Posts Tagged: Austin

Edible Inspiration: Week 19

A week’s images to delight your eyes.

1)  Cool winter light and air plants when I look up.  When I see this, I’m grateful for seasons and I’m grateful for winter produce.

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2)  Taking this pho home felt so good.  Eating it the next day was much better.

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3)  Bear pancakes to satiate hungry morning appetites and inside jokes.

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4) This handsome felis silvestris catus accommodates in the middle of his siesta.

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5)Warm winter light to perk up a chilly day.

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Sleep tight lovelies, and post some of your Edible Inspiration pics under the hash-tag #edibleinspiration  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

VegFest 2014 Vol. 2

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Good day all,

It was an extra early-rise day Saturday, but the chilly wind helped keep us all high energy and functioning.  It was very encouraging to see how many volunteers showed up for the 6 a.m. shift–20+ to be sure–and humbling to experience the functionality of people coming together for a cause that we all stand behind.  We completed all of the ‘set-up’ tasks far before expected and we were all able to help out in areas we did not initially expect to, which was both a positive learning experience and a true test of multitasking. One of the many highlights of my volunteer experience was the fact that I was able to spend my entire volunteer shift with my husband, which is incredibly rewarding, being able to experience the fun together. Another highlight was a young mother who decided to bring her young baby along with her the entire morning by carrying the baby in an Ergo type carrier, marsupial style.  She was one diligent marsupial momma and she became my inspiration for that particular day and days to come.  It was encouraging to see someone being active and volunteering as a woman and mother, deciding to not let her world stop because she is now a mom.  She chose to involve her young one and display an act of community giving that is priceless.  I know I’m about to sound terribly cliché, but it made my heart grow three sizes bigger.  I was so taken aback, I had to tell her!

After our volunteer shift was completed, we decided to disguise our VegFest tees’ and become official guests of the event.  Though we were a little rushed, I feel like the time we spent went swimmingly!  The flow of the crowd seemed to be better circulated than in years past due to–in my opinion–better organization of the booths. Also, there were many more vendors and food stops where you could get information, samples, and a full-blown meal!

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While walking around and getting to know the vendors–some old hats and some newbies–we came across a new company called Uber Foods that makes energy bars.  After just one small sample and hearing about their new company from an eager young man, I decided to buy a bar; ‘dos cacao’.  It’s made here in Austin, has only six ingredients and it’s gluten-free and vegan!  It was pricy, but I never mind paying a little more for quality and in support of a growing company.

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

My tummy was soon grumbling for a meal following our volunteer shift and I had my eye set on Aster’s Ethiopian booth.  It was good gloop!  What’s wonderful about Ethiopian food is the manner in which they go about eating.  They not only use their hands, but they consume the food with a spongy bread call injera made with teff flour, which is rich in amino acids and several vitamins and minerals.   Some Ethiopian restaurants add wheat to their injera, however, Aster’s is 100% gluten-free!  Happy tummies all around. 😀

We ended our Texas VegFest time, much like we did our second year, with a bowl of Sweet Ritual ice-cream–salted caramel.  No sprinkles were on hand this year, but the ice-cream left nothing to be desired for a sweet tooth.

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Attending Texas VegFest was a pleasant reminder that we should all take a moment to re-evaluate the way we approach our time and how we devote it, not only to the food we eat, but to other people around us. You get what you give in life, so let’s all try to give a little more. :)  And if you can, involve the little one’s in your life in your activities.  Experiences are the best gifts you can give and will last longer than all the toys in the world!  Oh, and remember…bite responsibly!

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

VegFest 2014 Vol. 1

Good day everyone,

I must admit, I am currently under the influence of one heaping scoop of cocoa powder in my morning smoothie, and ready to talk about Veg Fests!  This coming April 5th, here in Austin, TX, we will have our very own Texas Veg Fest (year 3), and I know it’s going to be even bigger and better than the last two years.  The first year I just attended, but last year I was a volunteer with the information booth and this year I’m volunteering with the AV team, and I’m excited!

Let’s start with a little about Vegfest.  Vegfest is just that, a festival that focuses on vegetarian cuisine and more specifically, 100% plant-based, not animal product cuisine and oftentimes sustainability through lifestyle choices and animal rights.  It occurs annually in different cities and in different formats in each city.

