”.

2. KIMCHI REUBEN (vegan) – Bees Knees Grille, near Volksplatz, North Side


Marbled rye toasted in coconut oil, hugging spicy small-batch kimchi, tempeh, melted vegan cheese and a little vegenaise for added creaminess. Served warm, sloppy, and delicious. This is an average size sandwich (not HUMONGOUS like much of the Musikfest food), but it’s delightfully messy and most importantly, quite tasty. A great meal that won’t leave you so full you can’t eat something else later. More snacks > less snacks, yeah?

Order Tip: Ask for it made vegan! They have dairy cheese, too, so be specific. 

3. CHOCOLATE DIPPED CHEESECAKE – Zuzu Confectionary, near Volksplatz, North Side

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This is a yummy slice of vegan cheesecake on a stick, dipped in dark chocolate, with options for added toppings like sprinkles or peanuts. Cheesecake is made by the talented and lovely Sweet Doe Bakery, so obvs. it’s delicious! This stand has a ton of vegan options, though, so check out the gourmet popsicles if you’re not feelin’ creamy chocolate on a piece of wood.

Order Tip: You can order with or without chocolate and extra topics are $1.

4. AW SHUCKS CORN – North + South Sides, Multiple Stands

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Leave it to a bunch of folks in Pennsylvania to be ENTHRALLED with corn. Eating this (and anticipating it for a year) is a ‘Fest rite of passage. This typically smothered-in-dairy snack is easily made vegan if you ask for it. Go see what all the fuss is about, and prepare to see more social media comments on your photos of CORN than photos of your children.

Order tip: No butter, no cheese. The other spice is vegan!

5. ISLAND NOODLES – North + South Sides, Multiple Stands


Carby thick noodles and veggies all stir fried together in a massive wok, with lots of sriracha on the condiment bar. Add as much as you want (all of it?). These are easily accessible no matter where you are inside the ‘Fest. They travel well if you need to use up food tickets, as the cardboard container folds up and closes for a BONUS SNACK later.

Order tip: Veggie with no meat.



I don’t have photos, and anything with a “*” means it should be vegan but haven’t asked them personally, so just check in. Let us know if you find out, mmkay?

South side Mentions!

  • CHIPS & GUAC – Cactus Blue, near Steelstacks by Americaplatz/Levitt Pavillion
  • *CHICKPEA POPCORN – Fud Truck, on street by Americaplatz/Levitt Pavillion

North Side Mentions!

  • SAMOSA EMPANADAS –  Viva Empanada, Plaza Tropical
  • FROZEN APPLE CIDER – Sweet Granny’s Kettle Corn, near Volksplatz
  • *SMOOTHIE IN A PINEAPPLE – Island Expressions,  Festplatz

Remember to check out:

More updates will be made as Musikfest continues, so check back!

Thanks to the Artsquest Marketing department for being so darn nice, and helping me scope out the vendor list. I hope you get to treat yourselves to some tacos.




vegan musikfest.jpg   Disclaimer: Before we get into the best places to spend your food tickets at Musikfest 2014, I need to mention that this is meant to be helpful and fun. But PLEASE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your food – it never hurts to double check if cheese comes on a sandwich, or if a sauce is dairy-based. If someone puts ranch dressing all over your portobello wrap, please don’t be a jerk and write me an angry email about how I’m misleading the masses and my work is a sham and I’m the World’s Worst Vegan (if you do, it will promptly be deleted). Okie dokie?

That said, if you have any tips about how to order something, or found food worth mentioning, please let me know! As of now I haven’t eaten everything listed and made notes where needed, but I’ll continue to update this post as I make my way through the end of the ‘Fest. Your help and info is appreciated.

Likewise, if you take any photos of your food, send them to me and I’ll post them! You can find me here:

twitter | instagram| facebook

*Twitter is best, and I’ll be using hashtag: #veganmusikfest

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This list goes in geographical order, starting at the corner of Main + Broad Streets, down Main St., down the walkway behind the Hotel Bethlehem to the bottom (near Volksplatz), past Festplatz  and Plaza Tropical (moving toward Sand Island), over the bridge to the Southside and following 1st Street to Steelstacks (Main Stage and Americaplatz). You can get a map here, or download the Musikfest app which is GREAT and very helpful.

