Super Natural Foods – a new raw vegan meal delivery service in Austin

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Super Natural Foods to let you all know about their new meal delivery service here in Austin. Normally, I wouldn’t be too excited about another raw cleanse program but this one really caught my eye because they are using local, organic, vegan products, they deliver, and along with some raw food experts, the executive chef from Beets is involved. I thought Beets had really delicious raw foods and I was sorry to see them close down. Also, I’ve been eating tons of tacos and ice cream lately (but not yet ice cream tacos) so I thought it would be a good idea to get some raw veggies into my diet. They deliver a big bag of all the food that you will need for the next day at around 7pm, right after they make it, so that you will be all ready for the next day. When I got my bag I couldn’t believe how much food was in it. 

I was actually feeling really ill the next day so it couldn’t have come at a better time, although my pictures did suffer from my lack of attention to detail! I assure you that all the food was amazingly fresh and vibrant. In fact, that is what I was most impressed with overall, everything from the vegetables to the containers, to the details of the diet seemed very high quality.

The day started with Strawberry Banana Malt Smoothie which I really adored. I usually don’t like smoothies that aren’t fresh out of the blender but this one was still delicious even though it was made the day before. Maybe it’s a high-powered blender thing? Their Signature Green Juice was still fantastic too, I was worried from looking at it that it might be to grassy but it was really tasty with a nice mix of greens and other vegetables like cucumber. Included with the food is a days worth of supplements including a pro-biotic,  a blood purifying herb called manjistha, and a colon cleansing herb called triphala. They also packed in some shots made with lemon juice, ginger juice and cayenne pepper and are meant to optimize your digestion. 

For lunch a beautiful Eggless Egg Salad Bagel with crudite was included. As a flour bagel lover I was a bit wary of this but it was tasty and healthy and the portion was quite large. In fact I wasn’t even hungry for dinner!

Don’t worry, I still ate the snack which was Maca Energy Nuggets. They didn’t sound too enticing but I absolutely loved them. I wouldn’t even let Dan try them (Shh it’s a good thing he just looks at the pictures). I ate them with the zucchini soup  which I wasn’t a big fan of but I think they are going to work on.

This was served with a salad of petite Greens with shaved root vegetables, sweet 100 tomatoes and fennel vinaigrette. which was still beautiful by the time I got to it the next day. 

It’s a lot of food for one person! I think this would be a great option for someone with a healthy appetite that wants to get more healthy things into their body. Since it’s delivered and all the meals are ready to go it would be great for anyone that doesn’t have time or interest in dealing with preparing raw food. It would be perfect, too, for somebody who is dealing with an illness. I know from experiance that it can be impossible to aquire healthy food like this when you are too sick to drive anywhere. It’s much easier to do a taco cleanse :)

Good luck to Super Natural Food, I hope that you all are super succesful.

 

GIVEAWAY and Review of Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick

If you follow my Instagram than you’ve seen that the last few weeks I’ve been pretty consumed with making vegan tacos. It isn’t the first time I’ve dedicated my life to tacos and, I can tell you, it won’t be the last. I’ve had so much fun and I’ve learned a ton from Jason’s wonderful book Vegan Tacos. I love his infectious enthusiasm for tacos. In fact, when I read the way that he described eating a fresh tortilla for the first time I kind of fell in love with him. He’s a kindred spirit. The book is filled with pictures of him making tacos for his friends and family in his lovely backyard kitchen and you can really see that he wants to spread the gospel that tacos are life, or the best parts anyway.

Vegan Tacos starts with a history of the tacos, including Jason’s own family’s brushes with Mexican culinary legends. He then goes into all the different special ingredients so you can tell your cascabel chile from a habenero and then talks about tools that you might invest in like a comal or a molcajete. Won’t someone out there please get me a molcajete? I have to make my guacamole with a potato masher like some sort of philistine! It then gets into the most important chapter, the tortilla. I’ve long been a tortilla snob at restaurants but for my own taco making my tortilla press was stored on top of the refrigerator and neglected to very special occasion status. I was perfectly happy to get tortillas, still warm mind you, from Fiesta or Central Market. But, with Jason’s encouragement, I’ve gotten into the habit of pressing out tortillas every day. I even broke my old aluminum tortilla press and sprung for the cast iron version. It’s true what he says, the cast iron one presses out much thinner tortillas. Now that it’s habit and I’ve gotten good I can make quite a few in no time. Making your own tortillas makes all the difference in the world and is the only way you will ever get to the perfect taco.

