Grocery Guide: Healthy Shopping Options in Grand Rapids

Whether you live on a budget, or not, I believe it makes sense to save money when possible. I am inherently frugal, but I do choose to spend money on fresh, nourishing foods. My research has lead me to associate ‘healthy food’ with plants that provide the necessary minerals to fuel our bodies and I choose to keep a variety of produce on hand (eat the rainbow) because healthy bodies fuel healthy minds.

Here are a few of my favorite markets in town to stock up on produce & nutritional foods:

Meijer, 2900 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508

The Meijer on Kalamazoo has wonderful deals on all fruit, including exotic. A cherimoya was $6.99, for example, compared to $9.99 everywhere else.

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The Fulton Street Farmers Market, 1145 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

This $3 savings could afford you a gorgeous basket of fruit at the Fulton Market (open Tues/Wed, Fri/Sat). I love meeting farmers here and learning about where my food comes from. Enjoying it fresh from the pickin’ is best!

Fresh Thyme, 2470 Burton St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

I appreciate Fresh Thyme (Burton) for many reasons, but mostly because the store considers health and offers FREE fruit for children. Fresh Thyme’s display is well cared for, and very high quality.
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Horrocks Market, 4455 Breton Rd SE, Kentwood, MI 49508

If you love Horrock’s because it’s a superbly fresh market, you’d tip over after 2-minutes in the Lansing store. I now go monthly to buy produce I cannot find locally, or that is incredibly inexpensive. For example, giant, ripe papayas were often $1/each this summer. Try to beat that!

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Trader Joe’s, 3684 28th St SE, Kentwood, MI 49512

Trader Joe’s is my go-to for frozen falafels, organic fruit (2lbs of organic strawberries for $7, thank you TJ’s!), fruit leather (my kids are obsessed) and 10lbs of other random things that turn out to be really great!
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Ken’s Fruit Market, 3500 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

I try to stay away from Ken’s on Plainfield because they offer the best roasted nuts, right near the checkout. Every time I go, I eat 2lbs of almonds within 2 days. It kills me, but I can’t stop! Ken’s is community oriented and wonderful, offering great deals like $1 for a giant bag of potatoes.
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Martha’s Vineyard, 200 Union Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Once you save money on potatoes, head to Martha’s. You’ll need a few extra dollars to spend here, with a selection that includes delicious vegan treats, hot pizzas, the best wine selection, or a fresh baguette, because they make bread, too!
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My new Friends, there are wonderful markets in every corner of GR, and I love exploring them all! I will always appreciate great savings and delicious, fresh food! I’d be happy to share these finds with you, as long as you promise to share your great finds with me!

About the Author

Marin Darr is a local vegan and developer of the IG account CoconutsforPlants. Professionally, she’s entangled in the world of startups. To balance that stress, she studies plant-based nutrition, takes walks, rides her bike and practices mindfulness while standing on her head. She tries to live humbly, volunteers occasionally, and appreciates family time. She resides in EGR.


November Fitness Events to be Thankful For

With impending holidays, chillier days, and earlier sunsets, it’s easy to fall out of the fitness routine. Fight the couch potato urge with our top November fitness events. We’ve highlighted the month’s best offerings, so lace up those shoes (or grab a mat) & get active G-Rap!

Beer Run at New Holland Brewing: Tuesday, November 7th @ 6:30 pm

It’s a fun run, usually with a couple options for around 3 and 5 miles, followed by beer, friends, fun and door prizes. NO ADVANCED REGISTRATION: SIGN UP ON SITE ON EVENT DAY. A joint operation of New Holland Brewing and the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, each of the venues is clever enough to be serving some yummy New Holland Beer on some of their taps.

Cost? $20 for your first one, which includes a cool shirt. After that, it’s $10. Entry includes your first beer and a few munchies, and a substantial piece of each entry supports a charity chosen by our venue. Run with really cool people, drink beer, feel good about yourself. Life is good.

Grand Rapids Hot Cider Hustle 5K–Saturday, November 11th @ 9:00 am
This event takes place at Millenium Park and you can register the day of! Hot cider, caramel apples, and a finisher mug will be waiting for you at the finish line. You can also run to support the Humane Society of West Michigan and awards will be given to the top 3 participants. Register here: link

Dirty Duel–Saturday, November 11th @ 9:00 am

The Dirty Duel, located at Robinettes, is the only trail race in the United States that offers racers a choice of courses. Join over 700 racers who will split off right after the start in a dueling dash back to the finish. Will it be the “easier” 6K course that speeds runners to a top finish or the shorter but brutal 5K “trail” that racers survive on their way to victory? Depending on the course chosen, you will face a sand dune, cornfield/maze, and off-trail sections. Buff/headware ($18 retail) for all runners. Donuts, cider, and apples after the race. Shirt purchase is optional

 Yoga and Brunch | Sanchez Edition–Sunday, November 12th @ 9:00 am

🥑🍳YOGA & BRUNCH at San Chez Bistro 🍳🥑If you missed our last Yoga & Brunch at San Chez….now is your chance to get in on the AWESOME.An hour of Funky Buddha Yoga, followed by a private San Chez buffet brunch. Who could ask for anything more on a crisp November Sunday morning?Added bonus, get 20% off any additional tapas or San Chez favorites off of their regular menu. SCORE. Seared tuna escabeche anyone? Yes. Please.▪ WHEN: Sunday, November 12
▪ WHERE: San Chez Event Space ( 38 Fulton St. W 49503 )
▪ TIME: 9:00 am – YOGA (in the San Chez Event Space)
10:00 am – BRUNCH
PRICE: $30* per person**GET YOUR TICKETS** 👉 http://bit.ly/2ythJZy*Because of extremely limited capacity, tickets are non-refundable. Ticket price does not include beverages or additional tapas.
Yoga at GRAM–Thursday, November 16th @ 5:45 pm

The Grand Rapids Art Museum and AM Yoga present Yoga at GRAM, sponsored by Priority Health. Join us for Vinyasa-style yoga classes with instructors Ashley Yost and Mali Jane. All levels are welcome.Yoga is the art of connecting mind with body through movement, breath, and meditation. Art and yoga have complementary and intrinsically valuable benefits. Art provides us with a deeper understanding of the world around us, a greater empathy for others, and heightened powers of observation. Those who practice yoga regularly can achieve an increased sense of self-awareness, mindfulness, and ability to be present in their daily activities. Experienced together, art and yoga can offer new ways of seeing the world and experiencing the self.Where: the Auditorium, check in at the Guest Services deskWhat to bring: Towel, mat, waterRegistration: Admission to GRAM is free on Meijer Free Thursday Nights. The cost to participate in yoga is pay what you please and goes directly to support AM Yoga.

