Low-Fat Guacamole

There has been an article making the rounds on the internet recently from L.A. Taco that caught my eye. The story reveals how some taco joints are serving a “faux guacamole” made from squash to cut down of overhead costs. While I’m sure many readers’ first reactions were abject horror, mine instead was curiosity. Intrigued, and with no evening plans to speak of, I hit up the local Mexican grocery store after work and purchased the necessary ingredients.

L.A. Taco’s original recipe includes a quarter cup of oil, an ingredient I usually try to avoid when cooking at home, so I chose to replace it with an avocado. I know, I know. The whole point of the recipe is to not have avocados, but I was more interested in the low-fat aspect of the recipe, not necessarily cutting out all the avocados.

The recipe ended up turning out beautiful, in both appearance and taste! Vibrant green, the flavors featured were bright cilantro, spicy jalapeño, and creamy avocado. It was like a rich version of salsa verde. The texture was thinner than traditional guacamole, but perfect for spooning over any sort of Tex-Mex dish imaginable.

When it comes to the healthiness of this dip, it’s a real winner in comparison to traditional guacamole. The entire recipe (which serves eight) contains 381 calories and 24g of fat, while the same amount of traditional guac would instead have a whopping 679 calories and 52g of fat. This is the perfect solution for anyone wanting to stick with a low-fat diet, but still enjoy that creamy guacamole taste and texture on their dishes.

Low-Fat Guacamole

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Mexican squash, ends trimmed and chopped*
  • 6 medium tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 1 medium jalapeño, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in the squash and tomatillos and cover. Bring back to a boil and cook until squash is tender and tomatillos are dark green, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the vegetables and set aside.
  2. In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the jalapeño, onion, salt, and a splash of water. Continue to cook, adding water as needed to prevent sticking, until the pepper and onion is soft.
  3. In a food processor or large blender, add the boiled vegetables, sautéed vegetables, and remaining ingredients. If the ingredients are still very warm, be sure to remove your blender or food processor’s vent piece to ensure no pressure is built up. Blend the ingredients together, scraping the sides down occasionally, until a smooth texture is achieved.
  4. Pour into a serving container and allow to cool. This recipe can be served room temperature or cold and I recommend dolloping it on top of tacos, salads, or sandwiches.

Recipe Notes:

  • Mexican squash (also known as calabacitas) can be found in your local Mexican grocery store and are similar in appearance to a short zucchini.

Nutrition per serving (1/8 recipe):
Calories: 48 Fat: 3g Saturated Fat: 0.5g Protein: 1g Carbohydrates: 5g Sugars: 2.4g

New York City – Pt. II

During our second day in NYC in December, we meandered over to the Chelsea Market for a killer early lunch. DSCF0423There’s a nearly overwhelming amount of food and shopping options there, even when you’re “limited” to a vegan diet. We took a good 45 minutes to wander through everything before making food choices.DSCF0432I chose to get ramen from Mok Bar, which touts itself as a Korean ramen noodle bar. DSCF0435I got the one vegan option available, which was miso doengjanjjigae, which is based on the flavors of a popular Korean stew. It had great chewy noodles in a umami-packed broth with triangular tofu, fried onions, seaweed, and other choice veggies.

I also have a weakness for fermented foods, so I got the kimchi trio sampler and chose the traditional, daikon, and green onion types. Everything was amazing, even the daikon kimchi which I was a bit iffy about at first. In the end, although I’m sure this will reveal to readers how little couth I really possess, I added all three types of kimchi to the ramen to make a salty spicy bowl of awesome.DSCF0446I also had a little trouble breaking apart my chopsticks.DSCF0440Peter partook in Takumi Taco, which specializes in Japanese inspired Mexican food. He got an infant-sized burrito that included Japanese lentils, brown rice, beans (pinto, black, and edamame), ginger pico, cabbage slaw, and avocado cream. He said it was like eating a huge sushi roll with tasty Mexican food filling and gave it a thumbs up.DSCF0439Cyanide & Happiness fans will be happy to know there’s an original drawing hanging in the Market.DSCF0454A lot of the shops were selling bizarre and adorably creepy items. If only I’d had more room in my backpack. DSCF0452Despite it being cold outside, we ordered some gelato and sorbet for the road from L’Arte Del Gelato. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy behind the counter said all the sorbet flavors were vegan, even the dark chocolate! That combined with a scoop of coconut sorbet was like eating a cold Mounds bar. Peter stuck with an old favorite and got chocolate chip mint gelato.DSCF0448While waiting for a subway to Brooklyn, I noticed the most adorable art installation, Life Underground. Thankfully our ride took a while, so I had plenty of time to wander around and take pictures of the small sculptures made by Tom Otterness. Below are just a handful of the ones I took.

