Girls on Food

Gluten-Free

Jillian’s Healing Tropical Turmeric Smoothie

healing tropical turmeric smoothie

This smoothie is my everything. ?✨??

Not only does it contain plant-based healing properties, but it’s refreshing and delicious, and the beautiful bright orange color doesn’t hurt either! Smoothies have become part of my daily diet, and I feel like 5 million percent better than my pre-smoothie life. Humans are so used to eating processed foods, even the healthier versions of them, that sometimes eating basic raw fruits & vegetables can be a daily struggle. I know that even if I slip up and eat a whole bag of potato chips or something fried or containing gluten, I feel better knowing that smoothies got my back, and I don’t have to have a meltdown because I ruined my day with junk food.

Enter the Healing Tropical Turmeric Smoothie ? ? A coconut based smoothie with healing turmeric and ginger, banana and peaches for natural sweetness, and carrots for fiber and a pop of color.

Check out my very first recipe video for this easy to make smoothie! I’m sure there are tech-savvy 10-year-olds out there that could create a better video than this, but it was super fun to make, and I’m sure my video skills will improve from here on out. Let me know what you think!

The photo and video don’t do justice to the deep orange color you get with this smoothie. And the longer it sits, the richer the color ?

Smoothies are great to eat before a meal to curb your appetite, so you don’t overeat, and the raw fruits & veggies also help your body break down nutrients more efficiently.

Turmeric, in particular, is best consumed with a healthy fat to ensure all the amazing benefits of it are absorbed.  I used coconut water in the video, but coconut milk would be a great choice thanks to its healthy fats. And if one tsp of ground turmeric is too overwhelming for your taste buds, try 1/2 teaspoon.

For another excellent turmeric drink and to see a list of the health benefits of this yellow spice superfood, check out my recipe for Turmeric Milk. It’s so tasty!

I recommend using all organic ingredients for this recipe, which you should be able to find easily at your local grocery store. The most expensive of all these ingredients is the organic ground turmeric, but it will last you a little while and is totally worth it ?

Enjoy!!

Jillian ?

Ashley Visits Taco Spot in Los Angeles, CA

tacospot2Taco Spot in Eagle Rock, CA is one of my favorite taco places in Los Angeles. A little over a year ago I came across Taco Spot on Groupon. The Groupon was good for 2 visits, which was just enough to get me hooked! Taco Spot is located on Colorado Blvd. in the heart of Eagle Rock. The restaurant is often filled with families, young couples from the neighborhoods and obvious regulars. Taco spot offers a variety of amazing Mexican food from taco plates, to carne asada fries and so much in between. Taco spot is gluten free, vegetarian and budget friendly.

Taco Spot
Address: 2006 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90041
http://www.tacospot.com

On Tuesday’s, I often head to Taco Spot for my Taco Tuesday fix. While I’ve tried every taco they offer my favorite plate is the 2 potato taco entree which included rice, beans and chips. The tacos come in hard shell corn tortillas, are packed with fresh potatoes, lettuce, cheese and sour cream on top. The restaurant also homes a great fresh salsa bar which offers fresh cilantro, minced onion and a fantastic selection of salsas providing an array of salsa combinations to compliment the already delicious food.

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Taco Spot feels like a very small town restaurant. The staff is friendly and the service is exceptional.  I definitely recommend this place if you are looking to grab some tacos, check out a new Mexican restaurant or if you are out exploring Eagle Rock.
Taco Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Luck of the Irish: Bonnie’s Colcannon

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

I was trying to decide what Irish dish to make.  Luckily, I had a sack of potatoes (like a good Irish girl!), half a cabbage, and an onion.

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Hmmmm!

colcannon me text

Colcannon, of course!

So, get your green on and try this super easy dish.  The full recipe is at the end of the post.

Simply peel, chop, and boil 1½ lbs of russet potatoes in salted water.

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While that’s cooking, chop 3/4 cup onion and 2 cups green cabbage.

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Saute onions and cabbage in 1½ T butter for 5 minutes.  Add in 1/2 tsp salt.

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When potatoes are easily pierced with a fork – they’re done.  Save about 1 cup of the potato water.

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Drain potatoes.  Pour in 2 T melted butter and mash until smooth.  Add in reserved potato water, as needed, to achieve a creamy texture.

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Stir in the cabbage/onion mixture.  Add in another 1/2 tsp salt.

