Indy Vegan Family: One Indiana family's journey to veganism and living a more healthy and compassionate lifestyle. Recipes, reviews, blog, podcast, and more! 


Recipe: The Long Awaited – Vegan “Sausage” Gravy

Published on January 31, 2014, by in recipes.

Vegan "sausage" gravy

I have been tweaking and perfecting this recipe for almost a year and, after a great deal of evolution, here is what Jen and I have settled on as our favorite Saturday morning treat!

– two medium yellow onions, chopped
– three medium to large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
– 1 cup of TVP (texturized vegetable protein) reconstituted in 1 cup water
– 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
– 1 15 oz can of pre-cooked navy beans (northern works too)
– 2 cups vegetable broth
– 1/2 cup flour
– 4 Tablespoons Tamari Soy Sauce
– 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
– ground sage to taste
– ground thyme to taste
– black pepper to taste
-salt to taste


Add 1 cup water to 1 cup TVP and let sit for 15-30 minutes or until all water is completely absorbed
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and soft.
While sautéing onions and garlic, mix vegetable broth with flour and stir until no lumps remain.
Drain most of the liquid from the beans and place beans in blender
Add cooked onions, garlic and residual oil to blender along with vegetable broth
Blend until very smooth
Pour mixture back into still-warm skillet
Add TVP to skillet
Add salt, black pepper, sage, and thyme to taste and simmer (periodically stirring) for 5-10 more minutes until desired consistency

Serve over biscuits with vegan buttery spread

Vegan "sausage" biscuits and gravy


Review: Jungle Jim’s International Market – Cincinnati, OH

Published on January 6, 2014, by in Blog Posts, Reviews.

International fruits and veggies(Wade writing today) A few weeks ago, Jen and I took the opportunity for a weekend getaway in Cincinnati, Ohio.  On the way home, at the behest of some vegan friends, we stopped at the most remarkable grocery store we’ve ever visited: Jungle Jim’s.

It is located in Fairfield, Ohio, on the north side of Cincinnati and when you arrive, you’ know you’re about to experience something special!  For example, when you pull into the parking lot, you realize that this grocery store has a monorail!

Jungle Jim’s was started as a small fruit stand in 1971 and has grown to one of the world’s most unique and impressive grocery stores.  It has been featured on several television shows, boasts one of the world’s largest collections of wine and is a destination that many “foodies” trek to each year.  According to wikipedia, they have 180,000 items (60,000 of which are international) and average over 82,000 visitors each week!

Some of the things that caught our attention while we were at Jungle Jim’s:

– They have an amazing assortment of produce items: There were dozens of colorful fruits and vegetables that I didn’t recognize.  Fortunately, most of them are labeled with a name, description, how to choose a nice ripe item, and ideas for how to use it.  For example, I had no idea what a Kiwano Melon was, but the sign told me that I should choose one with bright orange skin, cut it in half and scoop out the flesh and seeds with a spoon.  Good to know!

– There were hundreds of hot sauces:  A section, dedicated to an alphabetized collection of hot sauces, caught my attention.  Some of the sauces included: “Acid Rain” and “Black Widow’s Kiss”.

– The international food sections were broken down by region or country including: Middle Eastern, Italy, Hispanic, India, Asia, Germany, England, Australia, and more.

– The health food and supplement sections were huge!:  Jen and I agreed to split up and cover various sections of the store and meet at a pre-determined time.  When that time came, I found Jen, smiling ear-to-ear, in the “Herb ‘n Jungle” supplement section.  Jen loves all kinds of vitamins, essentials oils, and other supplements.  She was in heaven!

-If you’re gluten free you need to visit Jungle Jim’s”:  Under a sign boasting “The Largest Gluten Free Selection in the MidWest” you’ll find several aisles of every gluten free food imaginable.

In addition to all the interesting things above, there are animatronic singing animals, a cheese shop, a “cold beer cave”, a post office, a Starbucks, a gift shop, a cigar balcony for sampling stogies, a monorail and a cooking school where you can learn to make polenta, paella, Italian, and Indian foods.

Jen and I planned to spend only a few minutes taking in the sites of Jungle Jim’s but ended up spending well over an hour there.  We could easily spend several hours there perusing all the interesting and unique foods, beverages, supplements, and other fascinating items.