Texas Vegfest of Austin, occurs by the beautiful Lady Bird Lake and is loaded with over a hundred vendors, cooking demos and lectures, music performers, speakers and tastings galore!  I don’t suggest attending this festival while doing a ‘cleanse’ as there will be far too many temptations.

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I am looking forward to Saturday where I’ll get to help out, meet people, try new things and mingle with veggie thoughts.  I hope you’ll join me and many others!  Be sure to stay tuned next week for ‘Veg Fest Vol.2’, where I will discuss post-fest topics and what went down.

Short and sweet to the sole today–love you Dandies.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

Rachel Manning

Texas Veg Fest

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photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I hope you’re all faring well.  Today, I’d like to highlight the Texas Veg Fest, soon to be in Austin, TX for its second year running.  After attending last year’s first Texas Veg Fest, I’m anxious to see what changes there will be.  Last year, I was able to sample a tremendous amount of food, I scored tons of great coupons and freebies and chatted with some helpful and informative companies/vendors.  I would say if you’re into trying new, funky vegetarian/vegan variations of foods like faux migas, faux cheese (that melts :p ), and some of the best dairy-free ice-creams out there, this festival is for you!  You will also get connected to businesses that are in the holistic and naturopathic vein, which is incredibly beneficial if you’re new to a plant-based diet.  Having a support system is incredibly important during any transition and there were numerous outlets of info last year and many more to come, this year.  My hope is that there will be more of an abundance of veggies and whole foods this year, but only time will tell.

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photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Here’s a breakdown of  Texas Veg Fest, straight from the source:  

Texas VegFest is a family-friendly festival celebrating plant-based foods, with a focus on health, physical fitness, the environment, and compassionate living. For this year’s event, more than five thousand attendees will gather at beautiful Fiesta Gardens on Town Lake on Saturday, April 6th from 11am – 6pm. With engaging activities, vendors, speakers, demos, and, of course, great food and live music, you won’t want to miss Texas VegFest!

Our Fabulous Speakers and Cooking Demonstrations

Come see best-selling cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz cook delicious cashew-based meals like Caesar salad, Creamy Chickpea and Rice Soup, and cheesecake. Executive Chef Ayinde Howell, the entrepreneur behind Hillside Quickies in Seattle, will be serving up some amazing vegan soul food including Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan, and Mini Sloppy Joes. The Blissful Chef Christy Morgan will demonstrate easy protein-packed snacks that everyone will love.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the author of five books and frequent guest on Food Network and PBS, will captivate you with her presentation “From Excusitarian to Vegan.” Champion boxer Omowale Adewale is coming all the way from New York to share his presentation on how to incorporate positive habits into your life. His presentation will be interactive, so come prepared to learn a few moves. Dr. Baxter Montgomery, the founder of Montgomery Heart and Wellness, a cardiology practice and wellness center in Houston, will speak about all the health benefits of going plant-based.

Fantastic Activities for Families

In our kids’ area, enjoy youth yoga and face painting by Austin Bhakti Yoga, Austin’s premier nonprofit yoga center, or watch Austin’s healthy cooking school, The Natural Epicurean, demo recipes for kids and teens. Food is Free Project will share their model of simultaneously growing food and community through seed planting and seed ball-making activities. The captivating Brooke Chavez of Sunny Day Farms will be speaking to kids and teens about animal compassion and awareness. Sunny Day Farms is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Central United States. For some quiet time to balance all this activity, Vegbooks.org has donated fantastic kids’ books for our reading and coloring zone.

Hungry for Food and Knowledge?

photo by:  Heather Schramm

photo by: Heather Schramm

Hungry attendees can feast on a variety of food such as curry, Tex-Mex, funnel cake, fresh juices, cupcakes, falafel, and veggie burgers from some of Austin’s most-loved restaurants. Or sample delicious treats and great products from companies across the nation. It’s all delicious, and it’s all vegan!

Premier Sponsor Wheatsville Co-op, opening their new store off South Lamar in June 2013, will have a booth representing their cooperative shopping model.

