Guacamole

What makes a good guacamole?  Fresh ingredients are the key but there are a few surprising others.  We went to Texas to visit family and embarked on a guacamole find, in search of the best of the best.

So where did we go, what did we discover and the real question, can we duplicate that which we found?  Our target was traditional and old family restaurants well known for their Mexican Food that have been key to shaping Mexican Food in their city and in my opinion, in the United States.

In Houston, we chose to have lunch at Mama Ninfa’s and the Original Location downtown.  I had been to two other location, one in the suburbs of Houston and one in Lafayette, LA, now closed.  It was a treat to go to the original, to have a margarita in the middle of the business day and to enjoy food that truly has shaped what we know to be Tex-Mex in our country.  This is not a restaurant review but let me say that it was superior food, service and an environment that was simply wonderful.

Here is a bit about Ninfa’s.

http://ninfas.com/

Established in 1973, the Original location is located at 2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003.

Guacamole is the first appetizer on their website menu and lists the ingredients as follows; avocados, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, tomatoes and fresh lime.  So, this dish is wonderful, fresh and simply fantastic.

In San Antonio, we went to a traditional restaurant called Boudro’s.

http://www.boudros.com/

Located on the Riverwalk, the atmosphere is spectacular.  It is larger than you would think from the appearance outside, food is fantastic and the guacamole is well known.

Ingredients: 

Juice of ½ of an orange

Juice of ½ of a lime

1 avocado seeded and scooped out of skin – cut and not smashed

Approximately, 1 Tablespoon of diced red onion

½ Tablespoon of chopped cilantro

2 Tablespoons of roasted and diced tomatoes

½ – 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Spicy?  They add 1 teaspoon of serrano pepper finely diced.

We didn’t order it spicy and the flavors were fantastic.

Boudro’s and Ninfa’s

Bottom line regarding Ninfa’s and Boudro’s, their guacamole is fantastic, styles are different and we now make it following Boudro’s recipe because we love the addition of the orange and have been able to duplicate it.  When we arrived at my sister’s home, we went to Boudro’s with a large party of family members.  And then, we made guacamole at her house that evening for dinner so the others who were not able to go could try it and we made it again the following evening for dinner.  Yes indeed, you will love it as well.

Vegan Cajun Mayonnaise

If you haven’t tried Cajun mayonnaise, you are missing out and this recipe is very versatile.   This is simple to make and has so many uses, I will reference using this periodically so that you will begin to notice.  You can use Cajun mayonnaise in any way that you might use sour cream, dressing or mayonnaise.

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup of Vegenaise

4 oz of vegan cream cheese

This makes the mayo thicker so if your desire is to  have a thinner mayo double the Vegenaise and skip this but I enjoy using this and I keep it in the refrigerator.

2 long squirts of all-natural ketchup

Important that it have few ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup.  It actually tastes different and so much better.

1 teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce (there is no substitute)

½ teaspoon of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (also no substitute)

 

Directions and Uses:

Whisk together, taste and adjust accordingly.  You will find so many uses for this, it will become a household staple in your refrigerator for sandwiches, tacos, baked potatoes and for dipping veggies.

Strawberry Salad

1 large bag of shredded romaine or 3 hearts of romaine, cleaned, cut and shredded

1 small can of mandarin oranges

½ cup of pecans roasted; place in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of smart balance, toss on medium heat until they are lightly browned

½ cup of feta

Briannas’ Strawberry Vinaigrette with a large strawberry on the bottle.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss prior to eating.  I take this salad to parties routinely and separate the ingredients until just before I serve it at which time I toss all ingredients together.

This salad is delicious, fast, easy and great to transport for an event today or tomorrow as the ingredients are kept separate and as such preserved.  After mixed, the salad is good for the current meal and one meal after.

Mexican Salad

Dressing:

½ cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves

½ cup lime juice

½ cup olive oil

½ cup sour cream (I use vegan)

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Blend these ingredients in a blender or food processor and set aside dressing.

 

Salad:

1 package of shredded romaine lettuce or 3 romaine hearts cut

5 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small purple onion, chopped

1 (8 oz) package of shredded cheese (I use shredded vegan mozzarella)

1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn drained

1 (6 oz) can sliced ripe olives drained or 1 (15 oz) can of whole black olives drained and sliced

Place these ingredients in a bowl, add the dressing and toss until thoroughly mixed.  Serve with your favorite corn chips.

Nut, Seed or Legume?

What is a nut?  What is a seed?  What is a Legume and how is that word said?

Why does it matter?

Nut

A nut is a fruit with an outer coating generally containing a kernel called a seed within.

Seed

A seed is the embryo of a plant enclosed in a protective shell.

Legume pronounced “leg-yoom”

A legume is a plant or its fruit or seed in the family Fabaceae. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for their grain seed called pulse, for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure.  Wikipedia

Soil-enhancing green manure is what they term the benefit of a cover crop.  So, this is how it works.  A farmer wants to add nitrogen to his field and rather than spraying which is costly, in the past crop rotation was used as many plants add “green” meaning from the plan, nitrogen to the soil.  Adding a cover crop of beans or clover will add a great deal of nitrogen and nutrients to the soil as a green way of fertilizing the soil, thus the Wikipedia term “green manure”.