This list focuses on the things I think are most worthy of your Musikfest tickets, and does not include items you can easily find all over the Fest, like french fries, slushies, fresh lemonade, portobello wraps, and grilled veggies in various forms (wraps, sandwiches).

 STATIONS CAFE: Main Street next to the Brew WorksA small cart with handmade soft pretzels from their larger storefront (right behind the cart, which does offer vegan options on a regular basis). These may be the most delicious soft pretzels you’ll ever have, as they are made with coconut oil. Sometimes they have pretzels with fresh baked jalapeno slices on top. Carb heaven.

Soft pretzels made with coconut oil.

STATIONS CAFE: Soft pretzels made with coconut oil.


MEDITERRANEAN PLATTER STAND (?): Bottom of the hill near VolksplatzFalafel, hummus, tabouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and variations of all of the above sold in pita sandwich or platter form. *Make sure stuffed grape leaves are without meat. Order without tzatziki sauce.

MEDITERRANEAN PLATTERS: Hummus, Tabouleh, Falafel, Grape Leaves

MEDITERRANEAN PLATTERS: Hummus, Tabouleh, Falafel, Grape Leaves

BEES KNEES GRILL: Bottom of the hill near VolkzplatzOH MY GOSH! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE. Hot sandwiches with fresh ingredients, including a TEMPEH + KIMCHI REUBEN with vegan cheese. Also vegan mozzarella, pesto, tempeh, arugula, avocado, & tomato on rye bread. They toast them using coconut oil instead of butter.

*Plus we want to give a big internet/real life hug to these folks who saw the need for more vegan options THANKS TO ALL OF US (high five!) and came up with awesome vegan versions of their sandwiches. Go here. Go here. Go here.

BEES KNEES: Tempeh and avocados and arugula.

BEES KNEES: Tempeh and avocados and arugula.

Vegan grilled cheeses from Bees Knees Grill. Messy and delicious.

Vegan grilled cheeses from BEES KNEES GRILL. Messy and delicious.


CACTUS BLUE MEXICAN: Near Volkzplatz – Their beans and rice are vegan, and they are happy to make vegan versions of burritos, tacos, salads, or chips + salsa and/or guac. The guacamole is DELICIOUS and you can score fresh chips + a huge pile of guac for $6/6tickets. They have “walking tacos” which are deconstructed tacos in a to-go container. Tasty and filling. Friendly locals.  (Also a Southside location.)

CACTUS BLUE: North and South sides. Tacos, beans and rice, lots of guacamole.

CACTUS BLUE: North and South sides. Tacos, beans and rice, lots of guacamole.

ZUZU CONFECTIONERY: Near Volkzplatz Gourmet popsicles that are vegan, nut, and soy free. Flavors include Pineapple Basil, Orange Coconut and Chocolate Sea Salt, among others. An upscale and more budget-friendly treat.

ZUZUS CONFECTIONERY: Gourmet allergy-friendly popsicles

ZUZUS CONFECTIONERY: Gourmet allergy-friendly popsicles

ISLAND NOODLES: Bottom of the hill behind Hotel Bethlehem – The ol’ standby. These are vegan soba noodles stir-fried in a huge wok with fresh veggies. The condiment table includes bottles of sriracha, so load up. (Also a Southside booth.)

ISLAND NOODLES: Stir-fried soba noodles with veggies

ISLAND NOODLES: Stir-fried soba noodles with veggies


SPIRAL FRIED POTATO, somewhere, not sure where: Erin sent us this picture of a whole potato cut into an edible slinky then fried and covered in spices. I’ll be on the lookout for this to find the location, but in the meantime, it exists!

Somewhere in Musikfest you can get a fried slinky potato

Somewhere in Musikfest you can get a fried slinky potato

CASA DE JORGE SALSA (“THE SALSA GUY”): In Handwerkplatz, the section for crafters and makers, behind the Hotel Bethlehem – Not a food vendor, per se, but George is a nice local guy and makes unique varieties of salsa. He was happy to tell me he stopped using honey and now uses agave for sweetener, so nearly all flavors are vegan. You can sample his salsas and buy several to take home. If you’re up for a challenge, try his infamous “Stupid Hot” salsa and he’ll take a picture of your face as you regret your decision and put it on the Facebook page. Bonus: say hello to CHLOE THE SALSA DOG! 