Grand Rapids Turkey Trot | 25th Anniversary–Thursday, November 23rd @ 8:00 am

Come join the biggest and best holiday race in the Grand Rapids area with over 3,000 runners in the 25th annual Thanksgiving Day Run for Grand Rapids Public Schools presented by Blue Care Network of Michigan. This is a 5K run/walk through downtown for people of all ages and all fitness levels. Our continued focus is to engage the entire community in a higher level of awareness around physical fitness, movement, and nutrition in a fun-filled way. Proceeds help students across the district avoid having to pay for athletics. There will be a FREE Mini-Trot for kids ages 12 and under.There will finisher prizes for the Mini-Trot and medals for the top 3 place finishers in each age division in the 5K race. The 25th Anniversary will also include some special features such as commemorative participation medallions and special prize drawings.

Gratitude Yoga–Friday, November 24th @ 9:00 am

Gratitude yoga. Time to pause, reconnect, and give thanks for every little bit of love, beauty, truth, and abundance in our lives. Accessible to all, regardless of financial situation. Come breathe, move, and flow in a 60-minute vinyasa-style class that is for YOU.LOGISTICAL DETAILS:
Donation-based — give what you can <3
Friday, 11/24 from 9 to 10 AM
Limit 15 participants — first come, first served (come early to make sure you have a spot!)
Bring your own mat, towel, and any other props that serve you in your practice
Contact kate@littledipperGR.com with any questions or for more info. Gratitude yoga is offered by Kate Block of Little Dipper GR. Kate completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training with Amber Kilpatrick at Mindful Vinyasa School of Yoga and would be honored to guide you on your yoga journey.
For the full calendar of events, visit www.grhealthyliving.com/events

October Fitness Events Guide

Fall is finally here! It’s time for pumpkins, flannels, crunchy leaves, scenic colors, and Robinette’s donuts. In addition to fall festivities, Grand Rapids has an awesome line up of fitness events to keep you active and moving! From the Grand Rapids Marathon to The Zombie Dash 5K, October in the 616 does not disappoint. Be sure to bookmark this page, share with your friends, and sign up for something fun!

*Events are featured in chronological order. For additional info & to view the full calendar of events, visit: www.grhealthyliving.com/events

Michigan Adventure Race–ArtPrize Edition: Saturday, Oct. 7th @ 9:30 am

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Part bike race, part running race and part Amazing Race, the ArtPrize Edition is the only sporting event that incorporates a world-class art festival (ranked #4 in the world by Time Magazine). Two-person teams will head out from Ah-Nab-Awen Park and bike and run to checkpoints pre-marked on a map, collecting as many points as they can within four hours. They’ll encounter Amazing Race-like challenges, many involving some aspect of art and ArtPrize, in popular downtown exhibits as well as out-of-the-way venues. Click this link for further info and registration.

GRR Runway 5K: Saturday, Oct. 7th @ 9:00am

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

This event has been over a year in the making! Trivium Racing will be teaming up with Gerald R. Ford Airport to bring you the 5K on the Runway Grand Rapids! This event is going to be amazing! Athletes will start by running through the tunnel that goes under the runway, then head out onto one of the major airport runways for a lightning fast 5K race! A local charity will benefit from a portion of the proceeds. This event is a must for your fall 2017 calendars (and your bucket list!) and is a great tune-up for your late season half and full marathon.

Funky Buddha Grand Finale: Sunday, Oct. 8th @ 10:00 am

The Funky Buddha Triathlons of ALL TRIATHLONS – THE GRAND FINALE!

1 hour of Funky Buddha Yoga at Lincoln Park
Group Bike Ride around the Westside led by The Spoke Folks
Final destination – One Bourbon!!!

Your ticket price includes your Yoga, Bike Ride, a Funky Awesome Event T-shirt, and a mid-ride fresh juice from Malamiah Juice Bar.

Once we get to One Bourbon, a portion of all food and drink sales will go directly to support the amazing work of The Spoke Folks…..so have your friends and fam meet you at One Bourbon for the after-party!!

* Because of the limited capacity, tickets are non-refundable. Our Funky Triathletes are an intrepid bunch, and the event will go off rain or shine.

Saturday Morning Yoga: Oct. 7th, 14th, & 21st @ 9:00am

Grand Rapids Wellness, Boom Town, and Moosejaw GR are teaming up with Kula Grand Rapids to offer a “Karma Yoga” series that will run for 3 weeks: October 7th, 14th, and 21st.

What’s Karma Yoga? Basically, it’s an opportunity to practice yoga AND support a local organization. All donations collected from this class will benefit Treetops Collective in Grand Rapids. Check out their website to learn more about the awesome work they’re doing in our community: http://www.treetopscollective.org.

MORE DEETS: Please BYOM (bring your own mat). Moosejaw is located in Grand Rapids across from the Downtown Market on Ionia Avenue. *** PARKING is available at the Downtown Market for a fee or there is street parking along Ionia.

2017 Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon: Sunday, Oct. 15th @ 8:00 am

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Designed by runners. For runners.

Founded in 2004, the Grand Rapids Marathon delivers a fun, highly personal, authentic race experience, particularly for runners who value a well-organized, personal experience over the chaotic, crowded fields of “big city” races through ”concrete canyons.” We are a race that supports every runner – no one is a stranger on our course – celebrates every individual accomplishment and embodies the spirit of friendship and community that is so unique to running.