Interestingly, a pea is a legume as is a peanut and a cashew.  Of course, we think of both a peanut and a cashew as nuts when in fact they are legumes.

The argument that Dr. Gundry makes is that if you don’t cook legumes adequately, they will be high in lectins and some are high and often eaten raw and therefore the seeds should be removed to decrease their lectins.

Lectins are molecules of proteins found in plants that can damage the lining of your esophagus and stomach or can give you an upset stomach and change the biological composition of your gut.  Needless to say, the information that Dr. Gundry shares, I am not wholly in agreement with because it conflicts with advice of other famous doctors that are also renowned cardiologists.  But, he is a highly thought of doctor and the information that he shares is somewhat different and worth a try to see what the individual reaction or effect is as a personal and further investigation.  As I learn and share, please learn and share with me.  As I try different things and share, please comment on your experience.  Dr. Gundry calls this a low lectin diet.

 

 

Restaurant Review – Antoni’s Italian Café Lafayette, LA

Restaurant Review of Antoni’s Italian Café

http://www.antonisitaliancafe.com

1118 Coolidge St. A, Lafayette, LA  70503

337-232-8384

Rating: (1-10)

1 – Poor, 3 – Below Average and Needs Much Improvement,

5 – Average but Needs Improvement, 7 – Above Average and Acceptable,

8 and 9 – Superior, 10 – Exceptional and Could Not Have Been Better!

I didn’t indicate the intention to review our dining experience.  We paid for our meal in full.  A guest feedback card was delivered with the check after our meal and I indicated the website to access the review and suggestions.

Atmosphere:  10

There is a quaint outside patio at the entrance that would be a wonderful seating area on a cool day or evening.  In any case, it serves as a garden entrance adding to the exterior as this location is an older shopping plaza that is both well-kept and fully leased.  Inside, the smells were fresh, clean and welcoming.  Customers were sporting dressy casual and casual attire   Our visit was on a Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 8:00 PM.  Patrons were couples out for a Saturday evening date night, a large table of couples socializing and several tables of families with children ranging in age, all of which seemed used to dining in nicer restaurants that expect children all well-mannered.    The atmosphere was pleasurable in every way.

Interior Design:  10

Quaint and well done, décor is tasteful, Italian theme and pleasant.  The lighting was exceptionally well done, very difficult to accomplish.  The subtleties indicated a standard of care with owners who are engaged and personally invested in the restaurant.  This restaurant is neat and meticulously clean which frankly is hard to find.

was just right.  Chris and Casey ordered water with their meal and I ordered a Bloody Mary.  This drink was seasoned well without so much floating that it was sandy to drink and beautifully garnished with olives and okra.  When I inquired, the waiter a New Orleans Catrina transplant, offered that the Bloody Mary’s are really good.  He was absolutely correct.  Sunday brunch would beg for a Bloody Mary.  Chris and Casey ordered dessert; Chris the triple chocolate cheese cake and Casey the tiramisu both were fresh and each was presented beautifully.

Menu Options:  9

Menu options are diverse including; fish, chicken, meat, pasta and pizza.  Also, widely available were vegetables as side dishes, salads and vegetable options on pasta and pizza.  The wine list is extensive are is the list of suggested cocktails.  The dessert menu is perfect for an Italian café all made on the premises.

Presentation:  10

The appearance of the food when plated and served was exceptional.  The professionalism of the staff presentation was superior as well.

Service:  10

The service that we received was superior!  We were greeted at the door by a host that gave us a strong message of superior service.  David, clearly a professional knew just how to enhance our experience and how to make us want to be served by him again.  He delivered service that was thoughtful, appropriate and thorough, hard to explain at the level of excellence that this was delivered at but exceptional when seen.

Cost and Value:  10

We had one cocktail, 3 salads, 3 entrees and 2 deserts for $63.  We ordered what we wanted and the bill was most reasonable.  The value for what we received was incredible.  These are reasonable portion sizes.  They are not huge which frankly we dislike.  We ate our meal without left overs and we actually wanted and felt we had permission to enjoy a desert.  I must admit, this was a nice feeling and we were not stuffed, uncomfortable but completely satisfied.  What more could you ask for, right?

Suggestions:

We want the great restaurants to be supported and found.  This ensures that when we return, these choices will still be available and it ensure that the those in your area will have All Good options to choose from.  With this in mind, the largest growth area in the food and restaurant business is an opportunity and as such we feel the need to explain further so that the owners of Antoni’s Italian Café can indeed capitalize from this exposure and prevent a missed opportunity.  We are near vegan vegetarian and the menu doesn’t have a vegetarian section.  In addition, the vegetables that we visually saw were exceptional; asparagus, broccoli and a wide variety of salad choices not to mention all kinds of vegetable choices that can be added to the pizza and pasta dishes.  So, upon re-printing the menu, there would be every reason to have a vegetarian section when you have so many wonderful options to choose from.  Most important, searching the restaurants in Lafayette for a vegan vegetarian option or even for restaurants that have vegetables available on the menu proves that this would separate your business from the others and set you apart in a category of food and restaurant service that is most growing in the US and Internationally.  In a college town with educators and students, this option is very important.  As a small city with a history and prevalence of heart disease, options for those who need to change their diet are also important.  Last suggestion, the beer and craft beer list are lacking and doesn’t meet the market demand of present day.  This is also a growth area within the industry.  Although this would require a change, it adding just a few of the most in demand by beer category would be a nice additional offering.