However, to truly give you an idea of the impact of this amazing place, you really need to check out the photos below.  For vegans, vegetarians, foodies and everyone else who loves food, you need to visit Jungle Jim’s.  We have plans to go back!


produce produce International fruits and veggies lil pineapples lil bananas kimchi hot peppers Indian bittermelon Indian veggies Kiwano melon Kiwano melon kimchi hot sauces, alphabetized hot sauces, alphabetized acid rain black widows kiss animatronics produce international produce Psy food Jungle Jims Seafood Australian food nuts Jungle Jims health foods natural foods more gluten free 2013-12-01 10.54.02 orange Nehi, my dad's favorite! 2013-12-01 10.56.29 classic Pepsi in bottles more pop more Jungle Jims Jen loving the supplements bulk grains candy European Village more non dairy products non dairy butters non dairy products



Restaurant Review: Mellow Mushroom, Cincinnati, OH

Published on December 5, 2013, by in Blog Posts, Reviews.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza

Mellow Mushroom

9238 Floer Drive
West Chester, OH 45069

(Wade writing here)

Jen and I decided to make a last-minute getaway trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to do a little Christmas Shopping and visit some friends (Joanna and Ron) who live in that area.  We were planning to start our shopping excursion at the Ikea store in West Chester, so we (as is often the case) used our Happy Cow app to find a restaurant that would meet the needs of everyone in the group (vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore).  We were delighted to see that there was a Mellow Mushroom within a few blocks of Ikea and decided to meet our friends there.

We were immediately filled with good vibes from this hippy-themed restaurant and our noses were treated to the smell of some amazing pizzas that were being escorted to the tables of the diners there.  With mouths watering from the moment we arrived, we were shown to a booth and started our visit/lunch/pre-shopping-vegan feast.

Ron and Joanna enjoyed a traditional pepperoni pizza, salad, and some warm pretzels with “beer cheese” sauce.  Jen ordered a small “Gourmet White” pizza that started with an olive oil/garlic sauce as the base and included sun-dried tomatoes, three kinds of cheese , Roma tomatoes, and onions.  She was delighted with her vegetarian selection.

I ordered a small Mega-Veggie pizza which typically comes with a red-sauce base on a vegan crust, feta and mozzarella cheeses (I substituted Daiya Mozzarella), sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, artichoke hearts and tofu.  In addition to asking them to “veganize” it by substituting the dairy cheese for vegan cheese, I also requested that they add some tempeh to the long list of toppings.  When my pizza arrived my mouth started watering immediately.  (In fact, my mouth is watering as I recall the experience to write this blog post.)  The pie was sliced into four pieces, which made them a bit difficult to handle while trying to keep the generous toppings from spilling onto my plate.  I was unsuccessful in keeping my toppings on the pizza, but that presented no problem because there were SO many amazing toppings that the pizza was fine with or without those lost bites.  (And in truth, my fork rounded up those bites handily and nothing was lost.)  Although I have had some mixed experiences with Daiya cheeses, I find myself becoming more fond of them and, on this pizza, it was perfect!  I noticed my dining companions eye-balling my pizza on more than one occasion.  I offered them a chance to try a bite and they declined.  Part of me thinks they were hesitant to try a vegan pizza, part of me thinks that they realized that I was enjoying it so much that they didn’t want to deny me that pleasure.  The world will never know — there were no leftovers.

The best part about our Mellow Mushroom experience is the knowledge that there is a Mellow Mushroom in Carmel, Indiana — just a few miles away and that we have a great, local option for another restaurant that serves vegan pizza in the Indy area. In fact, there are dozens of locations all over the country.  Check their locations here!   (Want another LOCAL vegan pizza option in Indy?  Try WB Pizza)


Thanksgiving 2013 Recap – Some are Vegan, Some are not, but for all of them we are Thankful!

Published on December 3, 2013, by in Blog Posts.

Thanksgiving Menu 2013

The Indy Vegan Family just finished our first Thanksgiving Dinner since drastically changing the way we eat about 9 months ago.  Wade (writing today) is completely vegan.  Jen (his wife) is a vegetarian who eats a predominantly vegan diet.  The same is true of our kids, Jake (2 years old) and Nellie (1 year old).  Katie, our 16-year-old-somewhat-angsty-daughter is an omnivore and finds herself eating a lot of vegan food, simply because that’s what is available in our home most of the time.

When we were planning our Thanksgiving meal, we had some concerns about how our dietary choices might impact family and friends.  At one point, we were afraid that we might be dining alone this year because we refused to cook a turkey or other more traditional Thanksgiving fare.  As we were inviting people and talking about the meal for the day, Jen had some conversations with her parents and brother about the fact that we wouldn’t be preparing a turkey, ham, roast, or other animal-based meats.  My initial feeling was that we would have a completely vegetarian meal (mostly vegan) and that guests would be requested to leave their animal-based meat dishes at home for another occasion.  However, as we had continued conversations about planning the meal, Jen and I agreed that it was important to place family first in this scenario and invite everyone to come to our home, enjoy some AWESOME vegan dishes that we would prepare, and invite them to bring a dish to share as well — whether or not that dish was vegan.

The day prior to Thanksgiving, Jen and I spent some time shopping and preparing vegetables for the grand feast.  On Thanksgiving Day, friends and family all gathered in our home and we shared a meal.  The majority of the food enjoyed in our home that day was vegan or vegetarian.  Some of the dishes included animal-based meat — although those dishes weren’t prepared in our home and they left our home when our guests left.  We had a great time throughout the day and a few interesting things happened:

1. Our friends and family who are vegan or vegetarian remarked about how nice it was to have so many options to eat at a Thanksgiving meal.  My sister-in-law said “I’m usually the one who has to be very careful and picky at an event like this.  Almost everything was vegetarian!”

