Mr. Natural

After several months of blogging I can’t believe I never got around to posting about Mr. Natural!

Mr. Natural is a vegetarian restaurant less than a mile from The Natural Epicurean and a favorite stop for students. I’ve loved their healthy spin on Mexican, Latin, and more since I moved to Austin five years ago. They have great smoothies, baked goods (including gluten free and vegan) and other stuff, too. The East location even has yoga and meditation classes.

Below: One of two Mr. Natural locations in Austin. Notice the little “I (heart)” peeking out from behind the store. How nice!

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Vegan Potluck in Austin

Want to eat healthier, but not sure how? Looking for some vegan buddies? Looking for a party to crash? Monthly vegan potluck (MVP?) is here to save the day!

Friday June 15 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm there is going to be a vegan potluck at The Natural Epicurean. Bring the family! Bring a dish! Bring a life-size cutout of Mike Tyson! (He’s vegan, after all.)

The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts is at 1700 S. Lamar, right here in Austin, TX.

More info:

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Mike Tyson and Mike Tyson look alikes are welcome at the potluck. 

Cooking Par-Tay: India Style

Wednesday night a few fellow students and I rocked it, India-style, for a little extra-curricular cooking. Some of the ingredients we used that you may not have heard of: kokum, asafetida, mango powder, and Pakistani rose petal spread. Six dishes in four hours. All vegan and gluten free, and chock full of vegetables and traditional healing spices.


Below: Spice-stuffed okra bombs. Delicious!





Below: I love the color contrast of the blue Le Creuset pot against the purple cabbage and green broccoli.


Below: This one is for Chef Alex (aka The Food Diva), food stylist extraordinaire and culinary instructor at The Natural Epicurean.






Below: The sixth and final dish, orange slices with rose petal spread, which was sweet, thick like a jam preserve, and floral. Very unique.



Tour of The Natural Epicurean Kitchen

Howdy, folks!

It’s been 4 weeks since I began culinary school at The Natural Epicurean and I figured that I would show my family, friends, and blog readers what it looks like in the kitchen where I am spending my time!

A couple of other notes to address questions that have come in:

There are four stove tops in the kitchen. I have never had to wait to use a stove since there are plenty of burners. Occasionally, just as in a restaurant kitchen, we have to work with our colleagues to move a saucepan to another burner to make space for a new pan, but that is part of the cooking process – working with our colleagues to get the job done.

There are four stations in the kitchen for students, and two instructor stations. Each station is stocked with a food processor and all of the cookware and utensils you need to prepare a given dish. There are two Vita Mixes in the kitchen and I haven’t seen us need more than that.

Food dehydrators, as seen in the video, are “cooking” devices which operate at very low (100-118 degrees or so) temperatures and for long periods of time (up to several hours or more). The dehydrating process has minimal impact on the enzymatic composition of the food and its nutrient profile, while altering the texture slightly. Dehydrated eggplant slices, for example, are very crispy and make a nice sandwich filling. The dehydrators are Excalibur models and I don’t know much about them, but I look forward to finding out more very soon!

There are about 12 students in the lab kitchen at any given time – three in each sub group. The sub-groups (or teams) rotate each week. When in the lab kitchen, I work with two other students on preparing 2 to 4 recipes. At the end of the lab, we all taste the food and share comments on it. When the lab session is over, we move to the demo kitchen. The students who were in the demo kitchen switch to the lab kitchen.

I’ll be making more videos to explore the kitchen in more detail in the future, so stay tuned!

Conscious Cravings

I’ve been trying to check out vegetarian restaurants and food trucks in Austin and Conscious Cravings had great reviews on Yelp, so I decided to stop by a couple of times to give them a try.

They have a very nice, clean trailer parked on MLK near Guadalupe. Clearly, a clean trailer is helpful for any food vendor, but when your image is of health and you align your mission with ethical eating, an uber-slick exterior is very consistent.


Below: Rosemary French fries. A workday indulgence.


I tried a couple of dishes. One was a tofu dish with chimichurri sauce and what I believe was sriracha. I especially love their basmati-quinoa blend, which they serve as a base for the gluten free customers (normally, dishes are served as a wrap). There was also a layer of lettuce, and a few slices of tomato, as well. Overall, it was like a healthy, balanced salad with vegetables, grains, and protein. Plus terrific flavor. Note – I don’t think this is actually on the menu. I think I miscommunicated with the cook and ended up with a hybrid of two menu items. Still, it was very good!

Below: Three thin slices of tofu with chimichurri sauce, grains, and lettuce.


I also tried the spicy chickpeas and loved them! Also served on the lettuce-quinoa-basmati base layer, they are spicy and nutritious.



You probably know that iron is a required nutrient in your diet. But why? And are you getting enough? Where can you get it? Don’t you need to eat lots of meat to get enough iron?

Role of Iron in the Body

Iron is used by each cell in your body for metabolic processes required for life. It also helps transport oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body because of it’s presence in hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is part of red blood cells. Deficiency can result in fatigue, weakened immunity, and in infants can result in developmental problems.

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