Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Restaurant Review: Taco Mama

Taco Mama and Cafe 1217 in Hot Springs pack a culinary punch all in the same parking lot.  I have already reviewed Cafe 1217 awhile back, but I'd never eaten at Taco Mama until recently.  This husband and wife duo (wife runs 1217, husband Taco Mama) are really bringing the flavor in their restaurants, and I took the opportunity on a recent work trip to taste some fresh, Mexican flavors.

The restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside, unless you get excited about giant bull statues in the parking lot, but inside is an open and cozy restaurant that smells great.  The menu is so chock full of veggie options that I had a really hard time deciding what to have for lunch.  It's clearly outlined that the rice and beans are vegetarian, which I think is always a nice touch at a Mexican restaurant.

The salsa and the guacamole were both super fresh and delicious.  Everything tasted like it had just been prepared, and the chips were warm and salty.  Unfortunately, our food took a really long time to hit our table, so I filled up on all those tasty chips.

I ordered the puffy tacos, which were filled with sauteed vegetables, tomatoes and romaine, and topped with avocado, which I subbed for the cheese.  I ordered black beans, but my plate arrived with pinto beans.  We'd already waited so long that I didn't want to send it back, and the pintos were tasty.  The rice was tasty as well, but I didn't try to fill up on it after all those chips.  My favorite part was the puffy, fried corn tortillas.  They were crispy and light, and they made the perfect vehicle for the veggie toppings.

With all the veg options, I'll definitely be coming back.  Maybe next time, I'll restrain myself when it comes to the appetizer!

Taco Mama on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Restaurant Review: Bricktown Brewery

This week on the blog, I'm bringing you some tasty meals I've had out lately.  I really haven't been doing much in the way of cooking, besides steaming veggies and cooking rice, so I thought I'd show you what others have been making for me.

Today, I'm reviewing Bricktown Brewery in Fort Smith.  We traveled there recently to scan baby pictures at Josh's mom's house.  There are not a whole lot of exciting vegan eats in the Fort, besides my beloved Pho Vietnam, so I'm always on the lookout for new places.  We got there around noon on Saturday, and our tummies were grumbling.  A quick google search popped up Bricktown Brewery, which I hadn't heard of before, and one look at the website and we headed out the door.

There are many of these in Oklahoma, but this is the first one in Arkansas.  It's on Garrison in downtown Fort Smith, which is becoming a neat area to hang out.  They're building a huge, 50 million dollar US Marshall's Museum in the area, so I bet we'll start seeing more things pop up.

When we got there, we noticed a homebrew club meeting on the back patio.  Josh and I used to brew beer a lot when we lived in Fayetteville, so it was cool to see.

We sat down and started looking over the menu.  The tables have growlers labeled with the beer menu, which I thought was a neat touch.  Josh and I both went for a brown ale.

It was tasty and not overly flavored.  I am pretty partial to my local Diamond Bear brown ale, but this one was good.  We started looking at the menu, and I knew I could find something, although I wasn't under any allusions that it would be healthy.

We started with a trio of dips.  Josh and his mom enjoyed the cheese dip, and I really liked the guac and salsa.  The chips were light and crispy and salty.

When I saw that the veggie burger was a black bean patty WITH a portabello on top, I was sold.  I got a side of okra, thinking it would be a small dish, and some steamed veggies.  When I plate arrived, there was a massive pile of okra to accompany my massive burger.

This lunch was intense.  I immediately cut my burger in half to save it.  The fried okra was freshly made, not that frozen breaded crap.  The steamed veggies were a little limp, but they were still good.  The burger was delicious.  I added avocado as well.

Needless to say, we were all hurting and rubbing our bellies by the end of lunch, and Josh's mom and I took home leftovers.  We didn't eat for the rest of the day, though.  This meal was very good, although it was way saltier and heavier than I'm used to, and I was pretty lethargic and uncomfortable afterwards.  I suppose it's good to splurge every now and then, though, and this was the place to do it.

I'd like to come back and try one of their salads or a custom made pizza.  They have many in house brews, too, so we'll be back I'm sure.

Bricktown Brewery on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fitness Friday: Hike Hawksbill Crag

A few weekends ago, we traveled to Ponca to celebrate my friend Amanda's birthday.  She had the great idea to hike Hawksbill Crag.  I took a bunch of pictures, so I thought for this Fitness Friday, I would share the pics and motivate you to get out in your local area and go hiking.  I am lucky enough to live in Arkansas, and our state is bursting with great hiking trails to explore.  If you find yourself in the Natural State, or if you live here yourself, I would highly recommend this easy, beautiful hike.

