In the hunt for a healthier breakfast, oatmeal almost always gets suggested as an alternative to the sugary bowls of cereal and artificially sweetened pastries.  However, our culture of instant food preparation has made it a lot easier to assume that a packet of “just add water” instant oatmeal is the right way to go.

Packages of Instant Oatmeal

Three sugary servings of instant oatmeal

There is a trade off for that instant gratification, and the sacrifice involves a lot of sugar and sodium.  Although these packages like to tout flavors such as banana nut bread and apple cinnamon, the truth is that you rarely get something that actually contains real representations of those flavors, or, in other words, you end up with apple flavored “chips.”

But I have a confession to make.  I am notoriously bad at making oatmeal that is actually enjoyable to eat.  Typically it ends up too watery and too bland, and that is never a good start to anyone’s day.

So in the interest of finding some alternatives for breakfast (and to find a use for that massive canister of steal-cut oatmeal I bought a long time ago), I decided to take another shot; but this time, I brought backup.  Instead of resorting to just adding in my own cinnamon and artificial sweeteners, I wanted to have a complete overhaul of my standard oatmeal preparation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the most difficult products to create vegan is ice cream. All of the alternatives can’t match the creaminess and taste of ice cream made with the traditional base ingredient — milk.

Though, Amy Ramm, self-coined the “Mistress of Delicious,” found the best substitute in coconut milk. With a little encouragement from her sister, and some experimentation, Ramm founded vegan ice cream company NadaMoo! in 2004.

Amy Ramm, Photo Courtesy of NadaMoo!

Ramm had the chance to speak with me about NadaMoo!, her favorite ice cream flavor and the future of her company.

Austin Appetite: What was the inspiration behind starting an ice cream company that is all natural, organic and dairy free?

Amy Ramm: I started out in traditional baking and pastry arts, but gravitated towards cooking natural foods and healthy alternative diets when my sister Katy had to change her diet for health reasons. The more I learned and experienced, the more passionate I became about creating great-tasting healthy foods.

AA: How do you create the flavors?

AM: I love to experiment in the kitchen and I get a lot of inspiration from going to places like the Daily Juice and seeing what’s new & popular on their menu. Those guys are so creative and adventuresome!

Photo Courtesy of NadaMoo!

AA: What is your favorite flavor?

AM: A good vanilla will always satisfy me, and our vanilla is exceptional — the vanilla system we use makes me ooooh and ahhhhh every time.

AA: What is the trick to mixing coconut milk, brown rice and agave nectar together to make ice cream?

AM: When it comes to making ingredient substitutions, it really helps to understand the properties of the ingredients you are replacing. In ice cream, for example, the saturated fat in the cream gives a melt-in-your-mouth experience you won’t necessarily get with unsaturated fat, so coconut milk as a perfect alternative.

AA: Other than being catchy, is there a story behind the title NadaMoo!?

AM: It was a stroke inspiration one of our early investors had one night. We were under a very tight deadline to get pints to the grand opening of the Whole Foods Lamar store by March 4 of 2005 and we were struggling to find a name. David called me up one morning and said, “Sit down, because this is it and it’s going to be big: it’s called NadaMoo!” and I loved it!

AA: You seem to be getting a lot of great feedback from your company now, was it like this in the beginning too?

AM: NadaMoo! has always had that special something about it, right from the very first batch I made in May of 2004. But starting a food company from scratch is very risky and the work is all-consuming, whether you succeed or not. On top of that, if you do make it, it can take a long time to pay off. I am so happy NadaMoo! survived the early years, when every day was either a marathon or a rollercoaster — or both! I can’t count the number of times I was ready to give up and then got a love letter from a customer or an order from a store or a pep talk from a friend and everything turned around. The company’s current condition is due to all the wonderful, generous, supportive people who have helped out along the way and the great team I work with. We’re having a lot of fun now.

AA: What do you plan on doing in the future with NadaMoo!?