For those of you unaware of the Sketchbook Project, please go check out their website. It’s a really neat project where you purchase one of their sketchbooks and decorate it and fill the pages however you’d like. When you’re done, you send it back in and they add it into their collection in the Brooklyn Art Library.DSCF0482Peter and I participated in the Project a few years ago and were excited when we learned you can visit the entire collection. They have a nifty “check out” system where you can pick out books by theme or name, then you also get the two books next to it as a random bonus. DSCF0481We spent the next hour or so enjoying browsing through sketchbooks that ranged from amazing (like the watercolor travel journal about a visit to Singapore) to the just plain weird (I’m looking at you, book with only lipstick kisses inside). DSCF0480Brooklyn was definitely the most artsy part of New York that we saw. There was a good amount of street art to gawk at as we marched under the elevated subways and avoided the seedier looking areas.DSCF0497DSCF0485DSCF0492DSCF0498DSCF0500DSCF0487We ended our day by visiting someplace I’ve wanted to go to since I heard of its opening, Dr. Cow, a vegan “cheese” shop. The adorable shop front is so tiny it would be easy to just walk past it, but trust me, vegans, you don’t want to miss this.DSCF0490Inside is a small case displaying their various cheesy wares. The options ranged from the simple like plain cashew or sea salt, to the more bizarre like black salt with beet or balsamic with turmeric.

Thankfully, you can sample any of the flavors, so don’t worry about taking a blind guess at what tastes good. We settled in the middle of the strangeness spectrum and purchased some smoky celery salt cashew cheese.

This stuff was rich, creamy, packed with flavor, and everything I’ve ever wanted from “fancy” vegan cheese. I can’t promise if I lived in Brooklyn I wouldn’t be that person bringing out a fruit and cheese plate when company comes over.DSCF0488A short walk away is Dun-Well Doughnuts, an entirely vegan paradise of fried dough. There was a huge assortment of flavors and it was hard to choose. The guy behind the bar was helpful in giving suggestions on what to order. We ended up getting a mix of chocolate, maple, and eggnog doughnuts to take back to the hostel with us.DSCF0504And that’s how our two days in NYC ended. With us sitting on our hostel bunk beds happily eating cashew cheese and doughnuts for dinner. DSCF0502

Honeymoon – Houston

Houston was… interesting. First off, two weeks before we left I received an email saying that our hotel was cancelled. Upon further investigation, I learned our hotel had out of the blue decided to shut down.

The city’s other hotels were packed due to an oil conference, so we were forced to get a super sketchy hotel (like sketchy enough for us to shove our coffee table against the door) on the outskirts of town.

Despite this set back, we decided to start our one day in the city early by taking the bus into the downtown business district.Lunch was at Green Seed Vegan,  a little neighborhood eatery and juice bar. The staff was a bit curt, but the atmosphere was nice and honestly we were just relieved to be someplace with ice cold air conditioning after wandering around in the Texas heat.Peter got a portobello cheese steak and dill fries. The sandwich was just okay, not a ton of flavor and bread was a bit stale seeming. The fries were spot on though, I never would have thought to put dill on themMy jackfruit barbeque sandwich was equally mediocre. The sauce tasted good, but the jackfruit had been cooked down to a mush and the bun was a bit stale too. While I was happy to find a 100% vegan restaurant in the middle of the city, I probably wouldn’t return because the food wasn’t anything to call home about.We decided to walk to the museum district instead of taking a bus, which I’m glad about because otherwise we would have missed some of Houston’s awesome street art.        Some of the paths we walked were truly beautiful and surprisingly green for being in the middle of a city.      The Houston Museum of Natural Science was awesome with a large dinosaur section (with a very excited Peter because he had previously never seen a dinosaur skeleton), Egyptian exhibit, and a huge pendulum that was fascinating to watch.Dinner was at the Hobbit Cafe, a bizarre restaurant we found through Yelp.  While some of the sandwiches had themed names like Smaug’s Delight and Bilbo the Magnificent, the menu mainly consisted of Tex-Mex food. I got the portobello mushroom fajitas without cheese or sour cream and our very helpful server offered to bring extra salsa and guacamole on the side to replace the non-vegan items. Peter got the cheese enchiladas.

The food was amazing. The fajitas were well-seasoned with finely sliced vegetables, and even the side items (brown rice and black beans) which I assumed would be plain, were full of flavor.And while the food was great, nothing could beat the decor. Everyplace from the entrance to the bathrooms was Middle Earth themed. It was fantastic spot if you’re interested in Tolkien’s work, but even if you’re not a big fan, you can still appreciate the delectable menu offerings.