Explore local produce, tempeh, earth-friendly cleaning products, agave nectar, plant protein mixes, an electric car, blenders, baked goods, and other items showcased by Texas VegFest sponsors Plant Fusion, South Point Nissan, Natural Epicurean, and Wholesome Sweeteners, Vitamix, Clif Bar, Health Force Nutritionals, Dr. Lucy’s, Greenling, Johnson’s Backyard Gardening, The Hearty Vegan, Veggietopia, Way Better Snacks, Ecos Earth Friendly Products.

Nonprofits like Mercy For Animals and Vegans Rock Austin will be there to answer all your questions about how you can help protect animals. And people of all ages can enjoy a few moments of guided mediation by the Isha foundation on the shore of Town Lake.

Talented Music Line-up

It wouldn’t be an Austin festival without live music, and Texas VegFest doesn’t disappoint! Musical backdrop for Texas VegFest 2013 includes:

·         Edison Chair

·         Ray Prim

·         Mighty Mountain

·         Silver Ships

·         The Asteroid Shop

·         Technicolor Hearts

 

More information at www.TexasVegFest.com. Email us at info@texasvegfest.com, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

 

Official TVF 2013 Poster

Official TVF 2013 Poster

 

Keep an eye out sometime next week for my follow-up post on the festival, where I will give a ’round-two, Veg Fest breakdown’.  My thoughts, exciting new discoveries, critiques and more.  I’ll break it down for you!

Thanks for reading, tell all of your friends, and I hope to see you there.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

Austin: Natural and Alternative Food Purchases

 

Maggie Cooks

Maggie Cooks

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been talking so much lately about daily eating habits, I thought I’d give a little perspective on some helpful resources to enable said habits within the city of Austin, in case you happen to live here and don’t know where to go, or in case you’re dropping in for a visit.  Either way, I know when I go traveling, I need to know where I can pick up my kind of shopping purchases without having to drive all over to find the best sources and the best prices.  Also, I very frequently emphasize the farmers’ market, but this post will focus more on stops outside of the fresh market arena.

Places to Check Out (Please note, this list is not exhaustive):

(Categories:  selection, prices, environment, energy, location, service)

Wheatsville Co-op:

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  •  Location:  3101 Guadalupe St  Austin, TX 78705 (new location to open soon)
  • Some items of note:  If you’re looking for a store that brings both value, and top alternative merchandise with a wonderful and welcoming environment, this is the place for you.  Their production section is fantastic yet minimal.  They don’t overstock produce, but I’ve never NOT found what I was looking for.  They place emphasis, as I’m sure you could guess, on local produce and organic produce.  There are the regular exotic fruits like bananas and a pretty regular selection of junior coconuts.  The produce staff will assist you in sizing down heavy weighted items like cabbage, if you’re not interested in buying the entire thing.  Their deli has a tremendous amount of vegan and gluten-free options, though I will say their pre-made dishes are a little canola oil/soy heavy for my taste, but generally,  I feel their options are a nice range of both healthy and “craving” foods to meet our many food moods.  They have consistent items behind the counter like their breakfast tacos and the very popular vegan ‘po’ boy’ sandwich, yet they offer seasonal dishes to suit your pallet, such as roasted acorn squash slices.  Just adjacent to the deli, is the baked goods/pastry section where you’ll find Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery’s vegan doughnuts, fair-trade coffee, and a wide variety of other goods in stock everyday.  If you have a wheat intolerance/allergy stop by on Wednesday’s for their wheat-free items.

Natural Grocers:

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  • Locations:  3901 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX & 10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Bldg L
  • Some items of note:  Best Austin bargains for natural and alternative foods, overall.  I always pick up my kombuchas here as they have a variety of brands and the best deal.  Also, they have an extensive tea selection (boxed mainly), but if you’re into Tulsi tea at all, they have the biggest selection I’ve ever seen.  There is not a deli/meat counter of any sort, but they do frequently have new items sampled at the front of the store, typically with their creator or a proxy.  Within the produce section, they will discount their bananas once they are overly ripe, which is great because I LOVE ripe bananas (remember my brown buddy rule)!  Also, they have a wide range of raw nuts and seeds kept fresh by refrigeration.  Natural Grocers subtly stresses strength in health via diet (nutrition) and supplementation.  They have a myriad of sources within their store, ranging from in-store nutritional assistance to books/magazines galore!