Not able to run? Join the cheer section! Make signs, invite everyone you know and cheer on the awesome runners!

Yoga at the GRAM: Thurs., Oct. 19th @ 5:45pm

The Grand Rapids Art Museum and AM Yoga present Yoga at GRAM, sponsored by Priority Health. Join us for Vinyasa-style yoga classes with instructors Ashley Yost and Mali Jane. All levels are welcome.

Yoga is the art of connecting mind with body through movement, breath, and meditation. Art and yoga have complementary and intrinsically valuable benefits. Art provides us with a deeper understanding of the world around us, a greater empathy for others, and heightened powers of observation.

Where: the Auditorium, check in at the Guest Services desk.
What to bring: Towel, mat, water

Registration: Admission to GRAM is free on Meijer Free Thursday Nights. The cost to participate in yoga is pay what you please and goes directly to support AM Yoga.

The Zombie Dash 5K: Saturday, Oct. 21st @ 6:45 pm

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Run a 5K on post-apocalyptic streets and paths in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. Race against darkness. Dodge the zombies and keep your “flag football” life strips to avoid infection and stay alive (time bonus).

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk: Saturday, Oct. 21st @ 10:00 am

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Come together with survivors, caregivers, men and women from all walks of life who are passionate about saving lives from breast cancer.

Celebrate your shared efforts. Inspire each other to carry on. And take comfort in the knowledge that because of your dedication, no one walks alone. Join the American Cancer Society and find out more details on their website. Registration starts at 8:30 am and the walk begins at 10 am.

Mutt Strut Community Dog Walk: Wed., Oct. 25th @ 6:00 pm

Join Fido &  Stitch for the first “Mutt Strut” Halloween Dog Walk! We are excited to be teaming up with Nature of the Dog -GR Dog Walking Company and Green Dog Photography for this fun event! We strongly encourage costumes for this fun walk downtown Grand Rapids, led by Nature of the Dog, as we are doing a costume contest! Green Dog Photography will be taking pictures of pups in their costumes, and will host a public Facebook contest after the event; the winner with the most likes will win a $50 gift card to Fido & Stitch! The walk will end at Garage Bar and Grill, on their dog-friendly patio (weather permitting), for beverages and food with your pooch!

Lights Off, Party On–FZIQUE Private Opening: Thurs., Oct. 26th @ 6:00 pm

FZIQUE Private Grand Opening.

Get sexy and get ready to get the scoop on a new kind of club where you can dance, sweat and define both the body and mind from partying on a bike. Join Gwadue, owner and Master instructor for a curated “Miami Lights Off, Party On” event at his redefined Indoor Cycling studio, FZIQUE. Sushi, Cuban sliders, Mojitos, Corona and other tastes of South Beach offered along with music that pumps your mind, body and soul.

The Show – An invigorating 10 minute preview of FZIQUES party on the bike by Gwadue and his team.

Give a gift. Change a life. Save a life.

Gwadue’s heart and soul is devoted to building a stronger tomorrow. Raised by a single mother in Nigeria, his tribulations through life have made him a firm believer that children are the future. With this belief, 100% of your ticket price will be donated to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Your donations help launch, expand and sustain life-changing and lifesaving services otherwise unavailable.

Celebrate Rosa Parks Circle: Saturday, Oct. 28th @ 8:30 am

Rosa Parks Circle has been named one of 5 Great Public Spaces in America! With exceptional design by internationally-acclaimed artist Maya Lin, support by the Frey Foundation, and the dedication of countless other community members, this cherished place in the heart of our city has contributed greatly to the vibrancy of Grand Rapids.

To celebrate this exciting national recognition, we are showcasing everything you love about Rosa Parks Circle in one day including live music, food trucks, free fitness, swing dancing, and more!

Join us in celebrating all of the people and events that make Rosa Parks Circle a Great Place.

Schedule of Events*
∙ 8:30 – Yoga
∙ 9:30 – POUND
∙ 10:30 – Urban Moves

RELAX AT ROSA: 11:00 – 2:00
∙ Live music by Selita Black Rose
∙ Food trucks
∙ Kids crafts
∙ Yard games

∙ 2:00 – Proclamation from Mayor Bliss
∙ 2:30 – Gaga ball with GR Sport & Social Club
∙ 4:00 – Swing dancing with Grand Rapids Original Swing Society
∙ 5:00 – Salsa dancing
∙ Food trucks

For additional info & to view the full calendar of events, visit: www.grhealthyliving.com/events


Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year! Nothing compares to the gorgeous colors, crisp air, abundance of root vegetables, and warm beverages! I love waking up to an aromatic, rich blend of coffee while taking in the beautiful fall weather. My adaptogenic pumpkin spice latte is nourishing for the mind and body– just what I need before a busy day.

Like many fall-loving humans, I also enjoy the occasional pumpkin spice treat, however, I don’t do processed food (and neither should you!), so while you may see “pumpkin spice” at Starbucks and beyond, it won’t compare to this creamy latte that is made with natural ingredients, adaptogens (more on that below!) and zero refined sugar. So skip the Starbucks line and make this yummy and nourishing treat! Your body, belly and mind will thank you – I promise!

Adaptogenic Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 cup warmed cashew milk (or other nondairy milk)
1 Tbsp. coconut butter (coconut oil is another option)
1 scoop collagen peptides
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
½ tsp. ashwagandha
liquid stevia or maple syrup to taste

Why I love this latte:

It is nourishing to both the body and soul thanks to the incorporation of 1) adaptogens, 2) healthy fats and 3) collagen peptides.

1) Adaptogens are natural substances such as herbs and roots that assist in naturally protecting the body and mind from the adverse effects of physical, chemical or biological stressors.

Ashwagandha falls into the category of adaptogens and has been proven to

  • Increases physical and mental stamina and performance
  • Increases vitality
  • Relieves stress
  • Boosts brain and cognitive function

How does it taste? Ashwagandha has an earthy, nutty taste that pairs well with cinnamon, vanilla or maca.

