Archived Story

Vegan living is a piece of cake

Published 6:14pm Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kat Barry and Jill Polmanteer sell their vegan creations at the St. Joseph Farmers' Market every Wednesday and Saturday. Photo by Kate Stone

By KATE STONE

Off the Water

According to Kat Barry, “Staying hot is a piece of cake with healthy treats from Kat’s Kitchen.”

Barry, 31, owns Kat’s Hot Cakes, through which she and her staff sell 100 percent vegan, all-natural and mostly organic food products. Each item is low in fat and has zero cholesterol, which is normally found in animal products.

After living in Pittsburgh, Pa. working in real estate for the past seven years, Barry decided to move home to St. Joseph to follow her dream of having a vegan bakery.

“It is a lot of work, but cooking and baking are my favorite things to do,” Barry said. “As Martha Stewart says, ‘If it’s your passion, it’s not work,’ and it is definitely my passion.”

Barry has been a vegan for four years, but has been a sporadic vegetarian since she was a teenager. She is also the only staff member of Kat’s Hot Cakes who is a vegan. Her employees simply just love the food, which helps when it comes to attracting non-vegan customers.

“When I first became vegan, it was mostly trial and error with a little bit of research,” Barry said. “Now that I have gotten more advanced I do a lot more research. I’m constantly learning new things.”

At Kat’s Hot Cakes, Barry uses input from friends and family members for recipes as well as remakes classic recipes to include vegan substitutions. As a cook, she experiments and puts her own touch on every recipe she uses.

Although her favorites are Ms. Barry’s Bran Muffins, the Bad Ass Banana Bread and the Oh, Oh Orange Cake, Barry and her staff make various cakes, muffins, breads, dips and salads that can be purchased at the St. Joseph Farmers’ Market, Sweet Seasons Orchards and the Natural Health Center in Kalamazoo.

“We’re still in the growing stages of a new business,” Barry said. “We are still working on reaching out and getting noticed, but being from here, I wanted to get back and reinvest in the area.”

Barry was using her own kitchen to bake her products when she started her business in February. She currently uses a commercial restaurant kitchen in Schu’s Grill and Bar, where she and her staff spend an average of 10 hours a day preparing the vegan treats.

A vegan diet is 100 percent plant-based, which means there are no animal products consumed or used at all. People who follow a vegan diet don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy, butter or honey. It is different from a vegetarian diet because vegetarians still consume eggs and dairy products.

For questions, orders, cooking lessons or recipes visit www.katshotcakes.com or e-mail Barry directly at kat@katshotcakes.com.

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