The Farmer’s Market: Bringing Rural to Urban Living

Sustainable, Certified Organic, Locally Sourced and Vegan Lifestyle are pretty common phrases heard here in Dallas, and probably where you live, too. I, for one, am so proud of our society for becoming more in touch with what a healthy lifestyle can provide for our future as human beings. Living as a Pescatarian for the past 17 years has been a constant journey for me, personally. I’m always discovering better ways to live life to the fullest. Pardon the cliché, but feeling constant ‘fatigue’–one of the most common words used in prescription drug advertising–is not something I want to surrender to for the rest of my life. To get directly to the point, I took a quote from Hippocrates that read “Let thy food be thy medicine”, and have diligently been applying that to my state of health.

In regards to the title of this post, I recently received an email notifying me that the USDA keeps a current directory of all the Farmer’s Markets by zip code/city.

 “As of National Farmers Market Week, (the first full week in August), there were 8,144 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. This is a 3.6 percent increase from 2012.” AMS/USDA

The local food directory is very exciting for me because (with my travel schedule) I am not within cycling distance of my hometown FM as often as I would like to be. Being able to support local farmers and getting the scoop on how to prepare seasonal fruits and veggies, like pattypan squash, is a favorite on my to-do-list.

And now, I get to do it in all corners of the U.S.! Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

And speaking of pattypan squash…tonight’s “Sunday Night Cooking Show” includes a grilled version of the squash that I’m hoping will be just as tasty as the recipe states. Fingers crossed.

Namasté,

M

El Paso: No Slouch in the Dining Game

I’ve traveled to El Paso a couple times in the past year, but (unbeknownst to me) my constant hotel hopping between here and Las Cruces was keeping me from my new favorite restaurant row–Mesa St. While maintaining a healthful menu from breakfast to dinner I tend to grocery shop and “dine-in” when visiting cities saturated with Tex-Mex. I’ve had no qualms about consuming large amounts of chips and queso in my previous life, considering I grew up in Texas, but I now prefer a more fibrous fare. So since I’m traveling with one of my colleagues this week, it was only natural that we would debrief our days over a nightly dinner meeting. What we found has now reaffirmed my confidence in El Paso’s vegetarian friendliness. Here’s just a couple of the places you should stop into. Brunch, Lunch or Dinner!


The Hoppy Monk

The Hoppy Monk

Thankfully we had just missed the brunch crowd at The Hoppy Monk on Sunday afternoon. I only say that because we were absolutely starving, and being able to secure a table–quickly–was of utmost importance. Eric helped us out with our food queries and we ordered the Tofu Wings to start, and for the main, the Veggie Monk Burger.

Patio seating available

Patio seating available

 

I had no idea a Black Bean and Pumpkin patty, drizzled with aioli would bring such joy to my life, but it did accomplish such a feat!

I had no idea a Black Bean and Pumpkin patty, drizzled with aioli would bring such joy to my life, but it did accomplish such a feat!

The Sunday crowd had slowly thinned out and the dining experience was perfectly pleasant for this hopping Gastropub. Mark another check next to “Favvy-faves in El Paso”.


Ruli’s International Kitchen is just a couple blocks down Mesa St. from The Monk, and just as impressive when it comes to “nom de porn”. The menu reflects the name of the joint perfectly. Its so hard to choose when you have such an enormous amount of veggie and pescatarian fare. Bravo, Ruli, for proving you are truly an International representative of food with the unique mix of American, Mediterranean and Moroccan. I couldn’t settle on just one dish so I had to try a little of each.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Tapas, Goat Cheese (a heaping serving of it) with fruit and cashews, and the Moroccan Salad

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Tapas, Goat Cheese (a heaping serving of it) with fruit and cashews, and the Moroccan Salad


Although we only had a few days to tour the food scene in El Paso we received many other recommendations for a few more dining destinations. But undoubtedly, these two rank pretty high for atmosphere and selection. Mesa St. (Westside) is definitely the place to find a wide variety of eats when visiting this bustling border town.