CASA DE JORGE: "The Salsa Guy" locally-made salsas, and you can pet a dog

CASA DE JORGE: “The Salsa Guy” locally-made salsas, and you can pet a dog

BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Near Plaza Tropical – A decent selection of locally made flavored ice. Imagine a cross between Rita’s water ice and sherbet. Nothing fancy, but it’s tasty and refreshing and a good option for kids.

BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Locally-made flavored ice

BETHLEHEM DAIRY STORE: Locally-made flavored ice

Rodale’s Mack Truck Cafe: At Steelstacks at the Levitt Pavilion/Americaplatz – Organic + local, Rodale operates this space YEAR ROUND for Levitt Pavilion shows, and Musikfest. The best choices are the veggie wrap with tofu, and the handcut sweet potato fries.

RODALE: Veggie tofu wrap and handcut organic sweet potato fries

RODALE: Veggie tofu wrap and handcut organic sweet potato fries

*CACTUS BLUE and ISLAND NOODLES (see above) also have second locations at Steelstacks on the Southside.

.     .     .     .     .

Not part of Musikfest, but worth mentioning:

THE JOINT is a coffee shop on North Side, just off Main Street in the Sun Inn Courtyard/Leiderplatz, that serves great coffee and has almond milk and usually a vegan soup and/or sandwich of the day, like a tofu bahn mi or chickpea salad (info on Facebook). During Musikfest they are serving up roasted chickpeas, and tater tots with a bunch of locally-made hot sauces, $2/each. Great people, vegan-friendly, much love.

THE JOINT CAFE: Vegan sandwiches, great coffee, roasted chickpeas for $2

THE JOINT CAFE: Vegan sandwiches, great coffee, roasted chickpeas for $2


SHANKARA is an all-vegan organic juice bar and eatery on the Southside a few minute walk from Steelstacks if you’re in need of health-focused and always delicious fusion food. You can get fresh juices, intensely creative organic meals, and Sunday Brunch. If you’re having dinner, reservations are recommended. (Call or text: 484.330.6405) Always-updated info on the Shankara Facebook Page. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you order, it’ll be amazing.

SHANKARA: All-vegan all the time. Organic juice bar and fusion food.

SHANKARA: All-vegan all the time. Organic juice bar and fusion food.

Remember, I’d love to see your photos or hear your recommendations. I can update the list all week.

 Use hashtag #veganmusikfest 

Happy Festing, eat well!    xo Jaime K

STK Guide to MUSIKFEST 2011: Bethlehem is a Giant Free Concert for 10 Days

Hello, one million people.

For those of you living outside the Lehigh Valley, here’s the thing: My little town of Bethlehem, PA becomes a MASSIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL every August. It’s 10 days long, (mostly) free performances, has over 10 stages (called “platzes”), food and art vendors everywhere, AND for those of you who imbibe now and again, you can drink beer, wine and alcohol in the streets.

If you live downtown (I do), you can gripe about finding parking in front of your house and how annoying the mobs of teenagers are. Or you can shift your perspective and take advantage of the fact that you get to see free live music from across the country (and the world, in some cases) and join the party!

 It’s true that I’m not familiar with 90% of the bands. But to help you out, I’ve poked around online to find some highlights. Not sure if you’ll like them – I’ve been into jazz and bluegrassy/old-timey stuff in the last year – but if you are wandering among the masses, here’s a guide to what musicians sparked my interest the most. EVERY ONE of these performances is FREE!

*NOTE: Please grab a Musikfest guide or check the website for platz locations. Also, check out the bands yourself online since it’s a lot of work to come up with descriptions of them. All are intriguing, but the bands/musicians in bold are REALLY FANTASTIC! Like, I’m sort of mad that I didn’t know about them earlier. Or, if you don’t go you are missing out and you can’t ever complain about Musikfest.