AM: We’ll be growing; adding new people, stores and sales channels, like restaurants, cafeterias, hospitality and other places where people can buy NadaMoo! by the scoop or in a dessert. I have some new flavors in mind, too, and it is always fun for me to be back in the kitchen. We’re doing bigger events, like SXSW and ACL Fest, and we’re starting to take on causes that matter our customers and us, bringing some smiles and fun to people’s lives and also making a difference. The national conversation taking place around health and diet — particularly for children — is a good opportunity for NadaMoo! to show that healthy eating can include a creamy-dreamy frozen dessert!

AA: Is there anything about NadaMoo! that you would like to say?

AM: I’d like to say “Thank you” to Austin for being such a great hometown and to all our incredible customers and fans who have supported NadaMoo! since that first summer in 2004.

University students are always looking for cheap, convenient, and delicious foods whenever they have a lunch. I think sandwich is one of the quick, inexpensive (of course, depends on what kind of sandwich), and tasteful food for students. There are many sandwich restaurants on the drag and on campus. I willI intended to do a series of reviews of the sandwich restaurants and compare them. The first sandwich shop is WHICH WICH on the drag.

Which Wich logo (via whichwich.com)

You can easily find big yellow logo near on the Guadalupe and 24th street. WHICH WICH is a fast casual sandwich chain with its headquarters in Downtown Dallas, Texas. You can dine in or get it to go – either way you are in and out fast.

When you walk in WHICH WICH you can realize that the process is simple: Each bag is pre-labeled, such as “Turkey,” “Italian,” “Vegetarian,” etc. Take a paper bag, then mark the desired sandwich and condiments and hand it to the cashier, who then slides the bag to food prep on a wire.

I usually get a turkey sandwich with lots of veggies, and I ordered same one for today’s lunch. One sandwich is about $5.xx without drinks.

It comes with prepackaged-standard lettuce and tomatoes, and there is also mustard and mayo on the side. Everything inside the sandwich was fresh so it tasted great!

If you like to customize your sandwich because you care about nutrition and calories then Which Wich is worth a try. You can make a light meal whatever you want. Here is the nutritional information. Plus, because you mark on the bag it is less chance of getting the order wrong.

Here is the map of Which Wich on the drag.

If you want to grab it more than on the drag, you can find a location near you!

In a small wood plank house turned restaurant on West 34th Street lies Food Heads — one of the best sandwich spots in Austin. This place is fresh, local, homey and delicious all wrapped up into a small, yet perfected, menu.

Recently when my parents were in town, we ventured to this favorite dining spot of my family’s for lunch (my Dad is a fan of the fresh, unprocessed aspect of their food as well). I often eat vegan but when I dine at Food Heads, I always get one of their fish sandwiches to shake up my diet and for an extra boost of protein.

Though I have made my way through the list from the salmon salad sandwich to the fish tacos, this time they had a few sheets of computer paper tacked beneath the chalkboard menu featuring new items. The mahi mahi fish sandwich called out to me with a cabbage, tomato and red onion slaw and pesto (without the Parmesan) all on a hearty white bun.

As always, this sandwich hit the spot. Typically, each meal is served with a side of either coleslaw, potato salad or, my favorite, a cucumber salad made of thinly sliced cucumbers soaked in a white vinegar and sugar mixture.

One of the downsides to dining at a restaurant that provides only the freshest ingredients is the limited amount. Once they run out of the daily delivered bread, that is it for the remainder of the day. However, one of the waiters is typically always happy to suggest another bread that will work well with the ingredients of your desired sandwich.

Now that the weather is warming up, it is time to take advantage of one of the best features of Food Heads — the outdoor space. Between the porch and the rock patio, the outdoor dining area is as large as indoors. With picnic tables, or tables and chair with massive umbrellas, it is a great spot to soak in the sunshine with a great meal.

Food Heads is located at 616 W. 34th St. Sandwich prices range from $6.75 to $8.25 with soups, salads and breakfast served as well.

*Quinoa is actually a psuedocereal; I explain below!

For many Americans, our go to filler grain tends to be rice.  If we are feeling particularly adventurous, we might even turn to brown rice for the “extra” fiber. (The industry likes us to believe that brown = wheat = healthy, but brown rice actually is not much different from white, but it still has its benefits.)