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You’ve now made colcannon!!!

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Slainte!!!

COLCANNON – makes 6 cups

  • 1½ lbs russet potatoes, skinned
  • 3½ T butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp salt, divided

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cut peeled potatoes into pieces so they cook faster. Add to boiling water and cook until easily pierced with a fork. Reserve 1 cup of the potato water, then drain potatoes. Return potatoes to the empty pot.

While potatoes are boiling, melt 1½ T of the butter in a saucepan. Add in onions and cabbage, and sauté until softened – about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 T butter and add to the hot, drained potatoes. Mash, using a potato masher or food mill. Pour in the cabbage mixture (heat, if it’s gone cold) and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Add the reserved potato water, as needed, to achieve a creamy texture.

NOTE: Much as I love my food processor, DON’T use it to mash the potatoes – they’ll turn out like paste.

To bring leftover colcannon back to life as leftovers, add a bit of the reserved potato water (or, just plain water or milk if you threw it out) and microwave.

Be sure and check out my blog at VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES BLOG.

 

Happea for Green Pea Cookie

Growing up and living in the Bay Area, there are so many healthy options that cater to so many different diets. Even desserts and snacks have stepped up their game with being natural, vegan, and/or gluten-free. Cookies have elevated themselves to the next level, like these Green Pea Cookies I was fortunate enough to get to try! It’s a delicious cookie that is made up of five ingredients. Yes, you read that right: five. And it comes in the cutest little box, ever!

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Green Pea Cookie
http://www.greenpeacookie.com/

The Green Pea Cookie is based on a cookie that was originally made in Singapore, and according to them, was founded by “two food-loving Singaporeans and an imaginative American.” Together, they fine-tuned the recipe with simple, all natural ingredients and then debuted the cookies in Dolores Park! With everyone loving all of these little green guys, they set out to make it a brand that is proud to be a more natural cookie to snack on – that happens to be made with green peas!

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When I opened my box, I will admit, I was a little skeptical. I mean, a cookie with its primary ingredient as green peas? That sounded so strange. I have had sweet peas and salty peas, but those were still considered savory sides instead of a sweet snack. But when I saw these little nuggets stacked together, waiting to be eaten, I was intrigued.

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On their website (where you can shop for all of their Green Pea products), they have the Peater: The Original Green Pea Cookie, the Penelopea: The Cranberry Green Pea Cookie, and Dimpea: The Chocolate Covered Green Pea Cookie. I had a box of Peaters, and I was ready to indulge!

The Peater’s ingredients were: unbleached wheat flour, salted green peas, organic sunflower oil, organic powdered sugar, and sea salt. While their “pea flour” looks very green, they’re actually moving towards using a more organic pea that doesn’t have any dyes in it, so that they can get rid of the artificial dye ingredients. I think it’s awesome that they’re so committed to keeping the ingredients real and all-natural.

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When I bit into them, I found them crunchy and subtly sweet. They reminded me a lot of South Asian cookies that have a kind of crunchy texture though it crumbles easily. When you start to eat more of the cookie, it has a lovely combination of sweetness from the sugar to the saltiness of the peas. They struck the perfect balance of those two contrasting flavors. The box recommends five cookies a day, but honestly, once you try one, you want to eat another one. And another one. And then another one. The cookies disappear quickly.

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From someone who had a mostly pea-free childhood (I hated them for some reason), I think these are an excellent snack! It feels like you’re indulging in sweets, but you feel better since you know it’s all natural without compromising flavor. The nutrition info isn’t outrageous either: it doesn’t go overboard with carbs or sugar. I’ve had them for a pre-dinner snack, and I don’t feel like I substituted the cookies for dinner, which I have with some other snacks. I would love to try the Dimpea some time – chocolate and pea cookies sounds like a fascinating combination!

Jillian’s Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

eggplant parmesan casserole

Eggplants are my spirit animal ✨? I mean wait… but you get what I’m saying, right? Eggplants are my jam right now, not literally but maybe eggplant jam is an actual thing to look into ?

I’ve liked eggplant for a while now, but it wasn’t until I lived in Beijing and discovered a dish with white rice, potatoes, and eggplant smothered in a delicious sauce that I realized Hey, eggplants are super cool and a good meat substitute. I should eat them more often. Enter this saucy (literally) recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Casserole. Hearty brown rice, garlic sauteed eggplant slices, savory tomato sauce, and melted vegan cheese all in the form of a comforting and satisfying casserole.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled
  • a thick slice of yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • oil (extra virgin olive or coconut)
  • tomato sauce
  • vegan cheese of choice (shreds or slices both work)
  • seasonings (S&P, garlic powder, nutritional yeast)
  • water

Pretty easy, right?