  • 6pm: Frankenpine; Main Street Bethlehem
  • 7pm and 8:30pm: Sarah Donner (opened for Lisa Loeb last week); Air Products Town Square (Steelstacks)
  • 9pm Deigo’s Umbrella


  • 2:30pm Moonshine Society; Plaza Tropical
  • 5:30pm Love in Stolkholm; Levitt Pavilion (Steelstacks)
  • 6pm Great White Caps; Plaza Tropical
  • 7pm Trouble City All Stars; Volksplatz
  • 7pm Dina Hall and the Backbeat; DBA Liederplatz
  • 10:30pm Jim Tews – StandUp Comedy; Musikfest Cafe (Steelstacks) Comedy not free, but worth it


  • 3:30pm Freak Owls; Main Street Bethlehem (ALSO 8pm; Lyrikplatz)
  • 5:30pm Parkington Sisters; DBA Leiderplatz
  • 7pm The Headers: DBA Leiderplatz
  • 10:30pm Panic Years; Air Products Town Square (Steelstacks)


  • 5pm blueVENUS; DBA Main Street
  • 6pm Bellflur; Plaza Tropical
  • 9pm The Low Anthem; Levitt Pavilion (Steelstacks)


  • 7:30pm Cheers Elephant; Plaza Tropical
  • 9pm: Sweetback Sisters; Leiderplatz


  • 5pm Joshua Popejoy; Leiderplatz
  • 5pm Massy Ferguson; Main Street Bethlehem


  • 5pm Daisy Jug Band; Volksplatz
  • 6:30pm Cello Fury; Air Products Town Square (ALSO at 8pm, same place)
  • 7pm Trailer Park Troubadors; Volksplatz
  • 10:30pm The Big Dirty
  • 10:30pm Pat House – StandUp Comedy; Musikfest Cafe (Steelstacks) Not free but GO IF YOU CAN, HE IS SO GOOD


  • 1:30pm Float Parade: Volksplatz
  • 5pm Exter vs. Kimock; Main Street Bethlehem
  • 6:30pm Lunic; Air Products Town Square (ALSO at 8:30pm, same place)
  • 9pm Brother Joscephus & the Love Revival Revolution

Please check out the girl in this video the Love Revival Revolution – oh my gosh!!!


  • NOON Bronze Radio Return; Plaza Tropical (ALSO at 5:30pm)
  • 5pm Rosie Burgess Trio; Leiderplatz (also at NOON, Main Street Bethlehem)
  • 9pm Start Making Sense; Volksplatz TALKING HEADS TRIBUTE, OH MY GOSH AMAZING AND LOCAL!!!!
  • 10:30pm Chip Chantry – StandUp Comedy; Musikfest Cafe (Steelstacks) Paid show


  • NOON Kagero; Main Street Bethlehem
  • 5pm Zaire; Main Street Bethlehem
  • 9pm Up the Chain; Lyrikplatz

I’m going to work on a guide to vegan food once I get there and check it out. PLEASE let me know if you have any tips on vegan food, and photos would be great, too! You can post them on FACEBOOK and I’ll add them to a blog post!

(LIVE)LOCAL AND VEGAN: Community Events and Black Forest Deli!

Check out Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on facebook for more photos of this fun night!

If you are, or know, a local restauranteur – please understand that while veg folks don’t make up the majority of the  population, there are a lot of us. And there are a lot of folks that eat options that happen to be vegetarian or vegan if they are offered.

Also, veg*ns talk about food A LOT. A LOT. All the time. And when it’s discovered that there is a local place with tasty, veg food, word spreads fast and people will flock.

Which is why I, quite frankly, lost my head when I heard that the pierogies at Black Forest Deli were VEGAN.

If you’re new to the blog, let me explain: Pierogies have always been a staple in my life. They are my  number one nostalgic “comfort food”. As local lore has it, my favorite dream was when I was trapped inside a giant pierogi and had to eat my way out. My cat is named “Pierogi”.  I have a great deal of deep-rooted love for those little potato pockets of bliss.

Last week, Alison and I were working the livelocal* table for an event, and got some of the tasty Black Forst Deli creations for dinner, pierogies included!

Pierogies from Black Forest Deli! Potato, Sauerkraut, and CHERRY! Hearts aflutter!

Hello, I'm Jaime K and I'm the HAPPIEST LADY IN THE LAND!

We also got some delicious borsch which we ate later that evening around a fire in my yard, all cozied up in borrowed hoodies and life philosophies. And THIS wonderful salad. Vica (“Vee-kah”) the owner just piled a bunch of delicious veggies and herbs on top of each other, AND included avocado for bonus points.

I ate this and turned into Wonder Woman.