A pan of toasting quinoa

Toasting Quinoa by tombothetominator via Creative Commons

But what most people do not know is that there is an entire world of grain-like products out there that in many ways outdo rice in the health department.  Today, I am going to highlight quinoa.

As you might have noticed, I have been stopping just short of calling quinoa a grain.  That is because it actually has more in common with chenopods such as spinach and beets.  But for our purposes (and yours), quinoa is an excellent alternative for situations where a good, hearty grain-like base is needed in a dish, and it blows rice away in terms of health benefits.

Quinoa’s high protein profile makes it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans, and quinoa comes with one of the most balanced servings of amino acids you can find.  Another benefit?  Quinoa is gluten-free.

So where can you find it?  I suggest you skip the “grain” aisle at the grocery store and visit the one of the bag-your-own stations found in many supermarkets.  Not only is it cheaper when purchased in bulk (my last batch I got for less than a dollar a pound), you typically find a much more varied selection than what you can get of the bagged varieties.  Here in Austin, I suggest you try either Whole Foods Market, Central Market, and some HEB stores also carry it.

Bowl of Cooked Quinoa

Bowl of Prepared Quinoa by sweetonveg via Creative Commons

To prepare Quinoa, you take most of the same steps as rice, although when you buy it in bulk you want to make sure you take the time to soak it in water for a few hours to remove the bitterness (if you buy it prepackaged, this has likely been taken care of for you).  Bring two cups of water to boil, throw in some salt and butter/oil to mature the flavor a bit, and then add one cup quinoa and cover.  Once the germ begins to separate from the seed (you will see a little curl coming off), it is done!  As I said before, treat it like rice; serve it under chili or toss it in a soup!

Including quinoa in your diet every once in a while is a great way to sneak in more nutrients with very little effort!

A bowl of Fruit Loops

Image Credit terren in Virginia via Creative Commons

Like many of my fellow college age students, I grew up in a fast paced family that rarely made time for a well thought out breakfast.  Although this was probably dreadful for my health, at the very least my young self got to participate in the biweekly ritual of cereal choosing.  And, like most children do when given free reign over the cereal aisle, I based all my decisions on which sugar based goodness appealed to me the most.

But as I became more informed about making healthy choices, I realized that there is probably something to that sugary gloss found on Fruit Loops that I should not be happy about. (Fruit Loops first ingredient? Sugar.)

Making the switch to a healthier lifestyle does not mean a person has to make drastic changes to their eating routine to get results.  Success comes from making those little changes here and there that eventually add up to a decent decrease in calorie intake.  Although in a perfect world we would all have time to cook ourselves a nice breakfast every morning, it simply is not the case.

Image of Fruit Loops Nutritional Label.

Fruit Loops Nutritional Label

When choosing a cereal, you want to be on the lookout for three key things.  You want a high amount of fiber, to ensure that hunger does not debilitate you before lunchtime, a moderate amount of calories, to provide some energy to get through the day, and as little sugar as possible.

But when you visit the cereal aisle, things are not always so clear cut.  Just about every box out there has latched on to the buzz words of “More Fiber!”, but it is important to understand that there are no standards that regulate when a cereal can claim to be a good source of it.  Also, just because a cereal has moderate levels of fiber does not mean that the producers of said cereal also did you a favor in lowering both the amount of calories and sugar.  Take a look at Fruit Loops again.  The 3g of fiber per serving is completely overshadowed by the 12g sugar that tags along.

So, what do you do?  The king of fiber cereals has the word right in the title: Fiber One Original.  Fiber One comes with a whopping 14g of fiber per serving, with absolutely no sugar (0g) to worry about, and it has only 60 calories per portion.  Although no sugar at all sounds a little “bland,” it is nothing that cannot be solved with some sliced strawberries or bananas.  (I am a fan of almond milk, which adds its own sort of sweetness to the mix.)

Box of Kix Cereal

Image Credit gentlepurespace via Creative Commons

A little too drastic on the scale?  Still feeling the tug of childhood?  There is always Kix.  Yes, the classic kid’s cereal actually does a decent job of providing a balanced offering of fiber (3g per serving) and sugar (3g per serving) with an okay amount of calories (110).  Just make sure to keep the portions under control!