2) Healthy fats, such as coconut butter not only lend a tremendous amount of creamy texture and delicious flavor, but are incredibly satiating and a wonderful addition to your diet.

Why Healthy Fats Rule

Fats are the most caloric macronutrient (9 calories per gram), and so naturally, they give us a boost of energy and keep us satiated for hours after eating them. Additionally, they recharge our brains, build hormones, cell membranes, increase our body’s fat burning (yes, it’s true!), keep us satiated longer, and make us look and feel awesome.

Choosing the Right Fats

Not all fats are equal, so it’s crucial you choose healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, egg yolks and so on to reap the benefits of these nutrient-dense foods. Saturated fats like coconut butter, which is made from whole coconut flesh and pureed into a rich and thick spread is just as terrific for you as coconut oil. Fats like coconut oil and butter are especially beneficial because they are rich in lauric acid (a saturated fatty acid), which boosts immunity and destroys harmful bacteria, viruses, and funguses. It actually boosts your metabolism, which aids in weight loss and increases energy levels.

3) Collagen peptides – what are they?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the glue that holds us together. Collagen is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons where it provides strength and structure. Unfortunately, as we age (as early as 29!) our body begins to lose collagen and the supple elasticity that comes with it. This happens for a number of reasons including daily free-radical damage.

How supplementing with collagen peptides can help!

Supplementing with collagen peptides will restore your skin’s moisture and improve its elasticity, tone and vibrancy! In addition to being a part of a natural beauty routine, collagen peptides are great to have as a post-workout source of protein. Containing essential amino acids, collagen peptides are ideal for muscle repair and recovery. They are incredibly satiating so they are great in staving off hunger. They’re also wonderful in alleviating joint pain, stiffness and inflammation. Finally, collagen also supports a healthy gut! They contains certain amino acids that are essential to healing and strengthening damaged intestinal lining.

How they taste, how to use them and where to buy

I love Further Food Collagen Peptides because they are of the utmost quality! One ingredient and sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine, their peptides are odorless, tasteless, and mix easily into anything from water, coffee, yogurt, oatmeal, sauces, baked goods and more!  Their website also has a lot of fantastic recipes to get you started! If you decide to order, be sure to use the code BRINGOUTYOURBLISS10 for a discount – this is not an affiliate program, just a wonderful bargain!

I hope you enjoy kicking of this amazing time of year with this nourishing latte. Happy Autumn!

Marisa Griggs is a local blogger for Bringoutyourbliss.com. She’s passionate about inspiring others to live their best life by sharing nutritious, plant based recipes & maintaining an active lifestyle. Also, be sure to check out her blog or follow her on IG: bring_out_your_bliss. 


Restaurant Spotlight: Bliss and Vinegar

Chef Mark McNamara and his wife Jennifer, also the owners of Marco New American Bistro, were inspired to open a restaurant that would allow customers to make healthy choices. Over time, they noticed a clientele interested in getting meals to go or a quick lunch. Mark soon realized that Grand Rapids lacked restaurants that offered both fast service and a variety of healthy menu items. With a desire to make healthy food more convenient, Bliss & Vinegar was born.

The name Bliss & Vinegar comes from the meaning behind each word. Bliss represents the feeling of eating well. When we eat food that is minimally processed, satiating, and nourishing, our bodies feel blissful and thankful. Vinegar represents the tangy flavor that compliments so many foods. Vinegar pairs well with fresh produce and provides even more delicious flavor.

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Bliss & Vinegar has over 60 delicious toppings to choose from and they offer their own house-made dressings. These dressings are all-natural and preservative free. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are also readily available. Their produce is locally sourced through Farm Link, which connects restaurants to 20-30 local farms. Bliss & Vinegar uses only naturally raised beef and chicken that are free from hormones and antibiotics. To top it off, all their materials are recyclable. Talk about sustainability!

There is something for everyone on the menu. The Bowls of Warm Bliss are hearty and delicious and perfect heading into Fall and Winter. Each bowl has a base of warm quinoa with protein, vegetables, and house-made dressing. There’s even a BMB (Big Meat Bowl) that’s filled with grilled steak, herb roasted chicken, and bacon served over quinoa with red pepper, avocado, and a Greek yogurt ranch.

Some of the most popular menu items include the Michigan Cobb, which is made with romaine lettuce, herb roasted chicken, tomato, onion, Michigan dried cherries, bacon, egg, and gorgonzola vinaigrette. Another favorite is the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili, which is also vegan and gluten-free. Jennifer states that the chili is even a hit with their children. Bliss & Vinegar also allows customers to create their own salad, bowl, or wrap. This can be very helpful to those that may have food allergies or intolerances. Catering options are also available, which is perfect for local businesses that want a healthy lunch option for the office.

In addition to providing quick and healthy meals, Bliss & Vinegar is helping to create an environment of support and accountability. Last year they offered a “Bliss This!” Salad Challenge which offered helpful tips and recipes on how to create a different salad each day. Currently, they’re running a 30-day Healthy Challenge; the participants encourage each other to establish healthier habits that range from eating well to physical activity. Jennifer hopes to offer these groups more frequently and grow participation. Guests can also join their Newsletter service for more health-related tips.

Bliss & Vinegar is community focused. They’ve partnered with local wellness sites, such as Pure Barre and Orange Theory Fitness. Every six weeks, customers are treated to a new local artist’s artwork through a partnership with Grand Valley Artists Association. The featured art displayed throughout the restaurants helps create a calming atmosphere.

“What we want to promote is that there are a lot of healthy options out there–we just have to help people switch it up and make it more exciting. Healthy food does not have to be boring food.” –Jennifer McNamara

Bliss & Vinegar is ideal for anyone seeking a healthful, tasty meal. It’s great for a sit-down lunch or an easy dinner to pick up on the way home. The wide range of available produce, protein, and dressings, accommodates any type of diet. They also go beyond food by creating relationships with local fitness groups and by helping guests create healthier habits with wellness groups and challenges.