 The great thing about Bethlehem is that you hardly ever hear of competitive attitudes, even among folks in the same businesses. Everyone just seems so happy to live in a place that has an always-increasing community vibe!

When folks came to our livelocal* table to buy a raffle ticket (for $2 you can win AWESOME prizes – seriously awesome, like a free night in a B&B, a helicopter ride around the LV, a Save the Kales! gift card, etc etc etc…) they got to try a sample of some of my food! I had nothing left by the night’s end!

Thumbs up, George and Kelly!

Save the Kales! pizza is healthy and kid-friendly!

Seriously, LOOK at that face.

Surprise visit from this handsome fellow!

Aside from running a great deli with tasty and healthy food, Vica also began a networking group for small business owners in the Lehigh Valley. Earlier this week, we met at Sophistikate to get to know one another. Everyone has been a wealth of information for a new business lady like myself.

Sophistikate hosts Small Business Owners meeting.

More photos under the cut!

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HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to the Cupcake of My Eye!

I hope you’ll understand today’s shift away from the usual subject of this blog. It’s a very important day and I wish I could announce it to the whole world  – I haven’t figured out how to do that (yet) so allow me to do it here…

Happy 30th Birthday, Ryan Hill!

You are the biggest goofball, the best secret-listener, the most comfortable piece of furniture. You push me to become better every day on my own, but never without the knowledge that you are always supportive the person I become. You make me daydream when I should be working, you make me laugh when I get too worried about all the things that life is not… Cause what it IS, my dear, is fun and amazing and new every day I get to spend it with you.

You have shown me, over and over again, the meaning of unconditional love.  You have been by my side when others would have run away and never looked back. You have supported me in countless ways when I had given up on myself. You have literally dropped everything and come to me when I needed someone, no questions asked.

Thirty years have given me the best man I’ve ever known.You are my whole heart, and my very best friend. I love you to the moon and back.

Happy Birthday, my love!

“I read once that the ancient Egyptians had fifty words for sand & the Eskimos had a hundred words for snow. I wish I had a thousand words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep & there are no words for that.”
– Brian Andreas

(Extra-thanks to our pal Brent for coming by my house this weekend with double-birthday presents of Champagne and fancy schmany glasses for it, and 3 little birthday cakes from Vegan Treats. I’ve never been so happy to have my cake stare back at me!

Thank you, friend! Please excuse the books in the fireplace – a cruel joke, I know – I’m working on the bookshelf situation this weekend.)

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You Can Do It! (We Did It!)

Last weekend was the sort of weekend that encourages and supports exactly where you are in life.

I remember meeting with Alison (photographer for WINK Pinup and Magazine, and owner Eskandalo! salon) a few months ago and wanting to plan this cool event for local artists and businesses with an eco-friendly theme. What started with a tote bag became an all-day fun festival with live music, awesome vendors, and community building at the most basic level.

(Thank you so much to Alex for this candid shot of me at my booth! I took pictures of everything but my own table, sheesh!)

The day before I was running around to health food stores and the restaurant supply store for ingredients and take-out containers. I was a woman on a mission, staying up so late on Friday night to make sure my food would taste as delicious as possible.

Once everyone got their booths set up and people came and walked around, my heart felt so full to know that we did this. We created this event, this day. I looked around and saw the smiles on the faces of everyone, friends and neighbors, and it reminded  me just how powerful all of us are in the creation of our own lives.

As for  my food, the biggest compliment came from the people that said “Wow – I have hated tofu every time I tried it, but this is awesome!”, or the people who didn’t believe you could make something decadent without the use of dairy and meat but are now believers! Everyone was so friendly, kind and wonderful. At the end of the day, I had next to nothing left!

That night, I had another dream in which I clearly visualized the future of Save the Kales! A gorgeous restaurant/cafe, a space in the back for cooking classes, an office for nutrition consulting… While I don’t know where I’ll end up, or how my plans will play out, last weekend gave me nudge to keep moving forward with optimism and seizing all opportunities.

The biggest, most heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who came out that day. It means so much to me, personally, even if I never met you before!

