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Austin Food Bytes
Beat the Heat with Smoothies

There are certain kinds of regional foods that simply can not be replicated in other geographical areas. Try as I might, I have never found serviceable barbecue in California. Creole cooking never tastes the same when it’s not prepared in the vicinity of a Louisiana swamp. Bagels that are not from the east cost share only the name and shape with their lesser cousins from elsewhere. And since I’m from California originally, I can safely say that most people wouldn’t know a good smoothie if it was dumped in their laps.

That being said, you have a few options, even in a land as far removed from the west coast as Texas, when you want an authentic, tasty and healthy smoothie. A few places in town make serviceable to good smoothies. People’s Pharmacy makes a good smoothie. The Castle Hill Fitness Cafe has smoothies with all sorts of healthful additives like bee pollen and herbs, and they’re not bad either. Jamba Juice is a chain that was started in San Louis Obispo, about a hundred miles north of my hometown. They have great smoothies, but be sure to check out the ingredients. If they put sorbet in your smoothie, it pushes the sugar content way up. There are several local locations. My favorite Jamba Juice smoothie is the “Bright-Eyed Blueberry”. I get it with a protein boost, and I have them add mango. In the 16 oz size, this yummy concoction totals under 300 calories, but provides you with about 3 servings of fruit. What a deal!

I make my own smoothies at home. I suspect that every Californian has their own smoothie recipe, my friend from the Bay Area makes one that I love, but can’t replicate. Here is my favorite recipe:

1/4 cup frozen grapes (red or green) – if you buy grapes regularly, just freeze them when they start to go soft. They add body and sweetness to the smoothie without the texture of banana, which some people dislike
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen cherries
Vanilla Silk soy milk
mango juice

Dump all the fruit in your blender. Fill with soy milk to about 5/6ths of the top of the fruit, top off with mango juice. I also like to add Dannon Vanilla Immunity Boost – if you use that, add it first, then proceed with the rest of the liquids. Blend until smooth.

Smoothie tricks:
Once your smoothie has gotten somewhat blended, it will become stiff, and can create air space in the blender. Avoid this by using the pulse button, or turning the blender off and pushing it down from the sides with a spatula.

Austin Food Bytes
Un petite peu de Paris (A little bit of Paris)

Last week the CDG International Food Club ventured out to a new restaurant – new to us, anyway. Capitol Brasserie is downtown on Colorado street, below 4th. We went early in the week, before noon, and there was ample street parking.

Capitol Brasserie is light and airy, with several seating areas adding intimacy to the large restaurant. Our waiter was very attentive, when I was disappointed that traditional “citron presse” was not on the menu, he even went so far as to make me lemonade! We were well stocked with excellent fresh bread and butter, so much so it was a struggle not to overindulge before our meals arrived. The selection of dishes is modest and mostly limited to traditional country French cuisine. There are also daily specials.

I ordered the Croque Monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with bechamel (white) sauce. It was quite rich, and very tasty, and was served with a lovely side salad. I also sampled the Mussels au Saffron – mussels cooked in a white wine and saffron broth. It was highly flavorful, the broth was a bit denser than I’m used to, and was wonderful when sopped up with the bread served at the table.

I think several of us were leery of traveling so far afield from NI for lunch, especially braving downtown traffic and split checks. I would urge the faint of heart to give it a try – parking was a breeze, and our waiter split our checks up individually and processed them in record time. Next time, we’ll stay for dessert!


That’s the sound of my life whizzing by. Bless me blogger, it’s been several weeks since my last entry. Work is busy and school is kicking my ass, but I really like it.

My new class, Critical Thinking, which is really almost halfway over, is pretty great. I really like the professor, he’s very teachery, in mostly good ways. He makes a genuine effort to practice what he preaches, takes feedback with good grace, and has a sense of humor about himself. His background is interesting and varied. Most importantly, he shows some humility about his perspective, which is telling. I become more and more suspect of people who don’t seem to have any humility. The workload is heavy. Some of the class seems to be more intimidated than others, but I think everyone will leave the class feeling like they got something good out of it. I know I will.

Learning about critical thinking and applying it on a daily basis is pretty powerful stuff. By taking a fresh look at how I make my decisions is often enlightening and sometimes humbling. It’s added a great deal to my sense of influence at work. It seems to me that a great deal of the ineffectiveness we often grip about when we’re “in the trenches” is self-limiting and self-fulfilling. We may have very good reasons to keep our heads down at times, but it is important to re-evaluate them regularly. You may find out that the storm passed a long time ago, or what looked like a hurricane was really just a light breeze.

4/7 Editor’s note: Do not blog an hour after taking your Lunesta. Really. Just don’t.