The Daily Juice & Juiceland:

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  • Location: Multiple locations for each shop
  • If you’re in the mood for fresh juice and freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and other alternative goodies (even vegan soft serve and the works), these are definitely places you should stop into at some point.  Immunity boosting shots and incredibly healing foods in their purest form…how could I leave these two shops off of my list?  If you’re interested in raw foods, such as protein powders, bars, drinks, treats, granolas, supplements and more, each of these places are very concentrated and will not only have special and unique items you may not be able to find anywhere else, but they will also have a helpful staff to school you on all you’d like to know.  

 

 

 

Mr. Natural:  

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  • Locations:  1901 E. Cesar Chavez  &  2414 – A South Lamar  &  205 E. Rundberg Ln.
  • Not only can you reach out to Mr. Natural for a quick prepared bite, but you can also stop in for alternative, and some Mexican-inspired, pastries and baked goods, that range from vegan to gluten-free.  Alongside their restaurant you’ll find a wide range of vitamins, supplements and an assortment of foodstuffs that are certainly not in the mainstream’s eye.  Check out their radio spots too, if you’re into connecting even more!

As there are a multitude of stops in Austin for natural foods and alternative products, what you’ll see listed below are places I frequent less for an assortment of reasons, but none-the-less are ultimately good spots to check-out if you’re looking for the non-standard grocery visit.  I’ve listed their locations throughout Austin, in case you’re not interested in checking out their website.

People’s Pharmacy

  • Locations:  13860 US 183 N, Ste C (at 620)  &  4018 North Lamar  &  3801 South Lamar  &  4201 Westbank Drive
  • How it stands out:  Often goes the extra step, and will often have staff on hand to chat with you about healthful food purchases.  If they (the staff) are not able to find what your’e looking for, they will direct you to the best spots in town to pick them up in case they’re out.

Central Market

  • Locations: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.  &  4477 S. Lamar Blvd. 
  • How it stands out:  They offer an amazing array of mushrooms that you can’t find anywhere else, and they often have very exotic fruits if you’re living on the edge that particular day.   :p

Whole Foods

  •  Locations:  525 N Lamar Blvd.  &  4301 W. William Cannon Bldg B, Ste 800  &  9607 Research Blvd.  &  
  • How it stands out:  It’s the first Whole Foods, huge, and often offers young coconuts with holes drilled in them with a straw, screaming “DRINK ME!”

Sprouts

  • 10225 Research Blvd.  &  6920 Manchaca Rd.  &  4006 S. Lamar Blvd..
  • How it stands out:  It has an incredible bulk section and often has great sales, you just have to be around to catch them.

Austin is the kind of city that caters to the palates of the counter-culture and droves of foodies that settle and pass through.  I hope this list is of some assistance to you in your travels through or settlement of our tasty city.  And remember…bite responsibly!

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Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

 

Ten Reasons I Adore Shopping at My Local Farmers’ Market

Hello Everyone,

Today, I would like to take some time to express my true appreciation for the local farmers’ where I live–and everywhere for that matter–who make farmers’ markets possible.  In no particular order, here’s Reasons I Adore Shopping at My Local Farmers’ Market:

  1.  A perfectly sound reason to wake up early on  Saturday.  As I am most naturally a morning person (whatever that means), there is not one particular day of the week I enjoy appreciating more than another.  For me, the mind is most astute and active earlier in the day, and I don’t make real exceptions for when I awake.  My only personal rule is, I love getting eight-hours of sleep.  Sleeping-in is nine hours.  Thank you FM for enticing me into a productive and lovely start to a day with little obligation. (note: the SFC’s Farmer’s Market has multiple markets, I just tend to frequent one.)

by Dons

  1.  A dog show in its most casual format.  As I do have a strong fondness for felines, I also have a very special place in my heart for canines.  Growing up, we had a basset hound name Bevo, and my strongest memories are of Hercules our Rottweiler.  Now, I have a ridiculous affinity for all animals long hair, or odd in some way.  I’ve seen a tremendous assortment of breeds at the market from English Bulldogs to the every so intelligent and elegant Australian Shepherd and it makes me giddy every time.  I doubt not, that for that hour or so we’re there toddling about I revert back to being 8 again, squealing and giggling.  A very silly side of me comes out for sure.  OH, and how lovely that people want to take out the animals they are guardians to and share such happy communal experiences.

