Austin, Texas, is a layover I’ve been wanting for a long time. I was curious about why people don "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirts and what is so "weird" about it. Turns out, it’s not weird, at all. Just eclectic. And unique. And… not really similar to the rest of Texas. Austin is adorned with painted guitars scattered around the city proper. The city has many live music venues, and I also poked my head into many shops selling guitars and music paraphernalia. According to Forbes, Austin happens to be the nation’s fastest-growing city. And according to me, Austin happens to be one of the best cities for eating. That is my primary interest.
So let’s start with my breakfast, shall we? I ventured out into a hot, humid 100-degree day and stumbled upon Slake. According to the menu cover, "slake" is a verb meaning "to satisfy a craving and quench one’s hunger." For the very cheap price of $4, I tried the "Señor Biscuit." It was made with brisket, scrambled eggs, jalapeño, and smoked Gouda queso. Those flavors blended perfectly together. Brisket biscuit! What a brilliant concept. I wish I hadn’t been so full after that, or I would have stayed for lunch and tried the Brazos Brisket: basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, pepperoncini, fennel, onion, garlic, and olive relish on ciabatta. You can, according to the menu, "make it weird" by adding house-marinated tofu to any sandwich. Additionally, "The Beet Goes On" caught my eye; it is a salad of roasted beets, mixed greens, red bells, shaved fennel, celery, and carrot with Slake’s house-made orange vinaigrette. For $3 you can add… what else… brisket to the top of your salad.
With the heat and the humidity, I really just wanted to go back to my hotel and sleep, but I couldn’t come to Austin and not venture down Sixth Street. Sixth Street is Austin’s "main drag," a historic street, offering a long stretch of music venues, bars, restaurants, and unique specialty shops. After sweating and walking for a while, I found a shimmering oasis: Jim-Jim’s Water Ice. Water-ice is a legendary summertime treat, which is primarily found in Philadelphia. But "Jim" moved to Austin and brought his recipe here. Water-ice is a water-based product made with real fruit blended in fine ice to form a soft, velvety smooth texture. I tried both pineapple and passion fruit (after quite generously being tempted with a few samples before that.) It was the perfect treat for a hot day.
BBQ Bacon Meatballs
With only a few simple ingredients, these BBQ Bacon Meatballs are incredibly easy to make.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooked Perfect® Meatballs for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
It’s confession time. I broke all of my mom rules and let my son commit to more than one extra curricular activity this season.
When the snow finally melted and the spring sport season started, I had everything under control. But, it quickly fell apart once everything got into full swing.
Now, I’m waving the white flag in defeat.
This season he’s playing baseball and flag football, racing BMX, in Boy Scouts and playing handbells at our church. I’m tired just thinking about all of that. And, I’m only the chauffeur.
Truth be told, my son loves all of the activities he’s involved in. He goes to each game/practice/race/event with excitement and gusto.
I, on the other hand, am struggling to keep the schedule under control, the uniforms clean, the gear organized and the sports drinks filled.
And, that’s not even thinking about dinner! The past few weeks have consisted of us eating on the fly.
I’ve been making quick meals that can be portable so we can eat them in the car. That’s where these BBQ Bacon Meatballs come in.
They’re juicy, flavorful meatballs simmered in a tasty BBQ sauce that’s laced with bits of crispy bacon. The entire recipe takes under 10 minutes to prepare and it’s extremely versatile.
You can eat them on their own or pile them onto rolls for a meatball sandwich. My son likes to stuff them into a soft tortilla and top it with coleslaw for a BBQ Bacon Meatball taco! Try my Instant Pot Meatball Subs.
Or my Instant Pot Hawaiian Meatballs. Great for when you need a little change or something different.
The star of the show are the Italian Style Beef & Pork variety of Cooked Perfect ® Fresh Meatballs (Find a store). Because they’re fresh (not frozen) and fully cooked, they’re perfect for quick and easy dinners.
They come in a microwave steam pouch that heats the meatballs perfectly in 2 minutes while keeping them moist and delicious.
All Cooked Perfect Meatballs are made from premium meats with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. And, they have an amazing flame broiled flavor.
Cooked Perfect Meatballs come with two easy recipes on the package so you can easily get dinner on the table.
You can find all four flavors of fresh Cooked Perfect Meatballs – Italian Style Beef & Pork, Korean BBQ Beef & Pork, Sundried Tomato & Roasted Garlic Chicken, and Italian Style with Parmesan & Mozzarella Chicken – in the refrigerated meat & poultry section of grocery stores in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Chicago regions.