Bliss & Vinegar is located at 888 Forest Hill Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Jenn Fillenworth is a local blogger and creator of Jenny with the Good Eats. She is a Registered Dietitian, Culinary Student, and Master’s Candidate. Jenn has made appearances on WZZM 13 and Fox 17, promoting healthy eating and wellness to Greater Grand Rapids. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore new foods. For more recipes & healthy inspiration, follow her on Instagram: jennywiththegoodeats


Plant Based Living

By Marin D

I am a 38-year-old wife and mom of 3, and I exclusively eat plants to nourish my body. I wasn’t always so fruit-filled, and I’m sharing a piece of my health-seeking journey to help others better understand the relationship between the food we consume and the quality of health we can reasonably expect to have.

After moving beyond numerous health issues, I understood two things: I’m the best advocate for my health care needs and I should only focus on issues I can control. To take care of my body, and under the guidance of a health professional, I followed a high protein diet (mostly fish/Greek yogurt/eggs/whey protein), lifted light weights 2 days/week and ran 30+ miles/week. It was a shock, then, to receive a report of high cholesterol (260) after a health physical. Allow me to put this in context:

Total Cholesterol Numbers (measured in milligrams per deciliter – NIH.gov)
240 MG/DL and Above = High
200-239 MG/DL = Borderline-High
Less than 200 MG/DL = Desirable

Because I like to learn, I soon discovered:

  • Nearly 1 in every 2 American Women Has High or Borderline-High Cholesterol. – National Institutes of Health
  •  The body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and substances that aid digestion, but it makes all the cholesterol it needs (mainly in the liver). The other source of cholesterol is food. – National Institutes of Health.
  • Top Food-Sources of Cholesterol: eggs, chicken, beef/burgers, cheese, sausage, hot dogs, bacon and fish. – National Cancer Institute
  • If blood cholesterol (a fat-like substance) is too high, it builds up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, this plaque causes Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke and other vascular disease. – CDC
  • Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in the United States. – CDC

Hearing I had high cholesterol, and then understanding what it meant, was frightening, but learning I could do something about it myself was a relief, and in time, very empowering! Through self-guided research (watching documentaries, learning about Sebi, reading countless books/university studies/scientific articles, and talking to vegans), I began to really understand the deep connection between food and health. Some food nourishes (provides vital nutrients and protective compounds like antioxidants or polyphenols), and some food depletes (may contain some nutrients but is inflammatory). To live a healthy life, I came to believe I should consume quality food (anti-inflammatory, clean fuel) that provides the daily dose of nutrients required by the body.

Beverly Merz, Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch said, ‘…While you only need a small supply of micronutrients, failing to reach those requirements virtually guarantees disease.’

Breakfast Bowl: Quinoa, blueberry juice, unsweetened coconut yogurt, blackberries, chopped dates, walnuts, Michigan maple syrup.

Armed with a plethora of information, I chose to follow a high carb, low fat vegan diet. As meat is a carcinogen (IARC) and dairy is inflammatory (Harvard), and because I like to make room for (vegan) ice cream and donuts, I wanted to make sure the vast majority of the food in my diet would be working for me. As nature provides, why waste money or health on that which ultimately deprives?

After a year of enjoying a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds/nuts and grains, my blood work revealed that carbs saved my life; my cholesterol dropped to 185, quality of sleep, skin and digestion drastically improved, and even after ditching high intensity workouts in favor of more calming yoga sessions, hikes and bike rides, the body fat I thought I’d have for life melted right off! Why on Earth would I ever turn back?!

Coco-Toast: bakery bread (toasted), unsweetened coconut yogurt, blueberries, sunflower seeds, Michigan maple syrup.

Eating plants is good for me, the animals, the climate, the planet and humanity. My diet, thus, seamlessly became my lifestyle; plants meet my nutritional needs, satisfy my desires and are a real, sustainable solution to many of our planet’s problems.

Out of my enthusiasm for plant-based eating, sustainable living, and my appreciation to the strangers who have dropped nuggets of information for me to look up, I created CoconutsforPlants on Instagram to share my quick, simple plant-strong recipes. I hope to show health-seeking folks that plants can be delicious, filling, and most important, are the most nourishing foods we could possibly choose to thrive as we potentially could.

Dinner Bowl: Romaine, mixed bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, mixed potatoes – baked with falafels, canned corn, black beans, hummus, avocado, olive oil and salt/red pepper flakes.

If you haven’t started already, I recommend eating the rainbow. Healthy feels great and always starts with the first bite. Next month, I’ll share a piece about my favorite markets to find the best produce (and deals) in Grand Rapids–stay tuned!

About the Author

Marin Darr is a local vegan and developer of the IG account CoconutsforPlants. Professionally, she’s entangled in the world of startups. To balance that stress, she studies plant-based nutrition, takes walks, rides her bike and practices mindfulness while standing on her head. She tries to live humbly, volunteers occasionally, and appreciates family time. She resides in EGR.


Top Outdoor Fitness Destinations in Grand Rapids

Meet local blogger, Alyssa Waid, the creator & owner of Pretty, Young, & Motivated.  Alyssa’s goal is to reach young women who struggle with self-confidence and finding comfort in being who they are. A senior at GVSU, she loves exploring what the world has to offer, traveling, and meeting new people. Her blog offers health, fitness, & lifestyle advice while encouraging women to be confident in their own skin. Stay tuned for more from Alyssa, who will be regularly contributing to GR Healthy Living. Also, you can find her on IG: blogger_alyssa.