Be sure to soak your brown rice for a few hours or overnight to help soften and ease the cooking process. Drain and rinse. Add to 2 cups of boiling water and turn down to low. If the rice absorbs the water quickly, add more as needed.

In the meantime, heat a large skillet with a thin layer of coconut or olive oil. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch thick slices and place into pan. Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder onto each slice and saute on medium heat until cooked. Because the eggplant absorbs liquids so quickly, add water as needed (or oil or chickpea broth). Repeat until all the slices are sauteed.

Saute diced onion & garlic in a small pan with some oil until translucent and brown. Add about 8 oz of tomato sauce to the onion and garlic. I use plain, organic tomato sauce that comes in a glass bottle from HEB. I recommend staying away from cans due to the high levels of BPA. Turn down to low heat and add seasonings. Remove from heat when the sauce is warm.

Season the brown rice with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Evenly apply a few drizzles of oil to the bottom of a casserole dish to avoid any food sticking. Spread a layer of brown rice down, then the sauteed eggplant, the sauce, and finally a layer of vegan cheese. Put in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, or about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

vegan eggplant parmesan

So filling by itself, but would be great paired with a salad or a side dish of steamed broccoli or some other green veggie. This is a healthier version of lasagna, but if you don’t want to use brown rice as the base, you can easily find a gluten free lasagna pasta and use that. You can also add other veggies based on your preference. If you want to get real fancy, you can coat the eggplant in gluten free bread crumbs and top the dish with vegan parmesan for a more authentic eggplant parm.

Enjoy this lasanga/casserole/eggplant parmesan hybrid! ?

Jillian ?

eggplant parmesan casserole

Jillian’s (Vegan & Gluten-Free) Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Creme Fraiche

chocolate sweet potato cake

chocolate sweet potato cakeOh heyyy there, don’t mind me drooling/crying over this mouthwatering cake situation ? Maybe you’re thinking that I’ve finally lost my marbles because chocolate and sweet potato are two foods that you would never imagine mixing together. But wait! ✋ Let’s stop and think about this for a minute. After making the most delicious confections using beets as my secret ingredient (Fudgy Vegan Beet Cupcakes, Vegan S’mores Fudge Brownies, and Chocolate Chip Chia Beet Scones), I began to wonder what else I could bake using earthy root vegetables, because they make baked goods moist & amazing without tasting like earthy root vegetables.

Around this time I also began binge eating sweet potatoes in many forms, but mostly in the form of these Sweet Potato Fries with Magic Sauce. Let’s just take a minute and give sweet potatoes a shout out ????

What I came up with was a moist chocolate cake with a subtle sweetness, topped off with coconut creme fraiche and fresh mint ? You can thank me later.

chocolate sweet potato cake

Here are the ingredients you will need for this vegan and gluten free cake:

Dry Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato, roasted
1 tsp vegan butter, melted (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup roasted pureed beet
3/4 cup organic sugar, very fine (can pulse in coffee grinder)
1/4 cup cashew milk (or other non dairy milk) – add more if needed, I ended up using 1/2 cup the first time I made it

Poke some holes in your sweet potato using a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the skin once the potato is cool. This recipe also calls for roasted beet. I would say it’s optional, though. To roast the beet, clean it and cut off the stem, then rub a little coconut oil all over and wrap up the entire beet in aluminum foil. Place on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour. When it’s cooled off, place in a blender and puree, adding water if needed. If you don’t use beets in this recipe and the batter feels too dry, just add a little more milk.

Mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients together with a hand blender or regular blender until you have a velvety texture. Pour wet ingredients into dry and gently mix.

Line a small loaf pan (mine was about 8×4 inches) with some vegan butter or oil. Pour batter in and smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.

chocolate sweet potato cake

Coconut Creme Fraiche

Leave a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, upside down. Pour out the liquid content (can use for smoothies). Put the solidified coconut milk in a bowl with 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 1 tsp of maple syrup. Mix with beaters (or hand blender) until you have a thick, yogurt or sour cream like consistency. Keep in fridge until ready to use.