Beautiful, right?  Get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Are there any great hiking spots in your area?  What's your favorite outdoor activity?  Leave me a message!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

VV Reset: A Week of Meals

While I haven't been bringing day to day recaps on this vv reset, I have been snapping pictures and keeping them for this post.  The whole point of the reset is balance, so you'll see super healthy meals coupled with some more comforting fair, but all have been super tasty.  It was a very busy week, with work trips and wedding crafting, which is why you didn't hear as much from me.  I'm cutting back my post schedule to 3 times a week for awhile, but don't fret, I'm not going anywhere.

The key word to our meals lately has been simple.  Check it out:


I started my week off with this delicious blueberry and protein smoothie.  It's how I like to start most days!

Tuesday, though, I was eyeing the avocados on my counter, and I decided to slap them on an English muffin and call it breakfast.  It was definitely tasty.

Wednesday, I woke up thinking about avocado toast AND the leftover veggies I had in the fridge.  So, a quick saute in the pan and I had an incredible breakfast.

Just look at the majesty that is a breakfast covered in veggies and avocado.  Sexy, right?

Thursday brought another smoothie to my breakfast table, which is my work desk.  This one had a bunch of cacao!

Friday, I went a little naughty and made my funky monkey smoothie, which is almond butter, bananas, and cacao.  It was a treat!


Lunches for me are usually salads and/or a smoothie, but this week was super busy.  Monday, I was craving a HUGE salad, even though I only brought a smoothie, so I headed over to Kroger and made this monster salad.

Tuesday, I was in Hot Springs for work, and I got to try Taco Mama.  This place was good.  Full restaurant review coming soon.  This was definitely a break from the "reset" diet.

On Wednesday, I was running around getting stuff for the wedding.  So, I popped over to Whole Foods and snagged some vegan sushi.  It's so delicious, and I can't stop eating it.

Thursday, I chowed down on this massive salad.  We're talking spinach, romaine, pepitas, hemp seeds, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, and a whole bunch of home made hummus.  Yummers.

Friday, my very awesome and generous friend spent hours working with me on the table runners for the wedding.  I knew this would be a serious undertaking, so I brought her tons and tons of vegan sushi in hopes that she would help me.  She did, because she's awesome.  Thanks, Erin!

Weeeee!  I'm so excited about the wedding.  We're under a month count down.


As long as you don't go overboard, snacks are important!  I feel way more comfortable having a smaller lunch when I know a snack is around the corner.

Monday, that snack was a bunch of raw nuts.  Yum!

Tuesday, even after my Mexican food throw down, I managed to work in a spinach and protein powder smoothie.  I'm really trying to add green smoothies to my afternoon routine, because I like to not be starving when I get home.  This makes it easier to have a reasonable dinner.

Wednesday, I paired my sushi lunch with some almonds.

Thursday was another green smoothie.  This one had mangoes!


We've been trying to make really simple dinners lately.  One easy way to do that is back cook a bunch of freezer burritos.  This time around, I did brown rice, greens, and black beans, and I wrapped it all up in a sprouted tortilla.  That proved to not be the best vehicle, because it cracked a bit, but they crisp up really great in the oven.  This was Monday's dinner.

That massive burrito is Josh's.  If you're in a shared household like myself (vegan and non-vegan), burritos are such an easy way to get dinner on the table for two.

I like to pair my itty bitty burritos with a HUGE pile of greens.  I'm trying to eat kale or mustard greens with most things every night.  So yummy.

Tuesday, I felt kind of bad about the huge lunch I had, so I went for something light and healthy for dinner.  Spring rolls are so easy.  Just chop up a bunch of veggies you have in the house, roll them up, and shove them in your mouth.  I went with an almond butter/sriracha/rice wine vinegar/hot water sauce for dipping.

The leftover veggies became that massive breakfast you saw earlier.  Yum!

On Wednesday, I finally got back in the yoga studio for a hot class.  I didn't feel much like cooking afterwards, so we got Chef Shuttle from Old Chicago.  Their small plate salads are super cheap, so I got one and dumped tabouli all over the top.  Dinner is served.

Thursday, I wanted something homey and tasty, so I warmed up some leftover mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy we had the weekend before.  It went great with a huge pile of nutritional yeast crusted greens and some peas.  Veggies on veggies, please!

Not only did my awesome friend Erin help me craft stuff for the wedding, she and her husband cooked me dinner afterwards.  Friday, I hung out there with their cute baby and got to have grilled tofu, sauteed kale, and the steamed buns and noodle salad I snagged from Whole Foods.  It was a very tasty dinner.

One bun is red bean paste and the other is veggie.  They were definitely a treat, but so good.

There you have it!  That was my week.  I'm still working on having the majority of my food fresh and light, and I'm upping my workouts, but overall I feel great.

What did you eat this week?  Do you prefer smoothies or solid food at lunch?  Leave me a comment!