  2.  Members of the community working together for something bigger.  Each market I attend I am reminded that with perseverance, communication, integrative ingenuity, and thoughtful behavior anything can happen.  Well maybe not ANYTHING, but most things can organize.  The FM is a true reminder of the grace and beauty that human beings can possess if given the opportunity and knowledge to do so.

  3.  Recognizing a face with what I’m eating.  Making the connection between the food on your plate/bowl/napkin/hand to its originator is an incredible rush.  I mean, the next best thing would be taking the necessary steps to growing all of your own produce (I’m a beginner farmer now), but recognizing a face and having them recognize you back is one immediate way to show appreciation for all that nourishes us.  Connect the dots, that’s all I can say, do this when possible.

www.urbanrootsatx.org

  1.  Variety.  By variety, I don’t just mean of produce, I also mean the farmers’ you choose to buy from.  Though there’s a need for some consistency in life, at the farmers’ market you know you can rely on a farmer whose produce you’re especially keen on, but rest easy knowing there’s always someone new offering a different type of kale you’ve never tried, or a native fruit that you’ve never actually tasted directly from your home state.  When we go to the market, our tendency is to distribute our funds to different farmers’ and vendors throughout.  The variety is exquisite and never disappointing.  *This means dinners always have variety too.

  2.  It’s an experience.  In many ways, calling the farmers’ market an ‘experience’ seems to down-grade its importance, but perhaps grammatically it’s all in how you look at ‘it’.  Nonetheless, if you’ve never been to a live market, it’s certainly something you should try.  I will warn you, there is a level of intimidation on your first visit that may make going sort of off-putting.  For some people, this feeling resonates over into many visits until they get into the swing of things.  Markets can be highly trafficked, especially if it’s a well marketed one in a bumpin’ area.  This alone can cause introverts or claustrophobes to run screaming, but please, I beseech you to give it a try.  I am by no means a crowd person, but it’s quite exhilarating to be sure.

I have picked up a few plants from this sweet and helpful plant farmer.

  1.  The privilege of being able to connect produce with its rightful season.   Baring in mind you are buying a majority of your produce at a FM you will assuredly see this benefit for all that it is worth.   With whizzing technology and little room for slowing down, what was once a human instinct has now become forgotten lore for many.  Produce has seasons?  What’s scarier is that most youth of now–unless we work hard to educate them–will have absolutely no connection with where their food comes from because they’ll be able to pop quarters and slide plastic cards for instant access to ‘food’…in excess.  I have this text-book that has a chart which identifies the seasons with the vegetables and fruits that fall under said seasons.  Rather than having to use this book on a regular basis I’m becoming accustomed to what there will be before I go.  Instincts.  😀

  2.  Nutrient-packed veggies and fruits.  In their raw form, you can’t do any better than snagging some fresh peaches at your summer FM.  Yes, you  might be able to easily pick up peaches at the grocery store, but they might be shipped in from another state, and be hard like stone fruit (they are more decorative than edible).  When you buy from your local market, the produce is most typically ripe and full of flavor.  Also, keep in mind that every time your food is shipped in, it is that many more days lacking in nutrients.  After talking with a farmer a weekend ago, I was convinced to buy a basket of tomatoes that needed a bit more ripening simply because he just picked them the night before.  Delightful.

  3.  Organic without the label.  Many small farms cannot afford the cost of labeling their produce USDA Organic, but rest assured, most local farmers’ produce is in fact organic and free of many of the chemicals that turn a normal strawberry into a toxic mess.

  4.  Experimenting with vegetables and fruits I’ve never tried before.  From the geometrical masterpiece of romanesco brocoflower to the crisp and colorful Japanese kale , I’ve never been disappointed by the choice of interesting and fun produce.  I’ve ‘mixed-it-up’ a few usual recipes with an item I would have otherwise ignored in a grocery store.

I could easily list more, but instead why don’t some of you tell me about your market experiences.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I hope I’ve helped many of you cultivate more reasons to shop at your local market.

I would also like to give a special thanks to the Sustainable Food Center‘s staff and volunteers who work hard every week to keep these markets running smoothly.

Have a lovely day, and remember…bite responsibly.

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~