Posts Tagged ‘Vegan’

Healthy Tex-Mex

Lunch Express at Whole Foods has become a monthly ritual for me and my girlfriends. You can’t beat a delicious cooking lesson for $18! This month, we hit up the Healthy Tex-Mex class taught by Chef Dan Marek. The menu included Mango Pico De Gallo, Spanish Rice, Portobello Mushroom and Black Bean Burritos, Sweet Potato and Corn Salad and Coconut Dulce De Leche.

I wasn’t sure what healthy aspect Chef Dan was going to incorporate since I felt the menu sounded pretty healthy. For starters, there was no cheese or dairy in any of the recipes. Everything was plant-based and natural. The corn tortillas only had corn, water and lime (Margarita Tortillas)! He also used an interesting method to replace the oil used to saute the onions. Just add water to the pan until it covers the onions. Cook the onions until the water disappears and the onions start caramelizing. Then add a little more water allowing the caramelized flavor to coat the onions. Yum! This method can be used for other veggies, bell peppers, etc.

Mango Pico De Gallo

The Mango Pico De Gallo was lovely. The mangoes were sweet and juicy but were balanced well with onions and lime juice. You could easily replace the mangoes in the recipe for tomatoes. I may try green tomatoes next time I make the recipe.  I noticed Chef Dan added cayenne pepper, surprising since there is already jalapeno in it. I didn’t taste it, but it was probably ’cause I was too busy enjoying the mangoes.

One Action Packed Plate

Our second course – Portobello Mushroom & Black Bean Burritos (ended up being tacos instead), Guacamole, Sweet Potato & Corn Salad and Spanish Rice. It was all good but I wanted more portobello mushroom and less black beans. The natural corn tortillas were a nice touch.  I definitely noticed the tortillas had more flavor than your typical corn tortilla. The tortillas do fall apart due to the lack of fat but it something I’m willing to overlook. The guacamole was chunky and tangy, just the way I like it. It helps mixing it by hand. I finished off my plate with the sweet potato and corn salad. Never had that combo before, but I dug it. The Spanish rice was more like a risotto but the creaminess hid the fact that the white rice was replaced by brown rice. It was delicious.

Coconut Dulce De Leche

Dessert was my absolutely favorite from the day. At first the presentation wasn’t really appealing but after the first bite I was hooked! I could have easily finished it in 2 secs but I decided to savor each bite. It was worth it me pacing it.

Coconut Dulce De Leche

1 Can of Coconut Milk

3 Tbsps Agave

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 Tbsp Arrow Root

Combine coconut milk, agave and vanilla in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer, add the arrow root and stir constantly. After 10 minutes, set the heat to very low and continue to cook until caramel color appears and the sauce thickens (about an hour). You will need to continually stir the mixture so it does not stick to the pan. When reduced to a thick paste, put into small bowls (about 2 oz per bowl) and put into the freezer. After 10 minutes in the freezer, place in the refrigerator until cold. When eating, break the top with the side of a spoon and enjoy!

Frankly I can’t imagine a world without greasy, cheesy Tex-Mex but I’m willing to substitute healthy alternatives from time to time! Or maybe when I cook Tex-Mex at home for my lactose intolerant boyfriend!

Next month, I’m thinking about going raw and seeing what Chef Dan can do work Italian cuisine.


At the Snack Bar

This post also appears on AustinOnTheRocks where I regularly contribute posts as a Guest Blogger on happy hours, brunch, restaurants and bars around Austin, TX.

Last night, I decided to check out Snack Bar on South Congress and asked my friend Kristi to join me. It sits nicely on South Congress next to the Austin Motel and bares traces of a 50s era diner but with an Austin feel. Perfect for SoCo’s funky Austin vibe. Sitting on the patio, I mentally noted that this would be a perfect location for brunch or people watching on First Thursdays! As we looked over the menu, I was pleased to find that they are incredibly thoughtful in considering dietary needs and had many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options to choose from, from their snacks (appetizers) to their desserts. Our server was also quick to make any changes to our order to meet any dietary needs or preferences. Along with dietary needs, many of the menu items included organic juices and ingredients. Oh and did I mention they serve the brunch menu all day, every day! And they operate eco-friendly by composting and recycling and buying local.

Pomgrenada with Remonake

With it being happy hour and all, we decided to start with a few cocktails mixed with organic juices – for me, the Pomgrenada and for Kristi, the Remonake. Both were fabulous! The Pomgrenada is ideal for those who have a fondness for pomegranate juice and/or bubbly. Kristi’s Remonake was like a refreshing lemonade, perfect for a hot day.

Kristi drinking her Remonake

Skipping the snacks, we headed straight for the entrées. I ordered the bleu burger with blue cheese, bacon and pickled onions. Cooked to perfection, it was juicy and greasy like a diner burger should be. I quickly devoured my burger enjoying all the elements in each bite. Kristi ordered the veggie burger with brie, apple raisin chutney and caramelized onions. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Kristi’s order because the veggie burger was stuffed with avocado. How would that taste with brie and apple chutney? Delicious. How unexpected!

Bleu Burger with Bacon & Pickled Onions

Veggie Burger w/ Brie, Caramelized Onions & Apple Raisin Chutney

Mac & Cheese

We ended up splitting the snack size mac and cheese with our entrees and it was comforting like a mac and cheese should be. And usually I would finish off my meal with a dessert but the burger and mac and cheese did me in for the night. If I had any more room I would have probably ordered the peanut butter pie or the black and tan (dark chocolate brownie and peanut butter blonde with ice cream on top). I did end up finishing my time at Snack Bar with one of their reds, a Grenache blend, 2008 Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec, biodynamic and very tasty. I will definitely return to Snack Bar again, and again!

Happy Hours are M-F from 4-7pm – $1 off fancy drinks and beer, $2 off select plates and snacks and $3.50 organic house wine. And pet-friendly on the patio! Visit Snack Bar.

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