 

4 Days a Vegetarian: San Antonio

on a journey past truck stops, drive-thru's, and fake food I'm heading to San Antonio, TX

on a journey past truck stops, drive-thru’s, and fake food I’m heading to San Antonio, TX

I found Green Vegetarian (which has two locations) on the last trip down to San Antonio.

greenThe menu is small, but the portions are perfect. The joint is decorated with support collateral encouraging you to ride your bicycle”, and its entirely meat free and gluten-free. Green is a cute cafe in a strip center with fresh choices; on the other hand if you’re looking to indulge, they do have a deep fried section of the menu. I opted for the BBQ sandwich and Jasmine rice.

Vegan BBQ is still just as accurately messy

Vegan BBQ is still just as accurately messy

I wanted so badly to sink my face into the gluten-free cupcakes, but the sugar content was beyond measure. ‘Thank you’ to my lovely server who helped answer my query before I went into a blood-sugar coma. I did sample a couple (two years ago) before I had to kick my sugar habit. But hey, if you don’t suffer from an over-production of insulin, definitely try the cupcakes.


 

vegeriaOn Day 2, en route to the north side of town, the GPS barely gave me enough time to slow down and make the turn into this tiny parking lot for Vegeria. I was already excited as I climbed the stairs up to the wooden deck of this adorable little house. Already mentally preparing myself for an amazing menu, which I glanced at before I left the hotel, I was happily detoured by a sign that read ‘Customer Appreciation Day’.

vegeriaWoot! Buffet time!

Inside this nine-table bar sits a dessert case and a small buffet line, with delicious vegan Tex-Mex.
The Root Vegetable Taco was my absolute favorite.The gentleman at the counter informed me they had grown copious amounts of beets over the season, so they’re basically added to everything; the colorful veggie made it a literal “pink taco”. You gotta check out one of the “10 Best New Restaurants in San Antonio” for the Oh-My-Not-So-Honey Quinoa Salad or the Ginger Kale; not sure if that one’s a regular menu item, but mega drool-worthy.

 

root veggie taco, quinoa, black bean scramble, ginger kale

root veggie taco, quinoa, black bean scramble, ginger kale


 

a shiny beacon of deliciousness

a shiny beacon of deliciousness

Alamo Heights is home to this San Antonio Health-Mex restaurant; in fact, its been here for over 31 years and I’m still trying to wrap my head around why their Facebook page only has 145 likes.The exterior and interior, provide a warm welcome and are quite bright, so anyone passing by should be naturally curious. I walked in at 4:00p on a Tuesday, so I had the whole place to myself on Day 3. No complaints here.

aldelante

The menu reads “Enlightenment, one taco at a time”, and they undoubtedly delivered on that promise. Make sure to grab cash before you head to Aldelante, though because its either that, or a check.

They make fresh tamales–daily–for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters alike. I had a sampler that included a tamale, enchilada and a veggie taco. All were perfect, but my heart belongs to the Southwest Poblano Enchilada–without question.

poblano enchilada, non-refried beans, spanish rice, black bean and goat cheese tamale

Poblano enchilada, non-refried beans, spanish rice, black bean and goat cheese tamale. 


working carwash, and ridiculously awesome food

working carwash, and ridiculously awesome food

On the last day of my Food Tour of San Antonio I got lost for about 15 minutes looking for The Cove, but the wait was most certainly worth it! Set up in an old oil lube and working carwash, The Cove Sol Food is my most favorite on this tour de noms. SOL is actually an acronym for Sustainable Organic Local. Since 2001 they’ve been inspiring the masses to “Eat well, live well”.

AND a working laundramat

AND a working laundromat

cheeky ;)

cheeky 😉

Specials!

Specials!

The line is forming out the door to reach the counter where you place your order, grab your number and grab your seat. It’s only 6pm on a Wednesday and this place is already hopping. With an outdoor patio, bar, playground, (and an all around cordial atmosphere) all ages are welcome to gather.

could be a righteous party at any moment

could be a righteous party at any moment

I just couldn’t decide what to get because everything looked so damn good, so I settled on Beet Salad to start, a Vegan Bacon Cheese Burger and the Spicy Green Beans. I was already strapped with a to-go box by the time I reached my seat. All absolutely delish, by the way.