If neither of these appeal to you, that is fine, but I encourage you to spend a little more time on your next grocery trip while picking a cereal, and take a glance at the nutritional facts.  What you thought was good for your body might have a sugary secret.

After I visited some Vietnamese restaurants I am tempted to try to make spring rolls by myself. Spring rolls are a quick, no cook meal and are surprisingly easy to make. I made spring rolls not as same as other restaurants have but followed my own recipe. Its ingredients are most of what I and my guest like, and people who try to make it can also change my recipe in a way that they want. Before I greeted the guest I prepared and set a table.

Ingredients (recipe for two people)

  • Spring roll wrappers
  • 1/2 yellow onions, chopped and grilled
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 packed tofu
  • 1 regular size chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 5 crab sticks, chopped

– For dipping sauce

* Sweet chili sauce

* Peanut butter sauce: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.

  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry

Directions

1. Fry the onions and mushrooms until they soften. Also, cook on the prepared grill until no longer pink.

2. Bring a large bowl with warm water.

3. Dip one wrapper into the hot water for 1 second to soften. Do not over soak your rice paper wrapper! Then, lay wrapper flat.

4. You will be placing your ingredients in the bottom half of the wrapper.

5. Fold up the bottom, then the two sides.

6. Repeat with all the other remaining ingredients.

7. Serve with dipping sauce and enjoy!

* Here is one more tip for someone who brings spring roll  to a party.

Since I have many classes in the CMA building at UT I could have many chances to eat at Madam Mam’s. Conveniently located, this is the best Thai restaurant near the UT campus.

I visited all three locations of Madam Mam’s; at the Guadalupe locationWestgate location, and The Village location. The Village location is the third opening place, and the decor is fantastic.

It is pretty exhausted to find a parking spot near the campus. So, if you have a plan to visit Madam Mam’s with your car, it might be a good option to consider Westgate and The Village location. These locations have pretty large parking spaces.

I started out eating a couple of different menu items and dishes that I’ve tried since the first visit have been wonderful. People give Madam Mam’s pretty good reviews for the most part.

I usually get noodles and ordered GUAY TEAW KUA GUA (F11) with chicken: Flat rice noodles stir-tried with meat, eggs, bean sprouts, pickled radish and soy mixed sauce served with green leaf lettuce. You might feel greasy if you only eat noodles. However, the green leaf lettuce made this dish clean taste.

My friend ordered Pad Sea-Ew (F3) with chicken : Vermicelli noodles stir-fried with chinese broccoli and egg in special mixed soy sauce.

The only drawback of this place is that they do not split checks, which may be a concern for large groups.  Also, they only have 4 tables designated for groups greater than 4.  So, if your group which is larger than 4 people visit Madam Mam’s on the drag at peak lunch/dinner hours, you might be wait for a while until you get a table.

But the food is wonderful and reasonably priced. It will be on my list of places to eat at in Austin for Thai cuisine.

Imagine a dessert made from only vegetables — no processed sugar, refined grains or dairy. For Treasured Earth Foods, making healthy and tasty desserts is their goal and what better way to do that than using agave nectar in place of sugar and packing each product full of a variety of vegetables from pumpkin to beets.

Orange Coconut Kikas. Photo courtesy of Treasured Earth Foods.

San Marcos mother-daughter duo Ruth Noel and Ruth Mier co-founded Treasured Earth Foods with their family’s health in mind. All of their products are gluten-free, vegan and tailored for a diabetic diet. Currently, they have Mini Chocolate Brownies and Orange-Coconut and Chocolate cookies called Kikas (kika originated from their son’s mispronunciation of “Lita,” the shortened version of grandmother in Spanish, “abuelita”) available at the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market in Austin and their online store at treasuredearthfoods.com.

Noel spoke with me about Treasured Earth Foods, their recipes and the importance of a healthy diet.

Austin Appetite: What is Treasured Earth Foods?

Ruth Noel: Treasured Earth Foods’ mission is to make healthy desserts. It started with my Dad being diabetic and we needed foods that wouldn’t spike his blood sugar. My Mom is the master mind behind it, she makes all of the recipes and I cover the business side of it.