Getting active doesn’t have to be a hassle. As a college student, I know the struggle of paying for an expensive gym membership or joining a yoga studio. Both are great options to reach your fitness goals, but they can be limiting and costly. This summer, I have made it my goal to find affordable ways to get fit without going to the gym. So far, I have found that the best alternative is the great outdoors. You heard it right! There are so many ways to get active outdoors, and it’s free!  Summers can pass quickly in the mitten, as many of you probably know, therefore you don’t want to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine. Here are some of my favorite outdoor workout spots and how I utilize the space around me:


There is a flight of stairs near my house that I like to utilize for some High-Intensity Training. I tend to do about 10-15 sprints bottom to top. This workout always makes me super sweaty, but it’s really beneficial. If you engage your muscles correctly, it will work your entire body; your core should be firm and your arms and legs should be pumping. If you do not have access to stairs, you can always substitute with hills or bleachers. They will still engage the same muscles and give the same results! You can find stairs or hills in almost any neighborhood. Utilize the bleachers at your local high school or find a sledding spot. A few popular destinations that you should definitely check out:

  • Stairs on Division located downtown.  After a few sets, this incredibly steep set will leave you a sweaty, breathless mess. 
  • Belknap Park has a 2 awesome hill slopes behind the baseball field. These are also great for lunges and intense hill training.

The Stairs on Division

Stair Workout


I enjoy taking a run around my local neighborhood, but one of my favorite places to run is right through downtown Grand Rapids. You can run past the infamous Blue Bridge, stop to stretch in Rosa Parks Circle and maybe even stop for a crafted beverage or coffee after your run. There are many different routes you can take so it never gets boring or repetitive—plus you get to see the beauty of downtown.

Trails & Hiking

One of my favorite hiking spots is Rosy Mound Nature Trail, which is near the lakeshore. I enjoy hiking this trail because I am able to hike to a gorgeous view while still getting a solid workout in. The trail has a challenging terrain, from stairs to inclined paths, and I am able to engage multiple muscle groups. If this is too far, no worries!  Millennium Park, closer to downtown, has more scenic paths to run or jog. It’s a quiet park that cuts through the woods and near a few lakes, making it a great place to clear your head and get active.

Millennium Park


A local park can be as functional as a gym. Parks have a lot of green space for you to do some stretching, yoga, and circuit training. Personally, I love using my own body to work out, which can be referred to as Calisthenics. I am able to do these workouts virtually anywhere, like a park or my backyard. The playground set can also work as a crossfit-style gym. For example, you can use monkey bars to do pull-ups or hanging ab crunches, or you can use the park bench to do some tricep push ups. The park has a lot of potential, if you’re creative!

On top of all these wonderful outdoor fitness destinations, Grand Rapids also provides many free outdoor fitness classes throughout the summer. Funky Buddha yoga studio even holds free yoga classes in select parks, which is awesome.

Exercise can be simple! You don’t need expensive memberships or fancy yoga clothes. Embrace what the universe has given us and get active outdoors. These are my personal and favorite places to get active outdoors, what are yours?




Three Must-Try Healthy Ingredients

We are thrilled to introduce local blogger Marisa Griggs of Bringoutyourbliss.com. Marisa will be regularly contributing her expertise in health & fitness to the GR Healthy Living blog. She’s passionate about inspiring others to live their best life by sharing nutritious, plant based recipes & maintaining an active lifestyle. Continue reading for an introduction to a few of her favorite nutritional products. Also, be sure to check out her blog or follow her on IG: bring_out_your_bliss. 

I absolutely love being in the kitchen creating delicious and healthy recipes. It is my greatest stress reliever and also serves as my creative outlet. I also love incorporating new ingredients into my meals. It’s so fun to explore different herbs, spices, flours, sweeteners, oils and so on to switch things up and try something new! Currently, I have been cooking and baking like crazy with maca powder, brain octane oil, and nutritional yeast. All three are so different, but even still, I find myself using them together. Below I explain what they are, why I love them, what they taste like, and how I use them!


What is It? It is a root vegetable found in the Peruvian Andes. While a root, maca is most often consumed in powdered form. 

Why Do I Love It? Maca is a treasure trove of health benefits! It is considered an adaptogen, meaning it is a natural substance which helps the body “adapt” to stress. Maca has been proven to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also increases mental clarity, stamina, and energy (without caffeine!). Moreover, maca is considered a very female-centric herb because of its ability to aid in hormonal balance (e.g., gets you in a good mood!), metabolic regulation and improve sexual health. Finally, Maca is rich in Vitamins B1, B2, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and amino acids.

What does It Taste Like? Maca has a malty, almost chocolate taste with nutty undertones. It is great in smoothies, sweets, desserts, coffee and goes great with chocolate.

How Do I Use It? I put a little bit of Maca (1 tsp. to ½ Tbsp.) in my morning coffee every day. I also love to bake with it. Try my “Magical Maca” cookies and you’ll know why!


What is It? Brain Octane Oil is a supplement created by Bulletproof, a lifestyle company founded by Dave Asprey. Brain Octane is naturally found in coconut oil in small quantities, however, Bulletproof carefully extracts the oil from 100% pure coconut oil and concentrates it in order for consumers to receive the purest energy source possible.

Why Do I Love It? brain Octane Oil is 18X stronger than coconut oil! Plus, without getting too scientific, it is made with only C8 MCTs, which means your body won’t store it as fat and it will deliver energy to your brain faster than coconut oil or MCT oil. Remember, our brains need fat to fuel their cells, so it’s crucial to eat ample amounts of healthy fats, especially in the morning

What does It Taste Like? Undetectable!

How Do I Use It? The options are endless and I add it to almost everything. Smoothies, salads, roasted and steamed vegetables, over meat, in desserts and in any food and drink for an amazing boost. When it comes to drinks, I use it daily in my morning mug of Bulletproof coffee. I can’t go a morning without it because I feel a difference cognitively! It is a staple in my morning routine, and it will be in yours too once you try it and feel the difference. My blog post shares the many ways I like to make Bulletproof coffee, including with maca powder.


Image result for nutritional yeastWhat is It? Nutritional yeast, also known as savory yeast, is an inactive yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. It is yellow in color and is bought in flakes, granules, or a powder-like form.

Why Do I Love It? Let me count the ways! One, it tastes amazing (see below). And two, it’s packed with vitamins and nutrition due to its abundance of B-vitamins, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, selenium, zin. Also, it is a source of a complete protein.