⭐ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! ⭐
Texas may be known for its meat, but that doesn’t mean herbivores aren’t welcome in the city, too. Enter Counter Culture, where Southern comfort meets vegan living in $10 plates inspired by universal favorites. Think jerk seitan, tempeh Reuben, and BBQ jackfruit and bean quesadillas.
The only cure to a night out on the town is a trip the next morning to Juan in a Million, where brunch is a low-key religion. The hometown friendliness of owner Juan Meza is matched only by the Texas-sized tacos. Though you can’t go wrong with any of the breakfast specials or legendary tacos, choose the Don Juan ($6) for a life-changing concoction of potato, eggs, bacon and a little something special.
Cheap Eats: Hut’s Hamburgers
By Mary Bryce, Fri., Dec. 2, 2016
There are few things scarier than putting yourself out there, especially when it comes to dating. For that reason, it's best to go somewhere you know you'll feel comfortable, somewhere your stunning intellect and ravishing good looks can shimmer seductively in the dim glow of a red neon beer sign. Contrast makes things interesting, and if you really want to wow someone, what better way to win hearts and minds than by looking fabulous and eating burgers in one of Austin's most iconic locations.
Cheap Eats Case File 004: Hut's Hamburgers
One of the oldest businesses on West Sixth, Hut's is criminally underrated. With a huge variety of burgers and food options, getting full here isn't of concern, which is great news when you're eating on the cheap. The burgers here are generously large, the service is fast and friendly, and the decor is charmingly ramshackle.
The Meal: There are only two kinds of burger lovers in the world: those who like burgers with thick patties, and those who prefer burgers with thin patties. I am 100% on Team Thin Patty. I like to experience everything in one bite the tang of mustard, the tenderness of the meat against the crunch of iceberg lettuce, and the dripping tomato. Luckily for me, Hut's agrees. But the 20 different kinds of burgers are just a start. There are also 14 kinds of sandwiches, and an array of Blue Plate specials (which features some of the best chicken-fried steak [$10.95] that has ever, or will ever exist) so you can't really go wrong here. We ordered the Ritchie Valens Burger ($7.75), featuring guacamole, grated cheddar, chopped tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños, as well as Hut's All American Buddy Holly Burger ($7.75, jazzed up with an adder of the chipotle mayo for an additional 50 cents) which has all the traditional fixings. Both were remarkably juicy, just dense enough to have some bite. The thick-cut fries ($3.95) are fresh-cut, with ends of potato skin still on, and the gigantic cornmeal-coated onion rings ($4.50) are ridiculously filling. If you have room after all that, the seriously decadent milkshakes &ndash topped with mountains of whipped cream, maraschino cherries and served in icy soda fountain glasses ($3.75) &ndash are definitely a worthwhile treat.
The Atmosphere: Maybe there are more contemporary dining rooms out there serving fancier burgers, but nothing beats Hut's retro dining room for old-fashioned romance. Featuring college football pennants, Fifties pinup girls, maps of old Austin, and a stuffed buffalo head wearing a jaunty cap, Hut's dining room has changed little since its inception. From the vinyl booths to the red and black checkered floor, eating here is a welcome step back to another era.
The Verdict: There's something refreshingly no-nonsense about getting a burger at an old-fashioned burger joint. And for the budget-minded, Hut's is unbeatable. For two burgers and a split basket of fries and onion rings, we landed squarely at $21.65 before tip. For those wanting to mind their pocketbook even more, the Austin classic has one of the best deals in town &ndash two burgers for the price of one from 6-10pm on Wednesdays. Additionally, most of the beer selection is under $5, so you won't feel guilty about downing a couple while your dining companion tells yet another insufferable, name-dropping story. There's nothing fake or bougie about Hut's. It's just food, and that's exactly why it's so good. Now if we could say the same about your date.
Cheap Eats: Luke's Inside Out
The worst date I ever went on convinced me of one essential food truth: Going on dates to expensive restaurants with people you don't know very well is an almost guaranteed fail. For starters, this was a "second chance" date. Plus, the guy was half an hour late! Third, Mr. Tardy Pants had picked a place that neither of us could really afford. Thus, he didn't pick up the tab. By the time the meal was (finally, thankfully) over, I was out $30 (we split the bill) and if that weren't painful enough, he asked me to drive him to his next appointment. (Bummer.) The point being: Go to the French bistro or the fancy steakhouse after you've found a lover, not before. Eat on the cheap while assessing your suitor's taste, looks, and, yes, his transportation options.
But let's face facts: With everything in our burgeoning city getting more expensive, eating on the cheap is getting more difficult. So, I came up with a challenge: finding non-fast food places &ndash that serve food that rivals the fanciest eateries in town &ndash where two can eat for $20 before the tip.