Now that my new house is just about in order, I’m going to pick a date for the next cooking class soon! I hope you’ll attend. Til then, enjoy some photos from the weekend:

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce (stuffed w/ tofu, walnuts, sage, cranberries, other yummy things)

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STK Weekend Tour 2010

And by tour, of course, I mean STK is going to be all over the Lehigh Valley this weekend, serving food and smiles. If you’re in the Lehigh Valley area, stop by!

Saturday is a huge all-day event in downtown Bethlehem. Officially titled “Loop-a-palooza”, Bethlehem’s North and Southsides are throwing a huge celebration. You can buy tickets for $15 that give you all day access to the Loop buses than run between both sides of town, and stop at 10 stops for activities, food, sales, and live music. (Included in that price is a beer mug that you get to cart around town and drink up!)

Go Green Town is one of the stops, and this is a conglomeration of eco-friendly local businesses. We’ll have local designers, silkscreeners, mosaic artists, vintage clothes sales, plus some GREAT, GREAT bands!

I’ll be selling some snacks and treats from a Save the Kales! table, where you can also pick up some the new promotional postcards/recipe cards. (Can I call them collectible? That’s fun. Collect them all! Yay!)

And if you’ve ever said “I love your clothes, where do you get them?”, now is your chance to take some off my hands. I’ll also be selling clothes, shoes, books, etc… so PLEASE stop by!

You can also pick up one of these adorable and sturdy totes, made specifically for the event. Designed by a local artist, printed on recycled canvas by a local silkscreen shop, and supported by Southside Businesses, for only $3 show Bethlehem some love.

Sunday, there’s an event in downtown Allentown for a new local theater company started by some dear friends. I am so proud of them and am honored I get to bring food to share in the celebration. I love these living examples of people that started with an idea and then made it happen. YES!

I can’t wait to see you this weekend!

You Always End Up in the City.

After my week in the hospital I can conclude that looking out windows at the sunshine is not nearly the same as feeling it on your skin. Not at all. I could almost feel the vitamin D seep out of my body.

On Saturday, to celebrate FREEDOM!!! my boyfriend and I hopped a train to NYC. (The great thing about this part of Pennsylvania is that so many towns and cities are just a short drive away. Spontaneous road trips are so easy.)

As we got closer, I felt like we were traveling to Mecca, as our first stop was… the CB2 NY store. The CB2 catalogues are lustworthy for any urbanite looking for affordable modern pieces (think the beauty of the Anthropologie catalogues but for sleek furniture). I learned how to render (fancy word for “color”) my interior design projects by using the textures and colors of their stuff as inspiration. I’m pretty sure walking in was less walking and more, I don’t know, skipping?

Inside, I died of joy four thousand times and sat on every single chair/sofa, touched every bowl/comforter, and nearly hugged the sales team. My boyfriend took multiple photos of the event – nay, Event! with a capital E – but they all came out blurry and weird, like when people claim to capture angels on film and it’s a distortion that doesn’t come close to the real thing. Anyway, mmmm sofas.

We ate lunch at Red Bamboo, and I found it oddly refreshing that the prices were completely moderate (dare I say, cheap?) and we were so full halfway through our entrees that we didn’t even get food the rest of the day, despite walking miles and miles all over the city.

Ryan got the Red Bamboo club sandwich, a glorious combination of a thick slice of marinated tofu, the best seitan bacon ever, and some tasty condiments.

I got the filet of “fish” sandwich. Three words: vegan tartar sauce. Sometimes a simple condiment gives me a memory or throwback to a meal I enjoyed when I still ate meat. (Also, why have I never made this? Veganaise and relish for crying out loud! So easy!) The lemon on the “fish” was a little overpowering, but the melty vegan cheese and sheer novelty of tasting flavors I haven’t had in a while was FUN. Eating is fun, isn’t it?

But... but but but. The appetizer was what really did me in. I nearly had my own version of the famous Meg Ryan orgasm-in-the-deli scene, except not faking it. Behold… Vegan Coconut Almond Chicken.

I have attempted to write about it’s glorious flavors, the crispy panko texture, the way the succulent faux-chicken breaks apart in your mouth.. but there are no words. Just behold it’s beauty. And promise yourself you’ll order this if you ever find yourself in NYC. Then save some for me.

The rest of the day included free jazz in Prospect Park, trying (and failing) to gain the right footing when I had to stand on the subway, and marveling at all the cool stuff in boxes marked FREE outside of apartments. Also, we went to a bar in which EVERY SINGLE GUY – I am not exaggerating – had a moustache.