What does It Taste Like? It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and is often used to emulate cheese in sauces, dressings, dips and even bread, crusts, and biscuits.

How Do I Use It? In everything! Sprinkled over veggies, eggs, salads, poultry dishes and more. I absolutely love it in my cheesy almond flour pizza crust and it is fantastic in my tried and true fan favorite, spicy jalapeno cashew cheese dip.

Jalapeno Cashew Cheese Dip

Cheesy Almond Flour Pizza Crust

Bullet Proof Coffee

All three of these ingredients are staples in my pantry and I use them pretty much daily. They make me feel amazing and enhance the taste of my food, which is key to sticking to a long-term healthy lifestyle. I encourage you to try at least one of these ingredients in your kitchen repertoire in the next week; I guarantee you will love them!

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Free August Fitness Events Guide

Check out these free fitness goodies the Grand Rapids fitness community has to offer you. It’s the last full month of summer, so savor the chance to get your fitness fix outside. Gather your gang, show them this list, and try as many as you can!

Rosa Parks Circle, Sixth Street Park, & the Blue Bridge:

Parks & Recreation has teamed up with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to offer free outdoor fitness classes to the Grand Rapids community. Dance to motivating music with a Zumba class, or burn calories with kickboxing, yoga, and world dance. There’s a class offered almost every evening, so explore our events calendar for the full schedule. This series will wrap up in 2 weeks, so don’t miss out on awesome scenic back drops with incredible instructors.

Image result for zumba rosa parks circle

Learn & Burn Walking Tours:

Learn while you burn calories on an invigorating & fascinating guided running or walking tour around downtown Grand Rapids.  Plan a fun corporate or conference event, design a unique social activity for your business, group of friends or family. You’ll experience the true pulse of our city — led by tour ambassadors who are as passionate about local lore as they are about fitness.  Run.  Walk.  Ride.  Move! Only a few free classes remain for the summer season, including the Heritage Hill Architectural  & Honoring Diversity Tours. Check out our calendar and export a tour into your schedule!

Yoga on the Rooftop of the Waters Center, Thurs., Aug. 10th @5:45 pm:

Join AM Yoga for a Donation based Vinyasa class. All levels are welcome. Please bring a mat, towel, water, and friends!

Image result for yoga roof

Learn to Row Day, Saturday, August 12th, 9:00am-1:00 pm:

Celebrate the summer rowing season with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. Saturday, August 12, is a FREE Learn to Row day for anyone interested in the sport of rowing. Whether you are looking to sign up for a class or just want to check it off your bucket list, join GRRA on the Grand River.

Your visit will start with a quick tour of the boathouse and review of safety rules. They’ll get you acquainted with the boats and put you on an indoor rower to show you proper technique. Then, it’s down to the dock! The boats will be ready with trained coxswains and coaches to make your first experience in a sweep boat the best it can be. You’ll be seated near experienced rowers who are encouraging, supportive and are ready to help. Take time out of your Saturday schedule to learn a new skill, meet some wonderful people and have a great time on the water. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and bring/wear socks. For more information, visit their website.

Image result for learn to row day grand rapids

Gyrokinesis® Intro Class, Thursday, August 24th, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm:

Increase your range of motion and build strength with this gentle but powerful workout that draws on yoga, tai chi, gymnastics, and dance. GYROKINESIS® method includes seated movements, mat exercises, and standing sequences that work the entire body, including the cardiovascular system. Plus, you’ll awaken your senses, stimulate your nervous system, and work toward mind-body integration. Try it now for free. Weekly classes begin September 14.

Image result for Gyrokinesis outdoor

Beer City Bike Fest at the Spoke Folks, Saturday, August 26th, 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

A bike-themed carnival AND music festival – two events in one at The Spoke Folks! FREE and family friendly! Start the day with games and activities. Compete in one or all of the races (register at the event). Kids can decorate their own flag and license plate to show off in the Kids’ Parade and Bangarang Circus will perform. Live music starts at 5:00 pm. Love’s Ice Cream and Mosbyspopcorn will have snacks for purchase. #BCBF

Image result for spokefolks grand rapids

ALL of the latest health & fitness events can be found on our events calendar. We update daily so you don’t miss a thing! Export events to your calendar & easily find what you’re looking for. We got you covered!

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

August Fitness Events Guide

With so much happening in Grand Rapids, finding a fitness event can be overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for something challenging & fun. Leave it to GR Healthy Living to find all the awesomeness for you, complete with dogs, beer, & mud. The following events make the perfect get-together with your fitness buddy or a creative date with your love! Or, brave it and go alone; you’ll end up meeting like-minded people and get to know someone new. And, of course, be sure to check our event calendar–August in the 616 is jam packed with plenty more to keep you moving, active, and engaged with the health & fitness community!

Paws & Reflect: A Yoga-Doga Community Event, August 3rd @ 7:00pm

BISSELL Pet Foundation and AM Yoga invite people and their pooches for a furry yoga flow at Pulaski Park (Steepletown Neighborhood Services) in Grand Rapids on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at 7 pm. All funds raised will directly support BISSELL Pet Foundation’s mission to help save pets in shelters and rescues.

Join zen dogs and their OM-azing owners at this community event for Woofin’ Warriors of all shapes and sizes. With the Ashley and Mali from AM Yoga as guides, the class will focus on awakening the senses and taking life a little less seriously…two things dogs do amazingly well! Connect with your dog as you bond through poses for pets and people to increase flexibility and fun. Bring your pup on a leash, a yoga mat you aren’t afraid to get a few paws on, and a sense of humor.

Tickets are $20 in advance and the first 50 participants to register will receive a BISSELL Pet Foundation leash as a commemorative gift. Same day registration will begin at 6 pm. Pulaski Park
is located at 629 5th St NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

Purchase tickets HERE

Please note: All dogs attending this event must be up to date on shots. Tickets are $20 for each yogi (and up to one dog).