2. Our friends who are omnivores ate some delicious vegan food and were surprised that they really enjoyed it.  More than once I heard someone say “Wow!  You can’t even tell that this is vegan food!  It’s really good!”

In the end, I have some feelings about the meat dishes served that day that I have a hard time describing.  In an ideal world, everyone would bring vegan food and enjoy it.  However, the people that we shared the day with are people we love and they love us.  They are still getting used to our vegan lifestyle — as are we.  I’m glad that they shared the day with us and I’m hopeful that their experience with our (mostly) vegan Thanksgiving will shed a little light on a topic that had, prior to that day, been foreign to them.

We are Thankful for our friends, family and the abundance that the good Lord has provided.  May we all work toward more compassion in our lives, every day and in every way.


Restaurant Review: Kopper Kitchen, St Petersburg, FL

Published on December 1, 2013, by in Blog Posts, Reviews.

Vegan Reuben Kopper Kitchen

Kopper Kitchen

5562 Central Ave, St Petersburg, FL 33707

The Indy Vegan family recently made a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend an ocean-side wedding.  The trip was relaxing (as much as a trip with babies and a teenager can be), the wedding was beautiful, and we got a few chances to check out the local scene.  One afternoon we were driving around the Tampa Bay area and were no longer able to fight off our pangs of vacation-induced hunger.  As has become our habit while traveling, we whipped out an iPhone, fired up the Happy Cow app, and waited for a sage recommendation for a restaurant that would meet all of our family’s dining needs.  Wade eats strictly vegan these days, Jen and the little kids (Jake and Nellie) are vegetarian but eat a mostly vegan diet, and Katie (16-years-old) is a very picky omnivore.   One of the recommendations that was fairly near was the Kopper Kitchen in St. Petersburg.  We decided on a late lunch there.

At first glance, we didn’t think that we were in an area that would include a restaurant with a lot of vegan options.  The area seems to be dominated by health-care facilities of various kinds.  When we entered the restaurant, it was very clear that the age of the restaurant’s typical patron was squarely in category of the “golden years”.  Jen quipped that she was expecting to see the cast of “The Golden Girls” sitting in a booth in the corner gabbing away!  Once we settled in, we realized two interesting things about this gem of a diner: 1. They’re not used to babies — almost everyone there cooed and giggled at little Jake and Nellie. 2. Almost everyone there was a regular — the patrons greeted each other in a way that was apparent that they see each other on a regular basis and the waitresses (cliche as it might seem) asked nearly everyone if they would “want the regular” and then commenced in bringing them a wonderful and familiar lunch.

After being greeted by a super-friendly waitress (although I might normally use the term “server”, this woman, in the style of “Flo” from Mel’s Diner, was a classic waitress) we decided to try a few different items.  Among them were a “traditional” German potato salad for Jen, a fruit plate for the kids, and a vegetarian reuben and french fries for Wade.

Traditional German potato salad:  When I think of potato salad, I think of boiled potatoes, various other veggies or eggs and a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce on a plate.  This salad, however, included what I would normally consider potato salad, but also was served in a huge bowl of lettuce along with bell peppers, avocados, tomatoes, and onions on the top.  Jen said that it was unusual but very tasty and a nice refreshing alternative to her previous experiences with heavier potato salads in the past.

Fruit Plate:  This was a very fresh, very generous plate of strawberries, apples, bananas, pineapple, cantaloupe, and oranges.  It was served with your choice of yogurt or cottage cheese (we elected for the yogurt) and provided a great meal for the kids and there was enough for everyone to gnosh on throughout the meal.

Vegetarian Reuben:  The reputation of this dish is what drew us to the restaurant. It included grilled rye bread, bean sprouts, onions, and a “tofu pate” that was AMAZING!  The bread was grilled to crispy perfection, the blend of veggies and tofu pate was perfect and it was seasoned in such a way that the fresh notes of the veggies perfectly complemented the warm goodness of the tofu.  Again, it was AMAZING!  DISCLAIMER: Now, in all honesty, I’m fairly certain that this dish was vegan, but I have some concerns that the bread might have been buttered or the sauce used might have included some dairy products.  When I originally discussed this issue with the waitress she said “we have vegans come in all the time–they love that dish” but, as is sometimes the case, I’m not entirely sure she fully understood what vegan means — at least my definition which doesn’t include any animal-based products.  I mentioned this to the owner as we were leaving and his remarks, although not completely thorough, led me to believe that I had enjoyed the best vegan sandwich in recent memory.

Summary: The Kopper Kitchen was one of the most pleasant surprises on our trip.  I would HIGHLY recommend that vegetarians and vegans stop there for, not only the food, but the fabulous service and the quaint cultural experience.  Also, if you get a chance, ask a few more probing questions about the vegan-nature of that reuben sandwich and post below in the comments.  I would love to get a conclusive answer to the make up of that delicious dish!

Fruit Plate Kopper Kitchen

Kopper Kitchen German Potato Salad

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