And in New York, every single girl has these sandals.

It’s good to be living life again. I feel like I have a second chance. Maybe at this point a fourth, fifth. I want to continue to spend it learning constantly, letting optimism drive me, leaving the past neatly tucked away and actively making my life every day moving forward.

Guess what? You can do the same thing. And you don’t even have to go to New York.

Coffee Lust – Good or Bad?

The day after my computer broke, my hand-eye coordination also broke and I chopped off the end of my thumb while making lunch. I’ll spare you the gory details (keyword: gory) and just let you know that it’s healing well! Thanks for the concern.

(For added fun, be sure to ask where I found the chopped-off part once I got home from the hospital! OR DON’T.)

Life is full of contradictions. Something that comes up in my research and general reading all the time is the subject of coffee. Not the fair trade VS free trade, shade grown or not, etc… stuff – though there is a lot to be said for all of that, too. But rather, an admission:

I’m still not sure if coffee is good for bad for you.

Talk to anyone and they are bound to have some information, or at the very least, an opinion one way or the other. I’ll tell you that I like coffee a lot and drink it almost every day, not because I “need my coffee or I just can’t function” – but for the ritual of it, the flavor, and the occasional caffeine jolt. That’s not to say that sometimes coffee hasn’t made me feel absolutely lousy, too, leaving me dehydrated or jittery when having consumed too much.

In my attempt to be unbaised, I present some of the most common arguments for/against coffee consumption:

Why Some Say Coffee is Bad for Health: Caffeine is a mild addictive stimulant. Coffee can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Can irritate the stomach and bowels. Caffeine crash. Some research shows that coffee can slow calcium absorption.

More Fun: Why Many Believe Coffee Has Health Benefits: Some studies show drinking coffee could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, Type 2 Diabetes, colon cancer, asthma, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. Full of antioxidants. Anti-aging benefits.

If you do the research, you’ll find many reputable health facilities and doctors claiming that the benefits of coffee far outweigh the cons. But remember – everything in moderation. One or two cups of coffee may be okay, but having seven will not be better (and my stomach hurts at the thought of it!).

It’s important to remember that the coffee I’m talking about here is NOT a caramel latte or loaded with cream and sugar. If you must use a sweetener, choose something natural (like agave or stevia) and use in moderation.

Check out this cute blog, The Coffee Bump, for little facts and features about coffee, including articles about how coffee supports health!

Pink Dress and Pretty Cake: VEGAN WEDDING special!

Every Monday for the past few weeks, Facebook has seen a barrage of wedding photos from the weekend. It’s been very adorable to see so many dear friends celebrating their Wedding Days in unique and personal ways. (And, I admit through gritted teeth, it makes me want to start to plan my own huge celebration party!)

This brings me to Kate. Kate is a Save the Kales! reader and recently married her super cute now-husband, Aaron (who have both started a non-profit called the Animal Awareness Project – read on to learn more!) The photos of this beautiful couple prompted me to ask Kate more about their wedding, only to learn so much useful and inspiring information about not just wedding planning, but incorporating your values into all you do.

Read on to see the interview with Kate about the occasional stresses but mostly joys of throwing an all-vegan wedding.

Did you ever consider having a wedding that wasn’t vegan? A lot of people may feel that they are putting their guests out by doing this. How did you overcome that feeling, or did you ever have it?

We knew from the moment we got engaged that we would have a vegan wedding no matter what. We did not for one second want to compromise our ethics or beliefs and we saw it as a great way to show our family and friends how amazing vegan food is, and how easy it is to do. My dad was worried at first that some people would not like the food and he constantly tried to convince us to have one meat dish. But we did not compromise, and all the guests were really impressed with the food.

Did you face obstacles planning your vegan wedding? Was it difficult to find businesses that supported your ethics? Can you offer readers any tips?

We really lucked out with planning. We held our event at a Green Wedding facility called the Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. They encouraged us to do a vegan wedding because that would make for the “greenest” wedding they had ever had there. Basically I would recommend that people search the internet like we did, and go meet with and sample the possible food options. We were really impressed by everyone who played a part.

Tell me more about the reception and the Irvine Nature Center.

