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Archive for the ‘Native Foods’ Category

It happens every year. The weather starts to warm up, and suddenly I’m all about salads. Even though our weather has been amazingly cool (so far) this May, my tummy starts craving some lighter, cooler, yet still filling and delicious, fare.  Another nice thing about salads is that they are pretty easy and fast to put together.  A little chopping, a little shredding, a little tossing, and you’re good to go.

The inspiration for this salad comes from Native Foods‘ ‘Yo Amigo Taco Salad.’  The first time I ordered it, Megan, my server (who also works with me as a personal trainer), suggested that I ordered it tossed. It became my favorite for a while, although it was never quite as delicious as the first time (true about a lot of things, huh?). Anyway, as I tend to do when I find a restaurant dish that I like, I tried to re-create it at home. With some success, I’d say.

(I apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. After killing my camera during our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm last weekend, I have ordered a new one, but in the meantime I’m using my several years old Kodak EasyShare.)

Step 1: The Veggies

I chose the vegetables for this salad based on two requirements: One-they needed to create a nice variety of color and taste combination; and two-I needed to have them in the refrigerator.  One nice benefit from this method of veggie selection is that this salad is always just a little different each time you make it. So for today’s salad we have:

Cucumber, tomato, onion, orange and yellow pepper, cauliflower, and carrot. Chop them up into small pieces (I shredded the carrot). About 1.5-2 cups. Other excellent veggie choices would be corn, celery, zucchini, broccoli, or just about anything your taste buds desire (just remember the color rule, though).

Step 2:  The Greens

The ‘whatever you have on hand’ rule applies here, too. For this salad I had romaine and kale.  I steam the kale for a few minutes so that it will be tender, then rinse it in cold water and put it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to toss everything together. Chop the greens into bite sized pieces and toss together with the vegetables.

Step 3: The stuff that makes it a ‘Taco Salad.’

I cooked about 4 ounces of vegan ground ‘beef’ and 4 ounces of Soyrizo. Season to your taste with chili powder, onion powder, and salt. If you have a favorite taco filling recipe, you can use that. I’m trying to keep it simple, remember. After cooking, I let it cool a bit, then added it to the salad.

I also had some Daiya Cheddar, so I added about a half cup.

Step 4: The Dressing

Start with vegan ranch dressing (I make my own from this recipe from Meet the Shannons). Mix in Sriracha to taste (yes, it’s Asian, not Mexican, but oh, so yummy!). Toss it all together and divide into two bowls.

Step 5: The Toppings

Finish your salad by adding sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a small handful of crushed, vegan tortilla chips.

This is the perfect summer (or anytime) salad. It is light, yet filling; easy to prepare, yet offers a nice variety of flavors and textures. I know I’ll be making it again soon.

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Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it started off in the best possible way. I slept in. Seriously, I don’t get to do that very often. Between working most days at 5:30 (yes, that is AM), trying to beat the desert heat, or just getting an early start on the day, my alarm clock generally goes off somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. So my big deal was no alarm clock and I slept all they way until about 5:30. Woot!

After my coffee, I figured I’d be a good mother and take my furry kids for a run. They love it so much, but sometimes when time is short they miss out on their run. So I took them for a two mile run. The video below is from a different day, but it gives you an idea of how much we all enjoy our run.

Next up..a bike ride with my husband. I am so happy that Alan is finally recovered from his bike crash. Yes, it’s great that he feels good and can get back to training, but, to be honest (and totally selfish), I am much more committed to my training when my training partner is healthy. In any case, we had a nice 35 mile ride with almost perfect weather.
Our timing was so spot on..with high winds forecast and of course, Mother’s Day plans, we chose to cut the ride short, arriving home just as the winds kicked up. The shorter ride allowed me time to have a short nap (oh, yeah!) before getting dressed for the actual “Mother’s Day” part of the day.

We were meeting my youngest son, David, at my favorite restaurant for lunch. Native Foods, is, of course, the only vegan restaurant in the desert, but even if there were competition, it would stand out above the others.

I needed to try their Mother’s Day special. As quoted from the Native Foods Facebook page:

Oh yes, I needed that. I encouraged my son to order the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, something I always suggest for first-timers, non-vegans (or anyone who is hungry). Alan had the Chicken Run Ranch Burger, which was the daily special and came with a side. My entree was wonderful. Why doesn’t my tofu scramble taste like that?
We had an extra treat during this visit. Chef Tanya was in the house and kindly stopped by the table to chat and let me pose with her! She is always so nice whenever we see her at Native Foods and seems to love to get out and talk with her customers. She suggested I post the photo on Facebook (which I did–Twitter too!).

That's my little boy!