 

 

 

Slice and plate your cake and add a dollop of creme fraiche when you’re ready to serve it. You can also add a sprig of fresh mint or dust cocoa powder or cinnamon on top. You can definitely bypass all those things and eat this cake just as it is because it doesn’t need all the fancy extras, although coconut creme fraiche can only enhance anything you put it on by a million percent.

chocolate sweet potato cake with coconut creme fraiche

If you roast the sweet potato and beet ahead of time, the cake itself is super quick and easy to make. Perfect for a fancy party, or for eating in your jammy jams with tea or coffee ☕️

Jillian ♥

Quinoa with Sauteed Veggies & Gravy

quinoa with sauteed veggies & gravy

quinoa with sauteed veggies & gravy

I think I can say it’s officially fall in Texas, which means I can use all autumn related emojis… ? ? ? ☕️ ??

While other states have already gotten snow and freezing temps, I’m down in Texas like… it’s November ? ??

Here in the Lone Star State we like pumpkin spiced everything & cozy sweaters just like the rest of you, and the thought that maybe-just-maybe we’ll actually get to use our fireplaces at least once this year. It may have hit 75 degrees yesterday where I live, but that won’t stop me from making delicious, seasonal dishes that make me feel like we have autumn for more than two seconds in Texas.

Cue today’s post ☝️ because how fall/autumn does this dish look?! Quinoa with Sauteed Veggies and Gravy – I mean, how often do vegans get to eat gravy, am I right? I created this recipe after buying a box of Pacific Mushroom Gravy for the first time and then realized I had no idea what to use it for ? Then I came up with this yummy, filling (not to mention healthy) entree. It consists of fluffy quinoa with sauteed garlic, onions, squash & mushrooms, and all simmered in savory mushroom gravy ? ?

quinoa with sauteed veggies & gravy

Start by soaking 1/2 cup of quinoa in a sealed container with filtered water. I like to soak it overnight, or you can start soaking in the morning if you aren’t making this dish until dinnertime. Soaking the quinoa in water allows the removal of acids and makes it easier for your body to digest it and absorb the nutrients. When you’re ready to prepare the dish, rinse and drain the quinoa.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add the quinoa, and turn down to low heat. My quinoa cooked freakishly fast, probably because I soaked it for longer this time (about a day and a half), so keep an eye on it while cooking and turn down to the lowest setting if necessary. Normally it should take about 20 minutes. You want the quinoa to be nice and fluffy.

quinoa with sauteed veggies & gravy

While the quinoa is cooking, dice up a couple slices of yellow onion and mince a few medium cloves of garlic. In a large sauce pan, heat up a little coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. Toss in the onions and when they start to become translucent, add the garlic. Once they both start browning, add one sliced squash and a handful of sliced mushrooms. You can sub any veggies you like, I just really like the squash and mushroom combo. Cook on medium heat and add liquid as necessary (water, chickpea broth, etc).

Season the cooked quinoa with salt, pepper, garlic powder and about 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast (if you like). Once the veggies are all cooked and browning, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I like to have my veggies resting on a comfy bed of quinoa as opposed to a heaping mess of savory goodness (nothing wrong with that but for photographing and serving purposes I like to be fancy ?). Scoop the veggies out of the skillet and set them aside. Line the pan with a layer of quinoa, lay the veggies over, then pour gravy over everything like you just don’t care ? If you want to be real fancy, you could make your own mushroom gravy.

Cover the saucepan with a lid and let it sit for a few minutes to heat the gravy and let everything simmer together. Chop up some parsley for garnish and it’s ready to serve! It tastes best served fresh but if you eat it as leftovers later, I would suggest adding a little more gravy because it soaks into the quinoa after sitting. This recipes serves two, but it’s super easy to double or triple!

quinoa with sauteed veggies & gravy

Other suggestions: Substitute the quinoa for millet, which has a similar texture and taste, as well as numerous health benefits. Add some tofu for a heartier dish. Serve straight from the skillet and top with some generous sprinkles of nutritional yeast.

quinoa with sauteed veggies

This is the perfect dinner recipe for a crisp autumn night, or if you live in Texas, a humid semi-autumn night. Either way, it’s delicious and easy to customize. And dat gravy ?