It was easy to have the ceremony and reception in one place and it was so beautiful there. We wanted a place that was outdoors and brought us and our guests in close contact with the natural world. We were able to have a ceremony in the woods over-looking a beautiful valley, hear birds, have a bonfire, and be surrounded by flowers and trees. It was a beautiful place and when we first visited we felt it was magical.

Okay, the food. Let’s talk about the food. Where did it come from, and what did you serve? Who made the wedding cake?

The food, oh the food. It was amazing. We went with a catering company who offers many vegan and even raw vegan options. Zia’s Cafe/Catering of Towson Maryland. They were amazing! Some of the yummy items were: Raw Spring rolls with peanut ginger sauce, raw vegan pizza, raw vegan pineapple and cucumber shooters, vegan Portobello and polenta Napoleons made with Daiya vegan cheese, asian ginger string beans, vegan butternut squash lasagna with vegan bechamel sauce, drunken strawberries, spinach risotto, herbed dinner rolls, tempeh chick’un skewars with peanut sauce and balsamic lentil and beet salad.

We had so many non vegans saying how much they loved the food and how impressed they were. It was so yummy. We did some food items at our cocktail hour, and the rest was done buffet style.

The wedding cake was made by an All Vegan bakery based in Baltimore city called Brunie’s Bakery. Tamara, the owner and baker made us an amazing cake called “Spring Time Divine”. It was layers of yellow cake with lemon and raspberry curd. She also made us a separate sheet cake that was a vegan red velvet cake.

There was no cake left at the end of the night. It was so good, that the non vegans kept asking how she did it. 🙂

What other vegan or eco-friendly components went into the wedding? (Did you have invitations on recycled paper, did you ask guests to contribute to a nonprofit, etc..)
As a favor for our guests we gave little thank you jars with vegan mints inside. We also sent out a limited amount of paper invites which we made ourselves on recycled paper. The rest of the announcements we did through the internet to save paper.
In Lieu of presents we asked our guests to make a donation to our non profit; The Animal Awareness Project, Inc. Any disposable cups and forks that were used by Zia’s were all compostable.

You’re amazing. Tell us about the Animal Awareness Project.

The Animal Awareness Project, Inc is an Animal Rights organization we started last summer 2009 and we are based in Ellicott City, Maryland. We are striving to become the first Vegan/ Animal Rights AD company in Baltimore City and around Maryland.

Other cities use advertising as way to spread the compassionate message and Baltimore has yet to embrace that method. We are now working with AD companies to start doing Bus ADs, Billboard ADs, Radio AD’s and more. We also do humane education in the school systems. We go into schools in Baltimore and around Maryland to inform students about the reality of where their food comes from and how animals are treated.

We do tons of vegan outreach as well. We go to colleges, concerts and local events to leaflet vegan material to the masses! We hold vegan feed ins on college campuses and at festivals and events. This summer we are joining other AR groups to leaflet the Warp Tour, and we will be tabling at the TAFA conference. We are starting to do lots of fundraising and benefits to grow vegan ADs in Baltimore and beyond.

How did some of your non-vegan guests react to a vegan wedding? Did you get feedback?

Everyone was impressed who was a non vegan. We were really happy that people liked the food and the cake so much. It was a great way to show people how amazing and creative vegan food is. All of the feedback was positive!

Can you talk about your personal feelings on the notion of combining personal morals and ethics with “the happiest day of your life”? Could you have imagined it any other way?

We knew that this day was about us and our love and our new journey together and we wanted every minute of it to stay true to who we are and our beliefs. Even though we were somewhat pressured at first by family to not go with an all vegan wedding, we did and we are so glad we followed our hearts and stayed true to ourselves. We would have not done it any other way!

What final advice can you give to folks looking to plan their own wedding?
Always stay true to yourselves and make sure you are both equally involved in the planning and that you keep it fun. Do not stress about things and on your actual day stay as present and in the moment as possible because it all happens so fast.

(Kate on her honeymoon in Hawaii… surely dreaming about that beautiful cake.)

To learn more about Kate and Aaron’s non-profit, the Animal Awareness Project, please click here.

While it’s so beautiful to learn about a celebration like this and discovering there are ways to make it your own, remember: you don’t need a huge event to make choices every day that can do good and make you feel good. Every moment is a chance to live our lives with passion and purpose.