Purple Potato Tacos with roasted Hatch Peppers, Queso Fresco, and Salsa Verde on homemade Corn Tortillas

The next chapter has other essential skills and recipes to elevate your taco making. Jason uses mojo de ajo in most of his recipes and though I had never heard of it before I knew I’d have to make up a batch to fully enjoy the book and I’m glad I did. This garlic and citrus infused oil has made all the difference in sauteing. I love it and it will become a kitchen staple. There are also recipes for pressed seitan, achiote paste, chorizo, and techniques like pan roasting vegetables. Not in this chapter but towards the end of the book with the condiments are some recipes for vegan cheese, a fermented Mexican Crema, Queso Fresco from homemade tofu, and Queso Oaxaca which is a melting cheese based on a Miyoko recipe. Having all of these base recipes and techniques has definitely elevated my taco making and having all these components on hand makes dinner tacos a snap to prepare after work.

Vampire Tacos with Queso Oaxaca

After that we get into the main part of the book, the taco filling recipes starting with Tacos de Asador or “Tacos with fillings charred over an open flame.” I sadly don’t have a grill anymore so I couldn’t fully utilize these but Jason does give directions for cooking them on the stove top or in the oven. You can see my Vampire Tacos above didn’t quite curl up like bat wings without the heat of the grill. I really want to try the Tacos with Smoked Mushrooms, Jalapeño, and Lime from this chapter and the Yucatecan-Style Barbecue so maybe I will just bite the bullet and get a grill.

The next chapter is Tacos de Guisados “Tacos made with stewed fillings” and these tacos made good use of vegetables in recipes like Tacos with Sweet Potato & Chard or Mole Tacos with Seared Zucchini, Wilted Chard, and Pepitas Chard but there are also “meat” heavy recipes like Tacos with Vegan Sausage, Seitan, and Chorizo or the Tacos with Hot Dogs in Tomato Salsa. I made the Tacos with Pintos Borrachos, Poblano Strips, and Queso Fresco except I was out of peppers and I added avocado and green chile peanuts and they were so so easy and delicious. Jason always gives tips to make short cuts in recipes or tips to make them more healthy too.

Next is Tacos de Comal “Tacos made with sautéed fillings.” which are probably the tacos that most non-Mexicans are most familiar with except with vegan spins like Baja-Style Tacos with Lobster Mushrooms and Ten-Minute Seitan Carnitas it also has traditionally vegan tacos made from Cactus (nopales) or Potato and Peppers (rajas) which is what I usually get a Mexican taco stands around Austin that use lard in the beans. I’ve never gotten one with purple potatoes though! It’s pictured up top. Tonight I am going to make Tacos with Huitlacoche and Fresh Corn from this chapter. Jason gives plenty of tips throughout all the sections like how to remove cactus needles or make sure you wash your huitlacoche from its canning liquid if it isn’t fresh. This kind of stuff is so helpful for a newbie and so often left out of cookbooks.

Tacos Dorados “Rolled tacos, fried golden and crisp.” which are more like flautas or taquitos are in the next chapter and I do want to try both the Tacos Dorados with Plantains, Black Beans, and Roasted Garlic and the Tacos Dorados with Squash Blossoms and Potato. The former is one of my favorite non-fried tacos so I can’t imagine how good it will be in dorado form! The latter will have to wait for next spring when squash blossoms are in season. Or maybe I could plant some right now…I could probably harvest the blossoms before the winter.

Then next is Los Otros Tacos “Other tacos in a class by themselves” which include the vegan mainstay they Guacamole taco and a recipe for Michoacan-Style Carnitas which I plan to make this weekend. There is a discussion for the latter of whether seitan or jackfruit make for better vegan carnitas so you can decide which is best for you.

Chapter 10 is Tacos de Canasta “Classic breakfast ‘basket’ tacos, sauced and steamed.” which I had never heard of but sounds super interesting. Basically you dip tortillas in a sauce, stuff them up with the different fillings, fold them, add them into a cooler or crockpot and then layer with caramelized onions and then parchment paper and keep alternating layers until you are all loaded up and can “sweat” the tacos. Whoa! I have to try these the next time I have overnight guests cause what a brunch would those make!