AA: How did Treasured Earth Foods start?

RN: I tend to be business inclined. Somehow so many people tasted the cookies and told us we needed to make it available and we wanted to make something that was healthy and [currently] not easily found.

AA: How do you create the recipes?

RN: [My Mother] confessed to me one night that she was up and couldn’t sleep and she was creating recipes by putting different things together. She is a voracious reader of cook books. She has a passion of healthy food, and making things come together. She is very good at it.

AA: What is the importance of eating healthy?

RN: Definitely just good health. The food that the average American seems to consume is so high in unhealthy carbs, grains, sugars, fats, there is a strong imbalance of carbohydrates to vegetables. I am actually astounded when I think that there are so many vegetable growers out there because so many people don’t eat them. When I go grocery shopping I am so amazed at the amount of foods that have high fructose corn syrup or refined grains. That was another aspect, we wanted to have these [healthy foods] readily available to most people.

AA: What is your favorite dessert you make?

RN: It’s one that’s not available left [laughing]. It’s going to be a raspberry kika. The hold has been the source of raspberries. I think I found a source that will work so we are tweaking the recipe for production. Another one is a mock pound cake [that isn’t available yet either] and I can just make myself sick off of those. They are so good. They are my Mom’s creations so I need to tweak them to production.

AA: What is it like experimenting with the recipes?

RN: My family, they are the Guinea Pigs [laughing]. Usually their skepticism is “what is this?” as the new experiment is laid out. Quite a bit is turned down at first when they say it needs this or that. So generally it’s my Mom who does the first round of experiments and once the family approves of it, I take over to make it fit for production. A lot goes to the trash or the dog, it’s just trial and error.

AA: What are the plans for the future of Treasured Earth Foods?

RN: [The plans have] been changing. Aside from people that knew us, we got a very neutral response. I think we were introducing it to the wrong people. So we took it back to [the farmer’s] market and then people showed up and said we need to carry this! The feedback from the customer has helped me direct where it needs to go. I want to be able to make them available at first locally and nationally and maybe eventually global. That is really far fetched thinking, though, way down the road.

AA: What else is there to know about Treasured Earth Foods?

RN: I think Americans are so one-sided in what they eat. It’s meat, potatoes and bread. So what we offer [are products for] someone who has an allergy or if someone is on a diet. We also have something great and it doesn’t have to be what people normally think of as a dessert. It can be that craving of something satisfying that is a little outside of the box. It’s sort of a paradigm shift.

Yogurt is one of the delicious foods you could spoon-feed yourself. And Siggi’s, an icelandic style non-fat yogurt, is one of the best yogurt that I have ever had.

Siggi’s Non-fat Yogurt – Plain

I always have this yogurt for my breakfast with blueberries. Actually breads and yogurt are perfect menu for breakfast. Siggi’s is really thick and creamy, no fake sugar, gelatin, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, preservatives and it comes from grass fed cows that are recombinant bovine growth hormone-free. Even though it is only 100 calories per container, it contains 2-3 times the protein of most yogurt plus more calicum than average!

In fact, yogurt has great health benefits. When yogurt is compared to milk, yogurt contains more calcium and protein because of the added cultures in the yogurt. It improves natural defense, it contains a good amount of phosphorus and 88% water. People with a risk of osteoporosis should eat at least one serving of yogurt per day.

According to Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, people’s “body needs to have a healthy amount of ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good bacteria.”

If you want to enjoy sweeter yogurt than plain one you might have a chance to grab various kinds of other flavors of Siggi’s.

various kinds of Siggi’s (via skyr.com)

You pay $2.99 for a 6-ounce cup and it feels expensive than other yogurts. However, you might think it is deserved that price because it is yummy.

I usually get it at Whole Foods Market or Central Market, but you can find it at a store near you here.

Also, here the video clip about review of Siggi’s yogurt by hotandhealthyliving.com.

An olive oil caddy found in the House of Olives

An olive oil caddy found in the House of Olives - via Shishberg on Flickr

During my early years, my parents never really prompted me to try my hand at preparing my own meals.  In hindsight, that probably was not a good thing, but it did give me an opportunity to develop my own cooking style and preferences from scratch.