Cheap Eats Case File 0001: Luke's Inside Out
Located next to the Gibson Street Bar, Luke's is known for inventive sandwiches, an ever-rotating list of daily specials, and some of the most unpretentious and delicious food in Austin. It's a trailer. But unlike some other food truck owners, Luke's namesake chef &ndash Austin industry vet Luke Bibby &ndash doesn't base menus off what is trendy or cute. And the service at the trailer surpasses much more expensive restaurants. Bibby's team never rushes you and politely answers questions about the menu. Despite the small size of the trailer, and the obvious difficulties of both working in the trailer and delivering to the busy Gibson bar, it's clear that there's both a warm heart and a clear mission at work here.
The meal: All of the entrées cost more than $10, which makes keeping the budget under 20 bucks a bit of a challenge. At the suggestion of the cashier, we ordered baby back ribs with Love Slaw ($14) and crinkle-cut fries ($6.50) which are topped with queso, jalapeños, and bacon. This lands you $2.50 over budget with tax, but your date will no doubt appreciate your largesse. If you are a stickler for rules, you'd be just as well off splitting the shrimp sandwich ($11) with the fries, which brings you in just under $20.
The atmosphere: While waiting for your food, you can sit at the Gibson bar. Though the interior tends to get a little loud, the outside patio seating offers fine people-watching and various sports on TV. If you sit facing Lamar Boulevard, you can watch the cars drive by and the neon lights flicker in the sunset. It's also worth noting that the Gibson has a weekday happy hour from 4-7pm that features $3 well drinks. Order a couple of those and the neon lights will seem extra romantic.
The verdict: By the time our food arrived we were ravenous, and we instantly plowed through the crinkle-cut fries. They were crisp, doused in creamy queso, with pieces of salty bacon and thick-cut pickled jalapeños &ndash and a meal by themselves. Similarly, the lightly smoked and tender baby back ribs were served in a huge portion. Best of all, they were topped with a thick tomato sauce that made for entertainingly messy eating. Despite the massive portions and accessible creations, Luke's also obsesses over the details. The Love Slaw is made with just as much care as the ribs. Tender ribbons of red onions, pert slices of cabbage, and a smattering of baby spinach leaves doused in a light cream sauce made for the ideal complement to the heaviness of the meat. If you go for the shrimp sandwich (be sure to fill up on those fries), you'll be pleasantly surprised by the bright apple and red onion filling, as well as the piquant bleu cheese spread that coats your tongue and counters the apple's tartness. Plus, all the sandwiches come with house Parmesan chips. I haven't seen Mr. Tardy Pants since our disaster date, but I don't mind. I now have Luke's.
Products from your pantry can also be effective repellants against leaf destroying pests. Homemade mixtures of garlic, onions and hot pepper deter several chewing pests including flea beetles, caterpillars, cabbageworms, hornworms and aphids. Blend a minced onion, a dried hot pepper, and six cloves of garlic with a gallon of hot water and trisodium phosphate (TSP) soap. Let the solution sit for a day and apply to plants with a spray bottle.
Spray solutions of insecticidal soap contain fatty acids that suppress and control infestations of soft-bodied leaf eating pests including thrips, scales, aphids, mites and mealybugs. The soap solution breaks down the outer covering of pests destroying cell membranes leading to dehydration and a failure of respiratory functions. Insecticidal soaps have little effect on beetles. You can buy insecticidal soap from garden shops.
Nichole's 2 Minute Cumin, Chili & Chickpeas
Tonight had to be a quick on-the-run meal due to a busy work day and evening commitments. In the past I tried to make time for cooking all my meals to avoid eating-on-the-fly, which can lead to consuming processed foods and spending more money. But it seems like there are less and less hours in the day, making it very challenging to stay on top of meal preparation.
Enter Trader Joes. I'm obsessed with this place. The reasons I love Trader Joe's are (1) they are inexpensive, (2) their prepackaged foods use whole foods and no preservatives, (3) they have a great selection of organic produce, meats and prepared foods, (4) just about everything tastes fantastic, and (5) it's a super fun shopping experience. It kind of reminds me of my Italian family parties where everyone is overly friendly, loud and throwing food in your face (samples, in Trader Joe's case). **
Trader Joe's **Cumin and **Chili** ** **Chickpea** mix is one of my all-time favorite fall-back meals when I have absolutely no time to cook or if there is no food in the frig to prepare (I keep several bags on hand since it keeps for months). It's just awesome-only .99 a bag (is anything that inexpensive anymore?) it has super ingredients like cumin, ginger and garlic (see ingredients below) is ready in 90 seconds and (ready for this one?) has 12 grams of fiber PER SERVING (2 servings per bag) and only 210 calories per serving. Because of the fiber you may want to proceed slowly and not eat the entire bag in a sitting. But know that you're doing your body good.