Chile Rellano Tacos

Next Chapter is the kind of breakfast tacos I’m used to, Tacos Mañaneros “Breakfast tacos from both sides of the border.” I tried the Chile Rellano with Hatch Peppers above. They are stuffed with a cream made from toasted pepitas, roasted tomatillos, and garlic but the recipe doesn’t call for the deep fry that I am accustomed too. Somehow they reminded me of the tacos I first had as a young’un at my beloved Jolly Tamale. Next time I’ll deep-fry them though using his tempura batter as suggested.

I also tried the Hash Brown and Black Bean Tacos with Tomatillo Avocado Salsa which were easy peasy since my salsa was already made.

He does have a recipes for tofu scramble too in the Breakfast Tacos with Poblano Strips, Mojo Scramble, and Pinto Beans which sounds delicious and I will surely try that soon.

The next couple of chapters are dessert tacos, think Spicy Cinnamon Tacos with Salted Coconut Cajeta Apples and Agave Crema and then Fusion Tacos but I haven’t tried any from either chapter yet. I don’t think I’m ready for Kimchee tacos YET!

The next section is “Toppings, Sides, and Drinks” which starts with traditional toppings like Taquería-Style Carrots Escabeche and Pickled Red Onions, moves into a whole chapter of salsas, hot sauces, and guacamoles like Toasted Pepita Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole, and then continues with rice and bean recipes and other sides like Fruit with Chile, Lime, and Salt. And, then ends with a chapter on drinks that includes tons of aqua frescas, a discussion on pairing beer, tequilla, and mezcal, a recipe for a Grilled Lime Margarita with Mesquite Smoked Salt and even ends with a port. I am going to make the Watermelon Cactus Fruit Agua Fresca with Tequila Añejo Shots as soon as I can.

So you can see it’s very comprehensive. I think people who are willing to dive in and take on all the projects are going to get a lot out of this book. I also think that people who haven’t ever had a good taco could really get into this although it might seem a bit overwhelming. I think if they take advantage of the shortcuts and see the substitutions it should be pretty easy to follow though. Jason’s friendly approach and love of tacos really comes across so that should help quite a bit. This book seems terrific for folks on specialty diets as well. It would be easy to omit all the soy out of the recipes, Jason even gives directions for using peanut milk in the homemade tofu for the queso fresco recipe. Omitting gluten should be easy too, all you have to do is use beans for seitan or any of the other ingredients he always recommends like eggplant, mushrooms or sweet potatoes depending on the recipe.  This goes for people following a whole foods based diet or an E2 diet as well. Since Jason started his road to veganism eating a health food diet and co-authored the book 21 Day Weightloss Kickstart with Neal Barnard, MD he has a lot of experience in that area. The only people who might struggle with this book are those unfortunate to not have a well stocked Mexican Market in town. Although there are plenty of substitutions offered I fear it might be really frustrating to not be able to use basic authentic ingredients like poblanos and masa.

So have I sold you yet? Are you worried I’m a shill? I’m not although they did give me a free review copy I am just an extreme lover of tacos! If you aren’t so sure yet here is the recipe for Hominy and Seitan Tacos 
in Roasted Garlic Cascabel Sauce which I made last night.

Hominy and Seitan Tacos 
in Roasted Garlic Cascabel Sauce from Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick

Tacos de Pozole y Seitan en Salsa de Chile Cascabel y Ajo Asado

I love using cascabel chiles in this taco for their pure red chile flavor. They are a nice looking chile, so I always put a few on the plate for presentation. The contrasting flavor of the hominy (aka pozole), with the chewier seitan, all work together to make a very rustic-flavored taco. This is one of my favorite taco creations. Make them low-fat by simmering the seitan and hominy in the sauce instead of sautéing in oil. If you don’t want to use seitan, substitute potatoes, zucchini, chayote, mushrooms, or any vegetables that will provide a substantial texture. Just sauté the vegetables at a medium heat long enough to brown them before adding the sauce. You can even use pinto beans (but don’t sauté them).