Overall Rating and Assessment:  9.86

We highly recommend this restaurant.  The atmosphere, service, cost/value make this a restaurant to add to your routine restaurant outings list in Lafayette, LA.  It is also a fantastic place to take your large party for a special occasion.  If you live nearby, we sincerely hope that you choose to support this local, fresh, Italian Café because we think it is truly ALL GOOD.

Amanda Griesdorn

AllGoodVeg.com

allgoodveg@gmail.com

 

Fruit or Vegetable – Why?

Have you ever considered what a fruit is vs. a vegetable and what that means for our nutritional health?  I know that I had not until I started listening to a pod cast by a doctor that has shifted my thinking.  A bit more about that later.

What is a fruit?

A fruit is a seed-bearing portion of a tree or a plant.  It develops from the flower of the tree or the plant.

What is a vegetable?

A vegetable is the other part of the plant including the leaves, the roots and the stem.

Often identified incorrectly as vegetables are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, squash, pumpkin and zucchini.

Why would this matter?

Dr. Gundry argues that fruits were eaten to fatten up before winter.  The seeds are high in lectin proteins which are not healthy to eat routinely.  If advises that if you must eat a tomato, he suggests that you remove the center seeded area and eat the exterior meat of the tomato.  He also argues that a diet high in lectin protein causes increase cholesterol, weight gain and insulin spike.  He states in one of his videos that he often recommends that his female patients removes cucumbers their diet as a strategy to reduce their cholesterol with great success.

I highly recommend that we check out his information.  I cannot attest to the diet changes personally, at this point because I have not used them myself with success and tracked the changes.  I suggest that we evaluate his information because (a) he is a highly regarded cardiologist (b) the personal doctor of several famous people whom have the means to choose anyone (c) over his career, he has changed his recommendation as he has found information causing his to refine his practices.

You have to respect a professional in any field who is a continuous learner at the top of his field and who will change his direction because he thinks it is the right thing to do.  My intention it to move toward his recommended low lectin diet, evaluate the changes and blog about it to share with you my practical reality so that you too can benefit if you so choose.

Just like all things All Good Veg at allgoodveg.com, I will give you some simple tips after I have completed my evaluation.  Please do share if you have used the low lectin diet with a whole food plant-based, vegan, vegetarian diet.  I am interested in hearing your feedback.  Thank you in advance for sharing.

Tapenade

We enjoy hummus and to add variety, I found that I really enjoy tapenade specifically an olive tapenade.  But interestingly, this little extra is expensive and easy to make.  When I find expensive I enjoy trying to make the dish even if the ingredients are expensive.  In this case, the store bought is probably well worth the money but I still enjoy making it.

Ingredients; Olives – Olive Oil – Capers

Few ingredients so this should be easy peasy right?

As it turns out, the olives and the amounts of capers and olive oil make all the difference in the world and it is all a matter of your taste preference.  Here is my suggestion to begin; add a can of pitted black olives and 2 Tablespoons of capers drained and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.

 

Fresh Fruit Smoothies in San Antonio – Amazing

Okay, traveling is fun and tasting new things that are special to the culture of the area in which we travel makes the trip more memorable and special.  People are more likely to remember when more of their senses are involved in the learning process.  So, if we want our family vacation memories to be embossed in memories and that of our children and family members, using all of our senses is a great way to do so.

Remember, when you are with family and you travel that it is a wonderful opportunity to positively anchor your trip with your senses; seeing, smelling, exercising, experiencing all make you remember your adventures and your time with family and friends and the experiences.

In our case we experienced a frozen all fruit smoothie that really hit the spot.  But here is the kicker, we can do this.  We can integrate these tasty fresh treats into our diet with relative ease and in the south, this will be a good addition.

Chris had a frozen version that was spooned out and served with a very wide straw.  Not to worry it melted quickly in the Texas summer.  His was coconut, pineapple and ice frozen as a pina-colada without alcohol.   The interesting thing about it is the coconut was machine cut and not shredded flakes.

I had more of a drink version that was made with fresh strawberries and pineapple and blended with ice.  The pineapple served to sweeten it and it was fantastic.  They asked if I wanted added sugar and whipped cream but I declined both.

Fresh fruit from the fruteria is common in San Antonio and there are so many options for how you can eat it as a treat with family and friends that if you have a chance to experience this and are from somewhere where this isn’t offered, frankly you will wonder why.  Seriously, this Hispanic tradition is something that we must get on board with although new to the fun, I can’t quite get a grip on adding chili pepper to my fruit dish.  I can feel myself getting adventurous and I am sure that my return trips will cause me to break free of my traditional and limited use of fruit.