No Meat, No Problem

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 15:08

If you think giving up meat to become vegan or vegetarian will destroy your chances of eating out — think again!

At Tinker’s Rain Forest Deli, in Eagle River’s Fire Lake Plaza, you are immediately impressed with the coziness of the place. Neat enough to be clean, cluttered enough to be happy best describes the atmosphere. Bread fresh daily. In addition to lunch, breakfast is available all day.

The shortest and simplest menu you might ever see is here. It’s just a half sheet of paper with 5 columns: Bread, Condiments, Meat, Cheese, and Veggie. (Humus is listed under meat.) Circle what you want for a sandwich: kind of bread, half or whole, with chips or pickle. You can add macaroni, potato or four-bean salad. A few old sandwich favorites are listed. Soups consist of soup of the day and chili with cheese and onion (available Friday’s). Salads are listed, but I think you could make your own with a variety of fresh vegetables that are listed under veggies. Wheat bread, wheat hoagie, rye and dark rye are whole grain options.

This simple menu is augmented by posted lists. The smoothies list caught my eye. Owner Tinker Berson assured me that the smoothies are made with fresh or frozen fruit — not with ice. Hmmm, that’s how I make mine!

Some question whether or not this is actually a deli — whatever it is, the vegan and vegetarian choices are legion.

The website offers specials and catering options at

Try sprouting at home

Sprouts add vitamins and crunch to any sandwich. Growing your own is easy and economical. You’ll need: edible seeds (NOT gardening seeds!), a large glass or plastic jar, and nylon net, tulle, or other plastic net fine enough to hold the seeds inside the jar; rubber band; tray; and a towel. Soak the seeds (in the jar) overnight in warm water. Next, put the nylon net on the jar and hold it in place with the rubber band. Rinse twice daily. Put the jar on its side on the tray to catch the extra water, and cover with the towel. When the sprouts are the length you want, they are ready to eat. Dry them on a paper towel and store in the fridge. This method doesn’t work for all sprouting seeds. Sprouts grown easily this way include lentil, alfalfa, clover, fenugreek and Mung bean. To grow lentil sprouts, use the regular soup lentils, (not red lentils). Regular mung beans usually grow well also, others can be purchased from RiGeneration Nutrition in Fire Lake Plaza — a few doors down from Rainforest Deli. Don’t have time to sprout? Please keep in mind you you don’t have to stay home to watch them grow! Always use fresh seeds. If they’re on sale (price reduced) they aren’t fresh. If they spoil or mold, throw them out. Keep the extra seeds in the fridge.

A vegetarian since 1964, Ruth deGraaff lives in Eagle River. Her two grown children, raised on a vegetarian diet, still follow the diet themselves.

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