Downtown GR Bike Party! 70s, 80s, 90s Ride, August 4th @ 7:00pm

Hop on your bike and head downtown for the 70s, 80s, & 90s ride! Ride through Downtown Grand Rapids and GR’s Westside. This is a free event and open to all who are looking to meet new and old riders!
Event Meetup Location- Rosa Park Circle
Event Begins – 7:00pm
Deck out your bike with 70s, 80s, 90s inspired gear!
Ride Begins- 7:30pm
Route Features- Includes Rosa Park Circle, GR Blue Bridge, and Westside GR
Dresscode- 70s,80s,90s Inspired
Special Guest DJ- Joe Moon
Ending Location-Ah Nab Awen Park “Movies In The Park”

Kick Off Night- Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital GR Kids Marathon, August 7th @ 6:30pm

Is your child participating in the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Grand Rapids Kids Marathon? Join the Children’s Hospital to kickoff the first mile on Monday, August 7, at 6:30 pm at Millennium Park! The will have water and post-race food plus awards! Log sheets will also be available so the kids can start tracking their progress. Please plan to arrive a little after 6 (before the run starts at 6:30) to sign a waiver and get the kids warmed up. Check out their website for more information.

August 12th: David Warsen Legacy 5K Run/HERO Walk, August 12th @ 8:00am

The David Warsen Legacy Foundation is hosting a 5K Run & 1.5 Mile Hero Walk event in honor of fallen hero SO2 Navy SEAL David Warsen. David was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in August 2012. As family and friends of David, we want to honor him by celebrating his life and giving nature through a community event. This event will be held on August 12, 2017 and includes a 5K fun run that will take place on the cross country trail at East Kentwood High School and a 1.5 mile walk on the track at the football field. Register at  davidwarsenlegacy.com.

$40 – 5K Run registration fee
$30- Hero Walk registration fee
$35 – Virtual Runner registration fee
**Kids 12 and under may run or walk for Free, but MUST by accompanied by an adult at all times and a registration form must be filled out for all children participating in either event.

All pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt, bib number & David Warsen Legacy bag. You can sign-up the morning of the event, but please be aware that it is possible that t-shirts and bags may be gone. Virtual runners will receive a t-shirt, bib number, and a David Warsen Legacy coozie mailed to you shortly after the event.

Funky Buddha Triathlon, August 13th @ 10:00 am 

The First TWO Funky Buddha Triathlon of the Season SOLD OUT!! Don’t miss this one!! Sign UP NOW.

August means Beer! Funky Buddha is headed back to Harmony Hall for yummy food and tasty drafts. Don’t like beer? No problem. Harmony has a full bar, including some tasty bloody mary options.

1 hour of Funky Buddha Yoga at Lincoln Park
Group Bike Ride around the Westside led by The Spoke Folks
Final destination – Harmony Hall!!!

Your ticket price includes your Yoga, Bike Ride, a Funky Awesome Event T-shirt, and a mid-ride fresh juice from Malamiah Juice Bar. A portion of all food and drink sales will go directly to support the amazing work of The Spoke Folks…..so have your friends and fam meet you at Harmony Hall for the after-party!!

Because of the limited capacity, tickets are non-refundable. Our Funky Triathletes are an intrepid bunch, and the event will go off rain or shine

AfterWERQ – Dance, Fitness, Workout, Party! August 22nd @ 6:30pm

We know you’re ready to WERQ – but are you ready for AfterWERQ?! AfterWERQ brings all the energy of a WERQ dance fitness class into a nightclub setting. Prepare yourself for an exhilarating dance fitness workout experience complete with concert lighting, a dance floor, a bumpin’ stereo system and post-workout cocktails with the instructors! Sweat it out to the hottest pop & hip-hop hits. Grab your friends, wear fitness clothes, bring a towel and a water bottle and come prepared to WERQ up a sweat on the dance floor!


5+ instructors on site!
Photo booth
Vendors including a massage therapist, health foods & more!
Bar games – corn hole, mega connect four & more!
TICKET GIVEAWAYS to upcoming 20 Monroe Live concerts!

Ticket Price: $10 advance / $15 day of show
Ages: All
Will-call/box office opens @ 4:30pm.

Door Time: 6:30pm
Dance begins: 7:15pm
Post-Dance Drinks & Party: 8:45pm

Movers and Shakers, August 24th @ 6:30pm

Join MVP as they close down the street for a summer BLOCK PARTY you won’t want to miss! Burn calories with MVP’s most popular group fitness classes, rehydrate with top-notch cocktails, and support a great cause! Start your evening off with a good sweat in your choice of a Yoga, Zumba, Group Ride, Group Fight or a Training for Warriors class. Then reward yourself after class with delicious appetizers provided by Slow’s BBQ and sip and socialize on cocktails provided by Coppercraft Distillery and The Mitten Brewing Company while browsing silent action items.

All event proceeds will go directly to the Children’s Healing Center, the first year-round recreation center for kids with weak immune systems. Located in Grand Rapids, the Center provides a safe, fun healing environment, where kids and families can connect with others.


Thursday, August 24
Doors open at 6:30pm
Classes start at 7:00pm
Cocktails & Appetizers served at 8:00pm

Find your favorite workout gear, because this is the only fundraiser you’ll go to where workout clothes are required.

Purchase tickets HERE. Each ticket includes participation in group fitness class, appetizers, and two drink tickets.

Grand Rapids Mud Run, August 26th @ 8:30 am

Get ready for a challenging but fun 5K run with hills, obstacles, walls, 60-foot mudslide, tunnel crawls, slippery hill climbs, and oodles of mud pits. The course is packed with over 10 obstacles plus our mud pit section with over 10 mud pits and hills! (There is a Kids Mini Mud Run for kids 12 & under.)

Mission: In 2009, Jeff Eckart got a muddy idea: create a world-class, extreme 5K mud run to raise money for a worthy cause. He visited the San Diego Mud Run in 2009, and on August 28, 2010, the first Grand Rapids Mud Run took place.

For more info & to register, visit http://www.grandrapidsmudrun.com/