**Today I had some brown jasmine rice and stewed tomatoes on hand that I made the other night, so I mixed them with the beans and heated everything in the microwave. Then I mixed in some fresh cilantro, which really complements the cumin and chili combination. To make this a family meal you can always double the ingredients. Also, this dish goes great with chicken or beef for a little more protein.
**Don't have a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood? You can easily replicate this meal with canned chickpeas, mixed with a little spice and rice!
Ingredients: water, chickpeas, onions, sunflower oil, spice blend, cumin, black pepper, chili, dried mango, garlic, ginger, salt
**Per 1/2 package: calories 210, protein 11g, carb 30 g, fat 6g, fiber 12 g (rice adds about 150 calories, 2-3 oz of chicken or beef adds another 150-200 calories)
Vote for Nichole to be SELF's next Eat Like Me Blogger! SELF has selected four of the top nutritionists from around the country and now it's your turn, readers, to help us choose who's next. They'll blog about every bite they eat and share their nutritional know-how all month long. The R.D.s will take turns blogging from May 16-June 10. Vote for your favorite!
** Nichole Dandrea, MS, RD is a nutritionist, yoga instructor and chocolatier whose passions include eating healthy whole foods, listening to music, practicing yoga, traveling and spending time outdoors with her toy poodle, Isabella. In 2009, her love for dark chocolate evolved into a full-time business, Nicobella Organics, where she creates and sells high-antioxidant healthy treats online and to boutiques and spas. Nicobella Organics' website, Facebook and Twitter *pages serve as platforms to educate followers about nutrition and healthy living, as well as bring awareness to environmental and animal welfare.*She lives in Los Angeles, CA working full-time with Nicobella Organics and part-time as a women's health nutritionist.
Inside the city limits
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not to be outdone by my trip to Dallas, Farmington/Canandaigua Bureau Chief and The Smartest Man That I Know™ Brian Moritz went to Austin to eat dinner. Actually, he presented at International Association For Communication and Sport’s Summit on Communication and Sport at the University of Texas. The author of the Sports Media Guy blog and Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University files the following report.
Crab and shrimp tostada, from a food truck just outside my hotel by Lady Bird Lake. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name, because it was incredible. Big hunks of crab and shrimp meat in a cool mayo, with fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro and little dabs of hot sauce on top of a crisp tostada. The lime and cilantro added such great bursts of tang and flavor. It was incredibly surprising and very good.
Creating and sharing healthy recipes
Weight loss is made in the kitchen, not the gym. No matter how hard you try in the gym, if you don’t watch what you eat, you will not lose the weight. And at the heart of it, cooking your own meals is the best way to control what goes in your mouth. It is simply too difficult to control the calories going in, when you aren’t in charge in the kitchen. In 2016, less than 60% of all meals eaten in an American home will be prepared at home. That is outrageous – no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic.
At Focused on Fit, our goal is to house a library of recipes that are not only healthy and fit, but tasty and succulent as well. We have fine-tuned and perfected these recipes over the years, and feature many different cuisines and courses for your use everyday throughout the year. Main course, sides dishes, breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Even smoothies, healthy snacks and desserts. In many cases, we have refined a comfort classic like Pad Thai, with healthier ingredients so that no one has to sacrifice their comfort cravings for takeout.
One of our biggest methods for weight loss lies in meal planning and meal prep – where you map our your meals for the week on Sunday, and prepare all of your food that day. The theory is to plan out your meals, so that you aren’t tempted and you aren’t eating on the fly, where you have a chance to make bad choices. Make your food choices once during the week, and you have one less thing to think about and less opportunities to deviate from your goal. We have great recipes that help you plan ahead, including our Clean Egg Muffins, which make a great lunch option on the go. At only 78 calories and 8g of protein, each muffin is the perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of the Focused on Fit site is the ability to create recipes. All users can create their own recipes and build them into the site. Once created, with all ingredients and their portions– our site will calculate the nutritional value for that dish, by serving size. And the best part – you can share these recipes with friends through the site.
This can be especially useful at home or even on the go, if you are conditioned to order the same salad or burrito bowl at your favorite takeout joint. Create a recipe for your favorite concoction and log it every time.
With our recipe management page and healthy recipes on the site, cooking can be fun again! Time to get in the kitchen! Sign up for free and get started creating and sharing healthy recipes!
The Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating
Traveling, whether for fun or business, is easier and more productive when you are at the top of your game, feeling your best. Eating well, of course, plays a big part in that. Unfortunately, many aspects of being away from home can interfere with your efforts. Airport food courts filled with less-than-ideal choices, disrupted dining and sleeping schedules, vacations seemingly centered around eating—even the most dedicated can find their efforts quickly and easily derailed.
The best travel guides tell you where to stay, which sights you can’t miss and the best way to get around town. They help you feel confident and prepared to visit a new place. You refer to them often, sometimes marking up the pages. We want this article to be just as useful. Consider it your guide to navigating the landscape of eating while in the air, on the road or on a ship so you can enjoy your travels without sacrificing your energy and well-being.
Attention All Travelers
The challenges you face can differ depending on how you’re traveling. But these three tips apply across the board and are often forgotten.
- Eat breakfast. This is an easy meal to keep healthy. Check out our article Quick and Easy Breakfast on the Run for practical ideas.
- Eat a snack or meal every three to four hours during the day. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent the overeating that comes from being too hungry.
- Eat light while you are actually in route . Heavy or large meals can lead to fatigue and aren’t consistent with healthy eating on the road or at home. Save your splurges for when you’ll really savor them.
If You’re Flying…
Flying the friendly skies poses a series of challenges to healthy eating. You may not have had the time or appetite to eat before you left home, you’re bombarded with unhealthy options both at the airport and on the plane, and it’s easy to get dehydrated. Here are some simple solutions:
Choose the Best of Airport Food. Try to avoid the usual (less-than-healthy) suspects: alluring cinnamon rolls, large fancy coffee drinks, pizza, chips and burgers. These airport offerings are lifesavers when you don’t have time to pack your own food:
- Whole-grain bagel
- Oatmeal with the fixings
- Salads and fruit
- Yogurt or yogurt parfaits
Pack Your Own Snacks. Even peanuts and pretzels have disappeared from most short flights, but you can stay nourished with these options:
- Fresh fruit. Sturdy fruit like apples can go right in your bag. Cut up pieces of fruit travel well in plastic bags or containers.
- Nuts and dry fruit. Both are calorie and nutrient dense, so they help you feel fuller long. Pack them separately, make them into a trail mix or purchase a high quality bar with these as the main ingredients. If you feel like making your own before you fly, try our Canyon Ranch Hiking Bar, our Fruit and Nut Bar or our Pumpkin Crunch, an amazing trail mix-like snack.
- A sandwich or wrap on whole-grain bread or tortilla.
- Small bags of healthy snacks like kale chips, whole-grain crackers or freeze-dried vegetables.
Stay Hydrated. Due to the plane’s circulating dry air, flying carries the additional burden of dehydration. To avoid it:
- The best beverage choices are water, tea and 100% juice (water your juice down to limit calories). Avoid soda, coffee and—yes—alcohol while in the air.
- Bring an empty water bottle in your carry-on bag and fill it after you go through security. Or buy bottled water at the airport.
- Bring tea bags in your favorite flavors and use airline hot water to brew them.
- Put a few slices of fresh ginger in an insulated travel mug and fill with hot water after security for soothing ginger tea.
Stock Your Hotel Room. Once you arrive at your destination, use a little planning so you’re not stuck without something healthy to eat.
- At the very least, pick us some fresh fruit for your room. Bars, trail mix and nuts are also easy to keep in the room.
- If you have a refrigerator, stock it with options like yogurt, fruit juice (again, watered-down), hummus and hard-boiled eggs.
- Hotel breakfast buffets usually have some simple, healthy choices like bran cereal, whole-grain bagels and hard-boiled eggs. Avoid the pastries.
- Download the mobile app from www.goodfoodnearyou.com to locate healthy restaurant choices close by your hotel. If you’re in staying in Las Vegas, be sure to check out CR CREĀT for healthy food for people on the go.
If You’re Road Tripping…
Part of the fun of a road trip is exploring local food, but too often travelers find themselves stopping at fast food chains or convenience stores to grab a burger or candy bar. Here’s how to avoid that:
- Invest in a small cooler. Use frozen ice packs or frozen water bottles to keep the contents cool.
- Pack the cooler with homemade sandwiches, hummus, raw vegies, fresh fruit and yogurt.
- Carry healthy snack foods like nuts, dried fruit, trail mix and bars.
- Rather than snacking while you drive or ride, schedule a stop for a quick meal. Get out of the car and walk around. Stretch those legs.
If You’re Cruising…
The biggest temptation on a cruise ship is the overwhelming abundance of food. Believe it or not, there are ways around the indulgence: