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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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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!

by Mira Kolodkin

Madison: A lovely city with a perfect combination of urbanity and nature, wine and beer, brats and vegan soup.  The only place I’ve ever been where you can tell after 20 minutes that this is a blue smidgeon on a very red state map.  Liberal idealism stemming from angry memories of lives spent in more conservative outskirts.  People who want to get away, but not so far away that cheese curds are no longer readily available.  Welcome to Madison!!! Let us get started on your tour.

Photo by Boulevard Bikes

In the summer, people bike.  In the winter, it’s very cold, but people bike anyway.  If you’re not in Portland, the next best place to bike is Madison, Wisconsin.  Every place that I mention on this tour is located within a block of either easily traversable bike paths, or well-defined bike paths on major streets.  The drivers hate you, but you don’t care, because you’re on a bike and hitting you would be very expensive for them. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Photos & Review by David Paul Downs

At the corner of Roscoe and Hoyne, in Chicago’s quaint Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits one of the cities best restaurants for a vegetarian friendly brunch. Victory’s Banner offers a bright and comfortable environment for late morning dining.

Their menu is an array of creative takes on traditional breakfast fare, such as eggs scrambled with spinach, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and feta; apple-pecan pancakes made from oat bran flour; or buckwheat waffles topped with fresh seasonal fruit, homemade whipped cream, and real maple syrup.

I couldn’t resist ordering a plate of almond stuffed French toast, one of the specials for today. My wife, and favorite dining partner, ordered the curry omelet, in an attempt to counter-balance my raging sweet tooth. We almost always split our dishes. I order the sweetest dish I can find, and she orders something savory, giving us an equal balance to satisfy our palettes.

Our order was taken by a petite waitress dressed in a colorful, silken wrap. Her friendly demeanor was genuine and she seemed to project an inner glow, reflective of the restaurants philosophies.

While waiting for our dishes to arrive, we sipped on homemade chai tea. This hand-crafted drinkest was the freshest I’ve experienced, with strong distinctive, spices you could smell and taste. The chai is also offered “bottomless” as you would expect for house coffee. We started with two hot cups, but considering the heat of the summer day, and the servers were kind enough to switch us to iced chai’s. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

By Lydia Krupinski

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Food, family, friends, and a day of reflection. Oh, and did I mention food? On tomorrow’s menu I have a star studded vegetarian lineup. No tofurkey this year…just fresh fruits, vegetables, and preserves. If this list doesn’t get your mouth watering, then I don’t know what will.

+ Curried Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Garlic & Baby Onions

+ Honey Cornbread Muffins with Cranberry Chutney

+ Baked Asparagus with Parmesan

+ Cornbread, Wild Mushroom, and Pecan Stuffing

+ Candied Ginger Pumpkin Pie

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