Jillian ♥

Renotastebud’s Zoodle Pho

“Are you Pho real?” Is what I asked the Dr. when he told me if I didn’t start cleaning up my eating habits I would have a stroke by the time I was 40. I was born to eat rich, decadent food. This is what I know, what I do for a living and what I am good at. Healthy food…seriously? Like cardboard brown rice and some bullshit vegetable? While it’s definitely ok to indulge and enjoy life, with my personal lifestyle and family genes, it’s best I clean it up a tad and behave myself.

I did research upon research and I discovered a program called the Whole30 through a fellow Girls On Food sister, Alex.  I have been on a Whole 30 approved lifestyle the last 20 days and have to say I am extremely impressed with the results and the options you have to choose from and how delicious my food still is. It has brought the chef back to life forcing me to create healthier dishes that are still flavor indulgent.  Today I was in the mood for a little Pho, but knew if I went out, I would have no clue what was really going into my bowl.

With that being said, I created my own clean version. Instead of using noodles, I grabbed a few zucchini’s, spiraled them with my fabulous Vegetti, and made “zoodles” instead. Check out the recipe below!

Renotastebud’s Zoodle Pho

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow Onion – Medium Diced
  • 1 cup shaved Carrots
  • 1 lb Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Zoodles (Using a spiraler, or vegetti, twist two medium sized zucchinis into the tool and get “noodles”
  • Roasted Chicken (optional)
  • Cilantro- minced
  • 1 cup Bean Sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Basil leaves
  • 64 oz. Organic Chicken Broth
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 bunch Bok Choy

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Preparation:

In a stock pot over medium heat, pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil and sauté chicken, diced onion, sliced shiitake mushrooms and carrots. When the vegetables start to turn translucent and release their juices (approx. 4-6 mins) add salt and pepper. (To taste, I use a generous pinch) Gently add your zoodles, and bean sprouts, and then chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil, we don’t want to break the noodles. Keep the heat at medium low, so you can continue to develop the flavors of the onion, mushrooms and carrots for approximately 30 minutes. The last 5 minutes, add your bok choy, you will want to this to remain a bright green color.

Carefully spoon the pho into a bowl, and then top with minced cilantro, diced green onion, basil leaves and lime wedges.  Enjoy!

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It’s a Date: Romancing the Bean Cafe

Romancing the Bean Cafe is a family own and run cafe that fits perfectly with its neighborhood. Located in the super cute and community oriented Magnolia park in Burbank. Kerry Krull’s is the owner and chef. Her son Ramsey set up the computer system of the place and from time to time acts as a barista and her daughter Kendra decorated the place. The atmosphere at the cafe is very chic. It has an upscale vibe with a warm welcoming décor.

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Romancing the Bean Cafe
3413 W Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
romancingthebeancafe.com

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GOF, Girls on Food, got invited to sample the new menu at Romancing the Bean. The point of the event was to showcase the exciting new food and drinks that are currently being served. They are proud to use the freshest organic ingredients available to them and to support local farmer markets. Their menu has been crafted with a little bit of something for every taste including gluten free bread for the gluten free Angelinos.

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They welcomed GOF with a beautiful and delicious table spread that included some of their best selling items that you can get in their sammies, wraps and salads. We had samples of their famous chicken curry, salmon tartare, tuna, Italian chop salad, the superfoods salad and amazing cheese and cold cuts plates with a variety of bread.

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I particularly liked the superfoods salad. It was so tasty and full of good foods like kale, almonds, cranberries, blueberries and goat cheese.

bean kale

I also enjoyed the tuna, but then again I’m a sucker for tuna. It was flavorful and lite. It is made with albacore, capers, red onions, lemon zest and tomatoes. So good!

tuna

Romancing the Bean cafe is the perfect place to catch up with friends, meet people for business or just to have a little bit of me time drinking an amazing cup of coffee. They’re open 7 am – 7 pm during the week and 8 am – 5 pm on the weekends.

