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Interview composed by Lydia Krupinski

I discovered Soaphappy! this past November when selling my Pierogi Picnic goodies in a local craft show. Desperate for a stick of natural lip balm, I promptly snatched up a stick of their ultra hydrating Vanilla blend. This one product made me an instant convert. I now covet my stick not letting even my beloved husband snag a use.

Hanah and Nellie are the dynamic duo behind this local soap racket. Their delicious and down-to-earth products blend natural vegan ingredients with exotic spice combinations that will jazz up even the weariest Chicagoan’s winter morning ritual. With soaps like Jazz+Beet boasting ingredients like ginger, rose, beets and jasmine – it’s no wonder this fiesty pair is stirring up trouble at local craft fairs like the DIY Trunk Show.

To spice up your chilly holiday week Sprout Chicago brings you an exclusive interview with these two soap divas: Read the rest of this entry »

November is here! My birthday month arrives with a crisp chill in the air and my favorite holiday in the distance. November also marks the ‘official’ or maybe unofficial beginning of the holiday season. So to give you a head start on things happening in Chi Town this month, we’ve compiled some of our favorite suggestions for what to do with your schedule before it goes totally mad!

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If you’re looking to try a vegan lifestyle, there is no time better than the present as World Vegan Week commences on Sunday. In addition to promoting the lifestyle itself, Chicago’s version of Vegan Week also challenges local restaurants to add vegan options to their traditional meat-centric menus.

Show your support for businesses who have chosen to take a step in a compassionate direction by visiting the locations below between October 24th and 31st. Thanks to local non-profit Mercy for Animals for putting this list together! Also – don’t forget to gorge on the delicious foods at some of Chicago’s finest vegetarian and vegan haunts that stay meat free year round! Visit our links page here for our favorites.

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Photo by Barbara Wiebel

Summer is the season for fest hopping in the city. With about 10 different street fairs taking place each weekend, it’s the perfect way to plan a day: ride your bike, grab a snack, purchase local goodies, people watch and listen to live music. The only drawback (besides scorching heat and sweaty fest goers) is that for veg heads like myself, it’s difficult finding ethical nosh.

Veggie Fest to the rescue!

This annual vegetarian fair combines the outdoor vending spirit with yummy animal-free feasting. Taking place next weekend, this is the one fair not to be missed by those who opt-out of meat and their loving supporters. We recommend gathering friends and car pooling to this event, unless you’re up for a loooong bike ride.

Photo by Barbara Weibel

What: Veggie Fest

When: Saturday, August 7th 11am-8pm

Sunday, August 8th 11am-7pm

Where: 4S175 Naperville Road, Naperville

Cost: Free!

Image from Chicago Free Info

It’s no secret that the Taste of Chicago is one of the most attended festivals that takes place in the city. In Sprout Chicago fashion, we filtered through all of the booths to bring you the following list – but were unexpectadly dismayed. Some of last year’s staples, like Soul Veg East and Arya Bhavan, are not participating!

Our advice – skip the event all together, and take that money directly to some of Chicago’s finest vegetarian restaurants. You can find a great list of our recommendations on our ‘Links’ page, or check out Veg Guide for an international list of veg-friendly dining.

And if you can’t possibly forfeit your Taste trip – we have one recommendation:

(# 17) Summer Noodle & Rice

I’m a little biased when it comes to this place because it is just one block away from my abode – but that means that I’ve tediously pre-screened their fare and can safely give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. This is one of the few booths that is offering a vegetarian platter on its Taste menu. So if you’re looking for one plate with a variety of goods – hit up their booth for fresh Thai.

posted by Lydia Krupinski

Photo from The Enchanted Spice

If you’re anything like my husband, you can’t wait to light up the grill and throw some edibles onto the grates. For vegetarians and vegans, Memorial Day can conjure up deeply repressed meat missing emotions – if not just for the sake of nostalgia. That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide to a Meat-Free Memorial Day for veg-heads and carnivores alike!

Firing Up the Grill:

Skip the lighter fluid and opt instead for a starter cone or chimney starter. Not only will you protect yourself from harmful toxins, you’ll also lower your risk for petroleum related burns.

Photo from Martha Stewart

Throwing Down the Goods:

Start your grill off with some aromatic edibles that can be used on burgers and other entrees. Onions will add distinct flavor to the dish and will get your guest’s salivating whilegarlic will add a touch of zest to your salad. For something with a touch of whimsy, throw some pineapplespears, or nectarines straight onto your grill. Hit up one of Chicago’s plentiful farmer’s markets to stock up on these, and other fresh burger ingredients, likeheirloom tomatoesfresh sprouts, and artisan cheese. Here’s a market guide from the Sun Times.  You may also want to invest in some out-of-the-ordinary buns. Try asiago cheese rolls, pita, or even pretzel buns from Whole Foods. Read the rest of this entry »

by Lydia Krupinski

I’m not one for supporting any holiday that encourages consumerism or pressured spending…but I am always looking for a great excuse to go out for a romantic dinner. So when David and I were deciding on a venue for feasting this weekend, we jumped at the chance to give the new Karyn’s on Green a try.

This serene vegan restaurant is nestled on the border of Greektown and the West Loop gallery district. Its hideaway location made our excursion that much more of a treat. We arrived on Saturday night, just in time to meet our reservation, and were quickly wooed by the friendly staff. Boasting a main dining hall, lofted party room, and food bar, Karyn’s is not just an elegant foodie escape, but also a versatile spot for casual dining. Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re in Wicker Park this weekend, be sure to swing by Renegade and pick up some Vegan baked goodies.

The place for all things handmade, Renegade is the behemoth behind the yearly craft extravaganza as well as the charming brick and mortar on Division just East of Damen. Swing by Sunday between 11am and 5pm and pick up locally made vegan treats. Did we mention that all proceeds benefit the Haiti Relief effort?

There’s nothing quite like activism with a tasty twist!

What: Chicago Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti

When: Sunday, February 7th 11am-5pm

Where: Renegade Handmade 1924 West Division Street Chicago, IL

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