Vegan Bacon Cheese, Beet Salad, Spicy Green Beans

Vegan Bacon Cheese, Beet Salad, Spicy Green Beans


I’m hanging my hat up on the promise of another visit (hopefully sooner than later) to good ol’ San Antone, thanks to my new found confidence that not everything in this town is centered around meat and lard (thankfully and appreciatively). Adios!

You can see all the locations on this handy map here

 

More of the Foods (fusion) in Vegas

On day 3–after rehydrating our bodies (and souls)–we decided on dinner at China Poblano, inside the ultra swanky Cosmopolitan. This Asian/Mexican fusion is a regular stop for me when I’m in town. Are you in the mood for dim-sum, fried rice and mexican tacos? Yes…yes you are. All items are served in individual portions. So order and share. I recommend the 21 veggie fried rice (if you’re allowed eat carbs on you summer beach-body-diet). Next order a couple of tacos, or like my brother, dig into the 4 piece steamed buns filled with bbq pork.

Tourists

Tourists

Who isn't crazy about tiny vegetables?!

Who isn’t crazy about tiny vegetables?!

Steamed Buns (in their native setting)

Steamed Buns (in their native habitat)

 

Ala carte Tacos

Ala carte Tacos

 


After our perfectly proportioned noms we took in a show. Zumanity is touted as the sensual side of Cirque du Soliel.

Not for the conservative viewer; shoot, if you’re in vegas are you not liberal by standard?

Zumanity Theater

Zumanity Theater

Acrobatics, contortionists and lots of nudity are included in the show. They blur gender lines with men, women, and drag. The comedy is campy, and oh so enjoyable. The Emcee actually encourages audience participation by pulling viewers on stage to become part of the show. The vaudevillian concept, live singers and band (set up above the theater) all created an amazing, memorable experience for the entire crowd. Bravo!


If you already feel as though you’ve spent way too much money in Vegas, I’ll have more Free Things To Do in Vegas in my next post.

Vegas food: on the cheap

Lunch by the pool is a must (as is lots of SPF under the brutal Vegas sun). Or try out one of my local faves, which is right off the strip, behind the Hard Rock Hotel. Paradise Cantina has the best happy hour (2 for 1 drinks from 4p-8p) and mexican food for all tastes. It’s nothing fancy, but it does have a fabulous patio, and a budget friendly offering. I think my bill (sans alcohol) is about $12 every time. ‘Do’ catch a cab or power walk your way to Paradise if you have the chance.

Mission: Accepted

Mission: Accepted

After 8 hours of pure relaxation, we were dressed and ready to head to Old Downtown Las Vegas. The origins of the life of excess are here in a 1/2 mile strip of a pedestrian friendly walkway. Before my GPS took us the long way out, we dined at Yardhouse. Its situated on a new pedestrian walkway between The LINQ, Flamingo and The Quad.

High Roller

High Roller (the view from YardHouse)

I settled in with the tuna burger and truffle fries. And with hundreds of beers to choose from, you can opt for a flight of them and sample a taste of five at a time. Although Yard House is a chain restaurant, it was definitely a great option for the evening; convenient walking distance from our hotel.


fremont

lights above Fremont Street

We ventured into a sea of punk-rockers in downtown Las Vegas, as the PunkRock Bowling league was in town.

Me and my Bro

I never get tired of being a tourist

After watching the psychedelic light show above Fremont Street, we headed back to familiar territory for late (early morning?) breakfast. Hash House a-Go-Go (dotted around Vegas and inside the Quad), is southern-style deliciousness at any hour. We saw a Chicken Benedict delivered to a nearby table, which should never be order for just one person. Any of the breakfast chickens (including the Chicken And Waffles) should be shared between two peeps.

With two more days of Vegas left on the itinerary we loosened our belts and headed back to the Flamingo for a (decently) early bedtime of 4am.