One of the first things I learned was that “butter = bad,” “oil = good.” (The truth of that is neither here nor there, let’s just say I no longer feel that way.)  And thanks to the prompting of Food Network staples like Rachel Ray, I began my infatuation with extra virgin olive oil.  And for a while, I never questioned it.  Every time I needed a refill, I would cringe at the high costs of quality oils, but bite the bullet and do the best I could.

But something was not right.  Every time I made scrambled eggs, they were greasy and overpowered by the oil, and hamburgers always had this faint hint of earthiness brought on by the extra virgin.  It quickly became obvious what someone should want out of a cooking oil.  When cooking, the oil should stay out of the way!

House surrounded by canola plants.

A canola field surrounding a farmhouse - via Paraflyer on Flickr

So how do you pull this off?  You have two, very healthy, choices.  First, take a look at canola oil.  Not only is is very good for you, it has a neutral natural flavor that does not threaten to over power your food.  Pair this with the optimal balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids provided by the oil and you have something you do not have to regret using.

Second, there is plain olive oil.  Yes, there is a difference!  Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press of olives, and it is not mixed with other oils that will dilute the flavor.  So, extra virgin has a robust flavor (and price premium).  Regular olive oil (also known as “pure,” confusing, I know) is mixed with virgin olive oil and pomace oil (the leftover oil from processing virgin olive oil).  This oil has a less defined flavor, and as a result, it is cheaper.  So if being pulled away from olive oil as your go-to lubricant is too radical, give pure olive oil a try, your wallet might appreciate it!

Great Grandma Ginny's (Dairy Free) Carrot Cake

I despise carrots, pineapples are too acidic, pecans are a bit pasty and I am not drawn to coconut. But there is something about my Great Grandma Ginny’s Carrot Cake recipe where all of these ingredients play a major role that hits the spot.

While Grandma Ginny’s original recipe for Carrot Cake is delicious, it does not fit in with my diet. When I found out I was lactose intolerant, it put a brief hold on my baking until I discovered the many dairy-free alternatives available.

Now, I use this hindrance to be able to experiment with non-dairy and vegan treats. I have tweaked the original carrot cake recipe a few times to tailor it to my needs and, after many attempts, have created a recipe (almost) as good as Ginny’s.

This recipe is not vegan, though the eggs can easily be replaced with a vegan substitute like Ener-G that you can find at Wheatsville Co-Op. I use Earth Balance Vegan Butter and Tofutti “Cream Cheese” for the icing. Another alteration that I like to do with all of my cake and cupcake recipes is use unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil. The applesauce makes the cake extra fluffy and moist.

Here is the recipe and pictures of my baking experience.

Great Grandma Ginny’s (Dairy Free) Carrot Cake

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1  1/2 cup applesauce (vegetable oil works fine if you don’t have applesauce on hand)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs (or Ener-G)
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 6 oz. crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 6 oz. can flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1  8 oz. Tofutti “Cream Cheese”
  • 1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Butter
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Cake Directions:

1. Sift dry ingredients, set aside.

Dry Ingredients

2. Mix applesauce and sugar, then add eggs.

Eggs

3. Add the dry ingredients to this.  Mix well.

4. Add carrots, pineapple with juice, coconut and pecans.

Carrots, pecans, coconut, pineapple

5. Pour into two  well greased 9 X 13 pans or 3 circular cake pans (I only did two, make sure to cover the top with foil it doesn’t burn before the cake cooks well).

Cake batter

6. Bake in 325 preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

Icing Directions:

1. Mix the cream cheese and butter well, add vanilla. I would recommend using a mixer or beater for this because the vegan cream cheese and butter need powerful mixing to be the consistency of icing.

2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mix well.

3. Mix the pecans in all at once.

Mixing the Icing

4. Let the cake cool well before frosting

5. Slice and enjoy!

Image of the Go Local card

The Go Local card for Austin.

Austin has a powerful local oriented charm about it, which rewards those who participate with both the satisfaction of helping local restaurants, and sometimes, a better meal to boot.  But if that is not enough, there is something else out there that might help with that prompting.