Romancing the Bean Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Vegan in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas

vegan in the rio grande valley

 

farmer's market

raymondville countryside

This is the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Oddly enough, there are no valleys here. It’s flat, lush land for miles and miles. I’ve spent the past week and a half traversing this southernmost region of Texas and I have to say – I love it. Maybe it’s all the palm trees, tropical flowers, sunshine, and friendly people, but there’s something about this area that captivates me. ?? It’s made up mostly of small towns, many dotting the border of Mexico, so as a vegan coming down to visit I had no idea what to expect in terms of veg friendly food. But I was pleasantly surprised.

major health foods

There’s a handful of health foods stores in the city of McAllen, which is where I spent most of my time. McAllen is pretty small compared to the big cities I’ve lived in (Dallas, Austin, Beijing), but it’s got a nice mix of old town feel and modern amenities. There’s a Sprouts Farmers Market near downtown, which is one of my favorite health foods stores, so I was really excited to find one in the valley. I also explored a local store called Major Health Foods that has a wide selection of vitamins, supplements, beauty & skin products, vegan cheese, ice cream, and more. They even have a little bulk foods section.

coconut oil

I also found the biggest jar of coconut oil I’ve ever seen. 54 ounces for $44.00. I think it would take me a few years to use up that much! If you head past the registers toward the back of the store, you’ll come across a vegan cafe that has a different special every day. Major Health Foods has everything a vegan could need, but since they are local and not a chain, expect slightly higher prices.

mcallen public library

I ended up going to the McAllen Public Library several times. It used to be a Walmart, but when they got a new location, they gave the building to the city and it got turned into a huge library. Awesome! ? ? ?

 McAllen Public Library
4001 N 23rd St, McAllen, TX 78504

As soon as you walk inside the lobby, there’s a brand new cafe in the right hand corner. They have a wide array of coffee drinks with the option of using soy milk or almond milk, tea, salads, and a Jalapeno Veggie Wrap. I decided to try the wrap, but minus the jalapenos because I’m a little intolerant of super spicy foods.

jalapeno veggie wrap

It was quite tasty and still had a little kick to it, even without the jalapenos. It contained black beans, which made it a very filling meal, plus sauteed zucchini, spinach, carrots, a green sauce, with a side of veggie sticks and a pickle. The only thing that could’ve made it better was a few slices of avocado. For my drink, I went with their homemade sweet tea. I liked it because it wasn’t overly sweet like most, and it had a hint of citrus.

coconut chips

Across the street from the library is the 99 Cent Store ? ? woo hoo! Forget the Dollar Store ? they are sooo expensive. The family I stayed with introduced me to these delicious dark chocolate coconut chips which are normally 3 or 4 bucks, but at the 99 cent store they’re ONLY 99 cents!! They also come in a regular flavor without chocolate. The store had a nice selection of teas and I picked up an organic green tea. There’s a small produce section, wines marked down to $2.99 ?(not sure if any are vegan brands, but if so, it’s worth a visit just for that), home goods, and lots of other things.

nectar avenue

On my way back, I stopped to take a look at the McAllen Food Park, which is located in the parking lot connected to the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Food trucks are slowly but surely becoming popular in McAllen, and I saw several during my stay. This is the menu for Nectar Avenue ☝️, the only food truck in the park with vegan options. They serve fresh juices, smoothies, a fruit bowl, veggie bowl, gazpacho, garden wraps, and more!

McAllen Food Park
400 W Nolana Ave, McAllen, TX 78504


farmer's market

homemade jam

Every Saturday in McAllen there are 2 farmer’s markets – one is at the public library from 10 am – 1 pm and the other one is at Fireman’s Park from 9 am – noon. The weekend that I went there happened to be a big music festival in town, so a lot of the regular vendors at the market were at the festival. Despite a smaller market than usual, I was still really impressed with the local products available. I ended up going to both markets because I was in total farmer’s market mode.

homemade granola

farmer's market

I found lots of vegan items: jams, jellies, fruits, vegetables, granola, pecan butter, and even deodorant! I bought locally handmade rose jelly with roses straight from their garden, a small bag of pecans, Mexican squash, and deodorant because I was having a situation with my current one (it wasn’t working, ewww).

vegan tamales

By the time I got to the market at Fireman’s Park it was lunchtime and I was hungry. Lucky for me I found the perfect meal. One vendor was selling homemade tamales wrapped in banana leaves. There were 3 flavors: bean & cheese, chicken something or other (I glazed over that one), and spinach & mushrooms. I love the spinach & mushroom combo so I grabbed them and chowed down – and they were SO good.

There’s usually a vendor at the farmer’s market called Le Vegan Factory, but I couldn’t find them and I suspect they were stationed at the music festival.

chickpea burger

On Monday I hit up a restaurant called The Mighty House because they have Meatless Monday. The vegan items on their menu are the falafel and the veggie burger, and every Monday both items are on special. I went with the burger which is made with chickpeas and topped with spinach, tomato, and avocado. It comes with chips or a side salad. And I couldn’t resist getting the fresh coconut cucumber juice.