REGION: CASA DE JASON | HEAT LEVEL: 3 | MAKES 8 TACOS

The Filling (choose either seitan strips or portobellos)

10 cascabel chiles or 4 guajillo chiles

1/2 cup rehydrating liquid (after rehydrating the chiles)

10 cloves garlic, pan-roasted

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups seitan strips or 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips

1 cup cooked, rinsed hominy

8 thick (5 to 6-inch) corn tortillas

Rough Salted Chile Powder

A sprinkle of chopped roasted and salted peanuts per taco

1. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer, add the cascabels, and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and remove the stems from the chiles. In a blender or food processor, puree the chiles, roasted garlic, reserved simmering liquid, oregano, and salt. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the seitan and sauté until lightly browned, about5 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and hominy and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

3. Warm the tortillas. Fill them with the seitan hominy mixture and finish them off with a rough salted chile powder to taste and a sprinkle of chopped roasted salted peanuts.

 


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

If you got to the end of what is probably the longest review I’ve ever written than surely you are interested in winning a copy of Vegan Tacos please have a US address and a valid email that you check and comment below with an answer to this question: An extraterrestrial lands in your backyard and says, “take me to your taco”, what do you do?

 

 

 

Can you be too obsessed with tacos?

Lately I’ve been thinking about tacos so much that it kind of scares me.

True story: last night I couldn’t fall asleep. I was lying in bed trying to get my mind clear. I told myself the sooner I fell asleep the sooner I could wake up and get breakfast tacos. Like what a mom tells her little kid to get them to go to sleep on Christmas eve!

Here are some other signs of too many tacos: I broke my tortilla press.

If you have never seen one of these they are big, heavy, metal contraptions that should only break if the incredible hulk is using one in a full on rage. *Not* just me pumping out tortilla after tortilla.

Another story, the other day Dan asked if there were any tortillas left. I said “no” and then he said, “there are some right here”. I said “those are from yesterday”. He said, “when did you become such a snob that you won’t even eat a day old tortilla.

Dang.

I have four kinds of homemade Mexican vegan cheese in my fridge right now. Yesterday I would have thought this was a good thing but today I’m not so sure. I think I might have to get back on the taco cleanse to sort this out.

Any advice?

 

Vegan Weekend Plans

One thing that I do to make myself feel really terrible is make a ton of plans for the weekend and then cancel them all. This is going to be one of those weekends because there is so much vegan action that sounds like a blast. But, if you read yesterday’s post and saw what my deepest desires are then you know that I won’t make it to all of these events. Hopefully there are more energetic people out there than me and so this post is for you!

First up, is the return of Vegan Drinks tonight at Cheer up Charlies. It’s super exciting that Arlo’s reopened at the Red River location and they are even giving away free french fries if you tell them the secret password: VEGAN DRINKS FRIES! . The drink specials will include The Vegan Yeti (White Russian), The Banana Hammock (pineapple, banana juice, coconut milk & rum), and Whiskey Root Beer Floats made with ice cream provided by Sweet Ritual! It’s tonight Friday at September 5th at 7pm.

On Saturday morning, I will spend the morning at the Beagle Brigade at Norwood Estate Dog Park. Then, at 5pm Unity Vegan Kitchen is going to be throwing a birthday party at their new location in South Austin! And they are going to be making their chicken and waffles with an even better recipe! Hard to imagine cause they were pretty amazing at the 4th of July Party. 

If you don’t stalk Austin vegan business you might not know that there have been a lot of changes in the past few weeks. The Northloop trailer park had to close down completely and Red Rabbit moved into Monkeywrench Books, Taco ‘Bout It closed down, Unity moved to the South Austin Social lot, and BBQ Revolution moved next to Brass Ovaries at 3111 Manor Rd. The Vegan Nom moved back to it’s original location on North Loop. The Dojo closed down and it looks like the Health Box shut down too.

On Sunday Mr. Natural is serving up their monthly vegan brunch buffer at the Ceaser Chavez location.  They will be serving a Boston creme cake as a special treat. Counter Culture will also have brunch, as they do every weekend, this time they will be continuing the special of Blueberry Blue Corn Pancakes with Organic Maple Syrup which are amazing! And as usual Counter Culture will also be hosting the Rabbit Food Pop-Up shop so get your orders in. And if you haven’t read about it, please check out their awesome kickstarter ’cause it’s going to be the best thing ever.