Following my advice…
David gave me, you guessed it, a new cast iron pan for Mother’s Day. I always feel the direct request works pretty well. Nathan, my oldest, and my future daughter-in-law, Sarah, sent flowers.  Very nice.
This post has been a bit of a ramble, but it was obviously an event filled day. After lunch, I resumed being “Debbie” instead of “Mom.” We did a little shopping, then headed home. I did want to mention dinner (since it is in my post title). I made Vegan Mexican Pizza. Follow the link for the recipe, but I did make a slight change. I didn’t have any of the Vegan Queso, so I made my own. I took about a half cup of Daiya Cheddar, added an eighth cup of almond milk and an equal amount of fresh salsa and popped it in the microwave until the cheese melted. Perfect!

I sprinkled some cilantro on top and served with a chopped salad.

Really an excellent day.

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It seems a little like mofo cheating to report on another dinner at Native Foods, but here you go. It’s what I’ve got after a crazy busy week. Our server, Kristy was great (I think we’ve got her talked into running in the Turkey Trot on El Paseo on Thanksgiving morning!). I needed to try the Chicken Wings, so I ordered that along with a cup of the Nuevo Native Chili (which came with cornbread-yum!). Alan ordered the special, which was the Scorpion Burger served with dill potato salad. Also yum!

The food was good, the atmosphere was calming, the service was excellent. Altogether a nice evening. Also nice was my discount from my Native Rewards Card plus I still had my money left on my gift card! Score!

While we were there, I ordered the Native Wellington for Thanksgiving dinner, along with gravy and a pumpkin cheesecake. Makes for a delicious, easy Thanksgiving meal (which I’m sure I will report upon right here). Gee, if I have lunch there on Wednesday when I pick up my Wellington, you will probably see yet another post about Native Foods.

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>Just in under the wire after a day spent at our Cross Country League Finals. Believe it or not, I was blogging on the school bus so I could finish my post before bedtime tonight (which, I admit, is around 9:00).

Last night, Alan took me out to dinner for my birthday. I chose Native Foods in Palm Desert. It isn’t fancy by any means, but the food is really good and it’s so nice (and easy) to eat at a vegan restaurant where I can relax and order anything that strikes my fancy. Eating at a “regular” restaurant means dissecting the menu, grilling the server, who may or may not have a clue, and still not being totally sure of what I’m being served.

Plus, Native Foods is the only vegan restaurant east of Palm Springs.

We arrived fairly early, but there was a decent sized crowd at the restaurant. No waiting for a table, though, we were seated right away.

I had been dying to try the Nuevo Native Nachos. I’d seen them on the website and they looked awesome.

I also ordered another new dish, the Chimichurri Fajita Platter. Alan ordered the Baja Surf Tacos, which came with a cup of lemongrass soup.

I sipped a glass of wine as we waited for our appetizer. One of the servers came to our table and asked, “are you Debbie? We have something for you.”

That something was a Native Foods gift card, arranged for by my daughter-in-law. What a lovely surprise! I had mentioned earlier in the day where we were going for dinner. So wonderful. I still haven’t figured out how the server knew who I was. Or, let’s say, I’d like to hear how I was described, so well that I was picked out immediately.

Our nachos arrived and they were very good, although in my opinion they weren’t spicy enough to achieve true awesomeness. I like my nachos to bite back.

NUEVO Native Nachos
Homemade corn tortilla chips covered
in black beans, Native Taco Meat, Native
Chipotle Crema, Native Cheese, salsa
fresca, and guacamole. Topped with corn,
green onions, and cilantro. 7.95

I had the same feeling about the fajitas. The seitan was a little blah, (for fajitas–it was delicious as leftovers added to my Subway veggie sandwich today). Don’t get me wrong, they were quite tasty, just not spicy enough. Alan enjoyed his Baja tacos.

Chimichurri Fajita PLATTER
Our Native Mexican Seitan seared with roasted
sweet peppers, onion, and pear tomatoes drizzled
with chimichurri sauce. Served with grilled corn
tortillas, brown rice, black beans and sliced
avocado. Pico de gallo, sour cream
and guacamole garnish. 9.95
Baja Surf Tacos
Our sea-friendly “fish taco.” Two grilled
soft corn tortillas stuffed with Tanya’s
crispy battered Tempeh, homemade surfer
sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage and
guacamole. 7.95

 The next cool thing was that we found out it was “Native Days.” Which meant that we each got a free dessert! I had the pumpkin pie, Alan had the pumpkin custard pie. They were both drizzled with a caramel sauce and both were delicious. As you can see, we couldn’t wait for the picture to take a bite.

Finally, the third surprise. Of course I used my Native Foods loyalty card when we paid for dinner and we were delighted to see that we saved $10 off our dinner. What a deal! Appetizer, two entrees, two desserts, one glass of wine, one glass of watermelon fresca. Total: $26. (including tax, plus tip). Wow! Happy Birthday to me!

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