The Go Local card (at publication their website was down, but they are in the process of pushing forward a new design, found here) gives local businesses and restaurants the opportunity to provide discounts to cardholders.  Like any other membership based card, all you have to do is present it at the register (or include it with the check).

I originally came across the Go Local card at the Austin Farmers Market, and in my early financial ignorance I never found a way to justify the $10 purchase, but I was quickly proven wrong once I finally picked it up.  Although I am a big supporter of cooking at home as much as you can, being a college aged student I still find myself on the other side of town once in a while and hungry, so any opportunity to knock back the price is appreciated.

So who participates?  If you live (or travel often) to the university area, there are quite a few places that do you may already regularly visit.

  • Kerbey Lane (all locations) – M thru F, 10% off Food & Non-Alcoholic Drinks
  • Ming’s Cafe – 10% off
  • Torchy’s Tacos – 10% off
  • Amy’s Ice Cream – 10% off

(A Google Map mashup of the locations)

(All locations can be found here.)

For me, I visit Ming’s enough (the past two days, as a matter of fact) that the card probably paid for itself in two weeks.  I suggest you take a look at the list (including the non-food related ones) and see if is worth it to you.

The card can be found at most retailers that support it, and is valid for one year.

Today, I will introduce about Jester second floor dining, one of UT’s traditional dining centers, offers “all-you-care-to-eat” or buffet-style dining.

Usually, university students have fast food for their lunch, and it might be unhealthy. Of course, it depends on your choices, however, hamburger from Wendy’s or McDonald’s is cheap and even convenient to grab, but you can get too much calories. For instance, if you get a Jr. Cheeseburger, a medium french fries, and a coke for your lunch from Wendy’s, then you will have 890 calories at once. It is almost half calories based on total recommended calories per day.

So, we need to find another option for healthy eating. But, it should have great tasting, be cheap (we are student!), and be readily available. And here is the option that I will recommend; Jester second floor dining and I guess almost every UT student already know this place :)

I often go to this place and I and my friends enjoy having a lunch. Jester second floor dining features a daily menu including several entrees, starches, vegetables and fruits. Diners can also choose from hamburgers, salads, soups, pasta, baked potatoes and desserts.

Jester second dining via UT webpage

Ms. Brandy Shih, dietitian at UT, said “We have a variety of choices out there available.” She said burger in grill line has turkey patty, wholewheat buns,grilled chicken breast that are available as an option. “So, there is availability to have healthy option.”

I think Jester second floor dining might be absolutely work for UT students because it is readily available, convenient, cheap and even it has a various yummy and healthy dishes! And lastly here is an interesting grade about campus dining, and UT got a B+ as well as Texas A&M. If you are interested, follow the link and look at!

*Basic info:

Hours:

Monday – Friday Lunch 11:30 am – 2 pm
Dinner 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm

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Photo by shewatchedthesky via Flickr Creative Commons.

Earlier this week, rumors floating around the internet drew speculation that Starbucks was considering adding a larger, 31-ounce cup to its current tiered scale of Talls, Grandes and Ventes. UT students who heard the news were surely on the edge of their seats, contemplating toting around the two-pound drink from class to class.

Starbucks confirmed the rumors to be true Tuesday, telling Reuters that they were testing their new “Trenta” cups in Tampa and Phoenix. Of all places, Tampa and Phoenix.

As of now, you can’t order a “Trenta White Chocolate Mocha” at your local lurk (there are two on or near campus, two in the Hyde Park area and six more downtown), but you can pick up a 31-ounce iced coffee or iced tea for $3.30 and $2.60, respectively if you head out to the two testing cities.

I’m not real sure why someone would choose a more expensive iced coffee or tea from Starbucks over the cheap, cool drinks you can get at the 7-Eleven on the Drag. I’m always going to be a Big Gulp Slurpee fan, myself, and there are plenty of coffee shops in Austin selling cheaper iced tea or coffee for students to sip on. But to each their own.

Since the testing has just begun, we have a little while before we’ll see the Trenta make an appearance in Austin. But if you’re curious as to what it looks like, here’s a Twitpic of it and for fun, some other names customers have suggested for it.

Austin Appetite’s Tweets

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