On the horizon for next week Counter Culture will be hosting a Wine and Cheese night on September 10th. If you haven’t tried their cheese, it’s so good! I promise you will love it. They have also gotten together another screening of Cowspiricy because the last one sold out and it’s getting rave reviews. Finally, next weekend there is going to be a AVVA+VRA End of Summer Cookout .

So that’s the weekend haps that I know about. I can at least guarantee you one thing, I will spend the weekend eating vegan food.

Happy Veganmofo!

VeganMoFo Day 4: Anywhere But Here

In the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Willow, Buffy, and Xander play the game “Anywhere But Here” which is essentially them telling each other their fantasies. Willow dreams she is in Florence at a restaurant eating ziti when she is joined by John Cusack.  That sounds pretty good. Normally I’d pick something like snorkeling in Tahiti with Patrick Stewart. Today, my dreams are a little more attainable. I choose taking a nap with McPuppenstein and then eating ice cream. 

OH wait. Since it’s a fantasy I change ice cream to ice cream cake. Once Kristen just brought me an ice cream cake she had made. It was probably the best day of my life. 

Where would you rather be?

Rabbit Food Grocery is moving to a Brick & Mortar with your help!

Sometimes when you talk about veganism people call you an elitist and say that a vegan diet is too expensive.

Mostly, it’s cause people are dicks and they have to give you a hard time about something.

But, beyond that, I never understood this argument since the vegan meal is  almost always the cheapest entrée  on the menu, especially if you have to make your dinner from the sides portion.  Maybe people think that because guacamole is usually extra?

Anyway, for years I’ve wondered about this idea of veganism being more expensive and I think now I finally get it. The reason that you spend more when you are vegan isn’t because you are buying more expensive food, it’s because you find all sorts of great people and causes to donate too. People don’t want you to know that vegans are actually awesome and they are always doing cool shit like saving elephants, planting trees, and in this case, building an all vegan grocery store.

I’ve been hearing Jessica talk about her dream to open a vegan grocery store since before I even knew her IRL. This is something she and Gabe have been working on for a million years. They have been so successful with their online shop and pop-up shops (blogged about here) because they have got their shit together. They are the kind of brilliant vegans who are always working towards the cause to save animals. When I saw a pet bunny being carried down the road in my neighborhood by a dog it was Jessica and Gabe that I called to help me with it. And of course, not only did they help me save that bunny but they ended up adopting it. I trust these people with my vitamins, my dog food, and I know that I never have to order some special new vegan product because Rabbit Food will be the first to have it in stock.

I am so excited that that they are finally getting to open the store. Reading that in addition to groceries they will have a vegan coffee bar with bagels and homemade cream cheese, breakfast tacos, and a community event space is making my heart pitter-patter with enthusiasm.

So today I am asking you to check out the Rabbit Food Grocery Kickstarter and donate if you can. They have tons of cool prizes for out of town people too and think about how exciting it will be to shop here! No label reading! Lot’s of cookies! It’s going to be the best!

Taco or Beer Challenge

taco or beer challenge

If there is one thing I can promise to always stand for it’s that I am pro-choice ’til I die.

If there is one thing I am always hungry for, it’s tacos. Last veganmofo I even did an all out Taco Cleanse.

I am thrilled that these two defining passions of mine are finally coming together in the Taco Or Beer Challenge. I think the whole idea might have started as a satire of the ice bucket challenge, you do something, tell everyone that you did it, and then donate to a cause. Why waste a bunch of water and pour ice on your head when you could instead eat a delicious taco or drink a refreshing beer (or both!) and then donate to fund abortion? It makes a lot more sense to me! I made these awesome breakfast tacos which had refried beans, avocado, salsa verde, green chile peanuts and homeade queso fresco. Then I donated to the Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund. It breaks my heart that our lovely feminist abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health had to close their doors in Austin because of disgusting Republican political shenanigans.

Please take the challenge, here is a great site that can shows different ways you can fund abortion. If you are in Austin I also have a list of my favorite tacos. And if you do, you can nominate someone to take the  I am nominating my pal Jojo the Vegan in Brighton because she is awesome and visiting Austin right now so I know she has easy access to tacos!!!