The Mighty House 
1303 N 10th St, McAllen, TX 78501

organic juices

On my last day in the valley, I went to the Green Owl Deli and found myself in vegan heaven. Green Owl has a couple of items containing meat, but most of their menu is vegetarian and vegan. They have a beautiful selection of organic juices, vegan desserts, gluten free options, helpful employees, and a lovely seating area.

Green Owl Deli
2901 N 10th St, McAllen, TX 78501

green owl deli

green owl deli

After much consideration, I narrowed my choices down to the lasagna and the chalupas, both being vegan and gluten free. I also grabbed the Turmeric Elixir juice which was very tasty. Everything was super yummy, but I think the lasagna was my favorite. Instead of pasta, the base is made of eggplant and zucchini, and filled with black beans, lentils, & marinara sauce. It’s topped with cheese and comes with a side salad.

Needless to say, vegans will not go hungry in the valley. There’s lots of delicious options!

Here’s a couple general tips if you’re traveling and not sure where to find vegan food:

Mexican and Chinese restaurants almost always have vegetarian and vegan options, or can be easily altered if you ask. Local restaurants are great and usually accommodating, but if you need something that’s quick and can be found along he highway, try Chipotle or Taco Bell. Taco Bell recently announced a slew of menu items that are certified by the American Vegetarian Association. Yay! And you can’t go wrong with rice + veggies + tofu at a Chinese restaurant. Lastly, the local grocery stores are chock full of vegan ingredients perfect for a home cooked meal or putting together a quick snack for the road.

I will definitely be back to the valley soon, and it’s nice to know there’s no shortage of cruelty free food 🙂

Jillian ♥

P.S. To check out all the cool things there are to do and see in the valley (besides the food?), go to my Compassionate Women blog next Friday for the full scoop!

Vegan Quesadillas with Homemade Guacamole

vegan quesadillas with homemade guacamole

vegan quesadillas with homemade guacamoleAin’t nuthin better than a stack of cheesy quesadillas! These are extra special, super duper quesadillas because they’re vegan and gluten free. Oh, and some rockin’ guacamole to slather all over them doesn’t hurt either.

I love Mexican food big time but when I go out to eat, I find that if it’s not stuffed with dairy and meat, then there’s the gluten and oil and processed foods to worry about. No muy bien. So I decided to make my own plant-based ‘dillas with very few processed ingredients. If you want a quick meal that’s cheesy, crispy, and savory all in one, then read on!

vegan quesadillas

One of my absolute favorite smells is onions sauteing in coconut oil. It’s divine. Lucky for you, that’s the first step of making this heavenly recipe. Dice up a couple of very thick slices of white onion and saute in coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter) on medium-low heat until they start to brown. Toss in some sliced button mushrooms, as many as you like. I recommend using an entire 8 oz package of them. Mushrooms are my favorite, but if you don’t like them, you can replace them with squash or zucchini. Once those are nice and juicy looking, rinse two handfuls of fresh spinach and add to the pan. Sprinkle some garlic powder in. Put the sauteed mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Turn the heat down a little bit. Make sure the pan is lightly oiled and place a corn tortilla in it (this is what makes it gluten-free as opposed to using a flour tortilla). Spread half of your veggie mixture evenly on top. Take Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds and put a nice layer over the veggies. I also like to sprinkle some more garlic powder before placing another corn tortilla on top. Press down lightly on the quesadilla. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until the tortillas start to brown and look nice & crispy, and the cheese is melted.

vegan quesadillas with homemade guacamole

While your quesadillas are cooking, you can start prepping your guacamole. Dice up one large avocado and lightly mash in a bowl until you have the consistency you want. Squeeze fresh lime juice and add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. You can also take a small clove of garlic, mince it, and add to the mix for some extra spice. Dice up some tomato and red onion to garnish.

Take your quesadilla out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp knife to cut into 4 even pieces. This recipe makes 2 servings (2 quesadillas, or 8 pieces). Serve with the guac and enjoy!

vegan quesadillas

vegan quesadillas with homemade guacamole

Would also be quite delicious served with vegan sour cream (available at natural foods stores) or salsa. This makes a great appetizer, but it’s also filling enough to be the main course. Enjoy!

Jillian ♥